Your dog, fall colors and beets

A few small bites today. Headlines from an LA Times article says we are feeding our pets kale, quinoa and cage-free duck. We’re spending more on our pets’ food giving them “…human grade food that is organic, minimally processed, slow-cooked…”, says columnist Kavita Daswani.

What’s wrong with sugared cereal, puffed cheese snacks and soda for Barney? It wouldn’t be healthy, right? Coats would suffer, eyes wouldn’t be bright, digestive health would be compromised, energy levels would drop. You know what’s coming…if you wouldn’t feed it to your dog…


How conflicted food scientists must be at General Mills. Trix cereal was transformed from brightly colored balls of fun to plant-dyed balls of depression (one mother suggests). The vegetable dyes (like radishes and turmeric) just didn’t cut it; after a two year trial Trix is bringing back artificial dyes. A moment of sanity. It’s unlikely the amount of red, blue or yellow dye is an issue in your child’s diet. The balls of sugar are the problem. Let’s not focus on the gnat when an elephant is in the room!


Which brings us to beautiful red (or purple, yellow and orange) beets. A brand new friend tells me, within the first hour of conversation, she hates beets but tries to blenderize them and hide them in a drink. She suggests they’re supposed to be healthy. Agree on two counts – like all veggies, beets are healthy and I don’t like them either.

Beets and their greens are edible and some of their nutritional benefits come from the chemicals that give beets their color. Beets contain lutein, fiber and folate which are all good. Recent headlines suggest that increased blood flow to one part of the brain is increased with dietary nitrate of which beets are a source. But not the only source. Green leafy vegetables anyone?

Take care of your diet as carefully as you care for your pets’ diets to be well,




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A cup of coffee a day

A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of touring a local coffee roaster Utopian Coffee Company.

Hosted by one of its founders, our group heard the story of travel and “relationship sourcing” their coffee beans (which to me sounded synonymous with danger – Rwanda and Columbia anyone?). But, by knowing the growers, Utopian strives to make people’s lives better through a living wage.

While we did not talk nutrition that afternoon, this coffee guzzler would like to.

Most interesting, in my mind, is that coffee is the largest supplier of antioxidants in the diet! Recall antioxidants protect cells’ health so we like them a lot. Typically we push berries, dark green and deep yellow colored veggies, nuts…but today, let’s focus on coffee.

A couple caveats: if you’re young, pregnant or a slow caffeine metabolizer, coffee’s not a great antioxidant plan. If you need to load up black coffee with sugar and fat (cream), you’ll negate the health effects. And finally if you can’t moderate your intake, you could have an issue.

But for the rest of us…

A UCLA study suggests coffee drinking may protect against Type 2 diabetes. Italian researchers found liver cancer incidence was lower in coffee drinkers. Kaiser Permanente published a study showing a lowered incidence of liver cirrhosis among coffee drinkers. A McGill U study suggests Parkinson’s movement control could be improved with coffee.

A Portugal study shows coffee has a protective effect against Alzheimer’s disease. Numerous studies explain coffee enhances brain neuron function, gives you a feeling of energy, generally improves cognitive function and reaction times.

Further, a Beth Israel Deaconess and Harvard study showed lowered risk of heart failure among coffee drinkers. Current Vascular Pharmacology says all-cause mortality is reduced by coffee consumption. Wow.

While I don’t think coffee will afford the drinker immortality, drink it with pleasure to be well,


PS Yes, all you tea-totallers, tea is a great source of antioxidants as well!

PPS Find Utopian here

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