When you're hungry, your stomach may "growl" and feel empty, or you may get a headache, feel irritable, or be unable to concentrate.
Most people can go several hours between meals before feeling hungry again, though this isn't the case for everyone.
There are several possible explanations for this, including a diet that lacks protein, fat, or fiber, as well as excessive stress or dehydration.
This article discusses 14 reasons for excessive hunger.
1. You’re Not Eating Enough Protein
Consuming enough protein is important for appetite control.
Protein has hunger-reducing properties that may help you automatically consume fewer calories during the day. It works by increasing the production of hormones that signal fullness and reducing the levels of hormones that stimulate hunger (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
Due to these effects, you may feel hungry frequently if you're not eating enough protein.
In one study, 14 men with excess weight who consumed 25% of their calories from protein for 12 weeks experienced a 50% reduction in their desire for late-night snacking, compared with a group that consumed less protein (5Trusted Source).
Additionally, those with a higher protein intake reported greater fullness throughout the day and fewer obsessive thoughts about food (5Trusted Source).
Many different foods are high in protein, so it's not difficult to get enough of it through your diet. Including a source of protein in every meal can help prevent excessive hunger.
Animal products, such as meat, poultry, fish, and eggs, contain high amounts of protein.
This nutrient is also found in some dairy products, including milk and yogurt, as well as a few plant-based foods like legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Protein plays an important role in appetite control by regulating your hunger hormones. For this reason, you may feel hungry frequently if you don't eat enough of it.
2. You’re Not Sleeping Enough
Getting adequate sleep is extremely important for your health.
Sleep is required for the proper functioning of your brain and immune system, and getting enough of it is associated with a lower risk of several chronic illnesses, including heart disease and cancer (6Trusted Source).
Additionally, sleeping enough is a factor in appetite control, as it helps regulate ghrelin, the appetite-stimulating hormone. Lack of sleep leads to higher ghrelin levels, which is why you may feel hungrier when you are sleep deprived (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).
In one study, 15 people who were sleep deprived for only 1 night reported being significantly more hungry and chose 14% larger portion sizes, compared with a group that slept for 8 hours (9Trusted Source).
To keep your hunger levels under control, it's generally recommended to get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
Sleep deprivation is known to cause fluctuations in your hunger hormone levels and may leave you feeling hungry more frequently.
3. You’re Eating Too Many Refined Carbs
Refined carbs have been processed and stripped of their fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
One of the most popular sources of refined carbs is white flour, which is found in many grain-based foods like bread and pasta. Foods like soda, candy, and baked goods, which are made with processed sugars, are also considered to be refined carbs.
Since refined carbs lack filling fiber, your body digests them very quickly. This is a major reason why you may be hungry frequently if you eat a lot of refined carbs, as they do not promote significant feelings of fullness (10Trusted Source).
Furthermore, eating refined carbs may lead to rapid spikes in your blood sugar. This leads to increased levels of insulin, a hormone responsible for transporting sugar into your cells (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
When a lot of insulin is released at once in response to high blood sugar, it quickly removes sugar from your blood, which may lead to a sudden drop in blood sugar levels, a condition known as hypoglycemia (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
Low blood sugar levels signal your body that it needs more food, which is another reason why you may feel hungry often if refined carbs are a regular part of your diet (10Trusted Source).
To reduce your refined carb intake, simply replace them with healthier, whole foods like vegetables, fruit, legumes, and whole grains. These foods are still high in carbs, but they are rich in fiber, which helps keep hunger under control (12Trusted Source).
Refined carbs lack fiber and cause blood sugar fluctuations, which are the primary reasons why eating too many of them may leave you feeling hungry.
4. Your Diet is Low in Fat
Fat plays a key role in keeping you full.
This is partly due to its slow gastrointestinal transit time, meaning that it takes longer for you to digest and remains in your stomach for a long period. Additionally, eating fat may lead to the release of various fullness-promoting hormones (13Trusted Source, 14, 15Trusted Source).
For these reasons, you may feel frequent hunger if your diet is low in fat.
One study including 270 adults with obesity found that those who followed a low-fat diet had significant increases in cravings for carbs and preferences for high-sugar foods, compared with a group that consumed a low-carb diet (16Trusted Source).
Furthermore, those in the low-fat group reported more feelings of hunger than the group that followed a low-carb eating pattern (16Trusted Source).
There are many healthy, high-fat foods that you can include in your diet to increase your fat intake. Certain types of fats, such as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and omega-3 fatty acids, have been studied the most for their ability to reduce appetite (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
The richest food source of MCT is coconut oil, while omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel. You can also get omega-3s from plant-based foods, such as walnuts and flaxseeds.
Other sources of healthy, high-fat foods include avocados, olive oil, eggs, and full-fat yogurt.
You may feel hungry often if you don't eat enough fat. That's because fat plays a role in slowing digestion and increasing the production of fullness-promoting hormones.
5. You’re Not Drinking Enough Water
Proper hydration is incredibly important for your overall health.
Drinking enough water has several health benefits, including promoting brain and heart health and optimizing exercise performance. Additionally, water keeps your skin and digestive system healthy (21Trusted Source).
In one study, 14 people who drank 2 cups of water before a meal ate almost 600 fewer calories than those who didn't drink any water (24Trusted Source).
Due to water's role in keeping you full, you may find that you feel hungry frequently if you're not drinking enough of it.
Feelings of thirst can be mistaken for feelings of hunger. If you're always hungry, it may help to drink a glass or two of water to find out if you are just thirsty (23Trusted Source).
To ensure you're properly hydrated, simply drink water when you feel thirsty. Eating lots of water-rich foods, including fruits and vegetables, will also contribute to your hydration needs (25Trusted Source).
You may always be hungry if you're not drinking enough water. That's because it has appetite-reducing properties. Additionally, you may be mistaking feelings of thirst for feelings of hunger.
6. Your Diet Lacks Fiber
If your diet lacks fiber, you may feel hungry frequently.
Additionally, a high fiber intake influences the release of appetite-reducing hormones and the production of short-chain fatty acids, which have been shown to have fullness-promoting effects (12Trusted Source).
It's important to note that there are different types of fiber, and some are better than others at keeping you full and preventing hunger. Several studies have found soluble fiber, or fiber that dissolves in water, is more filling than insoluble fiber (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source, 29).
Many different foods, such as oatmeal, flax seeds, sweet potatoes, oranges, and Brussels sprouts, are excellent sources of soluble fiber.
Not only does a high-fiber diet help reduce hunger, but it's also associated with several other health benefits, such as a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity (30Trusted Source).
To ensure you're getting enough fiber, opt for a diet that's rich in whole, plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains.
If your diet lacks fiber, you may find that you are always hungry. This is because fiber plays a role in reducing your appetite and keeping you full.
7. You Eat While You’re Distracted
If you live a busy lifestyle, you may often eat while you are distracted.
Although it may save you time, distracted eating can be detrimental to your health. It's associated with greater appetite, increased calorie intake, and weight gain (31Trusted Source).
The primary reason for this is because distracted eating reduces your awareness of how much you're consuming. It prevents you from recognizing your body's fullness signals as efficiently as when you're not distracted (31Trusted Source).
Several studies have shown that those who engage in distracted eating are hungrier than those who avoid distractions during mealtimes (31Trusted Source).
In one study, 88 women were instructed to eat either while distracted or sitting in silence. Those who were distracted were less full and had a significantly greater desire to eat more throughout the day, compared with the non-distracted eaters (32Trusted Source).
Another study found that people who distracted themselves with a computer game during lunch were less full than those who did not play the game. Additionally, the distracted eaters consumed 48% more food in a test that occurred later that day (33Trusted Source).
To avoid distracted eating, you can try practicing mindfulness, minimizing screen time, and silencing your electronic devices. This will allow you to sit down and taste your food, helping you better recognize your body's fullness signals.
Distracted eating may be a reason why you are always hungry, as it makes it difficult for you to recognize feelings of fullness.
8. You Exercise a Lot
Individuals who exercise frequently burn a lot of calories.
This is especially true if you regularly participate in high-intensity exercise or engage in physical activity for long durations, such as in marathon training.
Research has shown that those who exercise vigorously on a regular basis tend to have a faster metabolism, which means that they burn more calories at rest than those who exercise moderately or live sedentary lifestyles (34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source).
In one study, 10 men who engaged in a vigorous 45-minute workout increased their overall metabolic rate by 37% for the day, compared with another day when they did not exercise (37Trusted Source).
Another study found that women who exercised at a high intensity every day for 16 days burned 33% more calories throughout the day than a group that did not exercise and 15% more calories than moderate exercisers. The results were similar for men (38Trusted Source).
Although several studies have shown exercise to be beneficial for suppressing appetite, there is some evidence that vigorous, long-term exercisers tend to have greater appetites than those who do not exercise (39Trusted Source, 40Trusted Source, 41Trusted Source, 42Trusted Source).
You can prevent excessive hunger from exercise simply by eating more to fuel your workouts. It is most helpful to increase your intake of filling foods that are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
Another solution is to cut back on the time you spend exercising or reduce the intensity of your workouts.
It's important to note that this mostly applies to those who are avid athletes and work out frequently at a high intensity or for long periods. If you exercise moderately, you probably don't need to increase your calorie intake.
Individuals who regularly exercise at a high intensity or for long durations tend to have greater appetites and faster metabolisms. Thus, they may experience frequent hunger.
9. You’re Drinking Too Much Alcohol
Studies have shown that alcohol may inhibit hormones that reduce appetite, such as leptin, especially when it is consumed before or with meals. For this reason, you may feel hungry often if you drink too much alcohol (43Trusted Source, 44Trusted Source, 45Trusted Source).
In one study, 12 men who drank 1.5 ounces (40 ml) of alcohol before lunch ended up consuming 300 more calories at the meal than a group that drank only 0.3 ounces (10 ml) (46Trusted Source).
Additionally, those who drank more alcohol ate 10% more calories throughout the entire day, compared with the group that drank less. They were also more likely to consume high amounts of high-fat and salty foods (46Trusted Source).
Another study found that 26 people who drank one ounce (30 ml) of alcohol with a meal consumed 30% more calories, compared with a group that avoided alcohol (47Trusted Source).
Alcohol may not only make you hungrier but also impair the part of your brain that controls judgment and self-control. This may lead you to eat more, regardless of how hungry you are (44Trusted Source).
To reduce the hunger-inducing effects of alcohol, it's best to consume it moderately or avoid it completely (48Trusted Source).
Drinking too much alcohol may cause you to feel hungry frequently due to its role in decreasing the production of hormones that promote fullness.
10. You Drink Your Calories
Liquid and solid foods affect your appetite in different ways.
If you consume a lot of liquid foods, such as smoothies, meal replacement shakes, and soups, you may be hungrier more often than you would be if you ate more solid foods.
Eating liquid foods also tends to take less time than eating solid foods. This may lead you to want to eat more, only because your brain hasn't had enough time to process fullness signals (53Trusted Source).
In one study, people who consumed a liquid snack reported less fullness and more feelings of hunger than those who consumed a solid snack. They also consumed 400 more calories throughout the day than the solid-snack group (52Trusted Source).
To prevent frequent hunger, it may help to focus on incorporating more solid, whole foods into your diet.
Liquid foods do not have the same effects on keeping you full and satisfied as solid foods do. For this reason, you may feel hungry frequently if liquids are a major part of your diet.
11. You’re Overly Stressed
Excess stress is known to increase appetite.
This is mostly due to its effects on increasing levels of cortisol, a hormone that has been shown to promote hunger and food cravings. For this reason, you might find that you are always hungry if you experience frequent stress (54Trusted Source, 55Trusted Source, 56Trusted Source, 57Trusted Source).
In one study, 59 women who were exposed to stress consumed more calories throughout the day and ate significantly sweeter foods than women who were not stressed (57Trusted Source).
Another study compared the eating habits of 350 young girls. Those with higher stress levels were more likely to overeat than those with lower levels of stress. The stressed girls also reported higher intakes of unhealthy snacks like chips and cookies (58Trusted Source).
Excessive stress is a reason why you may be hungry frequently, given its ability to increase cortisol levels in the body.
12. You’re Taking Certain Medications
Several medications may increase your appetite as a side effect.
The most common appetite-inducing medications include antipsychotics, such as clozapine and olanzapine, as well as antidepressants, mood stabilizers, corticosteroids, and anti-seizure drugs (61Trusted Source, 62Trusted Source, 63Trusted Source, 64Trusted Source).
Additionally, some diabetes medications, such as insulin, insulin secretagogues, and thiazolidinediones, are known to increase your hunger and appetite (65Trusted Source).
There is also some anecdotal evidence that birth control pills have appetite-stimulating properties, but this is not supported by strong scientific research.
If you suspect that medications are the cause of your frequent hunger, it may help to talk to your healthcare provider about other treatment options. There may be alternative medications that don't make you hungry.
Certain medications cause increased appetite as a side effect. In turn, they may cause you to experience frequent hunger.
13. You Eat Too Fast
The rate at which you eat may play a role in how hungry you are.
Several studies have shown that fast eaters have greater appetites and a tendency to overeat at meals, compared with slow eaters. They are also more likely to have obesity or excess weight (66Trusted Source, 67Trusted Source, 68Trusted Source, 69Trusted Source).
In one study in 30 women, fast eaters consumed 10% more calories at a meal and reported significantly less fullness, compared with slow eaters (70Trusted Source).
Another study compared the effects of eating rates in those with diabetes. Those who ate a meal slowly became full more quickly and reported less hunger 30 minutes after the meal, compared with fast eaters (71Trusted Source).
These effects are partly due to the lack of chewing and reduced awareness that occur when you eat too fast, both of which are necessary to alleviate feelings of hunger (72Trusted Source, 73Trusted Source, 74Trusted Source).
These techniques are a part of mindful eating.
If you are hungry frequently, it may help to eat more slowly. You can do this by taking a few deep breaths before meals, putting your fork down between bites, and increasing the extent to which you chew your food.
Eating too quickly doesn't allow your body enough time to recognize fullness, which may promote excessive hunger.
14. You Have a Medical Condition
Frequent hunger may be a symptom of disease.
First, frequent hunger is a classic sign of diabetes. It occurs as a result of extremely high blood sugar levels and is typically accompanied by other symptoms, including excessive thirst, weight loss, and fatigue (76Trusted Source).
Hyperthyroidism, a condition characterized by an overactive thyroid, is also associated with increased hunger. This is because it causes excess production of thyroid hormones, which are known to promote appetite (77Trusted Source, 78Trusted Source).
Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels, may also increase your hunger levels. Your blood sugar levels may fall if you haven't eaten for a while, an effect that may be exacerbated by a diet high in refined carbs and sugar (79Trusted Source).
If you suspect that you may have one of these conditions, it's important to talk with your healthcare provider to receive a proper diagnosis and discuss treatment options.
Excessive hunger is a symptom of a few specific medical conditions, which should be ruled out if you are frequently hungry.
The Bottom Line
Excessive hunger is a sign that your body needs more food.
It's often a result of imbalanced hunger hormones, which may occur for a variety of reasons, including inadequate diet and certain lifestyle habits.
You may feel hungry frequently if your diet lacks protein, fiber, or fat, all of which promote fullness and reduce appetite. Extreme hunger is also a sign of inadequate sleep and chronic stress.
Additionally, certain medications and illnesses are known to cause frequent hunger.
If you feel hungry often, it may be beneficial to assess your diet and lifestyle to determine if there are changes you can make to help you feel more full.
Your hunger could also be a sign that you are not eating enough, which can be solved by simply increasing your food intake.
In case you're eating too quickly or distracted at mealtimes, you can also practice mindful eating, which aims to minimize distractions, increase your focus, and slow your chewing to help you realize when you're full.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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By Rachael Link
Tahini is a common ingredient in popular foods around the globe, including hummus, halva and baba ghanoush.
Favored for its smooth texture and rich taste, it can be used as a dip, spread, salad dressing or condiment.
It also boasts a long list of nutrients and several health benefits, making it a must-have for any kitchen pantry.
This article reviews the nutrition, benefits, uses, and downsides of tahini.
What is Tahini?
Tahini is a paste made from toasted and ground sesame seeds.
Considered a staple of Mediterranean cuisine, tahini is often featured in traditional Asian, Middle Eastern, and African dishes as well.
It's an incredibly versatile ingredient and can be served as a dip, spread, or condiment.
It typically has a smooth texture similar to nut butter but a stronger, more savory taste that's often described as bitter.
In addition to providing a wealth of nutrients, tahini has also been associated with several benefits, including improved heart health, reduced inflammation, and potential cancer-fighting effects.
Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds. It's versatile, highly nutritious, and associated with numerous potential health benefits.
Tahini is relatively low in calories but high in fiber, protein, and an assortment of important vitamins and minerals.
One tablespoon (15 grams) of tahini contains the following nutrients (1):
- Calories: 89
- Protein: 3 grams
- Carbs: 3 grams
- Fat: 8 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Copper: 27% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Selenium: 9% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 9% of the DV
- Iron: 7% of the DV
- Zinc: 6% of the DV
- Calcium: 5% of the DV
It's also rich in selenium, a mineral that helps decrease inflammation and promotes immune health, as well as phosphorus, which is involved in maintaining bone health (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
Tahini is rich in many nutrients, including protein, fiber, copper, selenium, and phosphorus.
Benefits of Tahini
Due to its impressive nutrient profile, tahini has been linked to a number of health benefits.
Supports Heart Health
Sesame seeds, which are the main ingredient in tahini, have a powerful effect on heart health by decreasing risk factors, such as high blood pressure, triglycerides, and LDL (bad) cholesterol.
In one study, 50 people with osteoarthritis completed standard medication therapy for 2 months, either with or without the addition of 40 grams, or about 1.5 tablespoons, of sesame seeds daily.
According to a review of eight studies, sesame seeds may also reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure (the top and bottom numbers or a reading), which could help prevent heart disease and stroke (6Trusted Source).
As tahini is made from ground sesame seeds, these findings apply to the paste as well.
Some research suggests that sesame seeds could protect against inflammation.
In one study, consuming 40 grams of sesame seeds daily for 2 months effectively reduced levels of malondialdehyde (MDA), a compound used to measure inflammation in people with osteoarthritis (5Trusted Source).
In another study, feeding sesame oil to mice lowered levels of several inflammatory markers after just three months (8Trusted Source).
May Protect Against Cancer
One test-tube study showed that sesamol blocked the growth and spread of liver cancer cells (10Trusted Source).
However, current research is limited to test-tube and animal studies evaluating the effects of one specific component of tahini.
More research is needed to understand how tahini may impact cancer in humans.
Tahini and its components may help improve heart health, reduce inflammation, and prevent the growth of certain types of cancer cells.
How to Add Tahini to Your Diet
Tahini is very versatile and can be enjoyed in various ways.
It's often spread over toast or used as a dip for pita bread.
It can also be mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and spices to create a rich and creamy homemade salad dressing.
Alternatively, try using it to dip your favorite veggies, such as carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, or celery sticks, for a healthy snack.
Tahini can even bring a unique flavor to baked goods and desserts like banana bread, cookies, or cake to help tone down the sweetness and add a nutty taste.
Tahini can be used as a spread, dip, or salad dressing. It can also be mixed into baked goods to add a unique nutty flavor.
Despite the many benefits associated with tahini, there are some downsides to consider.
Though your body needs omega-6 fatty acids, consuming a diet high in omega-6 fatty acids yet low in omega-3s may contribute to chronic inflammation (15Trusted Source).
Therefore, it's important to keep your intake of omega-6 foods like tahini in moderation and round out your diet with plenty of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish.
Additionally, some people may be allergic to sesame seeds, which can potentially cause severe side effects like anaphylaxis, an allergic reaction that can impair breathing (16Trusted Source).
If you suspect that you may have an allergy to sesame seeds, avoid eating tahini.
Tahini is rich in omega-6 fatty acids and could cause an adverse reaction in those who are allergic to sesame seeds.
The Bottom Line
Tahini is made from toasted and ground sesame seeds.
It's rich in important nutrients like fiber, protein, copper, phosphorus, and selenium and may reduce heart disease risk and inflammation.
What's more, test-tube and animal studies suggest that sesame seeds may have anticancer properties.
Best of all, tahini is versatile and easy to use, which makes it a great addition to a healthy, well-rounded diet.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
Throughout Texas, there are a number of solar power companies that can install solar panels on your roof to take advantage of the abundant sunlight. But which solar power provider should you choose? In this article, we'll provide a list of the best solar companies in the Lone Star State.
Our Picks for the Best Texas Solar Companies
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Sunpro Solar
- Longhorn Solar, Inc.
- Solartime USA
- Kosmos Solar
- Sunshine Renewable Solutions
- Alba Energy
- Circle L Solar
- South Texas Solar Systems
- Good Faith Energy
How We Chose the Best Solar Energy Companies in Texas
There are a number of factors to keep in mind when comparing and contrasting different solar providers. These are some of the considerations we used to evaluate Texas solar energy companies.
Different solar companies may provide varying services. Always take the time to understand the full range of what's being offered in terms of solar panel consultation, design, installation, etc. Also consider add-ons, like EV charging stations, whenever applicable.
When meeting with a representative from one of Texas' solar power companies, we would always encourage you to ask what the installation process involves. What kind of customization can you expect? Will your solar provider use salaried installers, or outsourced contractors? These are all important questions to raise during the due diligence process.
Texas is a big place, and as you look for a good solar power provider, you want to ensure that their services are available where you live. If you live in Austin, it doesn't do you much good to have a solar company that's active only in Houston.
Pricing and Financing
Keep in mind that the initial cost of solar panel installation can be sizable. Some solar companies are certainly more affordable than others, and you can also ask about the flexible financing options that are available to you.
To guarantee that the renewable energy providers you select are reputable, and that they have both the integrity and the expertise needed, we would recommend assessing their status in the industry. The simplest way to do this is to check to see whether they are North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certified or belong to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) or other industry groups.
Types of Panels
As you research different companies, it certainly doesn't hurt to get to know the specific products they offer. Inquire about their tech portfolio, and see if they are certified to install leading brands like Tesla or Panasonic.
Rebates and Tax Credits
There are a lot of opportunities to claim clean energy rebates or federal tax credits which can help with your initial solar purchase. Ask your solar provider for guidance navigating these different savings opportunities.
Going solar is a big investment, but a warranty can help you trust that your system will work for decades. A lot of solar providers provide warranties on their technology and workmanship for 25 years or more, but you'll definitely want to ask about this on the front end.
The 10 Best Solar Energy Companies in Texas
With these criteria in mind, consider our picks for the 10 best solar energy companies in TX.
SunPower is a solar energy company that makes it easy to make an informed and totally customized decision about your solar power setup. SunPower has an online design studio where you can learn more about the different options available for your home, and even a form where you can get a free online estimate. Set up a virtual consultation to speak directly with a qualified solar installer from the comfort of your own home. It's no wonder SunPower is a top solar installation company in Texas. They make the entire process easy and expedient.
Sunpro Solar is another solar power company with a solid reputation across the country. Their services are widely available to Texas homeowners, and they make the switch to solar effortless. We recommend them for their outstanding customer service, for the ease of their consultation and design process, and for their assistance to homeowners looking to claim tax credits and other incentives.
Looking for a solar contractor with true Texas roots? Longhorn Solar is an award-winning company that's frequently touted as one of the best solar providers in the state. Their services are available in Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio, and since 2009 they have helped more than 2,000 Texans make the switch to energy efficiency with solar. We recommend them for their technical expertise, proven track record, and solar product selection.
Solartime USA is another company based in Texas. In fact, this family-owned business is located in Richardson, which is just outside of Dallas. They have ample expertise with customized solar energy solutions in residential settings, and their portfolio of online reviews attests to their first-rate customer service. We love this company for the simplicity of their process, and for all the guidance they offer customers seeking to go solar.
Next on our list is Kosmos Solar, another Texas-based solar company. They're based in the northern part of the state, and highly recommended for homeowners in the area. They supply free estimates, high-quality products, custom solar designs, and award-winning personal service. Plus, their website has a lot of great information that may help guide you while you determine whether going solar is right for you.
Sunshine Renewable Solutions is based out of Houston, and they've developed a sterling reputation for dependable service and high-quality products. They have a lot of helpful financing options, and can show you how you can make the switch to solar in a really cost-effective way. We also like that they give free estimates, so there's certainly no harm in learning more about this great local company.
"Powered by the Texas sun." That's the official tagline of Alba Energy, a solar energy provider that's based out of Katy, TX. They have lots of great information about solar panel systems and solar solutions, including solar calculators to help you tabulate your potential energy savings. Additionally, we recommend Alba Energy because all of their work is done by a trusted, in-house team of solar professionals. They maintain an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and they have rave reviews from satisfied customers.
Circle L Solar has a praiseworthy mission of helping homeowners slash their energy costs while participating in the green energy revolution. This is another company that provides a lot of great information, including energy savings calculators. Also note that, in addition to solar panels, Circle L Solar also showcases a number of other assets that can help you make your home more energy efficient, including windows, weatherization services, LED lighting, and more.
You can tell by the name that South Texas Solar Systems focuses its service area on the southernmost part of the Lone Star State. Their products include a wide range of commercial and residential solar panels, as well as "off the grid" panels for homeowners who want to detach from public utilities altogether. Since 2007, this company has been a trusted solar energy provider in San Antonio and beyond.
Good Faith Energy is a certified installer of Tesla solar technology for homeowners throughout Texas. This company is really committed to ecological stewardship, and they have amassed a lot of goodwill thanks to their friendly customer service and the depth of their solar expertise. In addition to Tesla solar panels, they can also install EV charging stations and storage batteries.
What are Your Solar Financing Options in Texas?
We've mentioned already that going solar requires a significant investment on the front-end. It's worth emphasizing that some of the best solar companies provide a range of financing options, allowing you to choose whether you buy your system outright, lease it, or pay for it in monthly installments.
Also keep in mind that there are a lot of rebates and state and federal tax credits available to help offset starting costs. Find a Texas solar provider who can walk you through some of the different options.
How Much Does a Solar Energy System Cost in Texas?
How much is it going to cost you to make that initial investment into solar power? It varies by customer and by home, but the median cost of solar paneling may be somewhere in the ballpark of $13,000. Note that, when you take into account federal tax incentives, this number can fall by several thousand dollars.
And of course, once you go solar, your monthly utility bills are going to shrink dramatically… so while solar systems won't pay for themselves in the first month or even the first year, they will ultimately prove more than cost-effective.
Finding the Right Solar Energy Companies in TX
Texas is a great place to pursue solar energy companies, thanks to all the natural sunlight, and there are plenty of companies out there to help you make the transition. Do your homework, compare a few options, and seek the solar provider that's right for you. We hope this guide is a helpful jumping-off point as you try to get as much information as possible about the best solar companies in Texas.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. He covers natural health, nutrition, supplements, and clean energy. His writing has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
Non-dairy milk is increasingly popular.
From soy to oat to almond, a wide variety of plant-based milks are available on the market.
Ripple milk is a non-dairy milk alternative made from yellow peas. It's produced by Ripple Foods, a company that specializes in pea protein products.
Its high protein content and smooth taste may appeal to people looking for a quality alternative to cow's milk.
Here are 6 reasons for trying Ripple pea milk.
1. An Excellent Source of Plant-Based Protein
Unlike many plant-based milks — such as almond and coconut milk — Ripple milk is comparable to cow's milk in protein content.
1 cup (240 ml) of Ripple milk packs 8 grams of protein — the same as 1 cup (240 ml) of cow's milk (1).
Other plant-based milks can't compare to the protein found in Ripple milk. For example, 1 cup (240 ml) of almond milk contains only 1 gram of protein (2).
The high protein content of Ripple milk is due to its yellow pea content.
Peas are one of the best sources of plant-based protein you can eat.
In fact, pea-based protein powders have become popular with consumers looking to boost their protein intake.
Regularly consuming protein-rich foods like pea milk may help regulate appetite and keep you feeling satisfied between meals, possibly promoting weight loss (3).
Ripple milk is much higher in protein than other types of plant-based milk alternatives, providing the same amount as cow's milk.
2. A Good Source of Important Nutrients
In addition to protein, Ripple milk contains many nutrients such as potassium, iron and calcium. Like many other plant-based milks, it's enriched with some of these nutrients.
1 cup (240 ml) of unsweetened, original Ripple milk contains (7):
- Calories: 70
- Protein: 8 grams
- Carbs: 0 grams
- Total fat: 4.5 grams
- Potassium: 13% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Calcium: 45% of the RDI
- Vitamin A: 10% of the RDI
- Vitamin D: 30% of the RDI
- Iron: 15% of the RDI
In fact, 1 cup (240 ml) of Ripple milk delivers 45% of the RDI for calcium, a mineral that plays vital roles in bone health, nerve transmission and muscle contraction (9).
Plus, Ripple contains omega-3 fatty acids from algal oil, which is derived from marine algae.
DHA plays vital roles in heart health, immune function, nervous system function and brain health (11).
Though low in calories, Ripple milk boasts important nutrients like calcium, iron, potassium and omega-3 fats.
3. A Hypoallergenic, Dairy-Free Alternative to Cow and Nut Milks
Lactose intolerance is estimated to affect over 68% of the global population (12).
Those who are lactose intolerant must avoid dairy products, including cow's milk, to eliminate unpleasant symptoms like bloating, gas and diarrhea.
Because Ripple is dairy-free, you can enjoy it even if you're intolerant to lactose.
Many plant-based milks are available for people with lactose intolerance. However, some people don't consume soy- or nut-based milks due to allergies, intolerances or health concerns.
Because Ripple milk is soy- and nut-free, it's a safe choice for people with allergies or other health concerns.
Plus, Ripple milk is even higher in protein than soy milk, which is known for its impressive protein content (13).
Ripple is also gluten-free and appropriate for those following vegan diets.
Ripple milk is lactose-, soy-, nut- and gluten-free, making it a safe choice for those with food allergies or intolerances.
4. Low in Calories, yet Creamy and Satisfying
Ripple contains fewer calories than cow's milk, making it a more weight-loss-friendly beverage.
Although Ripple milk is lower in calories than cow's milk, it has a richer, creamier texture than many other plant-based milks.
Ripple milk is made by blending whole peas and combining them with other ingredients like water and sunflower oil.
The result is a smooth liquid easily added to a variety of dishes such as oatmeal and smoothies.
While other dairy milk alternatives like almond milk tend to be thin and watery, Ripple milk is thicker and may be more palatable.
Ripple milk is lower in calories than cow's milk, yet has a rich, creamy texture.
5. Unsweetened Ripple Milk Is Low in Carbs and Sugar
Unsweetened Ripple milk is low in calories and carbs, making it an excellent choice for those following low-carb diets.
1 cup (240 ml) of unsweetened Ripple milk contains no sugar and zero grams of carbs.
In comparison, 1 cup (240 ml) of 2% cow's milk contains 12.3 grams of carbs and the same amount of sugar. Both the sugar and carbs come from lactose, a natural sugar found in cow's milk (15).
Unsweetened Ripple milk may also appeal to people with diabetes who need to keep track of carbs in order to manage their blood sugar.
However, it's important to note that other flavors of Ripple milk — including vanilla and chocolate — contain added sugars.
Unsweetened Ripple milk contains no sugar and zero grams of carbs, which may appeal to people with diabetes or those following low-carb diets.
6. More Environmentally Friendly Than Almond or Cow’s Milk
Ripple Foods claims that pea-based milk is more environmentally friendly than cow's milk or almond milk.
Dairy cows emit vast quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas. Milk also requires a lot of water and energy to produce.
This combination negatively impacts the environment and contributes to climate change (16).
Though almond milk production emits fewer greenhouse gasses than cow's milk, it requires massive sums of water.
In fact, the state of California uses an average of 3.2 gallons (12 liters) of water to produce just one almond kernel (17).
Ripple Foods asserts that it takes 86% less greenhouse gas emissions to make pea milk than almond milk. The company also states that cow's milk requires 25 times more water to produce than Ripple milk (18).
Keep in mind that Ripple's environmental claims don't appear to have been certified by a third party.
Ripple Foods claims that pea milk production takes less water and emits fewer greenhouse gases than that of cow's or almond milk.
Potential Downsides of Ripple Milk
Though Ripple milk provides some health benefits, it has several potential downsides.
Certain Types Are High in Sugar
While the unsweetened version of Ripple milk contains no sugar, the product comes in various flavors — some of which are packed with added sugar.
For example, 1 cup (240 ml) of chocolate Ripple milk contains 17 grams of sugar (19).
This equals nearly 4 teaspoons of added sugar.
While the added sugar in Ripple milk is much lower than in many brands of chocolate milk, it's still considerable.
Added sugars — especially those from sugar-sweetened beverages — contribute to obesity, diabetes, fatty liver and heart disease (20).
You should avoid added sugars whenever possible.
Contains Sunflower Oil, Which Is High in Omega-6 Fats
The rich and creamy texture of Ripple milk is partially due to the sunflower oil that it contains.
Though adding sunflower oil may result in a smoother product, it doesn't contribute any nutritional benefits.
Sunflower oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids — a type of fat found in vegetable oils that most people consume in excess — and low in omega-3s, which are beneficial to health.
Fortified With Vitamin D2, Which Isn't as Absorbable as D3
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays many important roles in your body, including regulating bone growth and supporting your immune system.
Vitamin D3 is derived from animal sources while D2 is found in plants.
Ripple Foods uses vitamin D2 in their pea milk, which may be less absorbable than D3.
Recent research shows that D3 is twice as effective at raising blood levels of vitamin D than D2 (23).
Some of Ripple milk's drawbacks include its high omega-6 content and its less effective form of vitamin D. Additionally, certain flavors are high in added sugars.
How to Add Ripple or Homemade Pea Milk to Your Diet
Like other plant-based milks, Ripple milk or home-made pea milk is a versatile liquid that can be added to many drinks and dishes.
Here are simple, delicious ways to include Ripple or pea milk in your meal plan:
- Pour it over rolled oats for a boost of plant-based protein.
- Use it as a base for your favorite smoothie.
- Us it instead of cow's milk when baking or making homemade salad dressing.
- Cut your coffee with Ripple or pea milk instead of cow's milk.
- Combine it with rolled oats, nut butter, cinnamon, chia seeds and apples for a tasty overnight oat concoction.
- Make chia pudding by mixing chia seeds, chocolate Ripple milk and cocoa powder.
How to Make Your Own Pea Milk
To make your own pea milk, combine 1.5 cups (340 grams) of uncooked split peas with 4 cups (950 ml) of water and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer peas until soft for about 1–1.5 hours. When fully cooked, combine the peas in a blender with 3.5 cups (830 ml) of water, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and three pitted dates for sweetness.
Blend the ingredients until smooth and add more water until the desired consistency is reached.
Pea milk can be strained using a nut milk bag for a smoother texture.
If you want to reduce the amount of sugar in your pea milk, simply exclude the dates.
Ripple or home-made pea milk can be added to a variety of recipes, such as oatmeals and smoothies. You can easily make pea milk at home by blending cooked peas with water, dates and vanilla extract.
The Bottom Line
Ripple milk is a plant-based milk made from yellow peas.
It's also highly versatile, making it an excellent addition to a number of recipes.
However, Ripple milk contains sunflower oil, which is high in omega-6 fats, and certain flavors are loaded with added sugars.
Nonetheless, unsweetened Ripple milk or home-made pea milk is a smart choice for those looking for a high-protein, hypoallergenic substitute for cow's milk.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
Edible flowers are used in many different styles of cuisine and can be found on menus all over the world.
Not all flowers are safe to eat, but those that are can offer a unique burst of flavor and color to many dishes, including salads, sauces, beverages and entrées. Some of them may even offer health benefits.
Here are 11 edible flowers with potential health benefits.
Hibiscus plants produce large, ornate blossoms that usually grow in tropical and subtropical climates around the world. Hundreds of hibiscus species exist, but the most popular edible variety is known as roselle or Hibiscus sabdariffa.
Hibiscus flowers can grow as large as 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter and are found in a wide array of colors—including red, white, yellow and various shades of pink.
Although sometimes grown for strictly ornamental purposes, hibiscus is also well known for its culinary and medicinal applications. You can eat the flower straight from the plant, but it is usually used for tea, relishes, jam or salads.
Many cultures drink hibiscus tea for its medicinal properties. Some studies indicate that hibiscus may help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, although more research is needed to better understand how hibiscus can support heart health (1, 2).
The tea is bright red and has a tart, somewhat sour flavor. It may be served hot but is particularly refreshing over ice on a hot summer day.
Hibiscus flowers are large, colorful blossoms that grow in warm climates. The flowers can be eaten raw but are often used to make herbal tea. Some research suggests that hibiscus may have a positive impact on cholesterol and blood pressure.
Dandelions are best known as stubborn garden weeds. However, they happen to double as a highly nutritious edible flower.
Dandelions have small blossoms—roughly 1–1.5 inches (2–4 cm) in diameter—with many tiny, bright-yellow petals. They supply various plant compounds known to have powerful antioxidant properties (3).
Interestingly, the flowers are not the only part of dandelion that can be eaten. In fact, every part of this so-called weed can be enjoyed—including its roots, stems and leaves.
There are endless options for eating dandelion. The flowers can be eaten raw, either alone or tossed into a salad. They may be breaded and fried or used to make jelly and wine.
The roots are often steeped to make tea, while the greens may be consumed raw as a salad or a sandwich topping. They can also be cooked in stews, casseroles or any other dish that calls for hearty greens.
Dandelions are considered weeds but double as a highly nutritious edible flower. The flowers—edible raw or cooked—can be used to make various foods like jelly and wine.
Lavender is a woody, floral herb originally grown in parts of northern Africa and the Mediterranean. The violet flowers are very small but plentiful.
Lavender is probably best known for its distinctive fragrance, which is acclaimed for its calming effects (4).
The combination of color and aroma make lavender a particularly desirable addition to a variety of foods, including baked goods, infused syrups, liqueurs, herbal teas, dry spice rubs and herb mixtures.
Its flavor pairs well with both sweet and savory ingredients, including citrus, berries, rosemary, sage, thyme and chocolate.
When cooking with lavender, it's best to start with a small amount and increase slowly until you achieve the desired flavor, as it can quickly become overpowering.
Lavender is a violet flower admired for its distinct aroma. It may be eaten fresh or dried and pairs well with a variety of ingredients, such as citrus, berries and savory herbs.
Almost 200 honeysuckle species exist, but the most common are the Japanese and woodbine varieties. The fragrant blossoms, typically light yellow or white, hold nectar that can be eaten straight from the flower.
Honeysuckle has been vital to traditional Chinese medicine practices for centuries (5).
The flowers and their extracts are ingested or applied to the skin to treat various inflammatory conditions. However, its efficacy as medicinal therapy for humans remains scientifically unproven (5).
In the culinary world, honeysuckle is most often used to make tea or a fragrant, flavorful syrup.
While the honeysuckle flower and its nectar are perfectly safe to eat, note that the berries of some varieties may be toxic if ingested in large quantities (6).
Honeysuckle is a fragrant flower known for its distinct aroma, sweet flavor and traditional medicinal uses. It can be eaten straight from the plant or made into an infused syrup that can complement many dishes.
Nasturtium is a culinary favorite because of its brightly colored blossoms and unique, savory flavor.
Both the leaves and flowers of nasturtium are edible and may be enjoyed cooked or raw. They feature a peppery, slightly spicy flavor profile, although the blossoms themselves are milder than the leaves.
The funnel-shaped flowers are typically bright orange, red or yellow. They make a beautiful garnish for cakes, pastries and salads.
The leaves are round and resemble small lily pads. They're tender enough to be used as salad greens or blended into pesto.
Nasturtium is a brightly colored flower known for its savory, peppery flavor. Its blossoms and leaves are nutritious and can be prepared in a variety of ways.
Borage, or starflower, is an herb that produces delicate, star-shaped flowers. The blossoms are usually blue but may also be white or pink.
In herbal medicine, borage is used to treat minor ailments, such as sore throat or cough. However, human research to support its efficacy as a medical therapy is scarce (8).
In the kitchen, there is no shortage of ways to put borage to use, as both the flowers and leaves are edible. The flowers are often described as having a slightly sweet flavor that is reminiscent of cucumber and honey.
The flowers may be eaten fresh in a salad or as a garnish for desserts and cocktails—or they may be cooked and added to soups, sauces or stuffed pasta fillings. Borage can also be served as a stand-alone vegetable side dish.
Borage is an herb that produces small, blue, star-shaped flowers. Used in both traditional medicine and culinary practices, it makes for a beautiful garnish for salads or cocktails and can also be cooked into soups and sauces.
Purslane is a succulent that produces tiny, yellow flowers and thick, fleshy leaves—both of which are edible and may be eaten cooked or raw.
Historically, purslane was considered no more valuable than a garden weed. However, this little plant has recently soared in popularity due to its rich nutrient content.
It's filled with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but its biggest claim to nutritional fame is its omega-3 fat content. In fact, purslane provides more omega-3s than almost any other vegetable of its kind (9).
The flowers and leaves of purslane can be served raw in many salads and sandwiches. They may also be sautéed or steamed with other vegetables as a side dish or added to your favorite soups. You may even consider trying this plant battered and fried.
Purslane is a nutrient-rich succulent whose flowers and leaves may be eaten cooked or raw. It provides a wide array of vitamins and minerals—especially omega-3s.
There are over 150 species of roses available in almost any imaginable size and color. The best part is that they're all edible. However, roses don't all taste the same.
A good rule of thumb for choosing a flavorful rose is that if it smells pleasant, it'll probably taste good, too. Only eat the petals, though, because the leaves and stems don't make a very palatable snack.
Roses petals have a very aromatic, floral and slightly sweet flavor.
They can be eaten raw, mixed into various fruit or green salads or dried and added to granola or mixed herbs.
Fresh rose petals can also be muddled and added to liquid to create rose-infused beverages, jams and jellies. Chopped rose petals added to sugar or butter give a unique zing to otherwise ordinary ingredients.
All varieties of roses are edible, but the ones with the sweetest fragrance are likely to have the most flavor. Rose petals can be used to infuse liquids with flavor or added to sugar or butter to boost your favorite recipes.
9. Squash Blossom
If you've ever grown summer squash in your garden, you're probably aware of their delicate flowers. However, you may not know that these flowers are just as edible as the squash itself.
Although these blossoms form on all types of summer squash, the most popular come from zucchini. Zucchini flowers are bright yellow with a long, rounded bell shape.
These flowers can be eaten raw as a garnish or chopped and added to salads. If you're feeling indulgent, another delicious option is to stuff the blossoms with herbed cheeses and fry or bake them until the delicate petals become crispy.
You don't have to sacrifice your squash harvest to enjoy eating the flowers. Only the female blossoms can turn into squash, so stick to eating the male flowers to ensure a full harvest (11).
The male flowers have a long, thin stem and typically grow around the outer edges of the plant. Female flowers tend to grow closer to the plant's center and have a small, bulbous fruit at the base of the blossom where it meets the stem.
The flowers that bloom on summer squash can be eaten raw, stuffed or fried. If you're picking straight from a garden, stick to eating the male flowers so that the squash plants still grow.
Already quite pleasant to look at, pansies are equally pleasant to eat.
Pansies have small blossoms, measuring about 2–3 inches (5–8 cm) in diameter. They exist in many colors, but hues of purple, blue and yellow are most common. They have five overlapping petals with a dark area in the center that resembles an ink stain.
Typically, pansies have a mild, fresh and lightly floral flavor—although there is some flavor variation depending on the type.
Because pansies can have so many color variations, they make an excellent decorative addition to desserts, such as pastries, cakes and cookies. For extra flair, you can candy the petals before adding them to your dish.
For a simpler preparation, pansies can be finely chopped and added to a simple green salad for a pop of color and texture.
Although commonly used for ornamental purposes, pansies make a colorful and nutritious addition to a variety of desserts and salads.
Chamomile is a floral herb used in cooking and traditional medicine for centuries.
The flowers closely resemble daisies, albeit much smaller. They lend a slightly sweet, earthy flavor to the foods they're cooked with.
Most recipes call for heating the flowers in a liquid to extract their flavors and bioactive compounds. The leaves and flowers are usually dried first but can be used fresh.
While most often utilized for chamomile tea, the blossoms can also make syrups or other infusions for baked goods, smoothies or desserts.
Chamomile flowers are widely used medicinally to reduce anxiety and improve sleep. They have an earthy, slightly sweet flavor and may be used to make tea or other infusions.
The Bottom Line
Although you may be accustomed to seeing flowers only as decoration, you can add many of them to your diet for a pop of color and texture.
Additionally, many edible flowers are nutritious and contain potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can support your health.
You can serve them raw, cook them with vegetables, fry them as a snack or sprinkle them on your desserts.
Regardless of your culinary skill, it's easy to add edible flowers to your next meal.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
The digestive tract plays a vital role in your health, as it's responsible for absorbing nutrients and eliminating waste.
Unfortunately, many people suffer from digestive problems like bloating, cramping, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation for a variety of reasons.
Certain conditions, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Crohn's Disease, diverticulitis and heartburn, can put you at risk for more severe digestive issues.
However, even a healthy person can experience digestive problems due to things such as a lack of fiber or probiotic-rich foods in their diet.
Here are the 19 best foods to improve your digestion.
Yogurt is made from milk that has been fermented, typically by lactic acid bacteria.
However, not all yogurt contains probiotics. When shopping, be sure to look for "live and active cultures" on the package.
Yogurt contains probiotics, which can aid digestion by promoting healthy bacteria in your digestive tract.
Apples are a rich source of pectin, a soluble fiber.
Pectin bypasses digestion in your small intestine and is then broken down by the friendly bacteria in your colon (5).
It increases stool volume and is therefore commonly used to resolve constipation and diarrhea. It has also been shown to decrease the risk of intestinal infections, as well as inflammation in the colon (5, 6).
The pectin found in apples helps increase stool bulk and movement through your digestive tract. It may also decrease inflammation in your colon.
Fennel, a plant with a pale bulb and long green stalks, is used to add flavor to food.
Fennel also contains an antispasmodic agent that relaxes the smooth muscles in your digestive tract. This action can reduce negative digestive symptoms like bloating, flatulence and cramping (9).
Fennel's fiber content and antispasmodic agent can improve digestion by limiting some negative gastrointestinal symptoms.
Kefir is a cultured dairy product made by adding kefir "grains" to milk. These "grains" result from mixing yeast and bacteria with milk and appear to have digestive benefits.
Like the probiotics in yogurt, kefir's cultures aid the digestion of lactose, decreasing some of the negative side effects associated with lactose intolerance such as bloating, cramping and gas (10, 11).
Kefir consumption has also been associated with decreased inflammation in your gut, further enhancing the digestion process (12).
Kefir's unique ingredient—"grains" made from yeast and bacteria—appear to improve digestion and decrease inflammation in your gut.
5. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber, which causes them to form a gelatin-like substance in your stomach, once consumed. They work like a prebiotic, supporting the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut and therein contributing to healthy digestion (7, 8).
Their fiber content also helps promote bowel regularity and healthy stools.
The fiber content of chia seeds can assist digestion by promoting the growth of probiotics in your gut and keeping you regular.
Kombucha is a fermented tea.
It's made by adding specific strains of bacteria, sugar and yeast to black or green tea, then undergoing fermentation for a week or more (14).
A glut of probiotic bacteria is produced during the fermentation process, which can improve digestive health (15).
Kombucha's ample probiotic content improves digestion and gut health. The drink may also help heal stomach ulcers.
The luscious tropical fruit papaya contains a digestive enzyme called papain.
It assists during the digestive process by helping break down protein fibers. While not required in your diet, it can aid the digestion of protein (17).
Papain may also ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), such as constipation and bloating (18).
It's commonly used as the main enzyme in digestive supplements due to its gastrointestinal capacities.
Papaya contains papain, which is a strong digestive enzyme that contributes to the healthy digestion of proteins. It may also relieve IBS symptoms.
8. Whole Grains
Grains are the seeds of grasslike plants called cereals.
To be classified as a whole grain, it must contain 100% of the kernel including the bran, germ and endosperm.
Popular fiber-packed whole grains include oats, quinoa, farro and products made from whole wheat. The fiber found in these grains can help improve digestion in two ways.
First, fiber helps add bulk to your stool and can reduce constipation (19).
Due to their high fiber content, whole grains can support healthy digestion by adding bulk to your stool, reducing constipation and feeding your healthy gut bacteria.
Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans. Fermentation breaks down sugars through bacteria and yeast.
During the fermentation process, an antinutrient in soybeans called phytic acid is broken down. Phytic acid can interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients.
Thus, the fermentation process improves the digestion and absorption of those nutrients (22).
Tempeh's fermentation process and probiotic content can decrease negative digestive symptoms, as well as improve nutrient absorption by breaking down the antinutrient phytic acid.
Beetroot, otherwise known as beets, is a good source of fiber.
One cup (136 grams) of beets contains 3.4 grams of fiber. Fiber bypasses digestion and heads to your colon, where it feeds your healthy gut bacteria or adds bulk to your stool—which both improves digestion (27, 28).
A few popular ways to eat beets include roasted, mixed in a salad, pickled or blended into a smoothie.
Beetroot's nutrients can help improve digestion by helping feed friendly gut bacteria and adding bulk to your stool.
Commonly consumed in miso soup, miso is made by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji, a type of fungus.
Miso contains probiotics that, like other fermented foods, help improve digestion by increasing the good bacteria in your gut.
The probiotics in miso can also help reduce digestive issues and overcome intestinal illness like diarrhea (29).
Miso's probiotic content makes it helpful for reducing digestive issues and overcoming intestinal illness like diarrhea.
By moving food from your stomach to your small intestine quicker, ginger reduces your risk of heartburn, nausea and stomach discomfort.
Ginger appears to expedite food's movement through your stomach, easing certain side effects associated with slow digestion. It has also been used to treat nausea, including morning sickness during pregnancy.
Kimchi, usually made from fermented cabbage, can also comprise other fermented vegetables.
Kimchi also contains fiber, which can add bulk to your stool and promotes bowel health.
Kimchi contains probiotics and fiber that improve digestion and promote bowel health.
14. Dark Green Vegetables
Green vegetables are an excellent source of insoluble fiber.
This type of fiber adds bulk to your stool, quickening its pace through your digestive tract (7).
Some of the most common dark green vegetables that provide this benefit are spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and other leafy greens.
In addition, a 2016 study revealed an unusual sugar found in green leafy vegetables that feeds good bacteria in your gut. This sugar is thought to aid digestion while also impairing some of the bad bacteria that can cause illnesses (36).
Green vegetables play a role in healthy digestion by providing fiber and magnesium to your diet, as well as feeding good bacteria in your gut.
Like tempeh, natto is made from fermented soybeans.
Typically eaten plain, some popular toppings for natto include kimchi, soy sauce, green onion and raw eggs. It can also be eaten with cooked rice.
Interestingly, one gram of natto contains almost as many probiotics as a whole serving of other probiotic-rich foods or supplements, such as six ounces (170 grams) of yogurt (39).
Its fiber content also improves the regularity of stools and reduces constipation.
Natto's rich probiotic content can aid gastrointestinal health and digestion, improving the regularity of stools and reducing constipation.
Sauerkraut is made from shredded cabbage that is fermented with lactic acid.
Due to fermentation, it contains probiotics.
In addition, sauerkraut's generous helping of enzymes break down nutrients into smaller, more easily digestible molecules (41).
Sauerkraut is a rich source of probiotics and contains enzymes that help with digestion by breaking down nutrients into more easily digestible molecules.
People with inflammatory bowel disease, food intolerances and other digestive disorders often have inflammation in the gut. Omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce this inflammation and thereby improve digestion (44, 45).
The omega-3s found in salmon may reduce inflammation in your gut, thus improving your digestive process.
18. Bone Broth
Bone broth is made by simmering the bones and connective tissues of animals.
The gelatin found in bone broth derives from the amino acids glutamine and glycine.
These aminos can bind to fluid in your digestive tract and help food pass more easily (46).
The gelatin found in bone broth can help improve digestion and protect your intestinal wall. It may be useful in improving leaky gut and other inflammatory bowel diseases.
Peppermint, part of the genus Mentha, grows commonly throughout much of the world.
Peppermint oil is made from the essential oils found in peppermint leaves and has been shown to improve digestive problems.
Peppermint oil can also ease indigestion by accelerating the food's movement through your digestive system.
Peppermint has been shown to improve digestion. It can alleviate IBS symptoms and push food more quickly through your digestive tract.
The Bottom Line
Digestive issues can be challenging, but certain foods may be helpful in easing uncomfortable symptoms.
Research supports eating fermented foods, such as yogurt, kimchi and tempeh, to increase probiotics in your diet, which can improve digestive health.
Fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, dark green vegetables and chia seeds, also play a role in digestion by helping food move through your system more easily or quickly.
If you're seeking relief for your digestive woes, consider adding some of these 19 foods to your diet.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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By Danny Prater
New dairy-free favorites, surprising protein sources and automated everything: We've prepped a list of 2019's biggest food trends—all vegan, of course. Like you, millions of people are more curious than ever before about the latest developments in the vegan culinary world. Below, you can check out the newest, fanciest vegan foods and the hottest trends that will help you reduce your environmental footprint, improve your personal health and spare hundreds of animals a violent death in the coming year.
Here are the biggest vegan food trends to watch for in 2019:
Sure, almond and soy milk are cool, but 2019 will be the year of smooth, creamy oat milk. Try it in your coffee or cereal or even as the base for dairy-free ice cream. Check out these brands that are bringing us one of the most sustainable and delicious vegan milks around:
- Oatly!: This Swedish company already sells oat milk in the U.S. and hopes to offer other oat-based beverages and yogurt products soon.
- RISE Brewing Co.'s Oat Milk Latte: Jump-start your new year with this nitrogen-infused cold brew oat milk latte.
- Quaker Oats: The popular cereal brand plans to release its own oat milk lineup in January, according to The New York Times, proving that vegan milk is what the people want.
- Pacific Foods: This brand's oat milk can already be found on supermarket shelves, and it'll make every morning meal of the new year a bit brighter.
Tahini in Desserts
Tahini's not just for hummus anymore! Look for this Middle Eastern sesame seed butter in new versions of favorites like ice cream and milkshakes.
Green (Pea) Protein
The humble pea packs a protein punch, and in 2019, we think more brands will be exploiting this little green machine for all it's worth. Try these vegan pea-based products:
- Beyond Meat's Beyond Sausage (Original Bratwurst, Sweet Italian and Hot Italian)
- World Peas Brand's Peatos (Masala and Fiery Hot varieties only)
- Bolthouse Farms' Plant Protein Milk (Original, Unsweetened, Vanilla and Chocolate)
- Ripple Foods' Nutritious Pea Milk (Original, Unsweetened Original, Vanilla, Unsweetened Vanilla and Chocolate)
Vegan Fast Food Goes Mainstream
Fast-food and chain restaurants are increasingly a hotbed of vegan options. In 2019, keep an ear to the ground as Del Taco expands the availability of its Beyond Meat tacos and as other chains, including TGI Fridays, add the Beyond Burger.
Fish-Free and Fabulous
In 2018, millennials may have " killed canned tuna"—just in time, because 2019 is coming and vegan seafood is riding in on a big wave. In the new year, look for snacks packed with omega-3s, such as dulse bacon and kelp noodles. These vegan seafood products are already available in stores:
- Loma Linda's Fishless Tuna
- Ocean Hugger Foods' Ahimi (fish-free sushi)
- New Wave Foods' Plant-Based Shrimp
There's Something in the Water
Bye, bye, boring water. Cut back on your plastic use by grabbing a reuseable water bottle (or cup or jar), and try one of these specialized vegan waters:
- AquaBotanical's Still or Sparkling Botanical Water (made from fruits and veggies!)
- Laird Superfood's HYDRATE Powdered Coconut Water
Healthy Fat- and Carb-Conscious Menus
You'll see more emphasis on healthy fats in 2019—vegan restaurants and the kitchens of home-cooks included. With popular high-fat, low-carb vegan keto meals, you can use cauliflower, zucchini, and avocado to get your macros.
Probiotics and Other Gut-Healthy Options
Fermented foods and friendly bacteria to the rescue! In 2019, we'll go beyond kombucha, as other probiotics and gut-healthy options take center stage. These vegan gut-healthy products will be big next year:
- Califia Farms' Probiotic Dairy Free Yogurt
- Wildbrine's Probiotic Smoky Jalapeño Sriracha
- Gold Mine's Organic Raw Golden Kraut
Meat-Free Mushroom Snacks
Vegan pork rinds? Pig-free bacon chips? Keep pigs out of your pantry by opting for mushroom-based munchies. Look for these meat-free snack options in 2019:
- Snacklins' Puffed Chips (Barbeque, Soy Ginger and Chesapeake Bay)
- PigOut's Pigless Bacon Chips (Original, Cheddar, Chipotle and Kansas City BBQ)
Chips are canceled: 2019 is the year of the airy vegan puff. Fried or baked, these pop-able snacks will be everywhere in the new year. Try these vegan snack puffs:
- Hippeas' Organic Chickpea Puffs (Vegan White Cheddar, Far Out Fajita, Sriracha Sunshine, Pepper Power and Bohemian Barbecue)—order them on Amazon.
- Vegan Rob's Puffs (Dairy Free Cheddar, Beet, Brussel Sprout, Moringa and Jackfruit; plus, two gut-healthy varieties: Probiotic Cauliflower and Probiotic Dragon Puffs)—order them on Amazon.
- Brandless' Corn & Quinoa Puffs
- Watusee Foods' Popped Chickpeatos
- Human Bean Co.'s Air Puffed & Crunchy Faba Beans (Lightly Salted, Original Aussie BBQ, Sea Salt and Vinegar, Lime and Black Pepper, and Pizza Supreme)
- LesserEvil's Grain Free Paleo Puffs ("No Cheese" Cheesiness, Himalayan Pink Salt and Himalayan Salt 'N Apple Cider Vinegar)
- Popchips' Nutter Puffs
- Square Organics' Protein Popcorn
"Alexa, go vegan!" Amazon Echo devices offer a host of vegan and animal-friendly "skills," like searching for vegan recipes or even entertaining your cat while you're away. ("Alexa, donate to PETA" is unsurprisingly our fave.) Expect 2019 to bring in more automatic, robotic wonders. To bring your culinary repertoire up to date, consider splurging on a high-tech kitchen device like an Instant Pot or air fryer to cook your favorite vegan foods.
Get on Trend—Go Vegan Today!
Using animals for food is unsustainable, unhealthy, and unkind. Be part of the vegan revolution in 2019 by ditching meat, eggs, and dairy "products." There's a whole world of new vegan products out there waiting to be discovered. Check out the ones listed on this page, and be sure to order a free vegan starter kit if you don't already have one.
As far back as ancient times, plants have been harvested for their hair and skin benefits. Many are rich in both vitamins and fatty acids that target everyday issues. But just because the plants work magic doesn't mean they need to be shrouded in mystery. Get to know the ones that can help you look and feel your best.
The Vitamin E and fatty acids in sunflower seed oil work together to target a wide range of skin conditions—they're good protectants against wrinkles and harsh sun rays and have anti-inflammatory properties that fight acne and rashes. Likewise, when applied to the scalp, sunflower seed oil can combat common irritations, like dryness and brittle hair. Look for buzzwords like "high-oleic" and "cold-pressed" on skincare labels. They indicate purer and therefore more potent formulas.
Mixed into serums and cleansers, camelina oil functions as an intense emollient. It's packed with the same omega-3s as salmon, which is one of the only fatty acids your body is incapable of producing on its own. Eczema and psoriasis sufferers have long used camelina oil to moisturize, and recently, it's become an en vogue ingredient in anti-aging products.
If you've ever bought anything with salicylic acid—usually found in topical, spot-treatments—you're familiar with mint's acne-fighting powers. Here's the science lesson: Mint is especially astringent, meaning it's powerful enough to make your skin's pores contract and squeeze out extra oil.
4. Bay Leaf
You can do a lot more with bay leaves than toss a few into a stock pot for flavoring. Ayurveda, an Eastern medicine practice with roots in India, calls on the antioxidant-rich leaves to treat common hair and skin qualms. A bay leaf rinse—think a potent tea—can help lift dandruff from the scalp while also strengthening hair follicles for future regrowth. If applied to the skin, the rinse targets impurities, which is helpful in treating acne, and can also de-puff without drying out, which makes it a great toner.
5. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera has dominated the beauty aisle for decades. The clear gel found in the leaves of the succulent is famous for treating wounds, bites, and burns. Researchers credit those healing powers to the plant's ability to speed up skin regeneration. But beyond that, it's a favorite in anti-aging formulas, too, because it contains Vitamins A, C, and E. All three keep skin firm and moisturized, musts in preventing fine lines.
6. Burdock Root
Because burdock has major clout in numerous cultures, it's known by a number of names: arctium, thorny burr, cockle buttons. The oil derived from the root works wonders on hair no matter what you call it. It nourishes the scalp with fatty acids and enhances blood circulation, in turn promoting hair growth.
When it comes to the benefits of rose oil, remember the three As: antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidants. The first one makes it a good ingredient in face washes, as it works to cleanse skin and fight acne. And while most people associate roses with a deep crimson color, the flowers' anti-inflammatory properties mean they make your skin look the opposite; rose oil can soothe redness and reduce rosacea. The antioxidants, namely Vitamin C, target future damage from the sun and other free radicals.
8. Witch Hazel
Think of witch hazel extract as bottled black magic: It comes from a shrub bearing the same name, and beauty insiders love it for its ability to reduce the appearance of under-eye circles. Since the liquid acts as a mild astringent, it makes the blood vessels beneath your eyes constrict, which reduces puffiness and discoloration. It's also prized as a toner and makeup remover.
By Shannan Lenke Stoll
Last year, for the first time, scientists surveying Pacific Northwest salmon came up with empty nets. They weren't all empty, but some were—and that's "really different than anything we have ever seen," David Huff of the NOAA survey team told The Seattle Times. It's a bit too early to identify a particular cause of these unusual salmon surveys, but it's not too early to be concerned.
Wild salmon populations are affected by dams, development and salmon farms. Now, ocean and river temperatures are rising. That's not good news for wild salmon.
At every life stage, salmon need clean, cold water. When water heats up, even by a few degrees, diseases can set in. Once it passes 73–77 degrees, salmon die.
That's what happened in 2015, when unseasonably hot river water killed nearly half of the sockeye salmon that returned to the Columbia River to spawn in Oregon and Washington. And this year, fisheries managers estimate low returns because of a warming ocean and drought conditions for the third year in a row for California's Sacramento River fall chinook—so low they're recommending a significantly shortened commercial season.
Their sensitivity to changing environmental conditions make salmon susceptible to climate change, but it's also why scientists use salmon as an indicator species to gauge the health of the ecosystem. We need salmon—and not just because they're tasty.
1. Salmon feed forests.
On their journey out to sea and back, salmon feed humans, bears, orcas—and trees, too. It's their unique life cycle that make them an important food source. Washington state biologists have estimated that salmon come into contact with 137 different species—and that's not including plants. They're such an important food source that scientists identify them as a "keystone species"—a species without which the ecosystem would change dramatically. Salmon spend most of their lives at sea. So when they return inland to spawn and die, they bring ocean nutrients—stored in their bodies—with them upstream, sometimes hundreds of miles, depositing nitrogen and phosphorus that forests need.
2. Salmon can tear down dams.
Almost four years ago, the largest dam removal project in U.S. history was completed, and scientists are already recording regeneration up and down the Elwha River in Washington state as it rushes back to life. The proposed removal of four dams on the Klamath River in 2020 would be even bigger in scale. And one driver behind dam removal is salmon. The federal relicensing process requires dams to make sometimes costly upgrades for fish passage under modern environmental laws. PacifiCorp, which owns and operates the four dams on the Klamath, has said in public statements that tearing the dams down is less costly than relicensing and maintaining them. When environmental laws protect salmon, removing dams makes economic sense.
3. Salmon sustain cultures.
Historically, members of the Karuk Tribe in Northern California ate more than one pound of salmon every day. Today, as dams, climate change, and development impact Klamath River salmon, that number averages less than five pounds of salmon eaten per person—in a year. In 2017, the tribe announced it would limit its harvest to just 200 chinook salmon. And it's not just diet that's impacted. All along the Pacific coast, Native people have lived alongside salmon for thousands of years. Salmon is at the center of ceremonies, art, and identity for tribes in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and California. When salmon are threatened, so is culture.
4. Salmon keep humans healthy.
Salmon is one of the most nutrient-dense foods for humans. It's a healthy source of protein and has lots of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B-12, magnesium, potassium, and selenium. And, of course, fatty fish like salmon have lots of omega-3s. We eat a lot of it. Worldwide, salmon overtook shrimp as the most traded seafood in 2016. And we pay a lot. Right now, a wild king salmon fillet is $37.99 from my local fish market in Seattle. That's less for wild salmon than we used to pay because of competition from cheaper farmed salmon. But it may not be able to continue meeting the demand it helped create: Last year, sea lice—which kill Atlantic farmed salmon—caused a worldwide shortage.
5. Salmon shape the landscape.
When they spawn, salmon may move mountains, according to a recent study. Over millennia, salmon sex has helped to carve the mountain ranges of the Pacific Northwest. It works like this: When fish spawn, they stir up the river bed, digging holes for their eggs and swishing their tails in the process. That sends gravel downstream and also loosens the riverbed, making it less compact and more likely to move when the river floods. Over thousands of years, the tons of gravel that salmon move add up. The study, whose lead author is from Washington State University, showed that the landscape surrounding the streams where salmon spawn would be nearly a third taller if the salmon weren't there.
Reposted with permission from our media associate YES! Magazine.
When it comes to coffee and tea creamers, you may have to try a few before you find the perfect one for you. Some are creamier, some are sweeter, but there's something that all the best ones have in common: They don't harm cows by using their milk. Even if creamers tout a "dairy-free" label, you may find milk derivatives such as casein in the ingredients. Thankfully, there are so many delicious vegan creamers to choose from, and they're widely available in most grocery stores.
Here are some of our favorites:
With four soy and three almond flavors, there's something for everyone.
Ripple Foods is tapping into the power of peas with vegan creamers that have less saturated fat and cholesterol than dairy creamers plus added omega-6s and omega-3s from plant sources. This is perfect for those who don't have a sweet tooth.
Coconut milk flavors include French Vanilla, Hazelnut, Original, Barista Style French Vanilla and Barista Style Original. If you prefer almonds, the brand has you covered with Caramel, French Vanilla and Hazelnut varieties.
This health-conscious company (and PETA Business Friend) has thought of an ingenious way to start your day: with superfoods in your coffee. Its delicious vegan and gluten-free coffee creamers are packed with superfoods like coconut milk, Aquamin (calcium from marine algae), organic extra-virgin coconut oil, turmeric and others. Plus, the creamers don't need to be refrigerated, so you can take them with you on camping trips and other adventures.
This brand's powdered creamer is sold in 6-ounce canisters and single-serving packets. The hazelnut and vanilla varieties are low in sugar and don't have the refined sugar often found in other flavored creamers.
The brand's creamer is called Better Half, and that makes sense—this dairy-free option blends almond milk with coconut cream and is gluten-free, carrageenan-free and non-GMO.
This brand uses coconut cream and almonds to create a perfect texture. It offers seasonal flavors like Pumpkin Spice and Vanilla Lemon, and you can choose Hazelnut, Original and French Vanilla year-round.
Simple Truth Coconutmilk Creamer
Wildwood Organic has been around for a while, and with a product that has a super-creamy texture and only 1 gram of sugar per serving, you can see why its recipe is tried and true. It's also easy to find in most grocery stores.
This "accidentally vegan" creamer comes in Caramel, Original Cream, Sweet Cream, French Vanilla, Mocha and Hazelnut flavors.
This vegan creamer's ingredients are pure and simple: coconut water, virgin coconut milk, unrefined coconut sugar, guar bean gum and xanthan gum. We love it!
Don't brew your own coffee at home? Almost all places that serve it offer soy, almond, coconut and other vegan milks, so don't be afraid to ask for them.
By Sam Schipani
More and more, ecologically minded milk consumers are turning to nondairy products to minimize their carbon hoofprints. Sales of almond milk shot up by 250 percent between 2011 and 2016. Meanwhile, consumption of dairy milk has plummeted 37 percent since the 1970s, according to the USDA.
This is because animal agriculture consumes 2,422 billion cubic meters of water annually (about one-fourth of the global water footprint), 19 percent of which is related to dairy cattle. The Food and Agricultural Organization estimates that the dairy industry contributes 4 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions—52 percent of which is methane, which can trap up to 100 times more heat than carbon dioxide.
In recent years, however, popular milk alternatives like soy and almond have come under increased environmental scrutiny. Besides the controversy surrounding soy milk's health effects, many soy products are produced with high-spray, intensively farmed and genetically modified crops—some of which are grown in tracts of the Amazon Rainforest that were razed to meet demand for soy. Meanwhile, each nut in almond milk requires 1.1 gallon of water to grow, most of which is sourced from the drought-susceptible state of California.
The good news is, there are some exciting new milk alternatives in town. Sierra sampled the taste—and sustainability bona fides—of seven such alternative milk varieties: flax, macadamia, pea, coconut, cashew, hemp and oat. Each milk was tested according to the four ways in which it's most likely to be consumed: directly from a glass, swirled into coffee, dunked with a cookie (for the purposes of this taste test, Uncle Eddies Vegan Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies, recommended by the attendant at Whole Foods), and poured over cereal (Annie's Homegrown Organic Berry Bunnies).
A disclaimer: The data on the ecological integrity of alternative milk varietals is not robust, and much of what exists has been put forth by the producers themselves. Nevertheless, all plant-based options are more ecofriendly than dairy, and many new alternative milk products are sourced with eco-sustainability in mind. Whether you're a lifelong vegan looking to mix it up or a reformed dairy guzzler trying to reduce your carbon footprint, this taste test will guide you through the most cutting-edge milk alternatives on the market.
Good Karma Flax Milk
Though somewhat thinner in consistency than a glass of conventional dairy milk, Good Karma's Original Flax Milk had a pleasant, slightly sweet smell and taste. Flax milk blends nicely into coffee—it mitigates some of its natural acidity and leaves no discernible taste. However, it proved fundamentally incompatible with carbs—the dunked cookie could only be described as "damp," and mixed with cereal, this flax milk assumed a less-than-appetizing grayish tinge. We could, however, certainly drink a full glass of Good Karma's Vanilla Flax Milk, which is slightly more flavorful than the original and provides a complete daily dose of omega-3s. As for the company's Unsweetened Plus Protein version—an all at once chalky yet soapy concoction—not so much. However, the latter would, perhaps, be less offensive mixed into a turbo-charged protein smoothie.
Milkadamia Macadamia Nut Milk
Rich and thick, with just a hint of that creamy macadamia nut flavor, Milkadamia's Macadamia Nut Milk is the crème de l'alternative crème. Arguably the hottest new alternative milk to crack the market, it poured with an almost perfect, milklike consistency and appeared velvety white and slightly flecked, like a fancy vanilla bean ice cream. The dunked cookie was subtly softened and slightly sweetened; the cereal echoed its solvent's notes of vanilla. Milkadamia's Barista Formula is arguably better than regular milk in coffee—you'll enjoy the rich caramel hue, not to mention the hints of shortbread that linger on the tongue.
Even better, Milkadamia is especially focused on the sustainability of its product. The nuts are sourced from Jindilli Farms in Australia, which according to the company, boasts "abundant rainfall, ample sunshine, rich soil and low-impact farming." Milkadamia claims its focus is regenerative farming, which aims to rebuild soil health. Its macadamia nuts grow on so-called free-range trees that do not require irrigation. Transporting the product to California from Down Under, however, surely generated its own set of environmental impacts.
Ripple Pea Milk
Once you've stopped giggling over the phrase "pea milk," there are some serious environmental benefits to consider here. Yellow peas (cue stray giggles) grow in areas that get lots of rain (in Ripple's case, France, so some shipping considerations should be taken into account), meaning they need little or no irrigation. As legumes, they also naturally fix nitrogen in the soil, which helps set the stage for the next crop without the use of artificial fertilizers. Ripple, which also makes its bottles from 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic, is using venture capital to lead the pea milk revolution.
Unfortunately, these taste testers are not joining in. The viscous, beige liquid smelled musty and tasted mustier. If you can stomach those thick, slimy dregs, the burnt rubber aftertaste should be enough to put you off of pea milk. Its unfortunate taste came through even stronger on cereal—not even trusty Berry Bunnies could save our taste buds. The bunnies looked blissfully buoyant at first, but the gritty taste somehow permeated every one of their pores. In coffee, the pea milk separated like the oil and water in a grade-school science experiment. The milk begins marbled, and slowly floats to the top (not unlike your soul separating from your pea-milk-drenched taste buds). Somehow, it was least offensive on the cookie. It's hard to taste the pea milk in the spongy dipped bits—but where is the joy in dunking a cookie if you can't finish the glass?
So Delicious Coconut Milk
Not to be confused with canned coconut milk used in curries, the Unsweetened Organic Coconut Milk beverage from So Delicious comes in a carton nearly indistinguishable from its lactose-laden brethren in the supermarket's refrigerated aisle. Unlike dairy farming, coconut farming is relatively low impact, and coconuts may be able to sequester carbon in the soil and offset carbon dioxide production in the atmosphere, according to the Philippine Coconut Authority. Coconuts also require little water to produce, but they are often sourced from tropical areas and thus incur some impact from transportation.
If only this coconut milk could have transported us to a tropical island. Alas, this watery drink, which quickly separated into chalky particulates, has a flavor that can best be described as "aggressively neutral," and the milk itself leaves a dustlike coating on the glass—in lieu of "legs," an actual sommelier term for the streaks that form within drinking vessels. The cookie refused to retain any of the liquid from its dunk test. The strange metallic taste this milk bestowed on cereal rendered the Berry Bunnies nearly inedible. And it not only soured coffee, but also compromised its aesthetics by contributing sketchy-looking floating white flecks. Categorize this milk under "Does not play nicely with others."
Forager Cashew Milk
Cashews taste of salvation for awkward writers at fancy parties—"Oh good, a delicious snack for me to keep my hands busy"—but Forager's Unsweetened Plain Cashew Milk bucks the trend. It manages to be simultaneously smoky and bland, with a chalky aftertaste that coats the tongue. The blue-grayish tinge is amplified in the cereal, which became soggy and flavorless. Cashew milk made for a thin, watery, and flavor-compromising addition to a morning cup of Joe. The cookie escaped relatively unscathed, save for too-light saturation. But cashews, unlike almonds, grow in regions that are less water-scarce than California, and they thus exert less stress on the land. Also unlike the almond, the cashew is not technically a nut—it's a drupe. By this fact, and by once-lofty expectations for cashew milk, we feel duped.
Tempt Hemp Milk
The misguided mid-century disdain for hippies centered mostly on a perception of their outsized affection for trees, propensity for flower crowns, and sartorial predilection toward hemp. That cartoonish image is right in one regard: hemp's eco-credibility makes it a good choice for any tree hugger. Hemp does not require intensive farming. It is hardy, grows quickly, naturally suppresses weeds, resists many diseases, and requires little watering. This 20th-century hippie, however, couldn't stomach hemp it in its liquid form. Tempt Hemp Milk tasted slightly of grass (no, not that grass—hemp milk won't get you high) and leaves a lingering, sooty aftertaste. In coffee, without continuous and vigorous titration, it separates into a curdled, pock-marked suspension. The cereal and cookie are both overwhelmed by the taste. While we can't help but hug every tree we see (and who doesn't love a good flower crown?), we won't be adding hemp milk to our dairy-free rotation any time soon.
Oatly Oat Milk
"Wow, no cow!" boasts Oatly's expertly branded packaging. The marketing-savvy Swedish company combines humor and logic to tout the sustainability factor of its bovine-free milk—but can the taste compete with the cheek? Oat milk poured with the consistency of milk, but had a distinct and initially off-putting beige hue. Alone, oat milk tasted like the milk left behind at the bottom of a bowl of Cheerios. Naturally, it paired perfectly with cereal. It also complemented the cookie's sweetness. The barista version, which supposedly steams very well, was especially nice in coffee, with just a hint of wheat and a warm, coating taste reminiscent of hot oatmeal on a chilly morning.
We hope this guide has proven helpful for your quest to quench your ecofriendly milk fix. In any case, we propose a toast to celebrate the ever-expanding array of options to meet your alternative dairy needs. Cheers!
Reposted with permission from our media associate SIERRA Magazine.
By Rachael Link, MS, RD
Omega-3 fatty acids are important fats that provide many health benefits.
Is coconut oil:
- good for you
- bad for you
- neither good nor bad
- scientists don't know
The subject of this question is the source of a disagreement. Initially, the question was thought to be settled decades ago, when scientist Ancel Keys declared all saturated fats unhealthy. Coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature, is a saturated fat.
Keys performed a famous "Seven Countries Study," comparing the diets and health outcomes of the populations of seven different countries. Decades later, Artemis Simopoulos, author of The Omega Diet, re-examined the data. Keys misinterpreted his data by failing to distinguish between omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats.
Could he have been wrong about saturated fats, too?
Today, advocates like Dr. Mercola and the Weston A. Price Foundation believe saturated fats should be entirely exonerated. Coconut oil is sold as a health food, and some eat it straight as a nutritional supplement. (They call the practice "oil pulling.") Literally eating a saturated fat like coconut oil from a spoon flies in the face of the recommendations of Ancel Keys, as well as the American Heart Association.
The AHA just reconfirmed its condemnation of saturated fats in a new publication. Here is how it's been reported in the news: "Coconut oil has more 'bad' fat than beef and butter: heart doctors;" "Coconut Oil May Have Just Lost Its Health Halo;" "Coconut oil isn't healthy. It's never been healthy."
Question: Did the journalists writing those headlines actually read the AHA's study?
The publication is a meta-analysis of four different studies. The authors gathered the data of all four different studies and then analyzed them together. None of the four studies have jack squat to do with coconut oil.
They also have nothing to do with the main component of coconut oil: lauric acid.
Saturated fat is not just one chemical; it's several. The structure of these chemicals is similar, but they differ in how many carbons they have. Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, a medium-chain saturated fatty acid with 12 carbons. Saturated fats in animal products tend to be comprised of palmitic and stearic acid.
The studies in the new AHA publication all had patients replace animal fats with polyunsaturated fats, primarily from soybean oil. They saw a drop in coronary heart disease in the groups that made the switch compared to the control groups. One could pick apart their statistical analysis or their research methods (some of the studies were far from double-blind) but as far as coconut oil goes, that is not even necessary. Plainly put, coconut oil was not a part of the study at all.
If there's one thing we've learned in recent decades, it's that fat is not just fat. And even dividing it into saturated and unsaturated fat is not enough to truly understand it. There are several different kinds of unsaturated fat, and now consumers know that omega-3s are the type they should eat. Beyond that, some products do not just boast of containing omega-3s, but specific omega-3s used by the human brain, EPA and DHA.
Saturated fat is also not monolithic. Scientists divide saturated fats into short chain, medium chain, long chain, and very long chain saturated fatty acids. Lauric acid, which makes up nearly half of coconut oil, is medium chain. Palmitic and stearic acids, found in animal products, are long chain.
Short chain and medium chain fatty acids are digested differently than long chain ones. Therefore, it does not follow as a foregone conclusion that if replacing animal fats with polyunsaturated fats reduces heart disease, coconut oil is bad.
In fact, in a study in mice, coconut oil was found to be healthier than (unsaturated) soybean oil. Another study found oil pulling with coconut oil reduced plaque and gingivitis. Several studies that found beneficial effects of coconut oil specify that the effects come from virgin coconut oil, which has not been treated with heat or refined in any other way. For example, one study, also in mice, found virgin coconut oil helped with stress.
This is not to say that coconut oil is definitively wonderful. A study of coconut oil as large-scale and comprehensive as the American Heart Association's study would be more conclusive. Those studies involved hundreds of patients, and they lasted several years.
But lumping all saturated fats together, and drawing conclusions about coconut oil from a study that had nothing to do with coconut oil is simply wrong.
Reposted with permission from our media associate AlterNet.