Category Archives: organic food
Ten foods to prevent and stop diabetes
(NaturalNews) Diabetes is a disorder wherein the body cannot control its level of blood glucose or sugar. While many of the foods today contain high levels of diabetes-inducing sugar, there are ten amazingly healthy foods that can actually prevent diabetes from developing. Not only do these foods control blood sugar levels, but they are also packed with other nutrients and minerals that even those who do not have diabetes will benefit greatly from.
Preventing Diabetes through Diet and Exercise
A healthy diet coupled with a healthy lifestyle of exercise to maintain a normal weight is a sure-fire way to prevent diabetes type 2 or adult-onset diabetes. This is according to research as well as diabetes educators from the Healthcare and Education for the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
Christine Tobin, the president of Healthcare and Education for the ADA, said that, while there are a whole list of foods that can be considered as “superfoods” in terms of diabetes-prevention, her association recognizes the top ten of these foods that can help those with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. These foods contain vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamins A, C and E. These foods are also rich in fiber, which helps in suppressing cravings by keeping the blood sugar and the glycemic index low for longer periods. On top of that, these foods also control blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels, keeping them at healthy levels.
These are all very important to those with diabetes, but even normal people can benefit from these foods too:
Black, pinto, navy, kidney or other beans might be high in calories, but they are also rich in fiber and other nutrients. Rich in fiber means that they will help people feel full for longer periods.
Dark, Leafy Greens
Spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, kale and others are not only high in nutrients but also low in carbohydrates. Greens are also very low in calories, so people can eat as much of them as they as want!
Grapefruit, oranges, lemons and other citrus fruits are good for the heart because of their high content of vitamin C. Whole fruits are better than juices, since the fruit contains the fiber, which slows down the body’s absorption of sugar.
Sweet potatoes are better than other types of potatoes, because they have a low glycemic index. This means that sweet potatoes will not cause blood sugar levels to spike. They are also high in vitamin A.
Fresh, whole strawberries, blueberries, cranberries and any other variants are rich in vitamins, antioxidants and fiber. Add fresh berries into salads or cereal, or make into smoothies.
Tomatoes can be eaten either raw or cooked, and they are low in calories too. They can be served in a variety of ways, as side dishes, mixed in salads and soups or as a base sauce for casseroles or stews. Tomatoes are rich in vitamins E and C and iron.
Salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna, herring and halibut are all rich in omega-3, a kind of fatty acid that strengthens the heart and prevents diabetes. The best way to enjoy these fishes and their benefits is to serve them broiled or in soups. Frying them in batter and breading defeats the purpose.
Oatmeal, pearled barley and other whole grain products, like bread and pasta, all contain high amounts of fiber. They also contain essential nutrients like chromium, magnesium, omega-3 and folate.
Nuts are high in omega-3 and other good fatty acids. These kinds of fats protect and help the heart rather than burden it. However, one should not eat too much, as they are high in calories. A small handful, or roughly 1.5 ounces, is enough for a healthy snack.
Fat-Free Yogurt and Milk
Both are rich in calcium and vitamin D and are also good choices to help keep cravings under control.
It is quite easy to lose control and to splurge on food, but a good choice would be to splurge on these ten healthy foods rather than on sweets like chocolate.
Sources for this article include:
(NaturalNews) A flat stomach is a quest that has remained elusive for many people all over the world. Dieters often shy away from food to keep their slim figures. Food experts, however, have discovered several foods that actually help flatten the stomach.
These 20 foods help burn the fat away to reveal a sexy, flat tummy:
Green tea stimulates the body’s metabolism and can also suppress the absorption of fat. Drinking it daily aids in weight loss.
Olive oil has many benefits, but the main benefit is that it lowers LDL cholesterol – the “bad” cholesterol – and raises HDL cholesterol – the “good” cholesterol. It is also rich in phenol, an antioxidant that protects the walls of the arteries from cholesterol or fatty buildup.
Weight-watchers should reduce their intake of sugar, and that means soda pop, alcohol and most bottled or canned fruit drinks. Try drinking lemon water instead. It is refreshing and bursting with vitamin C as well.
This white meat is more meat and less fat, making it a good source of meat protein.
Cinnamon can prevent diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels. While it is packed with antioxidants, cinnamon can also prevent bloating.
Green Chai Tea
Chai tea is full of flavor from the spices but without the guilty calories. Homemade chai will also give healthier milk choices, and the addition of green tea will speed up the body’s metabolic rate.
Cucumbers are a great refreshing and crunchy snack. They are satisfying and low in calories.
Cereal is high in calories. Replacing it with bran will not only cut the excess calories but will also increase the body’s supply of fiber.
Yogurt is rich in protein, with three quarters of a cup serving 9 grams of it. Not only that, but yogurt is also rich in B vitamins and bone-strengthening calcium.
Legumes are a generally nutritious food packed with protein, B vitamins, potassium, iron and other trace minerals. Legumes are also a great source of insoluble and soluble fiber, which helps control optimum blood cholesterol levels. Legumes are ideal for dieters, since it is heavy on the stomach and controls cravings by controlling the body’s levels of blood glucose.
Turmeric is rich in curcumin, which is a powerful antioxidant. Turmeric also has antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, anti-cancer and antibacterial properties.
This whole grain is a wonderful alternative to other grains. Rich in protein, fiber, copper, B vitamins, magnesium and manganese.
Pears are incredibly rich in fiber, so much that a medium-sized pear can give 20% of a person’s daily need. The juicy flesh contains soluble fiber and pectin, which lowers the “bad” cholesterol previously mentioned.
Eating dark chocolate more frequently results in a lower body mass index, according to studies. As an added bonus, dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, too.
Juicy, succulent berries are rich in fiber and vitamins. They are also home to some of the most powerful antioxidants in foods, which helps protect the heart and eyes and helps fight off cancer.
Leeks are rich in manganese, which is an essential mineral that was found to prevent mood swings and menstrual cramps in women who took high amounts of it regularly. Not only that, leeks also help prevent and relieve bloating.
Salmons of all kinds are rich in heart-friendly omega-3, as well as vitamin D. Bones in canned or processed salmon are also rich in calcium.
Miso has probiotics that aid in digestion and keep the colon and intestinal walls healthy.
Research by the Rochester Center for Obesity found that those who regularly eat eggs for breakfast tend to take in less calories throughout the day – by around 400 or more. This translates to at least three pounds less in weight in a month.
Leafy green vegetables contain carotenoids, which prevent degenerative eye disease. Spinach alone is rich in vitamin K, which is essential for bone health. Greens are also rich in magnesium, potassium and folate, which lowers blood pressure.
These foods are great, not just because they aid in weight loss and burning fat, but also because they strengthen the body in many ways.
Sources for this article include:
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
(NaturalNews) In the wake of the release of the infamous “Stanford study,” which claims there is no substantial difference between organic food and conventional food, many with a deeper understanding of how organic food production works are speaking out against this ill-conceived attack on clean food. One such individual, Sarvadaman Patel, an organic farmer from India, says converting to organic was the best decision he ever made, and that organic food production can actually help save the world from the devastating effects of climate change.
President of the Organic Farming Association of India (OFAI), Patel denounces the notion that organic food is basically the same as conventional food. And he would know, having grown conventional produce for much of his life before witnessing how it slowly destroys the environment, animals, and even human beings. And contrary to popular belief, converting to organic has actually saved Patel from having to use as many valuable resources, including water, which he no longer has to apply in the same high quantities.
Organic food contains few pesticides
“The biggest advantage that organic food has over conventional food is cited by Stanford scientists themselves — lack of pesticides,” Patel is quoted as saying to the Times of India (ToI), noting that when he used to grow conventional produce, his cattle and farm hands became very sick from pesticide exposure. Patel also says pesticide-exposed produce is rushed very quickly to market in India, which means consumers there are being exposed to very high levels of chemical residue.
Organic growing methods use less water
After switching to organic production methods; however, Patel noticed that there was no longer any risk of chemical exposure because he was no longer using any chemicals. And in the process, Patel came to realize that he only needed to use about 60 percent of the water he was using before on his conventional crops to grow his organic crops. In every respect, converting to organic growing methods revolutionized Patel’s experience as a farmer, and changed the way he views food production.
“Organic (farming) could help save the world from global warming,” said Patel to ToI. “It saves 40 percent of water used in conventional farming and uses non-conventional energy sources. In summers, I don’t need to irrigate my farms for almost 30-35 days.”
Organic growing methods produce less waste, pollution
Since Patel no longer applies petroleum-derived fertilizers and growing chemicals to his crops, he is also avoiding excessive pollution runoff, which contributes significantly to the environmental alterations commonly attributed to climate change. And on top of all this, Patel still achieves roughly the same yields now as when he farmed conventionally, a fact that was also ignored by theStanford study and many others that have tried to claim that organic production methods fail to generate adequate yields.
If it were not for unfair government subsidies, organic food would cost less
As far as costs are concerned, organic production methods still cost more. But this is primarily due to the fact that in the U.S., India, and elsewhere, governments subsidize conventional growing methods while offering little or nothing in support of organic production. Such a policy, of course, creates an unfair advantage for conventional farming, which translates into cheaper prices for conventional produce, a common complaint among those who belittle organic food as some kind of luxury for the wealthy.
If these unfair government subsidies were eliminated — or if the government actually helped subsidize organic food in the same way that it does conventional food — organic food would very likely end up being priced the same, if not cheaper, than conventional produce. And the benefit would be that more people would actually have the option to choose clean food rather than chemical-contaminated food without having to worry about costs.
(NaturalNews) Before getting into the crux of this article, what you are now about to read is probably the most essential and important piece of information concerning apples.
If organically grown, all the vital health benefits are located right under the skin of the apple. If conventionally grown all the detrimental pesticides, herbicides and cancer causing sulfites are located right under the skin of the apple.
So, should you choose to eat a conventionally grown apple, you must peel the skin off the apple first and just eat the flesh of the apple, which contains very little nutritional value. Personally, I would rather not choose to eat a conventionally grown apple.
That being said, whatever color of apple you choose, as long as it was organically grown, is extremely beneficial health wise.
Welcome to quercetin. Quercetin is an antioxident that stops tumor cell growth and works against cancers of the lung, breast, liver and colon.
In Hawaii, yet another study was done that found that people who ate more apples and onions – both being high in quercetin – had a lower risk of lung cancer.
The apple peel also stores natural plant compounds called triterpenoids, which either kill or slow the growth of cancer cells.
If you prefer apple juice better than eating the whole apple, go with organic cider that is unfiltered. It is made from shredded whole apples including the peel.
Another incredible ingredient in the humble organic apple is pectin. Pectin is a soluble fiber in apples that is another cancer-fighting ingredient.
Pectin is usually used as a gelling agent for jams and yogurt and although it can kill up to 40% of cancer cells, it does not kill healthy cells.
Organic apples are also essential in the battle against high cholesterol and heart disease.
These incredibly super nutrients will help your heart by lowering inflammation and keeping blood platelets from sticking together. In fact, the flavonoids in apples, along with other fruits and vegetables, nuts and herbs, work as antioxidents benefiting your heart because they stop the oxidation of LDL cholesterol – the “bad” kind – and protect against hardening of the arteries.
If you have seen oatmeal ads, you have been told that soluble fiber like pectin and psyllium husk helps lower cholesterol because it soaks up water in the intestines and forms a gel or a gooey mass that slows down digestion. This equates to the slower digestion of starches and sugars, which means that cholesterol levels go down over time.
Oh yeah, research has found that adults who eat apples and apple products have less abdominal fat as well as lower blood pressure and a reduced risk for developing metabolic syndrome, which can lead to chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
Bear in mind that what is lacking in your diet could be as much of a problem as what’s in it.
This is the case with boron, a trace mineral that many diets lack. Boron will help you use calcium, magnesium and vitamin D, all vital for strong bones and joints. And guess what? Too little boron puts you at greater risk for arthritis.
Osteoarthritis happens when cartilage, the slippery tissue that cushions your joints, starts to break down. This can lead to fluid pockets and misshapen bones around your joints and pain and stiffness in your joints like the knees, hips, fingers, feet and spine, mean a lifetime of work and play that has taken its toll. So, people that live in places where there is less boron in the soil and thus also less in plant foods like apples, have a greater risk of arthritis.
But there is good news: you can get an excellent helping of boron in apples and apple juice, which may ease arthritis symptoms. In the SAD (Standard American Diet), apples and apple juice rank in the top 10 boron sources, along with peanut butter, beans, potatoes and orange juice. And the food sources are the best.
Next on the list is fiber. You know, the tough stuff that gives carrots and celery their crunch and whole wheat bread its heartiness but which is totally lacking in flesh and dairy products.
There are two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
The soluble fiber from oats, barley, bananas. dried beans and apples, forms a gel in your intestines to move out fatty substances.
The insoluble fiber from wheat bran, brown rice, broccoli and yes, apples, is called roughage. Rather than break down completely during digestion it, instead, holds on to water and bulks up stool. It kind of acts like a broom sweeping food through your intestines quickly.
Both soluble and insoluble fiber are essential in preventing constipation.
As previously stated, apples provide both types of fiber – about two-thirds insoluble and one-third soluble in the form of pectin. A whole medium apple will give you about four grams of fiber. Remove the peel and you are down to two grams.
Since 1980, apple juice consumption has doubled, while fruit consumption has declined. But apple juice is missing some of the great stuff you get in apples. One cup of apple juice has only a quarter of a gram of fiber but more sugar than the whole fruit has. The juice will make diarrhea worse, so be safe not sorry.
So, A is for apple and antioxidents, and B is for boron, which you need for your brain. Because apples are powerful in antioxidents, they will help your brain make more acetylcholine, which acts like a neurotranmitter in relaying messages to other nerve cells in your brain.
People with Alzheimer’s disease build up a protein in their brain called beta amyloid, which forms sticky patches on their nerves. The high levels of beta amyloid result in less acetylcholine, which means less messages being relayed to other nerve cells in the brain.
Eating apples at every stage of life will help keep your lungs strong and healthy because the phytochemicals abounding in apples work by reducing inflammation in the airways leading to less wheezing and asthma.
In fact, studies done in Finland, Wales, England, the USA and Singapore all had similar results: eating apples helped people breathe better. New evidence has been revealed that pregnant women who eat lots of apples have a stronger chance of protecting their babies from wheezing or developing asthama in childhood. Of course, once vaccinations come into play, all bets are off.
It is never too late to begin your apple-a day habit. So many seniors suffer with breathing trouble caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This is the technical term for both emphysema and chronic bronchitis, and it’s the fourth most common cause of death in the US.
The experts think that the antioxidants in apples help repair lung damage that can lead to COPD..
And yes, an organic apple a day will keep the doctor away and two teaspoons of organic sulfur crystals will keep asthma, autism, cancer, joint pain, headaches, low energy and astigmatism at bay.
But then again, if all else fails, there’s always Obamacare. God forbid!
About the author:
I have been doing a weekly radio show in Honolulu since 1981 called “Health Talk”. In 2007 I was “forced” to get a Masters degree in Nutrition because of all the doctors that would call in asking for my credentials. They do not call in anymore. Going to www.healthtalkhawaii.com enables you, among other things, to listen to the shows. I am an activist. In addition to espousing an organic vegan diet for optimum health, I am strongly opposed to GMOs, vaccines, processed foods, MSG, aspartame, fluoridation and everything else that the pimps (Big Pharma, Monsanto and the large food companies) and the hookers (the doctors, the government agencies, the public health officials, and the mainstream media) thrust upon us, the tricks.
After being vaccinated with the DTP vaccine as a child I developed asthma. After taking the organic sulfur crystals (they are harvested from the pine trees in Louisiana) in November of 2008 for 10 days my asthma reversed and has not come back over 3 years later, 18 cases, so far, of autism have been reversed, as has cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, osteoarthritis, joint pain, astigmatism, gum disease, increased sexual activity, heavy metal and radiation elimination, parasite elimination, free radicals elimination, faster athletic recovery time, increased blood circulation, reduced inflammation, resistance to getting the flu, reduction of wrinkles, allergy reduction, reduced PMS and monthly period pain, nausea, migraines and so much more. And it’s only possible because of the oxygen it releases that floods the cells of the body. The sulfur, as proven by the University of Southampton in England, enables the body to produce vitamin B12 and the essential amino acids. You can find out more about this incredible nutrient also on my website – www.healthtalkhawaii.com – Products and Services. There is also an organic, 70%, cold processed dark chocolate out there that contains sulfur based zeolite, which removes radiation and heavy metals. You can find out more by reading the article “A Dark Chocolate To Die For” on my website under Articles, or by going towww.mywaiora.com/701848.
I am 73. I have been a vegetarian since 1975 years and a vegan since 1990. I have no illnesses and take no meds. I play basketball 2 hours a week, am in 2 softball leagues, racewalk, body surf, do stand-up paddling, do weight workouts and teach women’s self defense classes based upon 25 years of Wing Chun training.
My firm belief – if it had a face and a mother or if man made it, don’t eat it.
In many respects, making healthier food choices has recently become far easier than it’s been in the past.
From caloric content being displayed on menus, to the USDA’s new My Plate design, and of course the remarkable amount of information available to us on the Internet, searching for and finding science-based and accurate information has really never been easier.
Unfortunately, however, there’s still a truly shocking amount of false, misleading, and utterly false information that we often have to sift through until we (hopefully) find the truth.
One area which has recently caused a great deal of confusion is food labeling and understanding what certain labels actually mean.
Notably, labels such as Organic and Natural have received a great deal of attention. What’s frustrating, however, is not that these labels exist (in fact, I think they can be very helpful), but that there are so many conflicting views regarding the validity of these products and what their labels denote.
Some argue organic is the only way to eat if you don’t wish to die a slow, painful, and early death as a result of ingesting various toxins and pesticides. And others proclaim they won’t eat anything other than foods stamped with an all natural label as they’ll only eat foods in their purest form.
But what do these labels truly mean?
Does having the USDA Certified Organic stamp of approval automatically make it a “healthy” food?
Is an “All Natural” product inherently better than its otherwise identical non-all-natural counterpart?
And, perhaps most importantly, are products bearing these labels intrinsically “healthy” options?
To answer these questions accurately we must first understand what each of these labels truly mean. Afterwards, we’ll review the current data at which point you can decide what (if any) food labels are important and necessary for you.
But first, before we begin, I think it’s important to answer one crucial question:
What Makes a Food “Healthy?”
Does it need to be low-calorie? Nutrient dense? Low-carb? Low-fat? Free of pesticides? Unprocessed?
The options are endless and it even gets more complicated than that! So, in my opinion, before we decide what the healthiest options are, we must first establish what “healthy” means to each and every one of us on an individual basis.
Personally, I don’t view any single food as inherently good or bad, healthy or unhealthy. Too much (or too little) of anything, regardless of what it is, isn’t conducive to long-term health or success.
Additionally, as long as an individual is habitually eating in a manner which appropriately supports their caloric, macro/micronutrient, and individual needs, then moderately incorporating traditionally labeledunhealthy foods into their diet likely won’t result in unhealthy side effects and, may in fact, be beneficial on a physical, emotional, and psychological level.
In other words, instead of judging the “healthiness” of each individual food, I prefer to take a more holistic approach and consider the health of a person’s overall nutritional habits.
Taking my definition of “healthy” into account, let’s move onto the first label of the day:
What Is “Natural?”
According to the FDA, “It is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives.”
In short, the FDA has not officially defined the term natural. And interestingly enough, they even allude to the fact that, unless you’re growing and/or killing your own food, anything you buy in the grocery store is in some way, shape, or form processed and therefore not “natural.”
Whether that’s a good or bad thing is entirely up to you, but I found it interesting nonetheless.
Despite not having a clear-cut definition, the FDA has provided a guideline that states “Natural” is a general term which encompasses a wide-ranging spectrum of foods that are minimally processed and free of synthetic preservatives; artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and other artificial additives; growth hormones; antibiotics; hydrogenated oils; stabilizers; and emulsifiers.
So there’s your definition. For a food to be labeled as natural it must be minimally processed and free of the aforementioned ingredients such as synthetic preservatives and artificial sweeteners.
It’s important to note, however, that for a product to bear the “natural” label it’s only required to beprocessed without the use of artificial additives, but not necessarily raised without them. To illustrate, meat and poultry items labeled as natural can be raised using antibiotics, growth hormones, and other synthetic ingredients so long as their use is discontinued after the animal has been slaughtered.
Needless to say, this lack of a clear definition has created a great deal of confusion, controversy, and deceit. Not only are consumers utterly perplexed as to what may (or may not) be the “healthiest” option, but many company’s perpetuate the issue by making false or misleading claims solely for the purpose of selling more products.
Which brings us to the question: Are foods labeled as “natural” inherently better or healthier than foods not labeled as natural?
In short: No.
But perhaps a better answer would be: It depends.
Again, taking my above definition of “healthy” into account, I don’t think foods labeled as natural are inherently better or healthier than foods not labeled as natural. Rather, I think it depends on the individual, their habitual diet, and the extent to which they’re consuming certain foods (regardless of whether they’re labeled as natural or not) on a day-to-day basis.
Additionally, I think it’s important to understand that just because a food is labeled as “natural” doesn’t mean it’s inherently good for us. Foods labeled as “Natural,” “All Natural,” and “100% Natural” can be calorically dense, high in sugar, and undergo extreme processing measures.
That being the case, when it comes to “natural” foods, invest in what you feel most comfortable with. Stick to a diet largely consisting of fruits, vegetables, lean animal proteins, whole grains, and a mix of high quality fats. Whether or not these foods are labeled as “natural” is (at least in my opinion) irrelevant.
On to label number two…
What Is “Organic?”
As stated by the FDA, “the term organic refers not only to the food itself, but to how it was processed.” In order to be labeled as “organic,” foods “must be grown and processed using organic farming methods that recycle resources and promote biodiversity.” They can’t use a variety of products such as synthetic pesticides and bioengineered genes; and “organic farm animals must have access to the outdoors and be given no antibiotics or growth hormones; and organic foods may not be irradiated.”
All in all, organic food products seem to be produced with as little human, technological, and chemical intervention as possible.
Simple enough, right?
Well, not so fast. Where it starts to get confusing is when we begin to see the different types of organic labeling. Without going into excruciating detail, there are 3 major types of organic product labels which I’ve listed and generally defined below:
- 100% Organic: Derived from and made with 100% organic ingredients
- Organic: At least 95% of the product uses organic ingredients
- Made with Organic Ingredients: Must contain at least 70% organic ingredients
Delving into each subset of organic labels is entirely outside the scope of this article so, for today’s purposes, I’m going to lump all types of organic into one general group.
Now, it seems as though a large majority of people who buy organic do so to limit their consumption of pesticides and food additives. That being the case, I think it’s safe to assume (and correct me if I’m wrong) that people want to avoid these food additives because of their potential adverse side effects on human health.
So what’s the word? Are organic foods safer than non-organic foods?
Well, simply put, we’re not sure.
The current data regarding the superior safety of organic vs. conventional foods is inconclusive. While a number of animal and observational studies suggest organic is the safer option, other similarly performed trials disagree.
To illustrate this point, Christine Williams and colleagues, in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, reviewed the current data on organic vs. conventional food and concluded, “The quality and quantity of the science applied in this area to date is inadequate. Conclusions cannot be drawn regarding potentially beneficial or adverse nutritional consequences, to the consumer, of increased consumption of organic foods.”
In spite of this, Williams and colleagues appeared to suggest that any differences between organic and conventionally produced foods are minimal and inconsequential. They expressed this view by stating,“There have been very few scientific studies in which foods grown conventionally have been compared, under comparable and controlled conditions, with those produced organically, in terms of their nutrient composition or their biological effects on animals or human subjects. It would appear that few differences can be demonstrated, and where differences are detected they are very small.“
Finally, and seemingly in accordance with Williams, in their review of the currnet literature comparing organic vs. conventional foods, Magkos and colleagues concluded “a balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, and adequate in foods from the other groups, is unequivocally able to maintain and improve health, regardless of its organic or conventional origin.”
In short, we’re not entirely sure if one is safer than the other. However, from what we can tell thus far, it’s really not all that important. As long as you’re eating a typically “healthy” diet, it doesn’t matter whether you eat organically or conventionally produced foods.
So what about overall health? Are organic foods generally healthier than non-organic foods?
Well, according to the FDA, “The USDA makes no claims that organic food is safer or more nutritious than conventionally produced food, and indeed many organic foods are likely to match their conventional counterparts….”
Based on the current literature, there’s little to no evidence suggesting that organic products are inherently healthier than their non-organic equivalents.
While there are some minor discrepancies (such as a higher vitamin C and lower nitrate content in organic leafy vegetables), research has not yet indicated whether these differences will have a clinical significance on human health. Personally, I doubt it will.
Despite there being a general lack of evidence proving that organic is healthier than conventional, the rise of organic food products and advertisements has unquestionably resulted in the formation of a “health halo” regarding organic foods and their supposed superiority to all others.
Briefly, a health halo describes a phenomenon in which consumers make (positive or negative) inferences about a specific product based on separate and irrelevant characteristics of the same or similar products.
In the context of organic food labels, Schuldt and Schwarz found that, “When a food is described as organic, perceivers erroneously infer that it is lower-calorie and that it can be eaten more frequently.”
In other words, when a food product bears the organic label, often times people make the mistake of assuming it’s automatically “healthy” and likely lower-calorie than its non-organic counterpart. As a result, this could potentially cause a downstream effect and lead to weight gain and other related health issues.
Which leads me to my next big point: Just because a food is labeled organic does not imply that it is inherently healthy, low-calorie, nutrient dense, good for weight loss, etc., etc., etc.
It simply means that it’s organic…period.
Regardless of whether it’s packaged in an eco-friendly box, marked with the USDA Organic stamp of approval, or cleverly named in a way that suggests life-long health, if you want the unbiased truth, then you need to turn the box over and read the nutrition label.
Foods labeled organic and/or natural are not inherently healthier than their conventional counterparts. As long as you’re habitually eating appropriate quantities of fruits, veggies, lean animal proteins, unprocessed whole grains, and a mix of high quality fats, the current research has simply not found any conclusive data to support the consumption of one over the others.
If you have the extra cash and want to buy the more expensive options, by all means go for it. But remember, just because a food is labeled organic or natural does not imply intrinsic health or quality value.
Never Minimal. Never Maximal. Always Optimal.
Sometimes locally grown has a lower ‘environmental footprint’ than strictly organic. Here are some suggestions from websites including our own. Follow these guides on what you should and shouldn’t buy organic. These lists are based on what might enter your body. However you may want to consider the workers in the fields who often get sprayed while working the crops as well. Think like a forest.
Things You Can Safely Buy Conventional (Non-organic)
But wash them anyway, to be safer.
Their thick skins protect the fruit from pesticide build-up.
The banana peel isn’t eaten and that’s where the pesticide stays.
Its spiny skin protects it from pests and pesticide residue.
Its fuzzy skin acts as a barrier to pesticides, but still rinse before use.
Another fruit that has thick skin that protects it from pesticides. Rinse before use.
Pesticide residue stays on papaya skin, but rinse before using.
This vegetable faces fewer threats from pests, therefore less pesticides.
Conventional broccoli crops face fewer pest threats, like asparagus, so they require few pesticides.
Like asparagus and broccoli, it doesn’t need a lot of pesticides while it is growing.
As with many listed here, they don’t see as many pest threats, which means less pesticide use.
Things to Buy Organic
Here are some tips we found on My Gloss:
Fruits and vegetables with thin or edible skins tend to get sprayed more and absorb more pesticide residue. Always buy these ones organic.
The skin of apples has lots of vitamins, so you don’t want to peel it off. But even if you do, apples are a big pest target, heavily sprayed and often washing and peeling doesn’t get off all of the chemicals.
This anti-oxidant powerhouse berries are among the ‘dirtiest’ of fruits. They’re sprayed with dozens of pesticides so make sure you buy fresh, organic blueberries. Or pick wild.
It’s important to buy organic grapes and organic wines. Grapes have thin skin and are sprayed various times during the growing process.
- Peaches and Nectarines
Peaches and nectarines are heavily sprayed and their delicate skin absorbs the chemicals easily.
Celery is sprayed with organophosphates, which have been linked to ADHD. With no protective skin, they absorb harmful chemicals rapidly and don’t wash off.
- Bell Peppers
Their soft skin and lack of a protective layer lands bell peppers on the must-buy organic list.
Spuds are among the most contaminated veggies. If you can’t find organic, opt for Sweet Potatoes instead. Or try the organic rice.
Bugs like spinach more than Popeye. It’s among the most heavily sprayed leafy greens.
Beef, pork and chicken store chemicals and hormones in their fat, so buy organic meat. At least stay away from the fatty cuts and chicken thighs. Try the organic tofu.
Coffee beans grown in other countries aren’t regulated, so look for the USDA Organic label to ensure your coffee doesn’t come with a shot of harmful chemicals.
The biggest reason not to ignore the food purists is that in a lot of ways they’re right. Our diet is indeed killing us, and it’s killing the planet too. Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta released a study revealing that nearly 27% of Americans are now considered obese (that is, more than 20% above their ideal weight), and in nine states, the obesity rate tops 30%. We eat way too much meat — up to 220 lb. per year for every man, woman and child in the U.S. — and only 14% of us consume our recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Our processed food is dense with salt and swimming in high-fructose corn syrup, two flavors we can’t resist. Currently, enough food is manufactured in the U.S. for every American to consume 3,800 calories per day — we need only 2,350 in a healthy diet — and while some of that gets thrown away, most is gobbled up long before it can go stale on the shelves.
When animal protein, whether organic or not, becomes a supporting player in the diet, then fruits, veggies and grains take the lead. That’s generally a good thing, but here too there are complications. The back-to-the-land ideal of farming without the use of synthetic pesticides and other chemicals can take you only so far in a country with 309 million mouths to feed (not to mention a world with 6.8 billion). Say what you will about the environmental depredations of agribusiness, industrial farms coax up to twice as much food out of every acre of land as organic farms do. And even that full-tilt output may not be enough to keep up with a global population that’s galloping ahead to a projected 9 billion by 2050.
But for most consumers — even those who think of themselves as environmentally conscious — the critical considerations in deciding to go organic involve the far more personal matters of price, flavor and nutrition. Last year’s nutrient study had a lot of organic partisans wincing — and a lot of commercial growers feeling smug — but one paper is hardly the whole story. The real difference between organic and nonorganic produce is in the relative presence of micronutrients such as copper, iron and manganese, as well as folic acid, none of which were included in the study. With these, the results are mixed. (See whether you should buy organic or conventional food.)
What’s the only thing no-neck meatheads and patchouli-scented hippies have in common? We’re both interested in organic food and the effects on our health and performance. (Well, maybe the hippies don’t care about performance….)
Organic Schmorganic. What’s It Mean?
Is Organic Produce More Nutritious than Conventional Produce?
What Kinds of Fruits and Veggies Should You Buy Organic?
The Bottom Line on Organic Produce
Paul Apple is an aspiring firefighter/paramedic who has a keen interest in maximizing human physical performance. He is currently finishing paramedic school, and holds degrees in Physical Education & Health and Fire Science. He can be reached at A1HumanPerfomance@gmail.com
Bootcamp Q & A
Should I Go Organic?
In my opinion, there is no evidence that organic foods are more nutritious than conventionally grown food; they meet the same quality and safety standards as conventional foods. Some claim organic foods taste better, but, as you know from taking your mom gown shopping, taste is totally subjective and everyone is different.
If you do want to splurge on organic, get the best bang for your buck with the “dirty dozen” — 12 fruits and vegetables for which buying organic can make a real difference in pesticide levels: apples, cherries, grapes (imported), nectarines, peaches, pears, raspberries, strawberries, bell peppers, celery, potatoes, and spinach. Conventional versions of these produce tend to have higher levels of pesticides than other fruits and veggies. Other organic foods to invest in include milk, poultry, and beef.
Save money by comparison shopping, hitting the local farmers’ markets, joining a local co-op or ordering by mail if possible. Oh, and buyers beware — read labels and ask questions. If a food bears the USDA Organic label, you can trust that at least 95 percent of the food’s ingredients were organically produced. Other terms to look for are “100 percent organic” and “made with organic ingredients.” Labels such as “all-natural,” “free-range,” and “hormone-free” are not the same. (Don’t get me started…)
1. Canned Tomatoes
The expert: Fredrick vom Saal, PhD, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A
The problem: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food. Studies show that the BPA in most people’s body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. “You can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that’s a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young,” says vom Saal. “I won’t go near canned tomatoes.”
The solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Bionaturae and Coluccio. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, like Trader Joe’s and Pomi.
2. Corn-Fed Beef
The expert: Joel Salatin, co-owner of Polyface Farms and author of half a dozen books on sustainable farming
The problem: Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. More money for cattle farmers (and lower prices at the grocery store) means a lot less nutrition for us. A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease. “We need to respect the fact that cows are herbivores, and that does not mean feeding them corn and chicken manure,” says Salatin.
The solution: Buy grass-fed beef, which can be found at specialty grocers, farmers’ markets, and nationally at Whole Foods. It’s usually labeled because it demands a premium, but if you don’t see it, ask your butcher.
3. Microwave Popcorn
The expert: Olga Naidenko, PhD, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group,
The problem: Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize—and migrate into your popcorn. “They stay in your body for years and accumulate there,” says Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals. DuPont and other manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of bags of popcorn will be sold between now and then.
The solution: Pop natural kernels the old-fashioned way: in a skillet. For flavorings, you can add real butter or dried seasonings, such as dillweed, vegetable flakes, or soup mix.
4. Nonorganic Potatoes
The expert: Jeffrey Moyer, chair of the National Organic Standards Board
The problem: Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes—the nation’s most popular vegetable—they’re treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they’re dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. “Try this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout. It won’t,” says Moyer, who is also farm director of the Rodale Institute (also owned by Rodale Inc., the publisher of Prevention). “I’ve talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals.”
The solution: Buy organic potatoes. Washing isn’t good enough if you’re trying to remove chemicals that have been absorbed into the flesh.
5. Farmed Salmon
The expert: David Carpenter, MD, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany and publisher of a major study in the journal Science on contamination in fish.
The problem: Nature didn’t intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. According to Carpenter, the most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which can be found on American menus. “You can only safely eat one of these salmon dinners every 5 months without increasing your risk of cancer,” says Carpenter, whose 2004 fish contamination study got broad media attention. “It’s that bad.” Preliminary science has also linked DDT to diabetes and obesity, but some nutritionists believe the benefits of omega-3s outweigh the risks. There is also concern about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. When you eat farmed salmon, you get dosed with the same drugs and chemicals.
The solution: Switch to wild-caught Alaska salmon. If the package says fresh Atlantic, it’s farmed. There are no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon.
6. Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones
The expert: Rick North, project director of the Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and former CEO of the Oregon division of the American Cancer Society
The problem: Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers. “When the government approved rBGH, it was thought that IGF-1 from milk would be broken down in the human digestive tract,” says North. As it turns out, the casein in milk protects most of it, according to several independent studies. “There’s not 100% proof that this is increasing cancer in humans,” admits North. “However, it’s banned in most industrialized countries.”
The solution: Check labels for rBGH-free, rBST-free, produced without artificial hormones, or organic milk. These phrases indicate rBGH-free products.
7. Conventional Apples
The expert: Mark Kastel, former executive for agribusiness and codirector of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm-policy research group that supports organic foods
The problem: If fall fruits held a “most doused in pesticides contest,” apples would win. Why? They are individually grafted (descended from a single tree) so that each variety maintains its distinctive flavor. As such, apples don’t develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful. But Kastel counters that it’s just common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most doused produce, like apples. “Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers,” he says. And increasing numbers of studies are starting to link a higher body burden of pesticides (from all sources) with Parkinson’s disease.
The solution: Buy organic apples. If you can’t afford organic, be sure to wash and peel them first.