The real health benefits of eating organic

Millions of shoppers every year are buying organic food, but does it have any real benefits for your health?

Organic campaigners believe it does. Here are some more facts about the health value of organic food.

Bread and pasta

Bread, pasta and other products made from non-organic flour may contain more pesticides than other foods. ‘Conventionally farmed grains are heavily sprayed with toxic chemicals, and because the grains are very small, they are able to absorb more pesticides,’ says Karen Sullivan.

Wholegrain bread is one area where you see a real difference with organic. ‘Pesticides and other chemicals sit on the husk of the grain, so a refined white non-organic bread will be less tainted than its wholemeal equivalent, although lower in nutrients,’ says Karen.

Is organic better for you?

Tests by the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (MAFF) last year found 44 per cent of all bread samples contained pesticide residues. One herbicide called glyphosate is

linked with the cancer Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and was found in 7 per cent of the samples.

But the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) says that 70 per cent of food samples analysed by MAFF in 1997 were residue free and 29 per cent contained levels below the maximum residue level. ‘If pesticides are present at all in non-organically produced food, the levels are very low and do not present a risk to human health,’ says a spokesman.

Milk and dairy products

The biggest concern with non-organic milk is the chemicals that the cow could pass on through its feed. One of these is the pesticide lindane, which has been linked to breast cancer. Lindane is part of a group of chemicals called organochlorines, which includes a banned chemical called DDT. DDT has been outlawed in Britain but 100 tonnes of lindane are still used on our fields every year.

Four international studies carried out between 1984 and 1994 found that women with breast cancer had a higher rate of chemicals including lindane in their bodies compared to women without cancer. Scientists think these chemicals

are capable of copying the effects of oestrogen in the body, which disrupts your normal hormone patterns. Lindane has also been linked to lower sperm counts in men.

Is organic better for you?

Karen Sullivan says that organic milk will contain virtually no pesticides. ‘Organically raised cows graze on organic pastures that have not been treated with any pesticides or fertilisers. This means fewer, if any, residues exist in their milk,’ she says.

Wine and beer

Going organic does not just relate to the food you eat, but also what you drink. Conventionally grown grapes and grain used in wine and beer are sprayed with up to 15 different pesticides and the soil is often chemically fertilised.

Tests on beer in 1999 found 35 per cent contained pesticide residues above their recommended limits. A recent report by Health Which? magazine raised concerns about the unknown impact of the ‘cocktail’ effect of these pesticide residues on your health.

Grapes for wine are heavily sprayed with sulphur dioxide, a preservative, which can have disastrous affects on your health. The symptoms of sulphur dioxide poisoning include nausea, blurred vision and the shakes – exactly the same symptoms as a hangover.

Is organic better for you?

Organic wine is produced without chemical fertilisers and no genetically modified hops can be used to brew organic beer. The Health Which? report also discovered that organic red wine was superior in taste to many non-organic reds. Drinking organic wine could also affect your performance at work – annecdotal evidence shows organic alcoholic drinks are less likely to produce hangovers.

Organic Grain is available to purchase at

This article is originally posted on Dailymail UK

Top 10 Health Benefits of Brown Rice

White and brown rice

Brown rice is better for you than white — the evidence is compelling when you look at the top 10 health benefits of it that follow. The majority of consumers typically choose white rice over brown because of the difference in appearance.

While it’s true white rice might look more appealing to some than its brown relative, it doesn’t mean it’s the healthier alternative. According to a study conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, brown rice is the top choice in terms of both nutritional and other inherent healthy benefits.

Why Brown Rice? Before white rice went through the refining process, it at one time looked exactly like the brown stuff. Brown, unlike white rice, still has the side hull and bran. The side hulls and brans provide “natural wholeness” to the grain and are rich in proteins, thiamine, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and potassium. For those trying to lose weight or those suffering from diabetes, it can prove a healthful staple given its low glycemic rating which helps reduce insulin spikes.

Unfortunately, all white rice packaging has a label that reads “enriched.” Since white rice has been stripped of iron, vitamins, zinc, magnesium and other nutrients during the refining process, manufacturers must add unnatural fortifications in the form of synthetic vitamins and iron so it can be marketed to the public as a “nutritious food.” Although white rice is fortified, it still doesn’t reach the minimum nutritional requirements for one serving of food as specified by the FDA. The healthy benefits of brown rice are listed below.

1. Rich in Selenium It is rich in selenium which reduces the risk for developing common illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and arthritis.

2. High in Manganese One cup of it provides 80% of our daily manganese requirements. Manganese helps the body synthesize fats. Manganese also benefits our nervous and reproductive systems.

3. Rich in Naturally-Occurring Oils Naturally occurring oils are beneficial for the body as these healthful fats help normalize cholesterol levels.

4. Promotes Weight Loss The fiber content of brown rice keeps bowel function at it’s peak since it makes digestion that much easier. It is the perfect addition to the daily diet for those seeking bowel regularity. In addition, it also makes the tummy feel full which translates to smaller meal portions.

5. Considered Whole Grain Brown rice is considered a whole grain since it hasn’t lost its “wholeness” through the refinement process. Whole grains are proven to reduce the buildup of arterial plaque and reduce the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol.

Brown rice in a bowl6. Rich in Anti-Oxidants This is one of the best kept secrets regarding brown rice. We usually associate anti-oxidant rich foods with blueberries, strawberries and other fruits and vegetables. Its antioxidant capacity is right up there with these super stars.

7. High in Fiber It is high in fiber and on top of the list for foods that can help prevent colon cancer. This can be attributed to the high levels of fiber naturally contained in brown rice. These fibers attach to substances that cause cancer as well as to toxins in the body, thus eliminating them and keeping them from attaching to the colon wall.

8. A Slow-Release Sugar Brown rice helps stabilize blood sugar levels; therefore, it’s an excellent food choice for those suffering from diabetes. Studies show that those who consume one half cup eaten daily reduce their risks of developing diabetes by 60%. On the other hand, those who consume white rice regularly increase their chances of developing diabetes one hundred-fold.

9. Perfect Baby Food Brown rice cereal or even just by itself is the perfect baby’s first food due to the dense natural nutrition and fiber it contains. This is a much better choice than refined white rice cereal products as rapidly growing babies and toddlers require nutrient rich diets to help maintain rapid growth cycles.

10. Candida Yeast Infections It is the perfect adjunct for candida yeast infection treatmentsgiven that high glycemic and otherwise sugary/starchy foods are prohibited during most candida treatment protocols. Its natural digestibility coupled with the high fiber content can help sensitive digestive systems heal from an overgrowth of candida organisms. Finally, it is simply delicious and a fantastic staple for both vegetarian and vegan diets. It can be used as a white rice alternative in most vegetarian recipes and provides a full, rich and somewhat nutty flavor. Its flour can be used for vegetarian pancakes, breads and other baked goods. All in all, it is clearly the healthy choice.

Dr. Linda Kennedy MS SLP ND is an avid animal activist and nature lover.

How to Cook brown rice

The amount of water recommended for cooking long- and medium-grain brown rice varies depending on the source, from as little as 1½ parts water to as much as 3 parts water per 1 part rice. I’ve always preferred 2 1/2 parts water to 1 part rice. For example, 2 1/2 cups water to 1 cup rice.

Remember to rinse the rice well before cooking. Combine in a medium saucepan with the water. Bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat, Cover (leave lid ajar) and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. If the rice isn’t tender to your liking at this point, add 1/2 cup additional water and continue to simmer until it’s absorbed.

Organic Brown Rice is available to purchase at

This article is originally posted on VegKitchen


Black Beans: Health Benefits, Facts, Research

Black beans are classified as legumes. Also known as turtle beans because of their hard, shell-like appearance, black beans are, in fact, the edible seeds of the plant.

Like other legumes, such as peanuts, peas, and lentils, black beans are prized for their high protein and fiber content. They also contain several other key vitamins and minerals that are known to benefit human health.

This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods.

It provides a nutritional profile of the black bean and an in-depth look at its possible health benefits, how to incorporate black beans into your diet, and any potential health risks of consuming black beans.

Fast facts on black beans

Here are some key points about black beans. More detail and supporting information is in the main article.

  • Among other benefits, black beans may help strengthen bones
  • Black beans contain quercetin and saponins which can protect the heart
  • Black beans contain around 114 kilocalories per half-cup

Possible health benefits of consuming black beans

Let’s examine the potential health benefits of black beans:

1) Maintaining healthy bones

black beans
Black beans are high in protein and fiber.

The iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, and zinc in black beans all contribute to building and maintaining bone structure and strength.

Calcium and phosphorus are important in bone structure, while iron and zinc play crucial roles in maintaining the strength and elasticity of bones and joints.

Roughly 99 percent of the body’s calcium supply, 60 percent of its magnesium, and 80 percent of its phosphorus stores are contained in bone; this means it is extremely important to get sufficient amounts of these nutrients from the diet.

2) Lowering blood pressure

Maintaining a low sodium intake is essential for keeping blood pressure at a normal level. Black beans are naturally low in sodium and contain potassium, calcium, and magnesium, all of which have been found to decrease blood pressure naturally.

Be sure to purchase low sodium canned options and still drain and rinse to further reduce sodium content.

3) Managing diabetes

Studies have shown that individuals with type 1 diabetes who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels; additionally, type 2 diabetics may have improved blood sugar, lipids, and insulin levels. One cup (172 grams) of cooked black beans contributes 15 grams of fiber.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 21-25 grams of fiber per day for women and 30-38 grams per day for men.

4) Warding off heart disease

The black bean’s fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin B6, and phytonutrient content, coupled with its lack of cholesterol, all support heart health. The fiber in black beans helps lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood and decrease the risk of heart disease.

Vitamin B6 and folate prevent the buildup of a compound known as homocysteine. When excessive amounts of homocysteine accumulate in the body, it can damage blood vessels and lead to heart problems.

The quercetin and saponins found in black beans also aid in cardioprotection. Quercetin is a natural anti-inflammatory that appears to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and protect against the damage caused by low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

Research also indicates that saponins help lower blood lipid and blood cholesterol levels, which prevents damage to the heart and blood vessels.

5) Preventing cancer

  • Selenium is a mineral that is not present in most fruits and vegetables but can be found in black beans. It plays a role in liver enzyme function and helps detoxify some cancer-causing compounds in the body. Additionally, selenium prevents inflammation and decreases tumor growth rates.
  • Saponins prevent cancer cells from multiplying and spreading throughout the body.
  • Fiber intakes from fruits and vegetables like black beans are associated with a lowered risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Black beans are high in folate, which plays a role in DNA synthesis and repair, thus preventing the formation of cancer cells from mutations in the DNA.

6) Healthy digestion

Because of their fiber content, black beans help to prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract. They also provide fuel for the healthy bacteria in the colon.

7) Weight loss

Dietary fiber is commonly recognized as an important factor in weight loss and weight management by functioning as a “bulking agent” in the digestive system. High fiber foods increase satiety (a sense of fullness) and reduce appetite, making an individual feel fuller for longer, thereby lowering overall calorie intake.

Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like black beans decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, and overall lower weight.

Nutritional profile of black beans

According to the National Nutrient Database one-half cup (86g) of cooked black beans contains approximately:

  • Energy – 114 kilocalories
  • Protein – 7.62 grams
  • Fat – 0.46 grams
  • Carbohydrate – 20.39 grams
  • Fiber – 7.5 grams
  • Sugars – 0.28 grams
  • Calcium – 23 milligrams
  • Iron – 1.81 milligrams
  • Magnesium – 60 milligrams
  • Phosphorus – 120 milligrams
  • Potassium – 305 milligrams
  • Sodium – 1 milligram
  • Zinc – 0.96 milligrams
  • Thiamin – 0.21 milligrams
  • Niacin – 0.434 milligrams
  • Folate – 128 micrograms
  • Vitamin K – 2.8 micrograms

Black beans also offer a variety of phytonutrients like saponins, anthocyanins, kaempferol, and quercetin, all of which possess antioxidant properties.

As with many beans and legumes, black beans contain starch – a form of complex carbohydrate. Starch acts as a “slow burn” energy store that is slowly digested by the body, preventing a spike in blood sugar levels.

Incorporating black beans into your diet

Black beans are available year-round and are often found in grocery stores either dried and packaged or canned. They have a dense, almost meaty texture that makes them a popular source of protein in vegetarian dishes.

If you are using canned black beans, be sure to select those with no added sodium and to drain and rinse them. When preparing dried black beans, it is important to sort (pick out any small rocks or other debris that may have wound up in the package), wash, and soak them in water for at least 8-10 hours before cooking in order to achieve optimum flavor and texture.

You can tell they are finished soaking when you can split them easily between your fingers. Soaking dried legumes reduces the amount of time needed to cook them, and also helps remove some of the oligosaccharides that cause gastrointestinal distress. Soaking beans for longer periods can help to reduce phytates, which may reduce mineral absorption.

Quick tips:

black bean tacos
Mix black beans with vegetables, cheese, and salsa to create a delicious taco salad.
  • Make a hearty black bean soup by blending cooked black beans with onions, tomatoes, and your favorite spices
  • Add black beans to burritos
  • Blend cooked black beans with garlic, onion, fresh cilantro, and lime juice for a quick and easy bean dip
  • Mix black beans, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, sharp cheddar cheese, and salsa together for a simple taco salad

Try these healthy recipes using black beans:

Black bean burgers with chipotle mango guacamole
Poblano chilaquiles
Veggie fajitas
Healthy two-grain southwest salad
Heart-healthy chipotle chili

Potential health risks of consuming black beans

Legumes contain oligosaccharides known as galactans – complex sugars that the body cannot digest because it lacks the necessary enzyme – alpha-galactosidase.

Because of this, the consumption of legumes, including black beans, is known to cause some people intestinal gas and discomfort.

If you experience these symptoms associated with legume intake, you may consider slowly introducing them into your diet. Another option is to soak beans longer, opt for sprouted beans, and/or drain the water used to soak dried legumes. This removes two oligosaccharides, raffinose, and stachyose, and eliminates some of the digestive issues.

It is the total overall eating pattern that is most important in preventing disease and attaining good health. It is better to eat a diet with a variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.

What Are the Benefits of Eating Lentils?

Lentils are a rich source of dietary fiber.

Lentils are a rich source of dietary fiber.

Lentils are a powerhouse of nutrition. They are a good source of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K, but are particularly rich in dietary fiber, lean protein, folate and iron. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that eating plenty of nutrient-dense foods like lentils can lessen your risk of many serious medical problems. Lentils are not only one of the oldest commonly consumed legumes in history, but they are also one of the simplest to prepare since they don’t require a lengthy soaking time like other beans. Some people may experience flatulence and abdominal discomfort when initially adding legumes like lentils into their diet. Cookbook author Mark Bittman recommends incorporating lentils into regular meals slowly, over a period of weeks, and using a commercial digestive aid.

Dietary Fiber

A single cup of cooked lentils contains 16 grams of dietary fiber, or 63 percent of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommended daily allowance of fiber for an adult man or woman on a 2,000-calorie diet. Lentils contain some soluble fiber, but are an outstanding source of insoluble fiber. According to The Cancer Project, a diet that includes plenty of insoluble fiber can regulate bowel movements, promote digestive system health and may significantly decrease the risk of colon, breast, throat and esophageal cancer. Fiber-rich foods like lentils may also help prevent stroke, heart disease, diabetes, high blood cholesterol and hypertension.

Lean Protein

Cooked lentils provide 18 grams of protein per cup, with less than 1 gram of fat, negligible saturated fat and no cholesterol. When compared to beef, poultry and fish, all of which are good sources of protein but contain much higher amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol, the Harvard School of Public Health names legumes such as lentils a better protein choice. A 2012 study published in the “Archives of Internal Medicine” reported that substituting lean protein sources like beans for red meat could lower your overall risk of dying from most diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Lentils do not contain all of the amino acids required by the body for protein synthesis. Combine them with a grain like rice or whole-wheat bread for a meal providing complete protein.


Each cup of cooked lentils has 358 micrograms of folate. This amount supplies nearly 100 percent of the 400-microgram daily requirement of folate for adults. Folate, also known as folic acid or vitamin B-9, supports nervous system health, aids in energy metabolism and is required for the synthesis of DNA, RNA and red blood cells. If your diet lacks adequate folate, you may be more likely to develop cancer, depression, heart disease and age-related vision or hearing loss. It is especially important for pregnant women to include folate-rich foods like lentils in their diets. Pregnant women who eat at least 600 micrograms of folate daily may lessen the risk of their child being born with a birth defect.


A cup of lentils provides 87 percent of the iron men need daily and 38 percent of the amount a woman needs. The body uses iron to produce red blood cells and adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. People who are deficient in iron may develop anemia or neurological problems like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. The iron in plant-based foods like lentils is nonheme iron, a form of iron that is not absorbed as easily as the heme iron in meat, poultry and fish. You can increase the amount of iron you get from lentils by eating the legumes with meat or with a rich source of vitamin C. Serve lentils in meat-based soups or braises, or toss them into salads featuring dark, leafy greens and orange or grapefruit segments.

Organic Black Beans is available to purchase at

This article is originally posted on Medical News Today