Cactus (Nopalitos): Why Fresh is Better than Pickled, by J.D. Meyer

I’ve been a major fan of sliced cactus (nopalitos) for many years.
I’d compare the flavor and texture to a cross between a bell pepper or
poblano pepper and okra. Admittedly, I’ve never bothered to buy the
whole pad from the vegetable section of the grocery store and carve
the quills out of them in my kitchen. However, usually I get the pickled
variety in a jar, and I save the jars for leftovers. Fresh bags of sliced
nopalitos in the vegetable section are confined to Mexican grocery
stores—such as La Michoacana. Cactus (Nopalitos) seems to find its
way to restaurants/taquerias either with beef fajitas or scrambled eggs
in a breakfast taco.

Finally, I read the nutritional information from two empty bags of
fresh nopalitos, and two jars from pickled nopalitos. The nutritional
data is staggering. Vinegar and salt deplete nutrients!
Let’s start by looking at that fresh bag of sliced cactus by Latin
Specialties. One cup contains the following: Calcium—39%,
Potassium—17%, Vitamin A—22%, Vitamin C—36%, Dietary
Fiber—20%, Iron–8%, Sodium—2%, Protein—6%, Carbohydrate—3% &
Fat—0%. The statistics for Ortega’s Nopalitos are virtually the same,
except the Potassium amount is unknown.

On the other hand, let’s look at the convenient pickled cactus in a
jar. Two tablespoons of Dona Maria Nopalitos has no Calcium, no
Potassium, Vitamin A—2%, no Vitamin C, no Dietary Fiber, no Iron,
Sodium—23%, No Protein, Carbohydrate nor Fat. Meanwhile, a half
cup of El Mexicano Nopalitos has the following: Calcium—5%, no
Potassium, no Vitamin A, no Vitamin C, no Dietary Fiber, Iron—6%,
Sodium—21%, Protein—2%, Carbohydrate—1% & Fat—0%.

Blood Cancer Research Annotated Link Page—Including Eastern & Natural Medicine By J.D. Meyer

1. Three Kinds of Blood Cancer: (1) Leukemia, (2) Lymphoma, and (3) Myeloma.

2. “Treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia from traditional Chinese medicine.” Highlights from Abstract: “Methotrexate (MTX) is a drug used in the treatment of various cancer and autoimmune diseases……Therefore, MTX can inhibit the synthesis of DNA. However, MTX has cytotoxicity and neurotoxin may cause multiple organ injury and is potentially lethal…..Our results show that the TCM compounds adenosine triphosphate, manninotriose, raffinose, and stachyose could have potential to improve the side effects of MTX for ALL treatment.”

3. “ATP is a complex organic chemical that provides energy to drive many processes in living cells, e.g. muscle contraction, nerve impulse propagation, chemical synthesis. Found in all forms of life, ATP is often referred to as the “molecular unit of currency” of intracellular energy transfer.[1] When consumed in metabolic processes, it converts either to adenosine diphosphate (ADP) or to adenosine monophosphate (AMP). Other processes regenerate ATP so that the human body recycles its own body weight equivalent in ATP each day.[2] It is also a precursor to DNA and RNA, and is used as a coenzyme.”

4. TREATMENT OF LEUKEMIA USING INTEGRATED CHINESE AND WESTERN MEDICINE, by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon. Highlight: “While specific nutritional approaches have not been developed for leukemia, certain general methods can be applied:
a. Make sure the individual is receiving adequate basic dietary nutrients, such as proteins, fats (preferably unsaturated), and carbohydrates. Monitor body weight and muscle strength, and take further action if there is not improvement, including recommending easy-to-use concentrated nutrition sources.
b. Provide additional nutrients and a high level of antioxidants using supplements (11). General anticancer substances may be tried, including flavonoids (quercetin, genestein, tea polyphenols), minerals (selenium), and vitamins (high dose vitamins A, C, and E). Even if these fail to produce a cancer-inhibiting action, they may provide other benefits for persons in the age group that suffers from chronic leukemia.
c. When possible, use Oriental dietary techniques to match the dietary components to the symptom/sign pattern (12). For example, use cooling foods for fevers, astringent foods for sweating, yin-nourishing foods for yin deficiency patterns, etc. Make sure the suggestions include using foods that can reasonably be obtained and prepared.”

5. Highlight: “Their analysis found that there was a significant decrease in leukemia risk as the vegetable intake was increased. Interestingly, they did not see a significant raised risk from red meat, poultry, fish, or fruits. The primary factors in elevating the risk were frequent intakes of “fat, deep-fried, and smoked” foods. They concluded that “diets rich in vegetables and adequate amount of milk reduce the risk of adult leukemia.

6. “The Top 10 Health Benefits of Turmeric (Plus, How To Use It In Everything).” The most relevant benefits vs. cancer are probably #3 “Turmeric helps boost your immune system” & #5. “Turmeric can help treat and prevent cancer.”

FOOTNOTE (Initial Reaction): “I’m sorry to hear of your father’s illness. If my health research turns up anything, I’ll let you know. CoQ10 is great for cardiovascular diseases, and Dr. Peter Langsjoen of Tyler is one of the major authorities on CoQ10 in the world! But that may not apply for cancer.”

SOL Tuesday: Shopping at Family Dollar for a Low-Fat/Low-Sodium Cardiac Diet (2nd Edition)

I spent a half week at the East Texas Medical Center (ETMC) Cardiac floor for COPD & hypertension. I’m on disability for COPD and asthma. Usually, my blood pressure isn’t bad, but in it was in mid-September 2016. It was my first overnight stay in a hospital in five years. Previously, I’d assumed my diet was okay because I eat a balanced diet. I’m no carnivore, for I like grain, vegetables/fruits, and dairy. My diet is if I see food, I eat it. Recently, I’d become aware of anti-inflammatory foods to cope with my Asthma-COPD Overlap Syndrome (ACOS). Foods that Fight Inflammation Later at the annual Northeast Texas Community Health Worker (CHW) Coalition conference in July 2019, we heard that grocery store tours–including how to shop at a dollar store–are available in some sectors. That lecture was “Meeting your clients where they are to promote healthy changes,” by Ardis Reed.

So I’ve been shopping with memories of the Cardiac Diet in my mind. Now, I check all foods for saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. I made sure I bought Mrs. Dash, the salt substitute, for starters. Texas Pete, a Louisiana type hot sauce, makes the cut with only 3% sodium per tsp. Texas Pete is the hot sauce for Church’s Chicken too.

Cheese was on the not-there list at the hospital. So I surveyed all the cheese at Family Dollar. Much to my amusement, the lowest fat/lowest sodium cheese is the cheapest generic cheese in Family Dollar! It’s simply called, Singles, an “imitation pasteurized process cheese food.” Saturated fat is 5% and sodium is 9% per slice, and the package has 16 slices for a mere $1.25! However, it didn’t melt well, so I’ve tried Shredded Velveeta at 10% saturated fat, and it tastes way better. Then I found delicious, generic shredded Mexican 4 Cheese Blend with a comparable low-level of saturated fat; the four cheeses are Monterrey Jack, cheddar, asadero,and queso quesadilla. But the winner of the low saturated fat award for cheese goes to Family Dollar’s Salsa con Queso with only 4% saturated fat in a 2 tablespoon serving. Plus it’s ready for dipping whether you heat it or not.

Unfortunately, that delicious slab of generic dark chocolate is off-the-scale for saturated fat at 41%! Hershey’s with Almonds has a staggering 71% saturated fat for the day. But all is not lost, Family Dollar chocolate syrup has no saturated fat! Here’s a pleasant surprise. Snack-Pack Chocolate Caramel Pudding has only 8% saturated fat and 5% sodium per cup. Furthermore, a four cup package only costs $1 at Family Dollar.

My beloved Family Dollar Sweet & Salty Peanut Granola Bars are OK at 10% saturated fat and 7% sodium per bar. Those peanut granola bars are so good with beer! Another generic granola bar favorite is Dark Chocolate-Peanut Butter Protein Chewy Bars. They’re a bit high in fat at 15% saturated fat, together with 7% sodium per bar. Snicker’s Ice Cream has only 15% saturated fat and 3% sodium for a half-cup–another mega-relief! I had to indulge myself on Halloween but within reason. So I bought a package of 6 “Fun-Size” Snickers bars. Two bars have 15% saturated fat and 3% sodium

Margaret Holmes Seasoned Collard Greens have 16% sodium per half cup, but a staggering 130% of your daily Vitamin A, and of course, no saturated fat. Family Dollar Diced Tomatoes have no fat and 8% sodium per half cup. Both are considered anti-inflammatory foods.

Dean’s Zesty Guacamole Dip from Brookshire’s–Tyler, Texas’s major grocery store– has 15% saturated fat and 8% sodium per 2 tbsp serving. Speaking of other favorite grocery stores, Granvita Ganola from La Michoacana only has 4% saturated fat and 1% sodium per serving. I also mix horchata (cinnamon rice milk powder) with low-fat milk from Meals-on-Wheels. Horchata only contains 3% saturated fat per 4 ounces, and I only need a tablespoon, as I mix the half-pint of milk with a half-pint of water. La Michoacana is the leading chain Mexican grocery store in Texas. Hey, sometimes I catch the bus instead of walking a block.

Sardines–my favorite seafood in a can–tomato, mustard, plain; which is the healthiest choice? Pampa Sardines in Tomato Sauce wins with 5% saturated fat, 11% sodium, and 15% cholesterol. Furthermore, a serving has 20% of daily Vitamin A. A 15 ounce sardines-&-tomatoes can has seven servings, and it’s only $1.75! Our sardines are a product of China that’s distributed by a Miami company. I love globalization. Alas, sardines in mustard sauce–my former favorite–finishes last in my health measures with 15% saturated fat, 17% sodium, and 20% cholesterol.

Peanut butter is a mandatory fixture in my pantry, so let’s check it out. Value Time Creamy Peanut Butter (a generic) has 15% sat. fat & 6% sodium in a 2 tbsp serving size. Total fat is far higher at 25%, not a common large gap between total fat and saturated fat. Gold Emblem Crunchy Peanut Butter has 12% sat. fat & 6% sodium per 2 tbsp serving size with 23% total fat. I bought my crunchy peanut butter at CVS Pharmacy. Did you hear CVS bought out Medicine Chest? Peanuts show a range of saturated fat/sodium, depending on the seasonings. Japanese peanuts win with only 11% saturated fat & 9% sodium. Honey peanuts contain 17% saturated fat and 5% sodium. Meanwhile, the two spicy peanuts clock in at 20% saturated fat & 15% sodium and 17% saturated fat and 14% sodium.

CONCLUSION: Hopefully, you liked my analysis of some key favorite foods–mostly from Family Dollar. I’m no health professional, just a disabled Developmental English and ESOL (mostly)teacher. However, I’m certainly going to research what I eat from now on, and I seem to be improving. Furthermore, I can guarantee another revision with a sat.fat/sodium analysis of more food. Moreover, I no longer buy generic CoQ10 at the dollar store, but get the CVS Pharmacy choices– such as gummies and Qunol CoQ10. I was glad to pass this article to a Family Dollar employee, who had some heart issues about a month before I got sick. Don’t you feel sorry for those who live in food deserts? Some apartment complexes in town aren’t close to any stores–let alone hospitals, pharmacy, and a pulmonology clinic. We’re really happy to have a dollar store–Family Dollar–in this neighborhood: Midtown (aka. Hospital District), Tyler, Texas. Technically, most would consider a grocery store to be a far more valid dodge of food desert classification than a mere dollar store. But a dollar store is way better than nothing or mere snacks at a gas station.

SOL15–Better Breathers Luncheon for June 2015: “Making Healthy Nutrition Choices” at Trinity Mother Frances

Today’s Better Breather luncheon topic was about making healthy eating choice; it was delivered by Tami-the-Dietitian. The Better Breathers luncheons are for those with lung and/or heart disease. First of all, we received a fine three-page handout, “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Nutrition Therapy”” {Note: To copy and paste this link won’t prevent you from mysteriously going to the home page of this site, so I complained to them via email. An Internet search for this article was fruitless too–bizarre}.

Those of with COPD may be too heavy or too skinny, so it’s a somewhat complicated issue. Several small meals is a great idea because digesting food requires oxygen. We need food high in calories, protein, and fiber–but low in fats, sugar, and salt. Our dinner plate should be half fresh vegetables, 1/4 starch, and 1/4 lean meat with fruit and milk on the side. A 3-5 ounce steak portion is good. We should eat nine servings of vegetables (non-starchy) and fruit per day. If you’re more likely to eat canned vegetables like me, then rinse them to get rid of some salt. Salt can hurt one’s breathing. Frying food in oil is bad because of fat. Olive oil is the best oil. Carbohydrates turn into sugar during digestion– a reason for the complex carbohydrates.

Choosing colorful vegetables is a good rule–stuff like greens, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and zucchini. I was glad to hear good reports on three of my favorites: sweet potatoes (lots of nutrients), peanut butter (unsaturated fat, high protein)and granola ( if not high-calorie and fat). Two tablespoons of peanut butter per day is enough. Unfortunately, staying under the 1500 mg of salt per day is almost impossible. Substitute garlic powder when possible. Bananas are good because they are high in fiber and potassium, but one banana has 120 calories. A fruit serving is considered 60 calories.

Milk actually has salt and buttermilk is worse; its creaminess can cause phlegm. I mentioned horchata, a Mexican rice milk with cinnamon. Usually, it’s in powder form in a zip-lock bag; mix a tablespoon in glass of water. Soybean milk is less fatty too.

Our moderator, Debbie Germany, gave us some tips after Tami-the-Dietitian left. She said a fresh fruit bag that we keep in the ‘frig is excellent. A fruit bag can have strawberries, grapes, and cantaloupe. Plus, cold fruit can cool you down in the summer. Smoothies can be wonderful; add some yogurt. I gave Tami my note about horchata on her way out. Later, I gave a note about nopalitos (cactus) to Debbie. Cactus can be pickled in ajar or fresh, and it’s great vs. diabetes or to reduce the impact of sugar in one’s diet.

I’ve written articles about our Better Breather luncheons with speakers in the past, but this time was extra special for two reasons. First of all, I was asked to write the article because I just started volunteering at East Texas Council for Independent Living (ETCIL)! ETCIL helps physically or mentally impaired individuals, so they can live at home. I’m not only a new volunteer but a client for three years because of my raggedy lungs. Secondly, I’ve researched and written about the suggested COPD Diet in the past.