Proteins and unsaturated fats better for heart than carbohydrates

Even though the Atkins diet seems to be quietly skulking to the background of mainstream America’s obsession with food, November 2005’s JAMA says we shouldn’t abandon proteins quite yet. The article reports that you should probably consider eating legumes rather than carbs, when given the choice (or planning meals). I wrote last month about how the early American Indian diet (which includes many kinds of beans) is considered good for cardiovascular health. This latest report would appear to support that claim.

A study in which participants ate either mostly carbs, mostly proteins, or mostly unsaturated fats showed that the subjects in the protein and unsaturated fats groups showed the best improvements in blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. So go ahead and enjoy that black bean taco; just take it easy on the pasta.

Lovely Lemons – A Great Way to Start the Day

Here’s a great way to “get things moving downstairs” in the morning that won’t make you wiggy for the rest of the day like coffee will. It’ll wake up your digestive system before eating breakfast and get you ready for the day, so to speak. Most people who try it swear by it.

Ready for this amazing secret recipe?

Hot water + lemon

That’s it. Put on the kettle, slice a piece of lemon, pour. Simple enough to add to the busiest schedule and oh-so worth it.

The warm water applies mass to the digestive system kicking it into action. Also, warm water will leave the stomach quicker than cold water since the body doesn’t have to expend energy warming it up first. The lemon is added since it actually aids the bowels in eliminating waste more efficiently and it will give you a good dose of micronutrients to boot.

It’s a simple trick, used for centuries and worth adding to your repertoire.

You can thank me later.


Stevia Powder: A Sweet Sensation

Stevia powder is creating a stir among the health food community.  It’s being used as a safe, tasty substitute for other artificial sweeteners, and has been used by South American natives for years to help many ailments.  With benefits for those with diabetes (see the stevia diabetes review here), children, people trying to lose weight, and those who appreciate healthy natural food in general, it’s easy to see why this substance is so popular.

What is Stevia?

It is essentially an herb.  The Stevia plant can be found growing wild as small shrubs in parts of Paraguay and Brazil.  It’s cultivated in both these places, China, and Japan.  It is used as a sweetener because of its leaves, which are often 10 to 15 times sweeter than sugar.  Some Stevia extracts can be as much as 300 times sweeter than sugar!

Why isn’t Stevia Powder marketed with other sugar substitutes?

Is Stevia safe? The Powder remains classified as an “unapproved food additive” by the FDA.  Although available in many countries, an import alert was issued in 1991 concerning Stevia.  This made it nearly impossible to import or sell the herb in the United States.  Competition with aspartame may have been one reason the FDA issued an alert about the powder.  The FDA based the import alert on concerns raised by a preliminary study on this substance, but another study later that year showed the invalidity of the first.  They then altered their stance on it, allowing it as a food supplement but not a sweetener.

How can I use?

The powder can be used for cooking, baking, and as a sugar substitute. Hundreds of Stevia recipes can be found on the internet. This benefit is particularly helpful for people with diabetes, people trying to lose weight, or anyone else who needs to watch their sugar intake.  In Japan, is used in a number of dishes, like seafood and vegetables.  It may be easier to use a liquid solution for some kinds of cooking, but this can easily be made by adding water to the powder.

Where is it available?

To find some Stevia, whether you’re looking for the liquid or powder form, a natural food store is the best place to go.  Supermarkets and grocery stores typically don’t carry it.  It’s worth the search though. The Powder is essentially calorie-free, sweeter than sugar, and can be used to replace sugar in almost any recipe.  With so much sugar in our diets these days, it can only help to try out a healthy alternative like this.

Effective Weight Loss Exercises The Ones That Work

Weight loss exercises
are an integral part of any weight training regime. Just as there is no such thing as a magic pill that will make someone lose weight in an instant, there is also no such thing as an exercise that will make people lose weight instantly and effortlessly. However, when it comes to weight loss, there are exercises that can benefit people more than others.

Almost all experts will agree that some exercises are more effective than others. Not all exercises are well suited for every single type of fitness level. Some exercises are designed to help people build muscle mass while others are purely meant to help people lose weight. The exercises that matter to people who are on their way to beating the bulge are the ones that help them burn more calories.


Believe it or not, walking is one of those weight loss exercises known to help one lose weight effectively. It is both effective and efficient and it’s practically an exercise that anyone can do no matter what fitness level they are currently in at the moment. Walking can be beneficial to all people of all ages. Even people who are physically fit can gain great benefits from walking.

However, if you’re a couch potato, note that experts from the American Council on Exercise do not recommend that you just get up and start walking around like crazy. Every type of exercise sessions should be taken gradually, even walking.

They recommend that people who are used to sedentary lifestyles should begin walking for about five to ten minutes a day. After a few walking sessions, they should increase the amount of time by several minute increments until they finally get to 30 minutes of walking per session.

Aerobics and Interval Training

Two additional weight loss exercises include aerobics and interval training. Those who are already fit enough can do aerobics in order to lose weight. It is a step up from just plain walking, which basically means that an individual is now ready for more intensive workouts.

However, for those who aren’t that physically fit, they can opt for interval training. This is done by making your current workout, like walking for instance, more intense for an interval of one or two minutes and then pull back and walk at your normal pace for about five minutes or so. Keep switching from high intensity to low intensity workouts throughout the duration of your exercise session.

Note that interval training can be done with just about any other exercise there is, aerobics included. As a bit of a reminder, before you actually engage in interval training, be sure to consult with your doctor or fitness trainer if it is okay for you to do so given your current fitness level.

Strength Training

As people engage in exercise in order to lose weight, it is recommended that they also incorporate strength training whenever it is possible. It should be expected that people will grow muscles in the process. Experts advise people to increase their muscular fitness as well. The fact here is that people who have more muscular fitness will find it easier to burn more calories. These are but some of the effective weight loss exercises that really work.

Is algae-based biofuel the fuel of the future

Researchers around the globe are working to harness algae’s unique ability to produce fatty oils and to grow quickly as a means to provide biofuel. Several recent high-profile technology investments by NASA and the U.S. military’s research arm will help speed research and development. But, can algae become the fuel of the future?

Scaling for Great Demand

For several decades, algae oil has proven to be a viable fuel source in small-scale lab-based experiments. The trick now is to scale production up to meet significant demands. Both the military and NASA provide the impetus for large-scale development. The U.S. military alone spent $12B on fuel in 2007, and they’re investing $35 million in algae research with the hopes to produce 50 million gallons of fuel a year at less than $3 per gallon.

The commitment by these two entities immediately elevates the profile of algae as fuel. Both the military and NASA set high technical standards for production, and they both have a history of commercializing their technical breakthroughs. The fact that the emphasis of both research efforts is on mass production means that these investments could provide the impetus for a whole new industry.

Economic Interference

The economics and efficiency of large-scale algae production is an unknown. Calculations done by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory put the costs of production between $10 to $40 per gallon, so there’s need for significant production improvements to meet the military’s stated goal of $3 per gallon.

The goal to produce oil from algae has multiple motivations for the military. The priorities range from weaning themselves from foreign oil, producing fewer carbon emissions, and developing a portable production capacity that would limit supply chain vulnerabilities.

While the price of a barrel of oil will likely dictate the speed with which oil from algae becomes available to consumers, the multiple motivators speak to a military commitment that will speed development for all uses.

Breakthroughs Needed

Scientists are still working to determine the best algae strain that both grows quickly and produces significant amounts of oil. To date the optimum plants for production haven’t been found, with some growing quickly and producing little oil, and others growing slowly and producing more oil.

There’s also the matter of where algae can be optimally grown. Researchers are testing large open air ponds vs. closed systems, and there’s even an initiative to grow algae in large tethered bags that float in the ocean and feed off of sewage water. The open air systems could pose problems with invasive plants, the closed systems are costly to build, and the open water solution is expensive and more likely to meet unfavorable public reaction.

With the optimum algae strain, and significant infrastructure investments, you could be fueling your personal vehicle with oil from algae, but it’s still early to predict when such a fuel source would be hitting a gas station near you.

When Energy Creation is Fueled by Conservation

Willie Smits is a remarkable man who has founded a university in Borneo, Indonesia, holds a Ph. D. in molecular biology, and is close to completing a second Ph. D. in Agro-Forestry. Smits has also long been an advocate for Borneo’s orangutan population, and has run an orphanage to take in the young of parents that have been killed.

Much of the reason behind the orangutan’s plight on Borneo has to do with the growing number of large oil palm plantations that have clearcut the native rainforest to set up a monoculture of these trees, and have taken away natural orangutan habitat. Oil palm is an important ingredient in many of the foods that we eat, and it is being developed as a leading source of biodiesel.

Smits has witnessed the rapid decline in native rainforest habitat, and the growing number of orangutan orphans has taxed his ability to care for all of them. Seeing this tipping point of the balance of nature close at hand, he has tried to reason with the oil palm plantation owners, pointing out the best soils for the growth of their crops and the ideal locations for transportation to market. While these habitat conservation efforts have had some results, much of the plantation activity is carried out illegally in areas where there are no resources for enforcement.

Instead of simply stopping there, Smits became fascinated with the sugar palm, a close cousin to the oil palm that secretes a sugary juice and is an important food source for Borneo’s indigenous people. Smits pursued the idea that sugar palm juice could be turned into ethanol as a fuel source and devised an ingenious method to tap and transport the juice from a web of these plants toward a central processing center using a network of gravity-fed pipes.

The benefit of this sugar-palm plantation is that these plants do best in their native rainforest habitat among trees of many types. They can grow on steep slopes where other plants can’t, and they hold back erosion that has been a problematic result of the clear-cutting for the oil palm plantations. The sugar palms secrete a large amount of juice that can easily be turned into ethanol, and this ability doesn’t take away from the plants other uses as a food source. The ethanol fuel is provided back to local villagers as a fuel for cooking, which replaces the need for them to cut down trees for firewood.

With the idea in place, Smits set out to prove that a large sugar palm plantation would work. He obtained land that had been deforested and planted 5 million sugar palm trees, as well as more than 1,200 native tree species. After just five years, his plantation is now yielding abundant fuel, and he’s successfully restored the biodiversity of the local wildlife, returned the balance of rainfall to the area, and has improved water quality.

The idea has been such a success that Smits is now being invited to other countries to share his ideas. Smits is speaking to governments in South America and Africa where these plants would do well, in addition to leaders throughout Asia.

The idea of linking conservation with energy production clearly has many benefits, and fits with the symbiotic balance of nature.