Is Organic Produce Better?

Several years ago, scientists at Rutgers University set-out to disprove the claim that organic produce was more nutritious than non-organic produce. The study used produce from supermarkets and health food stores. The strategy was to analyze the mineral content of various vegetables and compare them for nutrition value, particularly mineral content.

What Is Organic?

The term used today to label non-organic produce is “commercial.” This produce is grown using a variety of chemicals to destroy plant pests or enhance growth. Many of these chemical are known carcinogens in addition to being toxic to the soil and environment. Produce grown without any of these chemicals is considered "organic."

There has actually been very little “hard data” to prove that organic produce is in any way superior to conventional produce. Most folks who purchase “organic” innately believe that naturally grown vegetables and fruits, without chemicals and pesticides, are intuitively better and healthier.

Which Is Scientifically Better?

The researchers were prepared to accept an outcome showing a very slightly higher content in the organic produce than the commercial, due to the chemicals used to grow the commercial plants. They were shocked by the actual results. When they saw that the amount of iron found in the organic spinach was 97% higher than in the commercial spinach and that manganese was 99% higher in the organic over the commercial, they were truly amazed. In the commercially grown vegetables, many trace elements were completely absent compared to the organic produce where they were abundant.

Below you will find some comparisons drawn by the study results.

Snap Beans
Phosphorus: Organic (10.45), Commercial (4.04)
Magnesium: Organic (.36 ), Commercial (.22)
Boron: Organic (227), Commercial (10)
Iron: Organic (69), Commercial (3) 

Phosphorus: Organic (10.38). Commercial (6.12)
Magnesium: Organic (.38), Commercial (.18)
Boron: Organic (94). Commercial (20)
Iron: Organic (48), Commercial (.04)

Phosphorus: Organic (24.48), Commercial (7.01)
Magnesium: Organic (.43), Commercial (.22)
Boron: Organic (516), Commercial (9)
Iron: Organic (60), Commercial (3)

Phosphorus: Organic (14.2), Commercial (7.01)
Magnesium: Organic (.35), Commercial (.16)
Boron: Organic (1938), Commercial (1)
Iron: Organic (53), Commercial (0)

Phosphorus: Organic (28.56), Commercial (12.38)
Magnesium: Organic (.52_, Commercial (.27)
Boron:Organic (1584), Commercial (49)
Iron: Organic (32), Commercial (.3)

Here’s a disturbing outcome of this study. In all 5 of the tested vegetables (snap beans, cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes and spinach) the organic vegetables all contained healthy levels of cobalt, an essential trace mineral. This mineral was completely absent in the commercial vegetables.

The Results Are Clear

So, the next time someone tries to argue that there is no difference between organic and commercial vegetables, you can share this information with them and then happily continue to buy your organic produce! Remember, the food you eat can improve your health and speed healing.


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Fish and Heart Health – a Surprising Study

The Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study (WHI-OS), which involved 84,493 females aged 50-79 years old, analyzed data over a 10 year period on the effects of various forms of fish consumption and heart failure. At the start of this study none of the participants had heart disease.

Fish is well known as a food which enhances both physical as well as mental health. Fish oil is also reported to be a mental and physical nutrient which reduces disease development and mental deterioration. In evaluating fish and fish oil it would be natural to expect that positive outcomes would be observed and reported.

The study divided the consumption of baked or broiled fish into frequency catagories of less than 1 time per month; 1-3 times per month; 1-2 times per week; 3-4 times per week and greater than 5 times per week.

The study also observed the consumption of fried fish at the frequencies of less than one serving per month; 1-3 times per month and greater than 1 time per week.

The findings, however, were startling. The weekly consumption of 5 or more serving of baked or broiled dark fish, primarily salmon, mackerel and bluefish, was found to lower the risk of heart failure by an impressive 30%. While the consumption of fried fish, just 1 time or more per week, was associated to be related to a 48% increase in heart failure!

Another surprise within this study is that the assumption that taking omega-3 supplements will be as beneficial as eating fish. The study could not identify any significant change in cardiac failure rates that was associated with taking omega-3 supplements.

While the study came to no hard and fast conclusion of why the fried fish was so lethal, the thinking is that there must be some property to the oil when deep fried that creates the negative health affects. Another conclusion was that it appears better to eat fresh fish that is baked or broiled that to reply on fish oil supplements for heart health.

While this is a blow to those of us who love fish and chips, enjoying fish that is well cooked and healthy of our hearts is not a hard thing to get used to.

With all good wishes,

Copyright 2011 G. Donadio

Bisphenol A (BPA) Hidden in Your Food

Most of us are aware that there are lots of dangerous materials like additives, dyes, pesticides and carcinogens in our foods. What many of us are not aware of is that in the containers that our foods come in, especially take out, there are chemicals in the materials that may be even more harmful than the additives, dyes and pesticides.

By now you have probably heard of the dangers of the toxic chemical Bisphenol A (BPA). This chemical can be found in polycarbonate plastic food containers, bottles and takeout food containers. Numerous articles have been written on breast cancer and prostate cancer that result from exposure to the BPA contained in packaging and containers that carry food stuffs.

Recent, important environmental health study findings were published in March in the online journal Environmental Health Perspectives. A study was conducted by two organizations concerned with the environmental causes of breast cancer, the Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute. The study was on the dangers of BPA.

The organizations identified and followed five (5) families who frequently used packaged food and drinks which were made for microwave preparation. The BPA levels of these families, which both consisted of a mother, father and two children, were measured and recorded.

Then, these same families ate fresh, organic food cooked only in glass or stainless steel containers. The immediate results on the level of BPA in their bodies with  the packaged food and fresh food was measured via urine collection, at varied intervals of the testing.

The outcomes were significant with all participants having lowered BPA levels in 72 hour period after the BPA rich packaging was exchanged with glass and stainless steel containers. The average decrease in the BPA was approximately 60%.

The study demonstrated that as quickly as six (6) hours after exposure, half the BPA is eliminated through the urine. However, if the prior use of the BPA rich packaging is resumed, the BPA levels demonstrate a return to the pre-intervention level on urine analysis. When the families resumed their normal diets, their BPA levels returned to pre-intervention levels by the next urine sample. 

What is important about this study is that it demonstrates that we can easily reduce the levels of BPA our bodies are exposed to by eliminating the use of the packaging it is found in and by cooking and preparing our foods more naturally. It is important not to use these BPA rich containers to microwave in as this increases the amount of BPA exposure.

Using glass or ceramic containers in the microwave is healthier and most importantly, they contain no BPA.  By also avoiding canned foods (unless the cans are BPA free) you will cut down on this dangerous exposure for both you and your family.

With all good wishes,

Copyright 2011 G. Donadio

Delicious and Nutritious

Good news – it is berry picking and eating season.  Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries can once again be found in grocery store isles, “pick your own” farm stands and local organic coops.

Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries are some of the more popular berries found in the grocery produce section. However, other berries, such as mulberries, boysenberries, huckleberries and cranberries are also popping up this season.

Not only are berries of all kinds delicious, but they have been shown, as all fruits and vegetables have, to contain phytosterols that provide many health benefits and work overtime to prevent disease. Research does show that berries are among the fruits highest in antioxidant content and that they are excellent sources of several phytochemicals that seem to help block cancer development.

Researchers at Clemson University looked into the cancer fighting potential of various types and berries. In the Journal of Medicinal Foodthe scientists note: “Plants are proven sources of useful anti-tumor and chemo-preventative compounds. Hence, identification of phytochemicals useful in dietary prevention and intervention of cancer is of paramount importance.”  

The research team went on to further conclude that “Juice from strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry fruit significantly inhibited mutagenesis.” Meaning – that berries have high levels of anti-cancer properties that make them an ideal part of any diet.

Some of the best ways to enjoy berries and get the best health benefits from them is to blend them together in fresh fruit salads. A bowl of fresh berries acts as a “health tonic” that is not only delicious, but easy and convenient to prepare as well as one of the most intense disease prevention treats you can find.

Another popular and easy way to enjoy berries is in smoothies, either plain with a dollop of ice cream or yogurt; or with crushed ice chips and a sliced banana to add thickness and more delicious nutrients.

Enjoy these wonderful fruits, become nourished and prevent disease all at the same time.

With all good wishes,

Copyright 2011 G. Donadio


Gluten Allergy and Chronic Health Problems

Since the growth of Internet health information sites, most of us now know about gluten – the culprit in grains that can cause chronic debilitating health issues for those of us who cannot tolerate this indigestible plant protein.

Gluten is a plant protein that is only digestible in the stomachs of rudiments animals. Ruminants, such as cows and goats, have two stomachs that are enzyme rich and contain the specific enzymes necessary to digest the outside protective layer of plants known as cellulose, and then breakdown, absorb and utilize this plant protein metabolically.  

Humans do not possess the enzymes to break down plant cellulose. For us, cellulose is fiber or roughage that passes through our body without benefit as a nutrient. Many individuals are highly sensitive to gluten, where others have a greater tolerance and ability ro remove it from their system and not have serious consequences or impact on their immune system.

In many cases obesity and chronic disease states are the silent symptoms of this often unrecognized food allergy, that for many acts as a systemic poison once ingested.

Over the past 25 years much research has been done on gluten allergies. Here is a brief list of the types of chronic conditions
gluten allergy can contribute to:

  • Stomach pain and digestive disturbances 
  • Attention Deficient Disorder 
  • Crohn’s disease and other bowel disorders
  • Nervous conditions and anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Reproductive disorders and infertility
  • Dizziness
  • Arthritis and joint pain 
  • Immune disorders and infections
  • Poor wound healing

The popular low carbohydrate diets have demonstrated the impact gluten has on weight gain and weight control. Often simply by eliminating gluten foods for a period of three (3) months, individuals see a remarkable and dramatic change in their chronic health condition as well as their body mass.

While not everyone is so sensitive to gluten that they must follow a gluten-grain free diet, it should be noted that not eating grains does not eliminate any important nutrient from your diet that you cannot get from other foods such as vegetables, nuts, beans, seeds and so forth. If humans never ate grains again we would be all the better for it.

Part II – How and why human added grains to our human dietWith all good wishes,

Copyright 2011 G. Donadio

Holistic and Organic Holiday Gifts

There are folks today who prefer to receive green, natural and organic gifts over the more commerial, expensive and sometimes electronically complex ones. My family and friends now expect to receive such gifts and are actually disappointed if I don’t deliver.

In case you have a smiliar group of friends and family, here are some nice presents you can give that are not only green, and healthy but are also not expensive.

Natural gifts to consider giving this season:

  • Home baked natural or sprouted flour breads and cookies – the gluten free variety is so popular that baking a tin of delicious non-allergic cookies or cakes will make you someones favorite Santa.
  • Handmade Quilts – talk about one of the best handmade gifts to receive and a quilt is high on the list. Quilts are so popular that they are used for raffles at fundraisers and bring in huge piles of raffle revenue. Most handmade quilts also sell for hundreds if not thousand of dollars.
  • Live herb plants – wonderful for growing on window sills and to use in cooking. Aloe Vera is a great plant to keep on hand for any kinds of burns or skin irritations. Simply break off a leaf and rub the healing liquid from the leaf on the burn or irritation.
  • Teas, Tea Pots and all thing related to this welcomed and health-filled brew – a wide variety of healing, soothing and delicious herb teas, in beautiful gift baskets can be found in health food and general grocery stores in the produce section.
  • Coffee grinders – this is a truly coveted gift for the coffee lover. Add a pound of organic free trade coffee to make it the perfect gift.
  • Herbal Candles – everyone enjoys the glow and aroma of a herbal or aromomatic candle. They are beautiful, healthy and sensual.
  • Natural facial or massage gift certificate – treat that hard working friend or relative to a full body or facila massge. With so many natural herbs and wraps to choose from they will want to make a day of it.
  • Pedometer – this handy device can let the user know just how far they have walked through the course of their day or exercise period to assist them in staying on top of their fitness.
  • Wellness baskets with nuts, dried fruits, tea, honey, dark chocolates, mustard, spices or salsa, fruits, veggies drinks and anything else you can imagine make beautiful and festive gifts as well. 

Giving the gifts of health can be as fulfilling as receiving them, so think outside the box this season and surprise friends and family with these helpful and healthful presents.

With all good wishes,
Copyright 2010 G. Donadio

Natural and Delicious Cold Remedy




This cold and flu season it is likely with the recall of so many over the counter cold remedies, that home-made cold remedies will make a comeback this winter. One of the best known and oldest home-made remedies for “the winter miseries” is chicken soup.

Moses Maimonides, the 12th century physician, prescribed chicken soup for those suffering with cold and asthma symptoms. Before pharmaceutical and over-the-counter medicines were prescribed, chicken soup was the natural remedy of choice for cold and flu symptoms. It was consumed in copious doses, until the sufferer was up and about and on their way to wellness.

Until fairly recently it was not scientifically known why chicken soup worked so well for the common cold. Chicken soup was certainly not taken seriously in the medical community as a legitimate cold remedy.  However, all speculation about chicken soup came to an end when research out of UCLA Medical School and the University of Nebraska was published on the benefits of the tasty broth.

When chicken is cooked it releases an amino acid called cysteine into the broth of the soup. This amino acid is similar to acetylcysteine, a drug commonly prescribed for bronchitis. Acyteine has the ability to breakdown mucous proteins found in the lungs.

In addition, chicken soup is also cooked with carrots, onions, often garlic, and celery with greens, it also contains quercetin, a powerful anti-oxidant from the onions and garlic, along with beta-carotene, vitamin A and potassium from the celery and carrots. In addition the bone content of calcium and other trace minerals also get released from the cooking.

Chicken soup is a great winter comfort food. Some folks find their favorite canned version while others make it from scratch.  Chicken soup is a healthy, comforting and simple food to make and a great substitute for over the counter medications that may do harm. Whether store bought or home made it is a natural and delicious cold remedy.

With all good wishes,

Copyright 2010 G. Donadio