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.
- 11 Universal Truths in Nutrition That Are Actually Agreed On ... ›
- 50 Healthiest Foods on the Planet - EcoWatch ›
- What Is Quinoa? One of The World's Healthiest Foods ›
- Just a Little Olive Oil a Day Can Help Your Heart - EcoWatch ›
CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. Learn about the importance of organic hemp oil, why it's better for the environment, and which CBD companies actually make trustworthy products with sustainable farming processes. Use our curated list to find the best organic CBD oil that's better for you and the environment.
What is Organic CBD Oil?
CBD stands for cannabidiol, and it's one of the hundreds of cannabinoids found within cannabis sativa plants. This plant compound is believed to have many potential health and wellness benefits, including support for anxiety, stress, sleep, and chronic pain.
Since CBD is extracted from industrial hemp, it contains only trace amounts of THC (the psychoactive component in cannabis plants). Instead, the effects of CBD are much more subtle and promote a general sense of calm and relaxation in most users.
The most important (and prominent) certification for organic products comes from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). What exactly does this certification entail? Essentially, a label indicating that a product is "USDA Organic" or "Certified Organic" means that at least 95% of the ingredients are obtained from organic sources.
For hemp to be considered organic by the USDA, it must be grown without the use of industrial solvents, irradiation, genetic engineering (GMOs), synthetic pesticides, or chemical fertilizer. Instead, farmers rely on natural substances and mechanical, physical, or biologically based farming techniques to cultivate healthy and organic crops.
Choosing an organic CBD oil without additives is important because it indicates that a product is both safe to use and better for the environment. CBD extracted from an organic hemp plant is more likely to be free from pesticides, heavy metals, and other harmful toxins. This allows you to enjoy the benefits of the plant extract without worrying about any additional and unwanted compounds. Organic CBD is also a better choice for the environment, as it is grown using more sustainable farming practices that help preserve and protect land and water resources.
Our Top Organic CBD Oils
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 Organic - Spruce Lab Grade CBD Oil
- Best Organic Full Spectrum - Charlotte's Web Original Formula
- Best USDA Organic - Cornbread Hemp Whole Flower CBD Oil
- Best Organic Flavor - R+R Medicinals Fresh Mint CBD Tincture
- Best Organic Broad Spectrum - Joy Organics CBD Oil
- Best Organic CBD for Stress - Plant People Drops+ Mind + Body
- Best Organic CBD for Sleep - NuLeaf Naturals CBD Oil
- Best Organic Satisfaction Guarantee - CBDistillery Relief + Relax
How We Chose the Best Organic CBD Oils
To create our list of the best organic CBD oil, we compared brands and products on a number of different criteria. These included:
- Hemp Source - We chose brands that use organic hemp grown in the U.S. and that follow natural and organic farming practices.
- Natural Ingredients - Each of the products on our list were examined to see if they used organic and natural ingredients for things like flavoring and carrier oils.
- Strengths - We looked for organic CBD oils that provide different concentrations of CBD to choose from, depending on your needs.
- Lab Testing - All of the CBD products we recommend must undergo independent third-party lab testing and provide access to those results.
- Certifications - In addition to USDA organic certification, we also looked for seals from the U.S. Hemp Authority, U.S. Hemp Roundtable, B-Corp, and other industry standards.
A note about USDA organic certification: before the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, no hemp-derived products could be dubbed as "certified organic" as the hemp plant and its extracts were still categorized as a Schedule I Controlled Substance.
Due to the fact that industrial hemp has only recently become an agricultural crop, very few CBD oils are USDA certified organic. Many CBD products contain hemp extracts from plants that were grown organically, but may not be federally certified yet. Where necessary, we researched each brand's growing and harvesting practices to determine if they follow organic and natural cultivation methods, even if they are not fully certified by the USDA.
8 Best Organic CBD Oils of 2021
Best Overall: Spruce Lab Grade CBD Oil
Spruce CBD is well-known for its potent full spectrum CBD oils that provide many of the additional beneficial phytocannabinoids found in hemp. This brand works with two family-owned, sustainably focused farms in the USA (one located in Kentucky and one in North Carolina) to create its organic, small product batches. This tincture contains 750mg of CBD, but they also offer a max potency Spruce CBD oil that contains 2400mg of full-spectrum CBD extract.
- CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 25 mg CBD per serving
- Source - North Carolina and Kentucky
Best Full Spectrum: Charlotte's Web Original Formula
One of the most well-known brands in the CBD landscape, Charlotte's Web has been growing sustainable hemp plants for years. The company is currently in the process of achieving USDA Organic Certification, but it already practices organic and sustainable cultivation techniques to enhance the overall health of the soil and the hemp plants themselves, which creates some of the highest quality CBD extracts.
- CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 50 mg CBD per serving
- Source - Colorado
Why buy: Charlotte's Web offers CBD oils in a range of different concentration options, and some even come in a few flavors like chocolate mint, orange blossom, and lemon twist. We love Charlotte's Web Original Original Formula because it is made with U.S. Hemp Authority Certified CBD and organic extra virgin olive oil.
Best USDA Organic: Cornbread Hemp Whole Flower CBD Oil
Cornbread Hemp Whole Flower CBD Oil uses USDA organic hemp grown on Kentucky farms and USDA organic MCT coconut oil. What makes Cornbread Hemp unique is that they only use hemp flower to create their CBD extract, resulting in a cleaner, purer product. Vegan and non-GMO, this organic CBD oil provides all of the secondary cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids of hemp without any preservatives, flavorings, seeds, or stems.
- CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 50 mg CBD per serving
- Source - Kentucky
Why buy: We love Cornbread Hemp Whole Flower CBD oil because it is made using USDA certified organic hemp flowers to create a top-notch CBD oil packed with beneficial plant compounds. Use this oil in the evening to relax and to help you fall asleep.
Best Organic Flavor: R+R Medicinals Fresh Mint CBD Tincture
R+R Medicinals Organic Full Spectrum Hemp Extract comes in a great introductory strength for new CBD users and a delicious fresh mint flavor. Made with organic full spectrum hemp extract, organic MCT coconut oil, and organic mint flavoring, this CBD oil is USDA certified organic for a product you can trust. It also contains over 2 mg of the secondary cannabinoids, like CBC, CBG, THC, CBN, and CBDv, that can help provide the fullest effect.
- CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 16.67 mg CBD per serving
- Source - Colorado
Best Organic Broad Spectrum: Joy Organics CBD Oil
For those concerned about THC, Joy Organics CBD oil makes a great option. This formula is USDA certified organic and is made with organic broad spectrum hemp extract and organic olive oil for a natural, THC-free product. It's also certified by the U.S. Hemp Roundtable and third-party lab tested for purity. If you prefer, you can also find Joy Organics CBD Oil in several additional flavors, including Tranquil Mint, Summer Lemon, and Orange Bliss.
- CBD - Broad Spectrum
- Strength - 30 mg CBD per serving
- Source - Colorado
Best Organic CBD for Stress: Plant People Drops+ Mind + Body
Plant People Drops+ Mind + Body CBD oil offers an organic, natural supplement that could help support your body's response to stress and inflammation. USDA certified organic, non-GMO, vegan, and gluten-free, this CBD oil is also doctor-formulated using 100% organic hemp grown in Colorado. It can provide 21 mg of cannabinoids like CBD, CBL, and CBG per serving. Plus, Plant People is a certified B-corp and certified Climate Neutral as they plant a tree for every sale.
- CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 21 mg CBD per serving
- Source - Colorado
Why buy: We love Plant People Drops+ Mind + Body formula because it provides a doctor-formulated and USDA organic way to help you manage stress and inflammation while promoting overall wellness. We especially like that the brand is Climate Neutral certified, making this organic CBD oil good for you and the earth.
Best Organic CBD for Sleep: NuLeaf Naturals CBD Oil
NuLeaf Naturals sources its CBD extract from organic hemp plants grown on licensed farms in Colorado. Their CBD oils contain only two ingredients: USDA certified organic hemp seed oil and full spectrum hemp extract. NuLeaf Naturals uses the same proprietary CBD oil formula for all of its products, so you get the same CBD potency in every tincture (30 mg per mL), but can purchase different bottle sizes depending on your needs.
- CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 30 mg CBD per serving
- Source - Colorado
Why buy: We love NuLeaf Naturals CBD oil because of its simplicity. With only two ingredients and one consistent strength, this oil makes it easy to know exactly what is in it and how much CBD you will get with each serving. Take NuLeaf Naturals CBD oil in the evenings to relax and enjoy a full night's sleep.
Best Organic Satisfaction Guarantee: CBDistillery Relief + Relax
All CBDistillery products use non-GMO and pesticide-free industrial hemp that's grown using natural farming practices on Colorado farms. Their hemp oils are some of the most affordable CBD products on the market, yet they still maintain a high standard of quality. CBDistillery has a wide variety of CBD potencies across its product line. We also love that they offer a 60 day money back guarantee so that you can try their CBD oil risk free.
- CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 33 mg CBD per serving
- Source - Colorado
Why buy: We recommend CBDistillery Relief + Relax CBD oil as a great way to start your day and promote a sense of calm and wellness throughout. The brand is certified by the U.S. Hemp Authority, the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, and the National Hemp Association for their natural, reliable CBD extracts.
The Research on Organic Hemp Oil
What does the science say about organic CBD oil? There is evidence that CBD can help for certain conditions, specifically things like anxiety, sleeplessness, and pain. In fact, CBD taken for anxiety may have fewer side effects than certain prescription anxiety medications. However, as hemp and CBD remain unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration, it is vitally important to do your research and choose high-quality and safe products.
Using organic CBD oil is an easy way to help ensure that you can enjoy the health and wellness benefits of CBD while avoiding any potential toxins or synthetic chemicals.
Hemp is a unique plant, not only for its rich cannabinoid content, but because it is a bioaccumulator, and has the ability to absorb a wide variety of components in the soil. This trait means that hemp can help the environment through the remediation of green spaces, but it poses great risks when it comes to the creation of CBD products derived from hemp.
Because hemp has a high capacity for compound uptake, this means that the plants can retain harmful chemicals like pesticides, heavy metals, and other residual solvents. This is especially true when it comes to synthetic chemicals that are more toxic to humans, and difficult to remove once they have been absorbed by the hemp plant.
Organic farming practices help reduce the risk of hemp crops absorbing harsh chemicals that may later end up in CBD oil after extraction. When you're taking CBD as a wellness supplement to help alleviate your symptoms or improve your overall well-being, the last thing you want is to ingest compounds that might negatively outweigh the benefits of CBD. This is an important reason to look for third party lab test results when shopping for CBD products since these certificates of analysis can show the full cannabinoid and terpene profile of a hemp extract, as well as test results that search for the presence of any residual solvents. If you choose a non-organic CBD oil, you will need to rely even more on the independent lab test results to make sure the product is safe.
In addition to creating a better end product, organic farming practices are also better for the environment. Sustainable and organic farming methods may reduce pollution, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy. The use of natural pest deterrents as opposed to chemical pesticides is also better for nearby animal populations and ecosystems.
How to Choose CBD Oil for You
When shopping for an organic CBD oil, you can look for certain key ingredients and certifications to find the best options. Here are some tips on how to compare and choose the right organic CBD oil.
What to Look For
Start by looking for the following pieces of information when considering any CBD product:
Make sure you know if the product uses full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate hemp extract. Full spectrum CBD contains all of the natural phytocannabinoids, terpenes, and fatty acids found in the hemp plant, including THC. This may produce a fuller result through the entourage effect. However, if you are concerned about THC, or are subject to a drug test, broad spectrum and CBD isolate products offer a great alternative.
Always check to see how much CBD the product contains. This is measured in milligrams per container and milligrams per serving. A single serving for CBD oil is typically 1 mL, and most brands offer recommendations for measuring and dosages.
The source of the hemp used to extract CBD is vitally important. We recommend choosing brands that use organic and naturally-grown hemp raised in the U.S.A. for safety standards. This is the quickest way to ensure that the CBD itself is pure and free from pesticides or other harmful compounds.
We only recommend CBD oils and products that are subject to independent third-party lab testing. This is a crucial step that verifies both the safety and purity of the oil as well as the potency of the CBD per serving. Look for brands that give you easy access to the lab test results for every product they sell.
How to Read Labels
Here are the primary things to look for when reading the label on a CBD oil or product:
- Type of CBD - The label should clearly state whether the product contains full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate hemp extract. If it is broad spectrum or isolate, look for a mark that tells you it is "THC-free."
- Certifications - Certain brands will include seals of approval to show that their product is USDA-certified organic, non-GMO, made in the U.S.A., or U.S. Hemp Authority certified.
- Other Ingredients - Check the ingredients list for anything in the product besides the CBD extract. This typically includes a carrier oil, like MCT or hemp seed oil, but can also include flavorings or botanicals. Make sure they are all-natural and that you are not allergic to any of them.
- Test Results - Most brands include a QR code on the packaging or the label of their CBD product that you can scan to view the third-party test results. This is a key way to know if a brand is trustworthy and whether their CBD is safe to use.
How to Use
Organic CBD oil is used just like any other CBD oil tincture, and is primarily ingested using a dropper to measure out the correct dose. Many brands recommend that you take the CBD oil sublingually by placing the CBD tincture under your tongue for 30 seconds or so before swallowing to aid in absorption. You can also add CBD to food and beverages, though some argue that this lessens the effect.
Some of the most common wellness advantages that people seek from organic CBD include:
- Chronic pain relief
- Anti-anxiety effects
- Better sleep
- Improvements in mood
- Internal balance and regulation
If you take organic CBD for help with sleep, take the recommended amount about an hour before bed. If you are taking it for anxiety, you can take one dose in the morning and another in the evening to help promote a sense of calm throughout the day. As with all CBD products, we recommend that you start with a lower dose and gradually increase it to achieve the desired effects rather than starting with a high dose.
Safety and Side Effects
CBD, while generally well-tolerated and safe for adults, can produce side effects in certain people. These are generally very mild, but can include things like nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, and irritability. CBD may also interact with certain prescription drugs, especially blood thinners and statins. If you take a prescription medication, be sure to consult with your doctor before starting CBD.
CBD has the potential to help with a number of health and wellness concerns, especially anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. To make sure that you choose the right option, go with the best organic CBD oil without additives from a brand you trust. Use our list to help you get started and find the natural relief you need.
Melena Gurganus is the Reviews Editor at EcoWatch. She is passionate health and wellness and her writing aims to help others find products they can trust. Her work has been featured in publications such as Health, Shape, Huffington Post, Cannabis Business Times, and Bustle.
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.
- The 5 Best Ways to Rehydrate Quickly - EcoWatch ›
- 12 Healthy Granola Bars - EcoWatch ›
- Top 5 Healthy Energy Drinks Available on Online - EcoWatch ›
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.
The U.S. generates almost 80 million tons of packaging waste each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. When landfilled or incinerated, this waste pollutes the environment and poses health risks to humans and wildlife. Packaging is also the main source of the plastic pollution that is clogging the ocean and expected to exceed the weight of all fish by 2050 at current rates. The food industry is largely responsible for this growing packaging problem.
About half of the packaging waste in the U.S. comes from food and beverage products. And studies suggest that large food corporations like Nestle and Uniliver generate the majority of the plastic waste
Recognizing this issue, and under pressure from consumers, several of these very same corporations have recently pledged to reduce the environmental impact of their packaging. Many smaller companies in the food and beverage and industry are doing the same, and some of them have been on the forefront of packaging innovations for years. Food Tank highlights 16 food and beverage companies to exhibit the industry's various approaches to sustainable packaging.
Alter Eco set out a decade ago to find sustainable alternatives to the non-recyclable flexible plastic used for their chocolate truffle wrappers and stand-up pouch packaging. After several years of research and development, Alter Eco released the first ever laminated stand-up pouch made of plant-based compostable materials for their quinoa products. For the truffles, Alter Eco now partners with Natureflex to make a compostable wrapper made of eucalyptus and birch trees with microscopic aluminum layers that maintain freshness. The packaging will compost in home and industrial facilities and will biodegrade in the ocean. Alter Eco also uses non-toxic ink on all their packaging. For chocolate bar packaging, Alter Eco uses Forest Steward Council (FSC) certified paperboard that comes from sustainably managed forests.
BOSS Food's vegan superfood bars use compostable wrappers. The wrappers are made by TIPA. TIPA's propriety bio-based blend has all the properties of normal plastic but is certified for industrial and home composting. TIPA conducts shelf-life tests with each brand they work with to ensure the same shelf life as conventional packaging.
Boxed Water is Better
Reusable bottles are the most sustainable way to haul around water. But when that's not an option, Boxed Water is Better offers a more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic bottles. The 100 percent recyclable box is 75 percent paper. The cap is made of plastic, and the rest is aluminum lining. The packaging is free of BPAs and phthalates. The paper comes from well-managed forests, and they use some of their profits for planting trees in areas affected by deforestation and fires. The boxes flatten for shipping to regional filling locations, reducing the companies carbon footprint by using one truck for every 26 trucks needed for shipping plastic bottles.
Some companies would like to use more sustainable packaging but feel the nature of their product makes it difficult or impossible with available options. Recycling facilities can't accept the flexible plastic pouches Buddy Fruits uses for their small-batch fresh fruit purees. Sustainability is an important part of their brand, but the highly perishable product needs to be as airtight as possible. While searching for a more sustainable and equally secure alternative, BuddyFruits has partnered with TerraCycle. Terracycle collects and recycles hard to recycle products and makes new materials and products. Buddy Fruits customers can request an envelope from TerraCycle to ship-in their empty pouches. Many other food and beverage companies, like White Leaf Provisions, partner with TerraCycle for the same reasons as Buddy Fruits.
Celestial Tea does not use strings, staples, and individual wrappers for its tea bags. The company says these practices prevent 3.5 million pounds of landfill material a year. Celestial's tea bags are compostable, and their outer boxes are made with 100 percent recycled paperboard.
Don Maslow Coffee
Several companies sell coffee in bags that claim to be compostable but are not actually certified for composting. These bags use non-compostable plastic parts to keep them airtight. Fully compostable bags without these parts are also available, but they can't keep the coffee fresh for as long. A couple years ago, Elevate Packaging released the first coffee bag with compostable zippers and valves. Now Dan Maslow Coffee is one of the first to sell products in these certified compostable bags.
Instant meals are convenient in today's busy society, but they use lots of packaging. GF Harvest offers sustainable to-go option with their GoPack oatmeal bowls. The recyclable bowls are made from the IntegraFlex collapsible cup, with a rigid outer carton and an inner liner. The packaging comes flat to save space. When the customer is ready to eat, they prop up the outer layer into a bowl and add hot water. GoPacks come with a wrapped paper spoon that is partially made from FSC certified paper and is recyclable wherever coffee cups are recyclable.
This sustainability-focused yerba mate company is constantly seeking to reduce their packaging's environmental impact. It has been a difficult and on-going process — they identify packaging as the largest contributor to their overall GHG emissions. Almost all of Guyaki's packaging is recyclable bottles and cans, and they sell their loose leaf yerba mate in compostable Natureflex bags. They recently reduced their annual packaging use by 44,000 pounds by eliminating the overwrap and tea string from their single-use mate bags. A large portion of their cans are made of half previously recycled aluminum and use 95 percent less energy than conventional aluminum cans.
Honest Tea has Cradle to Cradle certification on their glass bottles. The certification indicates high marks in several sustainable indicators: use of reutilized materials, water stewardship, material safety, and use of renewable energy. Honest Tea is also in the process of rolling out new Tetra Pak packaging for their line of kids juices. Tetra Pak is 75 percent FSC certified carton, and the rest is a mixture of plastic polymers and aluminum. Numerous studies have found that the life-cycle GHG emissions of Tetra Pak is generally the lowest of packaging types. But not all recycling programs accept mixed material cartons like Tetra Pak, and some that do end up sending the cartons to the dump or incinerator.
Love the Wild
After a year of development and testing, Loving the Wild recently released a compostable tray for their line of ready-to-cook sustainable seafood meals. The tray is certified compostable and made from plant-based plastic. Loving the Wild will come out with a microwaveable version later this year.
Loving Earth's chocolate bar and superfood bar packaging is made with Econic, a compostable film derived from FSC certified wood pulp and non-gmo corn. Their chocolate boxes and line of boxed cereals are made of 100 percent recycled wood fibers. The inner bag of the cereal boxes is made from Econic. All of Loving Earth's products use non-toxic vegetable-based printing ink to prevent contamination of water supplies and compost piles. Loving Earth has also taken a sustainable packaging approach to all most all of their wide range of other products.
Mindful Inc packages their organic tea lines in Tetra Pak with a plant-based cap. Tetra Pak offers this cap as an option to companies utilizing their technology. The cap is made of plastic derived from sugarcane, and its production process has a smaller GHG footprint than conventional plastic caps.
No Evil Foods
No Evil Foods' vegetarian meat alternatives come in compostable packaging made by Kraftpak and are printed with plant-based ink. Previously, No Evil Foods used butcher paper with a non-biodegradable sticker, making it difficult to compost the butcher paper. Kraftpak is a biodegradable unbleached carton board that seals with water-soluble adhesives. The packaging unfolds like origami to mimic the unfolding of butcher paper. Kraftpak is also certified for recycling.
Numi Organic Teas
'Eco-responsible packaging' is part of Numi's environmentally and socially conscious business model. Their efforts include opting for biodegradable non-gmo filter-paper tea bags instead of nylon bags, using boxes made of 85 percent recycled paper products, and using soy-based inks. They are working with 30 other companies to develop the first home-compostable, plant-based, non-gmo material overwrap for tea bags. Also, Numi sells gift boxes made of bamboo, a more sustainable alternative to slower growing trees. In their last annual sustainability audit, Numi calculated that their packaging choices conserved 5,000 trees, 659 thousand pounds of GHG emissions, 4 million gallons of water, and 317 thousand pounds of waste.
The six-pack rings on this brewery's beers are 100 percent biodegradable and edible. Saltwater is one of a handful of breweries now using Eco Six Pack Rings technology. Saltwater makes the rings from barley and wheat ribbons leftover from brewing. The rings compost within a few days. On open land and in the ocean, the rings decompose in a few weeks. The rings are not recommended for consumption, but animals can safely eat them. But if left to decompose in an open area, the rings can still potentially entrap marine life and other animals.
Strauss Family Creamery
For 25 years, Strauss Family Creamery has packaged organic milk in reusable glass bottles made with up to 30 percent recycled glass. Customers can rinse their bottles and return them to the store where purchased to get back a US$2.00 deposit. Strauss then takes the bottles back to their facilities to reuse the bottles an average of five times before recycling them. The company has an 80 percent return rate on bottles, keeping about 500,000 pounds of milk containers and plastic out of landfills each year.
By Brian Barth
The world of fruit is far more expansive and exciting — not to mention flavorful — than the dozen or so varieties on offer at your local supermarket would suggest. Ever try a translucent white mulberry? How about a jujube — the fruit, not the candy?
You're unlikely to find any of these fruits at your local grocer or farmers' market. It's not because they're hard to grow — most of them are actually easier to raise at home than disease-prone fruits like peaches and cherries. The reason you won't find them for sale has more to do with the constraints of commercialization — they score low on metrics like yield per acre and shippability.
But those issues won't matter in your backyard, where a single tree is likely to yield more than your family can eat and the only travel the fruit must endure is the short journey from garden to kitchen. Your local garden center may be able to special order the varieties below, but if not, you can easily find them online from mail-order nurseries.
1. White Mulberry
Dried white mulberries are occasionally found in health stores, where they are sold as a "superfood" at astronomical prices. The fresh fruit, which is produced in copious quantities on small, attractive trees that are used to cultivate silkworms in Asia, has a less acidic flavor profile than its dark-colored counterpart. There are several white-fruited mulberry varieties available, including Tehama, Beautiful Day and Sweet Lavender, which is graced with a hint of this beloved herb's flavor. USDA zones 4–9.
This Chinese fruit, which resembles a small red apple, gave its name to the popular candy. Jujubes can be eaten raw, but they are consumed dried in Asia, which gives them a chewy, candy-like texture that goes with their satisfying sweet-sour flavor. They grow on spindly, thorny trees with a narrow, upright growth habit. Highly drought tolerant, jujube trees thrive in hot, dry areas. USDA zones 5–9.
3. Cider Apple
These days, you can find all sorts of interesting heirloom apple varieties at your local farmers' market. In theory, you can make cider out of any of them. But real cider makers use special varieties that have been bred for centuries with the unique flavor profile suited to the beverage (which is very different from the flavor profile of an apple meant for eating fresh). If home brews are your thing, you might need to grow your own. Varieties to look for include Ashmead's Kernel, Northern Spy and Muscadet de Dieppe. USDA zones 4–9.
This little-known native fruit is found in isolated patches throughout eastern forests. It is distant cousins with tropical fruits like cherimoya and custard apple, with which it shares an exotic flavor (often described as a cross between banana, pineapple and mango) and a creamy texture. The size of a mango, this fruit grows sparsely on small, slow-growing trees with attractive foliage and a uniform pyramidal shape. Pawpaws are far too finicky for commercial growers, but they've garnered a cult-like following among foodies and backyard botanists. USDA zones 5–9.
5. Pineapple Guava
The fruit of this small, attractive evergreen tree tastes like, well, a pineapple-flavored guava. Its large red-and-white tropical blossoms are also edible, adding a sweet, cinnamon-like flavor to desserts and summer drinks. The only catch is that pineapple guavas (also known as feijoas) are not cold-hardy. You can grow them outdoors year-round in much of California, southern Texas, Florida and the Deep South, but elsewhere you'll need to keep them in a pot that can be brought indoors for winter (potted pineapple guavas are easily maintained as small shrubs). USDA zones 8–11.
You might say that quince is so old-school, it's new again. In past centuries, northern European households were just as likely to grow quince as they were to grow apples and pears, to which the fruit is related. Perhaps its appearance — like a bloated and tumor-laden pear — has something to do with its loss of popularity, plus the fact that you have to cook it to enjoy it. But the flavor is nonpareil: It's like a baked apple with cinnamon and allspice flavors and a touch of lemon zest. USDA zones 4–9.
Not to be confused with a kumquat (a type of citrus), a loquat is a distant relative of apples and pears from subtropical parts of Asia. The fruit looks like an apricot, with a similar texture and flavor but tangier. These evergreen trees have decadent tropical foliage and require a warm climate. While they're not huge trees, they are a bit large to grow in pots and bring indoors for winter. USDA zones 8–10.
8. Arctic Kiwifruit
The fuzzy kiwifruit you find at the store requires a mild-winter climate, but this is, by no means, the only kind of kiwifruit available. Arctic kiwifruit (also known as 'Arctic Beauty' or 'Kolomikta Kiwi') hails from the frigid mountains of Russia and possesses a similar flavor to fuzzy kiwifruit, except that it lacks fuzz and is typically consumed whole, skin and all. This shade-tolerant vine possesses spectacular white-, pink- and green-variegated foliage. USDA zones 3–8.
9. Chocolate Vine
Also called akebia, this shade-tolerant vine has delicate lobed foliage and bears vanilla-scented flowers in spring. In summer, sausage-shaped pods appear, which split open when ripe to reveal a soft, white pulp flavored with notes of banana, lychee and passion fruit. Scoop it out like custard, seeds and all, and mix it into fruit salads or simply eat it by the spoonful. The pod is inedible raw but may be cooked like a vegetable. USDA zones 4–9.
The passion fruit you find in the store requires a subtropical climate, but it has an American cousin that grows wild throughout the eastern part of the country. The vines are nearly identical to their tropical counterparts, with frilly purple and white blossoms up to three inches in diameter. Mix the yellow flesh of the fruit in smoothies, daiquiris and desserts. As a bonus, the leaves of maypop are considered an herbal aphrodisiac. USDA zones 6–10.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.
I eat mostly a plant-based diet, I say no to plastic straws and I'm trying to cut back on driving. But for my rescue pup Lela, I'll spoil her with a bit of grass-fed lamb, one of the most carbon-intensive meats out there.
As a person who spends the whole work week writing and thinking about the environment, I cringe at the thought of my dog's substantial environmental pawprint. So when news came out that British company Yora is offering pet food that swaps meat with climate-friendly insects, that got me thinking about how all pet owners can make better environmental choices for their furballs.
By Danny Prater
New dairy-free favorites, surprising protein sources and automated everything: We've prepped a list of 2019's biggest food trends—all vegan, of course. Like you, millions of people are more curious than ever before about the latest developments in the vegan culinary world. Below, you can check out the newest, fanciest vegan foods and the hottest trends that will help you reduce your environmental footprint, improve your personal health and spare hundreds of animals a violent death in the coming year.
Here are the biggest vegan food trends to watch for in 2019:
Sure, almond and soy milk are cool, but 2019 will be the year of smooth, creamy oat milk. Try it in your coffee or cereal or even as the base for dairy-free ice cream. Check out these brands that are bringing us one of the most sustainable and delicious vegan milks around:
- Oatly!: This Swedish company already sells oat milk in the U.S. and hopes to offer other oat-based beverages and yogurt products soon.
- RISE Brewing Co.'s Oat Milk Latte: Jump-start your new year with this nitrogen-infused cold brew oat milk latte.
- Quaker Oats: The popular cereal brand plans to release its own oat milk lineup in January, according to The New York Times, proving that vegan milk is what the people want.
- Pacific Foods: This brand's oat milk can already be found on supermarket shelves, and it'll make every morning meal of the new year a bit brighter.
Tahini in Desserts
Tahini's not just for hummus anymore! Look for this Middle Eastern sesame seed butter in new versions of favorites like ice cream and milkshakes.
Green (Pea) Protein
The humble pea packs a protein punch, and in 2019, we think more brands will be exploiting this little green machine for all it's worth. Try these vegan pea-based products:
- Beyond Meat's Beyond Sausage (Original Bratwurst, Sweet Italian and Hot Italian)
- World Peas Brand's Peatos (Masala and Fiery Hot varieties only)
- Bolthouse Farms' Plant Protein Milk (Original, Unsweetened, Vanilla and Chocolate)
- Ripple Foods' Nutritious Pea Milk (Original, Unsweetened Original, Vanilla, Unsweetened Vanilla and Chocolate)
Vegan Fast Food Goes Mainstream
Fast-food and chain restaurants are increasingly a hotbed of vegan options. In 2019, keep an ear to the ground as Del Taco expands the availability of its Beyond Meat tacos and as other chains, including TGI Fridays, add the Beyond Burger.
Fish-Free and Fabulous
In 2018, millennials may have " killed canned tuna"—just in time, because 2019 is coming and vegan seafood is riding in on a big wave. In the new year, look for snacks packed with omega-3s, such as dulse bacon and kelp noodles. These vegan seafood products are already available in stores:
- Loma Linda's Fishless Tuna
- Ocean Hugger Foods' Ahimi (fish-free sushi)
- New Wave Foods' Plant-Based Shrimp
There's Something in the Water
Bye, bye, boring water. Cut back on your plastic use by grabbing a reuseable water bottle (or cup or jar), and try one of these specialized vegan waters:
- AquaBotanical's Still or Sparkling Botanical Water (made from fruits and veggies!)
- Laird Superfood's HYDRATE Powdered Coconut Water
Healthy Fat- and Carb-Conscious Menus
You'll see more emphasis on healthy fats in 2019—vegan restaurants and the kitchens of home-cooks included. With popular high-fat, low-carb vegan keto meals, you can use cauliflower, zucchini, and avocado to get your macros.
Probiotics and Other Gut-Healthy Options
Fermented foods and friendly bacteria to the rescue! In 2019, we'll go beyond kombucha, as other probiotics and gut-healthy options take center stage. These vegan gut-healthy products will be big next year:
- Califia Farms' Probiotic Dairy Free Yogurt
- Wildbrine's Probiotic Smoky Jalapeño Sriracha
- Gold Mine's Organic Raw Golden Kraut
Meat-Free Mushroom Snacks
Vegan pork rinds? Pig-free bacon chips? Keep pigs out of your pantry by opting for mushroom-based munchies. Look for these meat-free snack options in 2019:
- Snacklins' Puffed Chips (Barbeque, Soy Ginger and Chesapeake Bay)
- PigOut's Pigless Bacon Chips (Original, Cheddar, Chipotle and Kansas City BBQ)
Chips are canceled: 2019 is the year of the airy vegan puff. Fried or baked, these pop-able snacks will be everywhere in the new year. Try these vegan snack puffs:
- Hippeas' Organic Chickpea Puffs (Vegan White Cheddar, Far Out Fajita, Sriracha Sunshine, Pepper Power and Bohemian Barbecue)—order them on Amazon.
- Vegan Rob's Puffs (Dairy Free Cheddar, Beet, Brussel Sprout, Moringa and Jackfruit; plus, two gut-healthy varieties: Probiotic Cauliflower and Probiotic Dragon Puffs)—order them on Amazon.
- Brandless' Corn & Quinoa Puffs
- Watusee Foods' Popped Chickpeatos
- Human Bean Co.'s Air Puffed & Crunchy Faba Beans (Lightly Salted, Original Aussie BBQ, Sea Salt and Vinegar, Lime and Black Pepper, and Pizza Supreme)
- LesserEvil's Grain Free Paleo Puffs ("No Cheese" Cheesiness, Himalayan Pink Salt and Himalayan Salt 'N Apple Cider Vinegar)
- Popchips' Nutter Puffs
- Square Organics' Protein Popcorn
"Alexa, go vegan!" Amazon Echo devices offer a host of vegan and animal-friendly "skills," like searching for vegan recipes or even entertaining your cat while you're away. ("Alexa, donate to PETA" is unsurprisingly our fave.) Expect 2019 to bring in more automatic, robotic wonders. To bring your culinary repertoire up to date, consider splurging on a high-tech kitchen device like an Instant Pot or air fryer to cook your favorite vegan foods.
Get on Trend—Go Vegan Today!
Using animals for food is unsustainable, unhealthy, and unkind. Be part of the vegan revolution in 2019 by ditching meat, eggs, and dairy "products." There's a whole world of new vegan products out there waiting to be discovered. Check out the ones listed on this page, and be sure to order a free vegan starter kit if you don't already have one.
By Jeff Spurrier
It's been a cold and rainy fall in San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico. Ten miles out of town, in the mesquite-covered campo next to the Rio Laja, Francisco Portillo and Katie Kohlstedt, the owners of Spirulina Viva, are keeping a close eye on their crop. Spirulina doesn't like the cold, said Portillo, or excessive heat, too much sunlight or if the pH is too high or too low. It's a wild algae that has been around for more than 3.5 billion years and learned what it likes.
If the power goes out on the agitating paddle wheels, they have to grab some brooms to keep the flow moving, oxygenating with each stroke. They collect two kilos from each tank in the fall, and double that in the summer. They harvest in the morning, which is when the phytonutrient C-phycocyanin—which gives spirulina its superfood reputation—is most concentrated.
The pair met in Baja California Sur more than a decade ago and had planned to volunteer through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) on their way south to Patagonia. They worked on 13 different farms, from cacao to shiitake, eating spirulina the entire way. "We never got sick and never felt weak," remembered Kohlstedt, "and we were eating crappy because it's hard to feed yourself well when you travel."
In Brazil, they shared a cab with an "algaepreneur" from France, where artisanal spirulina is particularly popular. He invited them to pitch their tent on his farm and check out his single pond operation. They jumped at the chance ("I will be your slave!" enthused Kohlstedt). Inspired by what they saw and with Kohlstedt pregnant with their first son, Kai, the couple returned to Portillo's home in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. In 2010, they set up Spirulina Viva in the countryside outside the resort town of San Miguel de Allende, taking out loans, building a home, sinking a well and constructing two greenhouses to house four 42-meter-long "raceway" tanks.
They started with half a liter of blue-green Arthrospira maxima, the same variety that the Aztecs harvested from Lake Texcoco. A year later, it was producing 1,000 liters a month. After they skim it off the surface, the living algae gets strained and goes directly into the freezer, where it remains dormant but doesn't die. "It's actually still living," said Portillo. "You can unfreeze it and put it in a culture medium and it will grow again."
They sell their product locally, to trendy restaurants and juice bars in San Miguel de Allende, and across the country. For a while, they conducted workshops to teach people how to grow spirulina at home, but that proved to be more trouble than it was worth. Nobody could keep their home algae alive, and they called day and night for advice.
"This is enough work," said Kohlstedt. "Many people want to live in the countryside, grow stuff and live the dream, but then growing tomatoes is hard and they are cheap. We thought this would be easier."
Under the microscope in the farm's office, their crop becomes clearly visible: left-branching filaments, shaped like coiled springs, and none larger than five centimeters. They sell mostly fresh-frozen squares, not dried—even though the shelf life is much longer. A friend in Oaxaca makes pasta from it, but Kohlstedt thinks that's a distraction from eating fresh, which is how you reap most of the benefits.
People may buy spirulina with good intentions, but they often don't use it because it tastes bad and has an intense and noticeable taste. "It sits in the pantry unused because it ruins smoothies," she said. "With fresh spirulina, smoothies are creamier." Fresh spirulina is also almost flavorless. It blends seamlessly into sauces, guacamole, stews and baked goods, but its deep green color is impossible to hide. "People get hung up on the color," said Kohlstedt with an exasperated grin. "What color do you want your food to be?"
Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.
The sweet-smelling tropical staple has gotten a lot of attention in recent years as a "superfood." Enthusiasts love its bounty of potential health benefits from fighting diabetes, to losing weight and even treating Alzheimer's disease. Folks following the high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet like plunking the oil into coffee or blending it into smoothies.
But Karin Michels, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, delivered a missive against the popular oil in a 50-minute video that's been viewed more than 800,000 times since it was posted last month.
Michels said coconut oil "is one of the worst foods you can eat" and is worse than lard due to its high amount of saturated fatty acids, according to a translation from German by Business Insider Deutschland.
Too much saturated fat in your diet has been linked to heart disease, high cholesterol and other health problems. Other foods that are high in saturated fat include lard, palm oil and high-fat dairy products such as butter, cream and cheese. These fats are also typically solid at room temperature.
Michels is not the first to warn against coconut oil. The American Heart Association caused a stir last year when it issued an advisory that told people to avoid the oil due to its high levels of saturated fats.
However, proponents have noted that the dominant fatty acid within coconut oil is lauric acid, which raises LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels, but also increases HDL ("good") cholesterol levels dramatically, according to Everyday Health. Mark Hyman, MD, also sharply criticized the American Heart Association's advisory and disputes the link between saturated fats and heart disease.
"If you're going to use coconut oil, make sure you get virgin oil," Dr. Tom Brenna, a professor of human nutrition at Cornell University, told The New York Times. "And, of course, everything in moderation."
Also in her lecture, Michels said other "superfoods" such as acai, chia seeds and matcha are ineffective because the nutrients they're known for are easily found in more easily accessible foods such as carrots, cherries and apricots.
"We are well and sufficiently supplied," she said.
- Dr. Mark Hyman: So Is Coconut Oil Healthy? ›
- 11 Ways to Use Coconut Oil Everywhere for Everything - EcoWatch ›