The Key to My Weight Loss

Hi Cathy, I am so happy to have found your blog; your recipes are amazing! I am 42 years old, and went vegan three years ago when I decided I didn’t want to put any more crap into my body. I started reading articles, studies, web pages and books about the negative effects of animal...

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The post The Key to My Weight Loss appeared first on Straight Up Food.

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Quinoa Curry Bowl

This quick and easy dish uses “stir fry” frozen vegetables, along with fresh ginger and garlic. Frozen veggies have come a long way, and can be a healthy and delicious meal addition. Look for 100% vegetables without any added salt or oil. Ingredients 1½ cups water ¾ cup quinoa (dry) 1 teaspoon granulated onion ½ […]

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Tarragon Toxicity?









The Safety of Tarragon

Decades ago, concern was raised about some of the components of the herb tarragon. The European Union’s Health & Consumer Protection Scientific Committee on Food concluded that one of the constituents may act as a carcinogen and damage DNA, and so recommended its use be restricted. But they were talking about an isolated chemical from tarragon being used as a flavoring agent in items like alcoholic beverages, canned fish, and fats and oils. As recently as 2011, reviews concluded that consumption of the tarragon leaves themselves should present little or no risk, but that was based on studies done on rats.

A 2012 study made me feel better, suggesting that while the isolated tarragon chemical was toxic to human liver cells, full extracts of the leaves were not, so the whole food may contain compounds that counteract the toxic effects.

I was going to leave it at that and not even do a video about it, but a 2013 study on human white blood cells reopened the question, finding that whole leaf tarragon extracts may have DNA damaging properties after all. I show the results of the comet test in my 3-min video The Safety of Tarragon.  For those scratching their heads over the significance of that red smudge, see my explanation of the comet tail test in Cancer, Interrupted: Garlic & Flavonoids.

The researchers postulate that tarragon does indeed appear to be mutagenic, however the current data is “not comprehensive enough to draw definitive conclusions regarding its potential risk to human health with sustained use.” “Nevertheless,” they warn, “future use of tarragon… should be undertaken with an awareness of the… potential toxicity.”

So what have I taken away from all this? Well my family eats tarragon so rarely that it’s probably not going to change our intake at all, but if you’re a tarragon fanatic, I’d suggest moderating your intake and substituting another herb like a dash of fennel or anise seed, or chervil, all of which have a similar licorice-like tarragon taste. The only caveat I could find for chervil is that you probably shouldn’t pick it wild, as it bears a resemblance to an herb known all too well to Socrates (poison hemlock).

For those that missed my last two videos on the safety of common spices, see Update on Cinnamon for Blood Sugar Control and Don’t Eat Too Much Nutmeg.

This new tarragon finding reminds me a bit about the in vitro data raising questions about the safety of avocados (Are Avocados Bad for You?) that thankfully appeared to not translate out in a population study. I’ll keep an eye out for new data and post to the Facebook page if I find anything. Meanwhile, there are a bunch of other reasons to avoid canned fish beyond just the potential tarragon extract toxicity:

-Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live year-in-review presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death and More Than an Apple a Day.

Image credit: Tim Dorr / Flickr

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Vinaigrette Salad Dressings

Summer is here, and it’s time to break out the fresh and fruity salad dressings! Making plant-based salad dressings free of oil, salt and sugar can be easy, especially with a template. Find one below as well as 5 vinaigrette dressing recipes. Vinaigrette dressings are beloved for their sweet, spicy and tangy combinations. They are […]

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Caesar-y Salad

Some may call it blasphemy to leave out the cheese, oil, eggs and anchovies in Caesar dressing, but this concerns me less than living life without any type of Caesar dressing at all. This creamy, garlicky, and healthy “Caesar-y Salad” is just the ticket! In addition to leaving out oil, cheese, eggs and fish, I […]

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Chickpea & Avocado Spread

This Chickpea & Avocado Spread is easy to make and is dreamy atop baked potatoes and yams, corn tortillas, green salads, or as a dip for vegetables. Fresh oregano and Meyer lemon combine in a unique flavor for a little something special. Ingredients 2 medium ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and diced 1 tablespoon Dijon or […]

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