April 10, 2013
Fava beans not for everyone, can cause 'Favism'

fava.jpg Fava beans may be delicious, but they're not for everyone. Like peanuts, fava beans can create health issues.

In the case of favas, the reaction is linked to a genetic hormone deficiency called G6PD, short for Glucose 6 Phosphate Dehydrogenase deficiency.

"An important fact about fava beans is that individuals with G6PD hormone deficiency, also known as 'Favism,' often - though not always - have a very serious allergy to fava beans," said Tom Roberson of Sacramento. "Our 5-year-old son has the G6PD deficiency, so we carefully avoid fava beans.

"The G6PD deficiency is very common around the world, and, I believe, is now routinely tested for at birth," he added.

According to medical experts, G6PD deficiency is seen in about 10 percent of African-American males in the U.S., and is also common in the Mediterranean region, Africa and parts of Asia.

Learn more about G6PD at

Most people can eat favas without worry. Favas are entering their peak spring season. For recipes and tips, see

January 18, 2013
Real fish, not fish oil, is what's good for your heart


We don't often preach about health and health food in this space, figuring that food-lovers can make those choices themselves.

But after hearing Dr. Oz tell Piers Morgan the other day that french fries were the single worst food you could possibly eat (hmm, I'll see your french fries and raise you a chimichanga and a Bloomin' Onion), I thought I would point out something I I just learned. I think of myself as a two-pronged eater: I will try anything, but I also want to balance that with eating healthy food. In other words, dinner during BaconFest might be preceded by a breakfast of a green smoothie and then berries and yogurt for lunch.

For several years, I have taken fish oil supplements for my health, along with Vitamin D, magnesium, zinc and a multi-vitamin. But I just read in the following missive that fish oil isn't nearly as effective as eating actual fish when it comes to heart health. The author, Dr. Gabe Mirkin, is a physician (and endurance athlete) who pens a regular email newsletter related to healthy living. It's very good and I recommend you subscribe if you're interested in simple, straight-forward health advice. Check out his website here, and sign up for the weekly email via a section in the right column,

So, here's what the doctor says about fish v. fish oil. It was news to me, someone who tries to eat seafood as often as possible (the photo above is of the grilled octopus I enjoyed at Restaurant 1833 in Monterey).

Fish, but Not Fish Oil Pills, Reduce Heart Attack Risk

* A review of 17 prospective studies shows that EATING
FISH ONCE A WEEK, compared to eating less fish, was associated
with a 16 percent lower risk of fatal heart attacks.
* A review of 14 randomized, double-blind, placebo-
controlled trials showed that TAKING FISH OIL PILLS (EPA-DHA)
does not offer protection from fatal heart attacks (Current
Opinion in Lipidology. Dec, 2012;23(6):554-9).
These conclusions agree with previous studies showing
that eating fish is associated with protection from heart
attacks, while taking fish oil pills is not (Eur Heart J. 2008
Aug;29(16):2024-30; Eur Heart J September, 2011).

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