Whether you've been taking daily vitamins since childhood or you've decided it's time to supplement your diet with the essential nutrients of a multivitamin, more and more adults are relying on subscription services to deliver their daily nutrition.
From personalized vitamins and supplements for dry skin to supplements to boost your immune system, there's a vitamin subscription company that meets your needs. Let's break down the differences between some of the leading vitamin subscription companies so you can choose the best brand for you and the environment.
What are Vitamin Supplements?
Vitamins are nutrients that our body cannot manufacture by itself, yet are essential for its proper functioning. Under ideal circumstances, you should obtain these vitamins through a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. However, multivitamin supplements can work to compliment your diet and provide you with complete nutrition. Some, like krill oil supplements, provide a single nutrient or vitamin while others contain a complete range of vitamins and minerals to help support your body. There are also dietary supplements like vegan plant-based protein powders that can help with nutritional goals.
A vitamin subscription allows you to set up a recurring delivery schedule for your daily vitamin supplement to ensure that you never run out, while also allowing you to choose the right types of supplements for you. In addition to vitamins, you can also find probiotics and digestive enzymes to help support digestive and immune health.
Our Top Picks for the Best Vitamin Subscription Brands
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 - Ritual Essential for Women Multivitamin 18+
- Best Plant-Based - Vital Plan Daily Herbal
- Best for Sports Nutrition - Onnit Total Human Complete Supplement Packs
- Best for Immune System - Global Healing Plant-Based Immune Support
- Best Omega-3 - Sunwarrior Algae-Based Omega-3
- Best Vitamin Bite - GEM Daily Essentials
- Best for Personalization - Care/of
- Best for Heart Health - CocoaVia Heart & Brain Capsules
- Best for Energy - Beekeeper's Naturals B.Fueled Bee Pollen
- Best Vitamin Powder - NutraOne Vitality Powder
How We Chose the Best Vitamin Subscriptions
There are a number of factors to consider when committing to a vitamin subscription. Here are a few of the key features that we prioritized in making our list.
- Options: Vitamins and supplements can aid in filling gaps of what you need but aren't getting from your diet. Everyone's needs are different, whether you're pregnant, an older adult, or have medical afflictions such as immune or vitamin-deficiency issues. So having a wide variety of products to choose from can make the difference between a vitamin pack supplier being a go-to, or a hard pass.
- Ingredients: Vitamins and supplements come from raw materials, and it's important to know how they source those ingredients. With that information in mind, you need to look for a company that does not include fillers, additives, or preservatives in products.
- Testing: Daily vitamins have to be tested to ensure purity, efficacy, and bioavailability of ingredients. Expertise can not be improvised, and some brands even run several tests on their products before making them available.
- Sustainability: If it's helping you, it should help the planet in the process. Suppliers that work with vegan, natural, organic, and even reusable packaging are a win-win on this matter. Since you will be getting their product delivered regularly, it is an important consideration. We also looked for companies committed to higher standards in their sourcing and manufacturing practices.
- Cost: Depending on the number of recommended supplements, costs might vary from as low as $1 or less per day (in products with small batches) to up to $6 or $7 per day. Keep in mind that access to personalized knowledge centers can be included in some of the plans, and you will receive nutrition and wellness insights and dietary assessments.
10 Best Vitamin Subscription Brands 2021
Best Overall: Ritual Essential for Women Multivitamin 18+
We like that Ritual makes all of its sources and suppliers fully traceable and available to consumers. Its website details the backstory of each carefully-sourced ingredient and the human supplier. This level of transparency is hard to find in the supplement world, and really sets Ritual apart.
Why buy: This women-founded and led business takes female health seriously and provides nuanced and targeted supplements to uniquely meet women's' nutritional needs. Their daily vitamin supplements are vegan, gluten-free, allergy-free, non-GMO, and free of synthetic fillers.
Best Plant-Based: Vital Plan Daily Herbalvitalplan.com
Vital Plan was founded in North Carolina by Dr. Bill Rawls after he sought a more natural and holistic treatment for his chronic pain. An expert in modern herbology, Dr. Rawls formulated botanical herbal therapies that use high-quality, hand picked ingredients that are backed by clinical research and tested by third-party labs.
Why buy: We like Vital Plan's Daily Herbal supplement because it is a physician-formulated herbal supplement that can naturally support total body wellness. Vital Plan is also a certified B corp, an Environmental Working Group supporter, and a Pledge 1% member.
Best for Sports Nutrition: Onnit Total Human Complete Supplement Packs
Onnit Total Human Complete Supplement Packs are designed to deliver all of the vitamins and minerals you need to perform at your best in a convenient form. Instead of providing a single multivitamin, these supplements are divided into one pack for daytime support and another for nighttime support to give your body the nutrients it needs when it needs them.
Why buy: We like that Onnit Total Human packs offer different groups of clinically-researched vitamins and nutrients for different times of the day. The Day Pack includes support for focus, energy, and endurance while the Night Pack is meant to help with relaxation, rest, and recovery.
Best for Immune System: Global Healing Plant-Based Immune Boost
This Global Healing Plant-Based Immune Support supplement offers a natural way to help support your immune system with USDA organic herbs, mushrooms, and aromatics. This all-in-one formula contains ingredients like organic elderberry, echinacea, enokitake mushrooms, birch polypore mushrooms, olive leaf, and pine bark.
Why buy: We like this liquid vitamin supplement from Global Healing because it is USDA organic, vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free, and not tested on animals. This plant-based formula makes it easy to help boost your immune response by taking one serving per day. You can even mix it into juices or smoothies.
Best for Omega-3s: Sunwarrior Algae-Based Omega-3
Sunwarrior offers a unique omega-3 supplement that is a great alternative to traditional fish oil. They go straight to the source and derive their omega-3 DHA and EPA from sustainably-grown and harvested algae. These vegan softgels can help support heart, brain, eye, and joint health with plant-based nutrients.
Why buy: We love that Sunwarrior Algae-Based Omega-3 supplements provide a completely plant-based alternative to fish oil supplements. Use these softgels to get all of the benefits of omega-3 DHA and EPA fatty acids from a source that is better for our oceans and planet.
Best Overall: GEM Daily Essentials
GEM is unlike any other supplement subscription on the market. Instead of sending powders or pills, your monthly GEM delivery contains chewable nutrition bites made with whole-food ingredients like spirulina, chia seeds, quinoa and dates. These are real food supplements made with plant-based ingredients.
Why buy: Their ingredients are carefully selected from trusted sources for maximum nutritional benefits and minimal processing. Each bite looks like something you could mix up in a food processor at home. We also love that your first month is delivered in a refillable tin and every subsequent month's bites come in a compostable pouch for waste-free packaging.
Best for Personalization: Care/of
Care/of has made a loud and public commitment to increasing the sustainability of their single-serving, daily dose personalized vitamins. The brand recently switched to fully compostable, plant-based packaging, the first step on their way towards a more sustainable business. Their basic multivitamin starts at $15, but you can also take a quiz for a personalized mix of daily vitamins.
Why buy: We like that Care/of offers both western-style letter vitamins and traditional ayurvedic herbs like ashwagandha and reishi for those looking for alternative solutions.The brand is also transparent about its sourcing from around the world, and it maintains close relationships with the producers who supply their products.
Best for Heart Health: CocoaVia Heart & Brain Capsules
CocoaVia Heart & Brain supplements are meant to improve cardiovascular health, brain health, and overall wellness. Each CocoaVia serving (2 capsules) contains 450 mg of cocoa flavanols, which is the beneficial nutrient found in dark chocolate. This is a plant-based nutrient proven to improve heart and brain health when consumed daily at high levels.
Why buy: We like that CocoaVia capsules are backed by 20 years of research and over 30 clinical studies, and they are independently lab tested for quality. CocoaVia also partners with family farmers in Indonesia and carefully extracts the cocoa flavanols from the plant to maintain the true essence of the natural crop.
Best for Energy: Beekeeper's Naturals B.Fueled Bee Pollen
Beekeeper's Naturals offers a subscription option for their B.Fueled Bee Pollen supplement that can provide protein and B vitamins to help keep you going. This sustainably sourced raw wildflower bee pollen also contains free forming amino acids and antioxidants that can give you an energy boost for workouts or busy days.
Why buy: We love that Beekeeper's Naturals offers an easy way to enjoy "nature's multivitamin" with this sustainably sourced bee pollen. It contains wildflower bee pollen and nothing else, for a clean source of energy with no added sugars, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, gluten, wheat, corn, dairy, or soy.
Best Vitamin Powder: NutraOne Vitality Powder
NutraOne Vitality Powder delivers all of your daily vitamins, minerals, and even digestive enzymes, in a convenient and highly-absorbable powder. You can mix in a scoop of powder with a glass of water each day to help boost your energy, immune system, metabolism, and support strong bones.
Why buy: We like that this multivitamin powder also includes digestive enzymes to help promote better digestive health so you get more nutrients from the foods you eat. NutraOne Vitality Powder can also help boost your metabolism to help you manage blood sugar, blood pressure, inflammation, and mood. It's also naturally sweetened with stevia leaf extract
What to Look for in a Vitamin Subscription Service
These days, there are more and more daily vitamin packs available. Dietary supplements are just another industry that has jumped onto the subscription train. As a consumer, it can be hard to cut through the noise around vitamins, supplements, superfood powders, prenatal, and other "good for you" dietary additions.
How can you be sure that a vitamin subscription service is right for you and reach your health goals? There are a few things to look out for.
First, where does the company source its ingredients? Just like with food, where your vitamins come from matters. And because there aren't strict governmental regulations on supplements, it's even more important to investigate how transparent your vitamin brand is.
Look for a brand that promises to include no fillers, additives, or preservatives in their products. Gluten-free and corn-free vitamins is also a good sign, as corn and wheat are often used as fillers to bulk up pills without any nutritional benefit.
Many of the brands below offer full transparency about where their products come from and even the specific suppliers they work with. You should check each ingredient of each vitamin in your subscription box.
The other important question to consider from a sustainability perspective is packaging. If you're having vitamins delivered to your home every 30 days, tiny plastic bottles, lids, cardboard, and bubble wrap can add up quickly.
Several companies listed below offer refillable packaging and use only materials that can be reused, recycled, and often composted. Choose from a brand that wants to deliver a daily dose in as little plastic as possible.
What are the Benefits of a Vitamin Subscription?
These services provide customized nutrients in convenient packs for daily health and wellness improvement. Not only can they give you more targeted dietary recommendations, they can help you identify any deficiencies that you can correct with a supplement to optimize your health. Not to mention that they offer the convenience of delivering your personalized supplement packs directly to you. And with a subscription, you'll never run out of your daily vitamins.
Should You Take Vitamin Supplements?
Whether you're looking for a complete vitamin recommendation, like prenatal vitamins, to control allergies by caring for your immune health, to lose weight, or trying to correct for a vitamin deficiency, there's a vitamin subscription for you. There are daily vitamin packs that can boost every type of person and every type of health goal. And with a personalized vitamin pack, you can get a curated supply of supplements that will best work with your body's needs.
What are Some of the Most Common Vitamin Supplements?
If you don't know where to start, here are some of the most crucial vitamins the body needs to function:
Vitamin D: Vitamin D plays a pivotal role in a number of bodily functions, and can help improve a range of ailments and conditions, including poor bone health, type 1 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and hypertension.
Magnesium: Magnesium is important for muscle and nerve functioning, and it has been recently touted for its ability to reduce the frequency and symptoms of migraine, headaches, as well as improving sleep.
Fish Oil: This supplement contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help In everything from cardiovascular health and brain functioning to arthritis and inflammation.
Vitamin C: Researchers have found that vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, which can lower the risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease, age-related macular degeneration. It also plays an important role in the immune system.
When selecting a vitamin subscription service to commit to, it's important to consider everything from the ingredients to the packaging materials. Some subscriptions use a simple questionnaire and an algorithm to pick your vitamin regimen. Others may ask you to submit to a blood test or DNA test. How personalized you want your program to be is up to you.
We recommend consulting a healthcare professional or registered dietician if you're making any major decisions about your health. Also take into considerations any potential allergens or the availability to supporting health products at your local drugstore to build out your routine.
Lizzy Briskin is the founder of Earthen Food Co. She is a chef, food writer, and recipe developer who helps people eat more mindfully for themselves and the environment, without overthinking it.
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While any ol' protein bar offers convenience, not all bars are created equal in terms of overall nutritional value and, certainly, overall level of sustainability and eco-friendly production. So, which are the best vegan protein bars on the market?
Finding the right protein bar can be hard, and the job is even tougher when you're a vegan. That's because many of the top bars on the market today are made with non-vegan ingredients, whether that's honey, whey protein, or milk.
We've done a little detective work for you, testing out some of the best, most filling, most sustainable, and more nutritious vegan protein bars available today. These are a few of our picks.
Our Picks for the Best Vegan Protein Bars
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Vegan, gluten-free, low-carb, and low-sugar, Aloha bars are one of the best vegan protein bars if you want a healthy dose of protein (14 grams) without too many additives or synthetic chemicals. They come in several great flavors, too. Our favorites are chocolate mint and peanut butter, but we encourage you to try any that sound good to your palette.
It's right there in the name: No Cow bars are totally dairy-free, in addition to being gluten-free, kosher, and non-GMO. But boy, do they pack a lot of nutritional punch. Each bar comes with 19 grams of fiber, 20 grams of protein, and a scant 190 calories per serving. There's a lot to love about the No Cow bars, and we haven't even touched on the amazing array of flavors.
3. Shanti Bars
Each Shanti Bar has 17 grams of plant-based protein, making them a great option when you only need a nibble of something to get you from meal to meal. The vegan credentials are off the charts: Shanti bars are organic, gluten-free, sustainably sourced, and made without any refined sugars. The nut butter chocolate chip maca flavor is especially tasty.
We love the Vega 10g bars not only because of their simplicity, but also their great flavor. You can pick them in chocolate peanut butter, chocolate caramel, blueberry oat, or coconut almond, and we'll vouch that all are really yummy. With any option, you'll get 10 grams of plant-based protein, plus four grams of fiber. A great snack item for anyone who wants their protein bars to be vegan, dairy-free, non-GMO, and altogether tasty.
GoMacro's protein bars are both filling and energizing. We love using them to begin the day, as they help give us the push we need to start the morning's activities with plenty of focus and stamina. Each one is made with 10 to 12 grams of plant-based protein and is completely vegan. Again, there are loads of flavor options. Our top pick: blueberry with cashew butter.
Looking for a protein bar that's not only vegan-friendly, but also offers the natural power of hemp protein? Evo's product line is one of our favorites. These bars are noteworthy for offering plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, too, which can help naturally reduce inflammation. There are plenty of other nutrients packed into these bars, too, along with some excellent natural flavors, making them high on our list of best vegan protein bars.
7. Rise Bars
If you're looking for simplicity, give Rise Bars a try. They're made with four simple ingredients yet have an impressive 15 grams of plant-based protein per bar. There's just something refreshing about these simple vegan bars, especially if you opt for a light flavor like lemon cashew.
If it's flavor you're after, the 22 Days lineup has a lot of enticing options: Peanut butter chocolate chip, salted caramel, fudge brownie, you name it. This is one of our top options for sweet tooths, but we'll also note how much we appreciate the balanced nutritional contents. There's even a high iron quotient here, which is something many vegan diets tend to lack.
Raw Rev Glo makes some of the best vegan protein bars that are loaded with superfoods; you'll find amazing, plant-based nutrients here, along with delicious flavors and an appealing texture. Each bar has 11 grams of protein plus 13 grams of fiber, which means it has a high overall nutritional value. These bars are an altogether wholesome and eco-friendly way to add some protein to your daily diet.
Looking for a low-carb option? You'll find just a single net carb in each Pegan bar, yet there is plenty in the way of protein and fiber. Specifically, they are rich in prebiotic fiber, which can help you sustain that helpful bacteria in your gut, easing the digestion process. We also like that these bars offer some flavors you don't see from other brands, like the tasty ginger snap option.
Start Snacking on a Vegan Protein Bar
As you consider your options for different vegan protein bars, there are a lot of factors to consider, including flavor, total fiber content, and more. One thing you can feel confident about is that each of the bars we've recommended here is fully compliant with a vegan diet. And all are made with admirably earth-friendly practices.
These are bars you can feel good about any time you need to reach for that fast vegan breakfast or that afternoon pick-me-up. Try one of the best vegan protein bars today and see which ones you like the most.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, copywriter, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. As a writer and independent reviewer of CBD products, Josh covers the relationship between natural wellness products and the human body. His writing has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
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Medically reviewed by Anna H. Chacon, M.D.
From eating foods for healthy skin to switching up your morning and routines, taking care of the largest organ in the body can get overwhelming. Recently, vitamin C has grown in popularity in the skincare world — but do the best vitamin C serums live up to the hype?
Vitamin C is not only an essential supplement for your immune system and overall health, but it's also a great skincare ingredient that can help limit inflammation, brighten skin, dull fine lines and wrinkles, fight free radicals, and reduce discoloration and dark spots.
Adding vitamin C to your skincare routine seems like a no-brainer, but before you start shopping for a serum, it's important to be aware that vitamin C is an unstable ingredient. Dermatologists say it's important to find legit and properly formulated vitamin C serums to capitalize on the benefits of the antioxidant. In this article, we'll help you find the right dermatologist-approved vitamin C serum to add to your routine.
Our Picks for the Best Vitamin C Serums of 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: ZO Skin Health 10% Vitamin C Self-Activating
- Best for Sensitive Skin: Paula's Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum
- Best Budget-Friendly Serum: CeraVe Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid
- Best Cruelty-Free Serum: Timeless Skin Care 20% Vitamin C Plus E Ferulic Acid Serum
- Best Anti-Aging Serum: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Combination Antioxidant Treatment
- Best Brightening Serum: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%
Skincare Benefits of Vitamin C
Also known as ascorbic acid or L-ascorbic acid, vitamin C is an antioxidant that is present in the formation of collagen and that protects against aging, according to Dr. Anna Chacon, a board-certified dermatologist with MyPsoriasisTeam. A vitamin C serum may be a solid addition to your skincare routine because it has a great safety profile, and it's safe for most skin types.
"Vitamin C serum restores and neutralizes environmental stressors that accelerate signs of aging and can be used morning and evening," Dr. Chacon says. However, she warns, "it does not come with sun protection, so additional use of sunscreen is recommended."
As an antioxidant, vitamin C protects skin cells from being damaged by free radicals from things like UV exposure, vehicle exhaust and cigarette smoke. It also hampers melanin production, which can help to lighten hyperpigmentation and brown spots and even out your skin tone.
6 Best Vitamin C Serums
Based on dermatologist recommendations and our market research, the following products are the best vitamin C serums available today.
Best Overall: ZO Skin Health 10% Vitamin C Self-Activating
Our overall recommendation for the best vitamin C serum is the ZO Skin Health 10% Vitamin C Self-Activating serum. The product contains 10% vitamin C, which has anti-aging properties and minimizes the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and sunspots by promoting collagen production. "I have this in my bathroom," Dr. Chacon says. "It is gentle and non-irritating, and it leaves your skin radiant afterward."
Customer Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars with under 100 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Along with L-ascorbic acid, this serum includes ingredients like Coenzyme Q10 for multi-layer antioxidant protection and plant-derived squalane for added hydration. ZO Skin Health's products are all cruelty-free.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Paula's Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum
Made with plant- and vitamin-derived antioxidants including vitamin C, vitamin E, peptides and CoQ10, Paula's Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum will help rejuvenate your skin. The formula fights dullness, enhances firmness and reduces the appearance of wrinkles.
Customer Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars with about 300 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: This product is paraben-free, fragrance-free and cruelty-free, as it's not tested on animals. The container is 100% recyclable through TerraCycle, and it's formulated and manufactured in the U.S.
Best Budget-Friendly Serum: CeraVe Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid
CeraVe Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid offers high value at a reasonable price. It is a hydrating vitamin C serum that's fragrance-free, paraben-free, non-comedogenic and budget-friendly to boot. The formula uses 10% pure vitamin C to prevent free radical damage as well as soothing vitamin B5 and hyaluronic acid to make the skin look smooth and create a moisture barrier for your skin.
Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 20,000 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Chacon calls CeraVe "a trusted, dermatologist-oriented brand" that comes at drugstore prices, so it's a great choice if you want to try out a budget-friendly vitamin C serum.
Best Cruelty-Free Serum: Timeless Skin Care 20% Vitamin C Plus E Ferulic Acid Serum
Timeless Skin Care's vitamin C serum promotes healthy cell turnover to help minimize the effects of hyperpigmentation and even out your skin tone. According to Dr. Chacon, "vitamin C, E and ferulic acid are all key ingredients that help to brighten skin, building up collagen and evening out tone." This product's formula is non-greasy and lightweight, so it absorbs quickly and clearly into the skin.
Customer Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars with over 1,700 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: The Timeless Skin Care formula is paraben-free, synthetic dye-free, fragrance-free and polyethylene glycol-free. The company doesn't test on animals, and the product is made in the U.S. from natural ingredients. It's also part of the TerraCycle recycling program.
Best Anti-Aging Serum: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Combination Antioxidant Treatment
Using dermatologist-approved ingredients, SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Combination Antioxidant Treatment is lightweight and helps to firm, smooth, and brighten the skin for a more youthful look. The formula utilizes 15% pure vitamin C as well as vitamin E and ferulic acid to protect against environmental damage from things like sunlight, ozone pollution and diesel engine exhaust. Plus, it helps firm the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
Customer Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars with over 200 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: The SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Combination Antioxidant Treatment is one of the best vitamin C serums for anti-aging purposes. It has an oil-like formulation that goes on smoothly and works effectively without clogging pores.
Best Brightening Serum: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%
The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% is a topical form of vitamin C that's rich in antioxidants to target aging and brighten the skin. It uses a high concentration of L-ascorbic acid as well as hyaluronic acid spheres for skin hydration. The brightening serum helps enhance skin smoothness and radiance without being too harsh. However, to test skin sensitivity, it is always recommended to perform a patch test before a full application.
Customer Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars with over 4,500 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: This vitamin C brightening serum is cruelty-free and vegan and does not contain alcohol, phthalates, gluten, fragrance, nuts, oil, silicone, parabens or sulfates. The moisturizing serum is good for all skin types, including acne-prone skin and dry skin.
FAQ: Best Vitamin C Serums
What vitamin C serum is the most effective?
Our top recommended vitamin C serum is the ZO Skin Health 10% Vitamin C Self-Activating serum. It is a dermatologist-approved antioxidant powerhouse, yet it is gentle, non-irritating and leaves you with glowing skin.
Should you use vitamin C serum every day?
Dermatologists recommend using vitamin C serum either every day or every other day. After you cleanse and tone your face, use your vitamin c product before applying moisturizer and reef-safe sunscreen with at least SPF 30.
Does vitamin C serum really work?
According to dermatologists, the best vitamin C serums work to protect against skin aging. However, if you do not purchase a doctor-recommended product, you run the risk of wasting your money on a low-concentration serum that won't give you any benefits.
What are the drawbacks of vitamin C serums?
Many vitamin C serums on the market, especially cheaper products, have nearly immeasurable concentrations of antioxidants, which makes them ineffective. Additionally, as with any skincare product, some individuals may have reactions to vitamin C serums including itchiness and redness.
Anna H. Chacon, M.D. is a dermatologist and author originally from Miami, Florida. She has authored over a dozen peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and has been published in JAAD, Archives of Dermatology, British Journal of Dermatology, Cosmetic Dermatology and Cutis.
When it comes to natural shampoo and other hair care products, it's important to understand that the term "all-natural" is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. As such, many brands get away with claiming that their products are "natural" or "organic" without actually living up to the name. Because of this, unless you're a chemist or ingredient wiz, it can be difficult to decipher which products are, in fact, on the more natural side. Thankfully, the Environmental Working Group is here to help.
Enter: Skin Deep, the EWG's database of cosmetic products ranging from makeup and skincare to haircare, fragrance, and nail care. The database rates each product in its directory from one to 10, with one being the lowest concern for hazardous ingredients and 10 being the highest.
While anything under five is worth considering for eco-conscious shoppers, the EWG takes it a step further and has created their own verification indicating that the product meets the strictest criteria in regard to transparency and overall health. This makes it a prime source to find natural shampoo, deodorant, makeup and more.
As a general rule of thumb, the biggest ingredients to steer clear of when looking for all-natural cosmetics are silicones, parabens, phthalates, sulfates and formaldehyde, just to name a few.
With all this in mind, we did a little fact-checking on the beauty industry's top-selling brands. Ahead, discover the five natural shampoo brands that get the best ratings—from EWG and myself, a beauty veteran with eight years in the industry.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Briogeo stands out for many reasons. First and foremost, the NYC-based brand's natural shampoo and hair care line doesn't sacrifice results for cheap formulation. Each product is 90 to 100 percent naturally derived and free of harsh sulfates (SLS/SLES), silicones, parabens, phthalates, diethanolamine (DEA) and synthetic color, not to mention certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny.
Additionally, it's a Black-owned and operated brand, with Nancy Twine at its helm. Thanks to Nancy's eye for diversity and simplicity, the brand caters to all hair types and focuses on curating easy-to-follow two-, three-, and four-step routines.
Skin Deep Rating: Most Briogeo products fall between three and five on the scale, with a couple of outliers at one and six.
Must-Try Product: Be Gentle, Be Kind Banana + Coconut Nourishing Superfood Shampoo
Founded out of respect for the earth, Avalon Organics prides itself on providing top-quality natural shampoo, conditioner and more to conscious consumers. It's Leaping Bunny certified, as well as certified to NSF/ANSI 305 standards, which establishes that the products that claim to use organic and natural ingredients actually do. Plus, it's one of the most reasonably priced products on our list of the best natural shampoos.
Skin Deep Rating: Many of the brand's products are EWG Verified—meaning they're the best of the best. There are a few, however, in the three to five range.
Must-Try Product: Avalon Organics Nourishing Lavender Natural Shampoo
Here we have another Black-owned beauty brand that holds itself to the highest standards: SheaMoisture. The cruelty-free, certified B Corporation—meaning it considers its impact not only on consumers, but the earth and its employees as well—formulates all of its natural shampoo and hair care products without parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, petroleum and formaldehyde.
They're applauded for their truly natural offerings, all ingredients of which are listed on the company's website. What's more, they've broken their haircare offerings down by hair type, catering to 12 different textures, and use Fair Trade certified shea butter.
Skin Deep Rating: The majority of Shea Moisture products fall within the one to four range.
Must-Try Product: SheaMoisture Curl and Shine Coconut Shampoo
This one might shock you considering many drugstore hair care brands are anything but natural. With that in mind, however, Herbal Essences worked tirelessly to introduce its Bio:renew collection. Made with real botanicals and endorsed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the new lineup is formulated without sulfates, parabens and colorants, making it a worthy choice for those looking to go au naturel without breaking the bank.
Skin Deep Rating: Most of the Bio:renew products fall under five on the scale, and some have even earned the coveted EWG verification (including the must-try product below).
Must-Try Product: Herbal Essences Bio:renew Potent Aloe + Hemp Frizz Control Shampoo and Conditioner
If you're looking for a sustainable natural shampoo that doesn't come in a plastic container, consider Ethique solid shampoo bars. These bars take a little getting used to when you first make the switch from wet shampoo, but after a few washes, you'll be a pro at lathering up sans plastic.
Ethique is a certified B Corp that donates 20 percent of its profits to charity as well as plants a tree for every online order it receives. Its products have been certified cruelty-free by PETA and a few other international certification organizations, and they actually work: The natural shampoo bars have received thousands of positive reviews from verified customers.
Skin Deep Rating: All Ethique products are rated one to four.
Must-Try Product: Ethique Eco-Friendly Solid Shampoo for Normal Hair
Rebecca R. Norris is a full-time freelance writer living in the DC metro area. She writes for a variety of publications, covering everything from beauty and wellness to style and news. She is a graduate of George Mason University. There, she earned her B.A. in Media: Production, Consumption, and Critique, along with a minor in Electronic Journalism. The Virginia native is a lover of lists, Stevie Nicks, dark chocolate Sprinkles cupcakes, and the Oxford comma.
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MCT oil is a supplement touted for its benefits, which may include weight loss, increased energy and improved cognitive function. MCT, which stands for medium chain triglyceride, contains saturated fatty acids that can be broken down quickly for energy when compared to poly- and monounsaturated fatty acids. Some food sources are coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and goat's milk.
There are four types of MCT:
- C6: caproic acid or hexanoic acid
- C8: caprylic acid or octanoic acid (most common in supplements)
- C10: capric acid or decanoic acid (most common in supplements)
- C12: lauric acid or dodecanoic acid (mainly found in coconut oil)
According to a study published in the Journal of Lipid Research, MCT oil enters the cell quickly and may be used as a quick source of energy with a lower likelihood of being stored as body fat. Another benefit of MCT oil may also be weight loss, according to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (JAND).
It's also popular with those on a ketogenic diet as it increases the amount of ketones the body has available to use for energy. MCT oil has grown in popularity due to the fame of "bulletproof" coffee, which claims to support brain function. But MCT oil can also be used in salad dressings if you want the energy-boosting effects without the coffee.
What You Need to Know
When shopping for MCT oil, it is important to review the ingredient label and make sure the MCT oil is derived from organic coconuts as this form is more easily digested. Most MCT oils come in liquid form, but MCT oil powder is also available. Also, avoid purchasing MCT oil containing caproic acid (C6), as it is foul-tasting and potentially abrasive on your digestive system. Caproic acid has poor bioavailability and may lead to gas, bloating or diarrhea, as well as stomach upset.
Why Would You Use MCT Oil?
MCT oil containing C8 and C10 is a smart choice if you are looking for sustained energy during workouts or for when you have a long work day, as well as those on a keto diet. It can also be used in your morning coffee. Due to the potential fat-burning benefits, it may help your metabolism burn calories more efficiently throughout the day. MCT oil can also be used in cooking, as saturated fats oxidize more slowly than unsaturated fats. The slower oxidation of saturated fats may reduce the creation of cancer-causing molecules during the cooking process.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The Best MCT Oils Available Online
With its high amount of C8 (caprylic acid), Sports Research Premium MCT is a great choice for athletes and avid gym-goers alike. C8's enhanced ability to increase your body's ketone production may lead to better endurance, focus and strength during bouts of activity.
Why Buy: Non-GMO; Certified Paleo; Great for athletes and gym-goers
Made from 100% coconuts, Viva Naturals MCT Oil contains three types of MCT which include caprylic, capric and lauric acids. These different forms have individual benefits which may include improved memory recall, blood sugar support and increase energy. This oil is also easily blendable in shakes, smoothies and a great addition to a morning cup of coffee.
Why Buy: USDA certified organic; Third-party tested; Paleo
With their efficient distribution process, Left Coast Performance MCT Oil ensures the consumer receives the freshest MCT oil, which may improve the efficacy of the product. Due to being derived from coconuts rather than palm kernel oil, it also ensures easier digestibility, which may lead to enhanced bioavailability.
Why Buy: Made with sustainably-sourced coconuts; May enhance metabolism; GMP certified; Vegan
Diving Deeper: MCT Oil vs Coconut Oil
MCTs can increase energy and physical stamina for exercise, and because it's so easy to digest, MCT oil can boost energy faster than most nutrients. Coconut oil, on the other hand, takes longer for the body to break down and is a better source of slow-burning energy.
In a 2009 study, two weeks of MCT oil supplementation effectively improved the endurance of recreational athletes in high-intensity exercise. MCT oil also increased fat loss and reduced blood lactate levels. In a Japanese study, MCT oil significantly improved swimming endurance in mice after six weeks of supplementation.
For Stress and Anxiety
Coconut oil and MCT oil may help reduce stress and anxiety. Both supply anti-inflammatory nutrients to the brain and can make you more clear-headed and less stressed. Coconut oil is rich in polyphenols and healthy HDL cholesterol, making it an ideal superfood for the nervous system.
Here's what the research has to say about stress, anxiety, and MCTs:
- In mice forced to swim until exhaustion and withstand frigid temperatures, oral coconut oil was found to reduce adrenal weight, increase brain antioxidants, and shorten recovery times in a recent study.
- At the same time, a 2018 rodent study found that "(coconut oil) can ameliorate the effects of stress on anxiety-like behavior and episodic-like memory in young rats."
- A separate study published in the journal Neuropharmacology concluded that a diet high in MCTs can exert anti-anxiety effects.
Both coconut oil and MCT oil can support the digestive system by balancing bacteria in the gut. The body relies heavily on gut bacteria to reinforce the gut lining, fight inflammation, produce serotonin, and support mental health.
MCTs can also help the body absorb fat-soluble nutrients like:
- Vitamine E
According to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, researchers found that medium chain triglycerides can exhibit stronger antimicrobial effects than long chain triglycerides.
When added to human milk, infant formula, and cow's milk, MCTs were significantly more effective than long chain monoglycerides at inactivating pathogens for herpes, influenza, and streptococcus.
For Appetite Suppression
MCTs may suppress appetite by enhancing thermogenesis and increasing ketone production. Ketones, as it turns out, suppress ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and increase cholecystokinin (CCK), which makes you feel full.
In a 2014 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers tested the effectiveness of MCTs to reduce food intake in overweight men. They found that "MCT consumption reduced food intake acutely."
Coconut oil may also be mildly effective at suppressing appetite.
In a 2015 study involving women with excess body fat, researchers determined that virgin coconut oil consumption "did not acutely change energy metabolism and cardiometabolic risk markers when added to a mixed breakfast but promoted less appetitive responses."
For Weight Loss
In addition to suppressing appetite, MCT oil may promote weight loss by boosting cellular metabolism and fat burning. Although it's far from a miracle weight loss solution, studies show that MCT oil may support certain metabolic functions related to weight loss.
Here's what researchers have discovered about MCT oil and weight loss:
- One rodent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that "overfeeding MCT diet results in decreased body fat related to increased metabolic rate and thermogenesis."
- In a human study published in the Journal of Nutrition, adults were given either medium chain fatty acids or long chain fatty acids for a 12-week period. Decreases in body fat and weight were significantly greater in the MCT group.
- A 27-day study compared the effects of MCT vs. LCT consumption on body composition and fat oxidation in obese women. The MCT group lost significantly more weight than the LCT group.
However, according to a 2017 report in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, coconut oil does not exert any obvious effects on weight loss.
MCTs and the Ketogenic Diet
MCT oil and coconut oil work great with the ketogenic diet: a high-fat, low-carb diet where the body uses ketones instead of glucose as its primary fuel source. When you take high-quality MCT oil, the liver converts it into ketones in minutes, and unlike glucose, ketones can immediately cross the blood-brain barrier to support brain function.
A 2018 study found that the ketogenic diet and medium-chain triglycerides can increase brain metabolism in patients with Alzheimer's disease.
Being in ketosis is also an effective way to reduce inflammation, boost fat oxidation, and lower blood sugar. Most nutritionists recommend following the keto diet for short periods of one to three months. This gives the body adequate time to restore gut bacteria and relieve chronic inflammation.
In ConclusionMCT oil is a supplement touted for its health benefits. When shopping, try to find products that source ingredients from sustainable sources or go the extra mile to get certified as organic. And, as with any health decision, it's important to think first about your personal goals, then talk to a qualified healthcare professional or nutritionist to make a place that's right for you.
Jaclyn Jacobsen, MS is a Functional Nutritionist, freelance writer and founder of Lifestyle Nutrition. She has been in private practice for over 4 years and has extensive experience in community nutrition and the supplement industry. She earned a graduate degree in Nutrition, Dietetics and Education from Montclair State University. She has supported countless individuals in the areas of stress management, inflammation, weight management, fitness and hormonal health. Jaclyn has also worked within the eating disorder community, supporting women in resolving disordered eating behaviors, body dysmorphia and healing their relationships with food. She has applied her health and wellness knowledge through writing contributions and features in Greatist.com, Livestrong.com, and GoodHousekeeping.com.
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Perhaps you like to add a few drops honey to your tea or drizzle it over yogurt for a bit of sweetness. But did you know that consuming high-quality products, like the best Manuka honey on the market, can also improve your health?
Manuka honey, produced from the nectar collected by bees from the Manuka tree, holds antibacterial properties, and as far back as 1392 has been used to help heal wounds and assist in improving overall health.
In the late 1900s, a doctor in New Zealand discovered why Manuka honey is an effective healer: Honey contains natural hydrogen peroxide. In some honey, the hydrogen peroxide is destroyed when the honey is subject to heat or light outside the hive. But it stays intact in Manuka honey, making it effective against strains of bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, the MRSA superbug.
Our Picks for the Best Manuka Honey
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. Check out our full review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.
- Best Overall - Manukora Raw Manuka Honey
- Best for Inflammation - Manuka Health Manuka Honey
- Best UMF 15+ Product - Kiva Raw Manuka Honey
- Best Monofloral - Wedderspoon Raw Premium Manuka Honey
How to Choose the Best Manuka Honey
As you can tell, Manuka honey is not like regular honey. Therefore, when you look at a product that claims to contain Manuka honey, it's important to check for such compounds that come from the Manuka plant such as:
- Methylglyoxal (MGO): This is an antibacterial compound found in Manuka honey and is used to heal wounds, soothe sore throats, and prevent tooth decay.
- Dihydroxyacetone (DHA): This compound found in the nectar of Manuka tree flowers converts into MGO during the production of honey, but it may still be listed on Manuka honey supplements.
- Leptosperin: This compound is a naturally occurring chemical found in Manuka tree plants and is important because it is only found in Manuka honey and a few close relatives, so it's presence indicates a Manuka honey product's authenticity.
You can ensure such compounds are in the Manuka honey product you purchase if it is an authentic Manuka honey with Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association (UMF) certification. If you see a UMF stamp on a product, it means it has been produced by one of the 100+ beekeepers, producers, and exporters it licenses to indicate the strength of the hydrogen peroxide compounds.
UMF also uses grading systems to reveal the quantity of Manuka honey compounds in a product. These grading systems include the label claim that it is authentic Manuka honey. The second grade is a number that shows how much of DHA, MGO, and Leptosperin a product contains. A higher score indicates better quality. Try to choose a product with at least a score of 10, but a UMF rating of 15 or more would be even more high quality.
Also, the K Factor 16™ can tell you if a product contains a high amount of bee pollen and if it's from the Manuka plant. It indicates a pollen count of 70% or higher, purity, live enzymes, and a product containing the compound DHA.
Finally, the symbol MGO will tell you if a product contains a potent level of the compound methylglyoxal which indicates if a product has a good level of antibacterial activity. An MGO level of 400 to 550+ indicates a very high antibacterial activity.
The 4 Best Manuka Honey Brands
Best Overall - Manukora Raw Manuka Honey
Manukora Raw Manuka Honey is our top pick. This Manuka honey comes in many different levels of purity, which allows you to calibrate both your potency and find a manuka that works for your budget. We especially like the high level of traceability the brand offers.
- Licensed UMF Assocation member
- MGO certified and UMF certified
- Industry leading traceability
- Raw and unpasteurized
Best for Inflammation: Manuka Health Manuka Honey
We rate this Manuka Health product as one of the best Manuka honeys on the market. This Manuka honey comes in many different levels of potency and may help support healing through its potent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
- 100% pure New Zealand Manuka honey
- MGO 400+
- Independent quality testing in an ISO17025 accredited laboratory
- Traceable from beehive to shelf
- Raw and unpasteurized
- Only 45 calories per tablespoon
Best UMF 15+ Product: Kiva Raw Manuka Honey
Kiva Raw Manuka honey has a high UMF and MGO level, making it full of powerful antioxidants and antibacterial compounds. In turn, this product can help boost your immune system and reduce inflammation.
- UMF 15+ certified
- MGO 514+
- Harvested from New Zealand
- Independently tested, verified, and traceable
- Raw and unpasteurized
Best Monofloral: Wedderspoon Raw Premium Manuka Honey
The distinction "monofloral" is important because it indicates honey that comes from the nectar of one flower, whereas multiflora could specify that it either comes from the nectar of multiple types of flowers or is blended with other honey products. Multiflora therefore may indicate the health-benefiting Manuka compounds are less potent.
Wedderspoon's product is authentic Manuka honey made in New Zealand and is raw and unpasteurized, which preserves its antioxidant properties. The authenticity gives it an earthy, caramelized flavor that is delicious on its own or in your favorite beverage, making it one of the best Manuka honey supplements around.
- Made in New Zealand
- Non-GMO Project Verified
- K Factor 16
- Raw and unpasteurized monofloral Manuka honey
- Traceable from hive to home
- 70 calories per tablespoon
- Free of antibiotics, glyphosate, and pesticides
- SQF level 3 facility to certify safety standards
What You Need to Know to Find the Best Manuka Honey
The Manuka bush is indigenous to New Zealand, so you should look for Manuka honey from New Zealand to help ensure an authentic product. Also, it's important to choose a Manuka honey product that is raw and unpasteurized to preserve the anti-inflammatory properties and other nutrients found in the bee pollen.
Some products also come from Australia. Australian Leptospermum scoparium plants may even be more active than those in New Zealand when it comes to antimicrobial properties.
Either way, high-grade Manuka honey is available from both places if you want to take honey for its medicinal properties or use it as a sweetener.
Benefits of Manuka Honey
Manuka honey is well-known for its ability to help improve wound healing due to its antibacterial properties. Additionally, this honey can also boost the immune system due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
A 2017 study shows that Manuka honey can stop the growth of bacteria and enhance wound healing and tissue repair by boosting immune health. Manuka honey can also help those with sore throats as it can not only coat the throat and soothe it, but can also fight off inflammation and bacteria leading to a sore throat.
Cons of Manuka Honey
There are no dosing restrictions on honey bee products in general, however, any type of honey should not be used by infants or those allergic or sensitive to bee pollen. Pediatricians recommend children under 12 months of age should not be given honey because it may contain spores of bacteria that could cause botulism, which can lead to paralysis. Studies show though that for most people, Manuka honey of UMF 20+ is generally safe to consume. A UMF 10+ may be a good place to start, too.
Just like with any dietary supplement product, you should make sure that the product has undergone independent lab tests for purity and potency. If a product is independently tested, or third-party tested, you can ensure that what is on the label is what is in the product you're purchasing. An SQF certification can also indicate safety testing has been done on the product.
If you have questions about UMF certifications or the extraction process—how the Manuka flowers are processed—the brand should make this information available. You can also find kosher superfoods with light brand research.
FAQ: Best Manuka Honey
Why should you take Manuka honey?
You would use Manuka honey if you feel you are getting sick often or having trouble with wounds healing properly. You should never replace any prescribed medicines with Manuka honey, but you can use it as a supplement to your current treatments for health issues. Always be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before starting any new dietary supplement regimen.
Is it worth your money?
If Manuka honey helps reduce your sick days from work or improves your quality of life, then it's worth the money. Also, if Manuka honey helps you have a stronger immune system or better healing wounds, then the money you spend on it will be well worth feeling better inside and out.
Who should use Manuka honey?Manuka honey is best for anyone who wants an extra boost in their immune health. There are many quality Manuka honey brands out there, but if you use the tips above, you can choose a high-quality product that can help you reap Manuka health benefits.
Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD is a registered dietitian, freelance writer, health editor, and founder of LighttrackNutrition.com. She has been a registered dietitian with the Commission on Dietetic Registration since 2010 and has over a decade of experience in the nutrition and dietetics industry. Since 2011 Staci has written and edited for sites including CDiabetes, Anirva, Casa de Sante, Shape.com, ThisisInsider.com, and Eat This Not That.
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Coconut oil is widely marketed as a "superfood."
The unique combination of fatty acids in coconut oil could have positive effects on your health, which may include encouraging fat loss, improving heart health, and boosting brain function.
This article discusses the evidence behind 10 possible health benefits of coconut oil.
1. Coconut Oil Contains Healthy Fatty Acids
Coconut oil is high in certain saturated fats. These fats have different effects in the body compared with most other dietary fats.
The fatty acids in coconut oil can encourage the body to burn fat, and they provide quick energy to the body and brain. They also raise HDL (good) cholesterol in the blood, which may help to reduce heart disease risk.
Most dietary fats are categorized as long-chain triglycerides (LCTs), while coconut oil contains some medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are shorter fatty acid chains.
When you eat MCTs, they tend to go straight to the liver. The body uses them as a quick source of energy or turns them into ketones.
Ketones can have powerful benefits for the brain, and researchers are studying ketones as a treatment for epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease, and other conditions.
Coconut oil is high in fats called medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs, which the body metabolizes differently than most other fats. MCTs are responsible for many of the health benefits of coconut oil.
2. Eating Coconut May Benefit Heart Health
Coconut is an uncommon food in the Western world, with health-conscious people being the main consumers.
However, in some parts of the world, coconut — which is loaded with coconut oil — is a dietary staple that people have thrived on for generations.
A good example is the Tokelauans, a population who live in the South Pacific. According to a 1981 study, this population was getting over 60% of their calories from coconuts.
Researchers reported that this population had good health with very low rates of heart disease.
Another example of a population who ate a lot of coconut — along with tubers, fruit, and fish —and had little stroke or heart disease is the Kitavan population in Papua, New Guinea.
Several populations around the world have thrived for generations eating a substantial amount of coconut, and studies show they have good heart health.
3. MCTs Can Encourage Fat Burning
Obesity is one of the biggest health conditions affecting the Western world today.
While some people think obesity is just a matter of how many calories someone eats, the source of those calories is important, too. Different foods affect the body and hormones in different ways.
The MCTs in coconut oil can increase the number of calories the body burns compared to longer-chain fatty acids.
One study found that consuming 15–30 grams of MCTs per day increased 24-hour energy expenditure by 5%.
However, these studies didn't specifically look at the effects of coconut oil. They examined the health effects of MCTs — excluding lauric acid — which make up only about 14% of coconut oil.
There's currently no good evidence to say that eating coconut oil itself will increase the amount of energy a person uses up.
People should keep in mind that coconut oil is very high in calories and can easily lead to weight gain when they consume it in large amounts.
Research says that MCTs can increase the number of calories burned over 24 hours by as much as 5%. However, research has not shown that coconut oil itself has the same effect.
4. Coconut Oil Has Antimicrobial Effects
Twelve-carbon lauric acid makes up about 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil.
When the body digests lauric acid, it forms a substance called monolaurin. Both lauric acid and monolaurin can kill harmful pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
For example, test tube studies show that these substances can help to kill the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, which causes staph infections, and the yeast Candida albicans, a common source of yeast infections in humans.
There's also some evidence that using coconut oil as a mouthwash, a process called oil pulling, could benefit oral hygiene, though researchers consider the evidence weak.
There's no evidence that coconut oil reduces the risk for the common cold or other internal infections.
Using coconut oil as a mouthwash could help to prevent infections in the mouth, but researchers need more evidence before they can make strong claims.
5. MCTs Can Reduce Hunger
One interesting feature of MCTs is that they can reduce hunger.
This may be related to the way the body metabolizes fats, because ketones can reduce a person's appetite.
In one study, researchers fed varying amounts of MCTs and LCTs to 6 healthy men. The men who ate the most MCTs ate fewer calories per day.
Another study in 14 healthy men reported that those who ate the most MCTs at breakfast ate fewer calories at lunch.
These studies were small and had a very short timescale. If this effect were to persist over the long term, it could lead to reduced body weight over several years.
Although coconut oil is one of the richest natural sources of MCTs, there's no evidence that coconut oil intake reduces appetite more than other types of oils.
In fact, one study has reported that coconut oil is less satiating than MCT oil.
MCTs can significantly reduce appetite, which may lead to reduced body weight over the long term.
6. MCTs May Reduce Seizures
Researchers are currently studying the ketogenic diet (very low in carbs, very high in fats) to treat various disorders.
The best known therapeutic use of this diet is treating drug-resistant epilepsy in children.
The diet dramatically reduces the rate of seizures in children with epilepsy, even those who haven't had success with multiple different types of drugs. Researchers aren't sure why.
Reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing fat intake leads to greatly increased concentrations of ketones in the blood.
Because the MCTs in coconut oil get transported to the liver and turned into ketones, healthcare professionals may use a modified keto diet that includes MCTs and a more generous carbohydrate allowance to induce ketosis and help treat epilepsy.
The MCTs in coconut oil can increase blood concentration of ketone bodies, which can help reduce seizures in children with epilepsy.
7. Coconut Oil Can Raise HDL Cholesterol
Coconut oil contains natural saturated fats that increase HDL (good) cholesterol in the body. They may also help turn LDL (bad) cholesterol into a less harmful form.
By increasing HDL, many experts believe that coconut oil could be good for heart health compared to many other fats.
In one study in 40 women, coconut oil reduced total and LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing HDL compared to soybean oil.
Another study involving 116 adults showed that following a diet program that included coconut oil raised levels of HDL (good) cholesterol in people with coronary artery disease.
A few studies have shown that coconut oil can raise blood levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, which is linked to improved metabolic health and a lower risk of heart disease.
8. Coconut Oil Can Protect the Skin, Hair, and Teeth
Coconut oil has many uses that have nothing to do with eating it.
Many people are using it for cosmetic purposes to improve the health and appearance of their skin and hair.
Studies show that coconut oil can improve the moisture content of dry skin, and it can also reduce the symptoms of eczema.
Coconut oil can also protect against hair damage. One study shows that it may work as a weak sunscreen, blocking about 20% of the sun's ultraviolet rays.
Oil pulling, which involves swishing coconut oil around the mouth like mouthwash, can kill some of the harmful bacteria in the mouth. This may improve dental health and reduce bad breath, though more research is needed.
People can apply coconut oil to their skin, hair, and teeth. Studies suggest it works as a skin moisturizer, protects against skin damage, and improves oral health.
9. MCTs Can Boost Brain Function in Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia. It usually affects older adults.
In people with Alzheimer's disease, the brain's ability to use glucose for energy is reduced.
Researchers have suggested that ketones can provide an alternative energy source for these malfunctioning brain cells to reduce symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
The authors of a 2006 study reported that consuming MCTs improved brain function in people with milder forms of Alzheimer's disease.
However, research is still early, and there's no evidence to suggest that coconut oil itself helps with Alzheimer's disease.
Early studies suggest that MCTs can increase blood levels of ketones, supplying energy for the brain cells of people with Alzheimer's disease and relieving symptoms.
10. Coconut Oil May Help Reduce Harmful Abdominal Fat
Given that some of the fatty acids in coconut oil can reduce appetite and increase fat burning, evidence suggests that it can also help you to lose weight.
Abdominal fat, or visceral fat, lodges in the abdominal cavity and around organs. MCTs appear to be especially effective at reducing belly fat compared to LCTs.
Abdominal fat is the most harmful type and has links with many chronic diseases.
Waist circumference is an easy, accurate marker for the amount of fat in the abdominal cavity.
In a study of 40 women with abdominal obesity, those who took 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of coconut oil per day had a significant reduction in both BMI and waist circumference over 12 weeks.
Another study in 20 males with obesity noted a reduction in waist circumference of 1.1 inches (2.86 cm) after 4 weeks of taking 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of coconut oil per day.
Coconut oil is still high in calories so people should use it sparingly. Replacing some of your other cooking fats with coconut oil could have a small weight loss benefit, but the evidence is inconsistent overall.
The Bottom Line
If you want to buy coconut oil, there's an excellent selection online with thousands of customer reviews. It's also available in most health food stores.
In order to get the potential health benefits outlined in the article, make sure to choose organic, virgin coconut oil rather than refined versions.
Reposted with permission from Healthline. For detailed source information, please view the original article on Healthline.
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Surprisingly, people consider some of these foods healthy.
Here are 15 "health foods" that are really junk foods in disguise.
1. Processed ‘Low-Fat’ and ‘Fat-Free’ Foods
The "war" on saturated fat could be considered one of the most misguided decisions in the history of nutrition.
It was based on weak evidence, which has now been completely debunked.
When this discussion started, processed food manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon and started removing the fat from foods.
But there's a huge problem. Food doesn't taste well when the fat has been removed. That's why they added a lot of sugar to compensate.
Saturated fat is harmless, but added sugar is incredibly harmful when consumed in excess.
The words "low fat" or "fat free" on packaging usually means that it's a highly processed product that's loaded with sugar.
2. Most Commercial Salad Dressings
Vegetables are incredibly healthy.
The problem is that they often don't taste very good on their own.
That's why many people use dressings to add flavor to their salads, turning these bland meals into delicious treats.
But many salad dressings are actually loaded with unhealthy ingredients like sugar, vegetable oils, and trans fats, along with various artificial chemicals.
Although vegetables are good for you, eating them with a dressing high in harmful ingredients negates any health benefit you get from the salad.
Check the ingredients list before you use a salad dressing or make your own using healthy ingredients.
3. Fruit Juices … Which Are Basically Just Liquid Sugar
A lot of people believe fruit juices are healthy.
They must be because they come from fruit, right?
But most fruit juice you find in the grocery store isn't really fruit juice.
Sometimes they don't have any actual fruit in them, just chemicals that taste like fruit. What you're drinking is basically fruit-flavored sugar water.
That being said, even if you're drinking 100% quality fruit juice, it's still not the best choice.
Fruit juice actually contains a similar amount of sugar as a sugar-sweetened beverage.
4. ‘Heart-Healthy’ Whole Wheat
Most "whole wheat" products aren't really made from whole wheat.
The grains have been pulverized into very fine flour, which causes them to raise blood sugar just as fast as their refined counterparts.
In fact, whole wheat bread can have a similar glycemic index as white bread.
But even true whole wheat may be a bad idea because modern wheat is unhealthy compared to the wheat our grandparents ate.
Around 1960, scientists modified the genes in wheat to increase the yield. Modern wheat is less nutritious and has some properties that make it much worse for people who have a gluten intolerance.
There are also studies showing that modern wheat may cause inflammation and increased cholesterol levels, at least when compared to the older varieties.
Wheat may have been a relatively healthy grain back in the day, but the stuff most people are eating today should be consumed with caution.
5. Cholesterol-Lowering Phytosterols
Phytosterols are nutrients that are basically like plant versions of cholesterol.
Some studies have shown that they can lower blood cholesterol in humans.
For this reason, they're often added to processed foods that are then marketed as "cholesterol lowering" and claimed to help prevent heart disease.
However, studies have shown that despite lowering cholesterol levels, phytosterols have negative effects on the cardiovascular system and may even increase the risk of heart disease and death.
People with phytosterolaemia (a genetic condition that raises plant sterol level in blood) are more susceptible to the negative effects of phytosterols.
Butter was labeled a bad food choice in the past because of its high saturated fat content.
Various health experts started promoting margarine instead.
Back in the day, margarine used to be high in trans fats. These days, it has fewer trans fats than before, but it's still loaded with refined vegetable oils.
Not surprisingly, the Framingham Heart Study showed that people who replace butter with margarine are actually more likely to die from heart disease.
If you want to improve your health, try to eat real butter (preferably grass fed), and avoid margarine with trans fat. Trans-fat-free margarine has become more available in recent years.
Always read nutrition facts carefully and limit products that contain trans fat.
Recommending trans fat-laden margarine instead of natural butter may be considered some of the worst nutrition advice in history.
7. Sports Drinks
Sports drinks were designed with athletes in mind.
They contain electrolytes (salts) and sugar, which can be useful for athletes in many cases.
However, most people don't need additional salt or liquid sugar in their diet.
Although often considered "less bad" than sugary soft drinks, there's really no fundamental difference in the two, except the sugar content in sports drinks is sometimes slightly lower.
It's important to stay hydrated, especially when working out, but most people will be better off sticking to plain water.
8. Low-Carb Junk Foods
Low carb diets have been incredibly popular for many decades.
In the past 12 years, studies have confirmed that these diets are an effective way to lose weight and improve health.
However, food manufacturers have caught up on the trend and brought various low carb "friendly" processed foods to the market.
This includes highly processed foods like the Atkins bars. If you take a look at the ingredients list, you see that there's no real food in them, just chemicals and highly refined ingredients.
These products can be consumed occasionally without compromising the metabolic adaptation that comes with low carb eating.
However, they don't really nourish your body. Even though they're technically low carb, they're still unhealthy.
9. Agave Nectar
Given the known harmful effects of sugar, people have been looking for alternatives.
One of the more popular "natural" sweeteners is agave nectar, which is also called agave syrup.
You'll find this sweetener in all sorts of "healthy foods," often with attractive claims on the packaging.
The problem with agave is that it's no better than regular sugar. In fact, it's much worse.
One of the main problems with sugar is that it has excessive amounts of fructose, which can cause severe metabolic problems when consumed in excess.
Sugar is about 50% fructose and 55% high fructose corn syrup, but agave contains even more — up to 70-90%.
Therefore, gram for gram, agave is even worse than regular sugar.
"Natural" doesn't always equal healthy. Whether agave should even be considered natural is debatable.
10. Vegan Junk Foods
Vegan diets are very popular these days, often due to ethical and environmental reasons.
However, many people promote vegan diets for the purpose of improving health.
There are many processed vegan foods on the market, often sold as convenient replacements for non-vegan foods.
Vegan bacon is one example.
But it's important to keep in mind that these are usually highly processed, factory made products that are bad for almost anyone, including people who are vegan.
11. Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup, also known as rice malt syrup, is a sweetener that's mistakenly assumed to be healthy.
It's made by exposing cooked rice to enzymes that break down the starch into simple sugars.
Brown rice syrup contains no refined fructose, just glucose.
Rice syrup is also highly refined and contains almost no essential nutrients. In other words, it's considered "empty" calories.
Some concerns have been raised about arsenic contamination in this syrup, which is another reason to be extra careful with this sweetener.
There are other sweeteners out there, including low calorie sweeteners like:
In general, try to use all sweeteners wisely and follow recommended serving sizes.
12. Processed Organic Foods
Unfortunately, the word "organic" has become a typical marketing buzzword in many instances.
Food manufacturers have found all sorts of ways to make the same products, except with ingredients that happen to be organic.
This includes ingredients like organic raw cane sugar, which is basically 100% identical to regular sugar. It's still just glucose and fructose with little to no nutrients.
In many cases, the difference between an ingredient and its organic counterpart is next to none.
Processed foods that happen to be labeled organic aren't necessarily healthy. Always check the label to see what's inside.
13. Vegetable Oils
However, it's important to keep in mind that blood cholesterol is a risk factor. It's not a disease in itself.
Even though vegetable oils can help improve a risk factor, there's no guarantee that they'll help prevent actual health outcomes like heart attacks or death, which is what really counts.
In fact, several controlled trials have shown that despite lowering cholesterol, these oils can increase the risk of developing heart disease and memory impairment.
Also, follow the recommended serving size, but limit processed vegetable oils as if your health depended on it, which it does.
14. Gluten-Free Junk Foods
According to a 2013 survey, about a third of people in the United States are actively trying to limit or avoid gluten.
Many experts believe this is unnecessary, but the truth is, gluten, especially from modern wheat, can be problematic for a lot of people.
Not surprisingly, the food manufacturers have brought all sorts of gluten-free foods to the market.
The problem with these foods is that they usually have the same negative effects on your body as their gluten-containing counterparts, if not worse.
These are highly processed foods containing few nutrients and often made with refined starches that can lead to very rapid spikes in blood sugar.
Try to choose foods that are naturally gluten free, like plants and animals, not gluten-free processed foods.
Gluten-free junk food is still junk food.
15. Most Processed Breakfast Cereals
The way some breakfast cereals are marketed can be deceiving.
Many of them, including those that are marketed toward children, have various health claims listed on the box.
This includes claims like "whole grain" or "low fat" that may be misleading.
This is especially true when you look at the ingredients list and see that these products mostly contain:
- refined grains
- artificial chemicals
It's important to always review product packaging to confirm what you're actually putting in your body and whether it's healthy for you.
Truly healthy foods are whole, single-ingredient foods. Their health benefits speak for them.
Real food doesn't even need an ingredients list, because real food is the ingredient.
By Kris Gunnars
Dietary fats are highly controversial, with debates about animal fats, seed oils, and everything in between in full force.
That said, most people agree that extra virgin olive oil is incredibly healthy.
Part of the Mediterranean diet, this traditional oil has been a dietary staple for some of the world's healthiest populations.
Studies show that the fatty acids and antioxidants in olive oil can offer some powerful health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease.
This article reviews why extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest fats.
What Is Olive Oil and How Is It Made?
Olive oil is oil that has been extracted from olives, the fruits of the olive tree.
The production process is incredibly simple. Olives can be pressed to extract their oil, but modern methods involve crushing the olives, mixing them together, and then separating the oil from the pulp in a centrifuge.
After centrifugation, small amounts of oil remain in the pomace. The leftover oil can be extracted using chemical solvents and is known as olive pomace oil.
Olive pomace oil is generally cheaper than regular olive oil and has a bad reputation.
Buying the right type of olive oil is crucial. There are three main grades of olive oil — refined, virgin, and extra virgin. Extra virgin olive oil is the least processed or refined type.
Extra virgin olive oil is considered to be the healthiest type of olive oil. It's extracted using natural methods and standardized for purity and certain sensory qualities like taste and smell.
Olive oil that is truly extra virgin has a distinct taste and is high in phenolic antioxidants, which is the main reason why it's so beneficial.
Legally, vegetable oils that are labeled as olive oil cannot be diluted with other types of oils. Nevertheless, it's essential to inspect the label carefully and buy from a reputable seller.
Nutrient Composition of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is fairly nutritious.
It contains modest amounts of vitamins E and K and plenty of beneficial fatty acids.
One tablespoon (13.5 grams) of olive oil contains the following:
- Saturated fat: 14%
- Monounsaturated fat: 73% (mostly oleic acid)
- Vitamin E: 13% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin K: 7% of the DV
Notably, extra virgin olive oil shines in its antioxidant content.
Antioxidants are biologically active, and some of them can help fight serious diseases.
The oil's main antioxidants include the anti-inflammatory oleocanthal, as well as oleuropein, a substance that protects LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidation.
Some people have criticized olive oil for having a high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio (over 10:1). However, its total amount of polyunsaturated fats is still relatively low, so this shouldn't be a cause for concern.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil Contains Anti-Inflammatory Substances
Some speculate that olive oil's ability to fight inflammation is behind its many health benefits.
Oleic acid, the most prominent fatty acid in olive oil, has been found to reduce inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein.
However, the oil's main anti-inflammatory effects seem to be due to its antioxidants, primarily oleocanthal, which has been shown to work like ibuprofen, a popular anti-inflammatory drug.
Researchers estimate that the amount of oleocanthal in 50 ml (about 3.4 tablespoons) of extra virgin olive oil exerts effects similar to those of 10 percent of the adult ibuprofen dosage for pain relief.
Also, one study showed that substances in olive oil can reduce the expression of genes and proteins that mediate inflammation.
Keep in mind that chronic, low-level inflammation is usually fairly mild, and it takes years or decades for it to do damage.
Using extra virgin olive oil may help prevent this from happening, leading to a reduced risk of various inflammatory diseases, especially heart disease.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke, are among the most common causes of death in the world.
Many observational studies show that death from these diseases is low in certain areas of the world, especially in countries around the Mediterranean Sea.
This observation originally spurred interest in the Mediterranean diet, which is supposed to mimic the way the people in those countries eat.
Studies on the Mediterranean diet show that it can help prevent heart disease. In one major study, it reduced heart attacks, strokes, and death by 30 percent.
Extra virgin olive oil protects against heart disease via numerous mechanisms:
- Reducing inflammation. Olive oil protects against inflammation, a key driver of heart disease.
- Reduces oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol. The oil protects LDL particles from oxidative damage, a key factor in the development of heart disease.
- Improves blood vessel health. Olive oil improves the function of the endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels.
- Helps manage blood clotting. Some studies suggest that olive oil can help prevent unwanted blood clotting, a key feature of heart attacks and strokes.
- Lowers blood pressure. One study in patients with elevated blood pressure found that olive oil reduced blood pressure significantly and lowered the need for blood pressure medication by 48 percent.
Given the biological effects of olive oil, it's not surprising that people who consume the greatest amounts of it are significantly less likely to die from heart attacks and strokes.
Dozens — if not hundreds — of animal and human studies have shown that olive oil has major benefits for the heart.
In fact, the evidence is strong enough to recommend that people who have or are at a high risk of developing heart disease include plenty of extra virgin olive oil in their diets.
Other Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Although olive oil has mostly been studied for its effects on heart health, its consumption has also been associated with a number of other health benefits.
Olive Oil and Cancer
Cancer is a common cause of death and characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells.
Studies have shown that people living in the Mediterranean countries have a fairly low risk of cancer, and some have speculated that olive oil has something to do with this.
One potential contributor to cancer is oxidative damage due to harmful molecules called free radicals. However, extra virgin olive oil is high in antioxidants that reduce oxidative damage.
The oleic acid in olive oil is also highly resistant to oxidation and has been shown to have beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer.
Many test-tube studies have observed that compounds in olive oil can help fight cancer at the molecular level.
That said, controlled trials in humans have yet to study whether olive oil helps prevent cancer.
Olive Oil and Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer's disease is the world's most common neurodegenerative disease and a leading cause of dementia.
One feature of Alzheimer's is a buildup of protein tangles called beta-amyloid plaques in certain neurons in the brain.
A study in mice observed that a substance in olive oil can help clear these plaques.
Additionally, a controlled study in humans showed that a Mediterranean diet enriched with olive oil improved brain function and reduced the risk of cognitive impairment.
Can You Cook With It?
During cooking, fatty acids can oxidize, meaning they react with oxygen and become damaged.
The double bonds in fatty acid molecules are mostly responsible for this.
For this reason, saturated fats, which have no double bonds, are resistant to high heat. Meanwhile, polyunsaturated fats, which have many double bonds, are sensitive and become damaged.
Olive oil contains mostly monounsaturated fatty acids, which have only one double bond, and is fairly resistant to high heat.
In one study, researchers heated extra virgin olive oil to 356°F (180°C) for 36 hours. The oil was highly resistant to damage.
Another study used olive oil for deep-frying, and it took 24–27 hours for it to reach damage levels that were deemed harmful.
Overall, olive oil seems to be very safe — even for cooking at fairly high heat.
The Bottom Line
Olive oil is super healthy.
For those who have heart disease or are at a high risk of developing it, olive oil is most definitely a superfood.
The benefits of this wonderful fat are among the few things that most people in nutrition agree upon.
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They're prepared from puréed acai berries — which are fruits grown in Central and South America — and served as a smoothie in a bowl or glass, topped with fruit, nuts, seeds, or granola.
Known for their vibrant color, creamy texture, and versatility, acai bowls are touted as an antioxidant-rich superfood. On the other hand, the dish can be high in calories and added sugar, and some claim it might do more harm than good when it comes to your health.
This article takes a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of acai bowls to determine if they're healthy.
The nutrition profile of your acai bowl varies depending on the ingredients used.
That said, most bowls are high in fiber, antioxidants, and micronutrients like vitamin C, manganese, and potassium.
For reference, a 6-ounce (170-gram) acai bowl may contain the following nutrients:
- Calories: 211
- Fat: 6 grams
- Protein: 3 grams
- Carbs: 35 grams
- Sugar: 19 grams
- Fiber: 7 grams
However, commercial varieties often come in much larger portions and can contain up to 600 calories and 75 grams of sugar in a single serving, depending on which toppings you select.
In addition to acai berries, acai bowls often contain other fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and bananas.
These fruits are a great source of vitamin C and manganese, both of which act as antioxidants that protect your cells against oxidative damage caused by harmful compounds known as free radicals.
They're also high in potassium, an important nutrient that regulates blood pressure levels and protects against conditions like age-related bone loss and kidney stones.
Though the nutrient profile varies depending on the ingredients used, most acai bowls are high in fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, manganese, and potassium.
Rich in Antioxidants
Acai berries are high in antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals to prevent damage to your cells.
Test-tube studies show that acai berries are especially high in plant compounds known as anthocyanins, including specific types like cyanidin 3-glucoside and cyanidin 3-rutinoside.
In one study, consuming acai pulp and applesauce increased levels of antioxidants in the blood in 12 healthy adults within 24 hours.
Human and animal studies suggest that acai berries could be linked to lower cholesterol levels, better brain function, and decreased colon cancer cell growth due to this antioxidant content.
Acai berries are high in antioxidants and have been associated with several health benefits in human and animal studies.
High in Sugar and Calories
Acai bowls usually contain added toppings like fruits, nuts, seeds, and granola.
While these ingredients are nutritious on their own, it's easy to go overboard with your toppings and turn a healthy snack into a high calorie indulgence.
Furthermore, acai bowls purchased from stores and restaurants are often sold in large portion sizes, sometimes containing two to three servings in a single bowl.
Eating more calories than you expend each day can contribute to weight gain over time.
What's more, commercially prepared acai bowls are high in sugar. In addition to contributing to weight gain, consuming too much added sugar can promote the development of liver problems, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting your daily added sugar intake to no more than 12 teaspoons for those following a 2,000-calorie diet, which is equal to about 48 grams of sugar.
Just one 6-ounce (170-gram) acai bowl packs in around 11 grams of added sugar, or about 23% of the total daily limit.
Acai bowls — especially those that are commercially prepared — are high in calories and sugar, which could contribute to weight gain and health issues like liver problems, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
How to Make Acai Bowls
One of the best ways to take advantage of the many potential health benefits of acai bowls is to make your own.
Start by blending unsweetened, frozen acai purée or acai powder with a bit of water or milk to make a base for your acai bowl.
Next, add your choices of toppings, such as sliced fruit, cacao nibs, or coconut flakes. Plus, consider adding your favorite nuts, seeds, or nut butter to boost the protein content of your bowl, keeping you feeling fuller for longer.
That said, be sure to keep your toppings in moderation and limit high calorie choices if you're looking to lose weight.
You can also try blending some greens like kale or spinach into the base of your acai bowl to bump up its nutritional value even more.
Finally, remember to monitor your portion sizes to keep your intake of sugar, carbs, and calories under control.
Making your own acai bowl at home can maximize potential health benefits. Be sure to keep your toppings in moderation and monitor your portion sizes.
The Bottom Line
Acai bowls are made from acai berries and often additional fruits, then topped with ingredients like fruit, nuts, seeds, and granola.
Though they're nutrient dense and rich in antioxidants, commercial varieties are often sold in large portion sizes and may be high in added sugar and calories.
Making your own acai bowl at home can help you moderate your portion sizes and is a great way to take control of what you're putting on your plate.
If you want to prep your own acai bowl, you can find acai powder in specialty stores and online.
Although these items may be convenient and tasty, they can harm your health if consumed regularly.
Fortunately, healthier substitutes for many of these items are easy to buy or make at home.
Here are 8 healthy swaps for everyday food and drinks.
1. Coffee Creamer
Creamer gives coffee a smooth, sweet taste and comes in a variety of scrumptious flavors, such as pumpkin spice and peppermint mocha.
Yet, it's typically packed with added sugar, often in the form of high-fructose corn syrup — a sweetener linked to several negative health effects like an increased risk of weight gain.
Plus, many coffee creamers contain artificial colors, preservatives, and thickeners like carrageenan.
Substitutes are surprisingly easy to make.
For a dairy-free, limited-ingredient creamer alternative that's low in added sugar, use this simple but delicious recipe:
- One 13.5-ounce (400-ml) can of whole or reduced fat coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of maple syrup (or more to taste)
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of vanilla extract
Simply place the ingredients in a bottle or glass mason jar and shake well. Keep it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze in ice cube trays for long-term storage.
If you want to experiment with other flavors, try adding a dash of cinnamon or coconut extract. For a seasonal twist, add a spoonful of pumpkin purée and a pinch of pumpkin pie spice.
Shake your creamer well before using it.
The negative health effects of soda and other sugary beverages have been confirmed through years of scientific research.
For example, soda is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, obesity, fatty liver, and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of symptoms that include high blood pressure and elevated blood sugar.
Although many people think that switching to diet soda is the best option, it may also increase your risk of conditions like metabolic syndrome and stroke.
If you drink soda regularly, consider trying these other fizzy drinks instead:
- Infused sparkling water. Toss slices of your favorite fruits into a bottle of sparkling water for a flavorful, healthy soda substitute.
- Sparkling green tea. If you're craving a caffeine fix, sparkling green tea brands like SOUND or Minna contain far less sugar than soda. You can also make your own using this recipe.
- Kombucha. For a kick of subtle sweetness with the added health benefits of probiotics, grab a low sugar kombucha. Brew Dr.'s Clear Mind and Ginger Turmeric flavors contain only 10 grams of sugar per 14-ounce (415-ml) serving.
Keep in mind that plain water is your best bet for staying hydrated throughout the day.
3. Sugary Cereal
A bowl of cereal is a staple breakfast for many people. While some options are better than others, most cereals tend to be high in sugar and low in filling macronutrients like protein and fiber.
What's more, sugary cereals marketed to children are often packed with high-fructose corn syrup and artificial food dyes like Red 40 — which may be associated with behavioral issues in sensitive children.
For a healthier alternative, choose one of the following high protein, high fiber breakfasts:
- Oatmeal. Oatmeal is a natural cereal alternative that's high in fiber and protein. Try to use plain, rolled, or steel-cut oats and nutritious toppings like berries, nuts, unsweetened coconut, and nut butter.
- Chia pudding. For a slightly sweet but fiber-packed meal that's kid-friendly, try this delicious, high protein chia pudding recipe.
- Yogurt parfait. Layer whole or 2% plain Greek yogurt with fresh berries, unsweetened coconut, and crushed almonds for a filling breakfast option.
4. Granola Bars
Granola bars are a go-to snack choice for many people. Yet, most popular granola bars are filled with added sugars and other sweet ingredients, such as chocolate chips or candy coatings.
All the same, several brands manufacture healthy choices. Thunderbird, RX, Purely Elizabeth, and Autumn's Gold granola bars are a few examples that use whole foods and pack plenty of protein and fiber.
Additionally, you can try out a homemade granola bar recipe, such as this one. It's low in added sugar and uses healthy ingredients like nuts, oats, seeds, coconut, and dried fruit.
5. Energy Drinks
People seeking a quick boost to power them through their day often turn to energy drinks.
While these drinks can increase concentration and focus, most harbor massive amounts of added sugar and stimulants. If consumed in excess, these beverages may cause several health issues, such as rapid heartbeat and kidney damage.
Many unsweetened, caffeinated beverages make excellent stand-ins for energy drinks, perking you up without unwanted side effects.
These include green tea, black tea, oolong tea, yerba mate, and coffee.
In fact, they may offer other benefits as well. For example, green tea is packed with antioxidants that may boost heart health and help lower blood sugar levels.
To stay alert and focused, you can also make other lifestyle changes, such as getting more sleep, eating a healthy diet, and reducing stress. This way, you won't have to rely on stimulants.
With their salty taste and crunchy texture, chips are a highly satisfying snack.
However, fresh, sliced vegetables like cucumber, carrots, celery, radishes, and daikon also provide a satisfying crunch. What's more, they're loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Pair your veggies with a nutrient-dense dip like guacamole, hummus, or black bean dip for a filling, flavorful snack.
Here are a few more healthy chip substitutes:
- Kale chips. Low in calories but packed with nutrients, kale chips come in various flavors. You can also make your own cheesy kale chips by following this recipe.
- Beet chips. Beets are brightly colored vegetables that offer several benefits, such as reducing inflammation and boosting heart health. They're delicious when made into nutrient-dense, crunchy chips.
- Roasted chickpeas. Chickpeas are loaded with fiber and magnesium — a mineral that's important for blood sugar control and nerve function. Follow this recipe to make crispy chickpeas for a perfect chip alternative.
You can also make plantains, zucchinis, parsnips, eggplant, carrots, and radishes into nutritious chips in the oven.
Additionally, by roasting thin slices of potato or sweet potato, you can craft a healthier alternative to store-bought potato chips, which are often high in calories, oils, and salt.
7. White Bread
Lots of people prefer the soft, pillowy texture of white bread over heartier breads like whole wheat or rye. Yet, like all refined grain products, white bread offers little nutritional value, as it's low in fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
As such, swapping it with more nutritious options can improve your health.
If you're looking for a healthier bread, choose a whole grain, sprouted type, such as Ezekiel bread. It's high in protein and fiber, and the sprouting process may increase the availability of certain nutrients and reduce the bread's effect on your blood sugar levels.
Plus, you can choose from many delicious, grain-free alternatives, including:
- Sweet potato toast. Thin, toasted slices of sweet potato make an excellent substitute for white bread. Sweet potato toast is not only highly nutritious but also versatile, as it can be topped with almost any ingredient.
- Swiss chard or lettuce wraps. Wrapping sandwich ingredients in a leaf of Swiss chard or romaine lettuce can significantly reduce your calorie intake. Plus, these leafy greens are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Portobello mushroom caps. Portobello mushrooms are packed with nutrients like B vitamins, fiber, and selenium. Furthermore, they're low in calories.
Butternut squash toast, cauliflower bread, flax bread, and 100% rye bread are other healthy options that you can use in place of white bread.
Enjoying an occasional sweet treat is perfectly healthy. Nonetheless, eating sugary foods like candy too often can increase your risk of conditions like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Still, it's easy to buy or make numerous naturally sweet candy alternatives. These include:
- Dried fruit. Dried fruits are a concentrated source of sweetness that deliver more nutritional value than candy. Try swapping candy with small amounts of unsweetened dried strawberries, mango, or apples.
- Energy balls. Homemade energy balls pack a wealth of nutrients. Try this recipe, which balances sweet ingredients with protein-rich ones.
- Dark-chocolate-covered fruit. Dunking naturally sweet foods like banana slices or strawberries into antioxidant-rich dark chocolate is another healthy way to satisfy your candy cravings.
Smoothies, yogurt parfaits, and fresh fruit with nut butter are some other healthy options if you're looking to cut back on candy.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, making healthy swaps for everyday foods and beverages can be simple and delicious.
Plus, reducing your intake of calorie rich, nutrient poor items by choosing more whole foods can significantly improve your overall health.
Try out some of the tasty alternatives listed above when you're craving a snack or prepping your next meal.
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Inflammation can be both good and bad.
On one hand, it helps your body defend itself from infection and injury. On the other hand, chronic inflammation can lead to weight gain and disease.
Stress, inflammatory foods, and low activity levels can make this risk even greater.
However, studies demonstrate that some foods can fight inflammation.
Here are 13 anti-inflammatory foods.
Berries are small fruits that are packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Although dozens of varieties exist, some of the most common include:
Berries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins. These compounds have anti-inflammatory effects that may reduce your risk of disease.
Your body produces natural killer cells (NK cells), which help keep your immune system functioning properly.
In one study, men who consumed blueberries every day produced significantly more NK cells than men who did not.
In another study, adults with excess weight who ate strawberries had lower levels of certain inflammatory markers associated with heart disease.
Berries provide antioxidants known as anthocyanins. These compounds may reduce inflammation, boost immunity, and reduce your risk of heart disease.
2. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish are a great source of protein and the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.
Although all types of fish contain some omega-3 fatty acids, these fatty fish are among the best sources:
EPA and DHA reduce inflammation that can lead to metabolic syndrome, heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease.
Your body metabolizes these fatty acids into compounds called resolvins and protectins, which have anti-inflammatory effects.
In clinical studies, people consuming salmon or EPA and DHA supplements experienced reductions in the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP).
However, in another study, people with an irregular heartbeat who took EPA and DHA daily experienced no difference in inflammatory markers, compared with those who received a placebo.
Fatty fish boast high amounts of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which have anti-inflammatory effects.
Broccoli is extremely nutritious.
It's a cruciferous vegetable, along with cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale.
Research has shown that eating a lot of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and cancer.
This may be related to the anti-inflammatory effects of the antioxidants they contain.
Broccoli is rich in sulforaphane, an antioxidant that fights inflammation by reducing your levels of cytokines and NF-kB, which drive inflammation.
Broccoli is one of the best sources of sulforaphane, an antioxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
Avocados may be one of the few supposed superfoods worthy of the title.
They're packed with potassium, magnesium, fiber, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
They also contain carotenoids and tocopherols, which are linked to reduced cancer risk.
In addition, one compound in avocados may reduce inflammation in young skin cells.
In one study, when people consumed a slice of avocado with a hamburger, they had lower levels of the inflammatory markers NF-kB and IL-6 than participants who ate the hamburger alone.
Avocados offer various beneficial compounds that protect against inflammation and may reduce your cancer risk.
5. Green Tea
You've probably heard that green tea is one of the healthiest beverages you can drink.
It reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, and other conditions.
Many of its benefits are due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, especially a substance called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).
EGCG inhibits inflammation by reducing pro-inflammatory cytokine production and damage to the fatty acids in your cells.
You can buy green tea in most stores or online.
Green tea's high EGCG content reduces inflammation and safeguards your cells from damage that can lead to disease.
Bell peppers and chili peppers are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants that have powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
Bell peppers provide the antioxidant quercetin, which may reduce one marker of oxidative damage in people with sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease.
Chili peppers contain sinapic acid and ferulic acid, which may reduce inflammation and lead to healthier aging.
Chili peppers and bell peppers are rich in quercetin, sinapic acid, ferulic acid, and other antioxidants with strong anti-inflammatory effects.
While thousands of varieties of mushrooms exist worldwide, only a few are edible and grown commercially.
These include truffles, portobello mushrooms, and shiitake.
Mushrooms are very low in calories and rich in selenium, copper, and all of the B vitamins.
They also contain phenols and other antioxidants that provide anti-inflammatory protection.
A special type of mushroom called lion's mane may potentially reduce low-grade, obesity-related inflammation.
Some edible mushrooms boast compounds that may decrease inflammation. Eating them raw or lightly cooked may help you reap their full anti-inflammatory potential.
Grapes contain anthocyanins, which reduce inflammation.
In addition, they may decrease the risk of several diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer's, and eye disorders.
Grapes are also one of the best sources of resveratrol, another compound that has many health benefits.
In one study, people with heart disease who consumed grape extract daily experienced a decrease in inflammatory gene markers, including NF-kB.
Several plant compounds in grapes, such as resveratrol, can reduce inflammation. They may also reduce your risk of several diseases.
Turmeric is a spice with a strong, earthy flavor that's often used in curries and other Indian dishes.
It has received a lot of attention for its content of curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory nutrient.
Turmeric reduces inflammation related to arthritis, diabetes, and other diseases.
In fact, consuming 1 gram of curcumin daily combined with piperine from black pepper caused a significant decrease in the inflammatory marker CRP in people with metabolic syndrome.
However, it may be hard to get enough curcumin to experience a noticeable effect from turmeric alone.
If you're interested in using turmeric in cooking, you can find it in most grocery stores or online.
Turmeric contains a powerful anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin. Eating black pepper with turmeric can significantly enhance the absorption of curcumin.
10. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest fats you can eat.
It's rich in monounsaturated fats and a staple in the Mediterranean diet, which provides numerous health benefits.
Studies link extra virgin olive oil to a reduced risk of heart disease, brain cancer, and other serious health conditions.
It's easy to find extra virgin olive oil in your local grocery store, but you can also buy it online.
Extra virgin olive oil provides powerful anti-inflammatory benefits, which may reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, and other serious health conditions.
11. Dark Chocolate and Cocoa
Dark chocolate is delicious, rich, and satisfying.
It's also packed with antioxidants that reduce inflammation. These may reduce your risk of disease and lead to healthier aging.
Flavanols are responsible for chocolate's anti-inflammatory effects and keep the endothelial cells that line your arteries healthy.
However, make sure to choose dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa — a greater percentage is even better — to reap the anti-inflammatory benefits.
If you forgot to grab this treat on your last run to the store, you can always buy it online.
Flavanols in dark chocolate and cocoa can reduce inflammation. They may also reduce your risk of several diseases.
The tomato is a nutritional powerhouse.
Tomatoes are high in vitamin C, potassium, and lycopene, an antioxidant with impressive anti-inflammatory properties.
Lycopene may be particularly beneficial for reducing pro-inflammatory compounds related to several types of cancer.
One study determined that drinking tomato juice significantly decreased inflammatory markers in women with excess weight — but not those with obesity.
Note that cooking tomatoes in olive oil can maximize the amount of lycopene you absorb.
That's because lycopene is a carotenoid, a nutrient that's better absorbed with a source of fat.
Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, which may reduce inflammation and protect against cancer.
Cherries are delicious and rich in antioxidants, such as anthocyanins and catechins, which fight inflammation.
Although the health-promoting properties of tart cherries have been studied more than other varieties, sweet cherries also provide benefits.
In one study, when people consumed 280 grams of cherries per day for 1 month, their levels of the inflammatory marker CRP decreased and stayed low for 28 days after they stopped eating cherries.
Sweet and tart cherries contain antioxidants that reduce inflammation and your risk of disease.
The Bottom Line
Even low levels of inflammation on a chronic basis can lead to disease.
Do your best to keep inflammation in check by choosing a wide variety of delicious, antioxidant-rich foods.
Peppers, dark chocolate, fish, and extra virgin olive oil are just a few foods that can help you combat inflammation and reduce your risk of illness.
Reposted with permission from Healthline.
- Anti-Inflammatory Diet 101: How to Reduce Inflammation Naturally ›
- 6 Foods That Cause Inflammation - EcoWatch ›
- All You Need to Know About Turnips - EcoWatch ›
By Andreas Knobloch
The U.S. has acquired quite a liking for the Mexican dip guacamole. Especially on the day of the Super Bowl, Americans devour the avocado-based dip in immense quantities. According to the Avocado Producers and Exporting Packers Association of Mexico (APEAM), 120,000 tons of avocados were imported by the U.S. for consumption during this year's Super Bowl alone. That's 20 percent more than in the previous year and four times the quantity of 2014.
The Americans' craving for avocado is increasingly forcing taco stalls in Mexico to serve their meat-filled tortillas with fake guacamole. The fake variety still contains the base ingredients of tomatoes, chili oil, salt, garlic and cilantro, but the avocados are substituted by a type of Mexican squash. The dip retains its green color and has a similar consistency and taste to the original. Nevertheless, "it still hurts," the online portal Chilango said.
Recipes akin to one published by food blogger Alejandra de Nava have been in circulation for years now. The uproar around fake guacamole, however, stems from the skyrocketing prices for avocados, making their use in guacamole almost a luxury.
Measly Harvests and Rising Demand
A decline in harvest yields and the rising demand from the U.S. are the culprits, avocado producer Pedro Bucio told the regional newspaper Diario de Coahuila. Supply and demand determine the price. "There are fewer avocados here in Mexico and this shortage has caused the increase in prices," Bucio explained. At the end of June, one kilo of avocados cost up to 100 pesos ($5.24, €4.67).
But Mexico's agriculture minister, Victor Villalobos, blames speculators for the rise in prices. The numbers, however, tell a different story.
The production of avocados in the first five months of this year was down 1.2 percent or 10,000 tons compared to that in the corresponding period last year. Exports, meanwhile, were up by 7.6 percent. In the last ten years, exports have quadrupled. Much of the demand originates from the U.S., where the consumption of avocados is increasing by about 15 percent every year.
In the U.S., avocados are considered "superfoods," which are rich in unsaturated fats, potassium and vitamin E. They also help keep cholesterol levels in check, strengthen the immune system and do not cause significant weight gain despite being a calorie bomb.
While four-fifths of all Mexican avocados are exported to the U.S. today, they were kept away from U.S. markets until 1997 for fear of pest infestations. Mexico sold $2.5 billion worth of avocados to the U.S. in the past year; that's more than the export of oil brought in.
Germany, on the other hand, imports its avocados predominantly from Peru, Chile, Spain and Israel.
Drug Cartels Join the Mix
Even Mexican drug cartels seem to want a piece of the avocado business. Due to its weather and geography, the Mexican state of Michoacan has become a hub for the production of synthetic drugs and, simultaneously, a "paradise" for the cultivation of avocados.
While drug cartels routinely threaten and extort money from farmers, avocado shipments are also often being attacked.
The situation has led some leading producers to form their own security services, the so-called autodefensas, which is a private paramilitary force.
Demand for more acreage has caused an increase in illegal deforestation. Moreover, the cultivation of avocados requires vast amounts of water, which is a scarce resource in the region to begin with and supplies have become increasingly limited due to changing climate patterns.
The problem of rising prices is not entirely new. Two years ago, bad harvests and huge international demand caused a dramatic increase in prices. After all, avocado consumption had increased not just in the U.S., Canada and the EU, but also in China and Japan. Mexico, as the world's largest exporter and the country with the highest per capita consumption of avocados, had even thought about importing the fruit. The average Mexican consumes more than seven kilos of avocados a year.
The importance of Mexico's avocado imports became even more apparent when U.S. President Donald Trump in May threatened to impose punitive tariffs on all Mexican imports, should Mexico not intensify its actions concerning migrants. He then called off his plans at the last minute after Mexico responded with a threat to drastically jack up import costs of avocados, painting a picture of a Super Bowl without guacamole. The downside: Many Mexicans have to content themselves with fake guacamole because of the overwhelming U.S. demand.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Deutsche Welle.