Reading List: Skip That Detox, Flaxseed Pluses & More Supplement Warnings

In this week’s nutrition headlines: the scoop on buying bottled washes to clean food, a push to improve school lunches and why cleansing diets are a waste
In this week’s nutrition headlines: why you should eat more flaxseed, experts question the value of detoxing and do you really need specialty food washes?
Eat More Flaxseeds

Because of its high amounts of omega-3 fats, fiber and other heart-healthy compounds, flaxseed should definitely be in your diet. Need more proof? A recent report linked eating whole flaxseed (not the oil) to a decrease in total cholesterol and LDL ("bad") cholesterol. These results were based on 28 studies and more than 1,800 people. One tablespoon of whole flaxseed a day did the trick.

Are Detox Diets A Farce?
Detox diets are a hot topic these days (have you seen the debate on our Master Cleanse post?), but according to this Washington Post article, folks probably are wasting their time and money. Experts say there's no scientific evidence that you’re really cleansing anything from your system (and I agree!). The best ways to keep your body in good shape is to eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol. What’s your take on detox diets?
Specialty Washes to Clean Your Veggies
E. Coli in cantaloupe, tainted nuts, contaminated ice cream ... there have been lots of food scares lately. Some companies are now marketing special bottled washes to help you remove dirt and potentially harmful bacteria that might infect fresh foods -- or at least their surfaces. I've heard that some people clean produce with dish soap, which you’re not supposed to consume; these specialty washes, however, are made with food-grade (i.e. safe to eat) ingredients. Produce companies do pre-wash food, but bacteria can still get on it (think of all the people sorting through the apple bin or the journey to the grocery store). The cheapest and easiest cleaning answer is warm water, but if you've got extra money to buy the bottled stuff, it certainly won’t hurt. Has anyone ever tried one of these packaged washes?
What’s In Your Supplements?

As I rode in an elevator last week, I heard two men boasting about all the supplements they take. I just held my tongue. Many folks take supplements, especially ones that promise energy or weight loss, but more doctors are warning against them. Because supplements aren't well regulated by the FDA, their labels might not always include the full ingredients. Even worse, some herbal supplements can interact with common medications (i.e. birth control or heart pills). If you take any supplements or are thinking about it, investigate them fully to find out what their real benefits are and they're worth it.

Serving Better School Lunches
When my young, counseling clients tell me about their school lunch options, I rarely hear about anything healthy (so they get a few baby carrots on pizza Friday -- whoopee!). There has been growing pressure and support for improving school lunch programs throughout U.S.. With the economy down, more kids are enrolling in school lunch (and breakfast) programs so it's especially important. Cities like Pittsburgh are adding whole grains and fiber-rich foods to their menus and reducing the sugar and fat. Have you seen changes in your local schools?

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