All posts by psrast

Why We Should Eat More Organic Food

When people hear the words “organic food,” they either roll their eyes or smile in delight. There are critics and proponents on both sides of the organic vs conventional debate, but there are plenty of reasons to start adding more organic foods into your diet.

1. Organic Food is Grown with Natural Pesticides

Contrary to what you may have heard, organic food isn’t necessarily pesticide-free. By law, organic farmers are allowed to use a wide variety of pesticide sprays and powders on their crops.

But what sets organic food apart from conventional produce is that the pesticides must be derived from natural sources.

Many of the pesticides used in organic farming contain natural substances, like lime sulfur, soaps and hydrogen peroxide.

The truth is that pests are going to attack plants regardless of whether it’s a conventional or organic farm. After all, these creatures need to eat, too. But with organic pesticides, these pets are kept at bay or killed using natural sources that are less harmful to the body than synthetic pesticides.

2. Organic Food is Environmentally-Friendly

organic appleOrganic farming takes a more environmentally-friendly approach to growing food than conventional factory farms.

Farmers typically use soil-building practices, like inter-cropping, crop rotations, cover crops, minimum tillage, symbiotic associations and organic fertilizers, to keep soil rich and healthy. These practices encourage soil flora and fauna, and also prevent soil erosion.

Organic farming is also environmentally-friendly at the root level. The spraying of pesticides on conventional farms pollutes the air and the groundwater, but organic farming all but eliminates this problem.

3. Organic Food Cannot be Genetically Modified

Organic standards prohibit the use of GMOs anywhere in the organic system, from growing to processing and handling.

You can rest assured that foods labeled as oganic are not genetically modified.

Scientists are still unsure of the long-term repercussions of GMOs. Their effects on the environment and on the human body are still unknown.

With conventional produce, you have no way of knowing whether the food is genetically modified.

4. Organic Food is More Nutritious

A review of 343 studies found that organic food really is more nutritious. The research, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that organic crops and foods containing organic crops had higher levels of antioxidants than conventionally-grown foods.

Researchers also found that conventional foods contained higher levels of cadmium and residual pesticides. Cadmium, a metal, is also found in cigarette smoke, and can damage both the kidneys and the liver.

Scientists believe that organic crops may produce more natural toxins and antioxidants to fight against environmental threats and insects.

5. Pasture-Raised Meat is Healthier

Pasture fed cowsPasture-raised meat may not technically be an “organic food,” but it’s a food that health-conscious people try to incorporate into their diets.

Generally, pasture-raised meats are more nutritious than their conventional counterparts. Most factory farm animals are kept in confined spaces and rarely see the light of day. These animals are pumped with hormones and antibiotics to fatten them up and prevent illness. To top it off, these animals are fed an unnatural diet for the sake of keeping costs low.

We all know how unhealthy humans get from not moving around enough, not getting enough sunlight and not eating an appropriate diet. Animals also become unhealthy when they adopt this type of lifestyle.

An unhealthy animal produces unhealthy meat. That’s why pasture-raised meats are more nutritious. The animals are free to roam the pasture and eat what they would in the wild.

What are your reasons for eating organic food? Let us know!

What are Superfoods?

Superfoods is still a major buzz word in the health industry, but many people still don’t know why some foods are more “super” than others. Which foods are deserving of the superhero cape? Let’s take a closer look at what it takes to be a superfood.

What are Superfoods?

In order for a food to be considered a “superfood,” it needs to be a nutritional powerhouse. These foods give you more bang – or nutrients – for your buck.

A large percentage of superfoods are plant-based, but you’ll also find some fish and dairy products in this category. These foods are all nutritionally-dense.

Kale, blueberries and salmon are three of the most well-known superfoods, but there are dozens of others that pack a ton of nutrients and antioxidants in a tiny package.

With that said, there is no concrete criteria for determining which foods are superfoods. Many dietiticians and health experts say the term is really more of a marketing buzz word to get people excited and interested in nutritionally dense foods.

Still, these foods are very healthy and often contain free-radical-fighting antioxidants as well as phytonutrients.

The Truth About Superfoods

Superfoods really are great for your body and your health, but it’s important to be realistic about your expectations. Many people are under the impression that they can eat one or two servings of these foods per day on top of an otherwise unhealthy diet and protect themselves from chronic disease. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Superfoods can kick your health into overdrive, but only when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Which Superfoods are the Biggest Superstars?

There are dozens of superfoods, but some are more “super” than others. Some of the top superstar superfoods include:

Garlic

GarlicGarlic helps boost the immune system by promoting white cell growth, which is the body’s natural defense system. But garlic also has antimicrobial properties, meaning that it can help slow the growth of yeast, bacteria and fungi.

On top of these great benefits, garlic also helps to lower harmful cholesterol.

Fresh garlic is the most nutritious, but the powdered version of this plant is just as effective at lowering cholesterol.

Onions

An excellent complement to garlic, onions are another superfood superstar. It gets its superpower from quercetin, an antioxidant that strengthens and protects damaged cells.

Onions also raise your good cholesterol levels while thinning the blood and lowering your blood pressure.

Kale

High in fiber, kale is a dark leafy green vegetable that’s similar to spinach and is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals.

Kale is high in vitamins C and A, which are great for your skin and have anti-aging properties. A single serving of this green veggie contains more than half of your recommended dose of vitamin C.

Broccoli

broccoliHigh in vitamin C and magnesium, broccoli is the vegetable your mom has been telling you to eat since you were a child. And that’s because this green vegetable is considered one of the most potent immune boosters.

Wild Salmon

Wild-caught salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as iodine, zinc, potassium and vitamin D.

Can Genetically Engineered Foods Be Hazardous?

Genetically engineered foods (GE or GMO) are foods modified by humans. These foods can contain repellents to protect against infestation, or they can be modified to be larger or even have a different color than what they normally have.

Genetic modification seems to be a great breakthrough on the outside, but it can have a lot of complications, too.

A few facts that people need to know before they sink their teeth into GMO foods are:

  1. A gene that was in GE maize for humans resulted in the death of a group of cows in Hesse, Germany. The cows were fed the maize, which contained a toxic Bt protein.
  2. A study found that 50% of rats die within less than a month when their mothers were fed GMO soya. The alarming study also found that a majority of the mice were severely stunted as a result of their mother’s diet.
  3. Another study on mice found that liver changes can occur, resulting in significant cell nucleus changes in the liver. This study points to a potential disturbance in cellular function that can have serious health consequences.
  4. There has been proof of GE foods becoming inserted into the genes of humans. This happens through eating GMO foods.
  5. Scientists confirm that genetic engineering results are unpredictable. The result of this unpredictable nature can cause harmful substances to enter into the food supply, causing death or serious side effects.
  6. Suppression on the government and local level keeps the truth about GMOs out of the spotlight. Research and scientist suppression are common. Many scientists are essentially blacklisted in the industry, causing them to have difficulty finding a job.

But, the real threat comes from the wide array of foods that are genetically modified. Many of the foods people eat on a daily basis have been modified by scientists. The foods that have been modified, and this is just a short list, include:

  • CornUSDA organic
  • Flax
  • Papaya
  • Squash
  • Sugar beet
  • Alfalfa
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Rice

There are countless other foods, many in your home right now, that have been modified. If you live in the United States, the government doesn’t require the labeling of genetically modified foods. New legislation has been introduced to help with the issue, but most legislation falls short. Companies may need to disclose genetic modification, but the company doesn’t need to have labeling.

Genetic modification is an effort to help bring sustainable foods to the market. The issue is that science has proven that there is no need for GE organisms to supply the world with food. There’s more than enough land for food growth given current population numbers.

GMO seeds have also resulted in patents and small farmers closing down because of dangerous lawsuits that threaten small agriculture.

The issue is that the understanding of modification is incomplete. Grave consequences of modification can be a result of a gene modification, such as in the cow fact above, which makes it into the general public. There have been reports of humans dying from GMO poisons.

Until the technology is fully understood, it remains unsafe and a potential hazard to trust GE food.

Organic Foods for People On the Go

You want to eat organic, and you want to be able to eat on-the-go. If this sounds like you, there’s good news: you can eat organic even if you’re super active and have little time to spare for yourself.

The best organic foods for people on-the-go include:

1. Berries

Berries are packed with flavor, vitamins and minerals. Some of our favorite snacks include berries, and since you can pick them up and eat them without cooking them, they’re a great healthy snack to have in your home.

But berries are also part of the dirty dozen.

What this means is that they’re riddled with pesticides and are often GMO, so you’ll always want to go with organic berries if you want to stay away from these harmful pesticides. The berries that people like most include:

  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries

Darker hues often contain the most nutritional benefits. You’ll also find that berries are often considered a super food because they’re very high in antioxidants, which help fight free radical damage.

2. Bananas

Organic bananas are delicious. The sweet taste is accompanied by ease of digestion and a quick jolt of energy that can fuel your workout. The great thing is that bananas provide energy for up to two hours, so you’ll often find athletes eating a banana before their big game.

Filled with potassium, bananas will also work to fight off those dreaded muscle cramps you hate so much.

If you plan on going for a run or engage in rigorous rowing sessions like we do, a banana is a great treat that can be brought with you on-the-go.

3. Chia Seeds

chia seedsI’m not a huge advocate of most seeds because they leave me hungrier than if I didn’t eat them. Although tasty, most seeds don’t make it into my daily routine. But, Chia seeds are different. This seed is filled with antioxidants, which help fight free radicals.

Athletes benefit from eating chia seeds because they absorb 12 times their weight in water.

Since the seeds absorb so much water, they allow an athlete to remain hydrated even after a long session on the field. If you’re not a fan of eating the seeds raw, you have the option of grinding them up and placing them in water.

You have no reason to skip your daily dose of chia seeds if you mix it into your water.

4. Fruits

Fruits of all kinds can be brought with you on-the-go and eaten at your leisure. A few fruits that are easy to eat and stay fresh in a bag or on their own include:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Pears
  • Oranges
  • Mangos
  • Papaya

If you can pick it up, rinse it off and bite into it, it’s a good fruit for on-the-go eating. Just remember that you have a lot of options at your disposal.

The goal of on-the-go eating as an active and healthy person is picking foods that can be picked up and eaten as quickly and effortlessly as possible. If a lot of effort needs to go into your food, it’s not a good choice if you have a hectic schedule.

The Benefits of Eating Kale

Kale tops the list when it comes to nutritious greens, but for decades, this vegetable was used primarily for decoration in buffets and restaurants. In fact, there are still many chefs who say kale is only good for making other food look pretty.

But this hardy green vegetable packs a ton of nutrtion into a tiny package.

If you’ve yet to include this vegetable in your diet, you’re missing out on essential nutrients that can improve your health.

Here are just a few of the many benefits of eating kale:

1. Kale is a Natural Detoxifier

Like other leafy green vegetables, kale has natural detoxification properties thanks to its high levels of sulfur and fiber. Both of these nutrients support liver function, your body’s natural detox system.

A good-functioning liver will keep your metabolism running smoothly and filter out toxins.

2. Kale Helps Boost the Immune System

Kale contains high levels of vitamin C, which helps support and strengthen the immune system. Along with vitamin C, this vegetable contains sulforaphane, which nourishes the immune system.

Sulforaphane also helps control your body’s metabolism and hydration while improving your complexion.

3. Kale is High in Vitamin K

Vitamin K is considered a cancer-fighter, but it also helps keep the bones strong. This essential vitamin plays an integral role in the blood clotting process, so lack of it may prevent clotting and can lead to death.

4. Kale Helps Strengthen Bones

Along with vitamin K, kale also contains a fair amount of calcium, which helps build strong bones and teeth.

In fact, kale has more calcium in it than milk.

kale smoothie

5. Kale Boosts Heart Health

Like many other green vegetables, kale helps support heart function and the entire cardiovascular system.

This leafy green helps lower bad cholesterol levels and is rich in potassium, which may help prevent heart disease.

6. Kale is Rich in Fiber and Fat-Free

We all could benefit from more fiber in our diets, and kale delivers on that need without adding any extra fat to your meal. While healthy fats are still an essential component of optimal health, kale prevents you from overdoing it.

7. Kale is Anti-Inflammatory

Most health experts will tell you that the biggest benefit to eating kale is that it contains anti-inflammatory properties.

Kale has slightly more omega-3s than omega-6s, which helps reduce inflammation.

8. Kale Boost Infant Brain Development in the Womb

Consuming a diet rich in kale can help improve an infant’s brain development while in the womb, and that’s thanks to its high levels of folate.

Kale can help ensure that the baby is born at a healthy weight, that the face and heart are properly developed, and healthy neural tube formation occurs.

9. Kale May Help Prevent Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, the glucosinolates in kale can help prevent cancer. Glucosinolates contain sulfur compounds that help prevent cancer cell growth after they’re broken down during digestion.

These compounds are known as thlocyanates, Indoles and Isothiocyanates.

Kale is a nutritional powerhouse and known as one of the top superfoods available. If you haven’t already, start adding this leafy green to your diet to improve your health.