31 Jan
2017

In my opinion, Manuka honey is something that everyone should keep on their shelf as a regular part of your diet and as a natural antimicrobial for wound healing.

While it is somewhat expensive, if you invest in a (KFactor) UMF 16+ Manuka honey, you will not need to use more than a teaspoon orally per day so it will last for quite a long time.

I always suggest buying raw honey, no matter the kind, to retain the natural enzyme benefits that pasteurization with heat removes.

Wedderspoon is the primary company that I look for when looking for Non-GMO Project Verified Manuka honey.  The offer both KFactor 12 and KFactor 16 rated honey to make sure you are receiving the additional benefits of their Manuka.  Wedderspoon honey is rated 5-stars by all of their customers (including myself)!

Find the best selection of Wedderspoon Raw Manuka Honey at Lucky Vitamin, or look for the lowest price at Thrive Market.

Your body will thank you!

 

31 Jan
2017

Sweet Straight from the Bees

When I think about honey, I am reminded of the scene in Fried Green Tomatoes when Idgie waltzes right up to a tree with a beehive inside, reaches in with her bare hands and grabs a chunk of honey-laden beeswax.  She calmly walks away unscathed, while Ruth stands back in awe.  Wouldn’t it be lovely to have such direct access to honey?  If you do, tell the rest of us how wonderful it is in the comments below!

Honey has most assuredly been a part of human food culture since the beginning of time.  Historically, honey has been used for many more uses than solely a food product.  In history, it has been recorded that honey was used for digestive ailments, ulcers, skin ailments and skin burns.  Because honey contains anti-microbial properties it was found highly useful.

Religious significance was also attributed to honey in several people groups.  For the Jewish people, honey is a symbol of the Jewish New Year and is a dip for apples to bring in a new year.  Buddhists use honey in the festival of Madhu Purnima, a day that celebrates when Buddha made peace with his disciples.  In the Quran, honey is promoted as a healing food, and in the Bible there are many references to honey both in the Old and New Testaments, symbolizing prosperity and health.

Classification of Honey

You have probably been to the store and seen quite a selection of honey and wondered why they are different.  Let me shed a little light on this for you!

Honey is classified by the floral source, meaning the flowers from which the bees took nectar.  While is it possible to limit bees to one floral source by containment to produce a mono-floral (one flower) honey, free-living bees feed on many floral sources and produce blended honey (or polyfloral, many flowers).

Filtering honey

Grading of honey is optional for honey producers, so if you do not see a grade on your honey do not be alarmed.
Producers are required to pay a fee for having their honey graded and some simply choose not to do so.  Grading level standards were established by the USDA to establish some consistency of marketing.

Honey is graded based on many factors: soluble solids, flavor, aroma, consistency, appearance of defects, and clarity.  Grade A is the highest quality grade with the best flavor and aroma, least amount of defects and the highest clarity.  Reduced clarity may be from retained pollen, air bubbles or other small particles.

Honey is sold both raw and pasteurized, and both types are graded under the same standards.  Raw honey may be packaged filtered or unfiltered.  Filtering raw honey does not involve heating but will aid in removing some of the particles.

Honey and Your Health

Plant nectar is comprised of sucrose and water, but when the bees harvest the nectar they contribute enzymes that break down the sucrose to fructose and glucose.  Bees make honey with the intent of it being a food source for their hive during the winter months when flowering plants are dead, and fructose and glucose are simple sugars that yield easy energy for the bees.

The nutrient profile of honey varies depending on the source of the nectar, but generally you will find B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, certain amino acids, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc.  Honey also contains anti-oxidants that you won’t find in sugar!

As a source of sweetener, on the average honey contains approximately 50% fructose.  All sucrose-based sweeteners have a similar effect on the immune system, so excess consumption of even honey is not recommended.  It is not considered a “healthier sweetener” from the point-of-view of the sugar content.

Raw honey, however, has benefits that sugar does not have.  The sugar content of raw honey is no different that pasteurized honey, but it does retain the enzymes.  It is believed that the enzymes present in raw honey are what give it its anti-microbial properties.  The natural enzymes also allow for honey to be fermented to make honey wine.  This short paper details honey’s enzymes and potential benefits.

Manuka Honey is a True Healing Gift from Nature

Manuka honey is so named from the Manuka bush from which bees retrieve the nectar.  Manuka honey is particularly unique in that its nutrient profile contains up to four times as many nutrients as other raw honeys.  Manuka honey naturally contains more enzymes to create increased antimicrobial properties that exceed other raw honey products.

Manuka Bush Flower
But if you find the right Manuka honey, it contains even MORE enzymes that create natural hydrogen peroxide to give it much more effective anti-microbial properties.  UMF, or Unique Manuka Factor (also called KFactor), is the global standard that identifies and measures the antimicrobial strength of this unique Manuka honey.

UMF honey is also graded based on its UMF factor and benefit to your health.  Grading is determined by comparing the anti-bacterial properties of manuka honey to the disinfectant called phenol.  The following grading scale is:

0-4: Non-therapeutic

4-9: Maintenance level with general honey health benefits

10-14: Supports natural healing and bacterial balance.  This level is considered useful for your health.

15+: Superior levels of phenols that are highly therapeutic but shouldn’t exceed taking 1 tbsp at a time

Genuine UMF honey will be labeled with the UMF trademark label, be from a New Zealand UMF licensed company, have the UMF company’s name and license number on the label, and have a UMF rating number of 5-16+.

To find genuine Manuka honey, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the link to my Manuka Honey review blog.

GMO in honey?

It is a possibility.  Bees harvest nectar to make honey, but while they are harvesting the nectar there is a likelihood that they will also carry pollen spores back to the hive as well.  If these bees are feeding on plants that have been genetically modified, they are picking up pollen from GM plants.  Pollen is where the genes for the plant are located, which means that those genes are the same ones that have been genetically modified.

So, as innocent as it seems, bees may very well be depositing GM pollen into the honey to contaminate it with GM plant material.

Research has shown that bees have been found to carry soybean pollen, maize pollen and rapeseed pollen into their hives.  All three of these crops are over 90% genetically modified.

Where to find Non-GMO Honey

Visit my Non-GMO Honey Review Blog to find your perfect honey!  (The bee kind)

Visit my Non-GMO Manuka Honey Review Blog to find this excellent healing food!

 

 

 

27 Jan
2017

Sugar has been Around for a LONG time

Sugar Cane Field
So long, in fact, that we do not know when people discovered how to make sugar from sugar cane.  Historians believe that the sugar cane was first domesticated in New Guinea and spread from there to Southeast Asia and southern China.  The refining of sugar cane to sugar crystals began in India, and by the 6th century sugar cultivation and processing had reached Persia.  Arab peoples always had sugar on their expeditions, resulting in its spread.

Sugar was introduced to Europe and the Canary Islands via the Spanish and Protugese conquests, and Columbus introduced sugar to the New World on his second voyage.

It seems we are not the first culture to have a problem with sugar over-consumption!  Britain, for example, consumed five times as much sugar in 1770 as they did in 1710.  By the end of the 18th century, sugar surpassed grains as the most valuable commodity in European trade.  This speaks volumes because grain was often the primary source of nutrition for many people.  Once the many uses of sugar had been discovered, the sugar market boomed.  Prices soared, making sugar a commodity available for only the wealthy.  Before the boom the majority of sugar came from the West Indies, but island producers from Barbados and the Leeward Islands capitalized on demand soon took the lead in sugar exportation.

Mechanized Cane Crusher

Around the same time, mechanization became a reality in sugar processing much the way it is accomplished today.  It began with the development of a succession of closed heat chambers and evaporators to prevent loss of product, and the centrifuge process developed around 1852.

As we all know, all good things usually come to some sort of demise.  With the combination of depletion of soil from existing crops, the establishment of more sugar plants in the Caribbean Islands, and political unrest, the price of sugar significantly decreased.  What was once a food for the rich became available to all of society.

Sugar beets became a source of sugar in the mid-1700’s when it was realized that sugar beets contained sucrose but commercial production did not occur until the early 19th century in Berlin.  The concept of extracting sugar from beets soon spread to France, Europe and the U.S.

The first successful sugar beet factory in the U.S. was built in 1870 but waited nine long years to see a profit.  By 1914 the sugar beet industry had grown to equal that of Europe negating the need for large imports.

As of 2013, the world’s largest sugar beet harvester was Russia, while the most successful sugar beet harvesters in the U.S. come from the Imperial Valley in California.

Sugar Today

In our current age of sugar-addiction, many of us are always looking for something sweet to satisfy our craving.  The latest statistics tell us that the average person eats 60 pounds of sugar a year, which amount to approximately 16% of our daily food intake, according to the CDC.  Yikes!

And, if you are not highly particular about the type of sugar you eat, most of that sugar you consume will be in the form of white sugar.  As an interesting note, white sugar obtains its white color by exposure to bone char, or cow bones that have been incinerated turning them into a coarse dust.  This acts as a carbon filter of sorts, rendering the sugar crystals white.

Consuming white sugar can have detrimental effects on your immune system, and therefore your ability to fight off infections.  Sugar has a similar make-up to that of vitamin C.  Because of this, when we consume sugar it takes the place of what should be vitamin C in and on our immune cells.  Without vitamin C, the immune cells cannot fight off bacteria or viruses.  This effect on the immune system lasts for several hours after consuming sugar!  So if you consume sugar at regular intervals throughout the day, you are essentially compromising your immune system all day long….if you are sick often you need to consider severely limiting or even completely eliminating your sugar intake.

What About Brown Sugars?

As a processed food, sugar goes through a multi-step process.  Imperial Sugar has created a helpful diagram to understand this process with cane sugar, from which brown sugar is derived.  The shade of the brown sugar is determined by how many filters the sugar is filtered through to remove minerals and impurities.  The fewer minerals that are filtered out, the more nutritional benefit there is in the sugar so I always recommend using brown sugar when at all possible.

The taste will vary quite a bit between darker brown sugar and white sugar as well.  Brown sugars are less “sweet” so they are often not used for baking or beverages.  I personally enjoy using brown sugar in baking because of this very fact (and I feel like it’s better for us nutritionally).

The process is different for producing beet sugar, from which the majority of white sugar is currently made.  Sugar beets slices are first soaked in hot water to extract the molasses.  The liquid is then filtered, leaving the liquid without solids.  The molasses is placed in a centrifuge (a machine that spins at a high rate of speed) where the majority of the molasses is spun off.  The remaining molasses is rinsed off with hot water and the crystals are dried and packaged.

 Watch out for GMO

Single Sugar Beet

In the U.S., 95% or more of sugar beet crops are genetically modified in the form of gylphosate resistance.

Cane sugar has presently not been genetically modified but 70 field trials have been carried out in the U.S. to create GM sugarcane that is resistant to viruses, bacteria and pests, strains that are herbicide tolerant and strains that have a modified sugar content to increase yield.  Because current crops losses are at or exceed 50% due to pests and weeds, genetic modification may very well be on the horizon.

Find Non-GMO Sugar

While you may be tempted to think that using solely cane sugar is a sure way to avoid GMO’s, with the looming threat of cane sugar genetic modification I would suggest seeking out non-GMO guaranteed brands.

Find non-GMO cane sugar on my cane sugar review blog.

 

24 Jan
2017

By Definition

Loose-leaf Chamomile Tea
It is interesting to me to note that herbal tea is in a class all its own.  Herbal teas are properly referred to as “tisane,” and are distinguished from “true teas” that contain caffeine.  Tisane teas are made from any combination of dried herbs, spices or other suitable plant material, while true teas are comprised of the cured leaves of the tea plant.

Why Herbal Teas are Suitable for You

Herbs have been used for centuries around the world to support health and aid in the correction of a multitude of ailments.  Trained herbalists are well-versed in diagnosing health conditions and prescribing full-strength herbal tinctures or supplements.  Herbal teas are much more dilute than any tincture a trained herbalist would recommend which is why they are available to the public and very safe to use, though there are some contra-indications to use with certain conditions and medications.  Be sure to read the labels carefully to be safe.

The number of herbs and herb blends is very long and would be a website all its own so I will not attempt to address that here.  I will say, however, that if you are looking for home remedies for any number of health ailments, at the top of my list of recommendations would be herbal teas.  For every over-the-counter medication, there is at least one herb or herb blend that will offer the same benefits without the side-effects.

Dang Shen
Another consideration when using herbs is to look for both Western and Eastern herbs.  Tisane teas available over-the-counter are primarily Western herbs, while Eastern herbs are used by Chinese and Japanese practitioners.  If you have ever visited a Chinese Medicine practitioner, they sometimes keep raw herbs on hand to blend their own teas for their patients to use at home.  Many of these herbs are available only through practitioners but they have amazing healing abilities, making it prudent to schedule a visit with your local practitioner.

Health Benefits of Tisane Teas

The health benefits of herbal teas are practically endless!  Suffice it to say that, if you shop at a natural foods store, you have seen the variety of teas available for a large number of health conditions.  While there is no guarantee of the level of benefit you will receive from adding an herbal tea to your daily routine, some individuals experience almost complete relief with the use of the appropriate tea.

You will find one to several blends of teas for detox, digestion, laxative effects, hormonal balance, stress relief, anti-inflammatory and many other needs.  There are even teas to improve lactation for pregnant women!  Be sure to keep reading to find places where you can purchase these teas.

When shopping for an herbal tea, if you have any medical conditions that require medication consult your physician to ensure that you will not be using something that is contra-indicated with your medication.  Licorice root is a great example, because if you have blood pressure imbalance licorice may be something you will want to avoid.

GMO in tea?

PLA spiral pre-tea bag
Yes, it is a possibility your tea might contain genetically modified food products.  Many companies include modified corn starch and soy lecithin in their tea products, both of which are made from crops that are more than 95% genetically modified in the U.S.

Another potential source is those lovely little sachets of tea that are soft and silky between your fingers.  Those are made of PLA, short for polylactic acid, comprised of a corn-based tea bag material.  Because it is made from corn I would take steps to avoid tea that is sold in these bags.

 

Where to Buy GMO-Free Tisane Tea

Visit my herbal tea review blog to find out!

Tell me, how has herbal tea improved your health?

 

16 Jan
2017

You know that Christmas is around the corner when you see bowls of mint candies everywhere you go, and maybe if you’re like me it is somewhat of an annoyance when it shows up even before Thanksgiving.  Or, maybe you have a bag or two at home for yourself to complete the holiday season!  While most of us currently know peppermint mostly because of its relationship to candy, its beginnings were much different.

Medicinal beginnings

Mentha piperita, Peppermint

The peppermint plant is a crossbreed between the water-mint plant and the spear-mint plant that was first cultivated in England in the late 1600’s.  Prior to its cultivation, mint was used by the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans as a cure for indigestion and upset stomach.  It is unspecified if the mint used by the ancients was peppermint; it could have been spearmint or water-mint, but the benefits are the same. After its cultivation it continued to be used for stomach ailments but also became useful for respiratory infections and female hormone imbalances.

In records, peppermint made its official appearance in 1721 in England.  When European settlers came to America, they found that the native peoples were using different species of mint, but began cultivating peppermint and other mint plants they brought with them.  Today, much of the mint in the U.S. is grown in Oregon and Washington where there is a great deal of moisture.  It will also grow well in some parts of Indiana, Michigan, Idaho, South Dakota, Montana and Wisconsin.

The beginnings of mint candy and candy canes are rather unclear and elusive.  One commonly heard explanation for the beginnings of the candy cane is that of a Christian man who wanted to create a candy that would clearly present the story of salvation.  The white candy was meant to represent the purity of Christ, and the red stripes represented the scourging Jesus received before His crucifixion, and the “J” shape is the first letter in Jesus.  This has since been determined to be false but is often still told as fact today.

Another folklore explains that in 1670, the choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral in Germany, wishing to quiet the children in his church during the tradition of Christmas Eve, asked a local candy maker to make them sugar sticks.  In order to justify the giving candy to the children, he asked the candy maker to add a crook to the top, which would remind the children of the shepherds who visited the infant Jesus.  He also used the white color of the converted sticks to teach children about the sinless life of Jesus.  At this time the candy sticks contained no red striping.

So it really isn’t clear why the idea of the candy cane was invented, but we do know that the first candy cane was made by hand.  Machine production began in 1919 in Albany, Georgia with the Mills-McCormick Candy Company, around the same time the red striping was added.  But they still had to be bent by hand when they came off of the machine, causing a considerable loss of product.  In 1957, Gregory Keller patented his Keller Machine, that automated the twisting and bending of the candy.

Today, approximately 1.76 billion candy canes are produced in a year!

Mint will Give you Relief

Peppermint Essential Oil

If you have digestive complaints, mint is a great place to start!  Pure mint essential oil can also be used.  Ingest a few drops in a capsule or rub on the tummy in a carrier oil.

Peppermint oil is sometimes used in topical analgesics as a pain reliever.  Placing a few drops in a carrier oil for dilution to rub on sore muscles can be a great relief.

It also offers anti-microbial properties to help freshen breath and balance the digestive environment.

Use in the air to clean the air and freshen the smell, either in a diffuser or with a couple drops on a paper towel placed wherever it is most useful.

Where to Watch for GMO’s

Sugar, corn syrup and flavorings are the three most prevalent ingredients in generic candy canes.  Sugar and corn syrup are both derived from crops that are largely genetically modified in the U.S., so I would recommend avoiding them when at all possible.

A field trial with GM peppermint was undertaken in 2001, but commercial growth is not yet under consideration.

Where to find Non-GMO Mint Products

Visit my Mint Candy Review blog to find non-GMO candies.

For non-GMO peppermint essential oils visit my review here!

 

 

16 Jan
2017

When it comes to essential oils, I always look for the best because they are so important for our health.  With that in mind, read my essential oils blog to learn more about why finding the best is important.

Where to find them!

If you are a shopper at natural foods stores, I am sure that you understand when I say that there are literally at least a hundred companies manufacturing essential oils to sell.  I have found several brands that are non-GMO certified to put your mind at ease.

NOW Brand essential oils are purity tested to guarantee that what’s on the label is what’s in the bottle.  There are no filler oils.  Look for the following essential oils that are non-GMO verified:

Anise Oil–Atlas Cedar Oil–Basil Oil–Bergamot Oil–Camphor Oil–Cedarwood Oil–Chamomile Oil–Cheer Up Buttercup!–Cinnamon Bark Oil–Cinnamon Cassia Oil–Citronella Oil–Clary Sage Oil–Clear The Air–Clove Oil–Cypress Oil–Eucalyptus Oil–Eucalyptus Radiata Oil–
Focus Concentration Centering Blend–Frankincense Oil–Frankincense Oil Blend–Geranium Oil–Ginger Oil–Good Morning Sunshine! Uplifting Oil Blend–Grapefruit Oil–Hyssop Oil–Lavender & Tea Tree Oil–Lavender Oil–Lemon Eucalyptus Oil–Lemon Oil–Lemongrass Oil–Lime Oil–Marjoram Oil–Mental Focus Oil Blend–Myrrh 20% Oil Blend–Myrrh Oil–Oil Of Oregano–Orange Oil–Oregano Oil–Patchouli Oil–Peace & Harmony Oil Blend–Pennyroyal Oil–Peppermint Oil–Pine Oil–Rose Hip Seed Oil–Rosemary Oil–Sage Oil–Spearmint Oil–Spike Lavender Oil–Tangerine Oil–Tea Tree Oil–Wintergreen
Organic Citronella Oil–Organic Eucalyptus Oil–Organic Lavender Oil–Organic Lemon Oil–Organic Orange Oil–Organic Peppermint Oil–
Organic Rosemary Oil–Organic Tea Tree Oil
I personally like their oils and use their organics often; a 5-star products!

 

Nature’s Answer
Nature’s Answer makes a total of 36 single oils and blends that are organic and Non-GMO Project Verified.  I have not personally tried this brand yet but I look forward to.  Their process of production is unique in that they have developed the patented Bio-Chelation process by which the plants extracts are obtained without heat.  This preserves the bio-active components so that the product has more value to your health.  I believe I will be adding this to my next order!
Nature’s Answer essential oils earn 4.5/5 stars by their regular users, making this a worthy product to try and come to love!
Notagmo

 

 

Notagmo, the condensed version of “not a GMO”, makes only non-GMO essential oils.  Their variety is limited and they are not organic, but they are committed to sustainability and come from a family-owned business.  Their roller ball applicators are a convenient and mess-free way to use essential oils.   I would give them a 4/5 rating because they are not organic, but I would be willing to try them.

 

 

 

You can find NOW Brand, Nature’s Answer and Notagmo at Lucky Vitamin at the lowest price!

Tell me, what do you use essential oils for in your home?

10 Jan
2017

Why figs?

Figs are tasty little bites containing a considerable amount of fiber to improve the health of the digestive system and potentially help with weight management.  You will also find vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, calcium, iron, phosphorus, manganese, sodium, potassium and chlorine in figs.

Traditionally, figs have been used in poultices on skin ailments.  Fig leaves are also beneficial for diabetics, as they improve blood sugar regulation by reducing the amount of insulin needed.  The nutrients in figs have been shown to improve heart health, kidney and liver function, lower blood pressure, improve eye health, improve bone strength and inhibit the formation of some cancers.

So add a few figs to your breakfast oatmeal!

One of the Oldest Crops in History

The fig tree appears to have been one of the earliest crops intentionally cultivated, having been found in the Jordan Valley 13 miles north of Jericho.  The fig tree is often referenced in the Bible, so it is no surprise that the fig tree was found there.  It is believed that the cultivation of figs predated the cultivation of grain crops like wheat and barley.  The fig tree is in the same family as the mulberry tree.

Figs were a widespread source of food for the Greeks and Romans, with writings by Aristotle and Cato the Elder confirming the importance of the fig for both human and animal nourishment.  The fig tree has since been intentionally cultivated in temperate climates such as Afghanistan, Portugal and India.  Spanish missionaries brought the fig to America in 1769, when they landed in what is today California.  While these were not the first figs to land in America, California was soon found to be an ideal place to grow figs due to its climate.

The Smyrna fig, originating from Smyrna, Turkey, grew well around the San Francisco are because the two cities are located at the same
latitude, making the climates very similar.  While the first Smyrna fig arrived in CA in 1881, it was not successfully cultivated until 1899 when growers successfully introduced fig wasps to carry out pollination naturally.  Wasps and bees are important!

Turkey produces the largest percentage of figs in the world, but California provides around 80% of what is distributed around the U.S..

Figs and GMO

Thankfully, to date it seems clear that figs have not yet become a target of genetic modification.

However, if you are buying dried figs, be sure to check the ingredients.  There are some large-scale companies that will add a light sugar coating to their figs.  This sugar may very well be generic sugar from sugar beets, that may be genetically modified, so use those shopping smarts to check ingredients!

Where to find Non-GMO figs?

Visit my fig review blog for info on where to find figs and fig products!

 

7 Jan
2017

Here you will find the best places online to buy the best quality coconut oil.  To find out WHY you should look for coconut oil at its best, read my coconut products blog.

Back to where to buy…there are several companies that make high-quality coconut products for you to choose from.

Wilderness Family Naturals makes 5-star coconut oil products that I personally use and will continue to use in the future.  Purchasing from Wilderness Family is a great opportunity to try coconut oils that have been extracted by different methods to find your favorite.

Centrifuge extracted coconut oil is a raw product so it retains more of the coconut taste.  Cold-pressed coconut oil also retains the coconut taste but is also considered a raw product. Expeller-pressed coconut oil would be your choice if you want the benefits of coconut oil without the smell or taste of coconut.  Visit Wilderness Family Naturals to learn more about their non-GMO coconut oil!

Ordering direct from Wilderness Family is the most affordable, but you can also find their coconut oil on Amazon by clicking the picture to the left.

 

 

Following Wilderness Family Naturals, there are three other companies that produce high-quality coconut oil that I would recommend.


Nutiva produces many products that I have come to love and use regularly in my home.  When I have to buy coconut oil from a local source I look for their brand.  I have found their products trust-worthy and high-quality.

Virgin coconut oil being the best, I look for that first.  Their virgin coconut oil is cold-pressed, unrefined and organic, as well and non-GMO.  It does retain the coconut taste but you can use it for everything!

If you are looking for coconut oil without the taste and odor, Nutiva makes a refined coconut oil that is refined through the use of steam.  I personally would not use this if I had the option because it is heated.  But it is more applicable for high heat cooking.  For a unique taste, they also have a buttery coconut oil that is also refined.

Find Nutiva coconut oil at the lowest price at Lucky Vitamin.

 

Garden of Life is always committed to producing quality products that will improve your health, and their coconut oil is no exception.  Cold-pressed and raw, their coconut oil is one of the best on the market.  The only reason I don’t use their coconut oil regularly is that it does cost more than the other brands.  But if you have a little extra change sitting around, you won’t be disappointed with Garden of Life coconut oil.

Lucky Vitamin is the place to find the lowest price for this product!

 

 

And last, but most definitely not least, is Coconut Secret.  Coconut Secret is a small company committed to a handful of high-quality coconut products using the entire coconut tree.  The thing I find most amazing is that they use a principle of physics to make their coconut oil alive!  Called the Helix System, it is used to activate the coconut oil by introducing a clockwise-counter-clockwise spin on the molecules.  This enhances its bioavailability, permeability and absorptive abilities.

I know it sounds a little crazy, but you have to try it to understand!  While you will pay a little more, I believe that this is something you will want to try at least once.

Find Coconut Secret at the lowest price at Lucky Vitamin.

 

Try any or all of these oils knowing they are Non-GMO Project Verified!

6 Jan
2017

The coconut didn’t start with the lime

Its earliest mention dates back to 545 A.D., referred to as the argell tree and its drupe.  It was referred to after that in several other historical texts by other names, depending on the culture.  Antonio Pigafetta recorded, during his first crossing of the Pacific Ocean from Italy in 1521, that the natives of what would become Guam and the Philippines used the coconut for making wine, making cord, eating, making a kin to bread, drinking the water, extracting coconut oil, and making milk.

It is believed that the name “coconut” originated from the spanish language, as the word “coco” means “grinning face, grin, grimace” to correspond to the markings on the coconut.  The Portugese credit the sailors of Vasco De Gama for naming the coconut with the word “coco” as it reminded them of a ghost or witch in Portugese folklore called “coco.”

Kenneth M. Olsen, PhD, a plant evolutionary biologist at Washington University in St. Louis, undertook research to determine the genetic origin of coconuts, and found that there are two distinct groups of coconuts.  The first population appears to have been cultivated in the Pacific Basin (the ocean surrounding Tahiti), and the second from the Indian Ocean basin.  It is believed that the coconut spread via ocean currents and was picked up by local peoples to be cultivated, and is now spread throughout most of the tropics.

Why coconut is SO good for you

Regardless of what form you choose to consume your coconut, it is guaranteed to benefit you in some way.

Per 100 grams of coconut meat you will receive 33 grams of fat, 89% of which is saturated fat, and 24 grams of carbohydrates.  The meat also contains several trace minerals, most prominent of which are manganese, iron, phosphorus and zinc.  See the full nutrient profile here.

Coconut water has become very popular as a drink, and for good reason.  It is an excellent electrolyte replacement!  The electrolyte content is coconut water is almost identical to that of human plasma, making it ideal for consumption.  The water from young coconuts is superior because it contains more nutrients.  The function of the coconut water is to feed the developing endosperm, but in the young coconut the endosperm is not fully developed and has not yet used the nutrients in the water.  Similar concept to the egg yolk for a developing chick.  See the full nutrient profile here.

Coconut sap is collected by cutting the flower clusters and allowing to drain.  If left out, it will ferment and create palm wine.  Coconut Aminos have become a popular replacement for soy sauce and are made of coconut sap.  If the sap is boiled it will yield a sweet syrup, and when completely dried will make coconut sugar.  Coconut sap contains a wide range of minerals, vitamin C, broad-spectrum B vitamins, 17 amino acids (the building blocks of protein), and it has a nearly neutral pH that will not imbalance the acid/alkaline levels.

Coconut oil now lines the shelves of every grocery store and market because of its ease of use and health benefits.  There are two possible processes that are used to make your coconut oil:

  1. Mechanical expeller-pressing: the fresh coconut meat is dried and mechanically pressed to extract the oil
  2. Wet milling: coconut milk is pressed out of fresh coconut, and the oil is separated from the milk.  Separating the oil from the milk is done by boiling, fermentation, refrigeration, enzymes or mechanical centrifuge.

Coconut oil is comprised of fatty acids called Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA) and saturated fats.  MCFA’s of coconut oil specifically are caprylic, lauric and capric acids.  These three fatty acids are much easier to digest than other fats and much less likely to be converted to body fat.  Therefore they are a great energy source!  Keep some on hand when you get the munchies an hour before dinner.

Lauric acid has been shown to possess anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-parasitic and anti-bacterial properties, so be sure to keep some on hand when you think you are coming down with an infection.  Don’t be afraid to be generous with applying to cuts and skin infections either.

MCFA’s are great for reducing inflammation both internally and externally, making coconut oil great for inflammatory diseases and skin issues.  Reducing internal inflammation with always improve external appearance!

Coconut oil aids in the prevention of cancer by increasing ketone production during digestion.  Cancer cells cannot feed on anything but sugars, suggesting that a ketogenic diet may improve the chances of a complete recovery.

Because 91% of the fat in coconut oil is saturated fat, it is much more stable for cooking with heat.

See the full nutrient profile here.

How your BODY will thank you for including coconut oil in your diet

As you have seen, the fats in coconut oil have much to offer your body!  And your body will thank you in the following ways:

  1. Increased weight loss-Coconut oil is easily converted to usable energy compared to other fats.  This contributes to weight loss by helping you feel more satisfied, and by increasing your overall metabolism to begin to burn excess body fat.
  2. Improved brain healthAs I mentioned above, consuming coconut oil increases the production of ketones.  Ketones are a great source of energy for the brain, and can be utilized more easily.  This aids in the reduction of seizures and helps with degenerative brain conditions such as Alzheimers.
  3. Improved blood sugar regulationThis will benefits diabetics and those wanting to build muscle mass.  Consuming coconut oil increases the production of insulin, the hormone that regulated blood sugar.  Increased insulin production means lower blood sugar and increased building of muscle tissue, which will further improve metabolism.
  4. Improved immune healthCoconut oil is a proven killer of viruses, bacteria, fungus and helps to limit parasites.  If you can eliminate an infection naturally, your body not only rids itself of the invaders but also builds immunity for the next exposure.  Think of coconut oil when you have a cold, flu, or yeast infection.
  5. Improved heart healthRegular consumption of coconut oil increases HDL levels and decreases LDL levels, reducing the risk for coronary disease.
  6. Improved skin and hair health-Applying coconut oil directly to the hair will help to reduce protein loss from the hair shaft, making the hair healthier and stronger.  Be careful with the application, though; too much will leave your hair looking greasy!  The skin requires healthy fats to be healthy and fulfill its job of being an effective barrier against the external environment.  Consuming the oil aids in the health of your skin by providing your skin with healthy fats, which will help reduce overall dryness and conditions like dandruff.  Applying externally is a more immediate benefit.  This will result in you looking younger longer!
  7. Improved oral healthCoconut oil can be used for oil pulling or as an ingredient in toothpaste, with the end result that plaque formation is decreased and gums are healthier.  I have found with to be the case with our homemade toothpaste.
  8. Improved organ healthCoconut oil offers protective benefits for the liver and kidneys from toxins and pharmaceuticals, and regular consumption may help to prevent the formation of kidney and gall stones.
  9. Improved digestionConsuming coconut oil aids in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.  It may also improve complete fat digestion by improving digestive enzyme function.
  10. Improved skeletal healthCoconut oils aids in the absorption of calcium and vitamin D, both of which are necessary for the
    building of bone tissue.  This will benefit those with osteoporosis and children that are growing.
  11. Improved hormone balanceBecause coconut oil is easily broken down and absorbed, it is used efficiently for creating hormone precursors in the body.  This can help both men and women who are struggling with hormone imbalance, such as E.D., acne, menstrual imbalances, female disorders and low sex drive.  The thyroid will also benefit from coconut oil, which helps to improve energy and establish a proper metabolism.
  12. Decrease oxidative stress and inflammationFree radical damage is the leading cause of inflammation and aging.  Coconut oil is a highly effective anti-oxidant, reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, which leads to decreased pain and an increased feeling of well-being.  Think of reducing arthritic pain, aches and pains, and fatigue.
  13. Why don’t we just say “improve the health of your whole body!”

Find a good coconut oil

The way in which the coconut is processed establishes the quality of the oil.  Here are some tips to looking for the best quality:

  • Look for “virgin coconut oil.”  While there is not as established legal standard for how that is defined, producers define it as oil that starts out with fresh coconut meat.  Then is it processed by either expeller-pressing or wet-milling.  There is never any chemicals or heat used in either process.
  • If it does not say “virgin coconut oil” or define that it is expeller-pressed, chances are it is solvent-extracted.  Hexane is the most common solvent used.
  • Look for organic to ensure that it is grown without the use of chemicals or pesticides.
  • Avoid “liquid coconut oils” that are rising in popularity.  Also called fractionated coconut oil, liquid coconut oil is not actually coconut oil, but rather a fractionated by-product.  In order to make a “coconut oil” that is liquid at room temperature, the lauric acid has been removed.  As you may recall from earlier lauric acid contains most of the health benefits of coconut oil, so removing it leaves a rather empty look-alike.  What is left are the other MCFAs and oleic and linoleic acid, which in complete coconut oil make up a small percentage.  Neither of those two fatty acids are heat stable and will convert to trans-fats with heated cooking.  In other words, if it doesn’t look like the coconut oil in the picture on the shelf in the store, do your research.
  • Look for the Non-GMO Project Verified seal to ensure that it is non-GMO.  At this point, coconut palms are not undergoing genetic modification but if they are fertilized with animal products there may be an introduction of GM products.

How to add it to your lifestyle

In any way possible!  The number one way it to consume it by cooking with it or adding it to drinks.  I eat a spoonful once in a while.

Put it on your skin to improve the health of your skin and decrease dryness.

Use it on your hair, sparingly.  I use coconut oil as a conditioner after washing with castile soap and rinsing with vinegar.

Bake with it.  It will replace any oil 1:1.

And any other way that you find!

Where to find it!

Check out my coconut review blogs to find out!

 

 

 

2 Jan
2017

The marshmallow is an old favorite

Althaea Officinalis

Separate the word marshmallow into “marsh” and “mallow” and you derive it’s origin in a sense.  “Mallow” is taken from the mallow plant (Althaea Officinalis), and “marsh” is where the mallow plant prefers to grow.  What we know as the marshmallow originally began with the Ancient Egyptians,  who prepared the mallow plant by boiling pieces of root pulp with sugar until it thickened. Once thickened, the mixture was strained, cooled, & then utilized for its intended use.  It was a food reserved for the privileged, and was used to soothe cough and sore throat, and to improve wound healing.

The beginnings of the modern marshmallow began in France with the whipping of marshmallow sap with sugar, water and egg whites to make Pâté de Guimauve, all by hand.  It was sold as a lozenge in bar form.  As you can imagine, this was very labor intensive and almost impossible to keep up with demand.

Making Pâté de Guimauve

In the 1800’s, the starch mogul system became available and greatly simplified the process of making mallow-based confections.  Trays of modified corn starch were molded with cavities, into which the mallow mixture was placed and allowed to dry and harden.  Very similar to our version of the ice cube tray!  Around the same time, candy makers began to replace the mallow root with gelatin to make a more chewy candy.

In 1954, Greek American Alex Doumak developed the extrusion process to make marshmallows.  The marshmallow material was pumped through extrusion heads to make a long rope, after which is was cooled and cut.  This process is still used today with slightly different ingredients.

Modern marshmallows are made by boiling water, sugar and corn syrup in large kettles up to a precise temperature and for a precise time.  Once cooled to a specific temperature, rehydrated gelatin is blended in, and the mixture is pumped through a blender with air to create the marshmallow fluffiness.  It is cooled further to hold its shape by pumping through a heat exchanger and onto a conveyor belt for cutting and packaging.  Corn starch coats the conveyor belt to prevent sticking, and the cut pieces are tumbled in corn starch to prevent sticking.

 

The health benefits of eating marshmallows

Purely psychological!  They have little to no nutritional value, but I believe firmly in the concept of enjoying a treat now and again.  Making s’mores is a wonderful way to spend time with friends and family by the campfire.

Be on the look-out for GMO ingredients

I am sure I don’t have to tell anyone that consuming too many marshmallows is not the best practice for your health, if for no other reason than the amount of sugar!

As tasty as those little fluffy bites look, GMO ingredients are a large part of the marshmallows you find at the store.

The prominent ingredient to look for is corn syrup.  The average marshmallow is made up of around 60% corn syrup, and 93% of corn crops grown in the U.S. are Ht variety.  So the likelihood that the corn syrup in your marshmallows is GMO is very high.

Egg whites are also used in the making of marshmallows.  While there are some that would debate the concept that feeding GM feeds to animals makes the animal and its products GM, I am of the belief that what the animal eats is what builds it’s parts.  So if the chicken is eating GM soybean and corn feed, its eggs will contain GM residuals.

Sucrose, derived from either sugar cane or sugar beets, is another sweetener used in the making of the marshmallow.  The U.S. produces 70% of its sugar from sugar beets and sugarcane and imports the remaining 30%.  Of the sugar beet crops, 95% of U.S.-grown crops are now genetically modified.  It is impossible to guarantee that the sucrose in marshmallows is not GMO.

Where to find non-GMO marshmallows??

Check out my marshmallow review blog to find the answer!