Studies show that pomegranates provide many health benefits –

Studies show that pomegranates provide many health benefits

Tuesday, July 01, 2014 by: Michael Ravensthorpe
Tags: pomegranates[1], health benefits[2], antioxidants[3]

(NaturalNews) The pomegranate is one of the world’s oldest known fruits and has long been considered a symbol of health and fertility in its native Persia (modern-day Iran). It is also one of the most interesting fruits to consume: After splitting apart the pomegranate’s tough outer layer, a complex chamber of red seeds lies before you. These small seeds (and their juice) are the only part of the pomegranate that is edible, but — as numerous studies prove — their nutritional value is considerably greater than what you might expect.

Research into pomegranates

Protection from skin cancer — According to a study published in Experimental Dermatology in June 2009, pomegranate juice and oils can protect our skin from solar radiation, thereby guarding us from skin cancer associated with excessive sun exposure. The researchers ascribe this result to the anthocyanins and tannins present in pomegranates, which provide impressive antioxidant and anti-tumor properties. (1) These same properties also provide anti-aging benefits, and can shield us from degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and rheumatoid arthritis.

Anti-inflammatory properties
 — A study published in the Journal of Inflammation in January 2009 found that pomegranate juice can inhibit the inflammatory activity of excess mast cells. (Mast cells are naturally found in the body and play important protective roles but can become an aggressive, inflammatory force when imbalanced.) Again, the researchers ascribe this result to pomegranates’ concentrations of naturally occurring antioxidants. (2)

Reduce cholesterol — Studies have shown that the regular consumption of pomegranates[4] and pomegranate juice can reduce LDL cholesterol in both animals and humans. One study featured in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2000, for instance, discovered that pomegranate juice helped inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol in human subjects. (3) Excess LDL cholesterol is one of the biggest contributors to coronary heart diseases, which is the most common type of heart disease in the United States.

Mood booster — There’s a good reason why many people feel better after eating a pomegranate[5]: They contain a large number of phytochemicals that stimulate estrogen and serotonin receptors in the body, thereby boosting our mood and reducing feelings of sadness and depression. Research even suggests that long-term consumption of pomegranates and pomegranate products could regulate serotonin levels in the brain, potentially treating low moods caused by chemical imbalances. (4)

High in nutrients — Pomegranates are surprisingly rich in nutrients. In fact, their seeds contain more fiber and minerals than many other more popular fruits. For example, one whole pomegranate contains around 11 grams of dietary fiber (twice the amount of fiber of an average-sized banana), 29 milligrams of vitamin C and 46 micrograms of vitamin K. (5) In all three instances, these numbers average at about 50 percent of our recommended daily intake.

Selecting the best pomegranates

Like all fruits, pomegranates are best eaten raw for maximum health benefits. When purchasing them, select organic pomegranates that feel heavy for their size and radiate a vibrant, unblemished skin. These are the best-quality pomegranates and can be refrigerated for up to two months without having their nutritional value compromised.

A List of Summer Picnic Bowls – 101 Cookbooks

A List of Summer Picnic Bowls

This coming weekend I’m planning a break from the fog. If all goes well, there will be sun-bright days, star-lit skies, pine trees, bare feet, and eating outdoors. There will be a river. There will be a grill. There will be a cabin. All the necessary components for California mountain summering. I’m incredibly excited. As soon as we solidified our plans I started going through my archives looking for ideas for good picnic-style salads to make, and found myself drafting a list of contenders. It occurred to me that it might be helpful to post the list here as well. Most of these salads are the sort that can be prepped, in large part, ahead of time. And they’re all meant to be served family-style as part of a larger spread. I hope it’s helpful. Here’s to long weekends, long days, and summer adventures. xo -h


Mung Yoga Bowl – The kind of bowl that keeps you strong – herb-packed yogurt dolloped over a hearty bowl of mung beans and quinoa, finished with toasted nuts and a simple paprika oil.


California Barley Bowl – Plump barley grains tossed with sprouts (or greens), nuts, avocado, a bit of cheese – all dolloped with a simple yogurt sauce.


Avocado Salad – thinly sliced avocado arranged over simple lentils, drizzled with oregano oil, toasted hazelnuts, and chives.


Roasted Vegetable Orzo – Roasted delicata squash and kale tossed w/ orzo pasta & salted yogurt dressing. For summer you can swap in seasonal squash or vegetables in place of the delicata.


Coconut Corn Salad – SImple. Butter a skillet add corn, fresh thyme, red onions, toasted almonds and coconut, and finish with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.


Yellow Bean Salad – A summer yellow bean salad with a green chile-spiked, cilantro-flecked, and coconut milk dressing, toasted pepitas, and (if you want to make a meal of it) pan-fried tofu.


Heirloom Tomato Salad – A favorite tomato salad, made with roasted and ripe tomatoes, capers, mozzarella, almonds, and chives.


Ginger Soba Noodles – Soba noodles tossed with a creamy-ginger dressing and topped with crispy tofu, tarragon, and toasted delicata squash seeds.

Shaved Fennel Salad – Shaved fennel, arugula, zucchini coins, feta, toasted almonds.


Buttermilk Farro Salad – Farro with shaved radishes, zucchini, and fennel tossed with a tangy herbed buttermilk vinaigrette.

Non-GMO soybean oil by Cargil

Non-GMO soybean oil announced by Cargill as consumer demand for non-toxic food skyrockets

(NaturalNews) Agri-giant Cargill is responding to market pressure and will be introducing a soybean oil made from identity-preserved (IdP), conventionally bred soybeans (these are non-GMO) for customers who are considering shopping for products with a “non-GMO” sticker on their label.

“Despite the many merits of biotechnology, consumer interest in food and beverage products made from non-GM ingredients is growing, creating opportunities and challenges for food manufacturers and food service operators,” said Ethan Theis, food ingredients commercial manager at Cargill, in a company press release.

For now, supplies of Cargill’s new oil are limited; one food maker has already purchased a large amount of the available supply. But Theis says that producing IdP soybean oil from non-GMO soybeans is an intricate process; it requires procurement of a dedicated supply of non-GMO soybeans as well as the development of processes aimed at avoiding co-mingling with bioengineered crops during harvesting, transportation, storage, handling, processing and then refining into products.

Good news for consumers because it means they are winning the battle

“Developing industrial scale IdP products is difficult but something Cargill is well-suited for because of our knowledge of consumer trends, formulation experience, supply-chain management expertise, manufacturing infrastructure and strong relationships with farmers,” Theis said.

The company release said that Cargill has a large amount of global experience in assisting food makers’ source non-GMO crops and ingredients made from those crops.

“The combination of Cargill’s portfolio of non-GM sweeteners, starches, texturizers, oils, cocoa and chocolate, fibers, and stabilizer systems, coupled with R&D and global supply chain capabilities, allows Cargill to help customers manage both the product development and supply chain challenges associated with reformulating to non-GMO,” said the release.

But does mean that Cargill is going all non-GMO? Hardly, writes Heather Callaghan at Activist Post:

Okay, Cargill is riding the PR fence. They escaped the PR scandal of “pink slime” because their process for treating the meat filler includes citric acid instead of ammonium hydroxide gas. Citric acid sounds lovely like lemonade, but is actually made from the fermentation of crude sugars from corn – most of which is genetically modified. The hydrolyzed proteins create the release of free glutamic acid (like MSG), triggering allergies in people who can’t handle MSG. So again, let’s not forget that they fully support genetic modification in agriculture.

What’s to hide?

She also warns that Americans who prefer non-GMO foods (and that number is growing — more on that in a moment) should not get their food fryers ready for the new oil just yet, owing to Cargill’s warning that procuring a sizable supply of non-GMO soybean seeds takes time, suppliers and a logistics chain which company execs pledge they are building. We’ll see. But in any event, Callaghan notes that Western soy production, even non-GMO crops, has a dark side, “especially with its negative reproductive health effects and the proliferation of soy allergies in the U.S.”

Nevertheless, Cargill’s admission that consumer pressure led to the company’s development of its new oil is notable in that it is a triumph of the will of the people: “It means that despite the corporate lauding of genetic modification, they can only to [sic] continue to push it as far as it is profitable – and palatable. Rising consumer awareness and demand is finally starting to tip the massive tower in its own direction.”

True story; reports over the past few months have touted the rise of organic and non-GMO purchases by more and more American food shoppers, even though such foods cost more. Vermont and states like it that are passing or pursuing GMO labeling laws have gone a long way towards raising awareness, and by its stubborn resistance, the industry has left itself liable, with more Americans now asking what it is they have to hide.

Check out for more breaking news and information on related topics.

Stovetop Potpourri | MNN

Stovetop Potpourri

One of my mom’s favorite tricks for making a home smell inviting was to put together this warm stovetop potpourri that made cinnamon and citrus waft through the house.

It’s the type of thing that makes you think of homemade pies, and baking, and herbal chai teas. Studies have shown that cinnamon’s scent helps us concentrate and stay alert, which is just what I need when keeping track of preparations for a big meal, so it provides benefits to guests and the cook!

It’s the perfect thing to have going on a gloomy cold day, or to use when welcoming guests into your house for a holiday meal. And it couldn’t be simpler to make.

Stovetop PotPourri


  • 1 orange, sliced (or peel of one orange)
  • 1 lemon, sliced (or peel of one lemon)
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • About 4 cups of water


Combine all of the ingredients in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, then turn to very low, and gently simmer. Just make sure you keep checking the water, to make sure it doesn’t run dry.

[tag Stovetop Potpourri]

Climate Change Seen Posing Risk to Food Supplies –

Climate Change Seen Posing Risk to Food Supplies

Climate change will pose sharp risks to the world’s food supply in coming decades, potentially undermining crop production and driving up prices at a time when the demand for food is expected to soar, scientists have found.

In a departure from an earlier assessment, the scientists concluded that rising temperatures will have some beneficial effects on crops in some places, but that globally they will make it harder for crops to thrive — perhaps reducing production over all by as much as 2 percent each decade for the rest of this century, compared with what it would be without climate change.

And, the scientists say, they are already seeing the harmful effects in some regions.

The warnings come in a leaked draft of a report under development by a United Nations panel, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The document is not final and could change before it is released in March.

The report also finds other sweeping impacts from climate change already occurring across the planet, and warns that these are likely to intensify as human emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise. The scientists describe a natural world in turmoil as plants and animals colonize new areas to escape rising temperatures, and warn that many could become extinct.

The warning on the food supply is the sharpest in tone the panel has issued. Its previous report, in 2007, was more hopeful. While it did warn of risks and potential losses in output, particularly in the tropics, that report found that gains in production at higher latitudes would most likely offset the losses and ensure an adequate global supply.

The new tone reflects a large body of research in recent years that has shown how sensitive crops appear to be to heat waves. The recent work also challenges previous assumptions about how much food production could increase in coming decades because of higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. The gas, though it is the main reason for global warming, also acts as a kind of fertilizer for plants.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the principal scientific body charged with reviewing and assessing climate science, then issuing reports about the risks to the world’s governments. Its main reports come out every five to six years. The group won the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Al Gore, in 2007 for its efforts.

Hundreds of billions of dollars are being spent every year to reduce emissions in response to past findings from the group, though many analysts have said these efforts are so far inadequate to head off drastic climatic changes later in the century.

On the food supply, the new report finds that benefits from global warming may be seen in some areas, like northern lands that are now marginal for food production. But it adds that over all, global warming could reduce agricultural production by as much as 2 percent each decade for the rest of this century.

During that period, demand is expected to rise as much as 14 percent each decade, the report found, as the world population is projected to grow to 9.6 billion in 2050, from 7.2 billion today, according to the United Nations, and as many of those people in developing countries acquire the money to eat richer diets.

Any shortfall would lead to rising food prices that would hit the world’s poor hardest, as has already occurred from price increases of recent years. Research has found that climate change, particularly severe heat waves, was a factor in those price spikes.

The agricultural risks “are greatest for tropical countries, given projected impacts that exceed adaptive capacity and higher poverty rates compared with temperate regions,” the draft report finds.

If the report proves to be correct about the effect on crops from climate change, global food demand might have to be met — if it can be met — by putting new land into production. That could entail chopping down large areas of forest, an action that would only accelerate climate change by sending substantial amounts of carbon dioxide into the air from the destruction of trees.

The report finds that efforts to adapt to climate change have already begun in many countries. President Obama signed an executive order on Friday to step up such efforts in the United States. But these efforts remain inadequate compared with the risks, the report says, and far more intensive — and expensive — adaptation plans are likely to be required in the future.

The document also finds that it is not too late for cuts in emissions to have a strong impact on the future risks of climate change, though the costs would be incurred in the next few decades and the main benefits would probably be seen in the late 21st century and beyond.

The leak of the new draft occurred on a blog hostile to the intergovernmental panel. In a brief interview, a spokesman for the panel, Jonathan Lynn, did not dispute the authenticity of the document.

“It’s a work in progress,” Mr. Lynn said. “It’s likely to change.”

Several scientists involved in drafting the document declined on Friday to speak publicly about it. In the Internet era, the group’s efforts to keep its drafts secret are proving to be a failure, and some of the scientists involved have called for a drafting process open to the public.

A report about the physical science of climate change leaked in August, then underwent only modest changes before its final release in Stockholm in late September. The new report covers the impact of climate change, efforts to adapt to it, and the vulnerability of human and natural systems.

[tagged Climate Change]

4 seasonal vegetables to eat now -MNN

4 seasonal vegetables to eat now

Brussels Sprouts, Pumpkins, Kale, and Cabbage
I enjoy eating seasonal produce because, to me, it just feels right. When the weather cools down, my body starts craving more savory, fiber-filled meals.
But I also like eating seasonal produce because I know it can be grown locally. Some of the biggest benefits to eating local food are that it is usually picked when it’s ripe (or almost ripe), and spends little time in transit. If you live near a farm, you may even get to go pick your own. Lucky you!

Depending on where you live, your local seasonal produce may vary. But in much of the country, we’re about to enjoy some of fall’s most savory treats. And, it gets better. Each of these fall favorites has its own unique nutritional profile that will contribute to your health in various ways.

Pumpkin: Just one cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin will deliver more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A. Pumpkins are rich in beta carotene (which is where they get that beautiful orange color), and the body converts beta carotene to vitamin A.
A 2007 study in the Journal of Medicinal Food suggested that eating pumpkin may help control glucose levels, and reduce hypertension.
Brussels Sprouts: Not every one loves Brussels sprouts, but if you do, now’s the time to enjoy them. Just one cup of this cruciferous vegetable contains nearly 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin K, and over 100 percent of your daily value of vitamin C. This food is also rich in manganese, fiber and B vitamins, including folate.
Kale: Kale’s popularity seems to have surged in recent years, but don’t let the fact that it seems trendy keep you away from enjoying this super food. It’s high in fiber, iron and vitamins A and C. Kale has zero fat, and it’s loaded with antioxidants.

Kale and other brassica vegetables, including cabbage and Brussels sprouts, may also help reduce cancer risk. A 1996 study in the journal Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention found that a high consumption of these veggies was associated with a decreased risk of cancer.

[tag 4 Seasonal Vegetables]

A Southeast Asian Treat, Tasty in Any Configuration –

When it comes to Vietnamese-style rolls like this one, filled with lobster meat, cucumber and fresh herbs, a few questions tend to arise.

Q. Is it spring roll or summer roll?

A. Call it either one. (We’re talking here about fresh salad rolls you find in Vietnam, which usually contain a few cooked prawns, along with herbs and rice vermicelli.) But since it’s summer, and since these salad rolls are ideal summer fare, I’m going to stick with summer roll.

Q. But aren’t spring rolls fried?

A. Not necessarily. The fried ones go by many names: imperial rolls, egg rolls, nems. But they are also, confusingly, sometimes called spring rolls.

Q. Aren’t they hard to make?

A. They are not at all hard to make, with a bit of practice. Still, unless you grew up assembling them, there is a learning curve, and dexterity is required.

Now then, about these not-quite-authentic-but-awfully-delicious summer rolls. They make a fine lunch, wrapped in a lettuce leaf and dipped in a gingery, lime, hot peppery sauce. Cut small, they can be served with drinks, or they could be an elegant first course at a sit-down dinner.

To prepare a summer roll, first moisten dry rice-paper wrappers (most Asian markets sell them) in a bowl of warm water. It will take only 30 seconds or so to soften each sheet of rice paper, at which point you must grasp the wrapper in both hands and lay it flat on a cutting board. Though they come in all sizes, a 12-inch wrapper is easiest to use; otherwise use two 8-inch wrappers per roll, overlapping them somewhat on the board.

The filling needs to be placed at the bottom third of the rice paper circle. I like to start with fresh herbs, especially basil leaves and cilantro, then I add other elements — here, just-cooked lobster meat, cucumber and avocado. Next, the sides of the circle are folded in and then the rolling begins, from the bottom. It’s important to wrap the filling as tightly as possible for a firm roll, which makes it both easier to cut into pieces and easier to eat. You’ll feel a tinge of pride when you master the technique.

But if by chance, despite your best efforts, your lobster rolls become unruly and fall apart, no need for despair. Just plop the perfectly good remains on a plate, drizzle with the dipping sauce and call it a rice noodle salad.


Food52’s Top 5 Recipes to Reinvent How You Cook With Oats | Whole Foods Market

Oats can (and should!) be celebrated in so many recipes beyond oatmeal – from savory, creamy risottos to chewy granola bars and everything in between. Forget about that processed oatmeal of breakfasts past and embrace these five recipes that give hard-working oats the attention and treatment they rightly deserve.

Peas Porridge Hot (Oat Risotto with Peas)

Photo by James Ransom

Recipe: Oat Risotto with Peas

Not just a comforting and savory brunch dish, this risotto-like preparation of oats would be great for dinner paired with some greens, or as a side to chicken or juicy portabella mushrooms. Don’t skip the step of toasting the oats or you’ll miss out on the deep, nutty flavor it brings.

Heavenly Oatmeal Molasses Rolls

Photo by James Ransom

Recipe: Heavenly Oatmeal Molasses Rolls

These supple, rich rolls have just a hint of sweetness to them – they’re chewy, tender and full of deep flavor from the molasses, but versatile enough to complement (rather than overwhelm) a variety of main dishes. We love the ease of the first refrigerator rise, and these are virtually guaranteed to come out looking beautiful, with their butter-slicked and oat-flecked tops.

Oatmeal and Lavender Shortbread

Photo by James Ransom

Recipe: Oatmeal and Lavender Shortbread

These shortbreads are sublime thanks to an almost coconut-ty texture and lovely nuttiness from the oats, plus lavender as a delightful and graceful finishing note. Enjoy them right out of the oven if you want, but they’re even better the next day: a little sturdier for packing and with a deeper flavor.

Cavatelli with Asiago Oat Crumbs

Photo by James Ransom

Recipe: Cavatelli with Asiago Oat Crumbs

This is a cookie dough experiment gone wrong, and we couldn’t be happier for the kitchen disaster. You’ll swear the crumb mixture tastes familiar, and you’ll agree – a dough once destined for cookies is a revelation on pasta.

5 Minute, No Bake Granola Bars

Photo by James Ransom

Recipe: 5 Minute, No Bake Granola Bars

A granola bar you don’t have to bake, with a recipe that won’t tie you down. As the title suggests, these granola bars will take you five minutes from start to finish, tops. Here, oats headline in sweet, salty snack bars, and are balanced with a mix of nuts, dried fruit and nut butter. Add or subtract whatever you want (chocolate chips! sunflower seeds!) for a completely customizable snacking experience.

What are your favorite ways to eat oats, beyond oatmeal? Share your comments below!

Cilantro: More Than An Herb, It Can Purify Water Too |

Cilantro: More Than An Herb, It Can Purify Water Too

158475869Creative Crop / Getty Images

The next time you find yourself facing some questionable drinking water, look for some cilantro.

At least that’s what a team of U.S. and Mexican researchers made up of undergraduate students suggest.

The research team, lead by Douglas Schauer of Ivy Tech Community College in Lafayette, IN, along with colleagues from the Universidad Politécnica de Francisco I. Madero in Hidalgo, Mexico, have been studying the region of Tule Valley near Mexico City to identify cheaper ways to filter water. Mexico City has long dumped its waste water in the valley, and the contaminated water is then used by regional farmers to irrigate crops. Once in the edible foods, heavy metals such as lead and nickel can make their way to consumers, where they can contribute to neurological and other health problems. “The organic toxins we can take care of pretty easily with a number of different methods, but the only way to really get rid of those heavy metals is to treat them with filtering agents like activated charcoal (like what’s found in a Brita filter), but those types of materials are kind of expensive,” says Schauer. “They are a little expensive for us to use, but they are very expensive to the people living in that region.”

(MORE: Hazardous Haze)

After testing various samples of plants from cacti to flowers, the researchers determined that cilantro is the most prevalent and powerful so-called bioabsorbant material in the area. Bioabsorption is the scientific term for using organic materials often found in plants, that when dried, could replace the charcoal currently used in filters. The team suspects that the outer wall structure of the tiny cells that make up the plant are ideal for capturing metals. Other plants, like dandelions and parsley may also provide similar bioabsorbant capabilities.

Schauer says ground-up cilantro can be inserted into a tube into which water is passed through. The cilantro allows the water to trickle out but absorbs metals, leaving cleaner drinking water. Dried cilantro can also be placed into tea bags that are placed in a pitcher of water for a few minutes to suck out the heavy metals. “It’s something they already have down there, it takes minimal processing, and it’s just a matter of them taking the plants and drying them out on a rock in the sun for a couple of days,” says Schauer.

Because cilantro isn’t an essential crop, using it as a purifier won’t take away from people’s food needs in the region, and the relative ease with which the plant grows also makes it a realistic option for cleansing water.

(MORE: Pollution in Utero)

So far, the researchers reported success in removing lead and nickel with their cilantro filters, and are studying how well the herb can removed other heavy metals found in the Tule Valley water such as arsenic and mercury. “We are hoping we can look at how cilantro absorbs those metals, and see if those metals work in some kind of synergy when they come into contact with the biomass,” says Schauer. “We need to look at mixtures of metals to see if cilantro evenly pulls all the metals out.”

How much cilantro would it take to effective make contaminated water drinkable? Schauer says a handful of cilantro will nearly cleanse a pitcher full of highly contaminated water of its lead content.

The researchers are presented their findings at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

[tag Cilantro More than An Herb]

No Salt for You! Philadelphia Mandates Healthier Chinese Food |

No Salt for You! Philadelphia Mandates Healthier Chinese Food
Low Salt Chinese Food
Matt Rourke / AP

A monday Aug. 19, 2013, photo shows the Szechuan Hunan restaurant which is participating in new low sodium initiative in Philadelphia.

(PHILADELPHIA) — Amar Jones knows that high-salt Chinese takeout isn’t good for his high blood pressure. But the lure of shrimp with broccoli is hard to resist.

So he was heartened recently to hear that his favorite dish now has 20 percent less sodium thanks to a citywide effort to battle hypertension — a major risk factor for heart disease.

“People might think I’m being extreme, but you’re probably going to save some lives,” Jones said. “You might save my life.”

Organizers have recruited more than 200 eateries across Philadelphia for the city’s Healthy Chinese Takeout Initiative, which aims to reduce the food’s salt content by 10 percent to 15 percent.

(MORE: Salty Truth: Adults Worldwide Eating Too Much Sodium)

Participants have made several changes, such as flavoring orders with chilies or garlic instead of sodium; using less sauce; distributing soy sauce packets only on demand; and posting nutrition information.

It’s the latest effort by a major U.S. city to help people eat better. Many have already banned trans-fats, and some require restaurants to post calorie counts.

Philadelphia has focused on salt consumption because 37 percent of residents have high blood pressure. The number jumps to 47 percent for African-Americans, according to a 2012 survey by the Public Health Management Corp.

The multi-agency initiative, which began about a year ago, focuses on mom-and-pop Chinese joints because they are “an enormous industry” in the city, serving about 3 million meals a year, said Health Commissioner Donald Schwarz.

The dishes are cheap and easily available, especially in low-income minority neighborhoods that often lack supermarkets and access to fresh produce.

But many residents — and even takeout owners — didn’t realize how the meals affected their health, said Schwarz.

“In some restaurants, the restaurateurs were really taken aback by the amount of sodium in their food,” Schwarz said.

(MORE: Salt Sugar Fat: Q&A With Author Michael Moss)

Dietary guidelines recommend that Americans consume less than 2,300 milligrams of salt per day — about a teaspoon. Yet an order of chicken lo mein from local takeouts averaged 3,200 milligrams, while shrimp with broccoli had 1,900 milligrams.

Organizers offered a series of low-sodium cooking classes last summer with the goal of changing the ingredients but not the taste. Nine months later, salt content in those two dishes was down 20 percent in samples from 20 restaurants. Researchers plan to test the food again in a few months, and expand the program to other items.

Steven Zhu, president of the Greater Philadelphia Chinese Restaurant Association, recruited participants by saying healthier food could attract more customers. Still, some owners declined because they worried about losing business.

“Change is always not an easy process, and there was some reluctance in the beginning when we started this project,” said Grace Ma, director of Temple University’s Center for Asian Health.

Xue Xiu Liu, owner of Choy Yung Inn in the city’s Point Breeze community, said through a translator that he got involved to improve customers’ health. Business is about the same, Liu said.

Jones frequents the takeout because he works just up the block at the Arabic Institute. And he said he’s hardly alone, often joined by colleagues or neighbors.

“We’re always going in there, even if we don’t want to sometimes. There’s nothing else to eat,” Jones said. “You want something hot, you want something now, so you order from the Chinese store.”

The Food Trust, a Philadelphia-based organization that promotes healthy eating, praised the city for working with the takeouts instead of pointing fingers. The eateries are community gathering points and not going away anytime soon, noted spokeswoman April White.

“Let’s find ways to make everyone a part of the solution,” White said.

The Food Trust is not part of the study. Participants include the city health department, Temple University, Asian Community Health Coalition and restaurant association; the project is supported by local and federal funds.

[tag No salt for you]