The skin is the body's largest organ, so it's important to put time and effort into keeping it healthy. CBD-infused skincare products are a great way to keep your skin glowing, hydrated, and healthy. CBD oil may regulate the oil in your skin, as well as reduce inflammation and hydrate it. There are even products with CBD for acne and CBD for wrinkles.
In this article, we aim to educate you on the best CBD for skincare and recommend the best brands to try.
What are CBD Skincare Products?
You're probably already familiar with CBD and its common uses. There are CBD oils for pain, CBD oils for anxiety, and even CBD oils for sleep issues. But, what you probably didn't know is that CBD has properties that could be beneficial to your skin as well.
Different CBD skincare products include body creams, exfoliants, face masks, salves, creams, and more. These products are infused with CBD, which when applied, can be absorbed through the skin. CBD skincare products may help ease pain in specific problem areas and some topical CBD products and creams also aim to provide additional comfort to your skin, muscles, and joints.
CBD skincare products function like any other quality skincare product, helping to nourish, rejuvenate, and re-hydrate cracked or drying skin. The potency of the hemp extract in CBD skincare products works with fatty acids and polyphenols to soothe and hydrate the skin.
Our Top CBD Creams, Exfoliants, and Face Masks for 2021
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best Overall - Prima Skin Therapy Body Cream
- Best Exfoliant - cbdMD CBD Perfect Polish Facial Exfoliant
- Strongest CBD Concentration - Cornbread Hemp CBD Lotion
- Best for Everyday Use - CBDistillery CBDefine CBD Balm
- Best Face Mask - Plant People Restore Face Mask
- Most Luxurious - Joy Organic Organic CBD Salve
- Best for Healing - Medterra CBD + Manuka Cream
How We Chose the Best CBD for Skin
As the CBD industry grows, it can be overwhelming to try and narrow down the best products to buy. Our goal is to recommend quality and effective CBD products.
Here's what we consider when ranking and recommending CBD skincare products.
- Potency - There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the amount of CBD included in each product, other than there can be no more than 0.3 % THC in a product in order for it to be shipped in the U.S. In skincare products, the potency is typically measured by milligrams per container.
- Ingredients - When searching for any skincare product, it's important to look at what ingredients are included in the formula. Some artificial or synthetic ingredients can cause more harm than good. We like to make sure the CBD skincare products we choose don't include any synthetic fragrances, concerning chemicals, or parabens.
- Ethicality - It's important to look out for our furry friends, so we like it when products don't test on animals and are cruelty-free and vegan.
- Hemp Source - We recommend brands that source their CBD from natural and organic farms here in the U.S. so you know they are free from pesticides and artificial fertilizers.
The 7 Best CBD Skincare Products for 2021
Best Overall: Prima Skin Therapy Body Cream
- CBD - Broad Spectrum
- Strength - 275 mg CBD per jar
- Hemp source - Oregon
Best Exfoliant: cbdMD CBD Perfect Polish Facial Exfoliant
- CBD - Broad spectrum
- Strength - 100 mg CBD per container
- Hemp source - U.S. Farms
Strongest CBD Concentration: Cornbread Hemp CBD Lotion
- CBD - Full spectrum
- Strength - 500 mg CBD per jar
- Hemp source - Kentucky
Best for Everyday Use: CBDistillery CBDefine CBD Balm
- CBD - Full spectrum
- Strength - 500 mg per container
- Hemp source - Colorado
Best Face Mask: Plant People Restore Face Mask
- CBD - Full spectrum
- Strength - 300 mg CBD per jar
- Hemp source - Colorado
Most Luxurious: Joy Organics Organic CBD Salve
- CBD - Broad spectrum
- Strength - 500 mg CBD per container
- Hemp source - U.S.A
Best for Healing: Medterra CBD + Manuka Cream
- CBD - Full spectrum
- Strength - 125 or 250 mg CBD per jar
- Hemp source - Kentucky
Why buy: This American-made CBD cream is versatile and multifunctional, and it includes Manuka honey sourced from New Zealand. We like that this non-GMO product is tested in a third-party lab and includes over 20 botanical parts in its formula to help rejuvenate, nourish, and heal the skin.
The Research on CBD Skincare
Studies related to the positive effects of CBD show that cannabinoids may help with stress, anxiety, chronic pain, and even insomnia. So, how is CBD in skincare products different?
A study showed that CBD for skin may slow down the aging process in mice. Another study conducted by Tamás Bíró, a professor at the University of Debrecen in Hungary, showed that CBD, when infused through the skin, has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help with acne and eczema, as well as psoriasis.
The human endocannabinoid system, also known as ECS, is a highly complex cell-signaling system that was researched in the 1990s exploring THC and its effect on the human body. There are ECS receptors in the skin, allowing CBD to enter the skin, and deliver its benefits directly to different areas of the body.
Choosing the Best CBD for Skin Product for You
The world of skincare and CBD are vast, and choosing the best CBD for skin can be a daunting task. It helps to know what to look for — we're here to help make that process easier for you. Here's what we look for in a quality CBD skincare product.
What to Look for
Below are a few key attributes to look for when researching a CBD skincare product.
The strength or potency of a product indicates how much CBD is in the product. CBD topicals can sometimes have anywhere from 100mg to 1000mg of CBD per container. If you want a higher potency product, go for a higher concentration of CBD. If you want somethings stronger than a cream, we have a list of the strongest CBD oils here.
Some products will note what kind of hemp extract is used in their product. A broad spectrum CBD product means that it contains other cannabinoids from the hemp plant such as CBC and CBN, but it does not contain THC. A full spectrum CBD product contains all of the compounds from the hemp plant, including THC in low doses. Full spectrum CBD tends to be less processed.
Although in any CBD product the quality of the hemp extract is important, so are the other ingredients used in the product's formula. Always look out for organic and natural ingredients like essential oils and botanicals. Choosing a product with high-quality ingredients can hekpp you find the best CBD for acne and wrinkles.
Have you ever considered that getting a package shipped to your door may have a negative impact on the environment? Many CBD products will let you know what materials their packaging is made from, and if they offer carbon-neutral shipping.
How to Read Labels
We read the labels on the food we eat, but we should also be reading the labels on the products we consume. For CBD skincare products, there are a few specific aspects of the label and packaging that are important to be aware of.
- Concentration - Shown as milligrams per container, the label should clue you in to just how potent the product is.
- Lab testing - CBD products that are third-party lab tested and ISO certified ensure that there aren't any toxic additives to the product's formula and that it's safe to use.
- Dosage - It's important to note that even if a product says it contains 1000mg of CBD, you actually aren't getting that much per serving, or use. Most product labels will tell you how much CBD is in a single 'serving' of their product.
- CBD Type - The label on a CBD product should tell you if it is made with full spectrum CBD, broad spectrum CBD, or CBD isolate.
How to Use
You should consult each product's specific label for usage instructions, but generally, CBD skincare products can be applied directly to the skin, as needed, just like any other skincare topical. There are even products that have CBD for acne that you can implement into your routine.
The application process depends on the type of product you wish to use. For example, CBD face masks can be applied like any other face mask.
It's beneficial to follow the recommended regimens for the order of application, though. If you're using a CBD-infused cream, it should be applied to the skin after you apply a serum. The general rule is thinnest to thickest products.
Safety and Side Effects
Since CBD skincare products are not ingested, they're one of the safest ways to use CBD. However, there are a few potential side effects to be aware of when deciding to use CBD, including:
- Dry mouth
- Reduced appetite
Additionally, if you take any prescription medications, you should consult your doctor before trying CBD. If a CBD-infused lotion or balm causes redness, soreness, or any discomfort to your skin, you should stop use and see your doctor.
If you're looking to try a new skincare product, or if you suffer from any joint or muscle pain, a CBD skincare product might be right for you.
There are a variety of types of CBD skincare products — exfoliants, creams, CBD for acne, CBD for wrinkles, topicals, salves, lotions — many of which may help to moisturize, nourish and rejuvenate the skin. If you're apprehensive about ingesting CBD, these skincare products are a great way to break into the world of hemp-infused health.
Audrey Nakagawa is the content creator intern at EcoWatch. She is a senior at James Madison University studying Media, Art, and Design, with a concentration in journalism. She's a reporter for The Breeze in the culture section and writes features on Harrisonburg artists, album reviews, and topics related to mental health and the environment. She was also a contributor for Virginia Reports where she reported on the impact that COVID-19 had on college students.
By Douglas Broom
- In the US, over half of fresh fruit and vegetables go to waste.
- But a new invention claims to extend the shelf life of fresh fruit.
- A simple sticker can add an extra 14 days of freshness, says StixFresh.
- Using natural plant compounds, the sticker creates a protective layer, slowing the ripening process.
- The company is hoping to extend the process to vegetables.
Roughly a third of all the food produced around the world goes to waste. But now an innovator has come up with a way of making fruit last longer by simply applying a sticker.
It sounds too good to be true, but the inventor of StixFresh says that the sticker acts in the same way as the natural protections used by plants themselves. Simply sticking one to a piece of fruit can extend its shelf life by up to two weeks, says Zhafri Zainudin.
Going to Waste
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended food supply chains, leaving fruit and vegetables to rot because they cannot reach buyers in time.
China has the most estimated food waste per year. Statista
It's not a new problem, either. Even before the pandemic, 52% of fruits and vegetables grown in the United States went to waste, part of a $161 billion mountain of wasted food. More than 50 million Americans currently experience food insecurity, up by 13 million since 2018.
Zainudin says his StixFresh stickers will tackle hunger and improve health by giving more time to get fruit to consumers before it goes bad.
So How Does it Work?
The stickers, which are the size of a 50 cent piece, use 100% natural ingredients which replicate the antimicrobial compounds that plants use to protect themselves against post-harvest diseases.
Once the sticker is attached to the fruit, the chemicals spread out to create a protective layer covering the surface of the fruit and slowing the ripening process.
StixFresh stickers are said to increase the shelf life of fruit such as mangoes by up to two weeks. StixFresh
Zainudin came up with the idea after a friend asked for help to reduce the amount of stock on his fruit stall he was losing to spoilage.
After hundreds of experiments, he arrived at a formula that would protect fruit. But how to apply it? It turned out that the answer was right in front of him on his friend's fruit stall in a community near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Most of the fruit already carried a sticker describing the variety, so Zainudin reasoned that using another sticker to protect the fruit would work with existing processing and avoid the need for extra investment by growers and retailers.
The stickers work best on apples, avocados, citrus fruits and mangoes. Zainudin's team are now working on new versions that will enhance the shelf life of berries and vegetables as well.
By reducing food waste they hope to help farmers, distributors, retailers and consumers save money, while at the same time protecting the environment.
Zainudin and StixFresh have been selected to join The Circulars Accelerator Cohort 2021, an initiative to help circular economy entrepreneurs scale their innovations.
The accelerator is a collaboration with UpLink, the World Economic Forum's innovation crowdsourcing platform, and is led by professional services company Accenture in partnership with Anglo American, Ecolab, and Schneider Electric.
Reposted with permission from the World Economic Forum.
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.
By Agustín del Castillo
For 20 years, the Colima fir tree (Abies colimensis) has been at the heart of many disputes to conserve the temperate forests of southern Jalisco, a state in central Mexico. Today, the future of this tree rests upon whether the area's avocado crops will advance further and whether neighboring communities will unite to protect it.
The Colima fir tree's distribution has been reduced to the area surrounding the Nevado de Colima volcano. In November 2019, Mexican authorities included the tree on a list of endangered species.
The Nevado de Colima volcano stands 4,260 meters (13,976 feet) above sea level. Agustín del Castillo
According to biologist José Villa Castillo, the director of Nevado de Colima National Park and Nevado de Colima Cloud Forest State Park, it is imperative to stop the commercialization of the tree's timber and to create policies that conserve the forests in which it lives. Villa Castillo also supported the inclusion of the tree on the endangered species list.
Villa Castillo acknowledged the enormous challenge of conserving this tree, and he said the pressure to exploit its timber without sustainable management is far from the only problem. The expansion of the nearby avocado industry also threatens its survival.
When allowed to grow, the Colima fir tree can become monumental: It can reach 60 meters (196 feet) in height and 2 m (6.5 ft) in diameter. To protect this giant, specialists and communities often promote ecotourism and conservation projects inside the national and state parks that surround the Nevado de Colima volcano.
Fires That Clear Land for Avocado Crops
In 2012, a group of researchers from the University of Guadalajara proposed to the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) the recognition of the A. colimensis as a unique species to differentiate it from the sacred fir (A. religiosa), which is the dominant fir tree in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, a collection of volcanoes in central Mexico.
The Colima fir tree "has extremely low genetic diversity; it has the lowest known genetic diversity among all the species in the Abies genus in Mesoamerica and one of the lowest among all the species of trees on the planet," according to the authors of the proposal to recognize the tree as an endangered species. The area it occupies "is very limited": just 15,002 hectares (37,071 acres), or 0.007% of the territory of Mexico.
The Nevado de Colima volcano, which stands 4,260 meters (13,976 feet) above sea level, is one of only eight peaks that exceed 4,000 m (13,123 ft) in Mexico. It is only 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Pacific Ocean and is considered an "evolutionary island" because the ecosystems in its high-altitude areas drive unique adaptations in species and are cut off from other ecosystems by hundreds of kilometers. The Colima fir tree is an example of the area's biological differentiation, according to Libertad Arredondo, a researcher and expert on the ecology of high mountains.
The fir forests are mainly located in the middle of slopes or in ravines. Agustín del Castillo
Even though the tree has remained on that "evolutionary island," its situation has become increasingly complicated by the impact of deforestation, which was propelled by the issuance of permits for forest exploitation. Fires, started to convert the land to agriculture or other uses, also present a threat to the ecosystem, according to the experts who suggested the tree should be considered endangered.
The researchers said the tree's future prospects are further complicated by its slow growth rate, its high degree of genetic erosion, the effects of climate change, and the movement of clouds to higher altitudes. The position of clouds is crucial because they act as an essential source of moisture for fir trees.
Villa Castillo, an expert in pine genetics and reproduction, said the Colima fir tree has never been successfully reproduced in nurseries, which would likely make it impossible to conduct reforestation efforts to help repopulate the species.
The forests that contain the Colima fir tree are in cold, humid climates, with very little light reaching the understory, and they're mainly located in the middle of slopes or in ravines. The species thrives when surrounded by oak trees, coniferous trees and other types of vegetation common in mountainous cloud forests. The tree also requires a primary habitat with little disturbance from humans.
According to Villa Castillo, fire kills most Colima fir tree seedlings, as it kills seedlings of other species in the Abies genus. In recent years, more fires have been started in the forest to clear the way for avocado trees.
A tree and other vegetation in the cloud forest surrounding the Nevado de Colima volcano. Agustín del Castillo
Sonia Navarro Pérez, a researcher from the University of Guadalajara who has monitored and conducted biological inventories in the area, has seen firsthand how the growth of the avocado industry has led to the loss of important forested areas.
She described the case of the indigenous community of San José del Carmen, which is in the municipality of Zapotitlán de Vadillo, near one of the patches of forest.
"We were working with them to establish productive alternatives that are good for nature," Navarro Pérez said. "But when the avocado came, it overwhelmed us completely."
Since 2013, the coniferous forests around the Nevado de Colima volcano have lost nearly 6,600 hectares (16,300 acres) due to illegal logging, livestock rearing and intentionally set fires, according to Mexico's deforestation risk index developed by the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change.
A section of cloud forest in San José del Carmen, inside the state park created in 2009. Community members have been protecting the forest voluntarily for over two decades. Agustín del Castillo
"[What was once] an original area of 7,000 hectares [17,300 acres] of fir-specific forest is now cut in half," said Villa Castillo, the director of the Nevado de Colima national and state parks.
The expansion of the avocado crops is the most recent threat in a series of events that have negatively impacted the conservation of the forests in the area.
Between the 1940s and the 1990s, the Atenquique Industrial Company had exclusive rights to use the timber from these forests under a concession from the Mexican government. The result was "that the forests were skimmed — that is, they took the best parts," Villa Castillo said.
When the concession expired in 1995, the forests did not experience a transition to a sustainable timber extraction method. Those who, along with landowners who held small plots, had rights to the shared land were limited to selling the forested areas, at very low prices, to the new logging industries located in Ciudad Guzmán. "Then, there were many abuses against the communities. The money was given to the caciques" — families who have always controlled the shared land — "alms were left for the community, and our forests were very poorly managed," said Rafael González Merín, the former president of Huescalapa, a collective of communally owned farmland known as an ejido.
As a result, many residents of the community believe the solution is to conserve the forests with productive projects.
Communities Pitch in to Save Their Trees
Unlike the communities that have been overtaken by the avocado industry, Huescalapa has largely managed to resist its arrival. The community of shared land, which spans more than 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres), is home to pine and fir trees within its shady temperate forests.
The residents of Huescalapa have also set aside the proposals they've received from the forestry industry, which has expressed interest in buying their trees.
According to Gerardo Bernabé Aguayo, logging activity in this area of Jalisco "has been very negative because the industry has managed delicate areas — with very limited species — poorly, so we are supporting and launching projects with the communities." Bernabé Aguayo is the president of the board of trustees of Nevado de Colima and Adjacent Basins, a civil association created about 20 years ago after being promoted by the government of the state of Jalisco. To support the conservation of the national and state parks, the board has financing from the regional private sector.
The board manages about 6 million pesos ($268,000) contributed by the federal government in 2020. With resources from the private sector, it has been able to access an additional 1.5 million pesos ($67,000).
An area of fir trees that has been destroyed by logging. Agustín del Castillo
Rodrigo Cantera Hernández, the president of the El Alcázar Ecotourism Center, said that in Huescalapa, the caciques removed timber from the fir forests, "but they did not report any money to the other community members, so we fought to eject them and were able to do so a couple of years ago."
In Huescalapa, three main conflicts over timber have taken place in the past 20 years. First, in 1999, a group of community members sold part of the forest to a forestry industry from Ciudad Guzmán. A movement led by citizens put an end to the logging five months later.
Next, in 2012, environmental authorities granted permission for forest exploitation in these areas, so fir trees continued to be cut down. An opinion by the Institute of Environmental Law, a civil society organization, cited scientific evidence that demonstrated the uniqueness of mountain fir trees and forced SEMARNAT to withdraw these permissions.
The citizens of Huescalapa formed a cooperative to launch the El Alcázar Ecotourism Center. El Alcázar Ecotourism Center
Then, in 2015, a federal judge suspended a new authorization to exploit timber in the cloud forest.
For communities like Huescalapa to have economic options that do not involve the use of timber because of the detrimental effects that this may have on the remaining population of Colima fir trees, ecotourism and similar activities are promoted.
According to Bernabé Aguayo, the goal is for the natural forest to be conserved as "a key area for contemplation, enjoyment, the preservation of environmental services, and research."
In 2019, the cooperative in El Alcázar received 1 million pesos ($44,600), which allowed it to have the basic infrastructure for the ecotourism center. The cooperative may receive an additional 3 million pesos ($133,800) in 2020 to purchase more equipment and improve the roads, but support for this funding was blocked in a community assembly. "They have not understood that it is for the benefit of everyone, that it is not money for our pockets," said Cantera Hernández, the president of the cooperative.
In Huescalapa, one of the challenges that interferes with efforts to promote the ecotourism center is the division that exists between community members. Many seek to use the timber, but others are already convinced of the importance of conservation.
Villa Castillo, the director of the Nevado de Colima national and state parks, emphasized that projects similar to the El Alcázar Ecotourism Center are being promoted in San José del Carmen and Zapotitlán de Vadillo, which are very close to the border between the states of Jalisco and Colima.
María de la Luz Cortés Reyes, the leader of the Amixtlán cooperative, which was created in San José del Carmen. Agustín del Castillo
The Amixtlán Ecotourism Center is located in the community of San José del Carmen. A cluster of cabins marks the entrance to the cloud forest, designated a state park since 2009.
"We decided to protect our forest long before they declared the state park, 20 years before then," said María de la Luz Cortés Reyes, a community leader in San José del Carmen. She recalled that when loggers came with offers to buy the forest, members of the community believed that they offered very little payment and that "the damage [that the loggers left] was too much." For that reason, they decided "not to touch the forest, because it produces water for the crops and for our houses."
Cortés Reyes said the community was able to construct the ecotourism center because it had resources managed by the Nevado de Colima Cloud Forest State Park and by the Board of Trustees of Nevado de Colima and Adjacent Basins. However, she said it is important that more promotion is given to the area and that urgent problems, such as those with the water supply system, are resolved.
A view of the Nevado de Colima volcano from the Amixtlán Ecotourism Center in San José del Carmen. Agustín del Castillo
In the community of Zapotitlán de Vadillo, citizens also promoted the Puerta de la Hacienda Ecotourism Center, where administrators support the biocultural production of mezcal, an alcoholic beverage made from agave. The drink is made by two mezcaleros, or people who are experts in creating mezcal: Marcario Partida from Zapotitlán de Vadillo, and Rosario Pineda from Tetapán, a small community in Zapotitlán de Vadillo.
Other productive projects that are promoted in the communities include the organic production of eggs, such as by Efigenia Larios, a small producer from the community of El Tecuán. Additionally, the shared land communities of Zapotitlán de Vadillo, San José del Carmen and Huescalapa are provided with equipment for fire prevention and materials to help restore the forest soil.
Artists have painted murals that shine a spotlight on forest conservation in San José del Carmen and Zapotitlán de Vadillo.
The intention of these efforts is to allow those who own land or have rights on this fragile mountain to "understand that there are other options besides logging, and that they, too, can generate development," said Arredondo, the researcher who specializes in the ecology of high mountains.
Despite the strong pressure for land use changes brought by the avocado agroindustry and fostered by the high level of impunity that often prevails in rural areas, many of the area's landowners continue to search for a model in which their forests can remain standing.
"Many neighbors say that we are foolish for not wanting to sell this beautiful forest that we have, but that money only lasts for a short time," said José Avalo Lino, a farmer in San José del Carmen. "We are so certain of [the importance of] preventing logging that, long before the declaration of the natural protected area, our community assembly had already decided to save this forest. We will continue to be 'foolish' in this decision."
Reposted with permission from Mongabay.
Are you worried about getting a serving of pesticides with your produce?
"It's a really great resource," Jane Houlihan, the national director of science and health for Healthy Babies Bright Futures, who was not involved with its compilation, told CNN. "By nature pesticides are toxic, and doing what you can to reduce exposures is a really good idea to protect your family's health."
The EWG's annual lists are based on testing data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA firsts washes, peels or scrubs the produce then tests it for pesticide residue. Almost 70 percent of the non-organic fresh produce sold in the U.S. contains pesticide residue, the EWG said in its report.
But still, some foods are more contaminated than others. Strawberries and spinach topped the list as repeat offenders. However, there were some notable new additions, EWG toxicologist Thomas Galligan told USA Today.
- Collard and mustard greens joined kale in the No. 3 slot. These vegetables were most commonly contaminated with DCPA, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says is a possible carcinogen.
- Bell and hot peppers were added to the list, in the No. 10 slot. The USDA found a total of 115 pesticides on different peppers.
In addition, the EWG drew attention to the prevalence of a fungicide called Imazalil on nearly 90 percent of citrus samples tested by the EWG in 2020 and more than 95 percent of tangerines tested by the USDA in 2019. Imazalil can alter hormone levels and is classified by the EPA as a likely human carcinogen. The fruits tested positive for the fungicide despite being peeled, CNN noted.
"I have said repeatedly that that fruits and vegetables with rinds that you don't eat are less problematic," Dr. Leonardo Trasande, chief of environmental pediatrics at NYU Langone, who was not involved with the study, told CNN. "I'm quite frankly surprised and concerned that you can see fungicides penetrate to that level."
Pesticides are especially dangerous for children, and have been linked to childhood cancers, cognitive impairment and behavioral problems, as the American Academy of Pediatrics noted in 2012. One pesticide found on Dirty Dozen items apples, peppers, oranges, grapes and cherries is chlorpyrifos, CNN noted. This pesticide, which the Trump administration refused to ban, has been found to harm the development of children's brains. The Biden administration is now reviewing this decision.
While Trasande and Houlihan praised the list as a resource for health-conscious parents, industry groups criticized it for frightening shoppers away from healthy food.
"Scaring Americans away from eating foods that are a safe and vital part of our diet is a disservice to public health," Chris Novak, the president and CEO of pesticide trade group CropLife America, said in a statement reported by CNN. "The benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh any possible risks from exposure to pesticide residues."
The EWG agrees that getting enough fruits and vegetables is essential.
"The most important thing is that everyone should be eating lots of fruits and vegetables," Galligan told USA Today. "We do recommend you try to reduce your pesticide exposure. Choose organic whenever possible."
However, he acknowledged that not everyone could access or afford organic produce. That's where the Clean Fifteen comes in. Almost 70 percent of the samples tested from items on this list turned up no pesticide residues at all, the EWG said, while only eight percent of samples turned up two or more pesticides.
The full 2021 lists are given below.
The Dirty Dozen:
- Kale, collard and mustard greens
- Bell and hot peppers
The Clean Fifteen:
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas (frozen)
- Honeydew melon
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By Martin Kuebler
With hotter summers, severe storms and prolonged dry spells in the forecast, the outlook for Europe's farmers is daunting.
Average annual temperatures are expected to increase anywhere from 1 to 5.5 degrees Celsius (1.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit), with the strongest warming projected across the south of the continent in the summer months.
A September 2019 report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) noted that heat stress, extreme weather events like flash floods and hailstorms, and water shortages have already changed growing conditions for several crops in Europe — especially for Mediterranean staples like olives and wine grapes.
❓How concerned are you about the impact of #climatechange on #farming in #Europe? #Adaptation will be crucial - fin… https://t.co/XPkbPic6DY— EU EnvironmentAgency (@EU EnvironmentAgency)1568963878.0
Places in northern Europe, meanwhile, could see agricultural benefits from climate change, including longer growing seasons and a shorter frost period "allowing the cultivation of new crops and varieties," said the report. Suitable cropland around the Baltic Sea could more than double by 2100, from 32% of land area today to about 76%, with certain crops now common to southern Europe taking root further north.
UK, Scandinavian Wines
Those climatic changes have already borne fruit — quite literally. In the northern German state of Lower Saxony, where average temperatures have risen nearly 2 degrees Celsius in the last several decades, some farmers have started cultivating fruits typically found further south, such as apricots and nectarines. And wine cultivation, typically associated with more southern slopes in France, Spain and Italy, is now taking off in places like Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Ryedale Vineyards, in northeastern England, has been producing British wines since 2006. As one of the UK's northernmost wineries, it relies mainly on hybrid disease-resistant grape varieties more suited to northern Europe's cooler regions.
The warming trend of the past decades has seen the UK's wine industry quadruple in size since 2000, with English vineyards producing some 13.2 million bottles in 2018. But the changing climate does pose other challenges, including unusual weather patterns and increased risk of disease associated with wetter summers. which have been linked to climate change.
"Unpredictable weather events, droughts and intense summer storms are a real problem and seem to have increased in frequency," said Jon Fletcher, who runs Ryedale Vineyards with his family. In an email to DW, he listed off the challenges: late frosts, destructive hailstorms and dry spells that can last for months. "This year we have already had the sunniest May on record and no rainfall for two months, so the unpredictable weather continues."
"Climate change is posing a risk for the sustainability of vineyard management at global scale and, particularly, in Europe," said Josep Maria Sole of VISCA (Vineyards Integrated Smart Climate Application), an EU-funded project that aims to help Europe's wine industry develop medium- and long-term adaption strategies. He said wine producing areas will increasingly suffer from intense heat waves and droughts and, in certain regions in Spain, more intense spring frosts, which can damage grapevine buds.
Blaz Kurnik, an expert on climate change impacts and adaptation at the EEA, said these higher temperatures, especially warmer winters, will also favor the introduction of new diseases and pests, including the olive fruit fly. Increasing swarms are threatening Europe's olive oil industry, responsible for around three-quarters of the world's supply. "In the worst-case scenario, up to 80% of [Italy's] olive trees will be affected by this every year," said Kurnik, adding that flies were also infesting Spain's olive groves.
Mango, Avocado and Lychee: Europe's Future Cash Crops?
Italy, which ranks second in the world for olive oil production, saw a disastrous harvest in 2018. Bad weather and frost caused production to drop by 57%, representing a loss of nearly €1 billion ($1.13 billion).
Sicily is one of Italy's top olive oil-producing regions, along with Calabria and Puglia. But some farmers there have begun focusing their attention on crops native to tropical regions, including mangoes, avocado and lychee fruit.
Tropical crops were first introduced to Sicily back in the 1970s, but recent years have seen an exponential growth of these crops and the introduction of new species such as papaya, replacing citrus fruits which "are no longer remunerative," said Vittorio Farina, an associate professor in agriculture at the University of Palermo.
"The favorable climate of many areas in the Mediterranean basin is promoting tropical fruit cultivations," he said in an email to DW. "In fact, the predominant mango and avocado production is concentrated in tropical countries, but recently its cultivation has spread outside the traditional geographical regions to the Mediterranean basin and in particular in Egypt, Israel, South Africa, Europe, mainly Spain and Italy."
Farina said a succession of milder winters has favored the expansion of mango, avocado and papaya orchards destined for export markets further north, though the corresponding drier summers and extreme weather events remain a challenge.
"The problem of the scarcity of water resources for agriculture will increasingly impose the introduction of species with low water requirements," said Farina, suggesting the possible introduction of fruit like the cactus pear. "For most other tropical species, irrigation in the warm months in the dry areas is an essential condition for obtaining a quality product." Farina said they were testing precision irrigation strategies to limit the water footprint of the tropical crops.
Finding the Right Solution
Margarita Ruiz-Ramos, an associate professor at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, told DW that new crops were also being tested in Spain, including pistachios. However, she stressed that the priority now was experimenting with different varieties of existing crops that could withstand new growing conditions — such as types of fruit that don't rely as heavily on winter chill to produce spring blossoms.
"There already is the possibility to adapt the variety without changing the [main] crop in the short to medium term," she said, pointing out that some crops could also shift to other more suitable areas within the same country.
As part of her work at the Research Center for the Management of Agricultural and Environmental Risks, Ruiz-Ramos analyzes crop varieties, planting schedules, soil conditions, irrigation options and many other variables to find the optimum strategy for farmers and "design locally tailored adaptations." The most promising solutions are then tested in the field.
"It's a compromise between different needs. And that's why it's not so obvious as to just bring in some African crops," she said. However, she didn't rule out the fact that dramatic temperature changes could one day lead growers to take a chance on non-native crops.
Yves Madre, a co-founder of Brussels-based think tank Farm Europe, said the EU's farming sector needs to be more open to new breeding techniques that would introduce drought and disease-tolerance genes to existing crops, which can include genome editing.
With more innovation and investment, he said the EU would be able to meet its goals in terms of food security and growth, especially in rural areas.
Reposted with permission from Deutsche Welle.
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Toxins enter the body through what we eat, drink, breathe in, and process in any way. Once inside, toxins overtax our immune system and detoxification system and leave us more vulnerable to illness — not ideal during cold and flu season, and especially not this year during a pandemic — and make us age a little faster, too.
Fortunately, there are a lot of simple things you can do from the comfort of your own home to keep toxins out of your body, flush them out of your system faster, and boost your immunity all at the same time, says Dr. Bill Rawls, Medical Director of Vital Plan. He shares his top 10 strategies below.
1. Source Your Food Wisely
Try to stay away from packaged and processed foods that contain ingredients you can't pronounce, and instead reach for fresh food from natural sources. Aim to make vegetables more than 50% of your daily diet — their fiber is a great natural binder, and they're full of beneficial phytochemicals — and minimize your red meat consumption.
Also, whenever practical, choose organic over conventional products. That said, we know organic prices and accessibility can be an issue, so for help making strategic decisions, refer to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen" lists:
The Dirty Dozen:
(*While raisins aren't technically a fresh food, the EWG found that they are "one of the dirtiest produce commodities on the market — and even some organic raisins are contaminated.")
The Clean Fifteen
- Sweet corn
- Frozen sweet peas
2. Consider Detoxifying and Immune-Boosting Herbs
There are a number of herbs and natural ingredients that can help support detoxification and immune health. Here are the ones at the top of Dr. Rawls' list:
Chlorella: This nutrient-rich freshwater algae binds to toxins so they can be eliminated from your body more efficiently. Chlorella works particularly well for withdrawing heavy metals. Pure chlorella can be purchased in the form of bulk powder, tablets, or capsules.
Milk Thistle: It's been used for thousands of years to support a healthy liver, the primary organ responsible for detoxification.
Dandelion: Known to help support liver function, research suggests dandelion helps promote the body's natural detoxification and elimination processes.
Bitters: Bitter flavors are important to digestion — they stimulate the release of the saliva, enzymes, and bile that help break down your food. Include bitter herbs and foods in each meal, or take a botanical extract that blends bitter herbs like dandelion root, burdock root, orange peel, and gentian root
Reishi mushroom: An extensively studied adaptogenic mushroom, reishi has exceptional immunomodulating and antiviral properties. It helps normalize inflammatory cytokines and promotes healthy immune response against threatening microbes.
Rhodiola: Another adaptogen, rhodiola improves stress tolerance by reducing fatigue, supporting energy levels, and improving tissue oxygenation.
Turmeric: This popular spice is well loved for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Shilajit: An herbo-mineral adaptogen, shilajit has a long history of use in traditional Indian medicine for longevity and strength. It's also an immunomodulator with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties.
Gotu Kola: Best known for improving memory and mood, gotu kola is also great for promoting a normal response to inflammation, balancing stress hormones, and supporting circulation.
Vital Plan is a certified B Corporation — one of only eight supplement companies recognized for achieving the highest standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. If you make a purchase using the link above, EcoWatch may earn a commission.
3. Filter Your Water
Much of America's tap water has been shown to contain pollutants, so filtering what comes out of your kitchen sink is smart. To be sure you're using a filter that does the trick, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Look for a filter certified by NSF International or the Water Quality Association.
- Choose one that removes the contaminants in your water (check your local drinking water quality report to see what's present).
- Change your water filters on time.
4. Choose Safe and Effective Cleaning Supplies
When buying household cleaning products, don't bring home chemicals that could harm your health more than some of the microbes you're trying to get rid of. Fortunately, there are a number of products on the market that work safely; here are some ways to shop wisely:
- Look for the Green Seal, Ecologo, or Safer Choice (EPA) seals.
- Opt for fragrance-free options.
- Avoid triclosan and quaternary ammonium compounds or "quats." (One tactic is to choose products that don't advertise as "antibacterial.")
- Consult the EWG's list of safe and effective products for guarding against coronavirus.
5. Opt for Non-Toxic Beauty and Personal Care Products
There are a lot of claims made on beauty and self-care products these days, but words alone, like "natural," "organic," "non-toxic," "clean," "green," and "eco-friendly," don't mean a thing — they aren't backed by any sort of regulatory or certification processes. Instead, to find non-toxic products you trust, you have to do a little research.
- USDA Organic
- EWG Verified
- Made Safe
- NSF/ANSI 305
- Natural Products Association Certified
- Whole Foods Market Premium Body Care
6. Get Outside
One more reason to get outdoors beyond combatting cabin fever: The air in natural environments is generally much cleaner than indoor air. For one, outdoor air contains ⅔ less carbon dioxide, high levels of which negatively affect our productivity, sleep, and more.
Forest air in particular contains phytoncides, organic compounds emitted by trees and plants that have been shown to boost our immune system function, plus plants in general help neutralize toxic substances in the air. Forests, open spaces, and open water are also rich in negative ions, which reduce inflammation.
So take your pick of natural environs, and get out there as often as possible — while still maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others, of course.
7. Bring Nature Indoors
Plants are natural air purifiers, so bringing some plants indoors can help clear the air in your home. Here's a list of the top 10 air-purifying plants to consider:
- Areca palm
- Lady palm
- Bamboo palm
- Rubber plant
- English ivy
- Dwarf date palm
- Boston fern
- Peace lily
8. Drive Less, Move More
Staying off the roads decreases air pollution, and the fact that many of us are driving less these days is noticeably improving air quality. If your commute is on hold, try to translate some of your usual travel time into getting more physical activity, or sneak in more movement between other normal routines.
Exercise improves circulation, oxygenates your tissues, and enhances the work of the lymphatic system through muscle contractions — all of which make it easier to move toxins out of your body.
9. Practice Forgiveness
Through the practice of gratitude, we stay centered and in the present moment. This allows us to move through situations from our heart. Take time to forgive someone or yourself for things in the past. When we forgive, we expand and open up to endless possibilities.
10. Quit a Bad Habit
Are you a smoker? Pack rat? Chronically sleep-deprived? In a bad relationship? Toxins come into our lives in many forms. Consider if you're participating in any unhealthy patterns or holding onto anything that no longer serves you, and then find a way to limit those things in your life.
Dr. Rawls is a licensed medical doctor in North Carolina and a leading expert in integrative health. He has extensive training in alternative therapies, and is the Medical Director of Vital Plan, a holistic health and herbal supplement company in Raleigh, NC.
Reposted with permission from Vital Plan.
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Panera Bread customers now have the ability to make eco-conscious choices. The national soup and sandwich chain has partnered with the World Resources Institute (WRI) to label some of its menu items "Cool Food Meals," CBS News reported.
Panera Bread and WRI announced yesterday that the designation applies to about 55 percent of Panera's menu items. Panera has 2,118 stores.
The Cool Food Meal label is for menu items that have a carbon footprint under 5.38 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent, CNBC reported.
That threshold is actually 38 percent lower than the average American meal. This size reduction is needed to meet the 2030 targets established in the Paris Agreement, CBS News reported.
According to a press release, some of the chain's most popular items, including Chipotle Chicken Avocado Melt, 10 Vegetable Soup, Fuji Apple Chicken Salad and Broccoli Cheddar Soup earned the Cool Food Meal designation.
The Cool Food Meal badge has not yet made it to all of Panera's locations, but it went live on the chain's online menu yesterday, AdAge reported.
According to a 2019 UN report, global food production accounts for 37 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, which has put pressure on food chains worldwide to limit food waste and reduce their carbon footprint, CNBC reported.
Consumers are able to lower that impact through eco-conscious food choices, Andrew Steer, president and CEO of WRI said in a press release announcing the partnership.
"As kids, we were always told to eat our vegetables — and now there's another reason to do so," Steer said.
Panera intends to increase plant-based offerings to comprise more than half of its menu options. Plant-based options currently make up one-fourth of the menu.
"There's a natural skepticism that consumers have any time companies get involved in environmental or social responsibility initiatives," Daniel Korschun, an associate marketing professor at Drexel University told CNBC. "If a company is able to make some credible claims on these types of initiatives, then it can really drive some loyalty on the part of consumers because they're purchasing more than just the product, they're purchasing an affirmation of who they are and what they stand for personally."
This is not the first time that Panera Bread has helped customers make well-informed choices. A decade ago, it became the first chain to post calorie counts of its menu items. In 2017, Panera labeled sugar amounts in beverages like lemonade, soft drinks and tea.
By Emily Payne
The World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that diet-related diseases like obesity, diabetes, and hypertension lead to an increased risk of severe COVID-19 infection. As the pandemic wears on, eaters are preparing more food at home and focusing on healthier meals. Cooking and recipe website traffic surged at the start of quarantine, as did curiosity for meat alternatives.
According to Nielsen data, plant-based meat saw a 264-percent increase in sales at the start of the pandemic. Whether or not this trend continues, it's clear that consumers are becoming more interested in plant-forward eating.
A plant-forward diet focuses primarily on plants like fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds but does not eliminate animal products completely. Below are 10 common plant-forwarding eating myths.
1. Plant-Based Foods Cannot Provide Enough Protein
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that about three-fourths of Americans are eating diets low in fruits and vegetables, while more than half are meeting or exceeding protein recommendations. Meat is often touted as an eater's most important source of protein, but protein is found in all foods—even whole-grain pasta, oats, or vegetables. Beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds are just a few protein-packed plants. One cup of lentils contains 18 grams of protein, for example, compared to 22 grams in one serving of beef. By focusing on a diversity of whole foods, plant-forward eaters can consume more than enough protein each day.
2. Plant-Based Meat Alternatives Are Flavorless (and Have No Texture)
Tofu has long been a meat-alternative staple, but plant-based eating has much more to offer. Seitan, often called "wheat meat," is made by filtering the starch from wheat to create high-protein gluten with a similar texture to chicken. Tempeh is made by fermenting soy and can be marinated, fried, steamed, or eaten raw. It has a subtly nutty flavor, and companies like Lightlife, the largest U.S. tempeh manufacturer, also offer flavors like three-grain, flax seed, smoky, and buffalo tempeh. Countless combinations of beans, chickpeas, lentils, herbs, spices, and grains can be made into flavorful plant-based burgers, meatballs, ground meat, and even bacon.
3. Plant-Based Ingredient and Restaurant Options Are Limited
From restaurants to the grocery aisle, chefs and companies are responding to consumers' demand for plant-based options. In March 2020, The Good Food Institute and the Plant Based Foods Association calculated that total plant-based retail sales reached US$5 billion in 2019, growing 11 percent over the previous year, a rate almost five times faster than total U.S. retail food sales. And OpenTable reported that in 2019, plant-based reviews on its platform increased by 136 percent compared to 2017. From sliced bologna to ground Mexican beef, there's a plant-based option for virtually any meat craving.
4. A Plant-Based Meal Won’t Be as Filling
Processed foods are high in refined starches and sugar that are easier to digest, meaning they're less filling. Whole foods are naturally high in dietary fiber that breaks down slowly, keeping the body feeling full longer. With both fiber and protein, some plant-based proteins can even be more filling than animal meat options. Incorporating healthy fats from nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, and coconuts also lends to a more filling dish. As long as there are plenty of whole foods, a plant-forward diet can fuel sustained energy throughout the day—and with fewer cravings.
5. Eating a Plant-Forward Diet Is Too Expensive
By focusing on minimally processed foods, shopping seasonally at farmers' markets when possible, and buying staples like nuts, beans, and legumes in bulk, many eaters save money by moving to a plant-forward diet. The rise in consumer demand for plant-based products also means more companies are joining the market and supermarkets are introducing their own private labels. With a more established supply chain, plant-based meat, cheese, yogurt, and egg alternatives can become more accessible to all budgets.
6. It’s Difficult to Eat Complete Proteins on a Plant-Forward Diet
The idea that plant-based proteins must be combined in the same meal to provide a complete protein is a long-standing myth. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that "the terms complete and incomplete are misleading in relation to plant protein. Protein from a variety of plant foods, eaten during the course of a day, supplies enough of all indispensable (essential) amino acids when caloric requirements are met." Even if consumed at different meals and times, the body will combine the essential amino acids it needs on its own.
7. Plant-forward Diets Are Nutrient-Deficient
Plants are some of the most nutrient-dense food options available. Dark leafy greens and legumes, for example, are rich with calcium. Beans and lentils are high in protein and fiber, low in fats, and provide essential vitamins and minerals. Many plant-forward eaters cook with nutritional yeast, which contains B12, a nutrient primarily found in animal products. Focusing as much as possible on a variety of whole foods will supply more than enough nutrients. A good trick is to eat the rainbow: colorful foods contain many essential vitamins and antioxidants, and different colors ensure a variety of ingredients (and flavor!).
8. Meat Alternatives Are Ultra-Processed and Unsustainable
As plant-forward eating becomes more popular, meat alternatives are appearing everywhere from baseball stadiums to fast-food chains. But many products labeled "plant-based" actually undergo the same amount of processing as typical junk foods, just without the use of animal products. With added processing comes a larger environmental footprint, as well. The best way to choose alternative meat is to check the ingredient label, opting for those with short ingredient lists of recognizable names. The Lightlife Plant-Based Burger, for example, is made from only 11 ingredients with nothing synthetically processed, and the company has committed to reducing its environmental footprint by 50 percent by 2025.
9. Children Shouldn’t Eat a Plant-Forward Diet
An article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) notes that plant-forward diets can meet the nutritional needs of not only children but pregnant mothers, breast-feeding mothers, and infants. And educators agree; Los Angeles public schools adopted meatless Mondays in their cafeterias in 2013, and New York City, the largest public-school system in the U.S., began meatless Mondays in 2019. As plant-forward eating gains popularity, more plant-based alternatives children's favorite classics like hotdogs and chicken nuggets are reaching grocery shelves.
10. Plant-Based Products Are Always Healthier
Not all plant-based products are created equal. While french fries are derived from plants, they are also high in oil and salt. The plant-based Impossible Whopper may have fewer calories than the original Whopper, but it contains significantly more sodium. A frequent culprit of this is the veggie burger, deemed a health food but often full of sugars and unrecognizable ingredients. The key to a healthy and nutritious diet is minimally processed whole foods. Look out for plant-based products with a small ingredient list (which often translates to a more environmentally sustainable choice, as well).
Reposted with permission from Food Tank.
The ketogenic, or keto, diet is a very low carb, high fat eating plan on which carb intake is often restricted to less than 20–50 grams per day.
As such, many high carb foods are considered off-limits on this diet, including certain types of grains, starchy vegetables, legumes, and fruits.
However, some fruits are low in carbs and can fit into a well-rounded keto diet.
Some are also high in fiber, an indigestible type of carb that doesn't count toward your total daily carb count. That means they contain fewer net, or digestible, carbs. This is calculated by subtracting the grams of fiber from the total grams of carbs.
Here are 9 nutritious, tasty, and keto-friendly fruits.
Though avocados are often referred to and used as a vegetable, they're biologically considered a fruit.
Thanks to their high content of heart-healthy fats, avocados make a great addition to a ketogenic diet.
They're also low in net carbs, with around 8.5 grams of carbs and nearly 7 grams of fiber in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving (1Trusted Source).
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of avocado contains around 1.5 grams of net carbs. They're also high in vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, and potassium.
Watermelon is a flavorful and hydrating fruit that's easy to add to a ketogenic diet.
Compared with other fruits, watermelon is relatively low in net carbs, with around 11.5 grams of carbs and 0.5 grams of fiber in a 1-cup (152-gram) serving (2Trusted Source).
That said, depending on your daily carb allotment, you may need to adjust your portion sizes to fit watermelon into your diet.
Watermelon is likewise rich in a variety of other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, and copper (2Trusted Source).
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of avocado contains around 1.5 grams of net carbs. They're also high in vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, and potassium.
Strawberries are nutritious, delicious, and brimming with health benefits.
Low in carbs and high in fiber, strawberries can fit seamlessly into a low carb or ketogenic diet.
In fact, a 1-cup (152-gram) serving of strawberries provides just 11.7 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber (4Trusted Source).
Plus, like other types of berries, strawberries are loaded with antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and procyanidins (5Trusted Source).
Each cup (152 grams) of strawberries provides 8.7 grams of net carbs. They also contain a host of antioxidants, as well as vitamin C, manganese, and folate.
Lemons are a popular citrus fruit used to flavor drinks, meals, and desserts.
Lemons can be a great addition to the ketogenic diet, with approximately 5.5 grams of carbs and 1.5 grams of dietary fiber in each fruit (6Trusted Source).
Lemons are also high in several other nutrients, including vitamin C, potassium, and vitamin B6 (6Trusted Source).
Lemons can be a great addition to a ketogenic diet, with 4 grams of net carbs in each fruit. They also contain pectin, a type of fiber associated with several health benefits.
Despite being used as a vegetable in many meals and recipes, tomatoes are botanically classified as a fruit.
With a significantly lower carb count than many other fruits, tomatoes are easy to fit into a balanced ketogenic diet.
One cup (180 grams) of raw tomatoes contains about 7 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fiber (8Trusted Source).
Tomatoes provide only 5 grams of net carbs per 1-cup (180-gram) serving. They also contain antioxidants like lycopene, beta carotene, and naringenin.
In addition to being one of the healthiest berries, raspberries are a great addition to a low carb or ketogenic diet.
In fact, 1 cup (123 grams) of raspberries provides only 7 grams of net carbs, as this serving size has around 15 grams of carbs and 8 grams of fiber (12Trusted Source).
Each serving also offers a good amount of vitamin C, manganese, vitamin K, and copper (12Trusted Source).
What's more, raspberries are high in antioxidants that can decrease inflammation and reduce your risk of chronic disease (13Trusted Source).
A 1-cup (123-gram) serving of raspberries contains only 7 grams of net carbs. These berries are rich in vitamin C, manganese, vitamin K, copper, and antioxidants.
Peaches are a type of stone fruit known for their fuzzy skin and sweet, juicy flesh.
They're relatively low in net carbs, with 14.7 grams of carbs and 2.5 grams of fiber per cup (154 grams) (14Trusted Source).
By moderating your portion size and pairing peaches with other low carb foods, you can fit this tasty fruit into a healthy keto diet.
According to a study in 1,393 people, regularly eating peaches along with other fruits and vegetables high in flavonoids and stilbene may even be linked to improved triglyceride and cholesterol levels, both of which are risk factors for heart disease (15Trusted Source).
One cup (154 grams) of peaches provides 12.2 grams of net carbs. This stone fruit also offers a wealth of other nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and niacin.
The cantaloupe is a type of muskmelon closely related to other varieties of melon, such as watermelon and honeydew.
Each serving of cantaloupe is relatively low in net carbs, with just 12.7 grams of carbs and 1.5 grams of fiber per cup (156 grams) (16Trusted Source).
Plus, just a single serving provides a hearty dose of folate, potassium, and vitamin K (16Trusted Source).
It's also one of the best sources of beta carotene, a type of plant pigment that plays a central role in immune function and eye health (17Trusted Source).
Still, depending on your daily carb allowance, you may want to opt for a smaller portion size to fit cantaloupe into your diet.
With 11.2 grams of net carbs in each cup (156 grams), cantaloupe can be incorporated into a well-planned ketogenic diet. Cantaloupe also contains folate, potassium, vitamin K, and beta carotene.
9. Star Fruit
Also known as carambola, star fruit is a vibrant, star-shaped tropical fruit native to Southeast Asia.
Although star fruit is not as common as many other types of fruit, it's a popular choice for those on a ketogenic diet due to its low carb content.
In fact, a 1-cup (108-gram) serving of star fruit contains just 7.3 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber (18Trusted Source).
Star fruit is also packed with vitamin C, copper, potassium, and pantothenic acid (18Trusted Source).
A 1-cup (108-gram) serving of star fruit contains just 4.3 grams of net carbs. Star fruit is also a good source of vitamin C, copper, potassium, and pantothenic acid.
The Bottom Line
Although fruits are often considered off-limits on the ketogenic diet, plenty of low carb fruits can be incorporated into the diet.
In addition to being low in net carbs and high in fiber, many of these fruits offer a wealth of other important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support overall health.
Enjoy these fruits in moderation alongside a variety of other low carb foods as part of a well-rounded ketogenic diet.
Eating healthy doesn't have to be hard, and it doesn't have to be boring. Meal delivery services have made it easier to serve up delicious, nutritious meals at home. And Purple Carrot makes it easy to eat a plant-based diet while helping the environment at the same time.
How We Review Meal Delivery Services
When evaluating each meal delivery service, we based our review on their food options, ingredient sourcing, packaging, and customer reviews to ensure that they are both good for you and for the environment.
- Dietary options - We considered both the quality and variety of the recipes and whether they offered vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free options.
- Ingredients - We looked to see how they sourced their ingredients, whether they were organic, non-GMO, and locally grown. We looked for important eco-friendly labels from authorities like the USDA, Non-GMO Project, and the Marine Stewardship Council.
- Packaging - A very important component was also the packaging for each meal. We wanted to know how much was recyclable or biodegradable, and whether the brand used recycled materials in their packaging.
- Customer reviews - Finally, we looked at customer reviews to see what users liked or didn't like about each service.
Purple Carrot Overview
Many people want to eat better, but they don't know where to start or how to properly prepare the variety of produce available. Purple Carrot takes the lead by providing all of the ingredients along with step-by-step directions to cook a meal packed with flavor but no meat. The Purple Carrot philosophy is not anti-animal, but rather pro-plant, choosing to focus on the potential of the vast array of edible plants available – which total more than 20,000 around the world. They make it easy for anyone to enjoy vegan meals with simple-to-follow recipe cards and ingredients.
Many of the products used in their weekly menu, from chickpeas, quinoa, sweet potatoes, and arugula to tofu and vegan cheeses, are organic and non-GMO whenever possible. Using all-natural ingredients is important and provides greater nutrition in addition to being better for the earth. All meals are vegan, and there are also gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, low-carb, and high-protein options to fit a variety of lifestyles and dietary restrictions.
Eating a plant-based, vegan diet is good for overall health. Consuming more plants and plant-based foods can help reduce risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Many processed foods are packed with preservatives and artificial colors and flavors; Purple Carrot sources natural ingredients so you know exactly what you are eating. Plus, with a meal delivery kit, you'll have all the ingredients you need which can help reduce food waste.
Purple Carrot's Focus on Sustainability
Ordering from a meal kit delivery service like Purple Carrot, Sunbasket, Hello Fresh, or Blue Apron can be more eco-friendly than purchasing a meal from the grocery store because it typically has a smaller carbon footprint. But Purple Carrot does even more. By emphasizing the use of plants as the foundation for each meal, is saving water. While producing one pound of vegetables requires about 40 gallons of water, producing one pound of beef requires about 47 times more water. And cutting out just one burger a week can save around 320 miles in carbon emissions, according to their site.
Products are sourced from farmers and vendors across the country and organic, non-GMO products are used whenever possible, but not everything they use is certified organic. Their meal options do not include any animal-products. The company adheres to Proposition 65 requirements in California and provides detailed nutritional information for each recipe. Consumers are informed about any potential risk to uphold the utmost commitment to safety.
Recycling Purple Carrot Packaging
In an effort to further reduce its environmental impact, Purple Carrot strives to use recycled and recyclable packaging. Some recycling may be limited by the type of plastics or products specific communities accept.
- Boxes: Their boxes are made of corrugated cardboard and can be broken down and easily recycled, or they can be reused and repurposed around the home.
- Cooling Packs: The cooling packs contain 100% non-toxic gel that can be safely disposed of in the trash can, and the plastic bag can be recycled. In addition, these ice packs can also be refrozen and reused.
- Liners: Both plastic and bubble liners are recyclable in communities that accept #4 and #7 products. The insulation inside the liner is compostable and can be safely thrown in the trash.
- Plastics: Ingredients come in a variety of packing including jars, bottles, and bags that include #1, #4, #5, and #6 recyclables. These containers can also be cleaned and reused for other purposes.
- Food waste: If you happen to have any food scraps such as banana peels or carrot shavings, they can be tossed in a compost bin where they'll help create nutrient-rich soil.
Purple Carrot is always looking for ways to provide more sustainable, eco-friendly packing and solutions.
Purple Carrot Meal Plan Pricing Options
When it comes to ordering, there are two main options available:
- Two Serving Plans: This is ideal for individuals or couples. Choose from a three- or four-dinner option with meals priced at $11.99 per serving and free shipping.
- Four Serving Plans: This is a great option for small families and priced at just $9.99 per serving. Shipping is free, and there are two-dinner or three-dinner vegetarian options available.
- Extras: There is also a variety of breakfast and lunch options, as well as plant-based snacks that you can add on to any package. These let you enjoy even more healthy vegan food before dinner time.
Choose from a wide range of vegan recipes and veggies to suit your taste. Spice things up with Roasted Red Pepper Shakshuka, enjoy a classic with Eggplant Florentine, or curb your craving for Mexican with Mexican Molletes with refried beans and Pico de Gallo. A popular breakfast option is the Loaded Avocado Toast. And plant-based snacks don't have to be dull either – choose from items like mushroom jerky, peanut butter cup truffle pouches, or sugar cookies.
Meal packages are customizable to fit your needs and interests. If it is going to be a busy week with less time for meal prep, you might add more breakfasts, lunches, and snacks, while lighter weeks might just be dinner. All of the ingredients are pre-portioned, and everything you need (with the exception of a few pantry staples such as salt, pepper, and olive oil) is included in your box. You also receive step-by-step directions for how to prepare each dish, leading to a stunning and tasty result.
Purple Carrot Pros and Cons
We love how easy Purple Carrot makes it to eat a plant-based diet, especially for those who are new to a no-meat lifestyle. Their recipes go way beyond new spins on salad, and could help customers learn fun and creative ways to introduce more vegetables into their daily lives. They also do a good job of explaining the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.
There are two primary drawbacks to Purple Carrot, however. First, they do use a a lot of plastic in their packaging. You'll need to make certain that your local recycling program accepts all of the different types they include; otherwise you will wind up with a lot of waste. Second, while they do say that organic and non-GMO produce is used whenever possible, not all of their ingredients are certified organic. If you want to eat 100% organic, Purple Carrot may not be the best choice.
The primary benefit of choosing Purple Carrot for the environment is the chance to reduce your meat consumption and enjoy the eco-friendly aspects of a plant-based diet.
Enjoy Plant-Based Meal Kits Good for You and the Environment
Purple Carrot is the way to go if you want to integrate more plant-based meals into your diet. Even cutting out meat one or two times a week can be beneficial. Purple Carrot recipes are full of flavor and a variety of colors. If you're looking to "eat the rainbow," this meal delivery service can be a great place to start. Their subscription service makes it easy to skip a week or change up your order using their convenient ordering system. Each week, you get to choose the meals and extras you want, and the menu is always changing and adding new options.
Get out of your recipe rut and try some of the delicious vegan options available through Purple Carrot. Plus, you'll know you're helping the planet at the same time.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. His writing on natural health, nutrition, and supplements has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
By Sharon O'Brien
Dietary fiber is the carbohydrate in plants that your body cannot digest.
Though it's essential to your gut and overall health, most people don't reach the recommended daily amounts (RDA) of 25 and 38 grams for women and men, respectively.
Both soluble and insoluble fiber help bulk up your stools and can be used as a food source for good bacteria in your large intestine.
Soluble fiber draws water into your gut, which softens your stools and supports regular bowel movements.
It not only helps you feel fuller and reduces constipation but may also lower your cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Here are 20 healthy foods that are high in soluble fiber.
1. Black Beans
Black beans are not only a great way to give your dishes a meaty texture but also an amazing source of fiber.
One cup (172 grams) packs 15 grams, which is about what an average person consumes per day, or 40–60% of the RDA for adults.
Black beans contain pectin, a form of soluble fiber that becomes gummy-like in water. This can delay stomach emptying and make you feel fuller longer, giving your body more time to absorb nutrients.
Soluble fiber content: 5.4 grams per three-quarter cup (129 grams) of cooked black beans.
2. Lima Beans
Lima beans, also known as butter beans, are large, flat, greenish-white beans.
They mainly contain carbs and protein, as well as a little fat.
They're lower in total dietary fiber than black beans, but their soluble fiber content is almost identical. Lima beans also contain the soluble fiber pectin, which is associated with reduced blood sugar spikes after meals.
Soluble fiber content: 5.3 grams per three-quarter cup (128 grams) of lima beans.
3. Brussels Sprouts
The world may be divided into Brussels sprout lovers and haters, but whatever side you're on, it's undeniable that this vegetable is packed with vitamins and minerals, along with various cancer-fighting agents.
What's more, Brussels sprouts are a great source of fiber, with 4 grams per cup (156 grams).
The soluble fiber in Brussels sprouts can be used to feed beneficial gut bacteria. These produce vitamin K and B vitamins, along with short-chain fatty acids that support your gut lining.
Soluble fiber content: 2 grams per one-half cup (78 grams) of Brussels sprouts.
Avocados originate from Mexico but have gained popularity worldwide.
Haas avocados are the most common type. They're an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, potassium, vitamin E, and dietary fiber.
One avocado packs 13.5 grams of dietary fiber. However, one serving — or one-third of the fruit — provides about 4.5 grams, 1.4 of which are soluble.
Rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber, avocados really stand out in this regard.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are high in potassium, beta carotene, B vitamins, and fiber. Just one medium-sized sweet potato packs over 400% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) of vitamin A.
Therefore, sweet potatoes can contribute significantly to your total soluble fiber intake.
Soluble fiber content: 1.8 grams per one-half cup (150 grams) of cooked sweet potato.
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that grows well in cool seasons. It's usually dark green, but you can also find purple varieties.
The high amount of soluble fiber in broccoli can support your gut health by feeding the good bacteria in your large intestine. These bacteria produce beneficial short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate and acetate.
Turnips are root vegetables. Larger varieties are usually fed to livestock, but the smaller types are a great addition to your diet.
Soluble fiber content: 1.7 grams per one-half cup (82 grams) of cooked turnips.
Pears are crisp and refreshing and serve as a decent source of vitamin C, potassium, and various antioxidants.
Due to their high fructose and sorbitol contents, pears can sometimes have a laxative effect. If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you may need to moderate your intake.
Soluble fiber content: 1.5 grams per medium-sized pear.
9. Kidney Beans
Their characteristic shape gave kidney beans their name.
Kidney beans are a good source of soluble fiber, particularly pectin.
However, some people find beans hard to digest. If that's the case for you, start increasing your kidney bean intake slowly to avoid bloating.
Figs were one of the first cultivated plants in human history.
They're highly nutritious, containing calcium, magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, and other nutrients.
Both dried and fresh figs are great sources of soluble fiber, which slows the movement of food through your intestines, allowing more time for nutrient absorption.
Based on anecdotal evidence, dried figs have been used as a home remedy to relieve constipation for years. While one study found that fig paste improved bowel movements in constipated dogs, human-based research is lacking.
Soluble fiber content: 1.9 grams per one-fourth cup (37 grams) of dried figs.
Nectarines are stone fruits that grow in warm, temperate regions. They're similar to peaches, but don't have the same characteristic fuzzy skin.
Apricots are small, sweet fruits that range in color from yellow to orange, with the occasional red tinge.
Carrots are one of the most popular and tasty vegetables on Earth.
Boiled or steamed, carrots are a key ingredient in many recipes, but they can also be grated into salads or used to make desserts like carrot cake.
With good reason, you may have been told as a child to eat carrots to help you see in the dark.
Carrots are packed with beta carotene, some of which is converted into vitamin A. This vitamin supports your eyes and is particularly important for night vision.
One cup (128 grams) of chopped carrots contains 4.6 grams of dietary fiber, 2.4 of which are soluble.
Since many people enjoy this vegetable daily, it can be a key source of soluble fiber.
Apples are one of the most commonly eaten fruits in the world. Most varieties are quite sweet, but others like Granny Smith can be very sour.
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is an old proverb that may have some truth, as eating this fruit is associated with a lower risk of many chronic diseases.
Apples pack various vitamins and minerals and are a good source of the soluble fiber pectin. Apple pectin may have many health benefits, such as a reduced risk of heart disease and improved gut function.
Guavas are a tropical fruit native to Mexico and Central and South America. Their skin is typically green, while the pulp can range from off-white to deep-pink.
This fruit has been shown to reduce blood sugar, as well as total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in healthy people. In part, this may be due to the soluble fiber pectin, which can delay the absorption of sugar.
16. Flax Seeds
Flax seeds, also known as linseeds, are tiny brown, yellow, or golden seeds.
They pack a nutritious punch and can be a great way to improve the nutrient content of your smoothies, breads, or cereals.
Sprinkling 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds over your porridge can add an extra 3.5 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein to your breakfast. They're also one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fats.
If possible, soak ground flax seeds overnight, as this allows their soluble fiber to combine with water to form a gel, which may aid digestion.
Soluble fiber content: 0.6–1.2 grams per tablespoon (14 grams) of whole flax seeds.
17. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a great nutritious snack and often purchased already shelled to reveal the tasty sunflower heart.
They contain about 3 grams of dietary fiber per one-fourth cup, 1 gram of which is soluble. What's more, they're rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, protein, magnesium, selenium, and iron.
Hazelnuts are a delicious type of nut that can be eaten raw or roasted for a stronger flavor. They're also often used as an ingredient in chocolate bars and spreads.
Partly due to their soluble fiber content, hazelnuts may help reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Oats are one of the most versatile and healthy grains around. You can use them to make breakfast cereals, breads, scones, flapjacks, or fruit crumbles.
They contain beta glucan, a form of soluble fiber that's associated with reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol and improved blood sugar control. It's estimated that 3 grams of oat beta glucan per day can reduce your risk of heart disease.
About 1.25 cups (100 grams) of dry oats contain 10 grams of total dietary fiber. This is divided into 5.8 grams of insoluble and 4.2 grams of soluble fiber, 3.6 of which are beta glucan.
Beta glucan is also what gives porridge its characteristic creamy texture.
Some people may associate barley with the brewing industry, but this nutritious ancient grain is also often used to thicken soups, stews, or risottos.
Like oats, it contains about 3.5–5.9% of the soluble fiber beta glucan, which has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Other forms of soluble fiber in barley are psyllium, pectin, and guar gum.
The Bottom Line
Soluble fiber is great for your gut and overall health, reducing your risk of heart disease by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and helping you balance your blood sugar levels.
If you want to increase your soluble fiber intake, it's often best to start slowly and build it up gradually.
It's also a good idea to drink plenty of water. This will help the soluble fiber form a gel, which aids digestion and prevents constipation.
All fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes contain some soluble fiber, but certain foods like Brussels sprouts, avocados, flax seeds, and black beans are the cream of the crop.
- 6 Reasons to Eat an Avocado - EcoWatch ›
- 6 Surprising Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes - EcoWatch ›
However, finding healthy snacks in gas stations, convenience stores, and rest stops along your route is often challenging.
Plus, eating irregularly and sitting for hours on end while driving can lead to digestive issues like constipation and bloating, making healthy snacking all the more important.
As such, you should keep an eye out for nutritious snacks to pack with you or purchase along the way. Note that many portable and shelf-stable snack options are calorie-dense, so keep that in mind when traveling and your activity level is likely lower than normal.
Here are 14 healthy snacks that are perfect for road trips.
1. Fresh Fruit and Nut Butter
Fresh fruit is not only highly nutritious but also easily portable.
During road trips, munching on hydrating, high-fiber foods like fruit may keep your bowel movements regular and help prevent constipation caused by inactivity.
Apples, strawberries, and bananas are great paired with high protein nut butters like almond or peanut butter for a filling snack.
Nut butters are even sold in single-serve pouches, which can come in handy when you need a quick bite while driving. Brands like Artisana and Once Again offer unsweetened, organic nut butter squeeze packs.
2. Trail Mix
Trail mix is a go-to snack for road trips — and for good reason. It doesn't require refrigeration, is easy to eat, and provides ample protein, healthy fats, and fiber to fuel you on those extra long road trips.
What's more, you can buy nutritious, low sugar versions at most rest stops and gas stations. Look for a variety with nuts, seeds, and unsweetened dried fruit — and steer clear of those that contain candies, candied nuts, and sugared fruits.
You can also make your own at home.
Start with raw or roasted nuts and seeds, then add your favorite unsweetened dried fruits. Toss in unsweetened dried coconut, cacao nibs, dark chocolate chips, or spices for extra flavor and crunch.
Note that even without added candy, trail mix is high in calories and best meant for — you guessed it — the trail. Keep this in mind if you are sitting for hours on end.
That said, trail mix also works as a meal replacement when other food choices are limited. Pairing trail mix with lower calorie fresh fruits or vegetables is one way to balance its calorie density.
3. Protein and Granola Bars
Protein and granola bars are convenient, and most don't require refrigeration, making them a good choice for road trips.
Yet, many bars are loaded with added sugars and other unhealthy additives, which is why it's important to choose products made from whole, nutritious ingredients like nuts, oats, chia seeds, egg whites, and dried fruit.
4. Energy Bites
Energy bites, also called energy balls, are bite-sized morsels made from healthy ingredients like nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. Though small, they pack a punch of nutrition and calories.
You can easily make them at home and pack them in a cooler to take on the road. Check out this recipe for energy bites that include dates, nuts, cocoa powder, and almond butter.
5. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are delectable on their own and pair well with many other road trip snacks, including dried or fresh fruit.
Both nuts and seeds are high in protein, healthy fats, and fiber. In fact, eating more of these foods may decrease your risk of heart disease and lower your blood sugar levels.
Walnuts, almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds can supply a needed energy boost during your road trip.
6. Fruit and Veggie Chips
Many road trippers turn to highly processed snacks like potato chips to satisfy their cravings. However, these chips are typically high in calories, sodium, and unhealthy additives.
If you long for a salty snack with a bit of crunch, try healthy chips made from dried fruits and vegetables instead. For example, baked apple chips, plantain chips, and kale chips make excellent stand-ins for their highly processed counterparts.
Choose products that don't contain added sugar or preservatives, or make your own fruit and veggie chips at home. Follow this recipe for crunchy kale chips that are ideal for travel.
7. Unsweetened Yogurt
You can expand your snacking options during your road trip if you take a cooler.
Unsweetened yogurt is a great snack food that doubles as a quick breakfast when your choices are limited, but it needs to be kept cool to prevent spoilage, so be sure to fill your cooler with ice or ice packs.
Many flavored yogurts are high in added sugar, which you should limit. It's best to choose unsweetened, plain varieties, then add your own toppings, such as berries, nuts, seeds, chia seeds, and dried coconut.
Unsweetened Greek yogurt is especially beneficial because it's packed with protein, which helps keep you full.
8. Roasted Chickpeas
Chickpeas are highly nutritious, providing protein, fiber, magnesium, folate, and zinc.
While taking a can of chickpeas on the road is doable but a little more cumbersome, dried chickpeas are portable and easy to eat while driving or navigating.
It's easy to make your own using this recipe.
Alternatively, you can purchase dried chickpeas in various flavors at your local health food store, as well as online.
9. Fresh Veggies and Nutritious Dip
If you bring a cooler, fresh vegetables like celery, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, and peppers make scrumptious, low calorie road trip snacks.
Eating veggies can not only satisfy your crunch cravings but also reduce your risk of various illnesses, including obesity, certain cancers, and mental decline.
To boost the protein content and flavor of this snack option, pair fresh vegetables with nutrient-dense dips like hummus or Greek yogurt dip.
10. Hard-Boiled Eggs
Hard-boiled eggs are another option to power you through long car trips.
Just be sure to keep them in a cooler with ice packs and eat them within 1 week.
11. Drinkable Soups
Although soup may seem like an odd choice for a road trip, shelf-stable, drinkable soups are a healthy and convenient choice when driving. Plus, veggie-based soups can help you meet your nutrient needs when fresh produce is scarce.
Many companies make drinkable soups in portable containers that don't require refrigeration.
Whole avocados are a high fiber, high fat snack that's especially suitable if you're following a low carb diet.
Plus, they're full of nutrients like potassium, folate, and vitamins C and E.
These buttery fruits can be salted and eaten with a spoon, or mashed and served with crackers or veggies during a break from driving. Bring a mix of ripe and unripe avocados to ensure that you always have one that's ready to eat.
13. Cheese and Crackers
Cheese and crackers make a classic snack for anyone looking for a quick bite on the road.
Top your crackers with cheddar, brie, or your cheese of choice for a satisfying, filling treat. You can also add fresh fruit for a hint of sweetness.
14. Dark Chocolate and Almonds
When you're craving something sweet during a long road trip, don't cave into the endless candies, baked goods, and sugary beverages available at rest stops and gas stations.
Instead, pack your car with healthy options like dark chocolate.
This treat is loaded with powerful polyphenol antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory and heart-protective properties. What's more, eating chocolate in moderation may safeguard against conditions like stroke and diabetes.
Add a handful of almonds for a crunchy, fiber- and protein-rich snack.
The Bottom Line
Although eating healthy on the road may seem difficult, planning ahead and bringing nutritious snacks can keep your body fueled and your hunger at bay.
If you take a cooler, fresh veggies, unsweetened yogurt, and hard-boiled eggs are great options. Other foods that don't necessarily need to be kept cool and are easy to store and eat on the road include fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, nut butter, drinkable soups, and protein bars.
Keep these snacks in mind when you're looking for portable, nutritious options for your next adventure.