Sesame Seeds, a Surprising Superfood

The nutritional profile of sesame seeds is outstanding and, in my opinion, greatly underestimated. They have been gown for food for more than 3000 years.

Sesame seeds contain high amounts of protein, fiber and oil, which is rich in omega-6 (linoleic acid) and oleic acid. They are also high in B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, and zinc.

Most people consider steak an excellent source of iron. According to the USDA steak contains about 1.5 mg of iron per 100 grams.[1] But sesame seeds contain a whopping 14.8 mg of iron per 100 grams.

Compared to most other foods, sesame seeds contain considerably higher amounts of magnesium. Dark chocolate is said to be an excellent source of magnesium. According to the USDA nutrient data charts, dark chocolate solids (70-85% cacao) contain 228 mg of magnesium per 100 grams but sesame seeds contain 356 mg of magnesium per 100 grams.[2]

If I find a client deficient in phosphorous after they take a nutritional profile, my number one recommendation for increasing their phosphorous intake is adding sesame tahini to their diet. According to the USDA nutrient data charts, sesame seeds contain 638 mg of phosphorous per 100 grams which is approximately three times higher than beef.[1]

When it comes to calcium, most people think of cow’s milk as a good source. However, according to the USDA, there are 113 mg of calcium in 100 grams of whole milk while sesame seeds contain a whopping 989 mg of calcium per 100 grams.[3]

Sesame seeds are very high in lignans. There are several extraordinary lignans in sesame seeds (pinoresinol, sesamin, sesamolin and lariciresinol.[4][5] Among the numerous health benefits of lignan consumption, epidemiological studies have shown that lignan consumption is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer.[6][7][8][9][10]

According to the USDA raw beef contains 22 grams of protein per 100 grams. Sesame seeds are not far behind containing 17 grams of protein per 100 grams.[1]

Followers of the macrobiotic diet and the Japanese have been using a sesame seed product called gomashio that is made from un-hulled toasted sesame seeds mixed with sea salt. The gomashio used in the macrobiotic diet usually contains quite a bit less salt than traditional Japanese gomashio. To add extra flavor and nutrition to your food, try adding gomashio instead of just salt.

Sesame seeds have one of the highest oil contents of any food. But due to sesame oil’s lack of omega-3 fats and high content of omega-6 fats, I don’t recommend regular consumption of the extracted oil.

This is because the average person and even healthy eaters usually over consume omega-6 fats and under consume omega-3 fats due to their scarcity in the food chain. This can cause an out of balance omega-6 to omega-3 ratio and lead to inflammation in the body unless omega-3 supplements are taken. I suggest sticking to products made from the whole seed.

Sesame seeds can be purchased two ways, with the hulls on and with the hulls removed. I personally prefer un-hulled sesame seeds because the hulls contain nutrients and fiber. But both hulled and un-hulled are healthy.

Sesame seeds come in a variety of colors including tan, gold, brown, black, reddish, grey and white. If you’re trying to increase your nutrient intake, you might try sprinkling raw sesame seeds on your food and adding sesame tahini to your diet. Sesame seeds have a rich nutty flavor and, in my opinion, are quite tasty.

  4.  Milder, Ivon E. J.; Arts, Ilja C. W.; Betty; Venema, Dini P.; Hollman, Peter C. H. (2005). “Lignan contents of Dutch plant foods: a database including lariciresinol, pinoresinol, secoisolariciresinol and matairesinol”. British Journal of Nutrition 93: 393–402. doi: 10.1079/BJN20051371.
  5. Kuo PC, Lin MC, Chen GF, Yiu TJ, Tzen JT (2011). “Identification of methanol-soluble compounds in sesame and evaluation of antioxidant potential of its lignans”. J Agric Food Chem59 (7): 3214–9. doi: 10.1021/jf104311gPMID 21391595.
  6. Boccardo, F; Puntoni, M; Guglielmini, P; Rubagotti,  A(2006). “Enterolactone as a risk factor for breast cancer: A review of the published evidence”. Clinica chimica acta; international journal of clinical chemistry 365 (1–2): 58–67. doi: 10.1016/j.cca.2005.07.026.PMID 16168401.
  7.  Adlercreutz, H (2007). “Lignans and human health”. Critical reviews in clinical laboratory sciences 44 (5–6): 483–525. doi: 10.1080/10408360701612942PMID 17943494.
  8. Saarinen, N. M.; Huovinen, R; Wärri, A; Mäkelä, S. I.; Valentín-Blasini, L; Sjöholm, R; Ammälä, J; Lehtilä, R; Eckerman, C; Collan, Y. U.; Santti, R. S. (2002). “Enterolactone inhibits the growth of 7, 12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene-induced mammary carcinomas in the rat”.Molecular cancer therapeutics 1 (10): 869–76. PMID 12492120.
  9. Bergman Jungeström, M; Thompson, L. U.; Dabrosin, C (2007). “Flaxseed and its lignans inhibit estradiol-induced growth, angiogenesis, and secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor in human breast cancer xenografts in vivo”. Clinical cancer research: an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research 13 (3): 1061–7. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-06-1651PMID 17289903.
  10. Lindahl, G; Saarinen, N; Abrahamsson, A; Dabrosin, C (2011). “Tamoxifen, flaxseed, and the lignan enterolactone increase stroma- and cancer cell-derived IL-1Ra and decrease tumor angiogenesis in estrogen-dependent breast cancer”. Cancer research 71 (1): 51–60. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-2289PMID 21097717.

Chia Seeds, an Ancient Food Rediscovered

Looking back in time, we can trace chia seeds back to their origin in Central America, where they were a staple food for the ancient Aztecs.  Not all that long ago the thing that came to mind when people heard the name chia seed, was the ‘Chia Pet’ clay figurine. Today we have a large body of research on the health promoting benefits of chia seeds. Today the word chia is synonymous with the word superfood!

Here is a quick overview of the nutritional profile of chia seeds. The data comes from the USDA Nutrient Data Library [1] :

-The protein content of chia seeds is impressive. They are composed of approximately 20% protein containing all the essential amino acids.

-The following vitamins are found in chia seeds: Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin,   Niacin, Folate, Vitamin A and Vitamin E.

-Chia seeds are a very good source of important minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, selenium, manganese, phosphorus and boron. By weight, chia has more calcium than cow’s milk and about six times the iron of spinach. The line-up of bone building minerals in these super seeds is outstanding

-They are also a great source of fiber. Just 2 tablespoons contain about 10 grams.

-These little seeds are extremely high in anti-oxidants. Especially the dark colored ones. Some sources show them to be around the same level as blueberries. The high level of antioxidants preserve the nutritional value of this superfood, even if it has been ground up!

-Chia seeds are a very good source of omega 3 essential fatty acids. Among the long list of benefits of omega 3 fatty acids are its anti-inflammatory and mind boosting effects. Chia seeds also contain most of the nutrients that our bodies need to convert the omega 3 fats to EPA and DHA!

The ‘no worries’ list for chia seeds is also impressive!

-No need to worry about chia going rancid on you, at room temperature they will stay fresh for over two years!

-It is said that insects don’t colonise chia plants and there is no need for farmers to spray them with pesticides.

-Nor do we have to worry about genetic modification, as for now, chia seeds are non GMO!

-Chia seeds do not need to be ground up to have the nutrients digest and absorb, unlike flaxseeds that need to be ground to gain access to their nutrients.

-With growing awareness of the damaging effects of gluten, it is great to know that chia seeds are gluten free!

-And of course, chia seeds are cholesterol free!

Their usefulness goes on!

-Add them to a child’s diet for extra nutrition. Chia seeds make a great pudding! Just soak for a while, mix in sweetener and eat!

-They can be added to soups, smoothies, dressings, and much more to increase the nutrient profile. Try adding them to drinking water!

-They can even be used as a cholesterol free egg replacer! Chia seeds swell when coming in contact with liquids and form a gel. For each egg called for in a recipe, simply mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and wait for about 15 minutes. Then use the mixture in your recipe just as you would use an egg. The gelatinous chia seeds will increase the nutrient profile of whatever you are preparing!

My personal experiences with chia seeds have always been amazing! For many years I have been adding them to my smoothies and I also make chia pudding every so often. If you haven’t tried them yet, you’re missing out on a precious gift from nature!



Pomegranate, Ancient Super Fruit, Modern Science

The pomegranate has been cultivated since ancient times. There are numerous references to the fruit in the Bible. In fact, some Jewish scholars believe the pomegranate was the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden.[1] Let’s look and see what current science has discovered about this super fruit.

In both preliminary laboratory research and clinical trials, researchers concluded that pomegranate juice may be effective in reducing certain heart disease risk factors, including LDL oxidation, macrophage oxidative status and foam cell formation.[2][3][4]

A macrophage is a type of white blood cell that engulfs and digests cellular debris and foreign substances. Foam cells are a type of macrophage seen in atherosclerosis.

In mice “oxidation of LDL by peritoneal macrophages was reduced by up to 90% after pomegranate juice consumption”.[5]

In a study of people with high blood pressure consumption of pomegranate juice for just two weeks was shown to reduce systolic blood pressure. The juice was found to work by inhibiting angiotensin-converting enzymes (ACE) in the same manner that ACE inhibiting high blood pressure drugs work.[6]

According to some research pomegranate juice may inhibit viral infections.[7]

Pomegranates have even been shown to benefit our teeth! The extract of these super fruits have been shown to have antibacterial effects against dental plaque.[8]

In February of 2010 the FDA issued a warning letter to the company POM Wonderful who makes pomegranate juice. The company had been sharing published literate of the antioxidant properties of pomegranate juice without getting permission from the FDA.[9][10][11]

Don’t just eat off the juicy fruit off of those little pomegranate seeds and spit out the seed. Research has uncovered that those little seeds contain numerous beneficial micronutrients.[12][13]


[1]  “A Pomegranate for All Religions” by Nancy Haught, Religious News Service

[2] Aviram M; Rosenblat M; Gaitini D et al. (June 2004). “Pomegranate juice consumption for 3 years by patients with carotid artery stenosis reduces common carotid intima-media thickness, blood pressure and LDL oxidation”.Clin Nutr 23 (3): 423–33. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2003.10.002.PMID 15158307.

[3] Esmaillzadeh A, Tahbaz F, Gaieni I, Alavi-Majd H, Azadbakht L (2004). “Concentrated pomegranate juice improves lipid profiles in diabetic patients with hyperlipidemia”.J Med Food 7 (3): 305–8.doi:10.1089/1096620041938623. PMID 15383223.

[4] Kaplan M; Hayek T; Raz A et al. (1 August 2001). “Pomegranate juice supplementation to atherosclerotic mice reduces macrophage lipid peroxidation, cellular cholesterol accumulation and development of atherosclerosis”. J Nutr. 131 (8): 2082–9. PMID 11481398.

[5] Aviram M; Dornfeld L; Rosenblat M et al. (May 2000). “Pomegranate juice consumption reduces oxidative stress, atherogenic modifications to LDL and platelet aggregation: studies in humans and in atherosclerotic apolipoprotein E-deficient mice”.Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 71 (5): 1062–76. PMID 10799367. Retrieved 2011-03-24.

[6] Aviram M, Dornfeld L (September 2001).“Pomegranate juice consumption inhibits serum angiotensin converting enzyme activity and reduces systolic blood pressure”. Atherosclerosis 158 (1): 195–8. doi:10.1016/S0021-9150(01)00412-9. PMID 11500191.

[7] Neurath AR, Strick N, Li YY, Debnath AK (2004). “Punica granatum (Pomegranate) juice provides an HIV-1 entry inhibitor and candidate topical microbicide”. BMC Infect. Dis. 4 (1): 41. doi:10.1186/1471-2334-4-41.PMC 533885. PMID 15485580.

[8] Menezes SM, Cordeiro LN, Viana GS (2006). “Punica granatum (pomegranate) extract is active against dental plaque”. Journal of herbal pharmacotherapy 6 (2): 79–92. doi:10.1300/J157v06n02_07.PMID 17182487.

[9] “Pom Wonderful Warning Letter”. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved 2011-03-24.

[10]“Understanding Front-of-Package Violations: Why Warning Letters Are Sent to Industry”. Retrieved 2011-03-24.

[11] Starling S (March 3, 2010). “FDA says Pom Wonderful antioxidant claims not so wonderful”. Retrieved March 6, 2010.

[12] Nutrition data for raw pomegranate,

[13] Schubert SY, Lansky EP, Neeman I (July 1999). “Antioxidant and eicosanoid enzyme inhibition properties of pomegranate seed oil and fermented juice flavonoids”. J Ethnopharmacol 66 (1): 11–17. doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(98)00222-0. PMID 10432202.


Benefits of Spirulina and Why Quality Differs Widely

Spirulina is a blue-green algae that naturally occurs in tropical and subtropical areas in fresh water lakes with a high pH.[1]  Let’s take a look at why so many people like to consume spirulina and why all spirulina products are not of equal quality.

In 1974, the World Health Organization described spirulina as “an interesting food for multiple reasons, rich in iron and protein, and … able to be administered to children without any risk.” They called it “a very suitable food.”[2]

Back in the late 1980s and early 90s, both NASA and the European Space Agency stated that spirulina should be one of the primary foods to be cultivated during long-term space missions.[3][4]

In 2003 the United Nations established the Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Micro-algae Spirulina against Malnutrition.[5]  

Spirulina was a food source for the Aztecs in Mexico from the 14th to 16th century. They harvested spirulina from Lake Texacoco as noted by one of Cortes’ soldiers.[6][7]

There are different varieties of spirulina available, spirulina platensis and spirulina maxima are the most common. Platensis occurs in Africa, Asia and South America, maxima is found in Central America and spirulina pacifica is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands.[8]

Dried spirulina is extremely protein rich and contains approximately 60% protein.[9][10] It has an easily digestible complete protein containing all essential amino acids. The protein in spirulina is superior to most plant proteins such as that from legumes.[9][11][12]

Spirulina is an excellent source of beta-carotene; perhaps ten times more concentrated than that of carrots. It is also an excellent source of many B-vitamins including thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin.

Spirulina contains ample amounts of many essential minerals such as iron, potassium, manganese and magnesium.

Spirulina’s lipid profile is also impressive. It contains about 8% lipids by weight and its awesome array is made up of GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), LA (linoleic acid), SDA (stearidonic acid) EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA, (docosahexaenoic acid) and AA (arachidonic acid).[13][14][15][16]

The largest commercial producers of spirulina are located in the USA, Thailand, India, Taiwan, China, Pakistan, Burma, Greece, and Chile.[8] But it is also being grown on a smaller scale in many places around the globe.

There is a huge difference in quality between the different growers and harvesters. For example, spirulina is being grown in India and China where there are few regulations on pesticides and the use of irradiation. Heavy metal pollution is also of concern in many countries.

Spirulina grown in and around cities may be contaminated with pollution common to cities. For example, Bangkok Thailand is a polluted city, yet someone decided that a good place to grow spirulina is on a rooftop inside the city.

Some spirulina is being harvested out of polluted lakes. In many developing countries natural water sources are also used to bathe and may contain sewage.

Numerous studies have been conducted on spirulina. A study published in April 2016 concluded, “Spirulina platensis is a good source of antioxidant peptides”. [17]

A ground-breaking study also published in April 2016 concluded that spirulina extract inhibited viral replication and reduced virus induced mortality in a broad range of influenza viruses. [18]

And another study published in May 2016 found that spirulina platensis has anti-inflammatory properties.[19]

I choose to take only the highest quality spirulina grown at almost 9000 feet above sea level high in the Andes Mountains. At that pristine elevation far from polluted cities Andes spirulina is fed minerals from pure glacial water.

Being grown at such a high elevation the algae receives more photon energy from the sun resulting in a vibrant product. Andes spirulina is dried at low temperature to preserve nutrients.


[1] Habib, M. Ahsan B.; Parvin, Mashuda; Huntington, Tim C.; Hasan, Mohammad R. (2008). “A Review on Culture, Production and Use of Spirulina as Food for Humans and Feeds for Domestic Animals and Fish” (PDF). Food and Agriculture Organization of The United Nations.

[2] “What the United Nations says about Spirulina” (PDF).Spirulina and the Millennium Development Goals. Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Micro-algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition. December 2010..

[3] Characterization of Spirulina biomass for CELSS diet potential. Normal, Al.: Alabama A&M University, 1988.

[4] Cornet J.F., Dubertret G. “The cyanobacterium Spirulina in the photosynthetic compartment of the MELISSA artificial ecosystem.” Workshop on artificial ecological systems, DARA-CNES, Marseille, France, October 24–26, 1990

[5] “Charter” (PDF). Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Micro-algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition. 5 March 2003. Retrieved 2 July 2014.

[6] Diaz Del Castillo, B. The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico, 1517–1521. London: Routledge, 1928, p. 300.

[7] Osborne, Ken; Kahn, Charles N. (2005). World History: Societies of the Past. Winnipeg: Portage & Main Press.ISBN 1-55379-045-6.

[8] Vonshak, A. (ed.). Spirulina platensis (Arthrospira): Physiology, Cell-biology and Biotechnology. London: Taylor & Francis, 1997.

[9] Khan, Z; Bhadouria, P; Bisen, PS (October 2005). “Nutritional and therapeutic potential of Spirulina.”. Current pharmaceutical biotechnology 6 (5): 373–9.doi:10.2174/138920105774370607PMID 16248810.

[10] Campanella, L; Russo, MV; Avino, P (April 2002). “Free and total amino acid composition in blue-green algae.”.Annali di Chimica 92 (4): 343–52. PMID 12073880.

[11] b c Ciferri, O (December 1983). “Spirulina, the edible microorganism”. Microbiol. Rev. 47 (4): 551–78.PMC 283708PMID 6420655.

[12] b Babadzhanov, A. S.; Abdusamatova, N.; Yusupova, F. M.; et al. (2004). “Chemical Composition of Spirulina Platensis Cultivated in Uzbekistan”. Chemistry of Natural Compounds 40 (3): 276–279.doi:10.1023/b:conc.0000039141.98247.e8.

[13] Colla, LM; Bertolin, TE; Costa, JA (2003). “Fatty acids profile of Spirulina platensis grown under different temperatures and nitrogen concentrations.”. Zeitschrift für Naturforschung C 59 (1-2): 55–9. doi:10.1515/znc-2004-1-212PMID 15018053.

[14] Golmakani, Mohammad-Taghi; Rezaei, Karamatollah; Mazidi, Sara; Razavi, Seyyed Hadi (March 2012). “γ-Linolenic acid production by Arthrospira platensis using different carbon sources”. European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology 114 (3): 306–314.doi:10.1002/ejlt.201100264.

[15] Jubie, S; Ramesh, PN; Dhanabal, P; Kalirajan, R; Muruganantham, N; Antony, AS (August 2012). “Synthesis, antidepressant and antimicrobial activities of some novel stearic acid analogues.”. European journal of medicinal chemistry 54: 931–5. doi:10.1016/j.ejmech.2012.06.025.PMID 22770606.

[16] Tokusoglu, O.; Unal, M.K. “Biomass Nutrient Profiles of Three Microalgae: Spirulina platensis, Chlorella vulgaris, and Isochrisis galbana”. Journal of Food Science 68 (4): 2003.doi:10.1111/j.1365-2621.2003.tb09615.x.







Marvellous Medicinal Mulberries

There has been a lot of talk about the health benefits of mulberries. Let’s take a look at some published studies and see what good science there is to back up these claims.

In traditional Chinese medicine, mulberries have long been known to be an anti-aging agent. In published studies the conclusion was that mulberries exhibit a memory enhancing effect.(1)(2)

Published studies have concluded that mulberry fruit possesses strong antioxidant activity and also contains high amounts of resveratrol.(3)(4)

In a study published in November 2013, mulberry fruit suppressed the development of intestinal inflammation and the formation of tumors in both petri dishes and in living beings.(5)

Studies have shown that mulberry extract can be helpful to diabetics. The majority of the research on mulberries used to help diabetics has focused on the leaves and less on the fruit.(6)(7)

However, a study published in April 2015 concluded that a substance in mulberry fruit may be a potential phytotherapeutic agent for the prevention of diabetes.(8)(9)  .

Mulberries have been effectively used in Chinese medicine for the prevention of coronary heart disease. Studies now back up this claim finding that the anthocyanin components in mulberries have a preventative effect on the formation of atherosclerosis.(9)

Mulberries are generally found in two shades of color, red and white. Red mulberries turn purple to almost black when ripe and white mulberries turn beige when dried. Both of them are delicious, nutritious and provide beneficial medicinal properties.

When I can’t pick them myself fresh off the tree I purchase only the best organic mulberries from Divine Organics.

By Craig B Sommers ND, CN














Boost Your Brain Power with Bacopa

When it comes to herbs that improve human brain function, Bacopa monnieri shines brightly with numerous studies showing its efficacy. It also has a long history of use on the continent of India where they call it Brahmi. Current research suggests that the herb works because it increases certain brain chemicals that are involved in learning, thinking and memory.

Bacopa monnieri is native to the wetlands of Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, southern India and North & South America. There are other varieties of bacopa besides the monnieri variety, but this article will only cover Bacopa monnieri and refer to it simply as bacopa.

A meta-analysis of nine randomized controlled trials on the cognitive effects of bacopa extract found that 437 people showed improved cognition. The study concluded that bacopa has the potential to improve cognition, particularly speed of attention.[1]

In 2002, a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study was published showing the efficacy of bacopa. There were seventy-six adults between the ages of 40 and 65. The result showed that taking bacopa had a significant positive effect on the retention of new information.[2]

Another randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study published in 2012 concluded that bacopa can improve attention, cognitive processing and working memory in senior citizens.[3]

Promising research suggests that bacopa can be of help to those people with age related memory impairment including those with conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.[4][5]

In Ayurvedic medicine, bacopa has also been used to treat epilepsy, stress, allergies, irritable bowel syndrome and more.[6] Looking through the medical literature one can find studies done on both humans and animals where bacopa has been used to treat a variety of conditions. These include: anxiety and depression, bronchitis and asthma, gastrointestinal disorders, hypothyroidism, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder in children and more. [7][8][9] The research is ongoing.

Therapeutic doses of bacopa have not been associated with any dangerous side effects. However, it is not advised to take larger doses than recommended. The usual dose is 300mg of extract per day for a period of 12 weeks. It is known that Bacopa has been used safely in India by for at least the last several hundred years and perhaps even thousands of years.

Craig B Sommers ND, CN