Thursday, May 31, 2012

Meatless Mondays - good for you, good for the planet

If you’re reading this today it's because you care about what you eat and about what's happening to our climate.  Many people do too. That's why Meat Free Monday was started.
The principle is that by giving up meat for one day each week you can save money, reduce your environmental impact and live a healthier life.
Celebrities have joined the cause including – Oprah, Sir Richard Branson, James Cameron and Paul Mccartney.
Meatless Monday is all about helping people cut their meat consumption by 15 percent. This percentage equals one day a week and by slightly changing eating habits, people can reduce their risks of preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.  Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death for both men and women in America.  A recent Harvard University study found that replacing saturated fat-rich foods (meat and full fat dairy) with foods rich in polyunsaturated fat (vegetable oils, nuts and seeds) reduces the risk of heart disease by 19 percent.  Hundreds of studies suggest that diets high in fruits and vegetables may reduce cancer risk, particularly colon cancer.  Research also suggests that lower consumption of red and processed meat reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.  Likewise people on low-meat or vegetarian diets have significantly lower body weights and body mass indices.  Finally regarding diet, consuming beans or peas results in higher intakes of fiber, protein, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium with lower intakes of saturated fat and total fat.
In 2006, a United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, highlighted the environmental impact of meat-eating and the importance of making more environmentally and socially conscious food choices.   The campaign is to encourage people to think about the environmental consequences of what you eat.  To think about the energy, water and chemicals used to produce food, as well as the fuel it takes to get it to your plate. Meat is also one of the most resource intensive foods to produce.
The campaign is not asking you to give up meat completely; it’s encouraging you to do your bit to help protect our planet. B y joining together in having one meat-free day each week we’ll be making great steps towards reducing the environmental problems associated with the meat industry.  You’ll also be giving your own health a boost, and with the added benefit that vegetables cost less than meat, having one meat-free day each week means it’s good for your pocket too.
So join us and see how one day a week can make a world of difference because it’s holistic changes which can improve our society, as well as our environment.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Hemp :)

Many of you may know hemp as the material traditionally used to make sails and rope for ships…as a fabric for clothes…as biofuel for diesel engines…or because it comes from the same plant family as marijuana, Cannabis sativa L.  But I bet that most of you don’t know hemp as an amazing source of vegetarian protein(Don’t worry, the hemp products that we eat, such as hempseeds or milk, have no intoxicating effects).  Like soy, hemp is a complete protein, meaning that, on its own, it contains all of the essential amino acids in significant amounts and desirable ratios.  I have been consuming hemp seeds and protein powder :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Healthy choices

I have a guest writer today - Allison Brooks from Florida :)

Color Coding Food:

Easy way to develop healthy eating habits

When presented with a huge array of food, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the variety. For someone who is trying to eat healthy, this can be even more frustrating. Who has time to look at the back of every nutrition label to make the healthiest choice, especially when time is short?

Massachusetts General Hospital may have found the solution. They conducted a study recently, with the intent of determining whether patrons of their cafeteria, when advised of the healthiest choices, would choose those items. The method of identifying healthier choices and ranking them was simple: color-coded labels. Green labels indicated the healthiest choices, yellow labels indicated foods that were less healthy and red labels indicated foods with little nutritional value.

The experiment began in March 2010 and ran in two phases. During the first phase, the labels were assigned to the different foods found in the cafeteria. Signs were placed in the cafeteria to advise patrons of their choices, explained the meaning of the different color coding on the labels and encouraged customers to make healthier choices. The registers were programmed to identify the foods by their codes so that data could be tracked.

During the second phase, the products available were rearranged according to behavioral marketing information. For example, healthier choices were placed at eye-level, where people are more likely to shop, according to marketing research. This phase primarily focused on the foods that people tend to grab when they are in a hurry, such as pre-made sandwiches, beverages and chips.

The researchers found that sales of the foods with green labels increased significantly, while sales of products with red labels languished. The numbers were compared to sales in the other on-campus cafeterias where products were neither labeled nor rearranged. The changes in the cafeteria where food was labeled were dramatic compared to the other cafeterias.

The researchers credit the success of the program primarily to its simplicity. With almost no effort at all, consumers were able to easily identify their healthiest choices and, in fact, were led to make the healthier choice. The cafeteria labeling system at MGH is going to remain in place, and the hospital actually extended the program to the other cafeterias in the hospital system.  

Many cancer facilities are slowly adopting this color-coding system to push healthier eating during treatment. Since healthier foods and foods loaded with phytochemicals promote better survivability, patients with aggressive cancer like pancreatic or mesothelioma cancer, need to eat healthier. And since a mesothelioma life expectancy could only be four months eating healthy and strong treatments need to be priority.

The doctor who led the study, Anne Thorndike, also pointed out that the changes were easy to make and could be applied to nearly any quick-service food environment.