In this Issue:
Removing Pesticides from Your Produce
Practical advice on washing your fruits and vegetables
How Does Cooking Affect Antioxidant Levels?
Learn how to prepare your foods
so you get the most antioxidant benefits from them.
Nutrients That Protect Your Vision
Age-related diseases of the eyes
are more common than ever; find out how to protect
your vision through optimal nutrition.
to Remove Bacteria and Pesticides
With the ever-increasing incidences of food contamination and food-borne illnesses, it's a better idea than ever to clean your produce well before preparation. The goal of washing is to remove any potentially harmful organisms such as bacteria, soil and pesticide/herbicide spray residue.
Washing does have its limitations; it will not remove toxins that may have been absorbed by the plant while growing, so it's best to buy organic produce as much as possible to avoid this problem. In any event, washing is still a good idea.
Agricultural pesticides are mostly oil-based, and do not come off with water alone. There are specialized produce sprays being sold in your grocery store for just this purpose. However, there's no need to spend extra money on produce wash when you can just as easily mix your own with common ingredients you probably already have around the house.
Cheap and Easy Cleaning Solutions
For most home-made formulas, vinegar seems to be the most commonly used ingredient. The typical strength is one part vinegar to three parts water. This is great for removing bacteria, and may help break down wax, too. Other ingredients that work include lemon juice and baking soda, or a few drops of liquid detergent.
The editors of Cooks Illustrated magazine compared vinegar water to three other common methods of washing produce. They tried these different methods on pears and apples: a vinegar and water solution (3 parts water to 1 part vinegar), antibacterial liquid soap, scrubbing with a stiff brush, and just rinsing with plain water. The vinegar mixture work the best; it removed 98% of bacteria; next best was brush scrubbing, which removed just under 85%.
The easiest way to do this at home is to keep a vinegar solution in a bottle with a spray top near the kitchen sink. Just spray your fruits or vegetables with the vinegar solution, wipe them gently, then rinse them under the tap. If you have time, leave fruit or vegetables soaking for 10-20 minutes in a vinegar/water solution, then rinse.
Peeling your Fruits and Vegetables
as an Alternative to Washing
Peeling is often the best way to substantially reduce the pesticide load, especially from fruits that rank high in pesticide levels, such as peaches, nectarines, apples and pears. You still want to wash the fruit or vegetables well before peeling, because pesticides (or bacteria) can transfer to the peeled fruit or vegetable in the process.
The downside to peeling is that you'll lose much of the nutritional value, since the skins of many fruits and vegetables contain the highest concentration of nutrients.
Discard the outer layer of vegetables such as lettuce or onions, as these will have more pesticides on them from spraying. The outside layer of any fruit or vegetable will have absorbed most of the pesticides (though some will have also have been absorbed from the soil).
When Buying Fruit and Vegetables
If you can't buy everything organic, it's good to be aware of which types of fruits and vegetables have the highest concentrations of pesticide residues.
To make this easier, you can download the handy Shopper's Guide to Pesticides created by the Environmental Working Group. It shows you at a glance which fruits and vegetables have both the highest and lowest levels of pesticides.
How Does Cooking
Affect Antioxidant Levels in Vegetables?
Fruits and vegetables are considered to be the major source of nutritional antioxidants for most people. Because of their unsurpassed value in preventing degenerative diseases, everyone should eat as many servings of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables as possible. To meet that goal, it's useful to know how to prepare your food to retain maximum antioxidant content.
In general, eating as much raw food as possible is the best way to ensure maximum nutrition. Besides preserving the antioxidant content, eating raw food means your getting the benefits of plant enzymes that are destroyed when food is cooked. Surprisingly, some foods don't lose any antioxidant value from cooking, while others even exhibit an increase in antioxidant availability.
Cooking Methods Make a Difference
Researchers at the University of Murcia and the University of Complutense in Spain examined how various cooking methods affected antioxidant activity by analyzing six cooking methods with 20 vegetables. The six cooking methods were boiling, pressure-cooking, baking, microwaving, griddling and frying. Some of the findings are quite surprising:
- The highest antioxidant loss was observed in cauliflower after boiling and microwaving, peas after boiling, and zucchini after boiling and frying.
- Green beans, beets, and garlic were found to keep their antioxidant levels after most cooking treatments.
- The vegetables that increased their antioxidant levels after all cooking methods were green beans (except after boiling), celery and carrots.
- Artichoke was the only vegetable that kept its high antioxidant level during all the cooking methods.
Cooking Some Foods
Can Actually Increase Antioxidant Content
There are a few fruits and vegetables that release many more antioxidants when cooked. The carotenoid family of antioxidants is a prime example. Carotenoids are found in fruits and vegetables that are red, orange, and deep yellow in color, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, corn and peppers, among others. Dark-green leafy vegetables are another good source. Cooking these vegetables loosens the carotene from the fiber of the vegetable and greatly increases the amount available to your body.
Lycopene is a powerful cancer-fighting carotenoid found principally in tomatoes. Lycopene has been repeatedly studied in humans and found to be protective against a growing list of cancers. These cancers include colorectal, prostate, breast, lung, and pancreatic cancers.
While a half-cup of raw tomatoes will give you about 2.5 mg of lycopene, the same amount of cooked tomato sauce contains over 20 mg! Even lowly ketchup has 2.5 mg. of lycopene in a tablespoon. (Organic ketchup delivers three times as much lycopene as non-organic brands).
Carotenoids are also absorbed much better when you eat them with fats, since they are transported through your bloodstream by your LDL-cholesterol. Don't hesitate to add a pat or two of butter to your cooked vegetables, and don't be fooled into using fat-free dressings on your salads, Fat-free dressings are typically loaded with sugar and aren't healthy choices. Natural fats such as butter and olive oil are much better for you.
There's Always the Exceptions! Then there are other vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, which are higher in some nutrients when eaten raw, but higher in others when they're cooked. Broccoli contains very powerful cancer-fighting nutrients that are destroyed when heated, but other valuable nutrients that become more available when cooked.
There's doesn't seem to be any hard and fast rule about whether to eat your vegetables raw or cooked in order to get the highest antioxidant level. The most important thing is to get as many servings of fruits and vegetables every day. I'd say that whatever it takes to make you want to eat more, do that (within reason). If you prefer cooked vegetables, at least keep them out of the microwave or avoid immersing them in boiling water or worse, the deep fryer. Steaming or baking are preferable to all other methods.
For the best information on buying and preparing healthy meals, I recommend The World's Healthiest Foods. It's a great resource for anyone wanting to eat healthier foods and looking for tips on how to prepare them.
Protect Your Eyesight
With Optimal Nutrition
Diseases of the eyes are becoming much more common, especially as people age. The two most common ones seen today are macular degeneration and glaucoma.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a chronic condition that causes central vision loss. Approximately 10% of people 66 to 74 years of age will develop macular degeneration. This increases to 30% in people 75 to 85 years of age.
Glaucoma is an eye disorder in which the optic nerve suffers damage, permanently damaging vision in the affected eye(s) and progressing to complete blindness if untreated. Once lost, this damaged visual field cannot be recovered. Worldwide, it is the second leading cause of blindness. Glaucoma affects 1 in 200 people aged fifty and younger, and 1 in 10 over the age of eighty.
What can you do to protect yourself from deteriorating vision as you age? There is evidence that a generous intake of certain antioxidants can help prevent these devastating conditions from occurring; they include beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, bilberry and the new kid on the block, astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin hasn't been around for very long, but the evidence is showing that it may be the best vision supplement yet. It's one of the few antioxidants that can cross the blood-retinal barrier and bring protection to the eyes. It also works all throughout the body, organs and skin, and in every part of the cell. Users report many other benefits as well, from younger-looking skin to increased athletic performance and relief from joint pain and arthritis.
Right now, iHerb is offering a terrific deal on EyeAstin by Nutrex-Hawaii, one of the best eye health supplements you can get. EyeAstin combines pure Hawaiian astaxanthin, the most powerful natural antioxidant known, with the four other eye antioxidants mentioned above.
In addition, each capsule of EyeAstin also gives you additional antioxidants like alpha lipoic acid, n-acetyl-cysteine and quercetin. Formulated by Dr. Robert Corish MD, EyeAstin has superior anti-inflammatory properties and eye health benefits to help support and enhance eye function, improve night vision, reduce eye fatigue and strain.
Oh... did I mention that you can get a great deal on Nutrex EyeAstin right now? iHerb is offering it for 70% OFF the retail price, and more than 50% OFF iHerb's usual great discount price!
Hurry and get yours while the offer is still good! I don't know how long this offer will last.
There's more information on my website on all the antioxidants for your eyes:
If you have not heard much about genetically modified organisms(GMOs), you may not know that they may be one of the most dangerous health and environmental problems we face today.
GM foods are everywhere in our food supply. If you buy any type of packaged food, you're probably already consuming GM ingredients; 70% of the processed food in your supermarket contains GM ingredients.
GM foods have been linked to an increased risk in allergies, liver disease, reproductive problems and sterility and a host of other health problems. Unlike safety evaluations for drugs, there are no human clinical trials of GM foods.
So, please, if you haven't already, visit the websites below and find out what you can do to avoid consuming genetically-modified food, and prevent GM agriculture from take over the planet and destroying our food supply. While you're there, consider what you can do to contribute to the cause.
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is a grassroots, non-profit public interest organization that promotes and supports organic agriculture and addresses issues related to it, including food safety, food politics and GM technology.
The OCA is actively working to stop Monsanto from spreading GM agriculture around the world and gaining control of the world food supply. You can sign up here to support their campaign, Millions Against Monsanto.
The Institute for Responsible Technology is a world leader in educating policy makers and the public about genetically modified (GM) foods and crops. Founded in 2003 by international bestselling author and GMO expert Jeffrey Smith, the IRT works to mobilize citizens, organizations, healthcare professionals and the media to discover the truth about GM foods.
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Have a great month!