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Apples offer some surprising health benefits

August 1st, 2016

by Dianne Hyson, Ph.D., R.D.

Your mother was right. An apple a day may help keep you out of the doctor’s office, and scientists are just beginning to find out why. Plenty of vitamins and minerals, as well as phytonutrients, or plant compounds, are packed into one baseball-sized piece of fruit.

Considerable research is currently centered on the role of phytonutrients that act as antioxidants, which are found in many fruits, red wine and tea. Antioxidants counteract chemicals in the blood that oxidize, or damage, certain molecules. Flavonoids are the most common group of phytonutrients in foods. Apples are particularly high in one of the flavonoids called quercetin, which has high antioxidant activity.

Exciting new research is showing that not only do apples and apple juice contain a variety of phytonutrients, but that making apples a regular part of the diet may translate into real health benefits. At UC Davis, they recently completed a 12-week study of 25 healthy men and women who added either 12 ounces of 100 percent apple juice or two apples into their daily diet without changing the rest of their diet or exercise levels. Half drank apple juice for six weeks while the other half ate apples. After six weeks, the subjects switched groups.

Before the study and at each six-week interval we measured something called “LDL oxidation lag time,” which provides an indication of how long it takes for cholesterol to oxidize when exposed to certain chemicals. When LDL or “bad” cholesterol is broken down in our bodies, it tends to accumulate along the walls of the coronary arteries and causes atherosclerosis. Hence, a longer lag time is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.

The study showed clear beneficial effects after only six weeks of including apples in the diet. Study results were more dramatic in subjects drinking apple juice, showing a 20-percent increase in lag time after six weeks. Eating apples also showed potential health benefits, including reduced oxidation indicators and a 22-percent increase in dietary fiber. One study of 2,500 middle-aged men in Wales found that lung function improved in those who ate an apple a day.

Recent studies have demonstrated other diverse health benefits associated with eating apples. One study of 2,500 middle-aged men in Wales found that lung function improved in those who ate an apple a day. A study in Hawaii found that individuals who regularly incorporated apples, onions and white grapefruit (all foods high in flavonoids) into their diet cut their lung cancer risk in half. Another study of 9,208 Finnish men and women found that those who ate the most apples over a period of 28 years had the lowest risk for stroke.

Another interesting study looked at the effect of phytonutrients from apples on the growth of colon cancer and liver cancer cells in a test tube. They found that cancer cell growth was inhibited by phytonutrients from apples, with just two-thirds of a medium apple providing the same level of antioxidant activity as 1,500 mg of vitamin C. Since apples contain only about 12 mg of vitamin C, researchers attributed the combination of nutrients in apples as being key to their positive activity.

Apples are high in fiber and potassium, and contain no fat or salt. They are also an excellent source of boron, a trace mineral with largely unexplored health benefits. Preliminary studies indicate that boron may be helpful in retaining the beneficial health effects of estrogen during menopause.

Does this research show that we should load up on apples every day? No. But studies clearly indicate that consuming apples and apple juice as part of a healthy, varied diet can confer significant health advantages.

And by the way, when eating a fresh apple, don’t peel it first. Most of the fiber and antioxidants are in the peel.

Source: UC Davis Medical Center

From the EWG: Study Links Childhood Cancer and In-Home Pesticide Use

June 7th, 2016

WASHINGTON – A new study by Harvard researchers provides disturbing evidence that children’s exposure to household insecticides is linked to higher risks of childhood leukemia and lymphoma, the most common cancers in children. The analysis also found an association between use of outdoor herbicides to lawns and gardens and higher risks of leukemia.

“It is very troubling, albeit not surprising, to see additional scientific evidence linking pesticide use to childhood cancer,” said Ken Cook, EWG president and co-founder. “The findings confirm parents’ worst fears that they could be unknowingly exposing their children to harmful chemicals that can lead to serious, even life-threatening, illnesses.”

“This study should remind us once again that we must protect our kids by curtailing our use of these toxic chemicals in and outside of the home,” Cook added.

The results from a meta-analysis, to be published in the journal Pediatrics in October, combined 16 studies reporting children’s exposure to pesticides used in and around the home. As the authors noted, children are more vulnerable to harmful pesticides because their bodies and immune systems are still developing. The researchers added that infants and toddlers are at especially high risk of exposure because they often play on pesticide-treated lawns or on carpets or floors where pesticide residues accumulate, and then put their hands and fingers in their mouths.

“Parents should consider the danger of pesticides in terms of the lethal toxicity of any products and the proximity to where your children play, eat, rest and sleep,” said Dr. Alex Lu, a Harvard Chan School of Public Health associate professor and senior author of the study. “This is also true for schools, playgrounds and sports fields.”

Lu added, “There is no justification for using chemical pesticides to maintain buildings, play areas or sport fields. There are plenty of non-chemical based treatments that will serve the purpose.”

EWG advises parents to stop using lawn and garden care, and to use indoor pesticides only as a last resort. See Healthy Child Healthy World’s greener tips on how to control indoor pests and how to protect your pets from fleas and ticks.

Another major source of children’s exposure to pesticides is food. Conventionally grown fruits and vegetables often carry multiple pesticide residues even after they have been washed, and in some cases, peeled. That’s why EWG updates its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ every year in order to help shoppers figure out which are the “dirtiest,” or most contaminated, and which are the “cleanest,” or least contaminated. The guide encourages shoppers to opt for organic versions of the “dirtiest” fruits and vegetables.

As Lu explains in this video, switching to an organic diet can significantly lower a child’s exposure to pesticides.

The American Academy of Pediatrics cites EWG’s Shopper’s Guide as a reliable resource for parents looking to reduce their children’s exposures.

Source: EWG.org

Study shows grapefruits tackle diabetes as well as leading drug

February 22nd, 2016

Scientists have found that the popular breakfast fruit works just as well as the common diabetes pill metformin in lowering harmful blood sugars.The breakthrough discovery could be a simple way to get Britain’s soaring diabetes and obesity crises under control.

US researchers have found that the so-called “grapefruit diet” which was popular in the Seventies and Eighties as the latest “Hollywood” diet secret followed by the likes of actress Brooke Shields may in fact have some scientific basis.

The team, from the University of California, Berkeley, gave one group of mice an antioxidant called naringin, a bioactive compound in grapefruit juice that has been identified as a key agent in weight loss.

They gave another group metformin, the most common glucose-lowering drug prescribed for patients with Type 2 diabetes.

The mice were fed a diet that was either 60 per cent fat or 10 per cent fat for 100 days, and their metabolic health was monitored throughout the study.

Researcher Professor Joseph Napoli said: “The grapefruit juice lowered blood glucose to the same degree as metformin.

“That means a natural fruit drink lowered glucose levels as effectively as a prescription drug.”

The group of high-fat-diet mice that received naringin had lower blood glucose levels than the control group, but there was no effect on weight, suggesting that some other ingredient in grapefruit juice is also beneficial.

The study did not find as big an impact on mice that ate a low-fat diet.

The researchers also randomly divided mice into six groups, including a control group that drank only water.

Those drinking grapefruit juice got a mixture diluted with water at different concentrations, and sweetened slightly with saccharin to counteract grapefruit’s bitterness.

The researchers also added glucose and artificial sweeteners to the control group’s water so that it would match the calorie and saccharin content of the grapefruit juice.

At the end of the study period, the mice that ate the high-fat diet and drank diluted grapefruit juice not only gained less weight than their control counterparts, they also had a 13 to 17 per cent decrease in blood glucose levels and a three-fold decrease in insulin levels, which reveals greater sensitivity to insulin.

In Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas makes extra insulin to compensate for increased resistance to the hormone.Those that drank the grapefruit juice saw a two-fold decrease in insulin levels, but there was no significant change in weight or other metabolic factors.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, also found that mice fed a high-fat diet gained 18 per cent less weight when they drank clarified, no-pulp grapefruit juice compared with a control group of mice that drank water.

Juice-drinking mice also showed improved levels of glucose, insulin and a type of fat called triacylglycerol compared with their water-drinking counterparts.

Prof Napolli added: “We see all sorts of scams about nutrition. But these results, based on controlled experiments, warrant further study of the potential health-promoting properties of grapefruit juice.”

Previous research has hailed the benefits of grapefruit for beating diabetes.

One study by experts in Jerusalem and Boston found that naringenin helps the liver to burn fat instead of storing it after eating while increasing the production of insulin.

This mimics the process in long periods of fasting where fatty acids are broken down instead of carbohydrates.

Naringenin gives citrus fruits – in particular grapefruit – a bitter taste.

Source: Express

7 tips for eating organic on a budget

November 18th, 2015

A recent study by the Organic Trade Association found eight in 10 parents in the US report they purchase organic products at least some times and an growing number are making this choice because of their desire to provide healthy food options for their kids. But how can you afford financially to make the same choices for your whole family? If you want to shop organic foods without breaking the bank, here are 7 ways you can go organic without going over your budget.

1. Buy food items in their raw, unprocessed form. While there are many processed organic products available on the market, purchasing processed organic products is the most expensive way to buy organic. If you have the financial means, go ahead. For everyone else, it is about getting back to basics and buying staple foods in their minimally processed form and turning them into other food through the means of your own cooking, brewing and baking.

2. Cook from scratch. Not only frugal, but healthier for you. Cooking at home means that you know exactly what is going into your food and you avoid the unknown additives, preservatives, and origins of mixed foods.

3. Compare prices between fresh and frozen, dried and canned varieties of organic foods. They may be less expensive than fresh, yet equally delicious when prepared correctly.

4. Only buy what you need for the week. For example, if don’t be stuck buying a whole five-pound bag of organic potatoes if you won’t use them. So, plan another meal that will use the remainder of the bag.

5. Use coupons! Although they are harder to come by, there are organic-based coupons available online. Take time to email your favorite companies too, for the opportunity to receive coupons by mail. And, sign up for our Juicy News newsletter online, where we give frequent coupons to our fans.

6. Plan, plan, plan. Did we say plan? Make a menu prior to shopping. Plan meals that will include meat every other day, versus having it in every single dish. That saves you money, and is good for your health.

7. Buy in bulk. Organic options can be found at Costco, BJ’s, and Sam’s Club and buy in bulk. You can purchase many organic grains (including brown and wild rice and whole oats), pastas, flours, dried fruits, and nuts in the bulk sections of stores for far less. Organic brown rice in bulk is about 99 cents per pound.

Organic food is often more expensive, but when it comes to the staples of your diet, organics are a worthwhile investment, with payoffs that might surprise you. The benefits influence your health today—and long-term.

The many health benefits of orange juice

September 1st, 2015

Orange juice is the excellent source of vitamin C and fulfills the entire day requirement of vitamin C in just one serving. It is tasty and delicious with full of medicinal as well as health benefits. Orange juice is known for many minerals such as magnesium, potassium, Vitamin B6, beta carotene, calcium, folic acid, and having low fats and no cholesterol.

Folic acid in orange juice is highly beneficial for brain development and spinal cord. In a recent study, it has been found that orange juice is good for weight loss. Orange juice has other important health advantages like cardiovascular problems, diabetes, cancer and gastrointestinal disorders. The juice boosts your immunity due to the presence of vitamin C. Orange juice has the highest nutrients value among all the citrus fruits.

What are some other health benefits of orange juice? Read on.

Prevents inflammation

The modern day faulty lifestyle along with paradox in dietary pattern leads to inflammatory reactions in the body, which causes lifestyle related disorders such as diabetes, heart diseases, arthritis, asthma, depression, etc. Drinking of orange juice helps to minimize the impact of type II diabetes and atherosclerosis. The flavonoids like hesperidin, and naringenin are acting as anti-inflammatory products and good for arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma.

Helps keep your BP in check

Orange juice is good in the management and prevention of cardiovascular disease. Orange juice contain a plant pigment called ‘hesperidin’ that is beneficial for overall the smooth functioning of  blood vessels thereby helps in balancing of blood pressure and good for cardiovascular diseases.  Drinking of orange juice decreases bad cholesterol or low density lipoprotein in the body. Bad cholesterol accounted for cardiovascular problems. The adequate amount of magnesium is good in normalizing blood pressure.

Radiant, glowing skin

Drinking orange juice is said to bring a radiant glow to your skin and provide other skin benefits as well. Drinking OJ will help to hydrate skin and keep it firm. Using this juice as a topical treatment does wonders for the skin as well. It cleans out and tightens clogged pores and is believed to prevent wrinkles and fine lines. Orange juice is also a great natural remedy for treating sunburns.

Orange juice prevent birth defects

Birth defects like low birth weight and neural tube defects can be overcome by drinking orange. The pregnant mother is suggested to take half cup of orange juice daily to fulfill the deficiency of folate, which leads to many birth related problems.

Lowers risk of heart disease

An apple a day is said to keep the doctor away, but orange juice may be good at the job, too.

An antioxidant in orange juice called hesperidin improves blood vessel function and helps lower a person’s risk of heart disease, researchers report.

Hesperidin is a plant-based compound called a flavonoid. (Grapes, red wine, green and black teas, and chocolate also contain flavonoids.) A growing body of evidence suggests that flavonoids can improve the health of the delicate cells that line blood vessels. The way these cells work is referred to as “endothelial function.” Problems with these cells can lead to the development of clogged arteries, a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

For the study, 24 healthy men at risk for cardiovascular disease each drank either 500 milliliters of orange juice each day, a “dummy” drink that contained the same calories as orange juice, or a dummy drink fortified with 292 milligrams of hesperidin. A 500 milliliter glass of orange juice naturally contains 292 milligrams of hesperidin. Over the course of the study, every man drank every beverage for one month straight.

The researchers found that when the men drank the daily orange juice or the hesperidin-fortified drink, they had better endothelial function and lower diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number of a blood pressure reading) than when they drank the non-hesperidin beverage. In addition, gene expression profiles (as related to cardiovascular disease development) were improved.

Orange juice is a cancer fighter

In a recent scientific research, it has been found that orange juice contains a bio-chemical substance called ‘D-limonene’, which is effective in preventing of skin cancer, breast cancer, mouth cancer, lung cancer and colon cancer. The adequate amount of vitamin C is also good in prevention of cancer.

Orange juice treats anemia

Orange juice is one of the best sources of vitamin C that helps in the absorption of iron into the blood stream. Anemia is a disease where there is a severe deficiency of iron. Regular intake of orange juice helps the patients in this regards.

Aids in strong teeth and bones

Calcium in oranges ensures strong teeth and bone. It is also supports to maintain a healthy blood pressure level. Calcium in oranges also assists for a healthy muscle function. Carotenoids in oranges act as powerful antioxidants against harmful radicals that can damage cells. A daily glass of orange juice can help prevent the reappearance of kidney stones better than other citrus fruit juices such as lemonade.

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Feed Your Family Organic

May 14th, 2015

1.    More Nutritious
 
In an organic farm plan, the soil is managed by sustainable practices that nourish the soil, which in turn, results in more nutrient-dense crops. Multiple studies show the nutritional content in organically-grown fruits, vegetables, and grains is higher versus their conventionally-grown counterparts. And when it comes to dairy, did you know organic milk can contain about 2x the levels of heart-healthy Omega-3 fats compared to conventional milk?

2.    Supports the Farmer and the Farm
 
According to The Organic Center, about 25,800 square miles of degraded soils would be converted to rich, highly productive crop land if consumers were choosing at least one organic product out of every 10 food items purchased.  Every year, American tax dollars subsidize billions of dollars for a farm bill that heavily favors conventional agribusiness. By supporting organic farmers and their farms, you are making an investment in the farmers who care about our ecosystem and the sustainability of the soil for future generations.

3.    USDA Certification
 
Consider it a “Peace of Mind” seal of approval. Wherever you find the “USDA Organic” seal, you know that food was grown and raised by farmers who never use synthetic pesticides, GMOs, growth hormones or antibiotics.  The USDA Organic seal also guarantees no artificial colors or flavors, no artificial preservatives, no irradiated ingredients and no GMOs.  Further, to obtain the seal, organic farms have to be free from prohibited substances for at least 3 years and must pass yearly inspections.

4.    No GMOs
 
Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are prohibited in organic production.  Besides concerns over forever contaminating our food supply’s gene pool and the now documented negative long-term effects on human and environmental health, GMOs have dramatically increased herbicide use.  Most GM crops are engineered to be “herbicide tolerant,” which means they’re designed to survive applications of Roundup herbicide. According to the Institute for Responsible Technology, between 1996 and 2008, US farmers sprayed an extra 383 million pounds of herbicide on GMOs. GM foods contain higher residues of toxic herbicides and consuming residual traces of herbicide are linked with infertility, hormone disruption, birth defects, and cancer.
 
5.    No Antibiotics or Hormones
 
Antibiotics, drugs and growth hormones are directly passed into meat and dairy products. According to Prevention Magazine, roughly 70% of antibiotics produced in the U.S. are fed to animals for nontherapeutic reasons, while sex and growth hormones are injected into cattle to artificially increase the amount of meat and milk the cattle produce without requiring extra feed. These practices are strictly prohibited in organic farming, thus eliminating the negative  potential health consequences.

6.    Reduces Pollution and Saves Energy
 
Did you know that 2.9 billion barrels of imported oil would be eliminated each year if 1 in 10 purchased food products were organic? What’s more, organic farms have 30% less greenhouse gas emissions than their conventional couterparts! That’s some serious energy saved. There are also residual effects of synthetic agricultural chemicals contaminating our land and infiltrating our water supplies remain unanswered.  Sadly, an estimated 1% of applied pesticides reach the target pests, while the remaining 99% is absorbed by the surrounding environment, according to Cornell entomologist David Pimentel.  Conversely, organic farming practices require the responsible management of the soil while encouraging biodiversity.

7.    No Biosolids
 
Sewage sludge, also referred to as biosolids, are not permitted in certified organic foods. Biosolids contain heavy metals, toxins, steroids, and questionable substances that can pose a threat to your health. Possible health risks from substances in biosolids include kidney damage, adverse effects to the immune system, hormone disruption, and even cancer. (Source: Mamavation)

8.    Tastes Better
 
If you think organic tastes better, there’s actually scientific data to back up your taste buds. According to Richard C. Theuer, Ph.D, the more intense flavors in organic fruits and vegetables probably stem form two factors: somewhat higher levels of antioxidants, and somewhat lower crop yields.  Yield levels, and the availability of nitrogen to crops, can affect both nutritional and taste quality.  Organic food is harvested when it’s ripe, rather than gassed with ethylene to quickly ripen it, allowing for natural flavor development.

9.    No Persistent Pesticides
 
Organic farmers don’t uses persistent pesticides such as glyphosate and organophosphate pesticides. The negative effects of residual glyphosate traces found in GM foods has been linked to cancer, autism, allergies and a host of other health-related problems.  In lieu of these synthetic chemicals, organic farmers use natural methods to keep pests off of their crops. Some methods organic farmers employ are sophisticated crop rotation to disrupt the pest’s environment, introducing soil organisms and insects that benefit the crops, and traps or barriers.  
10. Preserves the Environment and Ecosystems
 
Organic farming is about farming in harmony with nature.  Organic farming encourages the coexistence of beneficial insects, wildlife, frogs, birds and soil organisms within its farm plans.   The cultivation of healthy soil and crop rotation keep farmland healthy, while chemical abstinence preserves the ecosystem.
 
 
 

7 Health Benefits of Drinking Organic Orange Juice

April 28th, 2015

You grew up drinking orange juice every morning at breakfast, but did you ever ask why? What’s so special about orange juice that makes it a staple around the world?

There are so many health benefits to drinking organic orange juice that no one could possibly name all of them. With high concentrations of vitamin C and other nutrients that are not only healthful but necessary, the orange is a super-fruit that most of us take for granted. Even if you aren’t a fan of peeling and eating sticky, juicy oranges, you can still get many of the same benefits out of a glass for breakfast each morning. If you need an extra push to start putting a jug of orange juice in your cart as you pass by the organic section on your next grocery run, check out these seven reasons to not let another day go by without adding orange juice to your diet.

1. Healing Phytonutrients: Oranges have particularly high levels of certain phytonutrients that are thought to be helpful for reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure and balancing cholesterol! Adding a glass of organic orange juice per day to your diet can provide enough of these phytonutrients to contribute to an improvement in your overall health.

2. Daily Value of Vitamin C: We all know that we can’t function well without at least some vitamin C in our diets. It does everything from promoting strong and healthy bones and clear skin to strengthening your immune system to fight off infections and viruses. You could always take a supplement, but why do that when a delicious glass of organic orange juice provides more nutrients than vitamin C supplements with added health benefits?

3. Consuming Citrus Lowers Risk of Certain Diseases: Oranges contain many of the elements that are thought to reduce the risk of heart disease and cardiac arrhythmias, and some studies have even shown a slight reduction in the occurrence of many types of mouth, throat, esophageal, stomach and liver cancers in people who have a lot of citrus fruits in their diets.

4. Lower Cholesterol: Certain compounds in oranges are being studied as possible means to lower cholesterol. These compounds may interact in such a way with the body that they reduce its ability to produce LDL cholesterol. Lowered cholesterol then translates into a reduced risk for many types of health issues from heart disease to stroke.

5. Prevents Ulcers: Some studies have shown that people with a higher blood level of vitamin C are at less of a risk of developing peptic ulcers—a condition which can lead to stomach cancer. How do you get your vitamin C levels up? Orange juice, of course!

6. Prevents Kidney Stones: If you want to reduce your risk of developing calcium oxalate kidney stones, you may be pleasantly surprised to know that simply drinking a couple of glasses of orange juice or other citrus juice per day increases your citric acid excretion preventing kidney stones from forming.

7. Healthy Carbohydrates: For diabetics or those who are watching carb intake, you’ll be happy to know that you can still drink orange juice! Like any food, it’s important to be aware of how much you are drinking, but orange juice only has a glycemic index of 40. This means that, since it is under 55, you can drink orange juice in limited quantities to benefit from all of its nutrients—and great flavor—without having it spike your blood sugar or cause problems with weight gain.

Are you convinced? Whether you are simply looking for a healthy, nutritious alternative to a 500 calorie morning latte, or you are looking for natural ways to help reduce your risk of certain health problems, organic orange juice may be just what you need to add to your daily diet.

Kayla Matthews is a healthy living blogger with a passion for organic and natural foods. You can read all of her latest articles by following her on Google+ and Twitter.

Eco-Friendly Easter Celebration

April 3rd, 2015

Eco-Friendly Easter1. Locally sourced eggs
If you choose to celebrate with real eggs, support your local farmer and buy eggs from pasture-raised chickens. Or buy organic eggs. Eggs from pasture-raised hens or organic fed hens are healthier for you, containing more vitamin A, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids, according a report conducted by the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

2. Alternatives to Easter eggs
There are many alternatives to using real eggs for Easter celebrations; for instance, the White House traditionally uses decorated wooden eggs for its annual Easter Egg Roll. There are also plastic Easter eggs that are compostable, and ceramic Easter eggs that are dyeable!

3. Blown eggs
Blown eggs are another reusable dyeable option. Blown eggs are made of real eggs whose yolks and whites have been removed. Here is a tutorial. The leftover yolks and whites can then be used for baking, scrambled eggs, or other cooking projects.

4. Homemade egg decorating
There are many methods to make homemade egg dyes, using vinegar and spices, fruits, and vegetables. Check out these instructions from Real Simple Magazine!

5. Prevent food waste
If you hard boil fresh eggs before you dye them, the prospect of eating all of those hard boiled eggs may be daunting, but throwing them out is wasteful. Turn the eggs into a delicious dish: here are some great ideas!

6. Avoid plastic Easter grass
Cellophane Easter grass, often found in Easter baskets, cannot go into the recycling bin. If you already have Easter grass, reuse it. If you were going to buy some for Easter baskets, try replacing it with shredded newspaper or tissue paper.

7. Give children stuffed toys instead of live Easter bunnies and chicks
Dyed Easter chicks are a perennially controversial topic: chicks are dyed while in the egg or sprayed shortly after hatching. The food coloring used to dye the chicks is non-toxic, but the real concern is what happens to the chicks after the dye wears off. Chicks are sold as seasonally-themed pets, most of whom are discarded or neglected after they molt and lose their artificially colored feathers.

Rabbits are also common Easter gifts: just as with chickens, rabbits are often neglected, surrendered to animal rescues, or released into the wild when the novelty wears off. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends giving children stuffed or chocolate bunnies instead of live animals, as rabbits can live seven to ten years on average and are a serious commitment.

8. Make a locally sourced Easter meal
If it’s your tradition to have an Easter meal, why not try to make as many of the dishes as you can from local food? Check Local Harvest for your nearest farmer or farmers market.

9. Visit a local farm
Take the time to bring your family to a nearby farm. Children and adults will get an up-close look at how their food gets from the farm to home. Be sure to contact the farmers ahead of time! Here’s another link to Local Harvest with helpful things to remember before your visit.

10. Instead of an Easter basket, Easter plants
Check your local nursery for seeds or seedlings and give friends and loved ones a reusable Easter gift: a homemade herb garden.

11. Give a donation to Heifer International
If giving plants is not your style, consider making a donation to Heifer International or a similar non-profit to fight poverty while providing an animal to a family in a developing nation.

12. Minimize packaging with candy and treats
Choose Easter treats with less packaging to cut down on the amount of waste generated by the holiday festivities.

13. Reuse your existing plastic eggs
If you still have a treasure trove of plastic eggs at home, there are plenty of ideas online for upcycling. From tea candle holders to a set of toy teacups to sophisticated Easter decorations, there are many great tutorials online.

Source: Huffington Post

10 good reasons to eat an orange a day

September 18th, 2014

Sweet and juicy to taste, orange is one of the most popular fruits in India as well as the world. Belonging to a group of citrus fruits called hesperedium, oranges have more health benefits than one. Here are the top 10 health benefits of the fruit.

1. Boosts your immunity

A single orange can meet more than 100% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C. This vital nutrient helps improve your immunity, keeping you free from diseases and infections. Here are some more immunity boosting foods.

2. Good for your skin

As we grow older, our skin along with other body parts suffers from free radical damage. This process is similar to how metals rust after exposure to air.  Even though it is inevitable, oranges are packed with antioxidants and Vitamin C which slows down the process and makes you look younger than your age! Besides oranges, you can eat these fruits and vegetables for glowing skin!

3. Great for your eyes

Along with our skin, our eyes too suffers from damage as we grow older. Oranges are rich in nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C and potassium which are great for your eyes. So, if you want your vision to be just as good as it is now, eat an orange every day!

4. Prevents heart disease

One of the reasons why people get heart disease is because their arteries are blocked due to unhealthy lifestyles and consumption of junk food. Oranges have flavonoids like hesperidin which reduces cholesterol and prevents your arteries from getting blocked. This, in turn protects you from heart attack and various other cardiovascular diseases. Alternatively, you could try these 8 natural cholesterol busters.

5. Helps in brain development

Folate and folic acid present in oranges promote brain development and keep the vital organ in mint condition. In fact, these nutrients also make orange a healthy fruit for pregnant woman as it prevents the baby from having neurological disorders later.

6. Prevents cancer

Having cancer can be a tough and harrowing experience for both the patient and the caregiver. Research has shown that a compound called D – limonene present in oranges can prevent various types of cancer like lung cancer, breast cancer, skin cancer, etc. Additionally, the antioxidants and Vitamin C help promote the body’s immunity which helps in fighting cancer cells. Here are some food habits to keep cancer at bay.

7. Keeps you free from stomach ulcers

Oranges are a very good source of fiber which helps keep your stomach and intestines healthy. A diet rich in fiber will ensure that you are not affected with ailments like stomach ulcers and constipation.

8. Protects your vision

Oranges also contain very good levels of vitamin A, and other flavonoid antioxidants such as alpha and beta-carotenes, beta-cryptoxanthin, zea-xanthin and lutein. These compounds are known to have antioxidant properties. Vitamin A is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is essential for vision. Consumption of natural fruits rich in flavonoids helps the body to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.

9. Great for diabetics

People who have diabetes are unable to absorb glucose since the beta-cells present in their pancreas either fail to produce insulin or the body’s cells are unable to respond to the insulin produced. Oranges are high in fibre and have a high glycaemic index which makes it a good food option for diabetics. Also worth mentioning is that good oranges have a sweet taste, and since diabetics aren’t allowed to eat sweets or other sugary foods, they can eat oranges to tingle their taste buds.

10. Prevents hair loss

Orange has high Vitamin C content which is required for producing collagen which, in turn, is responsible for keeping the tissues in your hair together. Nobody likes bald patches on their head, and eating oranges can ensure that you do not have to part with your lovely hair as you grow older.

Source: TheHealthSite.com

Is Organic Really Healthier?

September 16th, 2014

According to a new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, in fact, it is! Research concludes that organic crops have higher concentrations of antioxidants, lower levels of cadmium and nitrates, and fewer pesticide residues than their non-organic counterparts.

Initiated by Britain’s Newcastle University, the study analyzed an unprecedented 343 peer-reviewed research papers documenting the nutritional benefits of organic grains, fruits, and vegetables.  It found that switching to an organic diet would provide a 20 to 40% increase in antioxidant and polyphenol consumption. That’s like eating one or two extra servings of fruits and veggies a day! Antioxidants and polyphenols are known to help prevent diseases triggered by oxidative-damage like coronary heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers.

Organic foods had roughly half the amount of cadmium as conventionally grown crops, according to the study. Cadmium is a highly toxic heavy metal contaminant that has been linked to kidney failure, bone softening, liver failure, and lung cancer.

The study concluded that conventional crops were three to four times more likely to have pesticide residue than organic crops. Pesticide exposure has been linked to birth defects, nerve damage and some cancers. Synthetic pesticides are not allowed on organic foods.

Add this study to the many reasons that make organic a worthwhile investment in your health and the health of your entire family!