Monday, July 18, 2016

Complete Guide to Cooking Beans

By James Achanyi-Fontem,camlink News
I can’t help but feel somewhat sorry for the humble bean… Somehow beans have developed a reputation for being dull, bland and boring, and have almost become a symbol of the common perception of vegan food as being, well… dull, bland and boring. But not only is this not true about vegan food, it’s not even true about beans themselves. As with many other ingredients, it’s all about how you use them. Personally, I’m a huge fan of beans, both for their nutritional profile and also for the taste and texture benefits they bring to my cooking. But I don’t recommend eating beans alone or unseasoned, since I don’t think that’s the best way to enjoy them. According to some sources, beans were one of the first crops cultivated when humans began to develop agriculture, and their cultivation played a key role in the human evolution from a primitive existence toward a more stabilized one. It’s easy to see what an amazing development this must have been for early humans, since beans are not only a powerful source of nutrition, but they can be dried and stored for years. High in protein, fiber, B vitamins, phytochemicals and antioxidants, yet low in fat, sugar and of course cholesterol (which is only present in foods of animal origin), beans are simply one of the best foods available to us. On a non-busy day, I like to cook up a supply of beans that I can use later on in the week. Preparing things like beans ahead of time is a good way to minimize dinner preparation during the week when you have a busier schedule. If you have some pre-cooked beans in the refrigerator, it’s easy to just add them into a veggie sauté which can then become a substantial portion of your meal. When they’re mixed in with cooked veggies and well-seasoned, you’d almost never know you were eating beans. There are many different varieties of beans, so if you’re interested in taking advantage of their excellent nutritional benefits, I would suggest that you try a few different varieties to see which type appeals to you the most. Even if you think you’re ‘not a fan’, you may well be surprised by how much variation there is in the legume family. And if you’re willing to be a bit adventurous, you might even want to try some heirloom varieties.
How to Cook Beans To cook beans easily and in less time, use a pressure-cooker. Check out this link for more information about this method. oMost dry beans need soaking overnight before cooking. Soak in 4-5 cups of water to 1 cup of beans. Rinse with fresh water before cooking. o1 cup dry beans yields approximately 2 1/2 cups cooked beans. oTo cook: Bring water to a boil. Add beans, then simmer for specified cooking Lentils (brown) 1 cup dry lentils to 3 cups water. No pre-soaking necessary. Cooking time: 30 minutes. Red lentils require less cooking time. Garbanzo Beans (chick peas) 1 cup dry beans to 4 cups water. Soaked overnight, cooking time is 2-3 hours. Soya beans 1 cup dry beans to 4 cups water. Soaked overnight, cooking time is 3 hours. Black Beans 1 cup dry beans to 4 cups water. Soaked, cooking time is 60-90 minutes. Navy Beans 1 cup dry beans to 3 cups water. Soaked, cooking time is 90 minutes. Pinto Beans 1 cup dry beans to 3 cups water. Soaked, cooking time is 2-2 1/2 hours. Great Northern Beans 1 cup dry beans to 3 cups water. Unsoaked, cooking time is 90-120 minutes. Soaked, cooking time is 60 minutes. Kidney Beans 1 cup dry beans to 3 cups water. Soaked, cooking time is 60+ minutes. Unsoaked, cooking time is 90 minutes. Lima Beans 1 cup dry beans to 3 cups water. No soaking required. Cooking time is 90 minutes. Split Peas 1 cup dry beans to 3 cups water. No soaking required. Cooking time is 45-75 minutes. Adzuki Beans 1 cup dry beans to 4 cups water. Soaked for one hour, cooking time is 1 hour. Unsoaked, cooking time is 90-120 minutes. Favorite Ways to Use Beans
Here are a couple of recipes that use my favorite variety: the gorgeous little black bean. Maybe it’s because my father used to make a great black bean sauce when I was younger (I can still just about taste it now), but whatever the reason, I’m a big fan of black beans. Here are some ideas to get you acquainted with them. Caribbean Spicy Black Bean Salad serves 4 Spicy Dressing 1/2 tsp. sea salt 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper 1/4 tsp. ground allspice 1/4 tsp. cumin powder 1/4 tsp. dried oregano 1/4 cup cold-pressed olive oil 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar 1 Tbsp. sweetener Salad 4 cups cooked black beans 1 large bunch watercress, chopped 1 cup red & yellow bell pepper, diced 2 cups corn kernels (optional) 6 cups (loosely packed) baby greens 2 scallions, thinly sliced 1.In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. 2.Drain and rinse beans. 3.In large bowl, toss beans, watercress, peppers and corn with 1/4 cup of dressing. 4.Arrange greens on four serving plates. Top each with bean mixture and drizzle with remaining dressing. Sprinkle with scallions.…… Cuban Black Bean Salad/Dip serves 2 2 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced 1/2 cup red onion, diced 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped 1/4 tsp. cumin powder 3 Tbsp. vinegar 3 Tbsp. olive oil 1/4 tsp. sea salt 1/8 tsp. red pepper 1.Place beans, bell pepper, onion and cilantro in a salad bowl. 2.Stir together cumin powder, vinegar and oil in a cup. Pour over bean mixture and gently stir, coating evenly. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. •Variation ~ In a food processor, using the “S” shaped blade, place all above ingredients along with three chopped garlic cloves and one tablespoon lime juice. Process until creamy to make a dip. Chill before serving. Homemade Chili Yields 1 medium to large sized potBean Salsa in Radicchio Leaves 1 2/3 cup dry beans (pinto, red or kidney) soaked overnight 5 cloves garlic, diced 1 large onion, diced 1 bell pepper, diced 1 (12 oz.) can tomato paste 1 (12 oz.) can tomato sauce 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped jalapeño peppers, diced, to taste 1 cup bean stock (see step 1) 1 Tbsp. sweetener 1 Tbsp. tamari or substitute 3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast 1 Tbsp. cumin powder 1 Tbsp. vegetable bouillon 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder (or to taste) 1/4 tsp. sea salt garlic & onion powder, to taste 2 cups ground tempeh or seitan (Optional, but recommended. You can also use texturized vegetable protein – TVP. If using TVP, simmer with 2-3 cups of boiling water until all the water is absorbed.) 1. Rinse soaked beans, then cook for one hour before beginning chili preparation. Drain beans and set aside one cup of liquid. 2. In a separate pot, sauté garlic, onion and pepper. When cooked, add tomato paste, tomato sauce and all other ingredients except tempeh/seitan, beans and bean stock. Continue simmering. 3. Add tempeh/seitan to the chili pot. Stir frequently. When beans are cooked thoroughly, add them to the pot with one cup of the bean stock. Simmer for another half an hour. 4. Serve in taco shells, over rice or with corn bread. Bean Salsa in Radicchio Leaves Yields 5 cups 3 cups cooked pinto beans 1 red onion, chopped 2 tomatoes, chopped 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped 1 cup corn kernels 2 jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced 2 avocados, cubed 1/3 cup cilantro, minced 1/2 cup tomato sauce 1 Tbsp. vinegar 1 tsp. sea salt (or to taste) radicchio leaves (or romaine, kale, chard) 1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, except leaves and avocados. Set aside to marinate for two hours at room temperature. 2. Place 1/4 cup of bean salsa into each leaf using a slotted spoon. 3. Garnish with avocado and serve. •Variation ~ Toss Bean Salsa with hot or cold pasta. Lastly, a couple of easy recipes that you can whip up in the food processor. Italian White Bean Topping serves 4 4 cups cooked great northern beans or navy beans 1/4 cup water/stock (or tomato sauce) 1/4 cup olive oil 1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast 3 cloves garlic, diced 1/2 tsp. basil 1/2 tsp. oregano 2 tsp. onion powder 1/2 tsp. sea salt 1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped 2 scallions, chopped 1. Combine beans, water/stock, oil, nutritional yeast, garlic, and spices in the food processor. Process until creamy-smooth, adding more liquid to reach desired consistency. 2. Transfer to a bowl. Top with parsley and scallions. Serve at room temperature.… Bean Dip 5–6 servings 2 2/3 cup cooked pinto beans 3 Tbsp. tamari or substitute 2/3 cup tomato paste 2 tsp. garlic powder 1 tsp. onion powder 1 tsp. cumin powder 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar jalapeños, diced, to taste (optional) In a food processor, using the “S” shaped blade, blend all ingredients. Chill. Gentle World is a non-profit educational organization, whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making such a transition. Visit for more information.

15 Best Protein Alternatives to Meat Besides Tofu

By Diane M.
Do you hate tofu? Or are you just plain sick of it? Check out these 15 tasty alternatives to both meat and tofu that will make you smack your lips in delight. 1) Quinoa – This tiny seed is full of protein, easy to cook and very versatile. A cup of cooked quinoa serves up 8 grams of protein, and you can get more by serving it with chickpeas, beans and nuts. Plus, it is one of the only non-meat options that provide the nine essential amino acids our bodies can’t produce on their own, including lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. Plus, quinoa contains fiber, iron, magnesium and manganese. Buy it white, red or black, in bulk or in a box. Rinse it well (even if you buy it pre-washed), then cook it like rice: combine one part quinoa to two parts water in a pot, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for around 15 minutes. Serve hot with stir-fried vegetables or cold in a salad of leafy greens, chopped tomatoes and cucumbers or in some saucy combo you particularly like. 2) Lentils – I spent three weeks trekking in the Himalayas and pretty much survived on lentils and the 9 grams of protein per half cup they provide when cooked. I never got sick of them, and today, I still enjoy a delicious protein boost from lentil soup, lentil stew and lentils in the dal I order at Indian restaurants. If you buy them dry, sort through them before you cook them to find tiny pieces of dirt or rocks that might have gotten mixed in. Then rinse them under running water before boiling 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of lentils. Once the water is boiling add the lentils, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. It will take 20-30 minutes to cook, depending on which variety of lentil you are using. When done, add cooked lentils to a mushroom, carrot and onion stew, vegetable soup, or your own lentil soup you make with hearty vegetarian stock and whatever vegetables you have on hand. If you don’t want to start with dry lentils, you can find organic packaged lentils that have already been cooked. 3) Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans – Garbanzo beans are among the most versatile of beans for their mild flavor and their versatility. It doesn’t hurt that one cup of garbanzos provides 12 grams of protein, or 24 percent of the daily value based on a 2,000-calorie diet (so more, if you only eat 1200-1500 calories, like I usually do). Like lentils, you can cook up the dried bean or buy them ready to eat. Toss them on a couscous-based salad for a big protein boost, nibble on them cold with a little salt and pepper for a snack, add them to vegetable soup or puree them with some lemon juice and yogurt to make a refreshing dip for vegetables and crackers. You can also grind them up and add parsley and mint to make your own falafel. Yum! 4) Kidney Beans – I also think of these beans as chili beans, don’t you? Cooked kidney beans pack about 15 grams of protein into every cup serving; they are also a terrific source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. I prefer to eat these beans hot, as in a veggie stew, soup or chili. 5) Great Northern Beans – You’re probably getting the message that beans generally are a good source of protein other than meat and tofu, and you’re right. I like Great Northern beans a lot because they have mild flavor so can be added to a dish like mushroom barley soup without detracting from either the mushrooms or the barley. Like other beans, Great Northerns are also a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. 6) Seitan – If you’re not gluten-free, seitan could be a good meat and tofu alternative for you. It’s made from wheat gluten, is chewier than tofu and can be grilled, braised and broiled like meat. If you like eating food with a heartier texture, seitan could be for you. Here’s how to make it at home if you can’t find it in your local food co-op or natural foods grocery store. 7) Tempeh – Tempeh is similar in texture and cooking profile to seitan, but is made from fermented soybeans rather than wheat gluten. It tastes pretty bland on its own, so marinate it in flavorful sauces and spices before you cook it. 8) Broccoli – This is a surprise, right? Broccoli contains 5 grams of protein per cup! The problem, of course, is that you probably won’t eat more than a cup of broccoli at one sitting. But combine cooked broccoli with quinoa, or dip raw broccoli in hummus and you have a satisfying, protein-rich meal for lunch or dinner. 9) Green Peas – One cup of cooked peas contains about 79 grams of protein, almost the same as a cup of milk. Serve them as a side dish, stir them into soup or macaroni and cheese,or blend them with olive oil, parmesan cheese, and toasted pine nuts to make a delicious pesto. 10) Seeds – Both hemp and chia seeds are protein dense, and add good fiber to your diet, too. Toast them and sprinkle them over salad, stir them into yogurt and oatmeal or blend them into smoothies. Sunflower, sesame and poppy seeds are also protein powerhouses, which you can add to muffins, salads, stir fries or, in the case of sunflower seeds, eat on their own. 11) Nuts and Nut Butters – The upside is that nuts are very protein-dense, between 5 and 6 grams of protein per ounce. The downside is that they’re also high in calories. Your best bet is to eat nuts and nut butters plain, i.e., without hydrogenated oils or lots of added sugar. Get dry roasted or buy them raw and roast them at home. You can grind peanuts into peanut better at some food co-ops and grocery stores or look for butters that clearly say “just peanuts” or “just almonds” plus perhaps some salt, on their labels. 12) Edamame – Boiled edamame soybeans contain 8.4 grams of protein per half cup, but I bet you won’t stop there. You boil them up in their pods, then sprinkle them with a little salt and maybe a dash of soy sauce and slurp out the beans. 13) Milk – If you’re vegan, go the soy, almond, hemp, flax or rice milk route. If you consume dairy, cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s milk might be more to your liking. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1 cup of nonfat milk contains 8.26 grams of protein or 16 percent of your daily value for protein. It’s also rich in calcium, riboflavin, vitamin D and other minerals. 14) Yogurt – Thick and creamy Greek yogurt may contain twice as much protein as regular yogurt, but read the label of whichever option you choose, as some companies add gelatin, an animal collagen product, or carmine, a natural dye derived from the body of beetles. Look at sugar and fat content, as well. I generally prefer non-fat, no sugar added Greek yogurt, or I make my own out of non-fat organic milk, a couple of tablespoons of yogurt and maybe a half cup of powdered organic milk. 15) Eggs – If you’re not vegan, eggs could be a terrific meat and tofu substitute for you. One large whole egg contains 6 grams of protein: 3 in the yolk and 3 in the white. Eggs also contain an abundance of vitamins and minerals, plus many of the amino acids you need for complete protein. If you’ve got room in your yard, you can humanely raise your own chickens and collect the eggs without much ado. Did I miss your favorite? Please share!

10 Surprising Causes of Weight Gain

By Diana Vilibert
We all know that eating right and exercising are the keys to keeping excess pounds off…but there are other surprising factors that can also have an effect on your weight—from your bedtime to the ingredients in your skincare products. A late bedtime Scientists have been finding more and more links over the years between lack of sleep and weight gain. Most recently, in a study published earlier this month in Sleep, University of California, Berkeley researchers found that, for young adults, a later bedtime during the workweek was associated with an increase in body mass index over time—and, unfortunately, not even exercise or total sleep time mitigated the BMI increase. Food additives Emulsifiers—aka the additives that give foods like peanut butter a smooth, creamy texture—might be causing weight gain, changing your gut’s microorganisms and increasing inflammation, according to recent research published in Nature. The study’s researchers looked at the emulsifiers carboxymethylcellulose, sometimes found in ice cream, dressing, gelatinous desserts, cream cheese spread and cottage cheese, as well as polysorbate-80, sometimes found in ice cream, salad dressing and mayonnaise. Your favorite cooking show If you get your recipes from the Cooking Channel and often cook indulgent dishes along with TV chefs, you may have a higher BMI than those who don’t, suggests a study published earlier this year in Appetite. The study researchers found that obtaining food information from cooking shows, watching food television and cooking frequently from scratch were all associated with a higher body mass index. Your makeup bag The Environmental Working Group reports that the average woman uses 12 beauty products containing 168 different ingredients daily—and some of these ingredients are wreaking havoc on their bodies. One such ingredient currently being investigated? Triphenyl phosphate, also known as TPHP, commonly found in nail polish and nail treatments and shown to possibly disrupt the endocrine system and contribute to obesity. Polysorbate-80 (the emulsifier listed above found in foods) also shows up in a lot of face creams. Your furniture Most of us probably don’t think of our couch or carpets as being full of chemicals, but plenty of furniture sold in the U.S. actually contains synthetic flame retardant chemicals. And according to scientists at the University of New Hampshire, those chemicals in foam couch cushions, carpet padding and electronics have been found to cause metabolic problems that lead to insulin resistance, a major cause of obesity. “Despite the plethora of resources devoted to understanding the roles of diet and exercise in the obesity epidemic, this epidemic continues to escalate, suggesting that other environmental factors may be involved. At the biochemical level there is a growing body of experimental evidence suggesting certain environmental chemicals, or ‘obesogens’, could disrupt the body’s metabolism and contribute to the obesity epidemic,” explained lead researcher Gale Carey. Your plates Big plates can mean bigger portions, according to numerous studies. The brain associates a lot of white space on a plate with less food, possibly causing you to go for seconds—one study at Cornell University found that people given large bowls not only ate 16 percent more, but their estimates of how much they ate were actually 7 percent less than the estimates of people eating out of smaller bowls. Criticism Anyone who’s ever been nagged by a loved one about their weight knows it doesn’t feel good…but it turns out, it’s not good for your diet either, according to research published in Personal Relationships in 2014. When researchers asked college-aged women to discuss their weight, how they felt about it and whether they discussed their weight with loved ones, they found that women who received few messages of weight acceptance from loved ones gained 4.5 pounds over five months. Women who received more weight acceptance messages lost a pound on average. Midnight munchies Pants feeling a little tight? Nighttime snacking may be to blame. A study published in International Journal of Obesity found that people diagnosed with night eating syndrome—those who consume half or more of their daily calories after 7pm, have sleep difficulty three or more nights a week, and have no appetite for breakfast—tend to have a higher body mass index. Netflix binges Can binge-watching your favorite show lead to binge-eating your favorite snack? Some research confirms the link between watching TV and overeating—not only can parking yourself in front of the screen cause you to lose track of what you’re eating and eat more calorie-dense foods, commercials for junk food trigger our cravings. Your open-plan kitchen Out of sight, out of mind—when it comes to snacks that add extra pounds, the adage applies. Research has found that we’re more likely to consume food when it’s in our line of vision. So if you’ve got junk food a few feet away from you in your cupboards, on the kitchen table or in the office candy bowl, try to situate yourself farther away from the temptation.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

How to Lower Your Breast Cancer Risk by 25%

By Michelle Schoffro Cook
Many people think that cancer is like a ticking time-bomb waiting to strike without reason, but increasing amounts of research show that our dietary habits are far more important than we may think. And exciting new research proves that we can significantly impact breast cancer risk by making healthy dietary choices. According to a new study by the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health researchers found that teenagers who had higher fruit consumption had a reduced risk of breast cancer while those who drank alcohol had an increased risk. The Harvard researchers used data that followed over 90,000 nurses for more than 20 years. The data also included their early adulthood nutritional habits. While many studies have explored the role of improved dietary habits in adult years on breast health, few examine the connection between teenage and early adult eating habits and breast cancer. The study considered 2.9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily to be high consumption of these foods, although it is still much lower than the 5 daily servings recommended by most nutritionists. Those who ate at least 2.9 servings of fruits and vegetables had a 25 percent reduced risk of breast cancer in their middle age years. Of the foods assessed, consumption of apples, bananas and grapes during adolescent years and oranges and kale during early adulthood, appear to be most beneficial when it comes to reducing breast cancer risk. Drinking fruit juice had no effect on breast cancer risk. The scientists believe that the nutrient alpha carotene is responsible for the protective effect from these foods. Continuing to eat these foods during adulthood is also beneficial; however, this study focused on the eating habits of adolescents and young adults on the breast cancer risk later in life.
Another study of over 22,000 post-menopausal women also published in the BMJ found that alcohol consumption significantly increases a person’s breast cancer risk, after factors like age, body mass index (BMI), smoking, physical inactivity, Mediterranean diet score, elevated cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. The study found that those women who increased their alcohol consumption by 2 drinks a day for 5 years had a 30 percent increased risk of breast cancer. Those women who drank less alcohol had a much lower risk of breast cancer. For most people following these two simple strategies to reduce breast cancer risk is easy and affordable. Let’s face it: it’s not that hard to add more vegetables and fruits to meals and to skip the alcoholic beverages most of the time. Obviously it’s up to you to pass on the alcohol in favor of non-alcoholic beverages. As for fruits and vegetables, here are some ways to eat more every day: -Start early. You’re more likely to eat higher amounts of fruits and vegetables every day if you begin in the morning. Throw in a handful of vegetables in your omelette or top your cereal or yogurt with berries or chopped peaches, apricots or other fruit. -Make vegetables, rather than proteins or starches, the priority in your meals. You’ll eat a lot more veggies if they are the star of the meal rather than just a side dish. -Add a couple of handfuls of fruits and/or greens to your smoothies. -If you have a sweet tooth, choose fruit first. A banana, apple, a handful of cherries, or a bowl of berries is often sufficient to quell the cravings. When it comes to breast cancer, you are what you eat so it’s important to make healthy choices. Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is an international best-selling and 19-time published book author whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, and Cooking (New World Library, 2016).

10 Reasons to Love Beets

By Michelle Schoffro Cook
Beets are among the best superfoods. They are packed with nutrition and healing properties. Not counting their delicious taste and incredible versatility, here are 10 reasons to love these delicious darlings of the vegetable kingdom. Lowers High Blood Pressure: New research on June 30, 2016 in the medical journal Nitric Oxide found that drinking beet juice significantly reduced high blood pressure. That’s great news to the more than one billion global sufferers of hypertension. Another study published in the Journal of Human Hypertension found that raw beet juice was more effective than cooked beets, although both are helpful. Improves Blood Flow in Heart Disease: Animal research published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise showed that the simple addition of beets to the diets of animals suffering from chronic heart failure resulted in significant improvement in oxygen transport and other blood markers for heart disease. Boosts Prostate Health: The mineral zinc, found in beets, is essential to prostate health.
Battles Leukemia: In a study published in the Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences, researchers compared the effects of drinking a combination of beet and carrot juice on its own or in combination with the anti-leukemia drug chlorambucil against leukemia. They concluded that “Beetroot-carrot juice can be used as an effective treatment for (leukemia) alone or in combination with chlorambucil when taken orally with regular diet on daily basis.” Increases Exercise Endurance: Research in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that beets increase oxygenation of the muscles and increases exercise endurance. Boosts Gut Health: Beets are a rich source of prebiotics, the foods for healthy microbes or probiotics in your intestines. By eating more beets you’ll feed the healthy bacteria and other beneficial microbes that give your gut health a boost. Reduces the Risk of Birth Defects: Beets are rich in the B vitamin known as folate, which has been shown in many studies to reduce the risk of birth defects in fetuses. Aids Diabetes: Beets are high in the nutrient known as alpha lipoic acid, which is one of the most potent antioxidants you can get. Not only does it fight disease-causing free radicals on its own, it recycles other antioxidant nutrients like vitamins A, C and E. Alpha lipoic acid has been found to reduce the nerve damage often linked with diabetes. Reduces Inflammation in the Body: Beets contain powerful anti-inflammatory compounds known as betalains. Alleviates Allergies: Beets are high in natural compounds known as anthocyanins, which is the group of natural pigments that give beets their characteristic purplish color. Anthocyanins have been found to alleviate allergies. You can enjoy raw beets grated on a salad or juiced, and cooked beets in soups and stews. I love steamed beets tossed with a little flax oil (don’t cook the flax oil though) and sea salt. And, of course, you can also add beets to your juicer or high-powered blender while making your favorite fresh juices or smoothies. Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: 60 Seconds to Slim: Balance Your Body Chemistry to Burn Fat Fast! (Rodale).

The Spice that Kills Breast Cancer Stem Cells

By Michelle Schoffro Cook
Who doesn’t love ginger cookies or spice cake? The signature ginger flavor adds a delightful taste to almost anything to which it is added. But taste is not the only reason to love this amazing spice. Not only is ginger a delicious addition to food, it is also one of the best natural medicines around. And, now there is more reason than ever to turn to ginger for its impressive healing abilities: research shows that this spice sensation kills breast cancer stem cells. While cancer is made up of a range of cells, its stem cells have the ability to self-renew and give rise to a large number of cancer cells and have shown resistance to numerous chemotherapy drugs. As a result, these cells have been the target of widespread investigation. It is believed that targeting these cells will help to effectively kill cancer cells and tumors. However, to date, cancer stem cells have posed a serious obstacle to cancer therapy as they are often the cause of cancer relapse. According to research in the online medical journal PLoS One, the herb ginger, or gingerroot as it is also called, holds promise in the destruction of cancer stem cells and cancer in general. That’s because ginger contains several substances that have been found to kill stem cells and interfere with their ability to renew. Specifically, ginger contains the anti-cancer compounds known as gingerols and 6-shogaol. The study found that these compounds effectively targeted breast cancer stem cells and prevented them from renewing. While it is possible that these ginger compounds will have the same effect on other types of cancer, they were not explored in this particular study. Other research published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine found that these compounds and two others found in ginger showed significant anti-cancer properties. While more research is needed, the authors of the PLoS One study state that ginger, and an extract of its constituent 6-shogaol, is “a promising therapeutic agent which should be further followed up for breast cancer treatment.” Since ginger has a proven safety track record, it is worth consideration as part of an anti-cancer or cancer-prevention plan. You can use a ginger extract (usually the medicinal parts of roots like ginger are extracted in alcohol). These extracts, known as tinctures, are available in most health food stores. Follow package instructions; however if you’re using it as part of your breast cancer treatment program, you may need higher dosages than the package indicates. It is best to work with a qualified herbalist or natural medicine practitioner along with your oncologist. For day-to-day help with cancer prevention, you can add chopped, fresh ginger to soups, stews, stir-fries, vegetable or meat dishes, as well as desserts. Add fresh ginger to a juicer while making juices. You can also add chopped, fresh ginger to water and boil it for at least 45 minutes but preferably an hour, then strain and drink as a hot or iced tea. Add the herb stevia if you prefer a sweeter-tasting beverage. Always choose fresh gingerroot over dried ginger powder as it contains far more of the medicinal compounds. Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, and Cooking (New World Library, 2016).