Reading List: Skip That Detox, Flaxseed Pluses & More Supplement Warnings

by in Food News, September 11, 2009

In this week’s nutrition headlines: why you should eat more flaxseed, experts question the value of detoxing and do you really need specialty food washes?

Eat More Flaxseeds
Because of its high amounts of omega-3 fats, fiber and other heart-healthy compounds, flaxseed should definitely be in your diet. Need more proof? A recent report linked eating whole flaxseed (not the oil) to a decrease in total cholesterol and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. These results were based on 28 studies and more than 1,800 people. One tablespoon of whole flaxseed a day did the trick.

Are Detox Diets A Farce?
Detox diets are a hot topic these days (have you seen the debate on our Master Cleanse post?), but according to this Washington Post article, folks probably are wasting their time and money. Experts say there’s no scientific evidence that you’re really cleansing anything from your system (and I agree!). The best ways to keep your body in good shape is to eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol. What’s your take on detox diets?

Specialty Washes to Clean Your Veggies
E. Coli in cantaloupe, tainted nuts, contaminated ice cream … there have been lots of food scares lately. Some companies are now marketing special bottled washes to help you remove dirt and potentially harmful bacteria that might infect fresh foods — or at least their surfaces. I’ve heard that some people clean produce with dish soap, which you’re not supposed to consume; these specialty washes, however, are made with food-grade (i.e. safe to eat) ingredients. Produce companies do pre-wash food, but bacteria can still get on it (think of all the people sorting through the apple bin or the journey to the grocery store). The cheapest and easiest cleaning answer is warm water, but if you’ve got extra money to buy the bottled stuff, it certainly won’t hurt. Has anyone ever tried one of these packaged washes?

What’s In Your Supplements?
As I rode in an elevator last week, I heard two men boasting about all the supplements they take. I just held my tongue. Many folks take supplements, especially ones that promise energy or weight loss, but more doctors are warning against them. Because supplements aren’t well regulated by the FDA, their labels might not always include the full ingredients. Even worse, some herbal supplements can interact with common medications (i.e. birth control or heart pills). If you take any supplements or are thinking about it, investigate them fully to find out what their real benefits are and they’re worth it.

Serving Better School Lunches
When my young, counseling clients tell me about their school lunch options, I rarely hear about anything healthy (so they get a few baby carrots on pizza Friday — whoopee!). There has been growing pressure and support for improving school lunch programs throughout U.S.. With the economy down, more kids are enrolling in school lunch (and breakfast) programs so it’s especially important. Cities like Pittsburgh are adding whole grains and fiber-rich foods to their menus and reducing the sugar and fat. Have you seen changes in your local schools?

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Comments (6)

  1. Ashlie says:

    I have IBS and – in an effort to avoid prescription medications and constant misery – I have tried everything from aloe vera juice to probiotics. After lots of research I recently began taking an Indian herbal supplement called Triphala. It has helped me a lot, but given warning like the one in this article – I get a little worried about taking anything. So I'm just wondering – has anyone heard anything bad about Triphala?

  2. Sarah says:

    I wash my fruits and veggies (ones with tough skin- apples, organges, tomatoes etc) with watered down dish soap. Im not sure if it really gets all of the bacteria and dirt off, but I feel better knowing its cleaned, and I have never felt sick or anything if I've accidently consumed any.

  3. Lily says:

    On the note of supplements, I was wondering if you could give us any information on anti-osteoporosis for women. My mom was supposed to be on Fosamax but luckily she has not yet received her prescription. She has been trying to eat one yoplait light yogurt, a couple of cups of milk, in addition to some milk on her cereal in the morning, each day. Yet, she doesn't think this is enough and wants to start supplements. Do you have any advice? Thank you!

  4. Nan says:

    I bought a small bottle of grapefruitseed extract and added 20 drops to a 32 oz. spray bottle of water for cleaning my vegetables/fruits. Very cheap alternative to the specialty bottled stuff. The extract is not expensive and is available at health food stores. For more uses once you buy the extrac, go to

  5. Fawn says:

    Lily, you should ask for (if it hasn't already been done) a bone density test. that will tell you how much bone she has and whether or not something along the lines of fosamax is warranted. I'd recommend doing some research on bone density measurement results so you can better understand those. You can also look up some sites (webmd, etc not pharmaceautical sites) that explain osteoporosis, causes, symptoms, tests, etc. Also, depending on her physical state, weight baring exercises, especially if she has dr approval for lifting, will help maintain bone density, since it's typical to lose a certain percentage annually post-menopausal (I want to say 1-3% but it's been a while since I've looked at that data). Hope this helps!

  6. Lily says:

    She has done all of this. What is the next step for protection?

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