Myrtle Beach Seafoods Weekly Specials,Recipe and More     Coming April, 2009

   "Only the Best  in Seafoods"

 Recipe, and Seafood Health Facts.  


SHRIMP CHATNEY (Modern Cookery, 1845)

Mauritian Receipt.

Shell with care a quart of fresh shrimps, mince them quickly upon a dish with a large sharp knife, then turn them into a mortar and pound them to a perfectly smooth paste.

Next, mix with them very gradually two or three spoonsful of salad oil of the best quality, some young green chilies chopped small (or when these cannot be procured, some good cayenne pepper as a substitute), some young onions finely minced, a little salt if required, and as much vinegar or strained lemon juice as will render the sauce pleasantly acid. Half a saltspoonful or more of powdered ginger is sometimes used in addition to the above ingredients.

When they are preferred, two or three small shalots minced and well bruised with the shrimps may be substituted for the onions.* 

The proportion of oil should be double that of the vinegar used; but in this preparation, as in all others of the same nature, individual taste must regulate the proportion of the most powerful condiments which enter into its composition.

All chatneys should be quite thick, almost of the consistence of mashed turnips, or stewed tomatas, or stiff bread sauce. They are served with curries; and also with steaks, cutlets, cold meat, and fish.

In the East the native cooks crush to a pulp upon a stone slab, and with a stone roller, the ingredients which we direct to be pounded On occasion the fish might be merely minced. When beaten to a paste, they should be well separated with a fork as the chilies, &c., are added.

* The sauce can be made without either when their flavour is not liked.




Yucatan Fish With Crisp Garlic

4 tablespoons neutral oil, like corn or canola
5 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
4 large or 8 small fillets of flounder or other flatfish,
1 1/2 pounds or more
3 small hot dried red chilies, or to taste
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, optional
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1. Combine 2 tablespoons oil with garlic in a small, heavy saucepan
over medium-low heat. Cook, shaking pan occasionally, until garlic
browns, 5 to 10 minutes; season with a little salt and pepper, and
turn off heat.

2. Meanwhile, put remaining oil in a large nonstick skillet over
medium-high heat. A minute later, add fish and chilies and cook,
undisturbed, for about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add
all but a tablespoon or 2 of lime juice, along with tomatoes if
desired. Cook another 2 minutes or so, until fish is cooked
through. Do not turn fish.

3. Carefully remove fish to a platter. Stir cilantro into pan juices
and pour, with tomatoes, over fish, along with garlic, its oil and
remaining lime juice. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings.


Grilled Tilapia Tacos

Makes 6 servings

  • 2 lbs. Tilapia fillets
  • olive oil
  • flour tortillas
  • shredded cabbage
  • salsa
  • sour cream
  • fresh lime wedges
  • Sauce
  • 1/3 cup fresh, chopped cilantro
  • 2 jalapenos -- seeded
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tsp. fresh lime juice

Into a food processor, add cilantro and jalapenos, process until coarsely chopped and mixed together. Add mayonnaise, sour cream, avocado and lime juice. Blend until smooth. Keep this sauce refrigerated until needed. Brush tilapia fillets with olive oil and grill over medium heat for 2-4 minutes per side, until cooked through. Heat tortillas on grill and spread 2 Tbls. of sauce on each warm tortilla. Place 1/2 of a fillet in center of each tortilla, add shredded cabbage, fold tortilla and top with salsa and sour cream. Garnish with fresh lime wedges.



2 tb Dry white wine
       1 ts Saffron
       2 tb Pernod
       4    Mahi mahi fillets (6 oz ea)
       2 tb Olive oil
       3    Fennel bulbs; stems removed
            - (reserve the stems), cores
            -  removed, and julienned
       1    Sprig fresh thyme
       1    Tomato; diced
            Salt and pepper (to taste)
       1 c  Vegetable oil


1    Bulb garlic; cloves peeled,
            -  and finely chopped
       1    Egg yolk
       1 tb Dijon mustard
            Salt and pepper (to taste)
       1 c  Olive oil
       1 tb -Boiling water
   In a small saucepan place the white wine and bring it to a boil.  Add the
   saffron and stir it in so that it is dissolved.  Remove the pan from the
   heat and let it cool.  Add the Pernod and stir it in.
   In a medium bowl pour the wine mixture.  Add the mahi mahi and coat it with
   the sauce.  Let the fish marinate for 2 hours.
   In a small skillet place the olive oil and heat it on medium high until it
   is hot.  Add the julienned fennel, thyme, tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Saut‚
   the ingredients for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the fennel is tender. Set the
   mixture aside and keep it warm.
   In a large saucepan place the vegetable oil and heat it on high until it is
   hot.  Add the reserved fennel stems and deep-fry them for 1 to 2 minutes,
   or until they are crisp.  Drain them on paper towels, set them aside, and
   keep them warm.
   Grill the mahi mahi for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until it is just
   In the center of each individual serving plate place a fish fillet.  Place
   the saut‚ed fennel mixture next to the fish.  Spoon the Garlic Mayonnaise
   between the fish and the fennel mixture.  Place the deep-fried fennel on
   top of the fish for a garnish.
   For Garlic Mayonnaise: In a small bowl place the garlic, egg yolk, mustard,
   salt, and pepper.  Whisk the ingredients together so that they are well
   While whisking constantly, slowly add the olive oil so that a mayonnaise
   consistency is achieved.
   Add the boiling water to the mayonnaise, and stir it in well.
   Strain the garlic mayonnaise and keep it warm until it is served.



(Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, 1896)

1 cup chopped crab meat.
1/4 cup mushrooms finely chopped.
2 tablespoons butter.
2 tablespoons flour'
2/3 cup White Stock.
Yolks 2 eggs.
2 tablespoons sherry wine.
1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley.
Salt and pepper.

Make a sauce of butter, flour, and stock; add yolks of eggs, seasonings (except parsley), crab meat, and mushrooms.

Cook three minutes, add parsley, and cool mixture.

Wash and trim crab shells, fill rounding with mixture, sprinkle with stale bread crumbs mixed with a small quantity of melted butter.

Crease on top with a case knife, having three lines parallel with each other across shell and three short lines branching from outside parallel lines.



Salmon with Bean-Dill Rice

Preparation time 10 minutes; cooking time 15 minutes.

Serves 4


1 1/2 cups Jasmine or brown basmati rice

1 1/2 cups French green beans* (haricot vertes), topped and diagonally sliced

2 tsp organic extra virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, halved, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 (6 oz each) wild  salmon fillets

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

1/2 lemon, juiced

Sea salt and organic black pepper to taste OR Seafood Seasoning to taste


*You can use regular green beans, although haricots vertes work a bit better.


  • Cook the rice in a large saucepan, following packet directions for absorption method. Add beans for the last 5 minutes of cooking.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp of the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until it begins to soften. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  • While the rice and onion mixtures are cooking, preheat grill on medium and brush both sides of the salmon fillets with the remaining oil. Place on lined tray and cook under preheated grill for 3 minutes each side or until just cooked.
  • Add onion mixture, dill, and lemon juice to rice mixture and toss to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper or Organic Salmon Marinade mix.
  • Serve the bean-dill rice with the salmon.



Zesty Shrimp and Orange Fajitas

1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch strips
2 medium red bell peppers, seeded and cut into
1/4-inch strips
2 medium yellow peppers, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch
3 oranges peeled and cut into segments
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
24 10 to 15 count shrimp, about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled
and deveined
2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil

Combine all ingredients, except shrimp and oil, in
medium mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss
shrimp into marinade and refrigerate two hours.
Remove shrimp from marinade and let drain for 5
minutes. Drain vegetables from marinade through a
large colander over a saucepot. Bring reserved
marinade liquid to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer
5 minutes; set aside. Heat large cast iron skillet
over medium-high heat. Add half the oil to pan. Add
shrimp and sauté until lightly browned and cooked
through. Remove shrimp from pan and keep warm. Add the
other half of the oil to pan, followed by drained
vegetables. Cook until onions are translucent, about 5
minutes. Turn heat up to high and spread vegetables
evenly throughout the pan. Vegetables will start to
brown on the bottom of the pan. Arrange shrimp over
the vegetables and add reserved marinade. Serve
immediately with a side of your favorite guacamole and
a plate of warmed whole wheat tortillas.

12 6 to 8-inch whole wheat tortillas
non-stick cooking spray

Large cloth napkin or dish towel to keep tortillas
Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly
spray one side of each tortilla with non-stick cooking
spray. Place tortilla, sprayed-side-down, into hot
skillet. Cook until tortilla begins to expand, about
one minute, then flip over and cook another minute.
Place tortilla on large napkin. Repeat until all
tortillas are cooked. Stack tortillas as you cook
them, then wrap with napkin and place on a serving
plate. Serves 6

Blackened Salmon

2 tspn paprika
1/2 tspn garlic salt
1/2 tspn onion powder
1/2 tspn white pepper
1/2 tspn black pepper
1/2 tspn dried dill
1/2 tspn dried basil
4 thick fillets of salmon
4 oz (100g) butter to fry or olive oil to baste

Mix all the seasonings together and coat the salmon well.

Heat the butter in a thick frying pan until it foams - add the fish and fry either side for a few minutes - until the fish is cooked through and the spice mixture is 'black'.

You may need to do this in batches.

Serve hot with the butter poured over - a few new potatoes and a mixed salad go well with this blackened fish recipes dish.

If you choose to barbecue, then brush the fish with oil during cooking.


Low Fat Recipe Fish
Dijon Basa

When you're looking for a low fat recipe fish should be considered - apart from the oily fish such as salmon, herrings, mackerel etc - white fish is low in fat and high in protein and minerals.

It's easy to digest if you're not well and is so very quick to prepare and cook.

This method is a great way of spicing up what you might consider bland white fish - here I'm using basa fillets, but you could use any white fish at all.

Dijon Basa
4 basa fillets - cleaned and trimmed
2 tspns dijon mustard
squeeze of lemon
2 tbspns low fat mayonnaise

Heat your grill to high.

Combine the mustard, lemon and mayo in a dish.

Season the basa with salt and pepper and then brush the mustard mixture over them.

Grill on high for 2 to 3 minutes either side until cooked through.

Serve immediately - how easy was that?



      Clarice's Curry Shrimp Dip

1 cup Sour Creme
1 cup Mayonaisse

4 Oz. or 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms

1 cup 1/2 pound diced white shrimp

1 cup flaked coconut

1/4 tblspoon Curry Powder

1/4 cup minced onions
2 tespoons chopped parsley

smidgeon of minced sweet bell peppers



Drunken Spicy Shameless Shrimp

Origin: Carolina Coastal


prep time : 30 minutes to one hour
recipe type: appetizers - plated
ingredients: 2 12-oz. bottles domestic lager
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
2 pounds large (16-20 count) shrimp in shells
2 tablespoons garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons Creole seasoning (see recipe)

Pour the beer, vinegar and water into a tall gallon stockpot. Add the Old Bay seasoning, cover and blast heat to a boil. When the blend is boiling rapidly, add the shrimp and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the shrimp turns pink. The flesh will continue to cook in the shell, so don't overcook. Drain the shrimp in a colander, and cover with a layer of ice to cool them down. Or you can dump them into a bowl, and cover them with two bottles of ice-cold lager, to stop the cooking and infuse them with even more beer flavor (beercook notes). Before serving, blend the minced garlic and creole seasoning, and toss the shrimp in this spicy blend.

 Here's a Creole seasoning blend:
1/2 cup paprika
1/2 cup granulated garlic
1/4 cup granulated onion
3 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons white pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1/4 cup dried oregano
1/4 cup dried thyme
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons sugar
Blend well and store in a tightly sealed glass jar]






Omega-3s from Fish Affirmed as Potent Eye-Protectors

Americans' low omega-3 intake and excessive omega-6 consumption promote a common, potentially blinding condition
by Craig Weatherby

Last week, researchers reported that diets rich in fish-borne omega-3s may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by about 40 percent.


At the same time, high intake of the omega-6 fatty acids vastly overabundant in American diets were associated with increased risk of AMD.

These findings highlight the dangers of the woefully imbalanced American diet, which is much too low in omega-3s and much too high in omega-6s: the two families of dietary fatty acids whose previously overlooked interactions and health effects have finally become the focus of extensive research.

The results come from a study involving 4,519 older people, which found a strong association between fish-rich diets and lower risk of AMD.


(Note: In a companion study, the vitamin D abundant in wild salmon was found to exert complementary preventive impacts on AMD. See "Vitamin D Adds Eye Health to Roster of Recent Accolades", in this issue of "Vital Choices".)


AMD is the leading cause of blindness in Americans aged 55 and older, and of the 30,000,000 people over age 65 in the US in 1990, almost one in three show evidence of the eye disease. The number of Americans over age 65 will double by the year 2030, so researchers have sought to reveal any foods that might help prevent the vision-crippling condition.


AMD comes in two forms: early or "dry" stages, and subsequent "wet" stages. The wet forms are named for the under-retina overgrowth of blood vessels that characterize this type of AMD. Although it afflicts less than 10 percent of patients, wet AMD causes 85 percent of severe AMD-related vision loss.


The majority of wet AMD cases get little help from the leading therapy, called laser photocoagulation. But in recent years, this procedure's efficacy has been greatly enhanced by injecting patients with a drug called verteporfin before the laser treatment is applied. (While results vary, this writer's 70-something stepmother underwent the drug-laser AMD treatment recently, with very substantial success.)


Research results reported in recent years - especially those from Australia's "Blue Mountains" eye study -- indicate that omega-3s from fish may help prevent AMD. And other research findings suggest that omega-s can also help prevent or improve dry eye syndrome, cataracts, and lens opacities.  


The new findings support the AMD-preventive potential of inflammation-moderating omega-3s, and they also extend to eyes the health risks associated with the excessive intake of inflammation-fueling omega-6 fatty acids characteristic of the average American's diet.


Omega-6 fatty acids compete with omega-3s for space in the membranes of eye cells (and all body cells). Excessive dietary intake of omega-6s is known to promote cancer growth, and it now appears that Americans' typical omega-6 overload may be a threat to aging eyes as well, probably because of their pro-inflammatory effects.


Omega-6s abound in standard, grain-fed meats and poultry and they predominate in the vegetable oils used most commonly for home cooking and in packaged and restaurant foods (corn, safflower, soy, canola, sunflower, and cottonseed).


Let's take a closer look at the enlightening details of the new study.


Americans' low omega-3/omega-6 diet ratio poses long-term vision risks

The new findings flow from analysis of data from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), conducted under the auspices of the National Eye Institute (NEI).


AREDS involved researchers at universities and clinics in nine states, who enrolled 4,757 subjects, surveyed the participants about their diets and lifestyles, and gave them detailed eye exams.




Apples and fish protect unborn children

Apples and fish sound an unlikely food combination, even for a pregnant woman, but new evidence suggests they can protect unborn children against allergic diseases.

Researchers found that children whose mothers enjoyed munching apples while pregnant were less likely to have suffered from wheeze or been diagnosed with asthma by the age of five.

Similarly, the sons and daughters of mothers who ate fish once or more a week during pregnancy appeared to be protected against the skin allergy eczema.

Scientists believe the effects may be due to powerful antioxidants in apples called flavonoids, and omega-3 fatty acids in fish.

A range of other foods studied, including vegetables, fruit juice, citrus and kiwi fruit, whole grains, dairy fat and margarine, did not produce the same protective effects.

The investigation was conducted at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. Researchers studied 1,212 children born to women who had filled out food questionnaires during their pregnancy.

When the children reached the age of five, the team questioned the mothers about their offspring's respiratory symptoms, allergies, and diet.

The children were also given lung function and allergy tests.

Children whose mothers ate the most apples were less likely to have experienced wheeze or asthma than those whose mothers had the lowest apple consumption.

Mothers who ate fish once or more a week while pregnant had children who were less likely to have had eczema than children of mothers who never ate fish.

Previous studies involving the same group showed that taking vitamins E and D and zinc during pregnancy helped reduce a child's risk of wheeze and asthma.

Researcher Saskia Willers, from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, said a mother's pregnancy diet may have more influence on a child's respiratory health than the child's own food consumption - at least until the age of five.

She said: "Other studies have looked at individual nutrients' effect on asthma in pregnancy, but our study looked at specific foods during pregnancy and the subsequent development of childhood asthma and allergies, which is quite new.

"Foods contain mixtures of nutrients that may contribute more than the sum of their parts."

The findings were presented at the American Thoracic Society's annual meeting in San Francisco.



Sino-American Breast Cancer Study Supports Omega-3s
New findings support preventive prospects for omega-3s; Similar research indicates cancer-promoting potential of omega-6 and saturated fats
by Craig Weatherby

The results of several studies conducted over the past few years link certain dietary fatty acids to greater or lesser risks of breast cancer.

 As in these earlier investigations, the authors of a joint American-Chinese study published this month analyzed samples of breast tissue from cancer patients and from healthy women, who served as "controls" for comparison.

  They sought to determine the proportions of various dietary fatty acids in breast tissue taken from the women in each group, and look for differences between the cancer patients and the controls.

 Researchers from Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute led the study, which was conducted in Shanghai, China among 1,352 women (Shannon J et al 2007).

 (Coincidentally, OHSU researchers were among the authors of a well-publicized study released earlier this month, which showed that computer analyses of mammograms are less accurate than human reviews, and increase unnecessary biopsies [Fenton JJ et al 2007.])


Results favor omega-3s

In the new study, the OHSU team analyzed breast tissues from 322 women with confirmed breast cancer and 1,030 age-matched control women.

 They found that women with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids in breast tissues had the lowest risk of breast cancer, relative to women in whom omega-3 levels were lower.

In contrast, women with higher levels of certain saturated, omega-6, and omega-7 fatty acids were at greater risk of breast cancer.

 As they wrote, "Our results support a protective effect of … [omega-3] … fatty acids on breast cancer risk and provide additional evidence for the importance of evaluating the ratio of fatty acids when evaluating diet and breast cancer risk."


Fatty-acid breast-risk factors

Based on the results of several similar studies in different countries, omega-3s confer some protection, while certain fatty acid profiles in a woman's breast tissue might mean a greater risk of breast cancer.
The current study and prior ones indicate that the following fatty acids and fatty acid ratios may be risky:

Risk may be raised by higher tissue levels of:

  • Saturated palmitic acid (particularly post-menopause)
  • Omega-6 fatty acids (from oils other than olive, macadamia)
  • Omega-7 vaccenic acid (the main trans fatty acid in milk fat)

Risk may be raised by higher ratios of:

  • Saturated to Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Saturated to Monounsaturated fatty acids

Needless to say, many other factors -- including menopausal status, genetics, lifestyle, and overall diet -- affect any one woman's risk of getting breast cancer.

 And we hasten to add that genetic factors may play a role in the effects of various dietary fatty acids on breast cancer risk.
Genetic variations impact the metabolic pathways through which dietary fatty acids pass after being digested: processes mediated by "desaturase" enzymes.

 And women with breast disease may have gene-based alterations in the activity of desaturase enzymes: quirks that could produce proportions of fatty acids in their breast tissues different from those in their diets (Williams CM et al 1993).

 This means that if she has these genetic factors, the proportions of various fatty acids in a woman's breast tissue may not mirror her dietary intakes of these fatty compounds.

 Published tissue-composition studies similar to the current one -- as well as population, cell and animal studies -- indicate clearly and consistently that higher tissue levels of omega-3s should confer some degree of protection.
Thus, the best, safest step women can take is to consume more protective omega-3s, in order to counteract the ill effects stemming either from 1) dietary intake of risky fats or 2) genetic factors that could cause risky fats to accumulate in breast tissues.

Omega-6s raise risk: Muddier picture on saturated or monounsaturated fats

It's important to remember that the extreme excess of omega-6 fatty acids in the American diet seems to undermine breast health. This excess results from over-consumption of common cooking oils (corn, safflower, soy, canola, cottonseed) and the packaged and prepared foods they're used in (Maillard V 2002; Williams CM 1993).

 Some studies suggest that high tissue levels of saturated fats may pose risks. And some indicate negative breast health associations with regard to high breast-tissue levels of monounsaturated fatty acids, like those in olive oil.
But as we reported in 2005 (see "Olive Oil May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk"), lab tests show that oleic acid - the monounsaturated fatty acid in olive oil -- cuts the levels of a breast cancer-promoting gene (Her-2/ neu) by up to 46 percent. High levels of the Her-2/ neu gene are found in a fifth of all breast cancers.



Chocolate's Antioxidants Exert Anti-Diabetes Effects

Polyphenols in dark chocolate lower blood sugar levels in rodents; Human studies suggest dark chocolate is safe for many diabetics by Craig Weatherby

It would seem safe to assume that chocolate is a bad choice for people with diabetes or at risk of the disease.


But, combined with prior human studies, the surprising results of a new animal study from Japan turn conventional wisdom on its head … at least with regard to raw cocoa and to chocolates dark enough (like ours) to be very rich in antioxidant polyphenols.


A team led by Dr. Makoto Tomaru of Tokyo Medical and Dental University tested the effects in female mice of diets supplemented with a cocoa "liquor" rich in the polyphenols called flavanols (catechins and procyanidins).


They did this by adding various amounts of a cocoa "liquor" high in flavanols to the diets of healthy and diabetic mice. (Tomura M et al 2007)


(Note: The term "cocoa liquor" refers to finely ground cocoa beans, which liquefy during grinding. Cocoa liquor has the

Key Points

  • Study in mice shows cocoa antioxidants help control blood sugar in diabetic animals.
  • Earlier human studies found similar anti-diabetic effects from chocolate.
  • Dark chocolates have low glycemic indices and loads, and raise blood sugar only slightly.

same flavanol content as unsweetened baking chocolate, and not many more flavanols than our 85-percent-cocoa Organic Extra-Dark Chocolate bars.)



Study tests various levels of cocoa flavanols

The scientists used two groups of mice: normal, healthy mice and obese, diabetic mice, and divided each of these main groups into three subgroups:


  • Control Group received a standard lab-mouse diet.
  • Group A received a standard diet containing 0.5 percent flavanols.
  • Group B received a standard diet containing one percent flavanols.

They measured the animals' blood levels of glucose and fructosamine at the beginning of the study, and after three weeks on the test diets. (Fructosamine is a metabolic byproduct of dietary sugars: doctors measure its blood levels to help gauge diabetics' sugar-control status.)


Compared with the healthy mice, the diabetic mice started the study with higher levels of blood levels of glucose and fructosamine.


Chocolate flavanols moderate blood sugar in diabetic mice

After three weeks, the blood levels of glucose and fructosamine in the healthy animals did not change significantly, regardless of which diet they were on.


But the blood levels of glucose and fructosamine dropped substantially in the obese, diabetic mice fed flavanol-supplemented diets. (Their body weights and food consumption were unaffected.)


And the flavanols reduced blood sugar levels in a dose-dependent manner, with the one-percent flavanol diet lowering them more than the 0.5-percent flavanols diet.


As the investigators said, "To our knowledge, this is the first study to report that flavanols can prevent aggravation of type 2 diabetes ..." (Tomura M et al 2007)


Based on the result of prior human and animal research, the Tokyo-based team hypothesized that the antioxidant effects of flavanols reduced insulin resistance in the mice, thereby lowering the animals' blood levels of glucose.


What about people?

A prior study showed positive blood-sugar-control-effects in people with high blood pressure who ate three ounces (100 grams) of dark chocolate per day (Grassi D et al 2005 and 2003).


We also found a Swedish study in diabetic adolescents, in which replacement of a "diabetic" snack with milk chocolate actually produced a lower blood glucose response.


As the Swedes said, "We conclude that an occasional exchange of a regular diabetes afternoon snack for an isocaloric [calorie-equivalent] amount of milk chocolate bar … has no negative impact on … blood glucose." (Cedermark G et al 1993)


Together with the new findings in mice, the outcomes of these human studies indicate that moderate enjoyment of dark chocolate - especially extra-dark chocolate -- does not promote diabetes.


Dark chocolate doesn't spike blood sugar

Intrigued by the results of these studies, we took a look at the "glycemic index" and "glycemic load" of dark chocolate.


  • Glycemic Index (GI) ranks carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100, according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating. Foods with a high GI are those which result in large rises in blood sugar levels. 
  • Glycemic Load (GL) combines both the GI and quantity of a carbohydrate-rich food in one ranking, and is the best way to gauge the blood sugar impacts of different types and amounts of food.

The only dark chocolate in The University of Sydney's GI Database had these rankings (1.3 oz / 37 gm serving): 

Glycemic Index = 23 (low)

Glycemic Load = 4.4 (low)


This is how The University of Sydney's GI website characterizes various GI and GL ranges (GI Database 2007):


Glycemic Index

Low GI = 55 or less

Medium GI = 56 - 69

High GI = 70 or more


Glycemic Load

Low GL = 10 or less

Medium GL = 11- 19

High GL = 20 or more


Today's welcome research news is not a license to overindulge in dark chocolate. As in all things, moderation is wise. But it is heartening to learn that extra-dark chocolate may be a healthful treat … even for many diabetics.


Diabetics with serious blood-sugar control issues should consult with a doctor concerning dark chocolate. And because everyone is different, all diabetics should monitor blood sugar to see how it affects them.




  • Tomura M et al. Dietary supplementation with cacao liquor proanthocyanidins prevents elevation of blood glucose levels in diabetic obese mice. Nutrition. Volume 23, Issue 4 , April 2007, pages 351-355. Published on-line ahead of print. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2007.01.007      
  • Grassi D, Necozione S, Lippi C, Croce G, Valeri L, Pasqualetti P, Desideri G, Blumberg JB, Ferri C. Cocoa reduces blood pressure and insulin resistance and improves endothelium-dependent vasodilation in hypertensives. Hypertension. 2005 Aug;46(2):398-405. Epub 2005 Jul 18.
  • Grassi D, Lippi C, Necozione S, Desideri G, Ferri C. -term administration of dark chocolate is followed by a significant increase in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in blood pressure in healthy persons. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Mar;81(3):611-4.
  • Shively CA, Apgar JL, Tarka SM Jr. Postprandial glucose and insulin responses to various snacks of equivalent carbohydrate content in normal subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. 1986 Mar;43(3):335-42.
  • Cedermark G, Selenius M, Tullus K. Glycaemic effect and satiating capacity of potato chips and milk chocolate bar as snacks in teenagers with diabetes. Eur J Pediatr. 1993 Aug;152(8):635-9.
  • GI Database. Accessed online April 5, 2007 at



How To Live Well:  Alternative Therapies: East Meets West

Alternative therapies are often based upon a philosophy whereby the entire body, including mental and spiritual aspects, should be taken into consideration when pursuing health.  Many practitioners of traditional medicine have embraced the soundness of this theory and include some aspects of alternative therapy into their treatment of certain conditions.  This type of Medical Practice is termed Complimentary and Alternative Therapy or CAT and millions of Americans employed one of more of these treatment strategies last year.  The most popular, after prayer and herbal remedies, were breathing and meditation, chiropractic medicine, yoga and body work, which will be discussed here.e.e.e.

            Many breathing and meditation techniques have their origins in Oriental philosophy, and yoga, tai chi, and qigong are examples.  One example of deep breathing therapy involves inhaling slowly and deeply through the nose, usually while counting to 10, and exhaling in a slow controlled manner, akin blowing upon but not extinguishing, a candle flame.  Concentration of the mechanism of breathing is done to relax the body and calm the mind, and is often performed in tandem with meditation, a process of clearing the mind of everyday thoughts. Meditation is practiced daily by many to reduce stress and elevate one's mood.  Individuals with advanced skills can alter bodily functions such as blood pressure, adrenaline levels, heart rate, and reduce pain sensations.  A more Western approach is to employ a brain wave monitoring device that gives biofeedback regarding the effect of relaxation techniques upon  the user's heart rate, breathing blood pressure and other characteristics. This technique is an effective treatment for stress, and headache, and in controlling asthma.  A prototypic mind-body approach is found in yoga which integrates deep breathing with stretching exercises and meditation.  The exercises are an adjunct to and a form of meditation and are done to relieve stress by stretching and relaxing the muscles, while concentrating on the movements and breathing.  Practiced correctly, yoga is a form of body work that can reduce pain by restructuring and relaxing the muscles, and more fully oxygenating the system.

Other forms of body work include Reiki, acupuncture and Feldinkrais.  Acupuncture is a form of energy healing therapy in which "chi" or life energy is restored by inserting fine needles into the crucial junctures at which it is blocked.  It has been an integral part of Chinese medicine for centuries and was used as a form of pain reduction and for many other ailments, and to restore spiritual balance. Reiki has similarities to acupuncture in that both attempt to restore the body's own healing energy.  Reiki practitioners provide energy through their hands into the client's body to access the innate energy balance which in turn promotes health.  Another Western born bodywork healing therapy was developed by Moshe Feldinkrais.  His method promotes achieving awareness through movements which increase flexibility and range of motion.  His method is a poplar way to reduce movement related pain, restore function after stoke, and to restructure the body musculature.

            Chiropractic Medicine is a popular form of alternative medicine that has been nearly entirely integrated into traditional medicine to the extent that it is often included in health care coverage.  It is based upon spinal manipulations performed by a trained practitioner that unblock nerve signals and allow the body to self heal. It relies upon spinal and joint readjustments to treat back problems, headaches, and chronic pain.  These adjustments are rapid and can be uncomfortable but many people swear that they have experienced profound pain relief.

            There are many other types of alternative therapies that rely upon bodywork, exercise, mind-body integration and supplements that may be used together with these treatments or conventional treatments to achieve optimal health benefits.  Some provide real body changes while others are more of a placebo, but all have a firm basis in the belief that the body benefits most when the mind is involved.  Also, a very strong dynamic is achieved in health care when people become involved in their own treatment.



Omega-3s Give Budding Men Better Bones
Higher omega-3 intake builds bone density from ages 16 to 22; Omega-6 rivals tend to tear it down
by Craig Weatherby

Some novel findings in young men add to the evidence that higher omega-3 intake helps build stronger bones.


And they reinforce the idea that bone health also improves when people limit intake of omega-6 fatty acids, which predominate in most cooking oils, dressings, meats, poultry, and packaged, prepared, or fast foods  


Researchers at Sweden's Umeå University report that young men with higher blood levels of omega-3s have denser, stronger bones (Hogstrom M et al 2007).  


Surprisingly, no one had ever examined the association between body levels of dietary fatty acids and standard markers of bone strength such as bone mineral density or BMD.


In previous studies, researchers relied on food intake questionnaires to estimate people's intake of fatty acids relative to their bone density: a factor associated with bone strength, though not always synonymous with reduced fracture risk.


What the study found

A team led by Magnus Högström, PhD recruited 78 healthy young men (average age of 16.7 years) from high schools and sports clubs, measured total body bone mineral density (BMD), and took blood samples to measure their levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.


About eight years later, Dr. Högström's group found that the young men with the highest tissue levels of omega-3s had the best (highest) total-body BMD and spinal BMD, and the greatest growth in BMD between the ages of 16 and 22.


Of the two omega-3s - DHA and EPA - levels of DHA had the closest associations with these two measures.


As Chaim Vanek, M.D. and William Connor, M.D. of Oregon Health & Science University said in an accompanying editorial, "The study by Högström et al. nicely adds to a growing body of evidence that n-3 fatty acids are also beneficial to bone health." (Vanek C, Connor WE 2007)


Drs. Vanek and Connor hypothesized that the apparent benefits might relate to the opposite effects of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids with regard to cell receptors for a genetic switch called PPAR-gamma, excessive activation of whose cell receptors is associated with lower bone mass:

  • Omega-6 fatty acids, in excess, weaken bone because they activate PPAR-gamma cell receptors in bone marrow. Americans consume far too many omega-6s.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids conserve bone density, because they do not activate PPAR-gamma cell receptors in bone marrow.

Although Drs. Vanek and Connor say that omega-3s do not activate PPAR-gamma cell receptors in bone marrow, diabetes studies indicate that marine omega-3s do activate them.



Selenium Scores Against Senility … Again
China study affirms the strong anti-senility potential of selenium from seafood and other sources
by Craig Weatherby

   Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting more than 4.5 million Americans: a number that could reach 16 million by 2050.

   The cost of caring for Alzheimer patients in the US now exceeds $100 billion, and the combined Medicare and Medicaid costs for beneficiaries with Alzheimer's may increase to $184 billion by 2010.

    As a consequence, any dietary intervention that could reduce the risk of Alzheimer's and other forms of senile dementia should be brought to people's attention.

   Selenium is an essential component of some of the body's key antioxidant enzymes, which are believed to help reduce formation of the brain plaques that characterize Alzheimer's disease and destroy brain cells.

   High selenium intake is also associated with lower risk of arteriosclerosis, and may reduce the risk of cancer.

  The richest food sources of selenium are seafood. (See "Selenium and seafood", below; only Brazil nuts contain more selenium per ounce.)

And the recently published results of a study from China seem to support the value of selenium in preventing senility.


Selenium gets more support as anti-Alzheimer's agent

Researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine examined 2,000 elderly Chinese people -- average age 72, and 54 percent women - most of who had lived in the same village all their lives (Gao S et al 2007).


The Indiana University team, led by Dr. Sujuan Gao, analyzed the selenium levels of nail samples collected from the villagers, and divided them into five groups, according to selenium content.


They then subjected the participants to a battery of cognitive function tests.


The results showed that the villagers with the highest selenium levels enjoyed the lowest rates of dementia.


The researchers also found that rates of dementia corresponded closely to selenium levels, in a "dose-dependent" manner: a correlation that supports the hypothesis that higher selenium intake yields a reduced risk of dementia, and that low selenium intake raises the risk.


As Dr. Gao's team wrote, "Lower selenium levels measured in nail samples were significantly associated with lower cognitive scores … Results in this geographically stable cohort support the hypothesis that a lifelong low selenium level is associated with lower cognitive function." (Gao S et al 2007)


Sustained intake seen as essential

While the new findings are encouraging, the Indiana researchers noted that the brain metabolizes selenium slowly, so one would need to sustain an increase in one's selenium intake for several years in order to exert a substantial senility-prevention impact.


In addition, the areas of the brain that take the longest to mature are the ones that show early signs of Alzheimer's, which suggests that people need to maintain ample selenium intake throughout their lives.



Selenium and seafood

People get most of their dietary selenium from grains grown in selenium-rich soils. While soils in the upper Midwest, Northeast, Florida, and Northwest are selenium-poor, soils throughout most of the US grain belt - the states between the Mississippi and the Rockies -- are high in selenium.


But the best common dietary sources of selenium, by far, are ocean fish. The US recommended daily allowance (RDA) for selenium is 55 micrograms (mcg), for men and women aged 19 or older.


As shown in the table below, the seafood species we offer are high in selenium, with a 3.5 ounce serving of each providing from 95 percent (sardines) to 50 percent (scallops) of an adult's daily needs.




King Salmon




King Crab

Silver Salmon

Sockeye Salmon

Sockeye, canned













*micrograms (mcg) of selenium. US RDA = 55 mcg. Source: USDA nutrient database at


**This is the selenium content for Yellow fin, Skipjack and Blue fin tuna in the USDA database, which provides no nutrient data for Albacore tuna. Since its diet is similar to that of other tuna, it probably contains comparable amounts of selenium.


Selenium: seafood's built-in anti-mercury safeguard

Selenium binds to the methylmercury in seafood and renders it harmless: a fact that may explain why a large study in the Seychelles Islands, where children eat 12 times more fish than their American counterparts, found no developmental deficits associated with mercury intake. 

Dr. Nicholas Ralston of the University of North Dakota tested various fish and found that the species most commonly consumed by Americans -- including grouper, pollock, tuna, salmon, and flounder - all had much more selenium than mercury.





Folate and B-12 May Slow Slide to Senility; "Bs" Help Hearing, Too
Study suggests that folic acid can slow or speed cognitive decline in old age, depending on B-12 levels; Folate may also reduces hearing loss
by Craig Weatherby

Recent headlines from Holland trumpeted the apparent ability of folic acid (folate) - one of the B vitamins - to slow progress toward senility. Folate is concentrated in green leafy vegetables, beans, lentils, hazelnuts, and liver.


But most media reports overlooked a simultaneous announcement by researchers from Boston's Tufts University, which suggest that taking folate alone could increase one's age-related slide toward senility.


Dietary folate can also accelerate progress toward senility and dementia unless people also consume adequate amounts of vitamin B-12, which, supplements aside, is abundant only in animal foods and fermented soy beans (tempeh).


The Tufts researchers suggest that public health officials consider requiring food makers to fortify flour with B-12, because folic acid is already added to flour to help mothers prevent neural tube defects in their developing fetuses (Morris MS et al 2007), this creating the possibility of a senility-promoting imbalance between these B vitamins.


Therefore, as the Dutch group noted, the effect of taking supplemental folic acid might be less in the US, where fortification of flour with folic acid is mandatory, and people have lower blood homocysteine levels.


They also note that -- unlike many nursing home residents -- all of the participants had sufficient levels of vitamin B12, deficiency of which can cause anemia and dementia in elderly people.


They noted that the study involved people with slightly raised levels of the amino acid homocysteine, so the results might not be as clearly beneficial in people with lower homocysteine levels.


Folate benefits brains only when B-12 is present

The well-designed Dutch trial (randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled) was intended to see whether supplemental folic acid would enhance mental performance in people with adequate levels of vitamin B-12 but slightly elevated blood levels of homocysteine (Durga J, van Boxtel MP, et al 2007).


Elevated homocysteine may promote cardiovascular disease, and people with slightly raised levels run an increased risk of or age-related cognitive decline (ARCD): the medical term for geriatric senility.


Homocysteine in the blood is either metabolized (broken down) through a mechanism that uses vitamin B6, or can be converted into harmless methionine through one of two separate routes that require either folic acid or vitamin B12.


The Dutch researchers recruited 818 men and women between the ages of 50 and 70, with slightly elevated blood homocysteine levels (13 micromoles per liter or more) and healthy vitamin B12 levels (at least 200 picomoles per liter).


The participants were randomly assigned to take either 800 micrograms of supplemental folic acid - which is double the US RDA -- or a placebo for three years.


Their cognitive function was assessed at the beginning and end using a battery of tests.


The researchers found that folic acid supplementation gave subjects the memory performance of someone 4.7 years younger, the reaction time of someone 1.7 years younger, the information processing speed of someone 2.1 years younger, and the "global cognitive function" of someone 1.5 years younger.


They also reported that the "delayed recall" performance of the folic acid group compared favorably to the performance of someone 6.9 years younger. (Delayed recall means remembering information after a delay; usually about ten minutes.))


As the authors wrote, "We have shown that 3-year folic acid supplementation improves performance on tests that measure information processing speed and memory, domains that are known to decline with age."


Folate may reduce hearing loss

The same Dutch team also looked at hearing loss among study participants.


At the outset of the three-year study, they measured the participants' average threshold for hearing in the low and high frequency ranges.


By the end of the study the hearing thresholds had increased among members of the folic acid and placebo groups. In other words, noises had to be louder before the participants heard it.


However, the undesirable increase in hearing thresholds in the low frequency range was substantially smaller in the folate group than in the placebo group (1.0 decibels versus a 1.7 decibels increase).




Omega-3s Fight Spine-Bending Arthritic Disorder
Swedes find that high doses of fish omega-3s alleviate symptoms in ankylosing spondylitis
by Craig Weatherby

There's ample evidence that omega-3s can alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis: an inflammatory autoimmune disease that mostly affects middle-aged women.

Ankylosing spondylitis (ank-kih-low-sing spon-dill-eye-tiss) or AS is an autoimmune, rheumatic-type disease that affects some 400,000 adult Americans: about as many as have rheumatoid arthritis. The vast majority (90-95 percent) of AS patients have a genetic marker (HLA-B27) that's far less common in the general population.


Unlike most autoimmune rheumatic diseases (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and scleroderma) three-quarters of AS patients are men.


AS is characterized by inflammation of the spinal joints (vertebrae) that can lead to severe, chronic pain and discomfort.


The symptoms of AS - for which there is no known cure -- often appear by age 30, and can include the following:

  • Dull or tender pain in the lower back and hip joints (sacroiliac), rib joints, neck back or shoulders.
  • Low-grade inflammation.
  • General fatigue, fever, and stiffness.
  • Pain where tendons attach to bone (ankles, buttocks, knees and shoulders).
  • Eye inflammation.

In the most advanced cases, inflammation can prompt new bone formation that forces the spine to fuse in a fixed posture.

Researchers at Sweden's Gallivare Hospital, led by Dr. Bjorn Sundstrom, recruited 18 AS patients from polar and sub-

Native names: Eskimo vs. Inuit and more

In Alaska, the word "Eskimo" is commonly used  to refer to native Inuit and Yupik peoples. But this name is considered derogatory in many other places because it was given by non-Inuit people and was said to mean "eater of raw meat."


"Eskimo" is likely derived from an Ojibwa word meaning "weave snowshoe", but the native people of Canada prefer "Inuit," meaning "people".


The Inuit people of Greenland refer to themselves as "Greenlanders" or "Kalaallit" in their language, which they call "Greenlandic" or "Kalaallisut."


Most Alaskans continue to accept the name "Eskimo", particularly because "Inuit" is not a word in the Yupik languages of Alaska and Siberia.
Source: Kaplan L 2007

polar regions of Sweden where AS and its genetic marker are unusually common.

Interestingly, Inuits (AKA Eskimos; see "Native names" sidebar) who have the genetic marker for high risk of developing AS - and who, unlike white residents of North Sweden, consume lots of omega-3s from fish and marine mammals -- rarely develop the disease.


The Swedes divided the participants into two groups of nine patients each, with one group taking lower daily doses of omega-3s (1.95 grams EPA + DHA) and the other taking fairly high doses (4.55 grams EPA + DHA). The study lasted for 21 weeks.


As Dr. Sundstrom and his colleagues reported, "The patients in the high-dose group exhibited a significant decrease in disease activity according to the Bath Ankylosing Disease Activity Index, which was not seen in the low-dose group … Omega-3 fatty acids in adequate doses may have the capacity to decrease the disease activity of AS."



Pregnant moms who eat fish may have smarter kids

Women who eat seafood while pregnant may be boosting their children's IQ, says new research -- contradicting current recommendations that pregnant women limit seafood to avoid mercury. The study concluded that women who ate more than 340 grams a week of fish or seafood -- the equivalent of two or three servings a week -- had smarter children with better developmental skills.

Children whose mothers ate no seafood were 48 per cent more likely to have a low verbal IQ score, compared with children whose mothers ate high amounts of seafood, the researchers found. The study, led by Dr. Joseph Hibbeln of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, tracked the eating habits of 11,875 pregnant women in Bristol, Britain. At 32 weeks into their pregnancy, the women were asked to fill out a seafood consumption questionnaire. They were sent questionnaires four more times during their pregnancy, and then up to eight years after the birth of their child. Researchers examined the children's social and communication skills, their hand-eye co-ordination, and their IQ levels.

They concluded that fish in a mother's diet did affect their children's development. But since the study was based on self-reporting methods, the results cannot be considered entirely definitive. Seafood for pregnant women has remained controversial, because the food contains both nutrients and toxins. Fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, essential to brain development, is low in saturated fat and contains high-quality protein. But it can also contain mercury, which can cross the placenta and build up in a fetus' nervous system. Large saltwater fish are of particular concern.

Health Canada recommends that pregnant women, women of child-bearing age, and small children not consumer more than one meal per month of swordfish, shark and fresh tuna. Other Canadians should restrict consumption to one meal per week. (Canned tuna is considered safer, because the species used tend to be smaller and shorter lived than those used in the fresh and frozen market, and therefore, the level of mercury found in canned tuna tends to be lower.) While experts believe further research is necessary to confirm these conclusions, the study's failure to find evidence of increased harm from eating fish is significant. Because seafood contains both nutrients and toxins, it remains a dilemma for regulatory authorities what kinds of recommendations should exist for pregnant women. Hibbeln suggests that eating even more than three portions of fish or seafood a week could be beneficial to developing babies. "Advice that limits seafood consumption might reduce the intake of nutrients necessary for optimum neurological development,'' he and his colleagues wrote.

The study was primarily funded by Britain's Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, the University of Bristol, and the British government. The study is published in The Lancet.


Famed “China Project” Study Finds Fish Heart- and Health-Protective

Back in the early 1980’s, Cornell University Professor T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. led the famed Cornell-Oxford-China Study, whose results put vegetable-heavy, low-meat diets in the preventive-health spotlight.


Better known as “The China Project”, analysis of data from this huge epidemiological study is ongoing. In fact, it represents the most comprehensive and scientifically powerful investigation of the links between diet and disease in medical history.


The China Project’s results form the firm foundation of the now widely accepted theory that diets high in vegetables help prevent cancer and heart disease. Recent arms of the study indicate that much of the credit belongs to vegetables’ characteristic antioxidants (see "Early China Project analysis", below).


Analysis of China Project data finds fish heart-healthy

Three years ago, Dr. Campell and his co-authors published their analysis of fish-consumption data from the Phase I of the study, which involved a survey of 6,500 subjects in 65 rural counties.


They compared the fatty acid and antioxidant composition of the participants’ red blood cells with the participants’ health status and their self-reported fish consumption.


Those who ate the most fish – and therefore had the highest blood-cell levels of omega-3 DHA -- had the lowest blood triglyceride levels and the lowest rate of cardiovascular disease (CVD).


In addition, those who had the highest blood-cell levels of omega-3 DHA also had the lowest rates of most chronic diseases, and DHA appeared to be more protective than the two other omega-3s in fish oil: EPA and DPA.


As expected, those who ate the most fish also had the highest levels of omega-3s in their red blood cells.


Interestingly, these two positive correlations -- lowest triglycerides and rates of cardiovascular disease -- were even stronger among those had the highest combined levels of DHA and oleic acid: the monounsaturated fat found most abundantly in olive oil and macadamia nut oil, which is also abundant in the peanut oils commonly used in Chinese cooking.


Those who ate the most fish also had the highest blood levels of the antioxidant, anti-mercury mineral selenium -- of which fish are the richest food sources -- and the highest blood levels of glutathione peroxidase.


(Glutathione peroxidase is a selenium-containing antioxidant that protects our cell membranes. Accordingly, the body’s self-generated “antioxidant network” -- in which glutathione peroxidase plays a key part -- depends heavily on the presence of adequate dietary selenium.)


As Dr. Campbell’s team concluded, “These results demonstrate the protective nature of fish consumption and DHA … This finding suggests the protective effect of fish consumption as validated by red cell DHA is universal. The protective effect is, therefore, most likely to be due to the fundamental properties of docosahexaenoic acid [DHA] in cell function.”


Early China Project analysis boosted antioxidants’ anti-cancer reputation

In the early 1990’s members of the China Project compared the levels of various antioxidants obtained from study participants’ blood, and compared those levels with rates of cancer (Chen J et al 1992).


They found that the people with the highest blood antioxidant levels had the lowest risk of cancer: a fact that may go a long way toward explaining the low cancer rates the very first China Project data analyses found among Chinese people who ate exceptionally vegetable-rich diets.


Vitamin C was the most protective anti-cancer antioxidant, overall. High levels of selenium – again, fish are the richest food sources -- were associated with a reduced risk of esophageal and stomach cancers. Beta-carotene was found to exert protective effects, especially against stomach cancer.


China Project called the “Grand Prix” of diet-disease studies

Unlike studies conducted in the developed world, where everybody eats more or less the same foods in similar proportions, The China Project took place in rural China, where, at the time, almost all people still spent their entire lives near their places of birth eating locally produced foods prepared in accordance with regional culinary customs.


And there were also dramatic differences in the prevalence of disease among the various regions of rural China. Rates of various cardiovascular diseases differed up to 20-fold, and cancer rates often varied even more.


These wide differences in diets and disease rates made rural China the ideal place to explore relationships between lifestyle factors and degenerative disorders like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.


These unique attributes led The New York Times to term The China Project the “Grand Prix” of diet-disease studies.


When its initial results were published in 1990, they indicated that a majority of all cancer and cardiovascular disease cases could be delayed into advanced old age by adopting plant-based diets low in meats.


The original survey was undertaken from 1983 through 1984, with the first results published in 1990. Blood, urine and food samples were obtained for analysis, while questionnaire and 3-day diet information was recorded.


The international team returned to China in 1989 and to conduct the larger China Study II, which included more people (more than 10,000 adults with families), more counties (including Taiwanese counties), and more measurements.


Since then, they’ve published many papers on the relationship of foods and dietary patterns with disease, with mountains of data left to analyze.


Their key findings to date are these … note that “animal products” refers only to meats and dairy foods, not to seafood:

  • Disease patterns in much of rural China tend to reflect those prior to the industrial revolution in the U.S., when cancers and cardiovascular diseases were much less prevalent.
  • American men’s rate of death from heart disease is 17 times higher than the rate among rural Chinese men.
  • Chronic degenerative diseases (cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, etc.) occur where diets are richer in animal products and higher in total fat.
  • These degenerative diseases were clustered in urbanized, industrialized Chinese counties, where more animal products are consumed. (Affluence induces people to eat more meat, since it is a higher-status food.)
  • Small additions of animal based foods to an otherwise plant-heavy diet raise the risk of heart and other degenerative diseases.
  • Increasing intake of plant protein is associated with increasing body height, but plant-based diets high in protein (as from combining soybeans and rice) can also produce “big” people.
  • In rural China, animal protein intake constitutes about one percent of total calorie intake, compared with an average of 10 percent of calories in the US.
  • Rates of osteoporosis are much lower in China, even though calcium intakes are much lower.
  • Obesity is far less prevalent in China than in the US, even though they consume about 30% more total calories.

And thanks to the recent, fish-focused analysis of China Project data, we can now add seafood to the list of dietary factors that make Chinese people in some regions healthier than the average American.



  • Wang Y, Crawford MA, Chen J, Li J, Ghebremeskel K, Campbell TC, Fan W, Parker R, Leyton J. Fish consumption, blood docosahexaenoic acid and chronic diseases in Chinese rural populations. Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2003 Sep;136(1):127-40. Review.
  • Chen J, Geissler C, Parpia B, Li J, Campbell TC. Antioxidant status and cancer mortality in China. Int J Epidemiol. 1992 Aug;21(4):625-35. 




Omega-3s in Pregnancy/Infancy Prevent Mental Problems Later

 Recent evidence reviews support the potential of increased intake in infants and children and adults to reduce psychiatric problems
by Craig Weatherby

Subcommittee of the American Psychiatric Association just published a highly positive evidence review, which supports the hypothesis that fish fats can prevent or alleviate mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.


And just a few weeks before, researchers at the University of Cincinnati published the positive results of their exploration of the existing evidence that omega-3 intake in infancy may reduce the risk of anxiety, aggression, and depression in adulthood (MacNamara RK, Carlson SE 2006).



The study should be required reading for obstetricians and pediatricians, as it delves deeply into the role that DHA - one of the two essential marine omega-3s in fish fat - plays in the proper development of human psyches.


Why should both obstetricians and pediatricians know about this critical information? As the paper's authors discuss, the impact of DHA on future psychiatric health includes the "perinatal" period, which extends from the 28th week (seventh month) of pregnancy to the end of the first week after birth.


They note that DHA accumulates in the brain during the dramatic expansion and maturation of the brain's cortex - the seat of higher mental functions - that occurs in perinatal period.


(The brains of developing babies also need the essential omega-6 fatty acid called arachidonic acid, but there are usually ample amounts in mothers' milk because modern diets are awash in an outright excess of arachidonic acid and its omega-6 precursors.)


The Cincinnati researchers' review starts with observations from studies in rodents and other non-primate animals, which develop several problems when they do not accumulate sufficient DHA in their brains during the perinatal period:


·         Failure to form enough of the branches (dendrites) that extend from neurons (brain cells) and carry important communications inward. This process, called "neuronal arborization", is critical to forming the complex networks among neurons deemed necessary to optimal brain function.

·         Deficits in "synaptogenesis": development of the chemical junctions (synapses) through which cells of the nervous system signal to one another and to tissue cells in muscles and organs. Synapse-development deficits result in impaired ability of the neurons to exchange two chemicals critical to mood, behavior, and coordination: the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.

·         DHA-deprived animals suffer "cognitive deficits", which simply means that they cannot learn and remember as well as counterparts that accumulate ample brain levels of DHA.


Increased anxiety, aggression, and depression are typical of DHA-deprived animals, and arise from the structural/functional deficits just described.


Unsurprisingly, the authors of the new review say that these findings apply to primates -- humans, apes, and monkeys -- as well as simpler animals.


Early DHA deficits damage people's mental prospects

Prematurely born ape and human babies provide perfect examples of the downsides of omega-3 inadequacies, as they typically suffer low levels of DHA in the brain's cortex, which is responsible for controlling mood, impulses, and higher mental functions.


As primate "premies" reach childhood and adolescence, they often display deficits in maturation of the so-called "gray matter" of the cortex.


What does this lack of mature gray matter, driven by low brain levels of DHA, mean in practical terms?


As the Cincinnati researchers noted, deficits in maturation of the gray matter of the cortex are associated with increased risk for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and schizophrenia.


Conversely, people diagnosed with ADHD or schizophrenia typically exhibit deficits in maturation of their cortical gray matter, while the drugs used to treat these disorders increase transmission of dopamine in the cortex and striatum: an area of the brain that controls movement, balance, and walking, whose neurons need dopamine to function.


In addition, clinical trials show that both prematurely born and full-term infants fed DHA enjoy better visual acuity


 Fish Database


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