Crazy for coconut? Enjoy it – carefully

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Here are my comments about coconut oil in a recent article in the Phildelphia Daily News.

Crazy for coconut? Enjoy it – carefully
April 21, 2011|By Maria Zankey

Coconut Oil and Carrot Cake. DON’T FEEL too guilty as you crack open that coconut-cream Easter egg, though you might want to save half for later. After nearly two decades of being considered “forbidden” in a healthy diet, coconut and products made with it are being viewed in a new light by some scientists, health nuts and chefs.

Coconut – be it oil, meat, water or milk – has gone from being a cholesterol criminal to an antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal “super food.”

Monica Glass, dessert chef at 10 Arts Bistro & Lounge by Eric Ripert in the Ritz-Carlton, said she inadvertently stumbled upon coconut oil as a potential cooking fat when Googling cholesterol-friendly recipes about two years ago.

“Coconut oil was showing up in a lot of gluten-free recipes,” the West Chester native said. “Bad cholesterol runs in my family, so that was really my main reason for trying it.”

Now, Glass said, she frequently uses a tablespoon “here or there” while cooking at home – mainly in granola bars or her favorite gluten-free muffins. “It makes a very good substitute for sautéing carrots or other vegetables, mainly because it can be liquid or sit firmer like butter. If you use enough of it, you can definitely taste the coconut flavor in your baked goods.”

Glass said her next venture in the kitchen with coconut oil will be using it as a key ingredient to conquer a gluten-free pie or tart crust.

But neighbors haven’t been knocking on doors for a cup of coconut for very long.
The public uproar over coconuts, namely coconut oil, began in the mid-’80s when advertising campaigns funded by the American Soybean Association and the National Health Savers Association brought tropical oils’ high levels of saturated fats to light: 86 grams compared with just 36 grams in lard.

The tropical oils terror was further drawn out in the mid-’90s when the Center for Science in the Public Interest released data revealing that most movie theater concession stands popped their corn in coconut oil because of its ability to cook at a high temperature without smoking. A large tub of popcorn popped in coconut oil, the CSPI said, bulged with nearly 1,600 calories and four days’ worth of saturated fat, double that of a serving of fettuccine Alfredo.

But apparently, comparing oils and saturated fats can be like comparing apples and oranges. The refined coconut oil used in those movie theaters in the ’90s is not the same as the unprocessed virgin coconut oil found in health food stores today.

Coconut oil that has been hydrogenated, a process that makes liquid fats solid to increase shelf life, contains trans fats, which can compromise cardiovascular health, according to the American Dietetic Association.

While virgin coconut oil is trans-fat free, it contains high levels of saturated fat. But the saturated fats in coconut oil are composed of as much as 57 percent lauric acid, a component also found to be an immunity booster in breast milk. And while lauric acid saturated fats do raise overall cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins, it’s not significant enough to make an impact, according to a study released by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

In layman’s terms, coconut oil is perfectly safe to use in moderation but perhaps to replace other oils rather than being added to the diet.

Denny Waxman, who co-founded Philly natural food store Essene Market in 1969 and has since moved on to health counseling, has seen similar food “scares” and crazes come and go. His brother Howard Waxman owns the 4th Street store now.

“I just like to sit back and watch any time a new super food comes out,” Denny Waxman said. “We’re always looking for the next ‘wonder food,’ the next thing that’s going to transform us. Whatever it is, it never turns out to be what people thought it was.”

Waxman is a longtime practitioner of macrobiotics, a diet that suggests choosing foods indigenous to your or similar climactic zones yields maximum health benefits. So while Waxman prefers sesame and olive oil, he said, coconut oil is not the health villain it had been made out to be.

And for vegans or gluten-free dieters, coconut oil can be a miracle ingredient. With the ability to take on both liquid and solid states depending on its temperature, it’s been used to replace butter or other trans-fatty oils. It’s also appreciated for its nutty, sweetening flavor.

“The [dietary] purpose of oil is to make food more digestible, absorb minerals, fat-soluble vitamins and calcium,” Waxman said. “Cooking with oil steps up the ability to get more energy from food. But whether you’re using sesame or olive or coconut oil, we should use it more sparingly than liberally.”

No Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Articles and Research, Macrobiotics

Concerns Surrounding Recent Events in Japan

Posted on by Denny Waxman

We at the SHI, including my wife, Susan and all of the staff, wish to extend our most sincere prayers of health and healing to the Japanese people, the land and the ocean that has been effected by the devastation of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima power plants.

With regard to the effect of the tragedy on imported macrobiotic staples, namely the quality of present and future Japanese miso, umeboshi, shoyu, wakame and other seaweeds, here are my thoughts. As of the earthquake on March 11th and the subsequent tsunami, nuclear meltdown and radiation release in Northeastern Japan, the most recent shipment of Japanese macrobiotic foods was already at sea before the earthquake hit, according to the suppliers of the SHI. The coming shipment is untainted but as far as future supplies are concerned, seaweed will be most effected by radiation fallout. If you have further concerns, please speak to your favored macrobiotic foods importer.

Shoyu is made in Sendai, as are some misos, such as Onozaki, and they take a long time to make. It takes eighteen months to make shoyu and two years for miso. Hatcho miso comes from Okazaki, nine hours southwest from Fukushima. Ryujin umeboshi plums come from Wakayama Prefecture in south-central Japan and so should remain unaffected. In the end, a big part of the quality of the product depends on the ingredients: wheat, soy beans, salt and waters, as well as the environment in which they are made. We will have to wait and see how the radiation settles, but for now, this might be a good time to start exploring American macrobiotic products, e.g. South River Miso, Miso Master Miso, Maine Coast Seaweed and California-made Umeboshi.

As for the plume of radiation headed for the west-coast of the United States, the radiation levels are very low and most likely will have dispersed to a non-threatening level, according to Scientific American on March 16, 2011. Maintaining a diet that includes brown rice, miso soup, moderate amounts of seaweed and adzuki beans are especially important for keeping blood quality strong. Seaweed also has the unique ability to bind with heavy metals, such as cesium, one of pollutants found in radioactive fallout. However, over-consumption of seaweed creates a mineral imbalance and could lead to thyroid problems and extreme weight loss, due to the high mineral content of sea vegetables.

I recommend an increase in sea vegetable consumption only in a case of heavy exposure to radioactive metals, and not otherwise. The current levels of radiation on the west-coast to not warrant increased seaweed.

In the case of heavy exposure to radioactive metals, foods to avoid include sugar, soft drinks, fruit, juices, chocolate and highly processed foods. It is also important to avoid extreme yang foods such as meat, chicken and eggs. Someone in Sendai or someone who has been exposed to the meltdown in or near Fukushima needs a simple diet of brown rice, adzuki beans, strong miso soup and a bit more seaweed, well cooked vegetables, such as nishimi and kinpira, and drink small amounts of kukicha tea as a beverage. It would also be imperative that all sugar, excess liquids and all extreme yin or yang be avoided.

People living on the west-coast of the United States should maintain a standard macrobiotic practice, making sure to include brown rice, miso soup, adzuki beans and a normal amount of sea vegetables, no more than usual, along with the usual variety of foods. I will keep you updated as more information becomes available.

With continued prayers for Japan,


No Comments | Tags: 7 Steps, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotics, Uncategorized

Year In Dieting: Distraction, Noise Cause Overeating

Posted on by Denny Waxman

There seems to be no stopping America’s expanding waistline, even though diets work when you stick with them. So researchers have a new focus — not what’s going on in our bellies, but what’s going on in our brains. Read article and listen to the story.

No Comments | Tags: 7 Steps, Articles and Research, Macrobiotic Philosophy, Macrobiotics, Macrobiotics and Medicine

Macrobiotics in Florida and Transitioning to Spring

Posted on by Denny Waxman

This week we travelled to Jacksonville, Florida, at the invitation of Marlene Pendley. The group was international, four people from Venezuela and three from Bogota, Columbia. Susan taught two “international” cooking classes and I took these cultures into account in my lectures. It was a great success and very enjoyable.

Two of the students had just completed Anthony Robbins’ seminar, in which a vegan diet was promoted. The students felt our information complemented and refined that introduction very nicely.

We are already looking forward to returning to Florida.

Although it seems like the depth of winter now, the season turns on February fourth. Spring, and a new year, begin then. We can start to get ready in the next couple of weeks to slowly transition our diets. We can gradually lighten our diets, introducing more quick-cooked dishes and pulling back on baked, heavy and dense dishes.

A new group comes to the SHI for the CCP this week for our one-year certificate program. Again we are beginning in a snow storm, so this is an intrepid group. We hope to post a picture of the new class soon.

A reminder: There will be a macrobiotic dinner potluck at the SHI on March 5th. It is free of charge. Please bring a vegan macrobiotic dish to share. All are welcome.

No Comments | Tags: 7 Steps, Adjusting Your Diet, Articles and Research, Macrobiotics

Infertility Recovery Past 40

Posted on by Denny Waxman

At age 43, Nancy Wolfson-Moche wanted to conceive. She was not eligible for “hi-tech” fertility treatments (IVF) due to an elevated FSH level (which western medicine said was normal in a healthy 43-year-old woman). MD’s said the FSH level may fluctuate, but once it goes over 30 it is an indication that the eggs are too old and not viable to conceive a healthy baby. Nancy’s FSH level was as high as 38. Through a macrobiotic diet and lifestyle, and by following the recommendations of Denny Waxman, her FSH went from 38 to 6 over a 12 month period. Two months later she went on a trip around the world and conceived her first child, somewhere between Bhutan and southern Spain, at 44. She gave birth to a full-term, healthy baby girl at age 45. Her second daughter was born when she was 51. read article

1 Comment | Tags: Articles and Research, Macrobiotic Counseling, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotics

Emotions and Blood Quality

Posted on by Denny Waxman

In macrobiotics we look at illness as a developmental progression. The first major stage, which is not really an illness itself in many cases, is our blood starting to become imbalanced. Our blood, which has hemoglobin, iron containing protein at the center, is important for maintaining our direction in life. When our blood quality is strong, it is easier to maintain a good direction. When our blood quality starts to become weaker, it is easier to lose our direction. Also, our sensitivity is affected. Once we have a disorder with our blood, which includes allergies and skin diseases, we become much more emotional than we were before and emotional sensitivity starts to change. We start to become more sensitive, overly sensitive, or start to lack sensitivity in certain areas. It can go from one extreme or the other.

From there, illness passes to the next level, emotional disorders. Here, emotional imbalances, which started on a previous level of blood, start to become more fixed or deeper. This then becomes our state of being, where we have free-floating fears or anxieties and become more depressive or angered. Our view of life or our approach to life starts at this point to be affected, in the area of so-called emotional disorders. Finally, from emotional disorders, we develop organ or gland problems. This is the area where most modern problems fall, heart disease as well as diabetes and chronic hypoglycemia. Intermittent hypoglycemia we can classify on the level of blood.

It is not by accident that emotions are between our blood quality and our organs or gland quality. Emotions play a kind of balancing or harmonizing role in our lives. We will look at this more next week.

2 Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Diabetes, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotics, Mental Health

Takashi Yoshikawa Memorial

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Denny Waxman and Takashi Yoshikawa

Denny Waxman and Takashi Yoshikawa

Takashi Yoshikawa passed away recently just before his 82nd birthday. Many of you may not know of him since he never practiced macrobiotics. However, he had a significant impact on our community as a personal advisor to, and teacher of, many people who actively practice macrobiotics. He is, perhaps, best known for his role over the years as the advisor to John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Boy George and Barry Manilow.

Mr. Yoshikawa had a profound impact on my life. He was my teacher, my mentor and my personal friend. He was like a father to me and very caring about my children. To my lasting happiness, he honored my marriage to Susan by attending our wedding. Susan’s grandmother, his senior by 11 years, referred to him as her guru. Whenever we saw her she asked how her guru was doing. Mr. Yoshikawa commanded admiration and respect from everyone with whom he crossed paths.

Takashi Yoshikawa was the world’s foremost authority on what he re-named 9 Ki or The Ki, as opposed to 9 Star Ki. He insisted that there were no stars, only stages of energy. He believed that 9 Star Ki and Four Pillars Chinese Astrology were unnecessarily complicated and set out on a quest to simplify and adapt these teachings to modern life without sacrificing either their wisdom or their meaning.

I first met Mr. Yoshikawa—I continued to use the formal mode of address even after many years of close friendship—around 1990. At that meeting I was as impressed by his appearance, stature, impeccable manners and social graces as I was by his penetrating insights into The Ki. I knew at once that I had met an extraordinary man. Over the years he guided me to an understanding of my own nature; he pointed me toward what I needed in order to develop further; he gave me invaluable and creative insights into the essential nature of each of my children, their strengths and weaknesses. With his help, I was able to be a better father.

He was an unusual advisor in that he would not give advice unless he felt he could guarantee the results. Often his advice was brutally honest and, of course, some clients were unhappy with what he told them. When I questioned him on the subject, he said, “I can’t lie. I have to tell my clients what I see and I recommend that you do the same.”

He told me once that, according to Four Pillars Chinese Astrology, he should not have had a good life. However, by studying and practicing The Ki, that is, by continuously gathering positive energy through good timing and movement, he was able to create a uniquely satisfying life. The few times that I was privileged to travel with him I was amazed to observe that everything went his way from the moment he arrived until the moment he left. For instance, on the second night of his visit to Portugal, he received an invitation to dinner at the home of Amalia Rodrigues, the most famous singer of Fado, the traditional Portuguese music. It was on a par with having dinner with the head of state of Portugal.

We were good friends almost from the beginning. In the first few years, he would often speak to me in Japanese. Though I could understand what he was saying, I had to explain to him that I couldn’t find the words to answer him in Japanese. He would then graciously revert to English.

Around that time, I asked if he would be willing to teach me his approach. He said that he was not a good teacher, but that if I asked him a specific question he would try to answer it. In the beginning he was very open and laid out this incredible framework for me. It turned out that my approach to macrobiotic counseling and to my recommendations was similar to his approach to the Ki. We both looked at things from a number of different angles. He told me he believed this to be the key to penetration and accuracy.

As time passed, there were questions he wouldn’t answer yet, at other times, he would tell me things I had never thought to ask about but that always added another dimension to my understanding. Certain things he refused to tell me. He said that his teacher had refused to tell him and he, in turn, wouldn’t tell me, but often he would point me in a direction to discover the answer. He said that it was because his teacher wouldn’t answer some of his most important questions that he was able to develop his own approach and unique interpretation of 9 Ki. He encouraged me to develop my own interpretation as well. When I asked him about my new discoveries he usually said no, that’s not right, thus forcing me to try to penetrate the Ki even more deeply!

In all the years I knew him, I disagreed with his advice only once. A friend came to see me about someone she had met. She was not completely sure of his date of birth. I told her that without knowing it I couldn’t really advise her but I had a strong feeling that he was not the one for her and I told her to be careful. Later, having learned his date of birth, she went to see Mr. Yoshikawa. He told her that this man was the one for her, that they were a perfect combination. The next time I saw Mr. Yoshikawa he said to me, “Don’t tell people your feelings, just analyze the numbers.” He told me that when he was young he had indeed used his intuition but that now he just analyzed the numbers. I didn’t completely believe him because, on many occasions, I had experienced his powerful intuition. I learned later that the relationship hadn’t worked out, that, in fact, the man had lied about his birthday to my friend.

Even though a couple of months have passed since he left us, I find it hard to believe that Mr. Yoshikawa is gone. He now seems bigger than life. Takashi Yoshikawa was one of those vivid people who inspired awe and wonder about the nature of life itself. I know he will live on in the hearts of all of us who loved him.

Susan Waxman and Takashi Yoshikawa

Susan Waxman and Takashi Yoshikawa

1 Comment | Tags: Macrobiotics, Uncategorized

7 Requirements To Change Sickness Into Health

Posted on by Denny Waxman

1. Cultivate your will and desire to live

Having the will and desire to live is primary and essential to avoiding premature death, be it by accident, sickness or any other method. The desired life that I am talking about here is not the normal day to day living that most people do. I am talking about living an extraordinary life full of passion such that you look forward to and are happy to wake up to every single morning. READ ARTICLE

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The Macrobiotic Approach to Careers

Posted on by Denny Waxman

One of the observations I have had again and again in counseling is that so many people I see who have serious health problems have spent their lives doing what they didn’t want to be doing. And often, when that realization comes strongly enough, it is already a very serious situation. Our career means something like our course or plan of action through life. A lot of people think of career as what they do from nine to five and that the rest of the time is their life. However, career is like exercise, which must be a kind of activity that is part of our life, not separate from it. Career is the same. Our career and our life should be exactly the same.

When people ask me what I do, I don’t really know what to say. When I go to different countries and am asked my occupation, I don’t know what to say. Teacher? I don’t know. Macrobiotic person? Human being? That is my career. Basically, to understand careers we have to know about our basic nature, because whatever we do in life has to complement or build on our nature. But the real question is, what is the purpose of our career? What shall we look for in the first place in understanding our career? Of course we have practical considerations to make, we have to support ourselves, make a living. But that is the secondary or minor part. Really, a career means: How to realize our infinite nature. How to realize our endless nature. Day by day we should try to have different experiences which take us further toward our full potential in life, or our endless nature. You can say, to the realization of our oneness. In essence, if somebody is coming to macrobiotics because of health, then, if they are able to overcome a terminal illness, basically what they are doing is realizing their endless nature, their endless ability to create, not only sickness, but health.

Career should be the same thing, but in a much larger sense. Day by day, we should have this deepening realization of who we are and why we came here.

1 Comment | Tags: 7 Steps, Macrobiotic Philosophy, Macrobiotics, Mental Health

The Movement Between Sickness and Health

Posted on by Denny Waxman

When does life begin? When does life end? This is a very good question. Does life begin when you are a twinkle in your parents’ eyes? Does life begin at the point of conception? Does life begin at the moment of birth? When the cord is cut? When does it begin? Does life begin when you are weaned? No-one can really say. And in the same way, when are you dead? People have been brain dead and have come back to continue to live their life. We can’t separate opposites. Opposites complete each other to Oneness. However, we have grown up with an idea of good and bad. One or the other. Black and white. But this idea does not exist in nature because we can’t separate things in the same way. When we look at health and sickness, when are we really healthy? And when we are sick, when did that sickness begin? Everything moves in a wave-like movement. If we have a wave, then when we are at the top. we call that health. When we are at the bottom, we call that sickness. At what point does sickness really begin? Is it when you are at the top of the wave, at the midpoint, or at the bottom? We can’t say.

The next question is, is there ever health without sickness? Can yin exist without yang? They cannot. Is there such a thing as absolute, perfect health? I don’t think that there is. Health cannot exist without sickness. No one has everyday just the same perfect energy, perfect clarity, everything going smoothly as planned. I haven’t met that person yet!

No one has perfect sickness. There is nothing that is one-sided. Everything contains its opposite. We have come to think, health is good and sickness is bad, but they are always connected. There is a movement between health and sickness and between sickness and health. In macrobiotics we lean how to move from sickness to health, unhappiness to happiness and chaos to clarity. Trying to practice my Seven Steps will help you move towards health and happiness.

3 Comments | Tags: 7 Steps, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotic Philosophy, Macrobiotics