This is not an article about race relations. I am talking about the power of black foods. People often think about eating plants of various colors, but these usually include only green, red, yellow, and orange. There is also blue, but there aren’t too many blue foods, mainly blueberries and blue grapes. There is also blue corn, but we usually only see that as blue corn chips.
But what about black? You rarely hear about people striving to eat black foods. Is it because black is associated with death?
Well, get that idea out of your head. Black foods are nutritionally loaded, and they deserve a place on the table. Black foods tend to be very high in antioxidants, polyphenols, flavonoids, and they are sky-high in anthocyanidins- higher than blueberries. Let’s consider some of the leading black foods.
Blackberries are related to raspberries, and they grow wild in many parts of the United States, including where I live in Central Texas. Nutritionally, blackberries are as valuable as any other berries. A recent study found that radiation-induced brain damage in rats could be prevented by feeding them blackberries. They were also found to prevent age-related brain degeneration. What’s amazing is that blackberries have a very short season in the wild, but commercially, they’re available all year, and mainly from Mexico. And I observe that they tend to be the least expensive berry the year round. It may be because there is a little bit of grit involved, which makes them less popular, but that’s no big deal. You get used to it fast. I am eating blackberries right now. I buy them at Costco, and the price and the quality have been excellent. Blackberries may be the key to yearround berry-eating.
Black grapes are as high in resveratrol and other polyphenols as the more popular red grapes. In fact, there is a variety called Black Beauty which is the highest in resveratrol of all grapes. Black grapes are thicker skinned, so there’s a lot of fiber involved. But perhaps because they are thick-skinned, they keep very well and last a long time. I have seen them both seeded and seedless. You really should try them. With the seeded ones, you can either spit out the seeds or chew them up and swallow them- it’s up to you. Black grapes are also high in quercetin.
Black beans are the most popular bean in Austin, Texas, where I live. It’s part of the culture here. In not just the ever-popular Tex-Mex restaurants, but even in the regular cafes and family restaurants, a side of black beans is considered standard fare. Black beans take to spices very well, particularly cumin. And they tend to form a rich, tasty broth. Black bean soup is teeming with flavor and very satisfying. Nutritionally, black beans are loaded with antioxidants and bioflavonoids. I don’t think I ever had black beans before I moved to Texas, but I sure like them now.
Black rice is something that I have not yet had. I am not referring to wild rice, which can be black. Wild rice is a totally different plant from Asian rice, and it’s good too, although it’s somewhat woody. That may be why people tend to dilute it with regular rice. But, there is also a black Asian rice, which unlike regular rice, is usually eaten unhulled. In other words, they don’t usually refine it as they do regular rice. And nutritionally, black rice is reportedly much more superior. Obviously, black rice is not commonly available. Perhaps Asian grocery stores have it. And what about Whole Foods?
Black lentils I have tried, and they are available at Whole Foods. They are very different from the regular green/brown lentils. They’re much smaller and, in appearance, they almost seem more like a grain than a legume. But, they cook quickly, and they’re less fibrous, and like the red lentils, they tend to disintegrate more in cooking. And the flavor is very different although hard to describe. I know that they are very high in minerals, including zinc and iron, and the nice thing is that they are lower in phytic acid than most legumes.
Black potatoes are making a comeback. These are an heirloom variety, from Peru where all potatoes originated, and they are much more nutritious than the white-fleshed potato. The skins may actually be black, but the flesh is more like purple. But, they are very nice to eat and more distinctively flavored than russets. The russet potato is actually an artificial thing. It’s a hybrid developed by Luther Burbank who wanted this pure, perfect, white-fleshed potato. But, he did not do the world a favor because he reduced the nutritional value. I always prefer to buy potatoes with colored flesh, usually the yellow, since they’re widely available. The black potatoes are more expensive, but they’re nice for a change.
Black corn I don’t see offered commercially, but I do see the seeds offered for planting. It is an ancient Native American variety that was cultivated by the Lakota Indians. I may try planting it one year.
I’m sure there are other black foods, but these give you a start. Definitely add black to your list of food colors. It’s a matter of changing your consciousness. Black is good.
I just finished reading Empire of the Summer Moon by S C Gwynne, and it is a fabulous read. It’s the true story of the Comanche Indian tribe in Texas in their struggles against the whites. Of course, it was a lost cause, and ultimately, they had to submit, and they did. But, for centuries, they put up a heck of a fight. It was said that the march of the Spaniards through Texas, with their missions and their cattle empire, only went as far north as San Antonio, and then it stopped. And it stopped because of the Comanches.
The Comancheria, as their homeland was called by whites, reached as far south as the Texas Hill Country whch lies just north and west of San Antonio. And it came very close to the city of Austin, where I live. And it covered a huge expanse that went clear across West Texas and into New Mexico, and it delved into Oklahoma and southern Colorado. But, the heart of it, the very center of it, was the Palo Duro Canyon, which is close to present-day Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle. I didn’t know it until recently, but the Palo Duro Canyon is the second biggest canyon in the United States, after the Grand Canyon.
The Comanches were successful warriors against both whites and other Indians, and they were feared by both. Their success stemmed partly from their culture because they were a warrior culture. But it also arose from their mastery of horsemanship. They were said to be the best horsemen in the world, and they fought mounted. And in the beginning, the whites weren’t doing that, and it gave the Comanches a huge advantage.
But, I mainly want to talk about their diet. Keep in mind that they were truly a Stone-Age people. And they were hunter/gatherers. They had no agriculture. And they were nomadic. They stayed put an average of just 3 weeks; then they packed up and relocated, with all their wives, children, horses, and belongings. It was a rough life.
But, they lived primarily on buffalo. That was their main food, their ancestral food, and their preferred food. They sometimes hunted other game, and if they were really desperate, they would kill one of their horses and eat it. But, they didn’t like doing that and they didn’t particularly like the taste of horse meat. That was considered a last resort.
So, they ate a lot of buffalo. They ate it fresh, and they also ate it dried. The men killed the buffalo and dragged it to their camp. And the women processed the buffalo, and that was just about as hard a job. Maybe harder. And of course, they used every part of the buffalo. The skin became clothing and also shelter, as their tepees were made of the hides. They used the bones to make various tools and weapons. And the fat was used in different ways, including as insulation. There was very little waste.
And the ways in which they consumed buffalo included practices which most of us would consider gross. For instance, if they killed a lactating female, they would squeeze the milk out of her udders, as much as they could. And then, they would mix it with her fresh blood and drink that combination of blood and milk as a sort of health tonic. Hey, it was a raw food, wasn’t it? You can’t say it wasn’t nutritionally potent.
But, it got worse. They would cut out the gall bladder and drink the bile. Yuck! And if they killed a calf that had been nursing, they would collect the partially digested milk from its stomach and eat it like cheese. Again, yuck!
They did consume some plant food. It was mentioned that they gathered and ate berries in season, which I presume was the Spring. We still have wild blackberries in Texas, and they’re not hard to find, although the season is short. And it was also mentioned that they ate nuts, and I’m sure that included pecans because they are the most abundant and widely distributed nut here. There are also some black walnuts, but they are much more scarce. And even the pecans, although they’re diffuse, they are not ubiquitous. You can go for miles and miles without seeing any. They’re not common the way oaks and cedars are common. And it was also said that they collected “roots and bulbs” to eat. But, they didn’t specify which ones, and my impression was that it formed only a small and irregular part of their diet. They lived mainly, and at times exclusively, on meat.
You have to wonder how that came about. If it is true, as taught, that all Native Americans are descendants of Siberians who crossed the frozen Bering Strait, on foot, during the last Ice Age, then they had to be from a line of confirmed meat-eaters because you couldn’t survive in such a harsh, frozen place without eating meat. There would have been no plant food for them to eat for most of the year.
But, as they moved south to milder climes, there was probably the opportunity to eat more plant food, since it was more abundant. But by then, the culture had been oriented to a high-meat diet, and it wasn’t going to change. Culture and tradition, more than anything else, including climate, determine what people eat.
So, the Comanche were big meat eaters, and in some ways, it seemed to serve them well. It didn’t make them fat. And they were physically strong, and sometimes prodigiously strong. The book centered around the life of the last Comanche chief, whose name was Quanah. What a life he led. I don’t know how Hollywood missed making a movie about him. His mother was a white woman, Cynthia Ann Parker, who had been kidnapped by the Comanches at the age of 9. She was adopted by a childless Comanche woman and fully integrated into the tribe. She learned their language and soon forgot English. She learned all the ways of the Comanches, and she eventually became the wife of the Comanche chief, Peta Nocona. Ultimately, Peta died at the Battle of Pease River, and she was recaptured by the whites and returned to her family in East Texas. But, she was miserable there and only lived a few years. Some say she starved herself to death.
But, her teenage son Quanah, who survived the Battle of Pease River and escaped, went on to become the last and greatest chief of the Comanches. He led them in war, and he also led them in peace when he realized in the late 1870s, that further resistance was futile. He lived well into the 20th century and became a leader and spokesman for Indians in polite white society. He went on to mix and mingle with the high and mighty, including Presidents, such as Teddy Roosevelt. Just think: earlier in his life he was a mighty warrior, scalping his white enemies and later, he was socializing with presidents.
But, I want to tell you about his feat of strength. During the Battle of Adobe Walls, he saw a fallen comrade who was still alive. So, he rode toward him and with one hand he lifted this fallen warrior and swept him up and onto the back of his horse- WITH ONE HAND! Everyone was amazed, including the whites. Think about the leverage that was working against him. And he did it with one hand.
So, the Comanche were plenty strong from their steady diet of grass-fed, organic buffalo meat. But, they also suffered from it. They suffered from constipation, as you can imagine, and they took various herbs as laxatives. They suffered from dental caries, and they figured out a way of packing carious teeth with dried mushrooms to fill the holes. But the worst thing was the epidemics of acute disease. They died in droves from exposure to small pox, diphtheria, dysentery of various causes, and worst of all, cholera. It was said that more Comanches died from the white man’s diseases than from the white man’s bullets.
A lot has been said about the idea that the Indians were so vulnerable because they had never been exposed to these diseases before, and so they had no natural resistance. But, I have to wonder how much of their vulnerability resulted from simple malnutrition. Today, we know about the important role that Vitamin C plays in immunity. Where were they getting Vitamin C? From a few berries eaten in the Spring? That wouldn’t have sustained them through the year. Carotenoids also play a crucial role in immunity, and that had to be lacking in their meat-centered diet. And of course, there were many other plant-based nutrients that they would have lacked as well. But, what did they know about these things? Nothing.
Ultimately, the Comanches were settled on a reservation in Oklahoma. And their diet switched from buffalo to beef. In fact, Chief Quanah became a big cattle rancher himself. It doesn’t sound like he or any of them ever learned about the importance of plant food. Quanah died of an undisclosed illness at the age of 66 in 1911. Of course, for that particular time, it was considered a ripe old age. But, what a life he lived, and what a life they lived: a Stone Age people to within 20 years of the 20th century. Amazing.
I have had a keen interest in the JFK assassination for a long time, and from responses I have received from other articles I have written about it, I know that many of you share my interest. And one reader who responded to a previous article of mine pointed out something in the famous Altgens photo of the assassination that is truly mind-boggling. There is now visible proof that Lee Harvey Oswald was completely innocent of killing President Kennedy.
Instead of posting it here, I am just going to give you the link to the site on which it was published: www.lewrockwell.com. Lew Rockwell is a former Congressional aid and campaign manager of Congressman Ron Paul, and Lew is presently the head of the Ludwig Von Mises Institute at Auburn University in Alabama. His website is the most widely read libertarian website in the world, and it has also been listed as one of the most heavily-trafficked alternative news sites in the world. Here is the link to my article on Lew's site:
There is also a video version which you can watch on youtube. I'll give you the link. You will be doing me a favor if you watch it.
For the record, I want you to know that I am not depressed; I am not suicidal; I am a very safe driver; I engage in no risky activities; and I have no personal enemies. So, if anything happens to me, if I disappear or get killed, you know what it means.
A new study out of the Netherlands found that EFAs from seafood were associated with lower risk of heart disease, improved immune function, health advantages in preterm infants, and even a lower risk of suicide. The findings were summarized in the December 2011 PUFA Newsletter for Health Professionals and the Fats of Life newsletter for consumers.
The study reported that healthy adults with the highest consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids from fish had higher scores for two indicators of heart health - endothelial function (the ability of tiny blood arteries to respond and dilate in response to increased circulatory demand) and less inflammation - compared with those who did not eat fish.
Other research reported on the positive effects of DHA from fish on cognitive and brain cell function in animals with traumatic brain injury.
Then there was also this study: very low DHA levels in active-duty U.S. military personnel were associated with a 62 percent higher risk of suicide.
"In the brain study, findings suggest that dietary DHA counteracted many of the harmful effects of brain injury on learning, neuronal cell signaling, membrane integrity, synaptic function and oxidative stress," said Editor Joyce Nettleton, D.Sc. "The other study documented that low DHA status in military staff may contribute to diminished mental health and a higher risk of suicide."
Other research found positive connections between DHA levels in preterm infants and improved retinal health as well as reduced risk of lung disease and hay fever. One study monitored preterm infants given fish or soybean oil after birth for the development of retinal disease. Fewer of those fed fish oil needed laser treatment to correct their retinal disorder compared with those given soybean oil, which does not contain DHA. Another study reported that male preterm infants fed higher DHA than in standard formula were less likely to develop lung disease and hay fever compared with infants receiving the standard amount.
"These observations suggest that treatment of preterm infants with higher levels of DHA immediately after delivery may have beneficial effects on lung function and respiration, particularly in males," Nettleton noted. "The study supports the provision of DHA and other seafood omega-3s to preterm infants."
I take our ProOmega Fish Oil softgels, which are extremely pure.
ProOmega is made by Nordic Naturals, a Norwegian company that harvests small fish and anchovies from way high up in the Arctic. They extract, examine, filter, and guarantee the purity of the oil down to one part per trillion! There may be other fish oils that are just as good, but I guarantee you that there are none better.
As far as eating fish, it is not something that I have any great interest in doing. I really don’t have a taste for it. I might have it once or twice a year, but that’s about it. But if you happen to like it, then have it more often. Just make sure you get a really good fish, such as the Wild Pacific Salmon. However, even with that, I still think that unrefined plant foods should comprise the bulk of what you eat. High-protein diets, even when fish-based, are not a good idea.
A question often arises about the potential to rely on the alpha-linolenic acid from plants, such as flax seeds, as a substitute for the DHA and EPA of fish. That I would not rely on, and particularly because I am a man. For some reason, men, and particularly older men (which includes me) have practically zero ability to convert ALA to EPA and DHA. There are now algae supplements that contain DHA in a low dosage. For those who are adamant about avoiding the use of a fish product, that is what they should use. But, I can tell you that the Nordic Naturals fish oil that I take isn’t even fishy. It’s very pleasant to take.
But, one way or another, cover your need for long-chain essential fatty acids. Although they were not identified until the 1970s, they are crucial to your health and to everyone’s health.
These doctors seem to think that anything that puts sugar into the blood is bad, and not just bad, but more like the worst thing one can possibly do. A doctor that Dr. Mercola favors most highly is Dr. Ron Rosedale who claims that there is no need for dietary carbohydrate at all, that the body can make all the glucose it needs from protein, and that's the best way to get it. He really thinks it's best not to consume any carbohydrate. It is the most extreme carbo-phobia I have ever come across.
But, I won't expound further about their ideas, not when I'm paying the freight. You can look them up online if you want to. I'm here to refute them and to point out the things that they are not saying. A lie by omission is just as big as an outright lie.
Of course, it is true that when you eat a food that is sweet or starchy that it adds sugar to the blood. But, your body doesn't just look the other way when that happens; it deals with it. Your body has a steady-state, an equilibrium for blood sugar, just as it has an equilibrium for potassium, sodium, and many other things. Piling sugar into the blood is definitely a disturbance of homeostasis, and your body responds to it. But, "disturbance" may be too strong a word because we are talking about a very normal, natural, everyday happening.
As soon as sugar starts entering your blood, your body starts sending it to the liver, where much of it is stored as glycogen. To give you an idea how much can be stored, the weight of the liver can rise by about 10% from a single meal due to glycogen storage. And if you are healthy and physically-fit, the process is very efficient. That stored glycogen becomes a steady source of glucose for the body between meals as your liver slowly releases it into the bloodstream to maintain a constant level of blood glucose. Think of it like a thermostat.
How efficient is the process? It depends on how healthy you are. If your liver is healthy, it can store a lot of sugar and quickly. But, if it's diseased, say with fatty degeneration, then then the process is impaired. But that would not be the fault of carbohydrates. Or, if it's knarly and fibrotic from cirrhosis, glycogen synthesis and storage will also be impaired, but again, that would not be the fault of carbohydrates. And regarding the ability of muscles to make and store glycogen, it depends on how large the muscles are and how fit they are. The larger the muscle is, the more glycogen it stores. That is not to say that you need muscles as large as Arnold Schwartzenegger's. But, reasonably well-developed muscles are definitely a plus when it comes to sugar storage. And the more fit you are, the more accustomed you are to physical exertion, the more avidly your muscles store that glycogen. Therefore, if you have a healthy liver and strong, well-developed muscles, your tolerance for carbohydrates should be very substantial. You should be able to eat a lot of carbohydrate with only a modest and temporary rise in blood glucose.
So, the question becomes: does a diet based on fat and protein, with practically no carbohydrates, result in healthier blood sugar levels than a diet high in unrefined carbs? It might seem like a no brainer that a low-carb or no-carb diet would be better in that respect, but don't be so sure. Dr. Mercola provided no clinical data about it, only fearmongering. And what about Dr. Kempner at the Rice House at Duke University? For decades, he put diabetics on a diet of rice and fruit to correct their diabetic condition, and he often got them off medication. How did that happen? Well, they dropped so much weight, and I mean fat-weight, that their insulin resistance went away, and so did their diabetes.
So, besides having a healthy liver and fit muscles, the other thing that fosters tight blood sugar control is leanness. Having low body fat is necessary to keep insulin sensitivity sharp. When there is lots of body fat, then insulin resistance sets in, which means that glucose can't enter liver and muscle cells to be stored as glycogen. It's like the body is so overloaded with the fuel known as fat that it resists havng the fuel known as glycogen stored. So, there has to be leanness for the body to sanction the whole process. Diets high in unrefined carbs, meaning whole natural starches and intact whole fruits, support and encourage leanness. And that's why high-carb diets can actually help to improve blood sugar control.
But, let's get back to the question of which diet actually works better in terms of glucose tolerance. First note that in order to make the comparison fairly, you would have to compare diets that were calorically equal. Obviously, if you had a low-carb meal that consisted of leafy green salad, cooked non-starchy vegetables, and a very small amount of meat or fish, it would likely raise the blood sugar a lot less than eating a whole pot-ful of beans and rice. The best approach would be to serve the same amount of salad and non-starchy vegetable to both parties, and then feed one the animal food and the other the equivalent in calories in, say, beans and rice. Who would win that contest? I think the plant fare would win, and I can tell you that attempts to remove carbohydrate from the diets of diabetics and just serve them protein and fat to control blood sugar have FAILED MISERABLY. Why? First, realize that just as the body can easily store glucose as glycogen, thereby removing it from the blood, the body can also very easily convert amino acids and the glycerol portion of fat into glucose, thereby adding sugar to the blood. So, if there are excess calories from protein and fat coming in, those excess calories can easily be converted into sugar. That process is known as gluconeogenesis.
And, you can't just look at the immediate effect on blood sugar; you have to look at the long term effects. It is widely known that high-protein/high fat/low carb diets do not support physical and athletic activity very well. The number of elite athletes who avoid carbohydrates, to the extent that Dr. Mercola and Dr. Rosedale recommend, is virtually zero. I just finished reading the biography of Lance Armstrong, winner of 7 Tour de France bicycle races, and I learned that before and during races, he loaded up on carbs: pasta, potatoes, rice, etc. Name me one top-tier elite endurance athlete who lives on salad and meat? You can't. There aren't any. That's because the body runs on carbs.
So, what I am getting at is that it's not just the food you are putting in- it's the activity you are putting out. And diets high in unrefined carbs support that output VERY WELL.