While antioxidant nutrients are found in most WHFoods, it’s the diversity of antioxidants in pumpkin seeds that makes them unique in their antioxidant support. Pumpkin seeds contain conventional antioxidant vitamins like vitamin E. However, not only do they contain vitamin E, but they contain it in a wide variety of forms. Alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, delta-tocopherol, alpha-tocomonoenol and gamma-tocomonoenol are all forms of vitamin E found in pumpkin seeds. These last two forms have only recently been discovered, and they are a topic of special interest in vitamin E research, since their bioavailability might be greater than some of the other vitamin E forms. Pumpkin seeds also contain conventional mineral antioxidants like zinc and manganese. Phenolic antioxidants are found in pumpkin seeds in a wide variety of forms, including the phenolic acids hydroxybenzoic, caffeic, coumaric, ferulic, sinapic, protocatechuic, vanillic, and syringic acid. Antioxidant phytonutrients like lignans are also found in pumpkin seeds, including the lignans pinoresinol, medioresinol, and lariciresinol. Interestingly, this diverse mixture of antioxidants in pumpkin seeds may provide them with antioxidant-related properties that are not widely found in food. For example, the pro-oxidant enzyme lipoxygenase (LOX) is known to be inhibited by pumpkin seed extracts, but not due to the presence of any single family of antioxidant nutrients (for example, the phenolic acids described earlier). Instead, the unique diversity of antioxidants in pumpkin seeds is most likely responsible for this effect.
Plants that have a close relationship to the soil are often special sources of mineral nutrients, and pumpkin (and their seeds) are no exception. Our food rating process found pumpkin seeds to be a very good source of the minerals phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese, and a good source of the minerals zinc, iron, and copper. Pumpkin seeds have long been valued as a special source of the mineral zinc, and the World Health Organization recommends their consumption as a good way of obtaining this nutrient. To get full zinc benefits from your pumpkin seeds, you may want to consume them in unshelled form. Although recent studies have shown there to be little zinc in the shell itself (the shell is also called the seed coat or husk), there is a very thin layer directly beneath the shell called the endosperm envelope, and it is often pressed up very tightly against the seed coat. Zinc is especially concentrated in this endosperm envelope. Because it can be tricky to separate the endosperm envelope from the shell, eating the entire pumpkin seed—shell and all—will ensure that all zinc-containing portions of the seed get consumed. Whole roasted, unshelled pumpkin seeds contain about 10 milligrams of zinc per 3.5 ounces, and shelled roasted pumpkin seeds (sometimes called pumpkin seed kernels) contain about 7-8 milligrams. So even though the difference is not huge, and even though the kernels still remain a good source of zinc, the unshelled version of this food is going to provide you with the best mineral support with respect to zinc.
OTHER HEALTH BENEFITS
Most of the evidence we’ve seen about pumpkin seeds and prevention or treatment of diabetes has come from animal studies. For this reason, we consider research in this area to be preliminary. However, recent studies on laboratory animals have shown the ability of ground pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed extracts, and pumpkin seed oil to improve insulin regulation in diabetic animals and to prevent some unwanted consequences of diabetes on kidney function. Decrease in oxidative stress has played a key role in many studies that show benefits of pumpkin seeds for diabetic animals.
Pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed extracts, and pumpkin seed oil have long been valued for their anti-microbial benefits, including their anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. Research points to the role of unique proteins in pumpkin seeds as the source of many antimicrobial benefits. The lignans in pumpkin seeds (including pinoresinol, medioresinol, and lariciresinol) have also been shown to have antimicrobial—and especially anti-viral— properties. Impact of pumpkin seed proteins and pumpkin seed phytonutrients like lignans on the activity of a messaging molecule called interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) is likely to be involved in the antimicrobial benefits associated with this food.
Because oxidative stress is known to play a role in the development of some cancers, and pumpkin seeds are unique in their composition of antioxidant nutrients, it’s not surprising to find some preliminary evidence of decreased cancer risk in association with pumpkin seed intake. However, the antioxidant content of pumpkin seeds has not been the focus of preliminary research in this cancer area. Instead, the research has focused on lignans. Only breast cancer and prostate cancer seem to have received much attention in the research world in connection with pumpkin seed intake, and much of that attention has been limited to the lignan content of pumpkin seeds. To some extent, this same focus on lignans has occurred in research on prostate cancer as well. For these reasons, we cannot describe the cancer-related benefits of pumpkin seeds as being well-documented in the research, even though pumpkin seeds may eventually be shown to have important health benefits in this area.
POSSIBLE BENEFITS FOR BENIGN PROSTATIC HYPERPLASIA (BPH)
Pumpkin seed extracts and oils have long been used in treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is a health problem involving non-cancer enlargement of the prostate gland, and it commonly affects middle-aged and older men in the U.S. Studies have linked different nutrients in pumpkin seeds to their beneficial effects on BPH, including their phytosterols, lignans, and zinc. Among these groups, research on phytosterols is the strongest, and it centers on three phytosterols found in pumpkin seeds: beta-sitosterol, sitostanol, and avenasterol. The phytosterols campesterol, stigmasterol, and campestanol have also been found in pumpkin seeds in some studies. Unfortunately, studies on BPH have typically involved extracts or oils rather than pumpkin seeds themselves. For this reason, it’s just not possible to tell whether everyday intake of pumpkin seeds in food form has a beneficial impact on BPH. Equally impossible to determine is whether intake of pumpkin seeds in food form can lower a man’s risk of BPH. We look forward to future studies that will hopefully provide us with answers to those questions.
What is fig?
Fig is a small, edible fruit that grows on most species of Ficus tree. They come in several varieties, colors, and sizes, though they all tend to be somewhat bulbous in shape and very sweet. Many people prefer to eat the fruits fresh from the tree, and nearly all parts are edible; the raw fruit is generally considered quite healthful, too, as it contains a number of important vitamins and minerals while also being high in natural fiber and antioxidants. Some of these benefits are lost if the fruit is dried or cooked, though these preparations are also very popular.
From a strictly biological standpoint, the fig is not technically a fruit but is rather an infrutescence, which means that it is formed when multiple flower buds and plant sexual organs fuse together. A “true” fruit is made up of a single plant ovum that comes from just one blossom. Figs, along with other infrutescences like pineapples, are actually made up of multiple ovaries and usually come about when entire flower clusters join together. The flowers actually blossom inside the fig in most cases, which gives rise to the multiple seed pods that become visible when it is sliced open. Despite these technical details, in non-scientific settings, it is still usually appropriate to refer to figs as fruit.
Like most fruits, the fig is most commonly enjoyed raw, and the entire thing is edible. Varieties with particularly tough skin may need to be peeled to make them palatable, however. Most people slice the fruit into halves or quarters, and it is popularly served with cheese or various crusty breads. The fruit can also be candied or preserved, and jams and spreads made with it are often used as a filling for cookies, cakes, and other confections.
Both fresh and dried fruit can be baked directly into things like cakes and muffins. Some recipes call for whole fruits to be poached or baked alongside meats, which can add a sweet component to an otherwise savory dish, or the fruit can be sliced and used as a garnish. In most cases, the flesh is relatively dry, which means that there isn’t usually much juice; cooks can encourage liquid by simmering and heating slices, but straight “fig juice” is very uncommon.
Dried figs are a popular snack in many places, and they can also be ground into a sort of “paste” that can be used to flavor a range of different foods, from baked goods to poultry. Some cultures, particularly those in Mediterranean Europe, also ferment the dried fruits to create a highly alcoholic liqueur. The most traditional drying method is to simply leave the fruit on the tree; in most cases, the sun will dry individual pieces once they’ve ripened. Commercial manufacturers tend to use dehydrators and drying chambers, though, which give more consistent results and also avoids the risk of contamination by insects and birds.
Fresh figs are very high in protein, dietary fiber, and calcium, as well as other important minerals like iron and potassium. They typically contain a lot of natural sugars, however, which means that they can have a lot of calories and are high in carbohydrates. Sugar concentrations are typically highest in dried versions, and they may also contain a number of chemical preservatives depending on how they were manufactured. Consumers who are worried about additives should read product packaging very carefully to see what, if anything, has been included beyond the basic fruit.
Figs are typically very high in natural fiber, which means that they have natural laxative effects and can improve digestive regularity. These characteristics are particularly pronounced in dried versions, as the fiber is more readily absorbed by the body when water has been removed from the fruit. Some people also use the skins as a natural remedy for a range of ailments, including warts, skin rashes, and swollen gums. The fruit can also be boiled in either water of milk to make a tonic that many people use as a treatment for a sore throat.
What is Mastiha?
Mastiha is the natural and rare tree resin of the pistacia lentiscus var Chia tree. Scientific research has shown that this resin has anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory qualities. It has been documented from antiquity for its health benefits, its use as the first natural chewing gum and as a cooking spice. Today,it is still chewed as well as used in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and in the culinary world. Chios mastiha contributes to a healthy gastrointestinal system and has beneficial effects for both oral hygiene and skin care.
Chios Mastiha is protected by the European Union as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product. This distincion recognizes the name of a specific region or country where a specific agricultural product originates exclusively due to the geographical environment. This includes the natural and human factors and production, alteration and processes which take place in the delineated geographical area. All PDO products bear the EU symbol designating them as such.
Chewing Chios Mastiha is a truly unique experience. To create your own natural piece of gum, select a few medium pieces of the resin, or combine a small piece with a large one. The larger pieces tend to be softer than the small ones, so it is recommended that one chew a mixture rather than chew only the small, hard pieces. Before chewing, let the pieces moisten in your mouth. The mastiha may taste a bit bitter at first, but that taste fades into a light herbal flavor. Begin chewing and the mastiha becomes a white silky color. The resin keeps its hard texture indefinitely and this is precisely why it is recommended for gum health and amazingly clean teeth! Keep chewing the gum for a half hour in order to gain all the therapeutic benefits.
Mastic has been used as a medicine since antiquity and is still used in traditional folk medicine of the Middle East. In ancient Greece, it was given as a remedy for snakebite, and, in India and Persia, it was used to fill dental cavities. The first-century Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides mentions the healing properties of mastic in his book De Materia Medica. Hippocrates wrote that the mastic is good for prevention of digestive problems and colds, and Galenus suggested that mastic was useful for bronchitis and for improving the condition of the blood. In medieval times, mastic was highly valued by sultans’ harems as a breath freshener and a tooth whitener.
Mastic contains antioxidants and also has antibacterial and antifungal properties.A Nottingham University study published in the New England Journal of Medicine claims that mastic can cure peptic ulcers by killing Helicobacter pylori bacteria. Other studies have indicated that mastic has only a modest ability to eliminate H. pylori but have also suggested that refining mastic by removing the polymer poly-β-myrcene may make the active components, particularly isomasticadienolic acid, more available and effective. Mastic may also have some value in preventing tooth decay and gingivitis as chewing mastic reduces oral bacteria.
One study found that high consumption of Chios mastic powder results in decreased levels of total serum cholesterol, LDL, total cholesterol/HDL ratio, lipoprotein (a), apolipoprotein A-1, apolipoprotein B, ALT, AST, and GGT Mastic oil is widely used in the preparation of ointments for skin disorders and afflictions.It is also used in the manufacture of adhesive bandages
Use in food
One of the earliest uses of mastic was as chewing gum; hence, the name. Mastic-flavored chewing gum is sold in Lebanon and Greece. Mastic is used in ice cream, sauces, and seasoning in Lebanon. In Egypt, mastic is used in vegetable preserves, in jams that have a gummy consistency, in soups, and in the preparation of meats. In Morocco, mastic is used in the preparation of smoked foods.
In Turkey, mastic is widely used in desserts such as Turkish delight and dondurma; in puddings such as sütlaç(rice pudding), salep(orchid), and tavuk göğsü mamelika(chicken breast), and in soft drinks. It is also in Turkish coffee on the Aegean coast.
In the Maghreb countries, mastic is used mainly for cakes, sweets, and pastries and as a stabilizer in meringue and nougat.
In Greece, mastic is used in mastic liqueurs such as Mastichato, in a spoon sweet known as “vaníllia”, in beverages, chewing gum, sweets, desserts, and breads; and in cheese. It is also used to stabilize Turkish delight or mastic-gum ice cream. In desserts, as an ingredient of jam or cakes, mastic replaces cornstarch and gelatin.
What is Thyme?
Thyme has been used for centuries by many cultures. The Ancient Egyptians would use Thyme in their embalming rituals, other cultures including Greek and Roman would burn thyme for its aromatic perfume. Thyme is botanically recognised as Thymus vulgaris from the Lamiaceae family A native to southern parts of Europe that has become a popular herb around the world.
Use in food
One of its first recognised uses as flavouring was in cheese.It’s a common herb used extensively in flavouring food. In popular modern day kitchens it is used as a base herb for many mixed aromas. Thyme tends to release its flavours slowly so is best added to cooking in the early stages. Adding late or last minute may give you a milder palate.
Thyme is best when used fresh but is commonly available dried and in pastes. Many herbs tend to lose their flavour when dried, thyme is one of the exceptions. It can be used in Soups and stews as well as on roast meats. Thyme is a beneficial flavour with tomatoes and eggs.Thyme can be used as “sprigs” or the leaves can be scrapped from the thin stem and used whole or chopped to release extra flavour.
Beneficial skills of Thyme
Nutritionally, Thyme is high in Vitamin C and Vitamin A. Consistency is also seen with Iron, Potassium, Zinc, Manganese and Phosphorous.In addition to the excellent flavour it adds to cooking thyme is also beneficial for several medicinal uses.Here are some examples:
– Thyme is believed to be beneficial to chest and breathing problems. It can help to ease the symptoms of coughs from colds or flu.
– Thyme is a good Antioxidant, being high in Vitamin A and especially Vitamin C.
– Thyme has antibacterial properties and anti-fungal properties. It is thought to be beneficial to fungal skin infections.
– Thyme can help to treat some mouth disorders and can be found in many Natural mouth washes.
– Thyme may have benefits for digestion and bowel problems associated with poor digestion.
– Traditional uses of thyme in Ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece may have included the treatment nervousness and as a treatment for depression
– Thyme may assist in the relieving of pain associated with Swollen joints and arthritic conditions
Herbs can have many benefits and can aid in the prevention or healing of many complaints. Every individual is different. Some herbs can be toxic when used at certain levels. Any treatments or symptoms mentioned have been included based on thorough research and should not be considered a cure or prevention of any type of condition. Always seek advice from your family Doctor before relying on any natural medical
What is Truffle?
The truffle is a rare underground mushroom symbiosis and grows on the roots of some species of trees or shrubs. Truffles are underground carpophores fungi of the genus Tuber ( Ascomycetes ) and Terfezia. Shaped tuber size usually 2-7 cm Salt and pepper to pale white , produced in the soil to a depth of about 6-15 cm . The underground fruiting truffles are considered to exist due to adaptation to forest fires, dry seasons or frost where aboveground mushrooms would be exposed.
As all fungi are heterotrophic organisms they cannot synthesize substances necessary for their survival. To address this lack they cling to some types of plants (trees and shrubs), creating a relationship called ” mycorrhizal symbiosis “, from which both parties benefit. The symbiosis takes place in both woody and herbaceous plants, mainly with specific forest species such as hornbeam, junipers, the hazel, the trees, the poplar , the oak, willows and lindens .
The truffle is actually literally called “fruitful and fertile body”, and is attached to the plant with a plant ( vegetative ) composition – structure, called mycelium. These mycelial hyphae mold and surround minute radical pili plants, sucking mainly carbohydrates from them, while simultaneously benefiting the plant roots by increasing their capacity to adsorb water from the ground, nitrogenous substances, and elements such as potassium, phosphorus, iron and and trace elements. It is estimated that there are up to 100 meters filamentous hyphae in a teaspoon of soil a healthy forest.
The truffle is formed beneath the soil over the root of the plant. It exists in a round, uneven form, its’ size ranging from that of a pea to that of an orange. Externally covered by a shell called “peridio” inside, called “flesh or bolus”, it contains millions of “seeds”, having a bearing function. Any type of truffle contains seeds of different colors and sizes. Through the help of a microscope, the classification of species is relatively easy. Burgeoning seeds, created the mycelium – connecting the plant with truffle. They also penetrate, prompting the growth of new roots in the ground. At maturity, each truffle emits its own scent and for this reason a trained dog is able to determine the position of truffle which is collected by the truffle experts.
A culinary and nutritional value, truffles are one of the most sought after delicacies worldwide. A vast array of therapeutic effects are attributed to the truffle; These include it as a remedy to muscular and arthritic pain, high cholesterol levels, but most interestingly, many attribute it strong aphrodisiac properties.
Truffle’s History and Tradition
Truffles were a mystery to ancient peoples. According to Greek mythology, truffles were the result of divine intervention: they grew at the exact spot where Zeus threw his thunderbolt and it hit the ground. The goddess of love, Aphrodite, loved truffles. The Roman Cicero called them Earth’s offspring.
Truffles persisted during the Middle Ages in spite of the Medieval Theory of Humors. This was a complicated medical-philosophical-religious belief system which decreed that foods that grew in the ground were undesirable, or even outright damaging. Valued foods were those in the air, such as birds, and fruit that grew at the top of the tree, which was reserved for nobles. Foods that grew in the ground, like carrots, were left to the peasants.
By the middle of the 17th century, truffles were beginning to make an official comeback. They appeared in a handful of recipes, simply prepared: washed, sliced, and sautéed inbutter or oil. By the end of the 18th century, however, they were used in many high-end dishes like pâté, and with pheasant or oysters. They also appear in dishes by themselves, as salad or ragoût.
The French Revolution in 1789 does not seem to have changed the way the French used truffles – in expensive, luxurious dishes. Perhaps the most famous truffle dish was created by the great celebrity chef, Antonin Carême. The Rothschilds had Carême on an annual retainer for what today would be the equivalent of almost $200,000. Carême created Salmon à la Rothschild for a dinner in 1825. It is “one enormous salmon” poached in four bottles of Champagne. Then a pound of truffles are sliced into half-moon shapes and laid on top of the salmon to mimic its scales.
The Italians had different, more accessible uses for truffles. In 1891, Pellegrino Artusi published his famous cookbook, Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well. This book was written for home cooks, so it has recipes that are easier to make. One is Crostini di Tartufi, made with cooked truffle purée. Others are chicken breasts with truffles, and veal topped with slices of truffles and slices of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Why is healthy food more important than junk food?
Fast food chains are opening up in every nook and corner of the world, attracting people of all ages, especially the children and youth. Commonly known as ‘junk food’, pizzas, burgers, French fries and other such items are delicious and a delight for the taste buds. Their healthy counterparts – fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meat – do not develop as much craving in people as junk foods. However, it is high time that people realized the fact that junk food, though it tastes delicious, is of no use for the human body. It does nothing good to us, other than loading our bodies with unwanted fat and loads of calories. If you want to know why majority of medical experts talk in favor of healthy foods, go through the article. It will tell you of the pros of healthy foods vis-à-vis junk foods.
Apart from the supplying energy and loads of calories, junk food does not give you all the essential nutrients. On the other hand, healthy foods like fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains serve as rich sources of a variety of nutrients. When we talk about essential fats, healthy foods score again. Junk foods, like French fries and burgers, are laden with unhealthy fats, which is the reason why majority of people eating such foods suffer from obesity.
The consumption of junk food may give you the feeling of instant energy. However, many people who love to eat junk foods are unaware of the fact that their overdose or regular consumption results in a deficiency of energy. On the contrary, fruits, vegetables and lean meat will not only provide you with nutrients, but will also help you build stamina.
A healthy diet will help you sharpen your concentrating skills. On the other side, junk foods lead to poor concentration. The blood circulation drops due to the excessive deposition of fat in the inner wall of arteries, a result of junk food consumption. As a result, you feel drowsy.
Cholesterol level will always be on a high, if you are habitual of consuming junk food. It consists of a much higher level of cholesterol as compared to its healthy counterpart. This results in the deposition of cholesterol in the inner walls of the arteries, eventually causing an adverse effect on the liver. On the other hand, healthy foods can help you maintain the blood cholesterol level.
People following a healthy diet fall ill less often. However, it is not the same for those who frequent the fast food outlets. One of the most prominent health problems pertaining to eating junk is obesity. This is followed by a series of diseases and deprivation of essential nutrients.
Sage and its beneficial skills.
Sage, the familiar plant of the kitchen garden, comes to us from southern Europe. It grows to a height of 70 cm. and its purplish flowers are set in whorls. The leaves set in pairs on the stem are greyish-green with a silvery sheen and wrinkled. They possess a somewhat bitter, aromatic scent. Sage should grow in a sunny but sheltered position in your garden. To protect it from the frost, you can cover it with branches of fir. Another kind, the Meadow Sage (Salvia pratensis) grows on banks, in meadows and pastures. The showy, purplish-blue flowers exude an aromatic perfume and are used mainly as a gargle or to make Sage vinegar – a handful of flowers are macerated in natural vinegar – and this is used as a beneficial and invigorating rub or massage during long illnesses. The leaves are gathered before the flowers open and at midday in bright sunshine, since the volatile oils of the plant are only fully developed in sunshine. The leaves are dried in the shade.
It is about the Common or Garden Sage, whose medicinal properties are more powerful, that We would like to talk. Already among our forefathers it was a highly esteemed herb. A thirteenth century verse says: “Why should a man die, whilst Sage grows in his garden?”
Sage is well named, coming from the Latin “salvare”, to save, in reference to its curative properties. How highly it was praised in olden times we can read in a delightful old herbal: “During the Virgin Mary’s flight from Herod, all flowers in the field were asked to hide Her and the Baby Jesus, but none gave her shelter except Sage. After Herod’s men had gone without seeing Her and the danger had passed, the Virgin Mary told the Sage: “From now to, eternity, you will be the favourite flower of mankind. I give you the power to heal man of all illness and save him from death as you have done for me.” Since then Sage grows to the benefit of mankind.
Sage tea, drunk frequently, strengthens the body, prevents stroke and is good for paralysis. Sage, besides Lavender, is the only plant that will help relieve night sweats; it attacks the illness which is the cause of it, and its invigorating forces take away the great weakness that is part of it. Many physicians have realized the beneficial qualities of Sage; they use it with great success for cramps, disorders of the spinal cord, glandular disorders and for trembling of the limbs. For these disorders 2 cups are sipped throughout the day. This tea is valuable in liver complaints, dispels flatulence and all complaints caused by an ill liver. It is blood cleansing, dispels phlegm from the respiratory organs and the stomach, increases the appetite, rectifies intestinal trouble and diarrhoea.
For insect stings crushed leaves are applied.
Sage tea is used for ulcerated throat and mouth, inflammation of the tooth pulp, tonsillitis and throat disorders. Many children and grown-ups could have saved themselves a tonsillectomy had they taken Sage tea in time. When the tonsils, which are the policemen of the body for toxic substances, are missing, the toxic substances go directly to the kidneys. A decoction of Sage is a useful gargle for loose and bleeding teeth and ulcerated or receding gums. A small piece of cotton saturated with Sage tea can be applied. A sitz bath (see “directions”) taken once in a while would be of great help to women with abdominal troubles and to people with weak nerves.
Besides its medicinal properties Sage is used as a culinary herb. In small quantities similar to Thyme and Savory it is added to pork, goose and turkey, not only for the aroma but also for breaking down the fat in the meat. A small leaf added to venison improves the taste. In some districts “Sage biscuits” are baked. Finely shredded leaves are added to the dough. Sage added to the cheese or sauces makes them wholesome.
Food scientists are shedding light on items loaded with toxins and chemicals–and simple swaps for a cleaner diet and supersized health.
Clean eating means choosing fruits, vegetables, and meats that are raised, grown, and sold with minimal processing. Often they’re organic, and rarely (if ever) should they contain additives. But in some cases, the methods of today’s food producers are neither clean nor sustainable. The result is damage to our health, the environment, or both. So we decided to take a fresh look at food through the eyes of the people who spend their lives uncovering what’s safe–or not–to eat. We asked them a simple question: “What foods do you avoid?” Their answers don’t necessarily make up a “banned foods” list. But reaching for the suggested alternatives might bring you better health–and peace of mind.
1. The Endocrinologist won’t eat: Canned Tomatoes
Fredrick Vom Saal, is 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.
Budget tip: If your recipe allows, substitute bottled pasta sauce for canned tomatoes. Look for pasta sauces with low sodium and few added ingredients, or you may have to adjust the recipe.
2. The Farmer won’t eat: Corn-Fed Beef
Joel Salatin is 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. But 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.
Budget tip: Cuts on the bone are cheaper because processors charge extra for deboning. You can also buy direct from a local farmer, which can be as cheap as $5 per pound. To find a farmer near you, search eatwild.com.
3. The Toxicologist won’t eat: Microwave PopcornOlga Naidenko, is 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.
Budget tip: Popping your own popcorn is dirt cheap
4. The farm director won’t eat: Nonorganic Potatoes
Jeffrey Moyer is the 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.
Budget tip: Organic potatoes are only $1 to $2 a pound, slightly more expensive than conventional spuds.
5. The fisheries expert won’t eat: Farmed Salmon
Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany, published 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 could 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.
Budget tip: Canned salmon, almost exclusively from wild catch, can be found for as little as $3 a can.
6. The Cancer Reasearcher won’t drink: Milk produced with Artificial Hormones
Rick North is 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 percent 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.
Budget tip: Try Wal-Mart’s Great Value label, which does not use rBGH.
7. The Organic-Foods expert won’t eat: Conventional Apples
Mark Kastel, a former executive for agribusiness, is 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.
Budget tip: If you can’t afford organic, be sure to wash and peel them. But Kastel personally refuses to compromise. “I would rather see the trade-off being that I don’t buy that expensive electronic gadget,” he says. “Just a few of these decisions will accommodate an organic diet for a family.”