(First half of how to read multivitamin labels was posted on October 10th.)
A few of the most common additives found in supplements include:
- stearic acid
- soybean oil
- potassium sorbate
- silicon dioxide
- citric acid
- titanium dioxide
- soy lecithin
- magnesium stearate
Supplements may also contain artificial colors, sweeteners, or flavorings, all of which will also be indicated on the label.
According to the FDA, the terms “natural” and “all natural” refer to products that don’t contain any artificial or synthetic ingredients, including artificial flavors or colors. However, keep in mind that use of the term “natural” is not strictly enforced in the United States. Therefore, it’s still important to check the ingredients label to look for synthetic ingredients.
Supplements can be marketed as organic, as long as they comply with the regulations of the National Organic Program and contain herbs, vitamins, or minerals derived from organic plants or animals.
Organic plants are grown without the use of any genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or prohibited substances, including synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Meanwhile, “organic” animals are fed organic feed and not administered hormones or antibiotics. Certified organic products typically have a green seal with the USDA logo on the packaging.
Some products are referred to as “food-based” or “whole food” supplements. These supplements are usually made using a concentrated blend of food substances that have been dehydrated. While this may sound like a good option for health-conscious consumers, it’s important to note that this is not necessarily a good indicator of quality. In fact, food-based or whole food supplements often contain synthetic ingredients, including additives, fillers, and flavorings.
Some supplements are advertised as GMO-free or non-GMO, meaning that they’re produced without any genetically modified ingredients. I highly recommend that you limit or avoid consumption of GMO ingredients due to concerns about food allergies, antibiotic resistance, and their potential long-term health effects. Look for the seal of the The Non-GMO Project, a non-profit organization that verifies that ingredients are non-GMO.
To ensure you’re getting a high quality supplement, look for products that provide a COA (Certificate of Authenticity), have undergone third-party testing, and are certified by organizations like USP or NSF International.
Keep in mind that ingredients on a label are listed in order of predominance, with those that are present in the highest amounts listed first.
This is Part Two of the list of ingredients usually found on in your multivitamin. (Part One was published a couple of weeks ago.)
- Iron – Men and postmenopausal women need only 8 mg. Premenopausal women should get the DV of 18 mg. More isn’t better. There is no way to know if you have genes that lead your body to store excess iron (hemochromatosis), which may raise your risk of cirrhosis, liver cancer, or diabetes.
- Magnesium – The DV increased from 400 mg to 420 mg. About half of Americans get too little, which may raise the risk of type 2 diabetes. Leafy greens, beans, whole grains, and nuts are the best sources. Few multis have more than 100 mg. and many have less. More than 350mg from supplements, but not foods, can cause diarrhea and stomach cramps.
- Vitamin C – The DV rose from 60mg to 90 mg. Many Americans get too little vitamin C from their food. Smokers need 125 mg a day because smoking creates extra cell-damaging free radicals. Taking more than 1,000 mg a day may cause kidney stones in men, and more than 2,000 mg a day may cause stomach distress.
- Vitamin E – The DV dropped from 30IU to 15 mg (24 IU). High doses of vitamin E may not be safe. In a large trial, men who took 400 IU a day for 5.5 years had a 17 percent higher risk of prostate cancer. Look for a multi with no more than 80 IU. Good sources from foods: nuts, oils, and leafy greens.
- Vitamin K – The DV jumped from 80 mcg to 120 mcg. Most multis have less because vitamin K can interfere with blood-thinning drugs like warfarin (Coumadin). If you are taking a blood thinner, check with your doctor about adjusting the dose before you start (or stop) taking a multivitamin. Or leave vitamin K off the multi vitamin label and eat leafy greens.
- Folate – The new DV is 400 mcg Dietary Folate Equivalents, DFE. Supplements will also list the old units – mg or mcg. The DFE accounts for our ability to absorb the folic acid that is added to supplements and fortified foods better than the folate that occurs naturally in foods. CAUTION: Women who could become pregnant should take a supplement with 400 mcg of folic acid (680 DFE) to reduce the risk of birth defects like spina bifida, which can occur before a woman knows that she is pregnant. If a multi has 100% of the DV, that is equal to 235 mcg of folic acid, and that is not enough.
- Calcium – The DV rose form 1,000 milligrams to 1,300mg. That is based on what children aged 9-18 need. Premenopausal women and men up to age 70 need 1,000 mg. Postmenopausal women and men over 70 need 1,200 mg. many multis have 200-300 mg and that might be enough to get you the DV. Most people get plenty of calcium from their diet. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards, kale, mustard greens, Swiss chard, and other greens are loaded with highly absorbable calcium.
- Phosphorus – The DV is 1,250 mg. Most people get plenty from grains and fortified non-dairy products. Too much phosphorus may raise the risk of heart and kidney disease. Look for a multi with little or none.
- Zinc, Copper – The DV for zinc dropped from 15 mg to 11 mg, and the DV for copper dropped from 2 mg to 0.9 mg. Too much zinc (more than 40 mg from food and supplements combined) can make it harder to absorb copper.
- Potassium – The DV is 3,400 mg for men and 2,600 mg for women. Potassium can help lower blood pressure, but your typical multi only has 80 mg. Fruits and vegetables are your best sources – oranges, kidney beans, soya beans, adzuki beans, lentils, tempeh, potatoes (old, new and sweet potatoes), dried fruit (apricots and figs), acorn and butternut squash, avocado, spinach, broccoli and bananas.
- Choline – Pregnant women need 450 mg a day.
- Nickel, Silicon, Tin, Vanadium – There is little evidence that we need more than the traces that we get from our food.
Parsley is an annual herb thought to have originated in the Mediterranean and is now cultivated all around the world.
There are two basic parsley types: one with curly, crinkly leaves and the more familiar Italian parsley, which has flat leaves. Italian parsley is considered to be stronger while the curly type is used for garnishing, but aside from being a garnishing ingredient or a food additive, parsley has been used in traditional and folk medicine.
Parsley is known to be a carminative, gastro tonic, diuretic, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.
Parsley is an ingredient in a bouquet garni, or a “garnished bouquet”, consisting of sprigs of parsley, thyme and bay leaves tied together and is used to flavor stock or soups. They’re usually left in the pot to simmer. Parsley is also a good companion for foods with strong flavors like capers and olives.
A 2002 study from the Journal of Ethnopharmacology showed that parsley tea may be beneficial for patients with kidney stones as it increases urine output. In addition, parsley helps alleviate colic through its anti-inflammatory properties, as shown in a 2017 study from the Journal of Medical Science and Clinical Research.
Parsley contains a unique collection of compounds and volatile oils, including myristicin, apiol, alpha-pinene, sabinene, limonene and eugenol. Eugenol is used in dentistry as a local anesthetic and antiseptic. A 2016 study from Scientific Reports also found that eugenol reduces blood glucose levels by up to 38%. The phenolic compounds and antioxidants parsley contains include apiin, apigenin and 6″-Acetylapiin. All these components contribute to parsley’s antioxidant, hepatoprotective, neuroprotective, analgesic and antibacterial properties.
A 1/2 cup (30 grams) of fresh, chopped parsley provides.
- Calories: 11 calories
- Carbs: 2 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: less than 1 gram
- Fiber: 1 gram
- Vitamin A: 108% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin C: 53% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 547% of the RDI
- Folate: 11% of the RDI
- Potassium: 4% of the RDI
Parsley also contains iron which is important for oxygen transportation throughout the body. Copper is another mineral abundant in parsley. This mineral is important because it’s required by the body for growth, cardiovascular integrity and iron metabolism, with copper deficiency leading to anemia, hypothermia and cardiac hypertrophy. Parsley also contains trace amounts of manganese, which is crucial for bone formation and amino acid and lipid metabolism.
Parsley is useful as a digestive aid with its high fiber content. Fiber helps decrease the risk for cardiovascular or digestive diseases and reduces the time for intestinal transit, controls cholesterol and glycemic levels and supports intestinal flora.
Parsley is rich in many vitamins, particularly vitamin K, which is needed for blood clotting and bone health. Some studies suggest that eating foods high in vitamin K may reduce your risk of fractures. One study found that higher vitamin K intake was associated with a 22% lower risk of fractures. Vitamin K helps build stronger bones by supporting bone-building cells called osteoblasts. This vitamin also activates certain proteins that increase bone mineral density, a measure of the amount of minerals present in your bones. Bone density is important especially in older adults, as a lower bone mineral density is associated with an increased risk of fractures.
The main antioxidants in parsley are:
- vitamin C
This herb is particularly rich in a class of antioxidants known as flavonoids. The two main flavonoids include myricetin and apigenin. Studies show that diets rich in flavonoids may lower your risk of conditions, including colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
In a 2015 review, apigenin, found in parsley, was shown to decrease tumor size in an aggressive form of breast cancer. Researchers believe that apigenin could be a promising non-toxic cancer treatment in the future. The myricetin present in parsley has also been examined for use in the treatment and prevention of diabetes. Myricetin can lower blood sugar levels and decrease insulin resistance. It also appears to provide anti-inflammatory effects and remove excess fat from the blood.
Parsley is rich in flavonoid antioxidants and vitamin C, which reduce oxidative stress in your body and may lower your risk of certain cancers. Vitamin C also plays an important role in supporting immune health and protecting against chronic disease. High dietary intake of flavonoids may reduce colon cancer risk by up to a 30%. A 1/2 cup (30 grams) of parsley provides 53% of the RDI for vitamin C. One study found that increasing vitamin C by 100 mg per day reduced the risk of overall cancer by 7%. Moreover, increasing dietary vitamin C by 150 mg per day may lower prostate cancer risk by up to 21%.
Interestingly, dried parsley may be higher in antioxidants than fresh sprigs. In fact, one study found that the dried herb had 17 times more antioxidant content than its fresh counterpart.
Lutein, beta carotene, and zeaxanthin are three carotenoids in parsley that help protect your eyes and promote healthy vision. Carotenoids are pigments found in plants that have powerful antioxidant activity.
The beta carotene in parsley is another carotenoid that supports eye health. This carotenoid can be converted into vitamin A in your body. This conversion of beta carotene explains why parsley is rich in vitamin A. A 1/2 cup of freshly chopped leaves provides 108% of the RDI for this vitamin. Vitamin A is essential for eye health, as it helps protect the outermost layer of your eye, the cornea, as well as the conjunctiva, the thin membrane covering the front of your eye and the inside of your eyelids.
Parsley is a good source of the B vitamin folate. A 1/2 cup (30 grams) provides 11% of the RDI.
High intakes of dietary folate may reduce heart disease risk in certain populations. A large study in over 58,000 people found that the highest intake of folate was associated with a 38% reduced risk of heart disease. Conversely, low intake of folate may increase your risk of heart disease. One study in 1,980 men observed a 55% increase in heart disease risk in those with the lowest intake of this nutrient.
Some experts hypothesize that folate benefits heart health by lowering levels of the amino acid homocysteine. High homocysteine levels have been linked to a higher risk of heart disease in some studies. Homocysteine may negatively affect heart health by altering the structure and function of your arteries.
Parsley may have antibacterial benefits when used as an extract. A test-tube study demonstrated that the extract showed significant antibacterial activity against yeast, molds, and a common, infection-causing bacteria known as S. aureus .The extract may also prevent the growth of bacteria in food. Another test-tube study found it prevented the growth of potentially harmful bacteria, such as Listeria and Salmonella which cause food poisoning.
Because parsley is a rich source of vitamin K, supplying almost twice the daily requirement for all adults in just 10 sprigs, eating too much parsley, can interfere with blood-thinning medications. Also, if you have kidney stones made of calcium oxalate, you need to follow a low-oxalate diet. Parsley is a high-oxalate food, with more than 10 milligrams per 100 grams, which is a little more than 1 1/2 cups. So, large servings should be avoided, says University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
How to Buy
One of the greatest things about parsley is that it can be found almost anywhere, fresh or dried. It is also easy to grow and perfect for the home garden. Fresh parsley adds texture, color, and a burst of clean flavor. Though it takes twelve pounds of fresh parsley to make one pound of dried parsley, dried parsley is still the most commonly used form of the herb. Fresh is always best, but dried is good to have in your spice cabinet.
How to Store
One advantage of using dried parsley over fresh is when it comes to storing the herb. Fresh parsley only lasts about two weeks when kept in the refrigerator. Sprinkling the leaves with a small amount of water and storing in linen bag or tea towel usually works best. On the other hand, dried parsley stores for a much longer time. As long as dried parsley is kept in an airtight container it will retain its flavor for approximately one year.
Another method for storing parsley is freezing it. This is the best method if you have parsley in your herb garden and end up with more than you can use. Parsley can be frozen chopped and stored in freezer bags, or it can also be chopped and mixed with water and frozen in ice cube trays. Either method will keep up to six months.
How to Cook
Parsley has a light scent and fresh taste and can be used in anything from soups to sauces to vegetables. In Middle Eastern cuisine, parsley is one of the main ingredients in dishes such as tabbouleh, a salad using quinoa, mint, parsley, and vegetables, and is the main herb used in stuffing for grape leaves. As a garnish, parsley can be chopped and sprinkled in soups and hummus.
Panko-Crusted Cauliflower and Coconut Curry
Bryant Terry / Bryant Terry photo credit
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
- 1 cup finely diced yellow onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 11/2 teaspoons Garam Masala (you can buy this pre-made or see a recipe below)
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 (14-ounce) can organic diced tomatoes, with their juices
- 1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
- 2 large cauliflower heads (about 2 pounds each), leaves removed and stems trimmed so they sit flat
- 11/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
- 1/2 cup Garlic Oil, plus Garlic Chips (see below)
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs – Kinnikinnick Bread Crumbs Panko Style Gluten Free from Vitacost
- 3/4 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
- Cooked black rice, for serving
(makes about 1/4 cup)
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted
- 11/2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted
- 11/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 11/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Combine all the ingredients in a mortar or spice grinder and grind into a fine powder. Transfer to a jar and seal tightly. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Garlic Oil and Garlic Chips
(makes 3/4 cup oil and 1/2 cup chips)
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 16 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
In a medium skillet, warm the olive oil over low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Strain the oil through fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, reserving the garlic chips. Use immediately or store in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Make the curry: In a sauté pan, warm the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and cook until they pop, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onion and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic, ginger, garam masala, chili powder, turmeric, bay leaves, and salt and sauté for 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaves, and set aside.
Place the tomatoes and their juices in a large bowl. With clean hands, squeeze the tomatoes to break them into smaller pieces. Transfer them to the pan with the onion. Add the coconut milk, then fill the coconut milk can one-quarter full with water and stir it well to incorporate any leftover coconut milk. Add this to the pan along with the cinnamon stick and mix well. Simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes, removing the cinnamon stick after 5 minutes.
Make the cauliflower: Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil over high heat. Stand one head of cauliflower on the stem end and, using a sharp chef’s knife, cut two 1-inch-thick slices, cutting through the core so the slices hold together. Repeat with the other head (reserve the unused portions for another use).
Add 1 teaspoon of the salt to the boiling water and, one at a time, use tongs to gently lower the cauliflower slices into the water. Cover and cook for 2 1/2 minutes. Using two slotted spoons, gently transfer the cauliflower slices to a colander to cool.
Gently transfer the cauliflower slices to the prepared baking sheet. Brush 1/4 cup of the garlic oil over the slices, coating them on both sides. Roast until the cauliflower is browned, about 25 minutes.
While the cauliflower is roasting, in a food processor, combine the panko, parsley, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and process until the mixture is well blended. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and pour in the remaining 1/4 cup garlic oil. Mix well.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and spoon an even coating of the panko mixture over each slice of cauliflower. Switch the oven to broil on low, return the baking sheet to the oven, and broil until the panko mixture starts to bubble and brown.
To serve, ladle the curry into four shallow bowls, place a cauliflower slice in each bowl, and garnish with the garlic chips and some parsley. Serve with black rice.