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The Science and Health Benefits of Horseradish

Horseradish is a hardy perennial of the cruciferous vegetables family which includes cauliflower, cabbage, kale, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts.

Homegrown horseradish has a clear, fresh taste and packs more flavor than the store-bought variety. It also ranks in the top five easiest-to-grow edible plants because it thrives in a variety of conditions.


Homemade prepared horseradish is about twice as strong as store-bought versions, and lasts about 3 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.

o 1 cup peeled and cubed horseradish root
o 3/4 cup white vinegar
o Salt to taste (typically ¼ teaspoon )

Process the root by grating by hand or in a food processor or blender. If done by hand, be very careful not to directly inhale volatile isothiocynates – they are hazardous to mucosal membranes. Let the grated horseradish sit for about 3 minutes, then add the vinegar and mix. See the Science section below for more details of the chemical transformations and the reason for the delay in adding the acidic medium.

Then just seal it up in an airtight container and keep it chilled. It’ll keep at least a few weeks, if not longer, in the refrigerator.

A variation of this horseradish sauce uses lemons instead of the vinegar, known in Germany as Tafelmeerrettich. For one cup of horseradish use the juice of one whole lemon. Other variation include mixing in grated garlic (Russian) or grated beetroot (known as khreyn in Jewish Passover).


When horseradish cells are damaged by cutting, grating, or chewing, enzymes convert the glucosinolate sinigrin to allyl isothiocyanate (mustard oil) by the enzyme horseradish peroxidase. The plant uses isothiocyanates as a defense against attack by predators. The allyl isothiocyanate apparently decomposes quickly; this decomposition can be slowed significantly by an acidic medium.

There is an optimal time for the formation of the isothiocynate beyond which the decomposition becomes significant. Application of an acidic medium, such as from that from acidic acid (vinegar) or citric acid (lemons), effectively quenches the decomposition (Pecháček, R., Velíšek, J., & Hrabcová, H. (1997). Decomposition Products of Allyl Isothiocyanate in Aqueous Solutions. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 45(12), 4584–4588. doi:10.1021/jf970316z ).

Health Benefits

Horseradish peroxidase is being studied for its anti-cancer properties . Horseradish contains other glucosinolates which are strong antioxidants (Bonifert, G., Folkes, L., Gmeiner, C., Dachs, G., & Spadiut, O. (2016). Recombinant horseradish peroxidase variants for targeted cancer treatment. Cancer Medicine, 5(6), 1194–1203. doi:10.1002/cam4.668).

The Definitive Explanation of Why Eating Red Meat is Bad

Excerpts from that source:

Red meat consumption has been associated with an increased risk of total mortality, cardiovascular disease mortality, and cancer mortality. On average, there are 64 times more antioxidants in plant foods than animal foods. The animal protein in meat may even have a pro-oxidant effect. Because food is a package deal, the nutrients in products such as beef cannot be obtained without cholesterol, saturated fat, and hormones. Red meat also contains carnitine, which can ultimately leads to the buildup of TMAO circulating throughout our bloodstream. TMAO increases the buildup of cholesterol in the inflammatory cells in the atherosclerotic plaques in our arteries, which is associated with a higher risk of heart attack, stroke, and death. Another risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and death is choline, found primarily in eggs, milk, fish, liver, poultry and red meat.”

May is Mental Health Month

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Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and mental illnesses are common and
treatable. So much of what we do physically impacts us mentally –it’s important to pay attention to both your
physical health and your mental health, which can help you achieve overall wellness and set you on a path to
May is Mental Health Month; Mood for Life is raising awareness about the connection between
physical health and mental health, through the theme Fitness #4Mind4Body. The campaign is meant to educate and
inform individuals about how eating healthy foods, gut health, managing stress, exercising, and getting enough
sleep can go a long way in making you healthy all around.
A healthy lifestyle can help to prevent the onset or worsening of mental health conditions like depression and
anxiety, as well as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other chronic health problems. It can also play a big role
in helping people recover from these conditions. Taking good care of your body is part of a before Stage Four
approach to mental health.
Getting the appropriate amount of exercise can help control weight, improve mental health, and help you live
longer and healthier. Recent research is also connecting your nutrition and gut health with your mental health.
Sleep also plays a critical role in all aspects of our life and overall health. Getting a good night’s sleep is important
to having enough physical and mental energy to take on daily responsibilities. And we all know that stress can
have a huge impact on all aspects of our health, so it’s important to take time to focus on stress-reducing activities
like meditation or yoga.
Mood for Life wants everyone to know that mental illnesses are real, and recovery is always the goal. Living a
healthy lifestyle may not be easy, but by looking at your overall health every day – both physically and mentally –
you can go a long way in ensuring that you focus on your Fitness #4Mind4Body.
For more information, visit

Fiber – the unrecognized macronutrient of evolution

by Richard Aiken MD PhD @rcaiken



Fiber, although not considered a macronutrient, has a RDA of 25 – 38 gm/ day again according to the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board and is only available from plants. We know that the most healthful diet is one that is high in fiber and low in rapidly digested carbohydrates. This regimen is referred to as a low-glycemic diet because it helps keep our blood glucose at optimum levels. Wild fruits and vegetables are the original low-glycemic foods[1].

It is estimated that 97% of Americans do not consume the recommended minimum amount of fiber[2].

Shown above are a few example foods and their fiber density, expressed as grams of fiber per total grams of dry weight of food substance.

Generalizing, fruit and vegetables are significant sources of fiber, but beans and cruciferous vegetables are best and starch and grains much less so.

[1] Robinson, J. (2013). Eating on the wild side: The missing link to optimum health (pp. 4-5).

[2] Moshfegh, A., & Goldman, J. (2005). What We Eat in America, NHANES 2001-2002: Usual Nutrient Intakes from Food Compared to Dietary Reference Intakes. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.

Crisis: Murder of Very Young Children in the United States

by Richard Aiken MD PhD @rcaiken

I just read a news report titled “Father slashes son’s throat, nearly decapitating 2-year-old[1]”. This was so disturbing that I investigated murder of individuals by age groups.

The cause of death by “interpersonal violence”, i.e. murder, using the Global Burden of Disease data assembled by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington[2] is shown on Figure 1 for the time interval 2010 – 2016 (note EN means 0 – 6 days old and PN is 7 days to 1 year old; the line is the mean value).

murder 2010 - 2016

Figure 1 Murder of males in the US 2010 – 2016 by age

Several aspects of these data are shocking.  First, comparison to previous 5 year intervals reveals that the most likely age of those murdered is becoming younger.  For example, in the 5 year interval 1980 – 1984, the most likely age to be murdered was about 27 years old; from the data in Figure 1, it is about 15 years old.

Second, the curve is not Gaussian – it is bimodal with two peaks at 15 and at about 2 – 3 years old. This means that young adolescents and young children are being disproportionately murdered.  Let’s examine the first most likely peak in murder rate, that of young children.

Although the untimely deaths of children due to illness and accidents are closely monitored, deaths that result from physical abuse or severe neglect is more difficult to track.  This is particularly true of the very young, ages 0 – 5 years old prior to their introduction into communities through schools and community activities where there is a degree of monitoring outside the family environment. Child fatalities due to abuse and neglect are very likely underreported.

The highest risk of child homicide victimization is on the first day of life, known as “neonaticide”. Neonaticide is almost always committed by the mother acting alone; the biologic father is frequently no longer a part of the mother’s life. Neonaticidal mothers are often in their teens or 20s; unmarried; and of lower socioeconomic status[3] and the pregnancy is unwanted. Note these deaths are not reported in Figure 1.

An examination of child abuse and neglect resulting in death in the year 2015 from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, indicates that about three-quarters (74.8%) of child fatalities involved children younger than 3 years, and children younger than 1 year accounted for about 50% (49.4 %) of all fatalities as shown in Figure 2 [4].

abuse neglect fatalities children 2015

This is a crisis that must be recognized and then have the highest priority to eliminate.


[2] Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). Causes of Death (COD) Data Visualization. Seattle, WA: IHME, University of Washington, 2017. Available from (Accessed February 18, 2018)

[3] Friedman, S. H., & Resnick, P. J. (2009). Neonaticide: Phenomenology and considerations for prevention. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 32(1), 43-47. doi:10.1016/j.ijlp.2008.11.006

[4] U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2017). Child Maltreatment 2015. Available from