Category Archives: Better food better health

Spice up your food- spice up your health

Spice up your life- spice up your health

Spice up your food, enjoy the flavors, and improve your health.

Spices are a key component to a healthy diet. Throughout the world spices play a major role in healthy flavorful cooking . My goal is to help parents introduce spices to their children at a young age in order for them to develop a well rounded taste for healthy diverse eating .

There are several parts to good health related to whole healthy nutrition. First is the type of food. Whole natural foods with an abundance of green vegetables and other plant foods like fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. For maximum health the food you eat should be organic ( when available and affordable) unprocessed with no preservatives or chemicals. Developing a taste for truly healthy foods not only includes what you add to the foods  including important healthy spices but just as importantly what you eliminate. Salt, oil, sugar are negative influences on whole healthy food and reduce the health quality of food and hide the true flavor of natural food. With the inclusion of spices to improve the taste of your food you will be able to reduce the amount of unnecessary oil, sugar, fat, and salt.

Spices enhance your food while improving your health.  Spices are essential to both enjoyment of the flavor and health of natural food when you remove the processed ingredients.

I generally carry a mixture of my base of spices with me whenever I go out to a restaurant. I often get asked which spices should I start with when people who want to start on the  road to improving their health and that of their families. Below is my essential spices to begin a healthy meal.

My basic spices include the following health enhancing choices

(Most parents start with a very small amount on their hand allowing their child a taste. Slowly over weeks they increase the amount as the child develops both enjoyment and tolerance for that particular spice)

Turmeric- should be organic. You can buy it fresh and grate it yourself which is preferred. Remember the yellow stains everything it touches or you can buy organic powder. Review the brands some are cleaner than others. Turmeric is establishing a reputation in medical circles for its anti-inflammatory properties which help reduce diseases associated with inflammation. Turmeric is being studied for improving symptoms from everything from viruses to  joint pain and even cancer. – start with a 1/4 teaspoon working to 1-2 teaspoons per day or meal.

Ginger– Also should be fresh when you grate it or you can buy organic ginger powder. Ginger that is already incorporated into other spice mixtures or tea is not the recommended form. This is one of the favorite ingredients in many holistic recipes to fight colds and flus. Ginger is anti inflammatory and Immune enhancing. It is known to help fight viruses and colds, particularly nausea and influenza symptoms.  You can add it to food, teas, or lozenges

-start with a 1/4 teaspoon working to 1-2 teaspoons per day or meal.

Cinnamon – should be organic. Ceylon cinnamon is the purest and healthiest form and is considered the real cinnamon. Cinnamon helps regulate your sugar level. Keeps you from being hungry and has anti inflammatory properties. -start with a 1/4 teaspoon working to 1-2 teaspoons per day or meal.

Garlic- same fresh local organic cut it or grate it yourself. If you buy powder it should be organic from brands you trust. Besides the taste, garlic has immune enhancing properties and anti inflammatory characteristics which helps your body fight colds and viruses.- start with a 1/4 teaspoon working to 1-2 teaspoons per day or meal.

Peppers of all forms – particularly spicy red peppers and cayenne peppers, and bell peppers are anti inflammatory, immune boosting, and even help with fever and viruses. Black pepper is also immune boosting especially in conjunction with turmeric. Start with just a few flakes and sprinkles. Work your way up to a pinch and then quarter teaspoon slowly.

Oregano ( herb or spice) is also key in any healthy diet -is tasty and helps enhance your immune system for fighting colds. -start with a 1/4 teaspoon working to 1-2 teaspoons per day or meal.

There are many more healthy spices for flavor and health benefits but these six are what I consider the basic ones to add to a whole food and you can build from there.  

Try to keep these spices readily available so you can remember to add them to as many meals as possible. They should become a consistent part of your healthy diet. Start slowly with a very small amount then work your way up to your desired taste as you and your child get accustomed to the spicy taste. You can add additional spices depending on the type of meal you are preparing.

So spice up your food, enjoy the flavors, and improve your health

Warren Krantz MD


Calcium dairy free and still growing

Calcium dairy free and healthy !

Simply put most parents think that the only way to get sufficient calcium is from dairy products or milk, and if your children do not eat enough dairy they will not grow. Our mass perception equates milk to strong bones and being tall. One of the most difficult tasks of a pediatrician who is concerned with a child’s overall health is dealing with this myth perpetuated by the dairy industry and many pediatricians themselves. But it is not fact. It may be convenient.  It may insure our children and elderly ingest a easy cheap adequate source of calcium . But dairy products are in no way the healthiest nutritional choice for calcium. There are many healthier ways to get calcium. Dark green vegetables for instance are full of calcium, and a much healthier source. Your child will grow just as well and without the health compromising results of dairy ( see milk articles). Much of the world’s population do not eat diary as a primary protein and they seem to grow fine with a lot less health problems.

A diet without dairy can easily provide the daily allowance of calcium without compromising nutrition or your health. Looking at the top calcium plant foods and the sample meals below you realize with very little effort it is not difficult to get the daily allowance of calcium from only one meal. If you pay attention and make healthy plant exchanges for milk and dairy products throughout the day you will achieve your goal of improved health with more than enough calcium and your children will certainly manage to grow “big and strong”.

How much calcium do you need per day at each age                     

Between 1- 3 years of age a child needs 500 mg a day

              4- 8                                            800 mg a day

              9-18                                           1300 mg a day

              Over 19                                    1000 mg – 1200 mg a day

Some high calcium plant foods- compared to a cup of milk which has 300 mg  and hard cheese which has 200 mg, and a cup of yogurt with 450 mg of calcium

Figs   cup                          300 mg

Sesame seeds,1 oz      280 mg

Tahini 1 oz                      135 mg

Chia seeds, ounce      179 mg

almonds, ounce            80 mg

Almond milk cup          450 mg   ( fortified)

tofu calcium set, 3 oz  300 mg

Soy yogurt 1 cup           300mg

broccoli, cup                 180 mg

kale, cup raw                100 mg

spinach, cup cooked 240 mg

beans, cup                      80 mg

Fortified breads and oatmeal. 100 – 250 mg

Scroll below for comparisons of calcium based foods

2 easy meals below and the calcium content

Sample salad for maximum calcium

Arugula/spinach/kale- cup of each                       260 mg

Carrots half cup

Tahini based dressing – half ounce                        70 mg

Add olives

Sesame seeds one ounce                                         140 mg


Soy cheese ( calcium fortified) one ounce         173 mg

Tofu one ounce                                                              250 mg

Calcium content of salad about 800 mg almost an entire day’s calcium requirement for an adult


Sample vegan meal

Non meat protein example tofu 3 oz                    300 mg

(Compared to 3 oz meat protein 40 mg)                                               

Quinoa one cup                                                            100 mg

Beans half cup                                                              40 mg

Broccoli cup                                                                  180 mg

Slice Bread ( fortified)                                               100 mg

Dessert compote with half-cup dried figs,       150 mg

With dessert and a vegan meal total calcium is  870 mg . Well over the child requirement for calcium for an entire day in one meal.

As you can see if you spread out the high calcium healthy foods throughout the day you will not encounter any difficulty in meeting the recommended calcium requirements for you or your growing child.


See below for sample comparisons of high calcium dairy vs non dairy foods

Cup of milk                                          300 mg

Cup of breast milk                               79 mg

Cup of formula                                     400 mg

Cup of soy milk ( fortified)                300mg

Cup of almond milk( fortified)         350 mg

Cup of orange juice ( fortified) up to  500 mg


Ounce of cheese                                   200mg

Cup of yogurt                                        450 mg

Cup of ice cream                                   200 mg

Ounce of soy cheese                            173 mg


Cup Broccoli  ( cooked)                        180 mg

Cup of kale ( raw)                                 100 mg                          

Cup arugula (raw)                                 125 mg

Cup spinach (cooked)                           240 mg

Cup spinach ( raw)                                 30 mg

Cup of figs (dried)                                   300 mg

Cup of dates                                             57 mg

Apple                                                        10 mg

Kiwi                                                            50 mg

Orange                                                      50 mg


Cup of Beans                                              75 mg

Tofu  3 oz                                                    200 mg or more

Cup tempeh                                                150 mg

1 oz almonds                                                80 mg

1 oz sesame seeds                                     180 mg

1 oz Chia seeds                                          179 mg

1 oz Sunflower seeds                                    50 mg

1 oz tahini                                                    130 mg


Cup fortified cereal                                        250 mg or more

Cup oatmeal instant ( fortified)                 150 mg


Cup Brown rice                                               50 mg

Cup quinoa                                                     100 mg

Cup whole wheat pasta                               21 mg

Slice whole wheat bread fortified          200mg

 The list above indicates that there are many plant sources of calcium and the belief that you have to have dairy products to grow or as we age is misleading and not factual. With very little effort you and your children can find healthier sources of calcium than dairy.  

Not having to feed cows to produce milk reduces greenhouse gas. Eliminates the issue of what we do to the calves. and the enormous waste and farmland resources for cows.

Warren Krantz MD, FAAP.



Eggs: Can’t live with them can you live without them?

Can you live without eggs? Most definitely  yes!

Should you live without eggs? I will cover my views below.

Quick takes :

  1. HealthfulMD egg as a healthy food rating is a minus. It does not contribute to good health and eggs do not promote healing.
  2. Egg industry funded studies have been geared towards convincing you they are healthy but are misleading.
  3. You do not need to introduce eggs earlier to your child as an essential food.
  4. Eggs are in fact high in cholesterol and not necessary cholesterol
  5. While eggs are an easy and fun source of protein for young children they do not contribute to better health. And are not an essential part of a nutritionally excellent diet.
  6. There are many healthier sources of protein other than eggs.

If we are talking about basic scrambled, poached, hard boiled, sunny side up; eggs as the main protein dish, are not all they’re cracked up to be. And certainly not the healthiest way to get the same level of protein. If you never eat a whole egg you get more than enough of the daily recommended amount of egg ( one a day) in all sorts of baked goods and prepared foods. Eggs are the staple of most recipes as a binder and filler and therefore you are getting more than enough of the good things you think you need from eggs without ever trying.

Should you introduce eggs early under a year of age to babies to prevent allergies like we have instituted with nuts?. No I do not believe you should. Eggs are not a food essential to good health and therefore introducing early just helps your child develop a taste for eggs earlier than necessary. Something that potentially is not healthy should not be pushed earlier .

The big controversy surrounding eggs are not whether you should be having any at all  but  whether they contribute to a nutritionally sound diet in an ongoing effort to be healthier , have less disease . and heal.

The egg industry and their funded studies would have you believe that eggs are a healthy source of protein and nutrition and make you healthier. Many respected physicians and dietitians still follow their propaganda .

Nutritional scientists, Cardiologists,cardiac researchers, and those of us promoting optimum health and healing nutrition have a less than flattering take on the value of eggs and the necessity of including then as a mainstay of our diet.


They have plenty of protein for your nutritional needs.

They have biotin which is essential for nails, hair, and skin.  .

Eggs provide choline which can help nerve and brain function, muscle movement, and metabolism. .

Eggs are an easy food to prepare and relatively inexpensive meal .

Yolk has some omega 3 and vitamins.


Eggs have very high cholesterol 213 mg, which is not directly correlated to high cholesterol but definitely contributes due to its high saturated fat. Recommended daily intake of cholesterol is not more than 300 mg a day.  

The choline in the egg form may actually not be healthy. While they are high in choline this choline is turned into tma by our intestine and then tmao by our liver. Tmao seems to be associated with higher risk up to 9x of heart disease and stroke.

Egg white- the white of the egg has methionine which stimulates igf-1 growth factor which contributes to cell growth and may cause cancer cell stimulation in adults.

Only the yellow has omega 3 but this is the less desirable portion as far as cholesterol and fat.

The biotin is not as useful as alleged because eating too many eggs actually binds the biotin and has the opposite effect. Whites have protein that can interfere with the body’s use of biotin as well.

Eggs have a much higher risk of salmonella than most foods. Which causes gastrointestinal illness.

A substantial portion of the population have egg allergies even if you were to introduce them earlier .


Alternatives for the nutritional content that eggs are promoted to provide but in a healthier form.

Choline : Plant source of choline are anti inflammatory. Have better glycemic index, more fiber and are healing.  Most plant sources of protein have good levels of choline. Beans and lentils have a comparable choline content to eggs but in a healthier healing form.

Biotin: Healthier sources of biotin at similar levels to eggs include swiss chard, berries, nuts, carrots, and onion. All have anti inflammatory properties, low fat, high fiber, and healing phytosterols. All of which eggs have minimum amount in comparison.

Protein; There are many healthier sources of protein besides egg. Beans , nuts, tofu, wheat, etc. See protein article. All of the plant sources come without the negative effects of egg protein.

Omega 3: Many plant sources have substantially more and healthier omega 3, flax seed for one.

Egg substitutes: Both for health and for cooking use.  

Chia seeds with water or almond milk protein.

Tofu scramble mixed with turmeric for yellow color .

Egg substitutes like the” Vegg”, Egg beaters and pea protein substitutes . Should be organic.

“Aquafaba”- bean juice. The liquid in the can from chickpeas  ( used most commonly)

Or other legumes – beans. Either from the can or cooking in water for 2 hours.  3 tablespoons of aquafaba liquid is approximately the equivalent of one egg. This liquid is used in the same way as eggs particularly the properties of egg whites for cooking, baking, whipping. Nutritionally has protein and starch but no fat, no cholesterol, and no animal inflammatories.

If it’s too thin or watery drain some of the water out to improve the consistency.

Bottom line : Although eggs are easy and a mainstay of our western diet, they are not necessarily a part of optimal nutritional health. I do not recommend you introduce them to your children earlier in order to develop a taste for them or avoid allergies . At best the egg industry studies supporting eggs as a good food have only shown that if you are already very ill  with high cholesterol or heart disease eating eggs will not make you sicker. But if you are not ill they definitely contribute to poor health.

The process of farming eggs often is not environmentally sound or humane for the chickens. Please buy organic and eggs from free range chickens.

Warren Krantz MD , FAAP





Turmeric – the number one spice for what ails you- best spice award

I often get asked what is the best spice to start with for those individuals who want to make the first move in a healthful direction.  What spice would you say is the most important one if you want to introduce just one ?. I answer turmeric for several reasons. (This is not to be confused with the first spice I recommend to introduce to infant feeding which is cinnamon.)

 Why turmeric

Turmeric with curcumin the main active ingredient thought to have food super powers- mostly from its  anti inflammatory properties . It has been used for thousands of years in cooking. In the Geographic regions where turmeric is a food staple the populations have much less chronic inflammatory associated disease; heart, prostate, intestinal, and cancer. Turmeric acts as an antioxidant helping neutralize free radicals that cause damage  thus slowing aging , keeping your skin elastic, and preventing harm to your cells.

Turmeric helps enhance your immune system. It helps fight disease and the associated inflammation.

Turmeric helps with everyday illnesses

In my line of work it is helpful in keeping the inflammation associated symptoms like pain, fever, coughing and congestion from viruses to a minimum while helping fight the infection.


Turmeric  has a mild taste. A little chalky but it blends well and is not overpowering in whatever you put it in. Not real spicy. Main drawback is the yellow color which to me is sign of health but to children and those new to spices when visual cues are sometimes just as important as taste may be a problem. Try to begin its use in foods which have a color that masks the yellow.


Goal to introduce turmeric (curcumin) slowly to avoid developing an aversion from the child or adult. Start with 1/4 teaspoon slowly over the first week or two going up by 1/4 teaspoon per week for a goal of 2 teaspoons a day and even more when you are not feeling well or having aches pains or for specific conditions

When I feel like I am getting sick I double or triple my daily turmeric dose heaping portions at every opportunity .

How to use it?

I use it as often as possible and carry it with me!

My first recommendation is to add it to your version of chicken soup or vegan non chicken soup, yellow vegetables like squash, hash browns, even sweet potatoes. I also make a point of including them in any vegetable dishes and meats if you are not vegan. A parent recently said she adds it to pancake mix, grains, and eggs.

Turmeric is my  base for all my meals to make sure I get enough throughout the day..

Any chance you get add turmeric to your food.

How much?

I put a quarter to half teaspoon in my morning tea every day along with ginger.

I put one to two teaspoons on my vegetable mixture for lunch

I sprinkle turmeric along with my spice mixture on salad or any dressing I use.

Even put it on pasta or quinoa .

All my soups I add turmeric.

I take a spice mixture in a small container with me whenever I eat out (with a turmeric base), And add it to salads, soups, vegetable and bean dishes, etc. Any where, any time I am ready to add my spices beginning with turmeric,

To improve absorption of turmeric

Add black pepper along with it to food. In tea add a little coconut milk. Adding a small amount of healthy oil or fat to turmeric helps absorption -seeds and nuts have oil in them and can be added to any dish to serve as a vector for turmeric absorption, as well as the overall health benefits from seeds and nuts versus empty oil calories. Also avocado is a good fat to mix with turmeric to enhance its absorption.

Turmeric has been shown to have benefits for all sorts of diseases and illnesses.

Latest studies and those currently under review are indicating very positive results and benefit from large doses of turmeric including inflammatory bowel disease, joint disease, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, autoimmune conditions , and even cancer . Please consult your physician or particular specialist before beginning any mega dose trial of turmeric for any one of these conditions .Doses at this level usually comes in a pill form and precise medical information regarding dosing is not widely agreed upon yet.

Brands and form of turmeric

Consumer labs has reviewed a number of brands of turmeric for safety regarding foreign substances, and contamination. In general it is better to have organic turmeric and even better to buy it and grind it yourself. Some of the organic brands for reasons that seem logical have a percentage of bug parts and some non organic brands have chemical residues. It is better to include turmeric in any form. But your physician, grocer, or health food specialist might be helpful in selecting a safe and healthy brand.  

If you are going to add one food supplement in natural form to improve your health make it turmeric

Warren Krantz MD, FAAP


Vitamins -general approach

Vitamins in general (as supplements) not what you were told.

Since the days of Hippocrates physicians have been asked to recommend vitamins to cure what ails people. From poor eating for children to low energy in adults people want a magical vitamin pill to jump-start their health. All form of concerns seem to bring up this magic vitamin pill. But in reality other than the scientifically known disease associated deficiencies ( which by in large do not exist any longer in western society) vitamin supplements are rarely needed and of little true value.

Main points:

Vitamins are not as advertised. They have no magical healing or disease preventing properties in supplement form.

They are not a panacea for what ails you and in no way replace healthy nutritious whole food.

With the exception of b12 for vegans and possibly the new recommendations of vitamin d 3 , receiving the majority of vitamins from supplements are a poor substitute for real food as vitamin source.

Vitamins are not readily bio-available and as useful for what you need when you take them in a supplement form versus from food

Vitamins will not stimulate your appetite. Physician’s treat vitamins like a placebo.  Doctors only give to children when parents request them to supplement a diet in order to encourage the parents stop pushing their kids to eat and relax. It takes the pressure off parents who are worried about adequate nutrition particularly vitamin intake. When parents relax and stop showing anxiety regarding the amount of food a child eats, regardless of the reason,  then the children often actually start to eat better .

The real source of useful bio-active body enhancing vitamins is whole foods.

Enriched foods do offer an alternative to supplements but not nearly as valuable as in whole foods.

Vitamins like all supplements are not regulated for content, amount, value,claims, or quality.

Taking vitamin shots is not any more valuable than supplements. The rare exceptions are for true medical conditions like b12 deficiency anemia , pernicious anemia.

Organic whole fruits , vegetables, nuts , and seeds are the best form to receive your vitamins. Best method is to chew and eat them yourself.

Warren Krantz MD, FAAP


Sweet life the healthy way

Sweet life the healthy way


Processed added sugar vs fruit sugar directly from real fruit

The better food choice is natural organic fruit instead of processed sugar or added sugar for sweetener.

Eat more fruit.Add it to your food, as a sweetener to give your food a natural flavor and get healthier at the same time.

Real fruit sugar is processed differently than added sweeteners

The sugar in actual fruit is processed slower .

You do not get the glucose and  insulin spike.

Real fruit : Has included fiber which helps in digestion and does not cause the spikes in glucose in the blood or inflammatory response from excessive insulin response. The fiber also helps a slower digestion of real fruit sugar. You are not hungry as soon and feel full longer. The fiber keeps you from gaining weight by helping slow the rate of carbohydrate absorption in the intestine.

In addition real fruit helps your intestinal system by preventing constipation and cancer.

Not to mention all the positive natural fruit benefits from the phytonutrients and antioxidants.

Water, vitamins, nutrients, anti inflammatory, and immune enhancing properties are all benefits of natural fruit

Label names for added sugar for which you should be on the lookout: Cane sugar. raw sugar,rice sugar, organic sugar, brown sugar, maltose,  sucrose,high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup,anhydrous dextrose, dextrose,corn syrup solids,honey,invert sugar,lactose,malt syrup,maltose,maple syrup,molasses.

Refined or added sugar is broken down by the body rapidly and causes the insulin to rise in response to this rush of blood glucose, making this quite a different process than fruit sugar .This quick spike in sugar and subsequent rise in insulin has the opposite effect on the blood sugar levels causing it to  drop precipitously. You become fatigued and hungry sooner. This exaggerated process takes place in the liver causing inflammation in your organs and blood vessels. Without the fiber from real fruits, added sugar calories turns into fat more readily and you gain weight faster.

Even fake artificial and natural artificial sweeteners of which stevia is the best one, trick your body into thinking it is real sugar and increase glycemic index response. You are hungrier like you ingested actual sugar even though you are trying to eat healthy. Artificial sweeteners make your system think you really had sugar.  Artificial sweeteners end up having the same effect raising the insulin and same negative response to your blood.

List of natural sweeteners

Most fruits have a low glycemic index and an even lower glycemic load which is the amount per serving compared to other servings. This all means eating fruits and using them to add sweetness and taste to your food does not come with the sugar raising complications in the blood of adding processed sugars. A glycemic index under 55 is considered low and over 70 is considered high.The lower the index and load the less your blood sugar will be raised after eating a serving. The less your insulin will rise, and the less hungry you will be.

Table of fruits to use as sweeteners  and honey.       glycemic-     index                       load

Apple 39 6
Banana, ripe 62 16
Blueberries 50 9
Dates, dried 42 18
Grapes, 59 11
Figs 61 4
Orange 40 4
Peach 42 5
Pear 38 4
Prunes 29 10
Raisins 64 28
Watermelon 72 4
Honey 55 3


HealthfulMD: My favorite sweet fruit are dates . Tastes like candy . Most of the natural organic baking and desserts use dates as their secret ingredient. In addition to the wonderful sweet taste, they are filled with fiber , vitamins, and potassium. Imagine you can enjoy a natural food and be healthier!

Eating fruits and using them to make your food sweet will make you healthful. Will cause less complications. Less obesity. Less processing in industrial plants which invariably have a larger environmental impact. Once again when you make a positive move to eat better foods you and the world are healthier.
Warren Krantz MD, FAAP


Soy does your body good ?

Soy does your body good?


American Cancer Society states; “soy is protective for developing breast cancer and recurrence for breast cancer”

[ This post is for informational purposes only. It is not meant as medical advice or guidance to make any medical or medication changes. Please contact your physician  or pediatrician before beginning any lifestyle or dietary change]

The fear regarding soy originated with the concern over  “estrogen” being present in soy and how that “female hormone” would negatively affect women, men, and girls. Perhaps causing increased hormone effects and the subsequent negative impact including increased risk of breast cancer, cystic breast disease, and sterility. The following will help dispel some of the misunderstanding regarding the dangers of soy.

Soy Confusion

Confusion about soy arises from the term “phytoestrogens.” Some soy nutrients—the isoflavones—have chemical structures that are similar to that of estrogen found in a women . This is where the term phytoestrogen originated. However, phytoestrogens are not the same thing as female estrogens. Soy foods do not contain estrogen.The phytoestrogen in soy have a mild estrogen like effect but tend to have a  positive effect on preventing breast cancer due to a blocking the real estrogen effect on its receptors in the breast tissue. Meaning this phytoestrogen blocks the body’s actual estrogen hormone from binding to tissue such as breast tissue with a milder impact and less pathology compared to the natural estrogen. “In population based studies and real life trials it has not been proven to cause lower testosterone in men or increased risk of breast cancer in women”

                 Soy is safe if you take these precautions –


  • Always purchase organic and avoid any processed soy products.
  • The majority of your soy intake should be healthy products like tempeh, and tofu.
  • Avoid soy from certain regions like Indonesia where processing with toxin like hexadene tends to be common place.
  • Stick to brands you trust .
  • Moderation with the amount; Not more than 3 servings a day.
  • If you’re using soy milk whether it’s a child or an adult servings should be no more than three times a day.


Breast cancer and soy ? The current consensus among health experts who study soy is that breast cancer survivors can safely eat these foods. Recent studies suggest soy is protective against breast cancer recurrence.  The concern over long term increased risk of breast cancer is unsubstantiated and generally found to be the opposite. As discussed above organic soy products tend to be protective against breast cancer and other chronic diseases. There is not as much research involving soy and other estrogen related cancers, including endometrial and ovarian cancers. However, the studies that have been reviewed indicate that soy is also safe for women with a history of endometrial or ovarian cancer.

Sterility in men: misrepresentation of facts.  Although the sperm concentration seems to be lower, the actual load – amount of ejaculate, is greater and possibly better for reproduction.  Making it more effective for transport. Decreased inflammation associated with soy helps both the blood flow and increases the overall fertility.

Asian health argument: When considering the long term safety of soy formula, one argument that frequently comes up is that Asian populations have been consuming soy for a long time, with no known consequences and in fact are healthier than Western cultures.The differences in the overall healthy lifestyle between Western and Asian populations make the ability to compare soy as the main healthy food difference difficult but with controls for populations who eat more soy or do not, those who do are found to be healthier with lower inflammatory diseases and chronic illness.


                       Additional reasons Asian populations tend to be healthier


  • Asians consume a traditional soy-rich diet and Caucasians eat a typical “Western” diet  which differs dramatically over the lifespan.
  • In Asian populations , soy is consumed mostly in the form of tofu, tempeh, and other unprocessed foods, not as dietary supplements or products enriched with “soy protein isolate”, which is a keyword for a soy product not being healthy.  
  • Asian populations also eat considerably higher levels of seafood and low levels of animal fat than Western populations.
  • Have a generally healthy diet – low fat, lots of vegetables, not processed, stay thin and exercise.  
  • Asian populations breastfeed in higher percentage than other similar populations particularly Western mothers. They do not use soy formula so extensively at the newborn period. However they do ingest lots of soy products once they are introduced to solid foods and throughout life. Westerners feeding their babies soy infant formula the pattern is just the opposite,very high formula ingestion the first year and virtually no soy and significantly less healthy plant based products the rest of their life.

For babies

Breastfeeding exclusively the first 5- 6 months is the most preferred source of nutrition. However, during this time as the main nutritional source soy milk is one of many less than perfect choices to feed your baby. While it is a natural plant product and in theory it should be better than processed cow’s milk based formulas, there is not sufficient research to definitively state that giving human babies exclusive soy food during infancy is completely healthy and free of immediate or long term health risks.  As a supplement to breast milk it seems to be adequate . Soy milk is often recommended as a more natural supplement milk to breast feeding ( should only be in conjunction with breastfeeding) but should not be more than a supplement . Like all soy products, soy formula and milk should be organic and any processing or preservatives should be evaluated for safety.

Children 1 and older

Soy milk should not be the only milk beverage and limit its consumption to a maximum of  3 glasses a day. The total soy servings including milk for a day should also be no more than 3 of all forms of soy as well.

Healthful MD conclusion: Soy products are safe if taken with awareness and used as another healthy food source among a varied and plentiful healthy diet and not the sole nutritionally rich plant food. In addition , soy is not recommended as the only milk for infants or children when other plant options are available.

Environmental impact of  organic unprocessed soy products are less than meat and dairy products.

Warren Krantz MD

The truth about protein

The truth about protein

[ As with all posts the below is for informational purposes only. It is not to be considered as medical advice. Before making any changes in diet or health please check with your Pediatrician or Physician first]

This is one of the most perplexing issues confronting those of us who counsel patients to eat healthier. In our culture we have been programmed to believe the word “protein” is synonymous with animal protein. If we are weak, need to  build muscle, lose weight, gain weight, have a celebration  “ Beef. It”s what’s for dinner”. It’s the food source most people associate with vigorous health. You must need protein ( meat, chicken, turkey)  if you are sick or weak. “Make sure to get your protein”is the first remark regarding nutrition when growing up and old. Even for most people who understand there are other sources of protein from plants still believe that meat protein is a better more substantial form of protein . It’s as though everyone pictures a muscle man eating a steak and sickly little guy eating beans and kale. Real men eat meat. Popular concept, but not based on any facts or science. Plant protein calorie per calorie is a healthier form to receive your protein. It does not come with the baggage of meat protein as recent studies linking meat sources of protein with cancer and heart disease have demonstrated  .

The most common question I get when anyone hears I am Vegan is where do you get your protein?

My goal in this post is not to advocate for vegan eating or against eating animal sources of protein but to get the facts regarding food sources of protein and their relationship to good health. Many people want to know what are the portions of meat that are necessary to get your needed quantity of protein and how to replace the amount of animal protein in order to eat healthier especially if they want their child to attain a healthier weight . The overall amount of meat we eat in order to get protein in in the US is well over the maximum protein amount we need for good health. In fact, many sources believe the excess protein we ingest from animal protein is part of the problem regarding our poor health as a nation. 

Quick takes:

  • Can you get enough protein from plant based foods? Yes
  • Plant based foods source of protein is healthier than animal protein. Plants have no fat, no cholesterol, have phenols, anti-inflammatory, and  high fiber.
  • Nuts , seeds, beans, all have plenty of protein. nuts 18 gm , seeds 30 gm, beans 15 gm-

Compared to a hamburger 16 gm, 3 oz steak 25 gm, 3 oz chicken 15.8 gm.

  • Nut butters, hummus, tofu and tempeh are all high protein high nutrient easy to eat foods that are vegan and add to your health.
  • Bean dishes of all sorts have high protein, high fiber and add to your health. Improving colon health, heart health, lowering cholesterol and maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Grains also have good protein. Even brown rice, whole wheat pasta, quinoa all are healthy source of protein.
  • Do greens have protein? Yes. Broccoli for instance has 16.7 gm per bunch
  • Even some berries have protein . Goji berries have 4.7 gm of protein

In the US the recommended amount of daily protein is 56 grams for men and 46 grams for women.

At one year of age approximately 12 grams of protein a day is what is recommended- (see chart below for more details on protein amount and requirements).

Your source of protein is the key to good health – whatever the number or percentage of calories you follow , the majority of the calories from protein should not be animal protein because of the dangerous fat and harmful elements for health. Animal protein should be at most a supplementary source of calories to maximize health. Too much protein is harmful to your liver and kidney and over indulging in animal protein causes damage in all organs.

What is your main source of protein? Is it a healthy source?

You will find that there are more sources of protein than you knew. A good varied diet with an abundance of plant protein sources is easy and healthful.

Scroll down for the answer and to try to match vegetable protein to the below examples of meat protein.

Red meat- hamburger single patty 15.7 gram protein ; 25 % of calories from protein.

                      -3 oz steak  25 gram of protein;   36% of calories from protein

Chicken breast tenders 3 oz   15.8 grams protein ;   22% of calories from protein

Turkey breast    22.2 gram of protein; 74 % of calories from protein

Below is a table comparing average protein content of food groups.


                                                                             Protein avg cup                               % Adult American RDA

Beef   80 grams / 3oz=31 gm 120%/ 60%
Chicken   55 grams / 3 oz = 22 gms 100%/ 45%
Fish   62 grams /. 3oz= 22 gms 100%/ 45%
Dairy/ cheese/milk   9 grams slice/ 8gms cup 16%
Eggs   17 grams 30%
vegetables/greens   4- 5 gram 10%
Nuts  18-20 grams 40%
Seeds   30     grams 55%
Grains    6 – 8 grams 15%
Beans    15    grams 28%

These percentages are based on the American version of the daily protein requirements. But the WHO organization and most healthful guidelines prefer a much lower number of required protein for maximum health especially for kidney and other organ maximum function.

Below is a table of age and protein requirements

Age                                             Female protein req per day               Male Protein req per day

Newborn 10 – 12 grams same
1 -3 yo 13-20 grams same
4-8 yo 19- 25 grams same
9-13 yo 34 gams same
14-18 yo 46 grams 56 grams
Adult 46 grams 56 grams

Protein minimum requirements per age. Generally based on weight and US standards

Sample of “ Healthful foods” and their protein content.


Broccoli – 1 bunch cooked 16.7 gram 47% calories from protein/ 100gm 3.8 gram protein

Spinach cooked 5.3 grams of protein cup cooked , 41% of calories from protein

Kale 100 gram 1.9 gram protein / cup chopped 2.5 gram of protein 23% of calories from protein

Sweet potato 1 medium 2.3 gram of protein 9 % of calories from protein

White potato baked 4.3 gram for medium potato, 10 % of calories from protein

Peas- 5.4 grams of protein /100 gm 7.9 gm cup

Mushrooms 5.6 grams per cup,

Corn 4.7 grams per cup

Brussel sprouts 2 grams per 1/2 cup of protein

Squash 5.1 grams per cup of protein

Cauliflower 2.1 grams per cup of protein


Rye 17.5 grams cup uncooked

Brown rice 5 grams protein cooked per cup

Wild rice 6.5 grams protein cooked per cup

Barley 3.5 grams protein per cooked cup

Couscous 6 of grams of protein per cooked cup

Quinoa 8.1 grams of protein cooked per cup

Oatmeal 5.9 grams of protein cooked per cup

Amaranth 9.3 grams of cooked protein per cup

Whole wheat pasta 7.5 grams of protein cooked per cup


Soybeans roasted 36.8 grams protein per cup

Lentils cooked 18 grams protein per cup

Kidney beans cooked 15.5  grams protein per cup

Baked beans 14 grams protein per cup

Black beans cooked 15.5 grams protein per cup

Split peas cooked 16.3 grams of protein per cup

Pinto beans cooked 15.4 grams of protein per cup

Chickpeas cooked 14.5 grams of protein per cup

Nuts and Seeds

Almonds       6 grams per ounce        20 grams per cup

Cashews      5 grams per oz              21 grams per cup

Walnuts        4.3 grams per oz           18 grams per cup

Macadamia  2.2 grams per oz           11 grams per cup

Pistachio       6 grams per oz             25 grams per cup

Pecans         2.6 grams per oz           13 grams per cup

Chia seeds   4.7 grams per oz           33 grams per cup

Flax seeds    1 tablespoon 1.3 gm     31 grams per cup

Sunflower seeds                                29 grams per cup

Pumpkin seeds                                  12 grams per cup

Sesame seeds                                   26 grams per cup

By looking at the above list you get the idea that if you eat a bountiful meal of grains, vegetables, nuts and seeds you get more than enough protein. This should be motivation along with being healthful to lower the quantity of meat sources of protein without fear of wasting away from protein malnutrition. Look at the amount of  food you could eat to be completely full for about the same calories and same protein. You would get away with less harmful fat by varying your protein sources. In addition, vegetable protein comes with heart protecting  anti inflammatory properties.

Which do you think is a more healthful way to get the same protein?  One burger or a cup of good grains with vegetables, beans and seeds? Which has more fiber? Is filled with more good vitamins? Has a more anti inflammatory effect? Which plate of food will harm your heart and blood vessels less? Help your digestive system more and help prevent colon cancer ? All this and still get enough muscle building protein?

If you know the answer to all these questions you are a step closer to being Healthful

“Vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds is what’s for dinner!”

Warren Krantz MD, FAAP

Future blogs will detail healthy protein rich meals and servings of healthy protein filled foods.

Label reading part 2

Advance label reading

Getting down to the fine print. Figuring out what is real in the ingredients


Magnify and look closely at the label above. 

Ingredients – this is the most important part of the labeling . It is often in small print and hidden on a corner or remote part of the container. I go straight to this section of the label when looking at packages and reviewing the quality for patient’s. This is where the real names and chemicals , compounds, preservatives, taste enhancers, thickeners, food coloring are hidden and can almost be deciphered. . Any multi-syllabic and hyphenated chemical compound additive you cannot pronounce is listed here . Words and phrases such as starch, to preserve freshness, and flavor additives with numbers are some of the content listed here.

Things to look out for in this section that are not good for you or your children:

Protein- soy protein isolates ( chemically processed soy)

Vegetable oil- as unhealthy processed oils such as palm oil, soy oil, and other unnatural oils. Examples of good oils are organic unprocessed olive, safflower or canola if any oil.

Amino acids- have salt

Starch- another word for corn starch, modified corn starch,  and unnatural fillers.

Sweeteners – corn sweeteners , high fructose corn syrup, rice sugar, maltose. An acceptable sweetener is with real organic fruit juice.

Fiber- Should be from good real plant sources not cellulose which can be from wood pulp even though they can list it as vegetable fiber. Not a source of fiber you would choose to eat if you had a choice.

Chemical additives- words with any number, for color, for freshness, for taste, preservative should be a SOS for an unnatural product.

Nutrition facts – making the deception complete- This is the part of the label with the percentages of RDA ingredients. The real facts are in the small print ingredients and very small print the asterisk

Oil is fat . Good bad or otherwise, plain and simple. It does not add any food value to the package. What is the percentage of saturated to unsaturated. Unsaturated is better. Select as little saturated as possible. Really want to keep the number for processed foods to 3 gm. There are a number of natural real foods with high fat but these are whole plant foods with unsaturated fat.

Salt or sodium, The lower the better on the package. As close to zero as possible but shoot for under 100 or less at least. The daily allowance sodium has been moved to 1500 from 2,000 for optimal health. Add it up per serving size. Products often have upwards of 500 mg per serving using salt as a preservative and to hide processed unnatural flavors.

Sugar- cane sugar, brown sugar, sweeteners, chemicals sugar substitutes. Want no added sugar. Actually would prefer for the sugar number to reflect only the natural sugar in the food itself. For instance fruit sugar from the fruit itself will account for the grams of sugar let’s say an apple has natural fructose or fruit sugar, but the label will not say any other sugar added by not saying cane sugar, or natural brown sugar etc..Sweetened with fruit juice with a low sugar number 3-5 gm is an acceptable form of sugar added.

Protein- the recommended daily allowance is 56 gram of protein for  a man and 46 grams of protein for a woman in a day. ( Even though many health experts recommend less) The number here is not particularly helpful without knowing the source. Not all protein is the same or healthy.

Fiber – good sources of natural fiber have at least 3- 5 gm of fiber. The source, see above, will be crucial.

Cholesterol- related to the fat, a new notation on the box, convincing you the product is healthy if it does not have direct cholesterol. But your body can still turn fats and oils into cholesterol. So this number has very little value other than marketing. Low cholesterol is not synonymous with healthy.

Potassium – is good for many of your body function especially heart and blood vessels but the best source if from natural food.The number on processed food is not very important.

Carbohydrates- another new catch phrase for health. The number does not indicate anything of significance. There are good and bad carbs. Equating the absolute number with any reason to buy a package is not meaningful

Portion size. Listed at the very top of the nutrition facts is crucial in understanding how many calories per serving or how much fat or protein for a meal. The portion size could be only 1/4 or 1/2  of what you perceive as a serving  How many nutrients , calories, fat per the real serving size is what counts.

Vitamin fortified-how do they do this . Are these vitamins necessary for your health. Is the form in this package even useful for you or healthy for that matter? . Wouldn’t it be better to get these vitamins from real fruits and vegetables?

HealthfulMD message : In this constantly changing battle with packaging information it is difficult to tell what is really healthy for you and your family. The only true way to make sure what you put in your mouth has not been altered , modified, or preserved it to buy real foods and organic products as much as possible. Once a food source passes through factory processing of any sort the name change game begins and you are playing poker with altered “food products”. Make sure you use due diligence in selecting any food you purchase.


Warren Krantz MD, FAAP


Food labeling part 1



The good the bad and ugly of food package labeling and how to figure out what is the real good.

I review food package labels daily for patients through texted photos. When reading packaging more often than not they become confused with the message on the front of the packaging. It seems as though the main purpose of the labeling is to distract us and lead us to believe the contents of the food packaging is healthier than it is. When I get contacted to approve the ingredients as healthy or appropriate I always ask them to turn the package around and send a photo of the nutritional facts and ingredients.  This misinformation campaign requires detective work to decipher the real health content of the packaging in order to make the healthiest choice. This blog post and the next one that will follow will hopefully guide you in analyzing labels. usually a term reserved for a distress signal but I will be using this as a catchphrase for a warning regarding foods and ingredients that are not really “healthful”.-Salt-Oil-Sugar is going to be used to bring awareness when selecting foods for yourself and your family. The closer you get to eliminating SOS the closer you are to nutritional health. Generally these three unhealthy ingredients-salt,oil, sugar are manipulated to change the taste of a food with deceptive labeling exchanging one for higher levels of the other. Low sugar may have higher salt. Low fat would have high sugar. And most oils are responsible for excess and unnecessary fat in foods with no nutritional benefit other than taste.. And all this is without even discussing the new fake fats and sugars, and artificial flavors and colors to imitate your favorite tastes and textures.


                                                  Breaking the packaging code:

Front label and packaging -Is where the deceptive marketing takes place to get your attention in hopes of influencing your decision to purchase the food product without further investigation. Oftentimes the practice uses misleading wording and a confusing message to make you think it is a healthier product inside the package than it really is. This includes wording such as “natural” or ” real”, “ recommended protein”, “organic”, “low fat”, “sugar free”, “gluten free”, “ fiber”, “whole grain”, “ vegetable oil”,  “heart healthy”.

Nutritional highlights, which includes main nutritional information you want to see,  is placed prominently on the front packaging to sway you from looking at the rest of the labeling.

Deceptive language: Terms to be aware of when selecting a healthy product!

Natural or real– really has no meaning. It is allowed for manufacturers to write “natural” because the product starts off natural , but it does no legally mean anything else added to the package is natural. It does not represent unprocessed. And it certainly does not mean organic, or preservative or chemical free. This is legal and the FDA is looking at changing the law. But for now natural usually means very unnatural.

Protein – does not mean good protein like the whole grain or natural source they try to get you to believe. There usually is added processed protein sources to fulfill that packed with the alleged good protein pitched amount.

Organic- even the term organic can be misleading by having an organic ingredient like organic salt, or sugar, but not everything has to be organic to say “ made with organic ingredients “

Free range– chicken or beef. Does not mean what you think. We visualize chicken roaming free in an idyllic rolling hills. But it only means the chicken have to be let outside or even have real sunlight for brief period each day.

Gluten free – the latest catch phrase to make you think it is healthy . But many products are already gluten free. Like fruit, vegetables, etc. Gluten free is now the main packaging distractor from all the other additives like sugar, salt, and fat .

Fat labeling- unsaturated, low fat, etc. some are good , but usually another bait and switch for health. There is always something else they add. Once again sugar, salt, or chemicals. Check the total fat. There might be more unsaturated fats but the overall saturated fats might be the same.

Heart health- all they have to do is add any fiber products, healthy or unhealthy ones. or vegetable oil , or whole grain part and they can say heart healthy.

Fiber- generally connotes something healthy for your heart and gastrointestinal system. But this number and comment makes very little distinction between healthy natural fiber and processed fiber like plant cellulose ( wood has plant cellulose).

Vegetable oil- this is prominent message making you believe it is good vegetable or soy oil. But this often can mean processed Palm, and soy oil neither of which is particularly healthy!

Salt content ( low salt)- may have substitutes such as “ amino acids” which itself has sodium or other forms of sodium like sea salt which is sold as healthier form of salt.

Low or no carbohydrate- does not really indicate any healthier value to a food in the package. Only recently included to make it seemingly trendy and healthier.

GMO free– can mean some of the ingredients are gmo free. The FDA is trying to pass laws to tighten the loopholes for GMO labeling once again read the fine print.

Nutritional highlights- usually on top or bottom corner of the container. It’s purpose here is to tell you what they want you to think. There is a good amount of protein, fiber, grain, carb, etc. But this gives you no information regarding the type or source of these. They are hoping you do not need to look further at the fine print and believe then

Healthful MD message: The closer you can get to real honest to goodness natural – from the ground untouched and unprocessed the better. Spend a few extra minutes evaluating the ingredients from top to bottom front and back of a package.

Convenience usually comes with a price both financially and healthfully !

Environmental conscience- every time you recognize the additives in packaging have come at an environmental cost and choose to make a healthier selection you are indirectly influencing the company’s choice of what to add and hopefully alter where they get their products.

Part 2 of advanced label reading will deal with what is in the small print and ingredients.
Warren Krantz MD, FAAP