More and more grocery stores are making room for organic produce to keep up with the increasing demand. Why are people going organic? Reasons include a growing national concern about the safety of our produce and a general movement toward an organic diet.
THE ORGANIC DIET: WHAT DOES ORGANIC REALLY MEAN?
Organic foods are thought to be better for your health and the environment because they're grown in a natural, chemical-free way. Organic produce is grown using natural pest control methods, instead of pesticides, and organic meats don't rely on chemicals to prevent diseases in animals. Instead of chemicals, organic farmers;
* Rotate crops frequently to stave off insects
* Fertilize crops with manure or compost
* Use chemical-free soils
* Allow animals to spend more time roaming instead of in confined spaces where
diseases can spread
* Use organic feed to feed livestock
* Do not use certain medications (including hormones and antibiotics) on livestock
THE ORGANIC DIET: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF GOING ORGANIC?
The decision to choose organic produce and other foods is a personal one, based on your own needs and concerns. Some people just don't want to eat any food that could contain pesticides and other chemicals.
Another reason: Organic food tastes better. Studies have shown organic foods contain more disease-fighting antioxidants, according to Anne Wolf, RD, a registered dietitian and researcher at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.
In addition to health and better taste, there's the green aspect of going organic, " A lot of people eat organic for the philosophy of it-to help sustain our earth," notes Wolf. Organic farming practices are better for the sustainability of land, water, and food.
For most healthy adults, though, Wolf admits, organic foods aren't necessary for better health-it's just a preference. Pregnant women and children are more susceptible to the health effects of pesticides (including nervous system damage and behavioral problems), so for them, organic foods are a good health investment.
THE ORGANIC DIET: HOW YOU CAN TELL FOR SURE?
To be certified as 100 percent organic, food products must meet the standards set by the United States Department of Agriculture. At the grocery store, it's easy to spot certified organic products because only they will have the "USDA organic" label. Keep in mind that products labeled "natural" or "hormone-free" are not necessarily organic.
At local farmers's markets, it can sometimes be difficult to verify whether a product has truly been grown organically, but local produce does tend to contain fewer chemicals since it doesn't have to be packaged for long-distance travel.
THE ORGANIC DIET: IS IT WORTH THE PRICE?
Organic food is more expensive because it costs more to produce it. Are the health benefits worth the price? "if it gives you peace of mind," says Wolf.
Fortunately, you can still eat a healthy diet without going broke. Organic is organic, whether it has a fancy brand name or is a no-name. Buy generic store brands of organic foods instead of the pricier brands. Purchasing in bulk and freezing extra food can also help you save money.
If you do end up paying a little more for organic food, you may also find yourself paying a little more attention to how much food you put in your mouth, which can be a good thing. "When it's more expensive, you eat less of it," observes Wolf. She also notes that slowing down to savor and appreciate you food can enhance meal times.
So, in conclusion, try and enjoy your food, not just the quantity, but the quality of it, and how it's connected to the health of our environment!!
When it comes to fat, there's one type you don't want to cut back on: omega-3 fatty acids. Two crutial ones--EPA and DHA--are primarily found in certain fish. ALA, another omega-3 fatty acid, is found in plant sources such as nuts and seeds. Not only does your body need these fatty acids to function, but also they deliver some big health benefits.
Because essential fatty acids (ALA, DHA, EPA) are not made in the body, you need to get them from your diet.
* Where Blood fat (triglycerides). Fish oil supplements can
lower elevated triglyceride levels. Having high levels of this
blood fat puts you at risk of heart disease. DHA alone has
also been shown to lower triglycerides.
* Rheumatoid arthritis. Fish oil supplements (EPA+DHA) can
curb stiffness and joint pain. Omega-3 supplements also seem
to boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.
* Depression. Some researchers have found that cultures that
eat foods with high levels of omega-3s have lower levels of
depression. Fish oil also seems to boost the effects of
antidepressants and may help the depressive symptoms of
* Baby development. DHA appears to be important for visual
and neurological development in infants.
* Asthma. A diet high in omega-3s lowers inflammation, a key component in asthma. But more studies are needed to show if
fish oil supplements improve lung function or cut the amount of
medication a person needs to control the condition.
* ADHD. Some studies show that fish oil can reduce the symptoms
of ADHD in some children and improve their mental skills, like
thinking, remembering, and learning. But more research is
needed in this area, and omega-3 supplements should not
be used as a primary treatment.
* Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Some research suggests
that omega-3s may help protect against Alzheimer's disease
and dementia, and have a positive effect on gradual memory
loss linked to aging. But that's not certain yet.
When possible, try to get omega-3 fatty acids from foods rather than supplements. Aim
to eat fish high in DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids two to three times a week.
* Salmon (wild has more omega-3s than farmed)
* Lake trout
Here's to happy health!!
Did you know that there is a particular family of vegetables that has more fat-fighting and health-boosting benefits than ANY other? We're talking about cruciferous vegetables, and there are a wide variety to choose from...just take a look at all these options!
And here are just some of their benefits:
#1- Improved Digestion, satiety, and weightloss! Cruciferous vegetables are high in fiber--fiber that promotes a healthier digestive tract while keeping you feeling fuller, longer. In fact, many studies have shown that increased fiber intake leads to lower weight levels and even weightloss.
#2 - Lower levels of belly fat! One unique benefit of cruciferous vegetables is their ability to fight off dietary and environmental estrogens that we may be exposed to through soy, plastics, and pesticides through a special phytonutrient called indole-3-carbinol (I3C). Environmental estrogens have also been linked to high levels of belly fat, so by consuming more cruciferous vegetables you'll be fighting off belly fat stores at the same time!
#3 - Increased Gut & Immune Health! Even beyond the above two benefits a recent study published in the renown journal Nature Immunology discovered that specific proteins in cruciferous vegetables may play an essential role in gut health by boosting immune cell production and ultimately combating bacterial infections, chronic inflammation and potentially even bowel cancer.
#4 - Anti-aging! Cruciferous vegetables have also been shown through research to boast antioxidant and anti-aging properties. In fact, one study showed that participants who consumed 1-2 cups of cruciferous vegetables a day reduced their oxidative stress by 22% in just three weeks!
The list actually goes on and on with the regard to what cruciferous vegetables can do for your body, fatloss results, and your health, so be sure to eat more of these "miracle" vegetables starting today! I am!
Food companies have come a long way in their ability to improve the properties of vegetable oils at the manufacturing level. There are refined and conditioned oils in the marketplace, including oils from hybrids that are high in certain types of fat such as monounsaturated fatty acids, which are less susceptible to damage from heating. If you are going to cook with oils, your best bet are those organically produced, high quality oils that have been specifically adapted for use in high heat cooking or oils that have naturally high smoke points, like avocado oil. But there may even be a better option...cooking without oils!
When you heat an oil to its smoke point, you have definitely inflicted a good bit of damage to the oil. This damage comes in several forms.
Damage To Nutrients In The Oil
* Heating causes loss of available nutrients contained in oils, including fat- soluble vitamins like vitamin E and phytonutrients that give oils their characteristic colors, smells and flavors.
* Heating oils can cause the formation of free radicals, highly reactive molecules that can damage the oil further by triggering unwanted oxidative reactions. Oil manufacturers actually assign a value (called a peroxide value, or PV) to the oils based on the amount of oxidative reactions occurring.
* Formation of unwanted aromatic substances (like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs) in the oil that can increase our risk of chronic health problem including cancer.
The smoke point is a natural property of unrefined oils, reflecting their chemical composition. When oil is refined, the process increases the oil's smoke point; in fact, raising the smoke point is one of the reasons why the refining process is used. The chart below is an example of how refining increases the smoke point of oil.
OIL TYPE SMOKE POINT
Canola oil, unrefined 225 Degrees
Canola oil, semi-refined 350 Degrees
Canola oil, refined 400 Degrees
Safflower oil, unrefined 225 Degrees
Safflower oil, semi-refined 320 Degrees
Safflower oil. refined 450 Degrees
Soy oil, unrefined 320 Degrees
Soy oil, semi-refined 350 Degrees
Soy oil, refined 450 Degrees
Sunflower oil, unrefined 225 Degrees
Sunflower oil, semi-refined 450 Degrees
Sunflower oil, refined high-oleic 450 Degrees
There are several types of olive oil on the market:
* Extra Virgin: derived from the first pressing of the olives and has the lowest acidity level.
* Fine Virgin: also created from the first pressing of the olives, but it has an acidity level more than double that of extra virgin oil.
* Refined: unlike extra-virgin and fine virgin oils, which only use mechanical means to press the oil, refined oil is created by using chemicals to extract oil form the olives.
* Pure: a bit of a misnomer, it indicates oil that is a blend of refined and virgin olive oils.
The information on olive oils smoke point is, unfortunately, not very clear or consistent since different companies list different smoke points of their olive oil products; this variability most likely reflects differences in degree of processing.
So, consequently, damaged oils do not only occur at smoke point but can actually be damaged from heat long before its smoke point is reached. Exactly when does damage start to occur? The research is not entirely clear about this point,
So, in conclusion, it is best not to cook with heated oils. While steaming is a popular cooking method that doesn't use oils, there is another low-heat alternative by using broth to saute instead of oils. By adding healthy oils to vegetables, sauces and soups after they have cooked not only prevents the oil's exposure to high heat but allows you to enjoy more of the oil's wonderful flavor.
Here's to healthy sauteing without oils!!
A well balanced diet is the precursor to good health, and has been found to help protect against many lifestyles related to illnesses, including stress. Stress is the physical reaction that people will experience when they feel overwhelmed, or pressured. It is extremely common, especially due to the very busy lives we lead today. However, it has been found that you can reduce stress levels with the proper diet and nutrition.
Unfortunately, when faced with pressure, one of the first things that can be affected is your eating habits. You feel listless and lose your appetite or you sometimes can allow stress to make you eat more comfort foods. In addition, stress can actually interfere with the natural digestive process, because a lot more acids are released into the stomach.
As a result, many persons experience a condition known as nervous stomach, and suffer from bloating and flatulence. The usual response is to skip meals, which actually exacerbates the problem.
However, if you are dealing with stress, then eating well and having the right nutrients should be a priority so as to get relief. In this way, less stomach acid will be released and it will improve your general well being, as you will look and feel better.
Also, be sure to include foods from the following list to your diet, as they are great stress relievers:
Water: This tops the list simply because it is central to all the body's processes. Since stress has a tendency to dehydrate the body, water will help to keep it hydrated. Water will also assist in easing the problem caused by excess release of stomach acid, as it will flush excess acid away.
Milk: This can actually help to elevate you mood, and prevent the mood swings that sometimes occur alongside stress. Milk is rich in an ingredient called tryptophan, which is an amino acid that the body uses to maintain serotonin. Serotonin helps regulate mood. Therefore a diet rich in milk is sure to control mood swings.
Fiber: An increased intake of fiber will alleviate nervous stomach, and the digestive disorders that accompany stress. Good sources of fiber include orange, yellow and green vegetables, also carrot and tomatoes are excellent choices.
Apricots: These are rich in magnesium, which is know as the stress buster. Apricots have the added benefit of being rich in fiber, are also able to help with muscle relaxation.
It is also a good idea to incorporate some supplements like magnesium into your diet. This can help reset the nervous system, which is generally thrown out of balance by stress, and can also ease muscle tension. Herbal supplements such as hops and passion flower are also recommended, due to the relaxing effect they have on the body.
When treating stress with proper diet, it is never a good idea to skip meals, as this will only worsen the problem of acid being released into the stomach. Instead, try to establish a structured eating plan with regular mealtimes which will help to counteract any stomach disorders!!