Food and Drink

7 Herbal Teas for All That Ails You

03/14/2014

Chamomile-teaAs I've come to yoga, I've fallen even more in love with tea and all its health benefits. It's a natural cure for a host of ailments. So I decided to take an in depth look at the medicinal qualities of many of the teas I love. You can find a tea to treat whatever ails you.

1. Chamomile Tea

If you drink chamomile tea then you know its calming effects. That's why it's great for reducing anxiety and sleep disorders. Drink it before bed and it truly helps you get a good night's sleep. It also helps with annoying muscular twitches. Drink chamomile to reduce menstrual cramps naturally or if you have an upset stomach. It's also great for healing wounds faster.

2. Ginger Tea

Ginger is known to be great for settling your stomach. It's also a great natural cure for nausea caused by morning sickness and car sickness. It also freshens bad breath and helps with a sore throat. 

3. Peppermint Tea

This caffeine free tea rejuvenates your body without the jolt. It’s known as a natural healer that can soothe a sour stomach and relieve heartburn. If you’re starting to get a cold, it can even help loosen phlegm.

4. Dandelion and Chicory Root Tea

Dandelion and chicory roots are a match made in health heaven. Dandelion roots are blood purifiers that help both the liver and kidneys remove impurities. Chicory is good for digestion and cleansing the urinary tract and liver. The tea looks like coffee and has a rich taste without the caffeine.

5. Teeccino

Teeccino is an amazing invention because it tastes like coffee but it’s made of herbs, grains, fruits, and nuts, all roasted together in a similar preparation to coffee, according to Dr. Oz. And it’s caffeine-free, so for those in love with the taste of coffee that are sensitive to caffeine, it’s a good choice.

6. Licorice Tea

Licorice Tea has the warming bold taste of coffee but without the caffeine. Licorice has been used in food for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. It’s used to treat canker sores, ulcers, eczema, upper respiratory infections, and for weight loss. It’s also known to support adrenal health.

7. Fennel Tea

Flavoring herbal tea with fennel can help boost digestion and act as a diuretic, aiding in the removal of excess water and some waste. The fragrance of the tea may be calming to some people, and the volatile oils may possess antiseptic properties, assisting in the treatment of gastrointestinal infections.

Read More: Green Tea Not Created Equal 

Is Simply Orange Actually Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice?

03/08/2014

Simly orange photoDon’t let the name fool you, Simply Orange isn't exactly fresh squeezed orange juice. There's much more to it.

“You take Mother Nature and standardize it,” says Jim Horrisberger, director of procurement at Coke’s huge Auburndale, Fla. juice packaging plant told Business Week. “Mother Nature doesn’t like to be standardized.”

Business Week reports that Coca-Cola is actually the maker of Simply Orange and other Minute Maid products. Currently, PepsiCo’s Tropicana holds 40 percent of the not-from-concentrate market, while Coca-Cola has 28 percent. Coke wants to demand 100 percent of the not-from-concentrate market because consumers are willing to pay a 25 percent premium for it. 

But the process of making Coke’s Simply Orange Juice is more sophisticated that you likely ever thought possible. Coke has a “Black Book” at their bottling plant in Auburndale, Fla.--it’s a top secret methodology for producing consistent orange juice 12 months out of the year, considering that orange season is only three months.

According to Business Week, “The Black Book model includes detailed data about the myriad flavors—more than 600 in all—that make up an orange, and consumer preferences. Those data are matched to a profile detailing acidity, sweetness, and other attributes of each batch of raw juice. The algorithm then tells Coke how to blend batches to replicate a certain taste and consistency, right down to pulp content. Another part of Black Book incorporates external factors such as weather patterns, expected crop yields, and cost pressures.”

Coca-Cola’s Brazilian partner Cutrale, processes the oranges, which are grown to Coke’s specifications. The juice is stored in silos and transported via a 1.3-mile underground pipeline where the juice is fresh pasteurized. Batches are separated into orange type, sweetness, and acidity and natural flavors and fragrances are added. 

"When the juice is stripped of oxygen it is also stripped of flavor providing chemicals. Juice companies therefore hire flavor and fragrance companies, the same ones that formulate perfumes for Dior and Calvin Klein, to engineer flavor packs to add back to the juice to make it taste fresh,” says Allisa Hamilton’s book, Squeezed: What You Don't Know About Orange Juice.

So if you’re craving fresh squeezed orange juice, your best bet is to make it at home or hit a local juice bar. 

Photo: ©Simply Orange Juice Company

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Read More: Are You Eating These 6 Unhealthy Health Foods?

10 Antioxidant Rich Foods Worth Adding to Your Detox Diet

03/05/2014

FruitIf you want to get the most nutrient bang for your buck, what foods have the largest impact? If you're looking for a detox diet, what antioxidant rich foods make the biggest difference? These nutrient dense foods will boost your intake of vitamins and minerals. 

1. Grapes

If you're looking to clean up your diet, give grapes a try. Dark-colored grapes especially are loaded with phytochemicals that protect you against cancer and heart disease. They have the antioxidants anthocyanin and proanthocyanidin, which are especially great for immune health. Grapes are also loaded with vitamin C. 

2. Blueberries

Blueberries are among the most antioxidant rich foods on the planet. They repair cell damage, lower inflammation, and strengthen the immune system. 

3. Kale 

Why does everyone consider kale the ultimate superfood? Because it has 206 percent of your daily dose of vitamin A and 134 percent of your daily dose of vitamin C. Kale also has 33 percent of your daily allowance of calcium and 684 percent of your daily allowance of vitamin K. 

4. Walnuts

Walnuts are loaded with antioxidants. “Research suggests that walnuts can be a healthful part of the diet for the prevention not only of breast and other cancers, but also diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” says researcher W. Elaine Hardman, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry at Marshall University School of Medicine in Huntington, W.Va.

5. Maca

Maca is a nutrient dense superfood that's rich in calcium, magnesium, and B vitamins. It's also known for balancing hormones in the body when they go out of whack. 

6. Cocoa powder

Cocoa powder, found in dark chocolate, is full of flavonoids. In fact, it has 550 mg per serving. When tested against other superfruit powders, it had the highest antioxidant activity of all of them. 

7. Garlic

Garlic has ajoene, which is known for preventing blood clots. Garlic also has a number of other cardioprotective qualities. For example, it makes the arteries more flexible as you age. 

8. Broccoli

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are known as super veggies because of a compound that neutralizes toxins in the liver and helps cleanse the system as a result.

9. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of the most potent sources of lycopene. Lycopene is a phytochemical found in red pigmented foods. 

10. Kiwi

Kiwi is great for fighting free radicals because it contains vitamins A and E. It's also good for immune health. 

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Read More: 9 Ways to Boost Your Antioxidant Action

A Brilliant Shortcut for Telling When Food is About to Spoil

02/26/2014

Food waste u.s. photoDon't you hate it when a beautiful bag of arugula wilts before you get a chance to eat it?

Luckily, there may be a new way to prevent that. A newly developed computer chip in food packaging warns customers when a food is about to go bad. While that may sound like a sci-fi flick, it could actually be a reality. Scientists have developed a gadget to be inserted into the food packaging of perishable foods to assess when foods are about to reach their use-by date, and when that date draws near, the chip will text that information to consumers. 

New technology could be far more effective than traditional sell-by dates because it assesses the actual conditions that the food is in instead of just generalizing. The hope is that this gadget could reduce food waste in the UK and beyond. 

According to Committee chair Baroness Scott of Needham Market, reported on The Daily Mail, the current convention of the best before date “assumes that everything’s equal; it just assumes that you all keep your food at the same temperature whereas this would actually respond to what the real conditions are," whereas the computer chip could even “send you a text to tell you that it needed eating.”

Though there is no set date for when this product will hit shelves, the prospect is exciting.

Food Waste in the U.S.

Food waste is a huge problem in the U.S. where getting food from farm to table eats up 10 percent of the total energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of freshwater used in the U.S. But even still, 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes uneaten

Americans throw out the equivalent of $165 million worth of food each year and that uneaten food ends up in our landfills as the single largest component of municipal waste. Reducing food waste by just 15 percent would be enough to feed more than 25 million Americans every year in a country where 1 in 6 lack a secure supply of food.

Photo: iStock/Thinkstock

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Read More: 7 Simple Ways to Reduce Food Waste

6 Important Minerals and How to Get Them

02/25/2014

Minerals image The human body is composed of 22 essential minerals, all of which need to be absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract. Some provide the body with structure like calcium and phosphorus, some transport oxygen like iron, some work with acid and alkaline balance like sodium and potassium, and some deal with bone growth and the formation of cartilage like calcium and phosporus.

You can test your mineral levels through a hair analysis to see if you’re getting enough and then take steps to improve your numbers.

1. Iodine

The body needs iodine to make thyroid hormones. These hormones control the body's metabolism and many other important functions. To get enough iodine, eat more sea vegetables and use salt with iodine. Sea vegetables are obviously grown in the ocean in a mineral rich environment. Enjoy your fill of dulse, nori, kelp, and Irish moss. 

2. Calcium

Calcium is required for muscle function, nerve function, and hormonal secretion. Green juice is key for calcium consumption. Make a green juice with your daily dose of kale, collards, and other leafy greens. Also, add in blackstrap molasses, sardines, and almonds.

3. Magnesium

Magnesium is essential for life, helping to stabilize blood pressure, build bone strength, and even reduce stress. Get ample magnesium from swiss chard, raw sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.

4. Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral that has a calming effect on the body. Most multivitamins contain zinc. Food sources include oysters, nuts, beans, and dairy products. 

Calcium photo5. Potassium 

Potassium is necessary for the heart, kidneys, and other organs to work normally. You can get potassium from bananas, avocados, nuts, citrus fruits, leafy, green vegetables, and potatoes. 

6. Phosphorus

Phosphorus is important for the formation of nervous tissue, bones, and cell protoplasm. Get enough of it from shellfish, fish, cheese, and sunflower seeds. 

Credit both: iStock/Thinkstock

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Read More: 6 Grocery List Switches To Live Holistically Healthy and Lose Pesky Pounds

 

Butter is Back But Is It Good or Bad For Heart Disease?

02/22/2014

Butter photoAccording to Market Watch, butter is back. Sales are set to top $2 billion this year in the U.S., a 65 percent increase since 2000. The American Butter Institute reports that per-capita consumption is now at a 40-year high. Foodies contend that other fat choices and spreads don’t provide the same taste and browning as butter. But is the return of butter’s popularity good for your health?

Butter Versus Margarine

Butter is a saturated fat that if used in excessive amounts can increase your risk of heart disease because it increases LDL (bad cholesterol) and total cholesterol. That’s why margarine became all the rage in the 90’s because it didn’t have as much saturated fat as butter. 

But unfortunately, Nancy Ferrari of Harvard Health Publications says that margarine turned out to be worse for you because it has trans fat. Trans fats aren’t safe even in moderation because it’s well documented that they increase LDL and decrease HDL (good cholesterol). 

According to Ferrari, “The truth is, there never was any good evidence that using margarine instead of butter cut the chances of having a heart attack or developing heart disease. Making the switch was a well-intentioned guess, given that margarine had less saturated fat than butter, but it overlooked the dangers of trans fats.”

While butter provides a rich flavor that can’t be beat, olive oil or other vegetable-based spreads are even better because they can help lower LDL cholesterol. 

High Quality, Local Butter

Butter is also popular amongst foodies because butter is a fat that can often be purchased from high quality local producers. For those trying to eat more foods from the farmers’ market and get to know their farmers, butter is a probable fat choice. And while olive oil should be the oil used most often, a few tablespoons of creamy local butter can sure do a great job of highlighting the best of your local bounty.

Photo: iStock/Thinkstock

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Read More: CDC: More Than 200,000 Preventable Heart Disease Deaths

Stay Skinny Eating Out: 9 Tips for Choosing Healthy Meals at Restaurants

02/18/2014

Eating out photoResearch out of Philadelphia shows that a meal at a sit-down restaurant is as shockingly bad for you as  fast food. The study focused on restaurant chains found in the Philadelphia area like Applebee’s and Ruby Tuesday’s. Researchers from Drexel & Penn analyzed the nutritional content of 2,615 items from 21 chains and then compared them to the USDA guidelines.

The typical restaurant meal, which included an entree, side, and half an appetizer has 1,495 calories, 28 grams of saturated fat, and 3,512 mg of sodium. The calorie counts rose to 2,020 calories if the meal included a beverage and half of a dessert. Researchers concluded that food in full service restaurant chains was terribly unhealthy. 

But here’s the deal, sometimes you just have to get out. That’s why I put together a resource that can make eating out MUCH healthier. 

1. Skip the bread basket.

The average piece of bread contains 100 calories before you even add the butter, that’s why it’s best to skip it entirely.

2. Choose an appetizer for your entree. 

I’m known for ordering an appetizer for my entree because I can never eat the whole meal. If I’m extra hungry, I’ll have a non-cream based soup before my appetizer entree comes. 

3. Order it raw, grilled, or steamed.

These cooking methods are free of excessive oil and butter. This way you can control your fat, which is often used in excess at restaurants. 

4. Split a dessert four ways.

Dessert should just be about tasting. Pass the dessert around the table and everyone gets to enjoy a sweet bite or two, but not a whole piece.

5. Focus on the experience.

Enjoy the company of those that you’re hanging out with as well. Take your time chewing, chat with your mate or friends, and be mindful of the experience rather than just stuffing your face. 

6. Take half of your sandwich for later.

If I order a big sandwich, I have them wrap up half before I even dig in. That way I’m less likely to overstuff myself and I have a delicious meal for later.

7. Choose higher end and go less often.

High end dining establishments use better quality ingredients and they offer smaller portions. Go less often and enjoy a better meal. 

8. Don’t drink too much.

If you have too many glasses of wine you can be sure that you’re going to overeat because your willpower is diminished. 

9. Stay away from buffets. 

Enough said.

guys: iStock/Thinkstock
ladies: Creatas/Thinkstock

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Read More: 6 Tips to Avoid Getting Tricked at Fast Food Restaurants

30 Tips for How to Be Healthy On the Go

02/06/2014

Cooking on the go photoIt’s easy to be healthy when you have nothing but time to plan meals, grocery shop, and exercise. But unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in. For those of us busy with family, kids, and work, finding time to balance isn’t always so simple. But you can make a lot of progress by following this extensive list for being healthy in a rush.

At the grocery store. 

1. Go at off hours. 

2. Always bring a list

3. Keep a running list on the refrigerator to add items when you run out of them. 

4. Go alone.

5. Park your car far away from the grocery store. 

6. Avoid processed foods with artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners. 

In the kitchen.

7. Prep meals on Sunday for the week. 

8. Have staples like hard boiled eggs, quinoa, legumes, and grilled chicken cooked and ready in the refrigerator. 

9. Use your slow cooker. 

10. Make more than you need. Soups are a great option.

11. Start your day with a green smoothie.

12. Add a raw salad to dinner each night. 

13. Add fresh raw fruits and veggies as a side to meals.

On the go.

14. Drink reverse osmosis water throughout the day to stay hydrated.

15. Avoid the highs and lows of caffeine

16. Carry healthy snacks with you like raw nuts, dried (sulfite-free) fruits, and raw food bars. 

17. Switch soda for kombucha.

18. Choose cold pressed juices.

19. Choose dried fruit or organic dark chocolate when you crave something sweet. 

Climb the stairs photoMind/body exercise.

20. Walk the stairs at work. 

21. Do a yoga pose between tasks.

22. Close your office door at lunch for a quick guided meditation.

Other healthy tips.

23. Don’t have caffeine after 2 pm. 

24. Don’t waste time on social media. 

25. Stretch while you’re watching television. 

26. Add in a probiotic.

27. Avoid eating late at night.

28. Get enough sleep

29. Avoid fried foods at restaurants. 

30. Bike to work.

Image 1: iStock/Thinkstock
Image 2: Wavebreak Media

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Read More: Handbook for Happiness: 8 Easy Tips For Living Your Best Life

Holland Next Victim of Horse Meat Scandal

02/04/2014

Horse meat scandal photoThe Dutch food authorities have issued an official recall for up to 24,000 pounds of horse meat that was illegally sold in Holland last year. The horse meat originated from equestrian riding centers in France. Since last year, the horse meat scandal has continued to widen as meat, which is unfit for human consumption, has been accompanied with fake documents labeling it as beef. 

In all, 200 horse meat carcasses were discovered in December. Last month 22 cattle traders, butchers, and veterinarians were arrested in the wake of the scandal, according to The Telegraph

“Retailers still need to work on smaller supply chains. By buying local we can more likely trace all sources of our food," said Anne McIntosh MP, the chairwoman of the cross-party environment, food and rural affairs committee.

France has thus far found the most beef products containing horse DNA, while Britain has detected traces of painkillers banned for human consumption. Results from more than 7,000 tests carried out in Europe found horse DNA in 5 percent of samples, while phenylbutazone, a banned drug used as an equine painkiller, was found in .5 percent of tested samples. 

“Restoring the trust and confidence of European consumers and trading partners in our food chain following this fraudulent labeling scandal is now of vital importance for the European economy, given that the food sector is the largest single economic sector in the European Union," Tonio Borg, the European commissioner for health and consumer policy, said, reported in The New York Times.

Back in August, France tested 353 products labeled beef and 47 of them contained horse DNA, Greece tested 288 and 36 contained horse DNA, and Germany tested 878 samples and 29 contained horse DNA. Britain found the highest numbers of banned equine painkillers in their samples.

In all, 20 percent of horse meat sold in Europe is actually imported from North America. The scandal first arose last February when Britain’s Food and Standards Agency discovered horse meat in frozen lasagna labeled 100 percent beef. 

Photo: iStock/Thinkstock 

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Read More: Why Are Americans Squeamish About Horse Meat?

6 Tips to Avoid Inviting Food Poisoning to Your Super Bowl Party

01/31/2014

Super bowl party photoIt's time to get siked for the Super Bowl. Whether you’re a Seahawk or a Bronco, entertaining is a mainstay of Super Bowl game day. And whenever there’s entertaining involved the Food and Drug Administration wants to remind you to keep food safety in mind.

6 Tips to Avoid Inviting Food Poisoning to Your Super Bowl Party 

1. Enjoy small plates.

Prepare a number of smaller platters at the same time and replace the serving dish with fresh ones throughout the party rather than making one huge platter of food that could go bad and make your guests sick.

2. Store dishes correctly. 

Store cold dishes in the refrigerator and hot dishes in the oven. The oven should be set for 200-250 degrees F. Hot foods should have an internal temperature of at least 140 degrees F and cold foods should have an internal temperature of 40 degrees F. 

3. Remember the 2 hour rule. 

Discard perishable foods left out at room temperature after more than 2 hours. 

4. Wash hands.

Always wash hands before and after food preparation with warm soap and water. But skip antibacterial soaps. "New data suggest that the risks associated with long-term, daily use of antibacterial soaps may outweigh the benefits," Colleen Rogers, Ph.D., a lead microbiologist at FDA says. There are indications that certain ingredients in these soaps may contribute to bacterial resistance to antibiotics, and may have unanticipated hormonal effects that are of concern to FDA.

Also, clean cutting boards, surfaces, and utensils between uses with hot water and soap. 

5. Don’t cross contaminate.

Separate raw meats, poultry, and seafood in your shopping cart and the refrigerator to prevent their juices from dripping on other foods, especially those that will be eaten raw. Always use a clean platter when you’re plating up foods, not the same one that you used for marinating. Use separate cutting boards for meats and vegetables. 

6. Learn the correct cooking temperatures.

Have your handy cooking thermometer ready. Turkey should be cooked to 165 degrees,  pork and ham to 145 degrees F, leftovers to 165 degrees F, and fish to 145 degrees F.

iStock/Thinkstock

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Read More: 6 Tips to Avoid Food Poisoning this Holiday Season


Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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