The A-Z of Plantalicious Ingredients – H is for Hamburg Parsley

Hamburg Root Parsley is somewhat of a unique ‘off-beat vegetable’. Although this wonderful white and green vegetable is not as common as other root veggies, parsley root is extremely delicious and deserves much more recognition than it gets

Very easy to grow, both the leaves and root are edible. Parsley Root Hamburg has edible large flat, parsley-like leaves but should not be confused with common curly parsley or Italian flat leaf parsley, as neither produce edible roots.

Parsley root is most commonly eaten cooked, as a delectable addition to stews or soups, or simply as chopped or cubed as a steamed side veggie, as you would other roots such as turnips, parsnips, and carrots. In fact, it’s an extremely versatile and exciting vegetable which can be sautéed, roasted, fried, or boiled for a distinctive and savoury accompaniment for any meal.

This charming vegetable is not only a delicious ingredient, it also come with a wonderful array or health benefits.

Parsley is a very rich source of vitamin K, vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin C, iron and folate. Apart from these, it contains a fair amount of other vitamins and minerals and is also very low in calories.

Parsley tea is a tasty tea with an acquired taste that is used as a remedy for various health problems. The herb was used in ancient Greek medicine and in Ayurveda, to treat flatulence, and dyspepsia.


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F is for FIBRE – Are you getting enough? Are you “going” enough???

150808-20140203Do you remember the F Plan Diet? I do. The book by British author Audrey Eyton became a huge best seller. Basically the diet suggested restricting calories whilst eating large amounts of fibre. It was also known by another “F” due to the Flatulence it caused! 

It’s almost 35 years since the F Plan hit the shelves and fibre is no longer the hot topic, it once was. Until a recent study that found that heart attack survivors were more likely to be alive. 9 years later if they had a high fibre intake. 

The Harvard School of Public Health team analysed data from two large US studies involving more than 4,000 men and women who had survived a first heart attack and had provided information about their usual diet via questionnaires.

Interesting, huh? 

That got me thinking about how much dietary fibre most people eat. With my wholefood, plant-based diet I routinely consume more than the experts from US recommendation of 38g. In the UK the average consumption is 14g against a suggested intake of 18g. 

Fibre really does keep everything “moving” through your system. Fibre comes in two types – soluble and insoluble. Soluble slows the digestion and cause gasses. Insoluble fibre is what promotes “stool regularity”. Ok – sorry to talk about poo, but come on, be honest, do you go with ease and as regularly as you’d like? 

Fibre also makes you feel full. 

Should you worry about your fibre intake? Judging by what I see in some shopping baskets, possibly. If you eat a predominately plant based diet, you should have no need to be concerned about your fibre intake. 

If you are eating whole grains, peas, beans, legumes plus plenty of vegetables and fruit, you should have no worries about your fibre intake. 

How can you tell if you are getting enough? For me, it’s the regularity with which I go. 

What’s your fibre intake like? 
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There are no “Silver Bullets” – It’s progress not perfection and dealing with the frustrations.

Here is a video blog entry about my experience and recent “low point” after 12 months of following a plant-based diet.



Please share your experiences by adding some comments or by joining the community.

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The A-Z of Plantalicious Ingredients – G is for Garlic


As a child, I could eat onions of any kind.  At family events, I’d be the child eating the very hot crunchy pickled onions.  My father would steep raw onions in vinegar for us to have with salads on Sunday evenings.  I loved them.  In terms of garlic, I’d not tasted fresh garlic at home.  My Mum had a small plastic garlic clove with garlic salt in it.  I can remember being invited to dinner with my newly married brother and my sister-in-law where I tasted “real” garlic for the fist time at the age of 12.  OMG – I loved it, it was onion but to the max!


As I grew up I started to understand why it should be a staple part of my cooking.  Mainly used as a flavour enhancer, garlic also has other uses as well.


Not that many people know that garlic is actually native to the Central Asia, and it has been used quite a lot by the ancient Egyptians as well, for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Nowadays, we have 7 different types of garlic in Europe, and those are the Ajo Morado de las Pedroñeras, Aglio Rosso di Nubia , Ail rose de Lautre, Ail de la Drôme, Aglio Bianco Polesano, Aglio di Voghiera and Ail blanc de Lomagne.


Garlic can be cultivated all the year in mild climates all over the world, and this is especially true across Europe. Although garlic is not typically consumed in large amounts, it can provide your body  with lots of nutrients.


Garlic is a triple-whammy: it’s antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal. Garlic is one food that we all should be eating every day.

Researchers have found that allicin, a chemical found in garlic that gives it its flavour, could be used to fight cancer. It appears that the natural chemical reaction that forms allicin, which occurs when the garlic is eaten or smashed, may penetrate and kill tumour cells.

Several studies suggest that garlic has many beneficial effects on the heart. Garlic may:

  • Lower total cholesterol
  • Lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Help keep blood thin, reducing the risk of blood clots and stroke
  • Lower elevated serum levels of homocysteine, according to preliminary studies

Garlic also works like an antibiotic against bacteria, virus, and protozoa in the body, and unlike with antibiotics, no resistance can be built up so it is an absolutely safe product to use.

Garlic can have a powerful antioxidant effect in the body, which means it helps to protect against damaging free radicals.

Garlic’s anti-fungal properties are excellent for reducing fungal infections, such as yeast infections.

People claim that people who eat garlic tend to get fewer bites from insects like ticks, according to research. It also likely applies to mosquitoes as well.  I’m not sure about that as I still seem to be seen as a healthy snack to any passing mosquito.

One problem with garlic, of course, is the smell, but if you have a good digestion that should not be a problem.  You can also chew a little parsley to reduce the smell.  Garlic is a herb, so if you do not like it or it makes you feel sick, this is your body’s way of telling you that you should avoid it.

Garlic will also improve your iron metabolism, thanks to the diallyl sulfides which help in the production of the ferroportin protein. It’s also a good source of selenium, because it gathers selenium from the soil while growing.

The largest garlic benefits are surely coming in the form of blood cell and blood vessel protection from various types of stress. What’s more, it also prevents the formation of clots inside blood vessels, something that is nothing short of amazing.

Alongside these wonderful benefits, garlic also includes numerous vitamins such as C or B6. It also helps your body integrate them quickly in the blood stream, making it more powerful and resistant to diseases as well.

The garlic we use every day in our meals doesn’t include that much carbohydrates. Instead, it’s full of inulin, a fiber that keeps the bacteria population in your intestines balanced, while also allowing your body to absorb more calcium.

  • Garlic is low in fat, and it has no cholesterol
  • It contains various elements that help your body absorb calcium, while also increasing your overall immunity
  • It’s rich in vitamins and minerals
  • It’s one of the few ingredients of a meal that give a wonderful flavour, and it also has a great effect on your overall health as well!

How much garlic do you eat?  What is your favourite way of eating it?

Quick tip – Peel a lot of garlic and freeze the cloves, you can purée them and add salt and oil (if you use it) or brine.

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Plant-based eating – Does it improve athletic performance?

Ok. So I am a sample of 1, but if my experiences are anything to go by, the answer is yes.

Yes – My athletic performance and recovery are both massively improved on a plant- based diet.

Ok – So I am not known for my athletic prowess, BUT….I have found that I do not ache after Personal Training Sessions.  My muscles recover quickly so I can train the next day.  Not bad for a (still) flabby 50 something.  My performance at my training sessions is stellar compared to what it was years ago.  Today i did 3 sets of 32kg bicep curls, I’d never have done that years ago.  I can work out so much better that before, training for longer and lifting heavier weights.

So, a sample of 1 – and not the most shining example of health and fitness yet, as I am still on my journey to improve my health.  So I asked others.  Here are a sample of what I had back as replies:

  • “Personally, I recover much faster. Most of our community will tell you the same. Plants are nurturing foods. :)” @VegRunChat
  • “for me that was the first benefit I noticed after becoming plant based, first of many” and “not a scientist but I think that a lot of plants are anti inflammatory as well as vitamin e aids in muscle recovery” @Bry_nFlynn 
  • “I find I recover faster which allows me to go longer & faster.. & lift heavier!” and “digesting massive amounts of animal protein takes days while the body quickly breaks down plants & absorbs their nutrients” @MeaganDunnCole

So then I started digging and found lots and lots of articles on how plant-based eating improves athletic performance.  One of the best, I have re-produced below.

This was written by @VegRunChat and the original article can be found here:

Its a great site with lots of great info – check it out – but not before you read the article….

I went meat free about 3 weeks ago. I already notice that I have more energy, stamina, and I recover faster.” @Futurisa

I can run longer and faster with less fatigue since switching to a plant based diet.” @IRanWithRobert

These are a just a couple of the tweets making their way onto Twitter from plant-based runners who claim that a meat-free diet has remarkably improved their athletic performance.  It’s no surprise that, with books like Eat & Run, Finding Ultra, and the newly released No Meat Athleterunners have jumped on board a plant-based diet.  But what are the real benefits?  Is it all a bunch of hype?  Here are five ways that a plant-based diet can help boost your running career:

Less weight to carry – Eating a diet that excludes meat, eggs, cheese, and dairy will not only shed pounds, but keep the weight off.  Add running to the equation and you’ll have a body that’s perfectly sculpted, ready for any athletic challenge.  Many vegan runners (including Scott Jurek) claim that a plant-based diet has allowed them to become faster and use far less energy due to their decreased weight.  This is especially beneficial to those who run marathon (or greater) distances, as they can make better use of their energy stores.

Perfect Proteins – A plant-based diet provides runners with all of the nutrients that the body requires. Yes, even protein.  In fact, plants contain some of the most complete proteins around.  A complete protein contains each of the nine essential amino acids which we cannot live without (Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, and Valine).  Take hemp hearts and flax seeds for example; they contain all of the essential amino acid chains and contain 20 and 31 grams of protein per serving, respectively.  Furthermore, plant-based foods don’t contain artery-clogging saturated fats or cholesterol like animal-based sources of protein.

Increased bone density – Although the meat and dairy industry would love for us to believe that the secret to strong bones is milk, this couldn’t be further from the truth.  Yes, milk contains up to 300mg of calcium per cup.  But what the nutrition label doesn’t tell you is that our bodies hardly absorb this calcium, or make good use of it.  Milk (like all animal proteins) acidifies our bodies PH level which triggers a natural counter-reaction.  In an attempt to correct matters, our bodies pull calcium (which is a natural acid neutralizing element) from our bones.  The excreted calcium then leaves the body through urine, leaving us with a calcium deficiency.  On the other hand, plant foods with high levels of calcium (collards, kale and sweet potatoes) will boost bone health without affecting the body’s PH.

Energy Surge – Many runners claim that after switching to a vegan or vegetarian diet, their energy levels are restored to a level they haven’t experienced since childhood.  But why is this?  Simply put, plant-based foods contain all of the essential vitamins and nutrients we need to perform at our best.  Moreover, plant-based eaters appear to be more consciousness about other ingredients in their food.  Animal-free eaters typically omit foods that contain preservatives, additives, sweeteners, and other artificial ingredients.  Removing these ingredients from your diet enables your body to make the best use of your food.  Without these foreign ingredients, your body can process and digest foods easier, allowing for more energy to be used for better things – like running!

Faster Recovery – Plants are often referred to as nourishing foods.  This is because they do just that; nourish our bodies, replenishing lost vitamins and nutrients.  Most running pains which occur in the hips and joints are due to inflammation – the body’s normal protective response to an injury or infection.  But many plant foods contain anti-inflammatory properties that alleviate this pain and reduce inflammation.  So put that Aleve and Tylenol aside.  Use walnuts, garlic, turmeric, or fresh olives the next time you experience joint discomfort.  You will be back to running before you know it!

Are you still concerned about making the switch to a plant-based diet?  Worried it could impede your running?  You don’t have to make a full commitment to eating plants and go all-in at first.  Start out by making a few changes, and see how you feel.  You may be surprised to find that removing just meat and milk from your meals will promote faster recover and energy.  If you would like more information, I invite you to join us for#VegRunChat on Twitter Sunday nights at 9pm EST.  During the hour-long chat we discuss plant-based foods and how they relate to running performance.  You will find that it is extremely educational and fun.  We even give away prizes!

Have you ever considered going plant-based or vegetarian?  What has kept you from giving it a try?

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The A-Z of Plantalicious Ingredients – F is for Fennel

I loved aniseed balls as a kid.  I used to go up to the shop at the far end of Mayes Lane buy a “quater” or 4 oz of them and devour them within minutes.   I could not get enough of that exotic aniseed flavour.  At college I drank Pernod, thinking myself rather sophisticated, (hardly) and have also sampled Raki, Arak and Ouzo on my travels.  I ended up with a pair of emerald earrings in Beirut after drinking Arak, but that’s a tale for another time!  Aniseed is a  flavour that I have always loved, hence my love of fennel as a vegetable.

Fennel (also known as Florence fennel or finocchio) is a delightfully crunchy and slightly sweet herb that has a bulb-like shape, making it look a little like a heavy-bottomed celery.



It has not yet been spread and naturalized as an herb around the world, but still primarily grows in coastal climates and on riverbanks.

While this fantastically flavourful herb is most commonly associated with Italian cooking, it is actually an extremely versatile ingredient. In fact the bulb, stalk, leaves and seeds are all edible and delicious.

Any part can be chopped raw and added into your favourite salads. When eaten raw like this, the texture is crisp and the flavour is quite assertive and aniseed-like.  The leaves are delicately flavoured and similar in shape to those of dill. It truly is a delicious way to enhance the texture and flavour of a salad or coleslaw.

Cooked, it becomes much softer and has a more mellow flavour. The bulb makes an excellent addition to any mediterranean dishes. It’s also wonderful sautéed, stewed, braised or grilled. The leaves can also be used to liven up soups and sauces, or as a garnish.

Dried, fennel also makes for a sweet, calming tea, although that’s the one time, I am not keen on it.

Ideally choose the smaller, young bulbs, as they are more tender. They should look white, with no blemishes, and feel heavy for their size. The feathery green tops should be fresh and bright, with no yellowing.

Quick recipe tip – Pop some chopped fennel into an oven-proof dish, with some stock, cover and bake for 45 mins.  Simple and delicious.

As well as being a pungent delight for the taste buds and tasty addition to any meal, Fennel has a number of amazing health benefits, including anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.

The same high concentration of essential oils in fennel that gives it the aromatic fragrance and flavour, makes it an effective potential cure for many mild to moderate ailments.

  •  Since fennel is rich in iron and histidine, it serves as a good natural remedy for anemia
  • Lactating mothers can consume fennel juice regularly to increase the secretion of nutritious milk for their infants
  • The high amounts of vitamin C, flavonoids and essential oils in fennel bulb all provide synergistic healing properties for the prevention of cancer*
  • The essential oils in fennel increases the secretion of digestive juices, helping in reduction of stomach inflammation and in the absorption of nutrients from the food eaten
  • The sulphur content together with all the right amino acids and essential oils in fennel help strengthen hair
  • The high potassium content in fennel helps reduce high blood pressure and thus decreasing the risk for heart attack and stroke

*with regard to the potential benefits that Fennel has regarding cancer and weight-loss, see this article I just came across –


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Meatless Monday – what will you eat? Try it and tell me how you get on.

I’ve tweeted a lot about Meatless Mondays before. It is an initiative that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet. Meatless Monday is a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns Inc. in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for a Livable Future.

This is an initiative that you hear a lot about in the US and is talked about a lot in the mainstream media. See Fox News article on the 5 benefits of Meatless Mondays –

better health – yes – even from one small change each week

live longer – decrease your risk of premature death by 19%

improved diet – through consumption of fibre which is only found in vegetables

save time and money – vegetables are economical and many dishes are simple and quick to prepare

For more details and the full article and references here:

It’s not a common practice in the UK, but I am keen to change that. I want more people to consider making a small change in their eating habits. Meatless or meatfree Mondays (as it is known in the UK) see: is one way of making that change.

For inspiration please take a look at the recipes on as well as share your recipes in the recipe section of The Community on the website.

Please also comment on your meatless or meat free Monday meal choices.

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Cancer – Fighting Cancer with antioxidants, but from our food or a pill?

When I was a child no one spoke about cancer.  I can remember it really being a really taboo subject, more like “the disease that shall not be named”, or just referred to almost out of my hearing as “The Big C”.

Nowadays, you can’t open a newspaper or watch a news bulletin, without cancer being talked about. It touches us all, we all know somebody fighting cancer, being diagnosed with cancer and hopefully being a survivor of cancer.

One of the things that always intrigued me was the idea that antioxidants are really like little toy soldiers in our bodies.  Little warriors who go around fighting the good fight against the cancerous cells  developing in all of us. I recall going to one of those health screenings, paid for by my employer, where they used a small gun to measure the amount of antioxidants I had in my body.  At the time I had about 4 times the average level of antioxidants, as measured by this process. I can remember coming home and feeling rather smug about my very high antioxidant level!

What I hadn’t appreciated, was that I was getting my antioxidants out of a bottle in the form of tablets and pills. I.e. supplements. When I started studying plant-based nutrition. It became very obvious to me that this was not the best way for my body to be provided with the antioxidants that it needs. In supplement form the antioxidants are isolated and your body effectively says: “thanks a lot, but what the hell do you expect me to do with these?” What is your body supposed to do when it doesn’t have all of the other component parts that go with the antioxidant in nature, enabling it to use the  component to the best of your body’s abilities?

If you doubt what I’m saying and you are as fervently pro-popping antioxidant pills, as I once was.  Although, I doubt anybody spent as much money on supplements as me who took circa 35 pills a day!  I would suggest that you read the book – Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition by T Colin Campbell ( ) In the book, he explains, his approached nutrition as being rather like a symphony.  I like the analogy because it’s easy to understand that no one instrument in isolation can have the same effect as the entire orchestra playing together. I’m oversimplifying, but I hope you get my drift.

I came across this video today with some research cited by Michael Greger that shows how antioxidants taken as food in their whole natural state, rather than being extracted into a supplement is the best way of using these little warriors to fight cancer in our bodies.

You can find his video here:  it lasts a few minutes and is well worth a watch.

Reaching for that bottle of supplements or multivitamin, it might just be time to step back and think.  Ask yourself: “could I get the benefits of these pills from a wholefood source”? Put down the bottle step away, open fridge and make yourself a salad or better still a Plantalicious Recipe.   You’ll be glad you did, just as I was, not only will you be saving many hundreds of pounds a year, but it could just be that by taking these supplements in isolation you are doing yourself more harm than good.

I am not suggesting that by ingesting some antioxidant rich foods that we can suddenly make the world Cancer free.  What I am suggesting is that you give your body the best fuel you can to give it the best chance of healing itself.

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Carbohydrates – Why Do So Many People Believe That Carbohydrates Are Bad for Them?

The diet industry has convinced many that carbohydrates are bad for you. Thus, we’ve seen the introduction of many low carb or even no carb diets. But what the people who promote these diets aren’t telling you is that not having enough carbs in your diet can put a person’s body into a state of Ketosis. (See So does that mean that low carb diets are dangerous? Is there a better way to diet for fitness or weight loss purposes? Read on to learn the truth about carbohydrates.




Basically, low carb diets end up meaning high protein. How do most people, especially individuals who are interested in fitness, get that extra protein? Generally from meat, fish and diary, which typically means adding a lot of extra saturated fat and cholesterol to your diet as well. Some fish are high in saturated fat and fish contain cholesterol. Plant based diets, however, recommend getting your protein through beans, nuts, starches and grains like quinoa. You can also get a surprising amount of protein in the vegetables that you eat, such as broccoli. This is why Doctor Oz promoted a diet designed by T. Colin Campbell. It’s a plant based diet which allows an individual to still get plenty of protein, but without cutting out carbohydrates.


The real issue with carbohydrates is processed foods. Most people who eat a Western diet are getting their carbs from fast food or from other processed foods like convenience foods, microwavable meals and even bags of potato chips. By avoiding these types of foods and getting rid of processed sweets and replacing them with fruit, you can rid your diet of the unhealthy carbs without eliminating those necessary good carbs from your diet.




The Starch Solution is another diet which has been developed by Dr. McDougall. This is another plant based diet.  People confuse plant based with vegan.  The two are not the same.  They share the fact that the followers do not consume meat, fish or dairy products, however vegans may eat processed and convenience foods.  The Starch Solution diet could be thought of as low protein because the diet focuses on using starches to fuel the body, although Dr McDougall points out that it is virtually impossible for someone to be protein deficient and there is protein even in the humble potato. Again, the secret is to have starches that have been minimally processed. Have lots of fruits and vegetables while cutting out the refined sugars. The result is an overall healthier feeling, more energy, and more alkaline blood. Remember that acidic blood is the best environment for cancer to grow. So plant based diets like this, even ones that are high in carbohydrates, are best for your overall well being.




Yes, many diets that people try today are fads. That’s why so many people believe that carbohydrates are bad for them. The fact is that eating the right carbohydrates is better for you than eating a low carb diet filled with the wrong types of proteins that can contribute to heart disease, cancer, high cholesterol, and many other health problems. Rather than falling into the trap of believing the hype from fad diets, it is far better to eat a healthy plant based diet, the diet that human bodies are clearly meant for, and to enjoy carbohydrates along with a healthy program of regular exercise.


Additional Reading:


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A Day with Dr Esselstyn at the Cleveland Clinic – Notes from Carol Hagan

Here are Carol Hagan’s notes from her day at the Cleveland Clinic with Dr Esselstyn:

Dr. Esselstyn and his wife are the most kind and giving people.  Why do I say that?  Dr. Esselstyn contacts each of the patients in the session 10 days before the session to review their health history and to “get in touch with the nuances of what brings them here.”   He stated: “I believe the only way we can show our respect to patients is to treat them with integrity and invest our time in them.”  And I saw evidence of that in how he related to everyone.

What is so potent about seeing his message in person is that he takes a different tact than I saw from Dr. Neal Barnard in our Food for Life training.  By contrast, Dr. Barnard takes a
direct but softer approach because he doesn’t want to alienate any of the participants.  He wants to keep a crack in the door so they’ll walk through.  Dr. Barnard encourages people switching to whole-food plant-based eating to go, initially, with look-alikes until they can make the jump to full-on plant based nutrition. So you will see Dr. Barnard recommend veggie burgers, soy dogs,and some prepared health foods to get the process of change started in as gradual a manner as is required by the patient.   Dr. Esselstyn is by contrast fully committed to
his “Moderation Kills” stance.  (For details see: )  He wants you to jump into the deep end right away and eschew all oils, animal products, caffeine, and refined foods immediately.

Dr. Esselstyn really hits hard the point that each time you take in animal products, processed oils, salt and sugars that you are injuring your endothelium, (effectively the thin layer of cells on the wall of your blood vessels – see –  ). He hit hard the idea that even if you eat healthy during the week and cheat on the weekends, that’s still 1/3 of the year that you’re accruing damage to your endothelium, creating sticky blood, exacerbating production of plaques and hastening rupturing plaques and foam cells. The statement he made was “instead of a major stroke, you’ll still have a stroke. Instead of early onset dementia you’ll have later onset dementia. Etc.” Point well taken.

Ann, his wife, is equally as forceful in her commitment when she teaches about cooking.

Here are some key points that Carol noted:

  • Eat 6 small servings of greens throughout each day (raw or cooked), every single day.
  • Water is drink of choice. He wasn’t big on a glass of wine now and then but he takes it on a case by case basis. Decaf coffee appears to be okay to drink.
  • Supplements – He says he is going to revise his manuscript in terms of supplements. He now advocates taking only B12 because if you are eating on this food plan you are getting your nutrients in the quantities that your body needs. Your body will extract it as it is needed.
  • HDL does not need to be as high as we had recently thought.  If you are eating healthfully your body will find its own set point on what a healthy HDL level is.
  • He does encourage vitamin D if you’re unable to get outside to get sun exposure.
  • Exercise on a daily basis is strongly encouraged.
  • 1 T flax or chia seeds daily for healthy omega fats.
  • Changes in nutrition can positively impact heart issues in as few as 10 days.


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