Showing posts with label Food Info Data Advice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Food Info Data Advice. Show all posts

How to Cook Lentils From a Can - Who Knew?

Latest update: July 5, 2020
Oddly, a lot of grocery stores don't have them. If you happen to come across a store that does, give them a try.

How to cook lentils from a can. Easy.

I have never had lentils. Someone gave me a can of it. It sat in the cupboard for months.

My foot had a muscle spasm. I had been down this road before. I knew it meant I was low on the mineral potassium again. But, alas. My stockpile of lima beans and bananas were no more.

To Google I went, “What foods have high potassium?” says I.

“Lentils,” says Google.

I remembered the can in the cupboard.

Off to the nutrition page for lentils. There it was: a 731 mg reading for potassium. And a whole bunch of other stuff I was pretty sure I needed.

What is a lentil? It is a small bean. I also discovered I had to cook them.

Into the bowl the lentils went. The microwave gave them its regards for three  minutes. Two, sliced up, already microwaved, hot dogs were added. Gave the whole concoction another microwave minute. The beans were cooked and the hot dogs were mutated just the way I liked them; perfect. Added some garlic salt, figured I was low on that, too.

It was absolutely, positively delicious.

And that is how I discovered lentils.

The USDA has this to say about lentils:

The Lentil is an annual legume. Unlike dried beans, lentils do not need to be soaked before cooking. They are a vegetarian food having high protein content, and are often used in soups and casseroles.

Meanwhile, there's a new .gov website in town:

It's called ChooseMyPlate.gov. Here's their page for lentils: Lentil Stew Recipe.

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How to Make Kale Tea Recipe and Health, Digestion Warnings

Latest update: April 7, 2020
All about the amazing wonder food, kale. Includes nutrition information, salad and dinner cooking recipe information, and the recipe for kale tea.

Typical kale at the grocery store for making kale tea

This page is about kale; including nutrition and diet information (especially concerning lutein, zeaxanthin, AMD) and an extremely easy recipe for kale tea. If you are here just for the kale tea recipe, simply scroll to the green tea cup marker a little after the middle of the page. Do peruse the digestion and health notes.

What Is Kale and Availability – The Basics

Kale is a dark, green, leafy vegetable from the cabbage family; other examples being cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, etc. However, kale can also be regarded as a lettuce for the purposes of most salad recipes.

Kale is one of the foods which is often included in what might be called the super food or wonder food category. The nutritional content and the benefits derived therefrom makes this a food one wants as part of their regular diet.

In addition to it's nutritional value, there is growing evidence kale actually inhibits and can even fight some diseases; most notable of these being macular degeneration, cataracts, and some forms of cancer.

Store Availability and Forms

Any competent grocery store will have it. You can buy kale fresh and whole in the produce section. Or, if your store is doing their job right, you can buy it already in pieces, shredded, sliced, diced, minced, etc.

For a food so rich in nutritional value and benefits, the price is amazingly low. If the price isn't low, find another store.

Kale Benefits and Nutrition Data

Percentages and amounts (in milligrams) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet and 3.3 oz. kale servings. "~" is the mathematical symbol used to identify a number as an approximation.
  • Lutein and Zeaxanthin: ~600%. These are the two nutrients that have made kale famous. The body of evidence continues to mount that lutein and zeaxanthin actually inhibits and/or wards off macular degeneration. There is even some evidence lutein and zeaxanthin can reverse macular degeneration to some extent. Kale is the number one food source for lutein. Spinach is usually recognized as coming in second. You can buy lutein in pill form, but the FDA states they have not confirmed the quantity or quality of lutein in these products. The generally accepted daily dosage for lutein is 6 mg. The average American diet falls woefully short of this amount. A 3.3 oz. serving of kale has ~37 mg of lutein and zeaxanthin.
  • Beta Carotene: ~7 mg. An antioxidant, precursor that converts to vitamin A. Antioxidants are generally believed to help prevent certain kinds of cancer. Vitamin C helps the body deal with stress.
  • Potassium: 420 mg. 12%.
  • Calcium: 15%.
  • Iron: 8%.
  • Vitamin K: 950%.
  • Vitamin A: 290%.
  • Vitamin C: 190%.
  • Thiamine (Vitamin B1): 6%.
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): 8%.
  • Niacin (Vitamin B3): 4%.
  • Vitamin B6: 15%
  • Folate aka Folic Acid (Vitamin B9): 6%.
  • Phosphorus: 6%.
  • Magnesium: 8%.
  • Copper: 15%.
  • Manganese: 35%.

Kale Recipe Basics

Kale requires a little more chewing effort than the other cabbage-category items or lettuce. It also has a tendency to make a person feel full sooner than usual. One might want to adjust portions accordingly, particularly as to salads.

Salad Recipes

Kale Salad Recipes

By the simple process of adding kale to the other ingredients, pretty much any salad recipe is also a kale recipe. The only decision is how much kale to include. The more kale included, the more the kale taste and other effects are emphasized. Only you can decide how much is enough and how much is too much.

Vegetable, Stews Casseroles, Chili Recipes

Kale Hot Meal Recipes

A Surprising Note About Cooked Kale

Cooking kale almost doubles the amount of lutein metabolized. This has to do with the heating process unlocking certain components of the kale molecular structure, releasing lutein which would otherwise not be available for the digestive system. It should be mentioned that cooking/boiling/heating usually degrades the nutritional value of most food. The kale-lutein molecular structure is unusual in this respect.

Virtually all casserole, stew, hot vegetable, and chili recipes can include the addition of kale. However, with these dishes, the determining factor is how much kale do you wish to include with the existing recipe ingredients.

If the objective is one of nutrition only, then one would add only so much kale. If, however, the objective is creating a true kale casserole or true kale hot vegetable dish or stew, or chili concoction; then you would add enough to result in making kale the predominant taste. It is a matter of degree only you can decide.

In whatever case, this is where the sliced/diced/minced/max-shredded form is used. Stems and full leaves are not recommended.

Kale Chips Recipe

Kale chips are beginning to become well known. They could very well be the healthiest snack food in existence. They are easy to make. However, I am going to defer to the kale recipe the USDA cane up with as to the proper instructions. You won't be able to eat just one.

The Easy Kale Tea Recipe
and a Digestion Note and Health Warning

Kale Tea Recipe

Do you want the nutrition, but don't want to deal with the recipes and cooking? Many people just drink kale tea.

Kale tea is not difficult to make, though do note the health and digestion warnings that follow.
  1. Put 2, 3 or 4 medium-to-large pieces of kale in a microwaveable cup, depending on cup size. If you are a first-timer, probably best to start with just two pieces.
  2. Fill to three-fourths full of water; push the pieces under water if need be.
  3. Microwave for 4:44 minutes:seconds (your microwave results may vary). In fact, keep an eye on it; it may over-boil; also, the kale may expand and need to be tamped back down during the process.
  4. Be careful when removing from microwave. The cup will be hot, including the handle.
  5. Tamp down again.
  6. Optionally add water as needed.
  7. Stir it. Let cool. Stir again.
  8. Remove the  pieces of kale.
  9. You have your kale tea. And it's perfectly fine to drink any remaining, tiny pieces which may happen to be floating around; after all, it's kale.
Once you are a pro, you will probably do the following...
  1. Stuff the bottom third of a microwaveable cup full of kale.
  2. Fill to three-fourths full of water; push the pieces under the water if need be.
  3. Microwave for 4:44 minutes:seconds (your microwave results may vary).
  4. Maybe add some water.
  5. Stir it. Let cool. Stir again.
  6. Doesn't bother to remove any of the kale.
  7. Drinks all the liquid.
  8. Empties cup of the remaining kale into trash or refills cup a little over half-full of water, microwaves for another 3:33 minutes:seconds, drinks second cup of weaker tea.
Boiling water. And of course, there is certainly nothing wrong with...
  1. Boiling the water on the stove.
  2. Pouring the water into your prepared cup.
  3. Letting it sit awhile and stir.
  4. Etc.

Kale Health and Digestion Notes

Keeping in mind the high concentrations of nutrients, don't go overboard. Drink no more than one cup the first time or so. See how your digestion handles it.Do it when you plan on being home for the next few hours.

This is also a good time to mention that too much vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and certain other vitamins and minerals on a regular basis, can actually be deleterious to one's health. On the other hand, even just one ounce of kale is a lot of kale; so you don't have that much to worry about. One full ounce of kale is about a third of the above specified nutritional percentages. Just keep in mind what other foods and liquids you are regularly consuming.

What with kale tea being so packed with vitamins and minerals, it can be used to occasionally replace a meal in weight loss programs. Kale tea is also an effective appetite suppressant. For that matter, it would be perfect for use in the infamous Military Diet.

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Can You Eat Potatoes That Have Green Inside the Skin? Safe vs. Unsafe

Latest update: May 11, 2020
Can potatoes green on the inside make you sick? Yes, they can.

Beware Bad Green Potatoes - Can Be Poisonous or Safe - Not the Usual Urban Legend


Safe or poisonous? It all depends. Here is how to tell the difference, plus a government resource with even more information.

Can green potatoes make you sick? Yes, they can. And the more green you see on the inside, the more poisonous they are.

The green is just chlorophyll, but it is an indicator that another chemical is present; which is indeed a toxin. And it is a nerve toxin at that. It is present throughout the entire plant. The toxin is known as solanine and is dangerous even in small amounts.

I've been seeing a lot of false information out there on the subject, so I thought I would point people towards a legitimate source.The National Institute of Health federal website, MedlinePlus, will tell you everything you need to know.

The whole poisonous green potato thing is not exactly a national epidemic. In fact, deaths are quite rare.The key sentence in the Medline website is:
Never eat potatoes that are
spoiled or green below the skin.

Note the above key parameter concerning, "below the skin".

My personal practice on the subject...
  • If the store potatoes have even the slightest tinge of green on the outside, I'm not buying.
  • But if I cut one in half at home that has developed a slight green tinge on the outside after I bought it and there is absolutely no hint of green on the inside, then I'm fine with it.

May all your potato adventures be of the healthy kind. Do drop by the aforementioned Medline website, they have additional information.

Worthy non-green potatoes

Meanwhile, here's a page about Exploding Potatoes.

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Best Canned Sardines in Tomato Sauce - A Mood Food and Nutrition Facts

Latest update: July 20, 2020
Page URL indicates original publication date; meanwhile, times change and the updates continue.

I consider La Sirena in tomato sauce to be the best; flat, red, oval can; the 15 oz. size.

Sardines as food; canned sardines are another super food aka wonder food.


All about sardines as food.

Sardine Health and Nutrition Benefits

  • They’ve got all the B-complex vitamins we all need.
  • They’re loaded with vitamin D.
  • They’ve got a decent amount of vitamin E and some vitamin K.
  • As for minerals, it’s a veritable bonanza. Lots of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium.
  • Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids.
As a side note...  Whenever I feel anxious or depressed, the nutrients in a can of sardines almost always makes me feel better. The vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 do indeed have a well-known, positive effect on mood and emotions.

Sardines are also surprisingly inexpensive for their value. A big, red, flat can of them costs around $2 (your prices may vary). Usually, they will already be in a tomato sauce. Just pour into a proper bowl, microwave for two minutes and enjoy. As a side note, be sure to cover with a paper plate or whatever before microwaving; otherwise, you may have a very messy microwave oven cleaning project to look forward to.

And the usual seafood mercury poisoning fears are not a concern here. The larger and more long-lived the fish, the higher the mercury concentration levels. Sardines are short-lived and small. Mercury contamination is almost nonexistent.


This USDA page will tell you everything you could possibly ever want to know about sardine nutrition: USDA FoodData Central re: Sardines.

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What Is Kelp Used For - Iodine Energy Benefits - And a Beware Excessive Supplements Health Warning

Latest update: July 12, 2020
Page URL indicates original publication date; meanwhile, times change and the updates continue.

Safe Health Benefits of Kelp Seaweed Supplements - Iodine and Trace Minerals -And Some Iodine Warnings

Kelp Ocean Forest
This page is premised on that you are healthy, practicing good nutrition, physically active, and are already doing everything else to naturally feel good. If still suffering from lack of energy, then kelp supplements may be the answer.

Why so? Kelp is loaded with the mineral iodine. The iodine will go directly to your thyroid and kick-start it. A fully active thyroid makes one become more energetic.

Kelp and certain other seaweed also have minute traces of every other mineral known to man. So if you happen to be lacking in any of those, kelp tablets will help take care of that, too.

Suggested use is one kelp supplement per day; frankly, I think that is excessive. Too much of anything is not a good idea. Personally, I only take one once in awhile when I seem to have no energy.

So next time you have no energy for no discernible reason, chew a kelp supplement tablet with food. Do take it early in the morning. If taken later in the day, you might not be able to fall asleep come bedtime.

Kelp Tablets with Iodine

Kelp and other seaweed supplements may or may not be available at your local or national chain drugstore; some have it, some don't. Worst case scenario, you will have to work up the energy to go to your local health food store; they will definitely have it. Be forewarned. The supplements industry is completely unregulated. Buy only reputable brands from reputable stores.

A warning note. Some people are allergic to shellfish (high iodine), the same way some people are allergic to peanuts for example. So maybe just nibble a very small piece of one tablet the first time around? Only you can decide.

Safe Usage of Kelp Seaweed Supplements

Excessive use of kelp supplements and their high iodine content is not good for you and can even cause health problems. Here is a federal website that will tell you absolutely everything you would ever want to know about the mineral iodine as to health, nutrition, and warnings. The site also notes that excessive iodine can negatively interact with certain medications.
Though iodine is an essential nutrient for the human body, over usage can cause serious problems. The NIH also talks about foods high in iodine, so maybe you can just skip the supplements altogether.

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When to Do Vitamin D3 Supplements and Food Sources

Latest update: May 4, 2020
Especially important for seniors. Medical science generally agrees that the elderly should take vitamin D3 supplements.

Vitamin D Deficiency Is a Growing Health Concern

Fortified milk is a good source of vitamin D.

If you are out in the sun all day everyday, then you need not be concerned. Your body will manufacture all the vitamin D it needs from the ultraviolet light you absorb. However, as you get older, one loses this ability.

Also, if yours is an indoor life; you may not be getting enough of this vitamin.

 List of Foods With Vitamin D

Unfortunately, there are not that many foods that have it.
  • Fortified milk seems to be America's primary source for vitamin D.
  • Other dairy products also have a smattering of it.
  • Fish foods have vitamin D. Swordfish and especially sockeye salmon are the big two. Tuna comes in third. Sardines are also a contender. And if you want to give yourself a mega-dose, a tablespoon of cod liver oil will give you over 300% of the body’s daily requirement.
  • Liver has it.
  • Fortified orange juice has a decent amount.
  • Multivitamins generally have 100% to 200% of the recommended daily dosage. Needless to say, check the label.

Sockeye salmon is a good vitamin D source.

For more information about vitamin D, here is the relevant federal National Institutes of Health page about vitamin D. The site mentions that excessive vitamin D consumption can be detrimental.

When to Do Vitamin D Supplements

As a side note,  I am an older person. My doc says I should take vitamin D3 supplements (4,000 IUs (international units), daily). Apparently, us older folks don't manufacture vitamin D from sunshine as well as we used to. Vitamin D3 supplements are available at any drugstore. Do buy only from reputable stores and reputable brands. Unfortunately the supplements industry is said to be completely unregulated; there are media reports the FDA just doesn't have the resources. For what it's worth, I trust CVS.

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How to Save Money on Food and Other Grocery Shopping Bills - A List

Latest update: July 29, 2020
Page URL indicates original publication date; meanwhile, times change and the updates continue.

Saving Money on Food Is Easier Than One Thinks - Reduce Those Shopping Bills

And a note about government food benefits during hard times. And also a math note for parents and our education system and kids.

And the COVID-19 pandemic is still going full blast. Do read the USA Today article regarding grocery shopping further down the page. Sad to say, it's not much fun going out into the world these days.


Coupons and Websites

  • Yes, do use those coupons; the Sunday paper and your junk mail will give you all you need. Also drop by your main grocery store’s website and see what they have to say for themselves; more often than not, they will have additional digital coupons you can use where you simply enter your phone number at the checkout register to collect.

Generic Brands

  • Yes, do buy the generic store brands. It is common knowledge they cost less. What isn’t so well known is that more often than not they are made by the same manufacturer as the nationally labeled brands that cost up to twice as much.

Product Shelf Positioning

  • Make it a point to look at the top and bottom shelves. The middle shelves are where the high markup items are.

Unit Pricing

  • Do make it a habit to routinely check the unit pricing. No rocket surgeon degree required; the unit price is right below or beside the sale price. There will be at least one occasion every trip where it will affect your decision as to what to buy. Does your store not conveniently display the unit pricing? If so, then find another store. Also, you may be surprised to learn the larger sizes do not always represent the best unit pricing. Stores are sneaky that way, knowing that consumers automatically assume the larger size is the better deal.

Product Store Positioning and Impulse Buying

  • Never buy anything displayed at the register and checkout line. Those are what is known as spontaneous purchases and impulse items and always have the highest markup. Always bring a shopping list. It will cut down on your spontaneous impulse buying immensely. And while we are at it, never shop hungry.
  • The freshest items and those with the longest expiration dates are at the back of the shelf. This applies to produce, dairy, bottled and canned goods, and actually pretty much everything.

Don't Pay for Unneeded Labor

  • Never buy pre-made sandwiches or other items requiring extra preparation in the deli section. The prices are highway robbery and are for people who are taking their lunch break from work, etc. If the sandwich looks delicious, then just buy the same filling from that same deli instead. This assumes you are willing enough to take the contents from the container and put between two slices of bread yourself. Chicken salad and egg salad are good examples. Doing this will usually save you between $2 to $3 per sandwich. And save the containers, they can repeatedly be used for freezing and storing leftovers.

Stock Up on Non-Perishable Sale Items

  • Prices can vary by as much as 50% from week to week. Tissues are an excellent example of this. Canned goods are another excellent example. Some juices also have long expiration dates.

Check Your Receipt for Double Billing

  • It happens a lot more often than you think. It usually happens because either the cashier doesn’t like you or the scanner sensor is dirty. And checking the receipt really is easier than you think; even a long receipt takes less than a minute to quickly glance through. At minimum, at least check the higher priced items. When you find something (and you inevitably will), simply return to the same register and tell them. They will refund your money on the spot.

Never Set Your Wallet on the Counter at the Checkout

  • Sooner or later, you will inevitably forget and leave it there when you walk out of the store. It won't always still be there when you go back for it.

Fewer Trips

  • Every trip you make to the store probably costs you between $2 to $4 in gas. Try to organize to make fewer trips.


Government Food Benefits

Btw, Food Stamps aka CalFresh aka SNAP benefits are used by millions of Americans. If your financial situation is truly grim, it is worth investigating.

Government Websites to Get Started

https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/apply
https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap
https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/eligibility


And last, but not least...

Parents: Teach Your Kids About Unit Pricing and Basic Math - A True Story

I actually saw this happen a few years ago:

A parent and teenager are in a store. The store is having a candy sale. There are two different-sized boxes of chocolate cream candies on display. There is the 12-oz. box for $4.95. There is the 1-lb, 2-oz. box for $12.95. There is some dialogue. Then the teenager selects the one-pound-plus box saying something to the effect that, "The larger box is the better buy."

The parent says something to the effect, “I am really worried about your math skills.”

I kid you not, I really saw this happen. And one can tell by the prices that it was indeed many years ago.

Here are what I believe their respective thought processes were:

The parent: “Hmm, $5 for 12 ounces is equal to $10 for 24 ounces. The $10 for 24 ounces is better than the $13 for 18 ounces.” Parent chooses two of the smaller boxes.

The teenager: “The larger box will have the better per-unit price.” Teenager doesn’t consider doing any calculations. Teenager chose the larger box. The equivalent of this  is probably still happening a million times a day nationwide. The retail stores are fully aware that our education system isn't what it used to be.

And while we are at it and on a separate note, there are also some small store owners who are equally aware of this lack-of-education fact when is comes to charging sales tax.

Grocery Store Food Discrimination - A Commentary

Grocery store and supermarket chains discriminate against single people, divorced people, senior citizens, and anyone else who happens to live alone. Unless we are buying groceries for a family, the national chain grocery stores apparently don't want to bother with us. Or if they do, it looks like they want to charge us extra for the privilege.

Having to buy four or five units of the same food item in order to get the discount sale price really does discriminate against singles, senior citizens, and other people who live alone. Only families can benefit from the use of this particular sales and marketing practice.

I’ve noticed this sales tactic is becoming more and more prevalent lately. Figured it was time to say something about it.

There really are very few people living alone who can make use of four boxes of crackers, five bottles of soda, four cans of tuna, and so forth.

And this buy-4-items and buy-5-items requirement to get various discounts is spreading to staple items. It is no longer limited to the more “frivolous” purchases.

In all fairness, it should be noted the grocery stores and supermarket chains doing this are not doing it to deliberately discriminate against singles, senior citizens, etc. They are doing this for the same reason they do all their other sales tactics; the purpose being to increase sales and maximize profits. Nothing wrong with that; that is capitalism.

The resulting discrimination against certain classes of people is simply the unintended consequence. Basically, it's called collateral damage. [Update. This discrimination commentary was written long before the pandemic situation. Due to the hoarding, plant closures, and distribution infrastructure problems; though the sales tactic is still present, it is not as prevalent these days.]

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An article on shopping at grocery stores during the pandemic: https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/news/2020/04/03/safe-go-grocery-store-shopping-tips-amid-coronavirus/5103977002/


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Fish / Seafood Mercury Contamination - List of Safe and Unsafe - High and Least

Latest update: June 13, 2020

Fish - Seafood - Mercury Contamination Lists

Fish and Mercury Contamination – A General Rule of Thumb

The larger the particular seafood species and the longer that species normally lives, the higher that species' mercury content and levels.

This is the result of two factors:
  • Larger fish consume more food, and therefor consume more mercury.
  • Longer-living species consume more food than shorter-lived species, thus again consuming more mercury.
A basic ranking list of fish / seafood species and their relative mercury content levels follows.

List of Fish and Seafood Having the Highest Mercury Levels and Content

The following list of fish species having the worst mercury content contamination. The mercury levels are so high, the EPA flatly states that pregnant women (and women trying to become pregnant) and young cchildren should not eat them at all. 

What fish have high mercury content?

  • King Mackerel
  • Tilefish
  • Swordfish
  • Shark
  • Marlin


List of Seafood and Fish That Are Lowest in Mercury Levels and Content

Considered safe to eat by pregnant women and young children in moderation, two 6-ounce portions spread out over the course of a week.

Which fish are low in mercury content and safest to eat?

  • Scallop
  • Clam
  • Anchovies
  • Salmon
  • Shrimp
  • Pacific oysters
  • Sardines
  • Herring
  • Pollock
  • Trout
  • Catfish
  • Anchovies
  • Atlantic and Pacific mackerel
  • Fish sticks, other fast-food fish, etc.
  • Canned, light tuna. Note. Albacore tuna has more mercury than light tuna. The EPA recommendation for albacore tuna is only one 6-ounce can a week.

Basic List of Nutrition Information for Fish and Other Seafood

Generally rich in:
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Protein
  • B vitamins
  • Vitamin E
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Red sockeye salmon is especially rich in vitamin D. Most people do not get enough of this vitamin.
  • Shellfish is loaded with iodine. It turns out that some people can have major allergic reactions to this particular mineral.

Fish Without Mercury List

There are none. Well, maybe your goldfish. Fortunately, the above list pretty much saves the day; leastwise, for now. The listed FDA resources are also of value.


And speaking of seafood nutrition, here's an article about kelp and kelp supplements; talks about both the pros and cons. The Food Info Data Advice Label may also be worth a perusal.

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