By Bret Stetka
Glaciers continue to melt. Sea levels are on the rise. And now scientists believe the changing climate may put our brains at risk. A new analysis predicts that by 2100, increasing water temperatures brought on by a warming planet could result in 96 percent of the world's population not having access to an omega-3 fatty acid crucial to brain health and function.
That molecule is called docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA. It is the most common fatty acid in the mammalian brain and plays a key role in the survival and function of our neural cells, especially during the organ's development. Data suggest that not having enough of the compound may increase the risk of conditions such as depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and impair cognition in people with early dementia.
Our bodies do not make much DHA, so, for the most part, we obtain it through diet. Plants and meats have modest amounts of the fatty acid, but the most abundant source by far is fish (or fish-derived supplements). Fish obtain DHA by consuming algae. The authors of the new study predict that rising temperatures could disrupt algal DHA production and lead to a 10 to 58 percent reduction in availability of the compound, depending on the geographic region.
To predict the future of DHA availability, they used data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the fishery research institute Sea around Us to get numbers on how much edible fish are caught and farmed worldwide each year and on how much of that maritime tonnage is composed of DHA-containing fat. Then, using data showing how temperature influences algal DHA production, the researchers determined roughly how much of the fatty acid is presently available by consuming fish per capita versus how much will be available 80 years from now.
Their predictions show that larger countries with rapid population growth in East and Southeast Asia — including China, Japan and Indonesia — will face the most severe DHA shortages. Most African countries — especially landlocked ones — will also end up falling below recommended DHA intake, whereas nations with small populations and active fishing industries, such as Norway, Chile and New Zealand, will likely maintain access to adequate omega-3s.
"I already had an idea that DHA would decrease, based on previous data," recalls Stefanie Colombo, an assistant professor in aquaculture nutrition at Dalhousie University and co-lead author on the new paper. "But I was surprised and concerned when we saw the decline in DHA per capita—that people in some areas of the world would be more affected."
Tom Brenna, a professor with joint appointments in pediatrics, chemistry and human nutrition at the University of Texas at Austin, points out that the new results are open to a range of interpretation: "The [predicted] interval of 10 to 58 percent is so large as to be the difference between a mild inconvenience and a calamity." Yet he welcomes any investigation into the global DHA supply.
Brenna, who was not involved in the new study, also points out that whether or not dietary DHA is necessary in adults has been an area of conflict for decades. Yet he and most experts in the field agree that it is a critical nutrient during brain development and even into the late teen years — and that its influence on brain function may vary, based on an individual's genetic profile.
Omega-3 fatty acids can be derived from terrestrial sources, including nuts, seeds and land animals. Yet as Michael Crawford, now at Imperial College London, discovered in the 1970s, "ready-made" DHA — such as found in fish — is incorporated into the developing brain with 10-fold greater efficiency than plant-sourced DHA.
Crawford is a pioneer in understanding the relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and brain health and believes that the evolution of our big and complex primate brain would have been impossible without access to DHA. He also thinks that a decline in consumption of omega-3s because of our increasingly processed diet explains increasing rates of mental illness and declining IQ. Marine agriculture such as projects now underway in Japan might be essential to saving ourselves and the planet. "If mental illness continues to escalate, then Homo sapiens are finished," Crawford predicts. "Seventy-one percent of the planet's surface is water, and marine cultivation will help reverse this trend. Without farming the seabed and oceans, food security goes out of the window."
Aquaculture initiatives abound throughout the world, including those intent on farming algae as a source of DHA. Other researchers are using genetic engineering to grow plants with a more available form of the fatty acid. And Richard P. Bazinet, a professor in the department of nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto and a co-author of the new paper, is working to understand how DHA enters the brain and how much of it a healthy adult brain actually needs.
Colombo is hopeful that in the face of a changing climate, scientists will devise new sources of DHA. And she plans to study how warming waters will affect fish metabolism and DHA availability. Yet she admits the outcome does not look good: "I don't think this is something we can ignore. In terms of the climate warming, we can't continue on this same trajectory."
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that have numerous health benefits. This article takes a detailed look at the 3 most important types of omega-3shttps://t.co/I8K8jqZiUl— Frank Lipman MD (@DrFrankLipman) July 10, 2019
This story originally appeared in Scientific American. It is republished here as part of EcoWatch's partnership with Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.
According to a 2017 report published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, you shouldn't drink more 300-400 mg of caffeine a day. In other words, roughly 2-4 cups of coffee.
With that said, everyone responds to caffeine differently. For some, a daily caffeine intake of 200 mg could be excessive—it all depends on your unique body chemistry. But how can you tell how much caffeine is too much?
First, what is caffeine?
Caffeine is a psychoactive stimulant found in coffee, tea, and cocoa that acts on the central nervous system. In addition to heightening alertness, caffeine also affects the cardiovascular and endocrine systems to elevate heart rate and boost stress hormones.
What are signs you've had too much caffeine?
Common signs and symptoms of consuming too much caffeine include:
- Feeling "wired"
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Rapid heartbeat
- Upset stomach
- Muscle twitching
- Irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
However, more serious complications like trouble breathing, confusion, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and fainting may also occur. On rare occasions, hallucinations have been reported.
Finding Your Ideal Caffeine Dose
Regardless of age, weight, and caffeine source, some people are just more sensitive to caffeine than others. In fact, a sip or two of coffee can make some people jittery, anxious, and dizzy. Recommended doses are just rough guidelines at best, but they by no means apply to everyone. To find your ideal caffeine dose, you'll have to experiment with different caffeine sources and gradually increase your dose until you achieve the desired effects.
With stimulants like caffeine, timing is everything. In other words, having one cup of coffee every four hours is much different than one cup of coffee every 45 minutes. Caffeine stays in your system for 4-6 hours, so consuming multiple drinks within this timeframe can have compounding effects.
Consider Your Body Weight
Some studies recommend that you don't drink more than 6 mg per kg of bodyweight. According to one recent study, "[This amount] is not associated with negative effects of caffeine such as general toxicity, cardiovascular effects, effects on bone status and calcium balance (with consumption of adequate calcium), changes in adult behaviour, increased incidence of cancer and effects on male fertility."
Consider the Time of Day
Given that caffeine can remain in your system for four to six hours, it's important not to drink it too late in the day. In fact, drinking just one cup of coffee or tea too close to bedtime may make it hard to sleep.
A 2013 study published in The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that, "Caffeine taken 6 hours before bedtime has important disruptive effects on sleep and provides empirical support for sleep hygiene recommendations to refrain from substantial caffeine use for a minimum of 6 hours prior to bedtime."
Take Caffeine with Energizing Foods
In order to help minimize the risk of caffeine overdose and maximize productivity, it's best to rely on healthy foods as your primary energy source. Caffeine can be great for a quick pick-me up, but nutritional foods should serve as your foundation.
For example, wild-caught salmon and sardines are packed with energizing omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats provide slow-burning energy, fight inflammation, and boost cognitive performance. A 2014 study published in the journal Human Psychopharmacology found that omega-3s can boost brain performance in young adults. At the same time, a 2016 study found that omega-3 supplementation can improve memory in older adults.
Other foods that may boost productivity include:
- Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is caffeinated, but it's also an incredible source of magnesium, a mineral that studies show can enhance learning and memory while reducing anxiety. Plus, chocolate contains minimal caffeine and is unlikely to contribute to caffeine overdose.
Follow these guidelines for drinking caffeine:
- Drink at most 2-4 cups of coffee daily.
- If you feel like you still need more caffeine, drink tea instead.
- Stop drinking caffeine within six hours before bedtime.
- Don't drink more than two caffeinated beverages within a 4-6 hour period.
- Use healthy food as your primary energy source and caffeine as an extra pick-me-up.
Excessive caffeine drinking can trigger undesirable side effects, including anxiety and confusion. However, moderate intake of coffee and tea can be an effective way to boost energy and increase productivity.
Caffeine 101 | National Geographic www.youtube.com
- Coffee vs. Tea: Is One Healthier Than the Other? - EcoWatch ›
- 25 Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Kids - EcoWatch ›
- 12 Foods That Are Very High in Omega-3 - EcoWatch ›
Whether you're installing a DIY solar panel system or having a top solar company handle the details, you'll want to choose the best solar panels for your home. But with so many options, it can be hard to know which panels you need.
In this article, we'll narrow down the 10 best residential solar panels based on materials, price, efficiency and more. All homes are different, so there's no one best solar panel for every system. It's important for homeowners to assess their specific needs and to select the right solar panels to accommodate their household energy requirements.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Our Top Solar Panels for 2021
For those who wish to take advantage of solar power, the first step is assembling a solar system for home use. This system will generally include a battery, an inverter and of course an array of solar panels. Based on factors such as efficiency, durability, warranty, price point and temperature coefficient, these are the 10 best solar panels for home use:
- LG: Best Overall
- SunPower: Most Efficient
- Panasonic: Best by Temperature Coefficient
- Silfab: Best Warranty
- Canadian Solar: Most Affordable
- Trina Solar: Best Value
- Q Cells: Consumer Favorite
- Mission Solar: Best Small Manufacturer
- Loom Solar: Most Reliable
- WindyNation: Best for Backup Power
As you can see, each of these solar panels excels in a certain area, and each one comes with its own pros and cons. Again, as you seek the best residential solar panels, it's crucial to consider the specific needs of your home and your solar power system.
How We Ranked the Best Solar Panels
In choosing our rankings, we carefully researched many types of solar panels from the industry's top manufacturers, evaluating them according to several criteria. Some of the factors we used to arrive at our rankings include:
The efficiency rating of a solar panel refers to the amount of captured sunlight that it can actually convert into useful energy. Keep in mind that solar panel efficiency tops out just over 20%, and generally speaking, the most efficient solar panels will yield the greatest energy savings for your home.
Solar panels represent a significant investment, and naturally, homeowners want to select products that are going to hold up over time. This means you'll want to buy solar panels that are made to be durable, and to withstand even intense weather.
A good, strong performance warranty can give peace of mind after you purchase residential solar panels. In this industry, a decent warranty may be anywhere from 10 years to 25.
Naturally, you will want to consider your budget before investing in solar panels. The cost of solar panels can fluctuate based on many factors. As you think about a panel's price tag, however, also factor in things like durability and warranty, which provide you a fuller sense of overall value.
Another important ranking factor is temperature coefficient. With solar panels, temperature coefficient refers to how much (or how little) the panel's productivity is diminished when the external temperature rises. How solar panels work in extreme heat plays a key role in year-round power output.
10 Best Solar Panels for Home
Based on the criteria outlined above, these are our picks for the top 10 best solar panels available in 2021.
1) Best Overall: LG
For our top selection, and our vote for all-around best residential solar panel, we're going with LG. LG is a top-tier electronics company, and its solar panels are known for their quality and durability. Truly, these are premium products that work well with almost any home solar configuration.
A quick look at LG's technical stats confirms this. In terms of efficiency, LG solar panels are almost unbeatable. (They are rated as 22% efficient; the only brand we've found that can surpass that is SunPower, and by less than a full percentage point.) A competitive price point and robust 25-year warranty just sweeten the deal and make LG the most recommendable of home solar panels.
2) Most Efficient: SunPower
If you're buying residential solar panels based solely on their efficiency, SunPower is the name to beat. (Remember, efficiency refers to the amount of sunlight that the panels can absorb and turn into useful energy for your home.) SunPower has the highest efficiency we've seen from any solar panel: 22.8%. And on top of that, we'll note that SunPower is reasonably priced and comes with a decent product warranty.
The bottom line: If you're mainly looking for a powerhouse, SunPower is definitely a solar panel manufacturer for you to consider.
3) Best by Temperature Coefficient: Panasonic
Panasonic is our choice for the solar panel with the best temperature coefficient. Basically, that means it will continue to perform at a peak output even when the external temperature rises. For those who live in extremely warm climates, this is an important consideration. (As for technical specs, note that the temperature coefficient rating for the Panasonic solar panel is -0.26.)
Beyond that, this is another example of a well-made product by a top-tier electronics company, and we think homeowners will love it for its durability and its overall quality.
4) Best Warranty: Silfab
When it comes to solar panels, the typical warranty may be anywhere from 10 years to 25 years. There are actually a number of products that hit that 25-year mark, including some that we've mentioned already, but we'll give the honor to Silfab. Not only does this solar panel come supported by a robust warranty, but it routinely wins accolades for longevity and for overall customer satisfaction.
Silfab is a less prominent name in the solar energy space, but it really deserves your attention. It's a great product that offers tremendous value and is one of our top picks for best solar panels for home use.
5) Most Affordable: Canadian Solar
If you're looking to secure some decent solar panels for a lower price point, Canadian solar may be your best option. This company makes high-quality panels that are not too far off from the industry leaders with regard to efficiency, temperature coefficient and other technical considerations. However, Canadian Solar makes its panels available at a much cheaper price.
One caveat: The warranty for Canadian Solar panels is 12 years, which is reasonable, but certainly a far cry from the industry-leading 25 years. With that one quibble, though, we believe Canadian Solar represents one of the best overall values for home solar panels.
6) Best Value: Trina Solar
Speaking of value, we also want to mention the residential solar panels from Trina Solar.
Trina Solar is a Chinese company, and like Canadian Solar, it does an admirable job of producing premium-quality cell technology at competitive price points. Their panels are almost as cheap as the ones from Canadian Solar, and come with a comparable 12-year warranty. They may actually be just a tad more durable, which is why we rank them as a slightly better value overall. Keep this brand in mind as you seek the best use of your solar dollar.
7) Consumer Favorite: Q Cells
As we considered the best solar panels on the market today, we took into account consumer reviews. Basically, we wanted to get a sense of how actual homeowners rank the leading products. The results were somewhat surprising: Based on reviews from a number of different websites, we found that a smaller company called Q Cells consistently rose to the top.
In terms of sheer customer satisfaction, this may be the company to beat… and of course, Q Cells also offers excellent efficiency, value, durability, and more.
8) Best Small Manufacturer: Mission Solar
The residential solar space is dominated by big tech and electronics companies like LG, Panasonic and even Tesla. For some homeowners, though, there's something appealing about going with a smaller, more niche brand. And if that's the boat you're in, then we're happy to recommend Mission Solar.
These panels are made in the San Antonio, Texas, area, which makes them some of the best U.S.-made products in the solar field. The technical specs are all on point, and the company pulls some robust customer satisfaction numbers, too. Keep Mission Solar on your radar as you seek the best solar panels for home use.
9) Most Reliable: Loom Solar
Buying solar panels is going to require a significant investment, even if you opt for some of the cheaper options. Naturally, you'll want to select robust technology that will withstand the test of time, and also hold up well in extreme elements.
Loom Solar panels are well-regarded for their ruggedness and durability. They are carefully designed to perform well even in intense storms. What's more, they are calibrated to run well even in low light or under cloud coverage.
As you seek solar panels that have a long lifespan and will work well no matter the weather, Loom Solar is a company to keep in mind.
10) Best for Backup Power: Windy Nation
Windy Nation makes panels that are a bit smaller and less robust, so you may not wish to use them as your primary energy source. However, they work extremely well for backup power options, and are also great for powering your RV or your cabin with renewable energy.
We'll also note that, for their size, Windy Nation panels are quite efficient. And, they come backed by a 25-year warranty, which should instill some confidence as you buy.
Free Quote: See How Much You Can Save on the Best Solar Panels
How to Choose the Best Home Solar Panels for You
When looking for the best residential solar panels, here are a few tips to ensure you're picking the right products.
The efficiency of your solar panels is going to be one of the key drivers of how much you cave on monthly utility bills and how quickly you recoup your investment. Each solar panel is rated for a particular efficiency level; the industry standard is between 16 to 18%, so anything in that range is going to be pretty decent. We'll note that SunPower's panels, with 22.8% efficiency, represent the highest rating we've come across.
Check Warranty Information
We also recommend comparing a panel's warranty against the industry standard. Hopefully, any solar panels you buy will come with a warranty of 10 years at a minimum. If you find something with a warranty of 25 years, that's ideal.
Compare Price and Efficiency
Something else to keep in mind is that the most efficient solar panels are not always the most affordable. In some cases, opting for a slightly less efficient product will actually provide superior value. You'll also want to think about the cost of solar panel installation and additional parts such as inverters and battery banks when setting your solar budget.
Think About Your Home Energy Needs
In assessing your solar needs, think about things like your roof's exposure to the sun, the surface area available on your roof and the amount of energy your household consumes on a monthly basis. These factors are all important in determining the number of solar panels you need, as well as the type of solar panels.
What Are the Different Types of Solar Panels?
When shopping for residential solar panels, it's also helpful to know the basic types that are available. The three basic categories are monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin-film. Each type of solar panel comes with its own list of pros and cons.
Monocrystalline: Monocrystalline panels are made from a single, pure crystal of silicon. This allows them to have higher efficiency levels, but they also tend to be more expensive due to a more costly manufacturing process. Note: If you have less space on your roof and can only fit a small number of panels, monocrystalline solar panels may be the only viable option.
Polycrystalline: Polycrystalline solar panels are also made of silicon, but in this case, they are assembled from smaller fragments. This means they are often a little less efficient than monocrystalline panels, but they are also a more affordable option.
Thin-Film: Finally, thin-film solar panels can be made from a variety of ultra-thin materials. Thin-film panels are recommended when you need something that's lightweight, flexible and portable; they may work better for RVs and campsites than for homes. Thin-film panels can be relatively low in efficiency when compared to the other two options.
Do Solar Panels Require Maintenance?
When weighing solar energy pros and cons before making an investment, one of the most common questions that homeowners have is whether their solar panels will require maintenance.
For the most part, all the hard work comes on the front end. Installing a home solar system requires in-depth knowledge of electronics as well as solar power, and in most cases, a solar installation will take a few days. We recommend outsourcing this to trained solar professionals.
Once your system is in place, however, the level of upkeep required is extremely minimal. You will likely have little or no issue with your solar panels for 20 to 30 years. And if you do run into an issue, your warranty will hopefully cover it.
What Impacts Solar Panel Performance?
Solar panels can vary quite a bit in their overall performance and productivity. There are a number of specific factors that can impact how your residential solar system performs, including:
- Orientation: When your solar system is designed, your installer will be careful to position each panel in a way that maximizes its exposure to sunlight. If the orientation is even a little bit off, it can compromise the efficiency of your entire system.
- Weather and sun exposure: If you live in a part of the country that doesn't get consistent sunlight, or if your solar panels are often under cloud coverage, you're not going to produce as much clean energy for your home. (There is a reason why solar panels are especially popular in the Sun Belt.)
- Cleanliness: While solar panels are fairly low maintenance, you may occasionally need to wipe them down, especially in the aftermath of an intense storm. If panels become covered with grime or debris, they may not be able to absorb as much sunlight.
- Shade: Keep in mind that any shade cast over your roof is going to impact the efficiency of your solar panels. If your house is surrounded by tall trees, for example, that could impede solar production.
Bottom Line: Are Solar Panels Worth it for Your Home?
As more and more homeowners seek clean energy solutions, solar power is increasingly attractive. By harnessing the sun's natural rays, homeowners can reduce their dependence on traditional utility companies. Not only does this yield significant savings on monthly electric bills (potentially even eliminating those bills altogether), but it also reduces direct contributions to atmospheric pollution.
Ultimately, the decision about getting solar panels is a highly individual one. For some homeowners, going solar makes plenty of sense. For others, it may prove unwise or unfruitful.
As you consider what's best for you, make sure you take into account your home: The surface area available on your roof, the kind of weather you get, and the level of sunlight you're exposed to.
Also think about the panels themselves: Which performance factors should you consider? Which type of panels is best? And which brand is best aligned with your needs and your budget?
By weighing all of these factors, you can make a well-informed decision about the best solar panels for your household.
While these veggies are very healthy, relying on them heavily may prevent you from trying less familiar choices.
In fact, research shows that increasing the variety of vegetables in your diet may help reduce your risk of heart disease — and even improve your overall quality of life (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).
Incredibly, thousands of different vegetables grow all over the world, some of which may be available where you live.
Here are 18 unique vegetables that can make a healthy and exciting addition to your diet.
Daikon is a winter radish often used in Asian dishes. With a crunchy texture and mild, peppery flavor, it resembles a large, white carrot with a leafy top.
2. Taro Root
Taro is a root vegetable that's a popular carb source in Africa and Asia. When cooked, it has a subtly sweet taste and soft texture, making it an excellent stand-in for potatoes, sweet potatoes, and starchy vegetables.
It's also an excellent source of fiber, vitamin E, B vitamins, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese (7).
Taro is especially beneficial for digestive health due to its impressive fiber content.
Studies show that its fiber acts as a prebiotic, stimulating the growth of friendly gut bacteria that boost immune health and protect against bowel diseases, among other benefits (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
3. Delicata Squash
Delicata squash is a type of summer squash — though harvested during winter — with an oblong shape and creamy color marked by vertical stripes.
Unlike other squashes, such as butternut or pumpkin, delicatas have thin, tender skin and can be eaten without peeling the outer rind. Delicata has a sweet, pumpkin-like flavor that pairs well with many foods.
The Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)is a type of sunflower grown for its edible tubers, which are commonly known as sunchokes.
This starchy vegetable looks like ginger root. When cooked, it's tender and tastes slightly nutty.
A good source of many nutrients, Jerusalem artichokes are especially high in iron, which is essential for red blood cell production, and inulin, a type of fiber that may promote digestive health and blood sugar control (11, 12Trusted Source).
5. Chayote Squash
Chayote belongs to the same family as pumpkins and zucchini.
This bright green, wrinkled squash has tender, edible skin and white, mild flesh that's typically cooked but can also be eaten raw.
Although low in calories, it's packed with vitamins and minerals. One cup (132 grams) of raw chayote contains just 25 calories, yet delivers over 30% of the daily value (DV) for folate, a B vitamin involved in DNA synthesis and cellular function (13).
6. Dandelion Greens
All parts of the dandelion plant (Taraxacum officinale)are edible, including the leaves, which are known as dandelion greens.
Many test-tube and animal studies suggest that dandelion greens may lower blood sugar and cholesterol and help prevent cellular damage (15Trusted Source).
What's more, they can be enjoyed raw or cooked and make a great substitute for other greens like spinach or lettuce.
Fiddleheads are the flavorful leaves of young ferns that have not yet unfolded. Popular among foragers, they're harvested from immature ferns and have a tightly wound, curled shape.
Their carotenoid plant pigments include lutein and beta carotene, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and may protect against various conditions like certain cancers and eye diseases (17, 18Trusted Source).
Fiddleheads are easily incorporated into stir-fries, soups, and pastas.
Jicama is the edible root of the Pachyrhizus erosus vine. Turnip-like in shape, it has white, mildly sweet flesh.
This tuberous vegetable is loaded with vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin that's important for immune health and acts as an antioxidant (19).
Cassava, also known as yuca, is a root vegetable that looks like a sweet potato but has a milder, nuttier taste.
Often mashed, fried, or roasted, it must be cooked to reduce its levels of cyanogenic glycosides, which may impair thyroid function (21).
Cassava is a good source of vitamin C, several B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and copper. It's also drought-resistant, making it a staple food for people in developing countries (22, 23Trusted Source).
Celeriac is a peculiar root vegetable that's closely related to celery and parsley.
It has a celery-like taste that makes an excellent low-carb substitute for potatoes in soups and stews, though it can also be enjoyed raw.
Rutabagas, also called swedes, snaggers, or neeps, are a cruciferous vegetable in the same family as kale, cauliflower, and cabbage.
They're believed to be a cross between a turnip and a cabbage and closely resemble turnips in appearance. However, they have rougher skin and a milder flavor.
Romanesco is an eye-catching vegetable with an intricate, spiral-like shape and bright green color. What's more, it offers several powerful plant compounds.
Research shows that brassica vegetables — which include romanesco, broccoli, and cabbage — are rich in polyphenol antioxidants and other plant compounds that have potential anticancer and immune-boosting effects (26Trusted Source).
For example, a diet rich in brassicas may safeguard against colon, lung, and breast cancer. However, food should never be considered a treatment for this disease (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source).
13. Bitter Melon
Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) is a gourd grown worldwide and prized for its powerful medicinal properties.
Many varieties exist, though all have a bitter taste. They're often used in dishes like soups, curries, and stir-fries.
The vegetable has long been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of conditions, such as diabetes, pneumonia, kidney disease, and psoriasis (30Trusted Source).
Purslane is an edible weed that grows naturally in fields and lawns. Technically a succulent, it has glossy leaves and a lemony flavor.
Purslane is very low in calories, delivering just 9 per 1-cup (43-gram) serving. At the same time, it boasts an impressive amount of potassium, magnesium, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 fat (31Trusted Source).
It's also rich in potent antioxidants, including vitamin C, beta carotene, glutathione, and alpha tocopherol, which help prevent cellular damage and protect against chronic diseases (31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source).
Mashua is a flowering plant native to South America that produces an edible tuber with a pungent, peppery flavor.
The tubers come in various colors — including yellow, red, and purple — and have been shown to provide antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects in animal and test-tube studies (33Trusted Source).
However, according to research in rodents, mashua may harm testicular function. As such, it should be eaten in moderation (34Trusted Source).
Mashua is often cooked but can also be served raw.
Popular in Mexican cuisine, tomatillos are members of the nightshade family, which includes tomatoes and eggplants.
Tomatillos resemble tomatoes and are covered in a papery husk that's removed before eating.
When ripe, they take on a green, purple, or red hue, depending on the variety. Tomatillos can be picked at different points of ripening, offering a tart taste when young and sweeter flavor when mature.
Ramps are a type of wild onion that's native to North America and closely related to garlic and shallots. Their strong, garlicky aroma and rich flavor make them popular among chefs and foragers alike (36Trusted Source).
Salsify is a root vegetable that resembles a long carrot. It comes in white and black varieties, each with a distinct flavor and appearance.
Black salsify has dark skin and is often called "vegetable oyster" due to its mild oyster-like flavor. On the other hand, the white variety has tan skin and is said to taste like artichoke hearts.
Both types make excellent substitutes for other root vegetables like potatoes and carrots and are high in many nutrients, including vitamin C, several B vitamins, and potassium (42).
The Bottom Line
Daikon, bitter melon, romanesco, and purslane are just a few of the thousands of uncommon but highly nutritious vegetables grown around the world.
Adding some of these veggies to your diet will not only expand your palate and add flavor to your dishes but also potentially boost your overall health.
Don't be afraid to try these unique vegetables if you spot them at farmers markets or your local grocery store.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
By Freydis Hjalmarsdottir, MS
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that have numerous health benefits.
However, not all omega-3s are created equal. Among 11 types, the 3 most important are ALA, EPA, and DHA.
ALA is mostly found in plants, while EPA and DHA are mostly found in animal foods like fatty fish.
This article takes a detailed look at the 3 most important types of omega-3s.
What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fat. They're deemed essential fatty acids because they're necessary for health but cannot be made by your body.
Thus, you must get them from your diet.
Rather than being stored and used for energy, they play important roles in many bodily processes, including inflammation, heart health, and brain function.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of polyunsaturated fats that you must get from your diet. They have numerous health benefits.
1. ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid)
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is the most common omega-3 fatty acid in your diet.
It's mostly found in plant foods and needs to be converted into EPA or DHA before it can be utilized by your body for something other than energy.
However, this conversion process is inefficient in humans. Only a small percentage of ALA is converted into EPA — and even less into DHA (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
When ALA is not converted to EPA or DHA, it is simply stored or used as energy like other fats.
Some observational studies link a diet rich in ALA to a reduced risk of death from heart disease, while others show an increased risk of prostate cancer (7Trusted Source).
This increase in prostate cancer risk was not associated with the other main omega-3 types, EPA and DHA, which seem to protect against this cancer (8Trusted Source).
Some seed oils, such as flaxseed and rapeseed (canola) oil, are also high in ALA.
ALA is mostly found in plant foods. Your body can convert it into EPA or DHA, though this process is highly inefficient.
2. EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid)
Your body uses eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) to produce signaling molecules called eicosanoids, which play numerous physiological roles and reduce inflammation (9Trusted Source).
Chronic, low-level inflammation is known to drive several common diseases (10Trusted Source).
Various studies indicate that fish oil, which is high in EPA and DHA, may reduce symptoms of depression. Some evidence suggests that EPA is superior to DHA in this regard (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).
One study in menopausal women noted that EPA reduced their number of hot flashes (13Trusted Source).
Both EPA and DHA are mostly found in seafood, including fatty fish and algae. For this reason, they are often called marine omega-3s.
EPA concentrations are highest in herring, salmon, eel, shrimp, and sturgeon. Grass-fed animal products, such as dairy and meats, also contain some EPA.
EPA is an omega-3 fatty acid that can reduce symptoms of depression and help fight inflammation in your body.
3. DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid)
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an important structural component of your skin and the retinas in your eyes (14).
Fortifying baby formula with DHA leads to improved vision in infants (15Trusted Source).
DHA is vital for brain development and function in childhood, as well as brain function in adults.
Early-life DHA deficiency is associated with problems later on, such as learning disabilities, ADHD, and aggressive hostility (16Trusted Source).
A decrease in DHA in later life is also linked to impaired brain function and the onset of Alzheimer's disease (17Trusted Source).
As mentioned above, DHA is found in high amounts in seafood, including fatty fish and algae. Grass-fed animal products also contain some DHA.
DHA is very important for brain development and may protect against heart disease, cancer, and other health problems.
ALA, the most common omega-3 fat, is not biologically active until it's converted into EPA or DHA, which are essential for your body (3Trusted Source).
However, this conversion process is inefficient in humans. On average, only 1–10% of ALA is converted into EPA and 0.5–5% into DHA (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).
Furthermore, the conversion rate depends on adequate levels of other nutrients, such as copper, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and vitamins B6 and B7. The modern diet, especially vegetarianism, lacks some of these (23Trusted Source).
In addition, some omega-6 fatty acids compete for the same enzymes needed for this process. Therefore, the high amount of omega-6 in the modern diet may reduce the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA (5Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).
Other than being used for energy, ALA is not biologically active in your body. It needs to be turned into EPA and/or DHA to become active, but this conversion process is inefficient in humans.
8 Other Omega-3 Fatty Acids
ALA, EPA, and DHA are the most abundant omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.
However, at least eight other omega-3 fatty acids have been discovered:
- hexadecatrienoic acid (HTA)
- stearidonic acid (SDA)
- eicosatrienoic acid (ETE)
- eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA)
- heneicosapentaenoic acid (HPA)
- docosapentaenoic acid (DPA)
- tetracosapentaenoic acid
- tetracosahexaenoic acid
These fatty acids occur in some foods but are not considered essential. Yet, some of them do have biological effects.
At least eight other omega-3 fatty acids have been discovered. They're found in some foods and may have biological effects.
Which Omega-3 Fatty Acid is Best?
The most important omega-3s are EPA and DHA.
They're mainly found in seafood, including fatty fish and algae, meat and dairy from grass-fed animals, and omega-3-enriched or pastured eggs.
If you don't eat a lot of these foods, you may want to consider supplements.
EPA and DHA are generally considered the most important omega-3 fatty acids.
The Bottom Line
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to maintain good health.
The most important types are EPA and DHA, which are abundant in fish oil, fatty fish, and many other seafoods. Algal oil is a good option for vegetarians and vegans.
Notably, EPA and DHA can also be formed from ALA, which exists in certain high-fat plant foods, such as flax seeds, flaxseed oil, walnuts, and chia seeds.
If you are eating inadequate amounts of omega-3-rich foods, supplements are generally recommended. You can easily buy them in stores or online.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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.
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.