Consumption of Berries may Help Retain Brain Capacity

Doctors and health physicians have been saying it for years: eat more fruits and vegetables. A new study now shows that there is another reason, especially for women, to stuff their mouths with berries.

Some fruits and veggies are more nutrient-dense than others. Berries, despite their petite size, are loaded with immune-fighting antioxidants. New research suggests that consumption of berries, whether it be blueberries, blackberries or strawberries, may help preserve vital brain function and delay cognitive aging by as much as 2.5 years.

The research was conducted by Elizabeth Devore, an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. The findings were published in the Annals of Neurology report.

Berries along with a variety of other fruits and veggies contain a vitamin known as flavonoids, which protect the body’s cells and helps to reduce inflammation. Berries in particular, contain a special flavonoid known as anthocyanidins, which are believed to be responsible for preserving the brain’s ability to think, reason and remember. A separate study conducted at Harvard also found evidence that berries can help fight off Parkinson’s disease in men.

The study by Devore consisted of female participants all past the age of 70. The study showed that the women who consumed more than one serving of blueberries a week and more than two servings of strawberries a week exhibited better brain function.

Healthier brain activity appears to just be another bonus of eating a hearty serving of fruits. Man or women, old or young, it is common sense to eat the foods that health experts have been urging all along. There are simply no replacements for a plate of fresh and ripe fruits and vegetables. Not even vitamin supplements are a fitting substitute. If you want to retain brain power and have an immune system of steel, then don’t hold back on the greens.

Buying Organic Herbs

Organic herbs can be a great compliment to chicken, pasta and variety of other meals. Even if you just want to use them as ornaments around your home, you can do so to give your house a nice aroma. Many people love organic herbs because they are are not treated with pesticides, chemicals or other preservatives. When you purchase organic herbs online, you have a massive selection. These herbs can be used with cooking, aromatherapy or even for medicinal purposes. Here is an overview of how to buy organic herbs online.

Buy your herbs from a trusted online distributor like Starwest Botanicals. Starwest is one of the best online resources for buying your herbs online. They offer over one hundred and thirty varieties of spices and herbs from trusted organic farms. Starwest also gives users recipes and therapeutic information for all of the spices or herbs purchased.

Buy your order in bulk. Buying online is great way to save money, but having to wait on your spices is different than being able to go out to a local shop and purchase herbs when you are out. If you buy orders in bulk, you could qualify for free shipping.

If you don’t want to go through the online route, find local co-ops or go to your local farmer’s market to find organic her bs. Local co-ops will work with farmers in your area to bring you the best organic herbs. Although these herbs may be a little pricier, the convenience of buying them locally might be what you’re looking for. Co-ops and local farmers could also give you a discount on buying in bulk.

Once you have your herbs, it’s best to store them properly. If you are buying bulk, you will need to keep the herbs and spices fresh through the seasons. One of the best ways to do this is by wrapping the herbs in loose plastic and storing them in the refrigerator. Allow the herbs to breath. If the herbs cannot breath, the moisture inside the plastic could cause them to mold.

Buying organic herbs online is a great way to save a little bit of money on your herbs. If you are going to buy your spices from an online outlet, you want to make sure that it’s a trusted site. Buying locally supports your local farmers can even give yo u a big discount on bulk items. Buying in bulk is the best way to keep your house stocked, but you need to store the herbs and spices properly to keep your investment. Follow these guidelines and you will never be without organic herbs.

Soybean Soybean

The soybean industry is reportedly searching out government approval of a genetically modified soybean that produces oil lower in saturated fat, offer consumers a healthier alternative to foods containing trans fats and also increase demand for growers’ crops.

Demand for soybean oil has dropped sharply since 2005, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began requiring labels to list levels of trans fats that have largely been linked to coronary heart disease.

Agribusiness mogul Monsanto Co. says that oil from its new soybean will meet manufacturers’ requirements for baking and shelf life with no hydrogenation.

The FDA approved the new bean, called Vistive Gold and Monsanto and several state and national soybean groups are seeking approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

U.S. farmers harvested more than 3.3 billion bushels of soybeans valued at about $39 billion in 2010.The Iowa Soybean Association, however, said in a letter to APHIS that the industry’s share of the food oil market dropped from 83 percent to 68 percent after the FDA enacted the labeling requirements. The state of Iowa now grows more soybeans than any other state.

Industry officials believe Vistive Gold could speak for as much as 60 cents more per bushel than other soybeans, raising a farmer’s income by thousands of dollars.

Jim Andrew, who grows 625 acres of conventional soybeans near Jefferson, Iowa, says that he hopes Vistive Gold soybeans also will reduce consumers’ fears about biotech crops by providing a direct health benefit. Most genetically modified crops so far have been engineered to battle pests and increase harvests for farmers.

Back in 2005 the St. Louis-based Monsanto introduced the first generation of the bean known as Vistive to reduce or eliminate trans fats. Vistive Gold retains such qualities and offers lower levels of saturated fat and higher levels of monounsaturated fats.

Vistive Gold will make a huge difference in efforts to produce healthier foods. For example, he said it could produce French fries with more than 60 percent less saturated fat.

Vistive Gold and other engineered crops don’t face rigorous enough testing. No animal feeding trials were conducted on the new soybean to see what would happen when it was consumed, he said.

Monsanto said it extensively examined Vistive Gold finding it to be very safe. A notice posted in June on the website for
APHIS said its assessment of Vistive Gold indicated that the bean was not a risk to other plants.

The federal government has a stringent and effectual procedure for reviewing genetically modified crops.

Cave Man Diet

In the quest for optimum weight and health, perhaps humans should think about looking back at what their ancestors consumed. Well at least according to the theory proposed by the “Paleo Diet” (aka, Caveman Diet), that recommends following cues from the age of hunters and gatherers and ditching some modern food groups.

Here’s what to do:
Eat a diet which is totally gluten-free, however rich in fish, organic meats, poultry, vegetables, eggs, fruit and nuts. Leave out all grains, dairy products, legumes, salt, refined sugar and processed oils – and make sure it is all locally sourced.

One dietician says: “Eating like this is good for maintaining a healthy metabolism, and reducing inflammation within the body. It’s been doing great things for my energy levels, body composition and performance in the gym. It also helps to minimize my risk for a whole host of lifestyle diseases and conditions, like diabetes, heart attack and stroke…People who eat diets high in whole grains, beans, and low-fat dairy tend to be healthier because these foods are nutrient-rich and there are mountains of research about the health benefits of diets that include, not exclude, these foods…”

Dietician Ben Harder told ABC News: “For the Paleo Diet, additional evidence is needed to show conclusively whether or not it is as effective as some people hypothesize…The most relevant studies have been small, as our published review of the Paleo Diet indicates. We hope researchers will publish more — and larger — studies on the Paleo Diet so that health experts, including our expert panel, have more evidence to consider in the future.”

Aca-What?! Açaí!!

The sky was cloudless, only the bright sun was shining. A light breeze gently cooled my sun-burning skin while I was lying on a hammock strung between two palm trees. Local merchants yelled “Açaí” as they were searching for potential customers along the beach.

By the time I got to Brazil I had heard a lot about this local delight, so I had to try it (I consider myself as a culinary guinea pig). I was served with a plastic bowl of deep purple puree covered with slices of bananas and granola (to my request). This divine, cold mush surely stood to my high expectations. I didn’t really know what it was made of; I figured it was a sort of fruit, but at that time no one back home had heard of this berry.

Couple of years later it became the most intriguing and controversial berry around. Many products based on the acai’s juice came out to shelves. Apparently this antioxidants-rich berry can help you lose weight four times better than other diets or exercise, eliminate bad toxins, help diabetics, lower cholesterol level and blood pressure, clean colons, boost metabolism and increase energy levels, reduce constipation, gas, bloating & fatigue, and promote younger-looking skin. Is there anything this super-berry can’t heal???

The thing that amazes me the most is first, the blindness of the crowd. Without underestimating this wonderful fruit’s virtues, this is not a new invention; it is a very well known fruit in Latin America. Don’t you people find it a little bit peculiar that suddenly it’s the hippest trend, the perfect medicine? And if it was so, don’t you think we would have known by now???

The second is that people can be so cynical sometimes; the only thing that is truly sacred to us is the monetary profits. We take this beautiful creation, squeeze it, blend it, brand it, manufacture it in masses, advertise it everywhere and during the whole process drain every drop of nature and innocence of this poor berry. Shame on us!

Food Industry to Change Fast With New Health America

fast foodOne aspect of the health care bill taking immediate effect is that chain restaurants will now be required to display nutrition information. What we are witnessing could well make a seismic shift in the changing of the food landscape of America.

The Associated Press Reports:

More than 200,000 fast food and other chain restaurants will have to include calorie counts on menus, menu boards and even drive-throughs.

The new law, which applies to any restaurant with 20 or more locations, directs the Food and Drug Administration to create a new national standard for menu labeling, superseding a growing number of state and city laws. President Barack Obama signed the health care legislation Tuesday.

The idea is to make sure that customers process the calorie information as they are ordering. Many restaurants currently post nutritional information in a hallway, on a hamburger wrapper or on their Web site. The new law will make calories immediately available for most items.

This rule will also apply to vending machines carrying convenience foods.

So how will this change be manifested to the American food system?

Americans’ appetite for cheap and processed foods and factory-farmed meat impacts everything from carbon emissions to water quality to pesticide and farms’ use of antibiotics.

The Oscar-nominated documentary “Food, Inc.” had a huge effect on informing people about the problems in the industrial food system. Oprah brought author and food expert Michael Pollan on her show to discuss the documentary, which she called “thought-provoking” and “eye-opening”. Michael Pollan also made appearances on The Daily Show and told Jon Stewart in January that he thought the passage of health care reform would have a large impact on changing the way people eat, because health insurers would have a financial motive to keep people away from eating unhealthy foods that will cause long-term health problems.

Michelle Obama has also become a public spokeswoman of increasing access to real food, gardening and fighting childhood obesity with her Let’s Move campaign. Last week she spoke to the Grocery Manufacturers Association about completely reassessing the ‘junk’ food which they sell:

“We need you not to just tweak around the edges but entirely rethink the products you are offering, the information that you provide about these products, and how you market those products to our children.”

You Say Tomato I Say Potato

The Scoop
It turns out that eating organic food is a win/win situation. Firstly fruits and vegetables simply taste a whole lot better when they are picked ripe and eaten quickly. Actually buying in season is economical and buying organic products ensures environmentally sound farming practices.

Organic ProduceAs you read, try to imagine: a tomato which is picked before it is ripe somewhere in California and then thrown into a huge truck with about 40,000 pounds of other under ripe tomatoes; is then taken to a processing plant, put through a chlorine bath, waxed, gassed with ethylene (which speeds up the ripening process) and then sent in another truck across the country to some restaurant, is probably not going to taste so good. So you can see why buying organic and in-season fruits and vegetables makes the most sense.

What You Can Do
The best place to shop for produce is either at a local farmers market or you can join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, where you can buy your food directly from local organic farmers.

What Else Can You Tell Me, Food Man?
The FDA does not require food labels to disclose the genetically engineered ingredients which are used. According to Greenpeace of the acreage in North America, which is devoted to GE crops, 99% are planted with, cotton, canola, soy or corn. This means that over 60% of processed foods available in the US contain genetically modified ingredients.

Food Buffs on Your Honey Moon, This One’s for You

I found this list floating around that was just too…unique to pass up. Recommended foods to eat “just once before you die”, or in my words, to serve to your loved on as a once-in-a-lifetime gift. “Just once,” probably because they are unavailable in your local Winn Dixie, America’s supermarket every day, or whatever the slogan is these days. That, and these foods you can only find in places that don’t exactly attract much tourism or interest other than college students who want to go to whacked-out places and help out the destitute brutalized under an endless slew of dictators that keep launching coups every other week.

“Before you die,” maybe because these places aren’t so safe. Well, maybe I exaggerate. But the food’s great!

fried spiderThe first is fried spider. You can find these in a wonderful place called Cambodia, usually in the news for bad things, but spider season is out and you better go try some. The spiders are eaten in a town called Skuon, and they are as big as your hand. They’re bred in spider farms that consist of holes in the ground. Once they’re no longer alive, they are breaded with monosodium glutamate (MSG – you can find bags of this stuff in Chinatown, flavor enhancer that gives you headaches), sugar and salt. They’re then fried with garlic until the legs get crispy. Eat the head and the legs. Stay away from the abdomen. At least that’s what the locals say.

fuguThe next one is Fugu, which you can find in Japan. Granted, ever since World War II ended, Japan has been a pretty upstanding country. No dictators there. Just poisonous fish. The Fugu fish, what we know as a blow fish, is so poisonous it can kill 30 men with its liver and ovaries, where the poison, tetrodotoxin, is produced. I can’t kill anyone with my liver and ovaries, which makes me feel kind of left out. But anyway.

Eating fugu is only advisable in the absolute best restaurants of Tokyo, because it can only legally be prepared by a licensed chef, who we may remind you basically has your life in his hands as he cuts away blow fish livers and ovaries and DOES NOT EAT THEM. The best part of the experience of this daredevil delicacy is the sensation on the tongue given by small amounts of tetrodotoxin and won’t kill you.

Third, we have a Chinese Century Egg. China, not so good on the human rights or environment or democratic freedoms, but good on the Century Egg, which is basically an egg wrapped in clay, salt, and lime juice. It’s then wrapped in straw and aged for a few months. The yolk turns green and the white turns brown, which is similar to when you stick an egg in a crockpot for a day. Sam I Am would be proud of you for trying it.

Finally, El Salvadorian Iguana meat. Don’t know much about El Salvador, other than that its class gap is enormous and it gets hit by hurricanes every 20 minutes. They say iguana tastes like chicken but tougher. I wouldn’t know, but if I ever wanted to find out I can just pick one up from my backyard. That is if I can catch it.

Sour to Sweet

Miracle FruitHere’s a fruit that will turn sour to sweet. It’s called, appropriately I might add, miracle fruit. The fruit itself, a simple berry, is nothing special. But chew it up and let it sit on your tongue a bit, and for the next 30 minutes or so, everything will taste sweet.

No one is sure exactly how this works scientifically, but the theory is that the protein in the fruit binds to taste receptors and changes the shape of molecules that bind to taste buds, so sour receptors register sweetness instead.

As the video notes, aside from the fun in sucking on a lemon and tasting sugar, miracle fruit can also help chemo patients eat by making their food taste better to them, not to mention dieters who want to eat healthier but can’t stand macrobiotic foods.

Stop Buying Soymilk, Start Making It

SoyA money-saving wonder for those of us who drink lots of soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, or even sesame milk. Stop buying $4 cartons of soy milk, and start buying 50-cent bags of soybeans, soak them in water for 8-10 hours, put them in a soy maker, push a button, and wait. Can you guess what comes out?

If you’re thinking Love Potion #9, then you’ve probably got too much oldies music on your mind. The real answer is soy milk, without preservatives, additives, or anything, really, except soy and water. Or rice, or whatever you put in there before you pushed the magical button. Add some chocolate powder, vanilla extract, banana puree, or why not all three? Confuse your palette, have a party. Make up a totally new soy milk flavor!

According to their site, the Miracle Soy Wonder Automatic Soy Milk Maker makes 2 quarts of soymilk in just 22 minutes from common organic soybeans and water.

So if you’re a lactard that buys even 1 $4 soy milk or rice milk carton a week, you’ll be saving about a $3 a week, which, if handily equipped with the amount of weeks in a year, is a savings of over $150 a year, which is close to the price of the machine itself.

For the heavy drinkers among us, the savings are even bigger. And how much more American can you get than a machine where you just have to push one button?

There is, however, one precaution. According to recent scientific research, soy contains something called isoflavones which chemically mimic the female sex hormone estrogen. So if you’re a man, keep a lookout in case you start growing soy-induced breasts. If that happens, let us know and we’ll blog about it.