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5 Reasons to Eat Offal (And 6 Delicious Ways to Enjoy It!)

By: Kelley Herring, Healing GourmetPate

Once reserved for the obligatory standard meal of “liver and onions”, offal has taken the culinary world by storm. And for good reason…

Not only does offal – which includes organ meats, bones, trimmings and pretty much everything in between – provide rich tastes and unique textures to a wide variety of cuisines, it is also some of the most nutrient-dense food you could put on your plate.

Of course, for many people, the idea of “nose-to-tail” eating may be a bit off-putting.
But today I’m going to show you five reasons why you should be eating these superfoods… plus six simple ways to make them delicious (or sneak them into your meals without a trace!).

Offal: The Disease-Fighting Nutritional “Supplement”

Nutrient-dense organ meats provide a stark contrast to the calorie-rich, nutrient-poor diets most Americans consume today. In fact, gram for gram, organs provide greater nutrient density than any other food we consume.

A study published in Horticultural Science illustrates why this is so important. The study found that the nutrient density of vegetables and fruits has declined by as much as 40% over the last 50 – 100 years. This means that even if you’re eating a whole-foods diet, free of processed foods, you’re still not consuming the nutrients our grandparents did.

And because nutrient deficiencies are a key factor in the onset of disease and age-related decline, it’s no surprise that the supplement market continues to grow. However, unlike synthetic vitamins and factory-created “fortified” foods, the nutrients in organ meats are present in their organic form alongside a matrix of synergistic compounds. This is the optimal way nutrients should be consumed for safety and the most efficient use by the body.

The nutrients in organ meats are also those most commonly lacking in modern diets and critical for disease prevention and healthy aging.

Here are five key nutrients concentrated in organ meats and their biological roles (in brief):  

1.    Vitamin B12: This complex vitamin is vitally important for brain health, cancer prevention, heart health, mood, bone health and more. After the age of 60, the ability to absorb this nutrient declines, placing many people at risk for deficiency.

2.    Selenium: An antioxidant micronutrient with numerous roles in immune, thyroid and prostate health, cancer prevention and more. Modern farming methods have depleted this nutrient in the soil, causing levels in the food supply to drop dramatically and leaving many deficient.

3.    Choline: A vitamin-like compound essential for the health of cell membranes, nerves and neurotransmitters, brain health, heart health, liver health and cancer prevention (especially breast cancer). According to the Institute of Medicine, only 10 percent of Americans meet adequate choline intake levels: 425 mg/day for most women and 550 mg/day for men (and women who are breastfeeding).

4.    Vitamin A: A fat-soluble group of compounds essential for vision, immune health, growth and development, gene expression, cancer prevention and more. Taken in isolated form (supplements), vitamin A can be toxic. Organ meats, specifically liver, provide the best natural source of this disease-fighting nutrient.

5.    CoQ10: A fat-soluble antioxidant compound required for cellular energy production (ATP), heart health, brain health and more. (Note: While a recommended intake has not been established, you can see absolute amounts in the list below.)

Now take a look at how much you’ll get in these organ meats. The amounts represented are the absolute amounts per serving and how that amount compares on a percentage basis with the established RDA or RDI, assuming one has been established:

Lamb Kidney - 3 oz
Selenium - 186 mcg / 266%
Vitamin B12 - 67 mcg / 1,118%
Choline (data not available)

Beef Kidney - 3 oz
Selenium- 143 mcg / 204%
Vitamin B12 - 21 mcg / 353%
Choline - 436 mg

Chicken Liver - 1 oz
Vitamin A – 4,026 IU / 81%
Vitamin B12 - 5.9 mcg / 99%
Selenium - 24.7 mcg / 35%
Choline - 92 mg

Beef Liver - 1 oz
Vitamin A – 8,881 IU / 178%
Vitamin B12 - 19.8 mcg / 329%
Selenium - 10.1 mcg / 144%
Choline - 119 mg
CoQ10 – 1.1 mg

Lamb Liver - 1 oz
Vitamin A – 7,280 IU / 146%
Vitamin B12 - 24 mcg / 400%
Selenium - 32.5 mcg / 46%
Choline (data not available)

Beef Heart - 3 oz
Vitamin B12 - 9.2 mcg / 153%
Selenium - 33 mcg / 47%
Choline - 194 mg
CoQ10 – 96 mg

Lamb Sweetbreads - 3 oz
Vitamin B12 - 4.7 mcg / 78%
Selenium - 55 mcg / 79%
Choline (data not available)

As you can see, organ meats are a highly concentrated source of nutrition. It doesn’t take much to get major nutritional benefits!

How to Make Organ Meats Taste (Offaly) Good

If you’re serious about getting more of these superfoods in your diet, and preparing them in the best way, consider investing in the comprehensive cookbook by Fergus Henderson – The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating.

To broaden your palette and optimize your nutrition starting today, here are six simple (and sneaky) tips for including organ meats effortlessly and enjoyably in your everyday meals:

1.    Grind: Take frozen beef heart or chicken heart and carefully cut into chunks. Process using the grating blade on your food processor. Combine with grass-fed ground beef or bison for a nutrient-enhanced burger, meatloaf, chili, meatballs or Bolognese sauce.

2.    Puree: Add grass-fed beef liver, bison liver or chicken liver to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Just like with heart, you can add pureed liver to meatloaf, meatballs, chili or Bolognese sauce. If you’re new to the strong flavor of liver (or don’t particularly enjoy it), start with 25% liver and work your way up. Mild-flavored livers - including chicken, lamb and bison - can be used at 50% or even in a 1:1 ratio with great-tasting results. To make liver easily accessible for later use, scrape pureed liver into an ice cube mold (silicone works well for easy removal) and freeze. Once frozen, store portions in a zip-top bag or (better yet) an air-tight food saver bag. Then simply defrost the amount you need and add it to your recipe for a superfood boost.

3.    Fry: Everything tastes better fried. And when you fry the healthy way - using nutrient-rich, heat-stable tallow or duck fat – you’ll get rich, delicious flavor, and you’ll increase your absorption of lipid-soluble vitamin A, to boot. Simply dredge ½ inch pieces of liver (soaked and patted dry) or lamb sweetbreads in a flour mixture (try a combination of arrowroot and coconut flour for a grain-free crispy coating). Then fry in a heavy-bottomed skillet with ¼ inch of healthy fat until golden, about two minutes. Flip and cook another two minutes, just until cooked through.

4.    Marinate: While texture can be more of a challenge with organ meats, flavor can be greatly enhanced by marinating. Try Thai flavors (coconut aminos, fish sauce and ginger), Mediterranean (lemon, garlic and olive oil) or even Indian or Middle-Eastern.

5.    Soak: To make the taste of liver or kidney less pronounced, soak in 1 cup of coconut milk with 1 Tbsp. lemon juice or apple cider vinegar for a few hours or overnight. If you are liver-averse, choosing mild-flavored liver (bison, lamb or chicken) and soaking can make a big difference in the palatability.

6.    Grill: As a muscle meat, heart can be grilled very much like your favorite lean cut of meat. Because it is very lean, be careful to not overcook. Liver can also be delicious when grilled and lends itself to a variety of flavorful marinades.

If you have tried eating organ meats before with no luck: Take heart. Your taste buds, like all of the other cells in your body – are constantly regenerating. This means you can actually acquire a taste for organ meats, and may even find that over time you begin to crave their unique flavors.

Be adventurous and don’t be afraid to experiment! By adding a variety of organ meats to your culinary repertoire you’ll boost your intake of health-promoting nutrients the same way our ancestors did – with traditional superfoods!


Ed. Note: Kelley Herring is author of more than a dozen books on nutrition and natural healing. She is also the co-founder of Wellness Bakeries, which has just released their newest product - Better Bread - a 100% Paleo bread mix you can whip up in 5 minutes flat.


1.    Davis, D. Declining Fruit and Vegetable Nutrient Composition: What Is The Evidence? Hort Science Vol 44 (1) 2009
2.    Linus Pauling Institute. Micronutrient Information Center.  Vitamin B12.
3.    Linus Pauling Institute. Micronutrient Information Center.  Choline.
4.    Linus Pauling Institute. Micronutrient Information Center.  Vitamin A.
5.    Linus Pauling Institute. Micronutrient Information Center.  CoQ10.
6.    Rayman MP. The importance of selenium to human health. Lancet. 2000;356(9225):233-24
7.    USDA SR-21. Nutrient Data.
8.    Pinar Ercan, Sedef Nehir. Changes in content of coenzyme Q10 in beef muscle, beef liver and beef heart with cooking and in vitro digestion. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. Volume 24, Issue 8, December 2011, Pages 1136–1140
9.    Kamei et al., “The distribution and content of ubiquinone in foods,” Internat. J. Vit. Nutr. Res. 56 (1986) 57-63.
10.    Mattila, et al., “Coenzymes Q9 and Q10: contents in foods and dietary intake,” Journal of Food Composition and Analysis 14 (2001) 409-417.
11.    Ghirlanda, et al., "Evidence of plasma CoQ10-lowering effect of HMG-COA reductase inhibitors: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study," Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 1993 Mar; 33(3):226-229.
12.    Sears, Al, MD, The Doctor's Heart Cure: Discover the Simple, Easy, Enjoyable and Above-All PROVEN Plan to Lose Weight and Achieve a Shock-Proof, Disease-Resistance Heart — with Delicious, Natural Foods and Just a Few Minutes of Exercise a Day, St. Paul: Dragon Door, 2004, 133-146.

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GoodOnYa Bars    “Every question you will ever have, the answer you will find in nature.”
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I love that quote, nature is an awesome example of balance. We can all get so out of whack in our lives. Friends, love, diet, exercise, you…. Life…. They all need balance. There is even a new disorder, Orthorexia, an obsession with eating healthy. I can fall into this at times because honestly, the more you know about our current food system the worse it is. Do I wish I could just take a pill like in the Matrix and go on eating GMO’s, pesticides and fluoride in my water? No, I don’t. But if you constantly worry about it to the point where it causes you stress then all the healthy food in the world won’t keep you healthy. Stress trumps it all.

I founded this company in 2001 after a playing field hockey for the US National Team for 11 years. As an Olympic athlete healthy food was obviously a big part of my life. But back then, as an athlete, I equated being skinny and fit with health. Sure exercise is a big part of it, but in my quest for gold (and coming in 5th) I trashed my adrenals, joints, muscles and ended up with a full blown auto immune disease of the thyroid. A low fat, high carb diet is what we thought was healthy.  And lots of energy drinks with food colorings, synthetic salts and sugar. (yeah, a LOT of sugar)  Boy what I would give now to go back and make sure I had pastured meats, raw dairy from grass fed animals, good fats from nuts and coconut and better water! Well, actually I wouldn’t go back, I much prefer yoga and surfing now. But I do hope to help educate athletes, moms, kids, everyone on the benefits of real food. I often say “it’s not just about selling bars for us”, and it isn’t. If it was we would have made a very different bar.  One that could retail for .99 and we’d source the cheapest ingredients, add a boat load of sugar to make it taste ok and market the heck out of it. That’s just not who we are.



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Breakfast Bar

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Do You Need a Sugar Detox? (4 Easy Ways to Tell!)

By: Kelley Herring, Healing GourmetSugar

  • Do you ever find yourself needing something sweet as a “pick me up” during the day?
  • Do you experience deep cravings for foods like chocolate or ice cream… or have trouble stopping once you start eating sweets?
  • Do you have difficulty saying “no” to dessert or candy when it’s offered at work or social gatherings?
  • If so, you’re not alone. In fact, most people find that they have a love-hate relationship with sweets. And the reason might surprise you.

Sugar: The Taste of Sweet Survival

We have a primal urge to eat sugar. In fact, humans are evolutionarily hard-wired to crave sweets.

You see, when the food supply was very unpredictable – and caloric energy was difficult to come by – calories were an evolutionary advantage. Sweetness represented energy, and energy meant survival.

Of course, in the days of our ancestors, sweet foods were uncommon, available only at certain times of the year or they took a lot of effort to obtain (picture yourself climbing a tree or cliff face to gain access to a bees nest). There was also competition for sweet foods from animals and others in your tribe.

But all of that has changed. Where sweets were once scarce and difficult to obtain, today they are cheap and ubiquitous.

While the landscape of our food supply has changed, the hard-wired survival instinct to consume sugar has not.

Sugar Addiction & Deafening Leptin's Message

The result? A vicious cycle of sugar addiction.

Some people say that eating sweets is like “opening Pandora’s box”. Once they have that brownie, cookie or any form of sweet treat – it’s difficult to stop.

But it’s not just about a lack of willpower. Your hormones are also to blame.

After eating a sugar-sweetened treat, blood sugar levels rise. The hormone insulin (often called the fat-storing hormone) is called upon to mobilize sugar from the blood. As blood sugar levels fall, signals are sent to the brain that available energy is dwindling. Hunger ensues.

And what do you reach for? That cookie… or brownie… or sweet treat – the very food that put you in the hormonal hunger cycle in the first place.

But there’s more to the equation than just blood sugar and insulin.  Eating sugar actually deafens the message sent to your brain that you’re full. And it does this by causing leptin resistance.

Leptin (also known as the satiety hormone) is an important regulator of hunger. It monitors the amount of energy we consume and provides feedback to our brain. When leptin works properly, our eating is in control. But as we become resistant its signals, this important biofeedback mechanism is compromised.

The result is not just that we become hungry again faster after eating a sweet treat – it’s also that we tend to eat more on the rebound because we’re not satisfied.

Of course, the most visible result of sugar addiction is weight gain. But a high sugar diet is also closely correlated with every chronic disease.    

Chronic Disease & A High Sugar Diet

In addition to promoting systemic inflammation and speeding up the aging process, a high sugar diet is associated with heart disease, declining brain health, cancer and more.

And while I could fill a book with the studies that establish this correlation, I’d like to share two recent ones that I think are particularly meaningful:

•    Sugar and Declining Brain Health: In a recent study published in the journal Neurology, researchers found a direct relationship between brain shrinkage and blood sugar. They also found a direct relationship between memory loss and elevated blood sugar. What’s more, it wasn’t just “diabetic” levels of blood sugar that caused these effects – even relatively moderate elevations caused harm to the brain and memory.

•    Sugar and Heart Disease: The Journal of the American Medical Association published a report this month entitled Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality among US Adults. Researchers evaluated how added sugars in the diet related to the risk of death from a cardiovascular event. The study showed a direct correlation between the amount of added sugar in the diet and the risk for death from a cardiovascular event. What’s more, when the researchers compared people whose added dietary sugars accounted for less than 10% of their total calories to those whose added sugar exceeded 25% of daily calories, those consuming the most added sugar had a 300% higher risk of death from a cardiovascular event!

How To Do A Sugar Detox

Detoxing from sugar and adopting a long-term, low-sugar lifestyle isn’t just important to improve body your body composition: it’s absolutely essential to prevent chronic disease.
Doing a sugar detox is especially important:

•    If you ever feel controlled by cravings for sweets and carbs – or you just can’t say no
•    If you become irritable or have mood swings based on blood sugar
•    If you feel you need sweets or carbs for a boost of energy during the day
•    If you just can’t stop once you start eating sweets

Did you answer “yes” to any of these questions? If so, your health would greatly benefit from a firm commitment to completely QUIT sugar for at least three to four weeks.

When I say sugar, of course I mean processed foods containing sugar like candy and soda. But I’m also talking about natural forms of sugar – honey and maple syrup – as well as starches that are rapidly converted into sugar.

And while many “sugar detox” programs still allow some level of carbohydrate and even fruit as part of their detox program, this strategy typically isn’t sufficient to fully elicit the important metabolic and hormonal changes that can help you break your sugar addiction including:

•    Resetting your metabolism from a “sugar burner” to a “fat burner”
•    Eliminating wild fluctuations in mood and energy levels
•    Resetting appetite and reducing leptin resistance
•    Resetting your taste buds so you no longer require sweet foods to feel satisfied

In fact, most people find they achieve the biggest benefit and quickest results by focusing their consumption solely on grass-fed meats, pastured poultry and eggs, wild fish, bone broth and stock, healthy fats (lard, tallow, grass-fed butter, duck fat, coconut oil) and non-starchy vegetables.

Here’s what your sample sugar detox daily menu might look like:

Breakfast: Pastured eggs with grass-fed butter or coconut oil, pastured pork sausage and avocado

Lunch: Atlantic mackerel or wild salmon burger or grass-fed beef burger, mixed green salad with olive oil and vinegar

Dinner: Duck breasts, leafy greens and bell peppers sautéed in duck fat with garlic

Snacks: Bone marrow, bone broth, olives, Brazil nuts

(Please Note:  My sample menu is a very low carb/potentially ketogenic menu that may not be appropriate for everyone.)

I want to hear from you! Have you done a sugar detox? If so, what were your results… what did you experience… and what foods did you enjoy during that time?


Ed. Note: Kelley Herring is author of more than a dozen books on nutrition and natural healing. She is also the co-founder of Wellness Bakeries, which has just released their newest product - Better Bread - a 100% Paleo bread mix you can whip up in 5 minutes flat.

1.    Lucia Kerti MA, A. Veronica Witte PhD, Angela Winkler MA, Ulrike Grittner PhD, Dan Rujescu MD, Agnes Flöel MD. Higher glucose levels associated with lower memory and reduced hippocampal microstructure. Journal of Neurology. November 12, 2013
2.    Quanhe Yang, PhD; Zefeng Zhang, MD, PhD; Edward W. Gregg, PhD; W. Dana Flanders, MD, ScD; Robert Merritt, MA; Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD. Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among US Adults. JAMA Internal Medicine. February 3, 2014  
3.    Banks WA1, Coon AB, Robinson SM, e al. Triglycerides induce leptin resistance at the blood-brain barrier. Diabetes. 2004 May;53(5):1253-60.

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The Fatty Fruit You Need to Get Lean (and Stay Young!)

By: Kelley Herring, Healing GourmetAvocado

Did you know that there is a delicious fruit that can help you lose weight, reduce inflammation, fight cancer, protect against heart disease, slow aging and even absorb more nutrients from your food?

It might sound like I’m describing a newly discovered rare superfruit from the jungle – the kind you see in over-the-top ads for nutritional supplements. It turns out this food is actually quite common. In fact, you’ve probably eaten it recently.

And that’s a good thing… because the health benefits of this common fruit are remarkably uncommon!

If you haven’t already guessed, I’m talking about the avocado!

Want to Shed Fat? Add Avocado to Your Lunch

Unfortunately avocados got caught up in the low-fat craze of the 70’s & 80’s. Many Americans shunned it due to its reputation for being laden with fat and calories. But we know that’s a good thing, because avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats – one of the healthiest fats of all.

In fact, research is proving that these certified superfruits can be a dieter’s best friend!

A recent study, published in the Nutrition Journal, showed that eating just half an avocado at lunchtime stabilized blood sugar boosted satiety by 40% three hours after the meal.(1)  These are two key factors for losing weight.

But the benefits avocado eaters enjoy don’t end there…

Boost Nutrient Absorption… with Avocados

Adding avocado to your meals can also help boost your body’s absorption of powerful anti-aging, disease-fighting compounds called carotenoids.

Researchers at Ohio State University conducted studies to determine how eating 150 grams (or roughly 5 Tbsp.) of avocado affected the nutrient absorption of tomato salsa and salad (including spinach, lettuce and carrots).

Blood was drawn from the participants and nutrient levels were monitored for roughly 10 hours after the meal. Here’s what the researchers found:(2)

•    Participants who ate avocado with salsa absorbed nearly 4.5 times more lycopene than those who abstained from avocado.

•    Participants who ate avocado with salad absorbed 8.3 times more alpha-carotene and 13.6 times more beta-carotene than those who didn't eat avocado.

•    Participants who ate avocado with salad absorbed more than four times as much lutein compared to those who ate only salad.

Avocado doesn’t just help your body to maximize the nutrients you get from your food. It also helps to convert the beta-carotene found in plant foods into the biologically active form – vitamin A.

According to research published in the August 2014 volume of the Nutrition Journal, eating avocado was found to boost the conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A by almost 500%!(3)   

This is really important because roughly 54% of American women and men do not get enough vitamin A from their diets, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)(4).

Getting more antioxidants in your diet – from absorption and more efficient conversion – translates to greater free radical protection. But avocados even go a step further...

Protect Your Cellular Powerhouses with the Alligator Pear

Research also shows that compounds in avocado oil have the ability to go deep into the mitochondria of the cell to halt oxidative damage.  The mitochondria is the powerhouse and very life force of your cells.

When our mitochondria become damaged, so does our ability to produce ATP, the body’s “energy currency”.  The result is fatigue, accelerated aging and an increased risk of chronic diseases, including cancer.(7,8)

Christopher Cortes-Rojo led the recent research into the ability of avocado oil to penetrate the mitochondria and to heal oxidative damage there. He says that many of the antioxidants in other fruits and vegetables are unable to enter the mitochondria, therefore:

"The free radicals go on damaging mitochondria. This causes energy production to stop and the cell to collapse and die. An analogy would be that, during an oil spill, if we cleaned only the spilled oil instead of fixing the perforation where oil is escaping. Then the oil would go on spilling, and fish would die anyway."

By guarding against free radical damage inside the mitochondria, you eliminate a key source of oxidation while simultaneously protecting these vital energy-producing structures.

Getting More Anti-Aging Avocado in Your Diet

If you’re not already enjoying avocados as a staple in your diet, now is the time to start. They’re an incredibly versatile food that can compliment almost any kind of cuisine. They can be enjoyed at any meal. And they are easy to “sneak” into foods for the avocado averse.

And because avocados are protected by a thick, inedible peel, it’s not critical that you purchase organic. Conventionally grown avocados are on the “Clean 15” with no concern for pesticide residues.

Here are some simple ways to add more avocados to your diet:

•    Whirl half an avocado into a smoothie made with VitalWhey and organic berries for a satiating protein and fat-rich breakfast on-the-go
•    Enjoy with pastured eggs and sugar-free bacon or pork breakfast sausage for a breakfast that will power you all morning long
•    Use as a healthy fat source in grain-free baked goods like brownies and cakes or puree with organic dark cocoa and a little stevia for a creamy and delicious, nutrient-rich pudding (great for picky kids!)
•    Make guacamole – the best-known avocado recipe – and serve with grilled grass-fed flank steak and organic salsa for a satisfying Mexican meal
•    Cube and toss with organic cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts and olives, drizzled with high quality olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt for a delicious Paleo antipasto

Including avocados in your repertoire won’t just keep you feeling full longer and stave off the cravings that can lead to weight gain over time. They’ll provide deep cellular nutrition and antioxidant protection that will help you defy aging and thwart chronic disease.  


ED NOTE: Kelley Herring is author of more than a dozen books on nutrition and natural healing. She is also the co-founder of Wellness Bakeries, which has just released their newest product - Better Bread - a 100% Paleo bread mix you can whip up in 5 minutes flat.



  1. Michelle Wien, Ella Haddad, Keiji Oda and Joan Sabaté12.A randomized 3x3 crossover study to evaluate the effect of Hass avocado intake on post-ingestive satiety, glucose and insulin levels, and subsequent energy intake in overweight adults. Nutrition Journal 2013, 12:155  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-155. Published: 27 November 2013
  2. Nuray Z. Unlu, Torsten Bohn,Steven K. Clinton, and Steven J. Schwartz. Carotenoid Absorption from Salad and Salsa by Humans Is Enhanced by the Addition of Avocado or Avocado Oil. J. Nutr. March 1, 2005 vol. 135 no. 3 431-436
  3. Rachel E. Kopec, Jessica L. Cooperstone, Ralf M. Schweiggert, Gregory S. Young, Earl H. Harrison, David M. Francis, Steven K. Clinton, Steven J. Schwartz. Avocado Consumption Enhances Human Postprandial Provitamin A Absorption and Conversion from a Novel High–β-Carotene Tomato Sauce and from Carrots. First published June 4, 2014, doi: 10.3945/jn.113.187674 J. Nutr. August 1, 2014 vol. 144 no. 8 1158-1166
  4. Community Nutrition Mapping Project, 2009, CNMap, Version 2. United States Department of Agriculture.
  5. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). (2012, April 22). Avocado oil: The ‘olive oil of the Americas’?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from
  6. Mandavilli BS, Santos JH, Van Houten B. Mitochondrial DNA repair and aging. Mutat Res. 2002 Nov 30;509(1-2):127-51.
  7. Cadenas E, Davies KJ. Mitochondrial free radical generation, oxidative stress, and aging. Free Radic Biol Med. 2000 Aug;29(3-4):222-30.
  8. Singh KK. Mitochondrial dysfunction is a common phenotype in aging and cancer. Ann NY Acad Sci. 2004 Jun;1019:260-4.

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The Low Fat Lie

By: Kelley Herring, Healing GourmetEat Butter

On June 23rd, the cover of Time Magazine prominently featured two words: “Eat Butter.”

In an article titled, “Ending the War on Fat,” the venerable mainstream publication finally put to rest one of the most detrimental myths about health and nutrition – the myth that saturated fat is to blame for heart disease.

But what the magazine didn’t mention in this otherwise excellent article, was that Time played a big role in popularizing this deadly misconception in the first place!

The Seven Countries Study… or the 22 Country Study?

In 1961, Time featured physiologist Ancel Keys on the cover, with an article about his Seven Countries Study, which compared heart disease mortality rates and fat consumption across seven countries. His comparison showed a “remarkable relationship.”

The countries with the highest fat intake had the highest levels of heart disease. The countries with the lowest fat intake had the lowest levels of heart disease.

At the time, Jacob Yerushalmy, a PhD statistician at the University of California at Berkeley, pointed out that we had fat consumption data in 22 countries. So why wasn’t it called “The 22-Country Study?”

It wasn’t called that, because Ancel Keys started with the conclusion. He cherry-picked the countries that matched his pre-conceived notion and threw out the ones that contradicted it. And most of them did! When all 22 countries were analyzed, the “remarkable relationship” remarkably disappeared.

In fact, the complete set of data actually suggested that those eating the MOST saturated animal fat had LOWER rates of heart disease!

Yet, despite the obvious flaws in his research, Ancel Keys’ study formed the basis of the “lipid hypothesis.” Unfortunately, the butter bashing and anti-saturated fat campaigns were not the only harmful dietary dictates perpetuated during this period.

The Rise of Sugars, Grains & Seed Oils (and the Decline of Public Health)

From the 1960s onward, the medical establishment, government health organizations and the processed food industry simultaneously urged the public to replace these wholesome, natural foods with high-carbohydrate, grain-based processed foods and industrially-produced seed and vegetable oils. They even began vigorous campaigns to steer people away from real butter and to replace it with deadly trans-fats – in the form of so-called “better-than-butter” spreads.

It wasn’t long before grocery store shelves were filled with low-fat and fat-free fake foods.

It also wasn’t long before the public health began to take a dramatic turn for the worse. Excess dietary sugar and carbohydrates along with omega-6 rich industrial seed oils are clearly implicated in insulin resistance, obesity and chronic inflammation – all of which increase your risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other degenerative diseases. It’s no wonder that the rates of obesity and disease began to skyrocket.

Forward thinking doctors, scientists and nutritionists have been warning against this unsound (and unproven) dietary dogma for decades. But it wasn’t until recently that mainstream medicine has finally begun to set politics aside and consider the science.

Saturated Fats Vindicated (Finally!)

The latest study to confirm the lack of evidence that saturated fat cause heart disease – and the basis for last month’s article in Time – was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. This study reviewed more than 76 trials covering more than 650,000 participants. The authors concluded that,

“Current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats.”

In one fell swoop these respected researchers called into question nearly every standard nutritional guideline related to heart health. But this was certainly not the first major study to find no link between saturated fat and heart disease.

A previous analysis of 21 studies covering almost 350,000 people and spanning more than two decades was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2010. According to the authors of this study, “Intake of saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of CHD, stroke, or CVD.”

Or consider The Women's Health Initiative. This huge government study cost nearly $750 million. Among 20,000 women in the study who adhered to an extremely low saturated fat diet for eight years, the researchers found that there was no impact on obesity, nor any measurable risk reduction (incidence or mortality) for heart disease, stroke, colorectal cancer, or breast cancer.

The authors finally had to acknowledge that their results “…do not justify recommending low-fat diets to the public to reduce their heart disease and cancer risk.”

Thankfully, it seems that this madness is coming to an end. “It’s not saturated fat we should worry about," says cardiologist Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury, author of the study featured in the Time Magazine article. "It’s the high-carb or sugary diet that should be the focus of dietary guidelines.”

Question Conventional Advice, Follow Ancestral Wisdom

Hopefully, the message is clear: Conventional “low-fat diet” advice is counterproductive to your weight-loss efforts and your health. If you want to reduce your risk of disease and reach your ideal weight, pay attention to the TYPE of fats you eat, rather than the amount.

Here’s what you need to remember to choose healthy fats and avoid unhealthy ones…

•    AVOID OMEGA-6 FATS. These fats come primarily from vegetable and seed oils (such as corn, soybean, sunflower, safflower, canola, cottonseed, peanut, etc). To avoid these ingredients, eliminate commercially fried foods and most processed foods from your diet (including chips, baked goods, sauces and dressings, etc.). You should also avoid conventionally-raised meats. For example, the meat from grain-fed cows can have up to 50 times more omega-6 than omega-3s.

•    ELIMINATE TRANS FATS. Read the nutrition labels in your home and DISCARD anything with the word “hydrogenated.” You’ll be surprised at where these artery bombs are hiding. These industrial fake fats are positively deadly. In fact, the Institute of Medicine issued a claim that, “there is no safe level to consume.”

•    CONSUME OMEGA-3 FATS. The best dietary sources of these healthy fats are wild salmon, sardines and mackerel, pastured eggs, wild game and grass-fed beef and bison. Walnuts, flax seeds and hemp seeds are good sources, but do not have the same benefits as the animal sources above. You should also consider a fish oil supplement.

•    CONSUME SATURATED FAT. Saturated fat should come primarily from the meat and other products (butter, lard, tallow, dairy) from animals raised on their natural diet (ie. grass-fed cows, pastured pork, free-range chickens and wild game). Coconut oil is also a very healthy source of saturated fat.

•    CONSUME MONOUNSATURATED FAT. This is the heart-healthy fat best known for its association with the “Mediterranean Diet.” Good sources of these fats include nuts, avocados and olives as well as the oils produced from these foods (olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil, etc.) Naturally-raised meats and lard are also a good source of healthy monounsaturated fat.

Hopefully these recent studies – and the gradual awakening of the medical community – will mean that this dangerous dietary myth has seen its better days.


ED NOTE: Kelley Herring is author of more than a dozen books on nutrition and natural healing. She is also the co-founder of Wellness Bakeries, which has just released their newest product - Better Bread - a 100% Paleo bread mix you can whip up in 5 minutes flat.


1.    Walsh, Brian. Ending the War on Fat. Time Magazine. June 12th, 2014
2.    Norton, Amy. Study Fails to link saturated fat, heart disease. Reuters Health. Feb. 4, 2010
3.    Berkey CS, Rockett HR, Willett WC, Colditz GA. Milk, dairy fat, dietary calcium, and weight gain: a longitudinal study of adolescents. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005 Jun;159(6):543-50.
4.    Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):535-46. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27725. Epub 2010 Jan 13.
5.    Kuipers RS, de Graaf DJ, Luxwolda MF, Muskiet MH, Dijck-Brouwer DA, Muskiet FA. Saturated fat, carbohydrates and cardiovascular disease. Neth J Med. 2011 Sep;69(9):372-8.

Summer Secret to Fat Loss

By: Dr. Al Sears, MDSummer

Here’s something to remember as we get into summer with Independence Day, picnics, ice cream and other summer indulgences. This is a very important tip for losing weight, but few people seem to know about it.

You can cut calories and still gain weight. You can work out until you pass out and still have that spare tire belly.

The truth is: we don’t get fat because we eat too much. And it’s not because we are lazy...

Staying slim boils down to this: Hormones make you fat.

But today I’m going to show you how to deal with fat and hormones using a few tricks on eating to lose weight.  There are also some powerful nutritional supplements to balance hormones and help with fat loss.  I use these natural health products at my Wellness Center in South Florida, which helps control hormonal fat storage.

Case in point: the hormone insulin is your number one fat builder.  It tells your body to pack on the pounds.

You produce a storm of insulin when you eat foods high on the Glycemic Index. As a general rule of thumb, carbs are the foods highest on the GI.

It surprises my patients when I tell them what the highest GI food is that my wellness clinic has ever tested.

Care to guess?

It’s corn bread - a traditional favorite among Americans. Every time you take a bite of corn bread, insulin pours into your blood and tells your body to store the calories as fat.

High blood sugar levels require insulin to process it. Eventually, your body gets tired and stops responding, which is called insulin resistance.

Blood sugar that your body cannot (or will not) process gets stored as fat. This is why foods with excess carbohydrates cause weight gain.

I take this a step further with my patients. The idea is to eat foods that do not spike your blood sugar and to also let your blood sugar come back down after eating. You don’t want your insulin to stay elevated for too long.

This means eating foods with a low Glycemic Load (GL).

The GL is simply a number you get when you multiply a food’s Glycemic Index (GI) rating by the total amount of carbohydrate in each serving you eat.

That makes it much more practical for everyday life because the GL identifies how fattening a food is. It’s a fresh way to look at everyday foods. Some GL ratings may surprise you – especially foods like watermelon...high GI, but low GL.

I consider foods with a Glycemic Load under 10 the best choice. They are a green light. Foods that fall between 10 and 20 on the GL scale are more like a yellow light (not bad, but proceed with caution).

Foods above 20 are a red light. They will not only make you gain weight but will also prevent you from dropping weight. Foods above 20 should be eaten sparingly. Replacing these foods with protein is a better alternative. Protein has a GL of zero. For my complete Glycemic Load Chart, click here.

1) Banaba leaf tea is something they traditionally brew in Bali to help regulate blood sugar naturally.

Medical scientists believe that the banaba leaf’s beneficial effects on blood sugar are due to its high concentration of corosolic acid. It mimics insulin by moving sugar out of the bloodstream and into your cells.

Numerous scientific studies have proven the banaba leaf’s effectiveness. It lowers blood sugar with no side effects.(1) 50 mg of banaba leaf extract with 1-2 percent corosolic acid will help control your blood sugar.

2) L-carnitine can significantly improve insulin sensitivity in individuals with type 2 diabetes.

The body is not able to make enough L-Carnitine on its own from simply eating meat. Therefore, I recommend using one gram per day of a L-Carnitine supplement in a liquid form. A liquid is more absorbable than a L-Carnitine powder or capsule. Whichever source of L-Carnitine you select; be sure the supplement uses naturally occurring l-carnitine.

3) Chromium is another important mineral to help control insulin sensivity.

Without enough chromium in the body, insulin just doesn’t work properly.

Chromium is in many foods including brewer’s yeast, meats, potato skins, cheeses, molasses, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Despite the wide availability of chromium from food sources, research shows that 90% of American adults have a chromium-deficient diet.

But you can’t take just any form of chromium as a supplement. Some types of chromium may actually do more harm than good and research shows that it needs to include niacin to be effective.

Look for chromium polynicotinate or niacin-bound chromium, which are both safe and effective as a dietary supplement. Take 400 mcg a day.

Learn more about ways to lose weight and control blood sugar naturally by subscribing to my free newsletter “Doctor’s House Call” or by ordering a copy of my book, High Speed Fat Loss in 7 Easy Steps.


1. Ikeda, Y. “The clinical study on water extract of leaves of Langerstroemia Specious L. for mild cases of diabetes mellitus,” 1998 (unpublished)

Bacon and Grassfed Liverwurst, a Delicious Paleo-Friendly Breakfast

People have known through the ages that organ meats, from healthy animals, have many nutritional benefits. In fact, up to the middle of the twentieth century, most Europeans and Americans would eat organ meats at least once a week, for health.

Yet people have also known through the ages that it can be difficult to eat organ meats, which usually come with veins, sinews, membranes, and other parts and substances that must be removed before cooking. And there is the taste. Organ meats have a taste that does not appeal to many. And the texture, which is different from that of other meat.

But, thanks to U.S. Wellness Meats and traditional cooking, I have come up with a way to eat organ meats that is easy and delicious. That is not a misprint. I said delicious, and I mean it!

U.S. Wellness Meats sells a grassfed beef liverwurst sausage that includes large amounts of liver, heart, and kidney, ready for eating, no messy surgery required.

Cooking liver with bacon is a very old tradition in Europe, and it still works. Our ancestors had to deal with the same taste issues, and they learned that bacon is a delicious solution. Bacon and bacon fat make this liverwurst delicious. U.S. Wellness Meats also sells a wonderful bacon that is ideal for this recipe. And when you combine these two wonderful ingredients with pastured eggs, you have a breakfast to remember!

This may be the easiest way to get the nutritional benefits of organ meats I have ever used. And it is delicious, and energizing.

describe the image

Serves 3.

6 slices U.S. Wellness Meats sugar free pork bacon slices, use slices with plenty of fat

U.S. Wellness Meats liverwurst, cut 6 slices about one-quarter-inch thick. Do not worry if the slices break or crumble after they are cut. There are no binders or fillers in these sausages, which is a good thing. They will still be delicious.

2 to 4 pastured eggs, depending on your appetite

  1. Place the bacon slices in a large, heavy frying pan. Turn the heat to medium, and cook the bacon slices. Watch carefully so the bacon does not burn, reduce the heat if necessary, and turn often so it cooks evenly. Do not pour off the fat from the pan, you will need it. When the bacon is done to your taste, remove it from the pan to a warm place.
  2. Carefully place the liverwurst slices in the hot bacon fat, and cook over medium heat for one minute on each side. Remove the slices to a warm place.
  3. Break the eggs into the pan, and cook over medium heat until the yolks have set to your liking. Be sure to baste the yolks with hot bacon fat from the pan several times as the eggs cook. This will give a wonderful bacon flavor to the eggs. The bacon fat will tame the organ taste, making the sausage slices absolutely delicious. Serve and enjoy!

describe the imageStanley Fishman is a cookbook author and blogger who is an expert on cooking grassfed meat. Stanley uses traditional flavor combinations and cooking methods to make the cooking of grassfed meat easy, delicious, and tender. Stanley has written two cookbooks that make it easy to cook grassfed meat —Tender Grassfed Meat: Traditional Ways to Cook Healthy Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue: Traditional, Primal and Paleo. Stanley blogs about real food and the cooking of grassfed meat at his blog

Skin Secret Better Than Aloe

By: Dr. Al Sears, MDHoney

In the dry, hot environment of the Arabian Desert, the most-used natural product to heal skin isn’t water, or even aloe. It’s honey.(1)

Honey, it turns out, is a completely under-the-radar skin miracle.

Honey, milk and oatmeal mixtures were also commonly used as facial beauty scrubs in ancient Egypt. In Europe and western Asia they use honey to make a special skin balm called a mehlem. In Bosnia, there’s a skin syrup known as đulbe sugar. It’s made from honey, lemon and a small flower from the rose family.(2)

Surgeons use it to heal wounds from burns and cuts. Plastic surgeons use honey to fix skin grafts in place and prevent complications, such as graft loss, infection and graft rejection.(3) Honey can heal acne, and help make post-acne scarring and inflammation disappear.

Honey encourages your skin to make hyaluronic acid (HA). HA fills out your skin because it absorbs 3,000 times its weight of water. Honey also forms a delicate, mesh-like collagen structure that can bring your skin’s surface back to normal and allow it to heal.(4,5)

You can also use honey for other skin problems like diaper rash, hemorrhoids, psoriasis, eczema and dandruff. And it’s antibacterial, too.

Honey works well against bacteria for two reasons. The first is that its sugars bind to water molecules. This denies bacteria the moisture they need to grow.

The second is a secret ingredient added by bees. It’s an enzyme called glucose oxidase. It helps stop bacteria by increasing hydrogen peroxide, a natural disinfectant.(6)

Honey is also deadly to the “superbug” bacteria you may have heard about recently. Mixtures that have as little as 40 percent honey kill all the harmful bacteria. Even the newest bacterial threat, gram-negative bacteria, can’t stand up to honey. In one study, researchers used only 30 percent mixture on the five known gram-negative strains and honey killed all of those, too.(7)

Honey is also a super-antioxidant for skin.

Antioxidants protect skin from UV radiation damage, and aid in skin rejuvenation.

Darker honeys have high ORAC values. The ORAC scale was designed to help compare the antioxidant power of different foods. The higher the ORAC value, the more power it has to stop free-radical damage and help fight off health problems.

A study at the University of Illinois found that some of the darker honeys measure 50% higher on the ORAC scale that even grapes with their high-powered skins.(8)

Scientists are even developing new alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) skin treatments from honey.

Why is that so important? These acids from fruits and plants work with the slight acidity of your skin to help it exfoliate naturally. AHA helps remove old skin cells by dissolving the fatty deposits that hold them in place, which allows new healthy skin to emerge.

With all the ways your skin can benefit from honey, it’s a good idea to keep some in your house. I keep a jar of raw, organic Manuka honey from New Zealand in my pantry, but any of the darker honeys are good for skin care.

If I get a cut or a scrape, I just put some honey right on the wound and cover it with a bandage or dressing. The honey will diffuse into the wound. Then I just change the bandage when I put on more honey.

When I was in India, I visited the original Ayurmana or “ancient healing house” and watched the masters of Ayurvedic medicine use honey for nearly every skin treatment they created.

They mixed it with other natural ingredients to lighten freckles, cure skin rashes and acne, and remove wrinkles.

To make an Ayurvedic exfoliant for your skin using honey, mix:

  • Two tablespoons of rice powder (or amla powder, if you can find it)
  • One tablespoon of milk (for dry skin, use plain yogurt instead)
  • Five drops of lemon juice (for oily skin)
  • One teaspoon of honey
  • One half teaspoon of sugar

Stir this mixture into a paste, apply it to your skin and leave on for up to 10 minutes. Rinse with fresh, clean water and your skin will look better than ever.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD



1. Bakhotmah B, Alzahranicor H. “Self-reported use of complementary and alternative medicine … Jeddah, Western Saudi Arabia.” BMC Res. Notes. 2010; 3:254
2. ÅariÄ-KundaliÄ B, Fritz E, DobeÅ C, et. al. “Traditional Medicine in the Pristine Village of ProkoÅko Lake on Vranica Mountain, Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Sci. Pharm. 2010; 78(2): 275–290
3. Emsen I. “A different and safe method of split thickness skin graft fixation: medical honey application,” Burns Sept. 2007;33(6):782-7
4. McPherson J, Piez K. “Collagen in dermal wound repair,” In: Clark R, Henson P. The Molecular and Cellular Biology of Wound Repair. New York: Plenum Press, 1988
5. “Why do some cavity wounds treated with honey or sugar paste heal without scarring?” Woundcare Journal 2002; 11(2)
6. Pruitt K, Reiter B. “Biochemistry of peroxidase system: antimicrobial effects,” In Pruitt KM, Tenovuo JO, editors, The Lactoperoxidase System: Chemistry and Biological Significance, New York: Marcel Dekker, 1985; 144-78
7. Paulus H, Kwakman, et. al. “Medical-Grade Honey Kills Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria In Vitro and Eradicates Skin Colonization,” Clin. Infect. Dis. 2008;46 (11): 1677-1682
8. Gheldof N, Engeseth N. “Antioxidant Capacity of Honeys from Various Floral Sources…” J. Agric. Food Chem. 2002; 50 (10):3050–3055

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Nature Is Better But…

By: Dr. Al Sears, MDgrains

Nature is better until proven otherwise. It’s a small pearl of wisdom that I’ve gained in the years of being in medical practice.

Yet, although this may seem self-evident, what is “natural” has become the issue. We live in an unnatural world… and not only that, we’ve kind of erased our footsteps back to what is truly natural to us.

Most people are not even aware of what the human body requires for activity level and nutrition.

People are told that eating grains is natural. That might be true for birds, but not for us.

This is why “Paleo” is a step in the right direction.

Things went drastically wrong for us health-wise when people started to use technology to harvest grains. This gave us very low-fat, low-protein, low-nutrient diet.

People got smaller, and people got sick after making annual seed crops their primary food.

A new study gives us fresh evidence that this is true.

We already knew that farming made the Greeks lose height, and the Indians’ heads shrink.

Now a study from Cambridge University shows that after agriculture became dominant in Central Europe around 7,000 years ago, the bones of those people became progressively weaker. As time went by, they became less active and slower.(1)

Modern diet advice has ignored all this evidence, and instead doubled down on that terrible advice to eat a grain-based diet.

The establishment recommends you load up on starches, and says meat and eggs will kill you. Even though animal protein is what made us strong and fast, and grains have made us progressively weaker and slower.

Grains tell your body to eat more because it thinks you’re starving. Then it stores that food as fat. This has led us to a time when inflammation is the number one disease, giving us all the chronic conditions that plague us today.

The right thing to do is to return to what I’ve always talked about as a “Primal” diet. Others have since picked up on this term, and that’s a good thing, since I started talking about it years ago.

For me, Primal means looking at cultures that still have a connection to a more natural way of eating, and mimicking them.

Take the Italians for example. Their traditions aren’t Paleo, but they do go back very far in time.

One of them is they have a tradition of eating a starchy soup made with pasta and beans, served with salad and lots of garlic bread.

Sounds fattening … yet the Italians don’t get fat.

Here’s where science comes in very handy. It shows us why that pre-meal bean soup is so effective at keeping them lean.

The Italian white kidney bean is very effective at stopping all those starches from creating body fat.

Studies show that the white kidney bean, Phaseolus vulgaris, stops overeating, blocks body fat gain, helps drop existing fat, and helps maintain lean muscle mass.(2)

This is more evidence that there’s a lot of good health advice in ancient traditions because it’s a return to our more primal way of eating.

My favorite way to eat white kidney beans is to make minestrone soup. Then I can add meat and vegetables instead of pasta. Plus, beans absorb other flavors, making the whole thing tastier.

  • You can buy dried white kidney beans at health food stores. Cannellini (all white) and borlotti (ivory streaked with red) are the ones to look for.
  • Summertime is when the raw beans are fresh, and you can find them in Italian markets. Sometimes you can find them shelled, but those will cost a bit more.
  • If you’re looking to get more of the starch-blocking effect, it’s better to get an extract of the bean. The extract has a higher concentration of alpha-amylase blocker, which does the work of stopping carb absorption.
  • Start with 500 mg of the extract twice a day. It’s important to remember to take it 20 or so minutes before you eat or it won’t have the intended effect.
  • A better way to take the extract is to get it in a time-release capsule.
  • Also, don’t forget to try and fix the activity level that is abnormal and get a little bit of intense exertion.

To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD



1. Macintosh A. “From athletes to couch potatoes: humans through 6,000 years of farming.” Cambridge University Research. Apr. 18, 2014. Retrieved Apr. 22, 2014.
2. Celleno L, Tolaini M, D’Amore A, Perricone N, Preuss H. “A Dietary supplement containing standardized Phaseolus vulgaris extract influences body composition of overweight men and women.” Int J Med Sci. 2007;24;4(1):45-52.

Zinc Deficiency: An Epidemic?

By: Kelley Herring, Healing GourmetShrimp

When you think of the health benefits of zinc, you probably think of immune health first. Zinc supplements are the first thing many of us turn to when we feel a cold or flu coming on. And for good reason, because zinc is essential for a well-functioning immune system. But the benefits of this vital mineral go far beyond helping to ward off the common cold.

In fact, zinc is vital to your brain – for learning and consolidating memories and helping to regulate your mood. It has also been found to boost heart health, reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer, support the gastrointestinal system and reduce leaky gut, enhance athletic performance and even support hormonal health and fertility.

Unfortunately, most people don’t get enough of this crucial nutrient. According to the World Health Organization one-third of the world’s population – over 2 billion people – are deficient in zinc.

And while it is estimated that only 1 in 10 Americans are technically considered “zinc deficient,” a much higher percentage are still grossly insufficient.

And one of the primary causes is a grain-rich diet.

Zinc Binders in Grains Promote Deficiency

Despite scientific evidence to the contrary, the USDA still recommends grain-based foods as the foundation of a healthy diet. Unfortunately, as it relates to zinc, a grain-based diet is rich in copper, lignans and phytates – three compounds that can dramatically reduce the bioavailability and absorption of zinc.

And while many grain-based foods are fortified with zinc to improve their nutritional profile (on paper), research shows that zinc-fortified foods do not necessarily increase serum concentrations of zinc in the body.

What’s more, the forms of zinc that are most often used for fortification – including zinc oxide and zinc sulfate – are inorganic forms of the mineral, which are poorly absorbed.

But that’s not all… lifestyle factors and your own health status can also play a role in the levels of zinc in your body.

Are You Living a Zinc Deficient Lifestyle?

Excess consumption of sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and other competing minerals (including calcium, iron and copper) can all reduce zinc levels or increase your body’s requirement of it. Stress, infections, low stomach acid and certain medications can do the same thing.

Pregnant and nursing mothers should also be especially vigilant about zinc levels, as deficiencies are commonly associated with the bodily changes that come with pregnancy. And this is critical, because zinc deficiencies during pregnancy and lactation have been linked to miscarriage, low birth weight, and developmental problems in children.

And if you are vegetarian (or worse, vegan), your risk of a zinc deficiency is increased dramatically. That’s because about 44% of the zinc in the American diet comes from meat, fish and poultry. Even well-planned vegetarian diets fall short on zinc, according to research performed at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). The ARS study also showed that 21 percent less zinc was absorbed from a vegetarian diet compared to an omnivorous one.

Add this decreased absorption to the lower zinc content of a vegetarian diet and you have a prescription for deficiency.

So How Much Zinc is Enough?

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for zinc is currently 8-11 mg. However, like most RDA values, nutritional experts believe this is only a minimum acceptable level, at best.

In fact, studies show that our Paleolithic ancestors consumed an average of 43 mg of zinc per day from grain-free, legume-free, whole-food sources – the most bioavailable forms.

Today, modern Americans consume roughly 10 mg daily. But remember – it’s what you absorb that matters. If only 15 to 35 percent of the zinc you consume is absorbed (which is common) then you are likely deficient.  

With all of the factors that influence zinc metabolism, and the highly processed diets that most people consume, it’s easy to see how a deficiency in this critical nutrient has become epidemic.

And though it doesn’t get the press it deserves, you can be sure that this has negatively impacted the health and quality of life of millions. The authors of a review on zinc and human health, published in the Archives of Toxicology state:

“Zinc is an essential element whose significance to health is increasingly appreciated and whose deficiency may play an important role in the appearance of diseases.”

Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency

One reason why this epidemic goes unnoticed is because the symptoms of zinc deficiency are diverse and can be attributed to numerous other factors. These symptoms can include:
•    Acne
•    Anxiety
•    Asthma
•    Behavior Changes
•    Chronic Diarrhea
•    Dandruff
•    Delayed Wound Healing
•    Depression
•    Diarrhea
•    Fatigue
•    Frequent Infection
•    Hair Loss
•    Headaches
•    Impaired Memory
•    Joint Pain
•    Learning Disabilities
•    Loss Of Appetite And Taste Perception
•    Sensitive Skin
•    Severe PMS
•    Skin And Respiratory Allergy
•    Slowed Sexual Maturation
•    Unhealthy Weight Loss Caused By Loss Of Appetite
•    Vision Problems
•    White Spots In The Fingernails
The Most Absorbable Food Sources of Zinc

The best sources of zinc are the same foods our ancestors enjoyed including, grass-fed meats, wild seafood, and pastured poultry.

Food Serving Mg of Zinc
Oysters 3 oz 154 mg
Beef Liver 3 oz 4.5 mg
Beef 4 oz 4 mg
Lamb 4 oz 3.9 mg
Lobster 3 oz 3.4 mg
Pork 3 oz 2.9 mg
Duck Liver 3 oz 2.7 mg
Chicken 3 oz 2.4 mg
Chicken Liver 3 oz 2.1 mg
Turkey 4 oz 2 mg
Shrimp 4 oz 1.9 mg
Scallops 4 oz 1.8 mg

In addition to these foods being high in zinc (and devoid of zinc-binding substances that reduce its absorption), they are also rich in a compound known to boost zinc absorption: Protein!

Another effective way to increase zinc absorption? Add a grass-fed whey protein shake to your meals.  Whey protein is rich in cysteine and methionine – two amino acids that enhance zinc absorption.

You can also include zinc-rich nuts and seeds including pumpkin seeds (1 oz, 3 mg), cashews (1 oz, 1.6 mg), and almonds (1 oz, 0.9 mg) to boost your intake. But be sure to soak them to reduce the phytates that make zinc inaccessible to the body. (Better Than Roasted does the work for you… and they taste great!)

Because zinc supplementation can interfere with other important nutrients in the body, and most zinc supplements are poorly absorbed, it’s best to rely on getting this important nutrient from the whole food sources listed above.

And if you think you may have a zinc deficiency, simple and inexpensive tests are widely available. Often correcting low stomach acid with betaine HCL can dramatically increase the absorption of zinc and other nutrients you get from your food – no synthetic supplements required. As always, talk with your doctor.


ED NOTE:  Kelley Herring is author of more than a dozen books on nutrition and natural healing. She is also the co-founder of Wellness Bakeries, which has just released their newest product – Better Bread – a 100% Paleo bread mix you can whip up in 5 minutes flat.


1.    Michael Hambidge. Human Zinc Deficiency J. Nutr. May 1, 2000 vol. 130 no. 5 1344S-1349S
2.    Sturniolo GC1, Di Leo V, Ferronato A, D'Odorico A, D'Incà R. Zinc supplementation tightens "leaky gut" in Crohn's disease. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2001 May;7(2):94-8.
3.    Zinc: Dietary Supplement Facts by CDC
4.    Chasapis CT, Loutsidou AC, Spiliopoulou CA, Stefanidou ME. Zinc and human health: an update. Arch Toxicol. 2012 Apr;86(4):521-34. doi: 10.1007/s00204-011-0775-1. Epub 2011 Nov 10.
5.    Prasad AS. Discovery of human zinc deficiency: 50 years later. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2012 Jun;26(2-3):66-9.
6.    Hess SY1, Brown KH. Impact of zinc fortification on zinc nutrition. Food Nutr Bull. 2009 Mar;30(1 Suppl):S79-107.
7.    Brown KH1, Wessells KR, Hess SY. Zinc bioavailability from zinc-fortified foods. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2007 May;77(3):174-81.
8.    "Vegetarians, Watch Your Zinc!”. March 1998 , Agricultural Research magazine.
9.    Eaton SB, Eaton SB 3rd. Paleolithic vs. modern diets—selected pathophysiological implications. Eur J Nutr. 2000 Apr;39(2):67-70.
10.    Cordain L. The Nutritional Characteristics of a Contemporary Diet Based Upon Paleolithic Food Groups. JANA. 2002;5(3):15-24.
11.    Cordain L, Brand Miller J, Eaton SB, Mann N, Holt SHA, Speth JD. Plant to animal subsistence ratios and macronutrient energy estimations in worldwide hunter-gatherer diets. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2000, 71:682-92.
12.    King JC. Does zinc absorption reflect zinc status? Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2010 Oct;80(4-5):300-6.
13.    Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Zinc. Dietary reference intakes for vitamin A, vitamin K, arsenic, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press; 2001:442-501.
14.    Prasad AS. Zinc deficiency in humans: a neglected problem. J Am Coll Nutr. 1998;17(6):542-543.
15.    Wapnir RA, Stiel L. Zinc intestinal absorption in rats: specificity of amino acids as ligands. The Journal of Nutrition [1986, 116(11):2171-2179]
16.    Kassarjian, Z., Russell, R. Hypochlorhydria: A Factor in Nutrition. Annual Reviews of Nutrition. 1989. 9, 271-285.
17.    Nutrient data for this listing was provided by USDA SR-21

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