Play it safe: the right way to clean fruits and veggies

Category : HEALTH & BEAUTY

Featured on ShopSmart

I worry these days about E. coli and all the other icky illnesses I can get from food. Remember the tainted spinach and tomato scares of just a couple of years ago? And now there are new deadly outbreaks of E. coli in Europe in the news possibly traced to cucumbers, tomatoes, and other fresh produce.

I wanted to be better informed, so I got onto the Food and Drug Administration’s website to take a little refresher course in prepping fresh fruits and veggies. And I’m glad I did, because I’d been taking risky shortcuts with my family’s health. Here’s what the site recommends:

Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after prepping fresh produce.

Cut away any damaged or bruised areas (harbingers of bacteria) before prepping or eating.

Gently rub fruits and veggies while rinsing under plain running water; you don’t need soap and water.

Always wash produce before you peel it, too, so dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from your knife to the food.

Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub melons, cukes, zucchini and other firm fruits and veggies.

Dry with a clean cloth or paper towel to help reduce any lingering bacteria.

Tear off and toss the outer leaves of lettuce and cabbageheads.

To bone up on more food safety tips go to FDA’s website and be sure to read  ”10 Food Shockers” in the June issue of ShopSmart, now on newsstands. It’s full of easy solutions to some scary surprises.


Top 3 Best and Worst Sunscreens for 2011

Category : HEALTH & BEAUTY

June 3, 2011

The Environmental Working Group recently analyzed 600 sunscreens and came away recommending only 20%.

What’s the problem? Despite the fact that the FDA announced in 1978 that it would regulate

sunscreens—and drew up proposed rules in 2007—the industry remains unregulated.

That means sunscreen manufacturers can make claims that aren’t necessarily true.

What might surprise you?

Many sunscreens protect against sunburn-causing UVB rays, but leave skin exposed to the damaging effects of UVA rays.
Up to 30% of sunscreens contain vitamin A, an antioxidant that slows the aging process but may accelerate the growth of cancerous tumors.
One in five sunscreen is labeled SPF 50+ now (compared to one in eight in 2009), but the FDA warns that the values may not even be truthful.

The best sunscreen is a hat and a shirt. No chemicals to absorb through the skin, no questions about whether they work. But when you can’t get away from exposing your skin to the sun, use EWG’s top-rated sunscreens to provide broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB-sunburn) protection with fewer hazardous chemicals that penetrate the skin.Protect yourself and your family by spending wisely—check out the EWG’s recommended sunscreens, along with the best lip balms, moisturizers and make-up with SPF. Our top-rated sunscreens all contain the minerals zinc or titanium. They are the right choice for people who are looking for the best UVA protection without any sunscreen chemical considered to be a potential hormone disruptor. None of the products contain oxybenzone or vitamin A and none are sprayed or powdered.  Some winners:


kiss my face sunscreen Kiss My Face All-Natural Sun Sticks, SPF 30
Tropical Sands Tropical Sands All-Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30 and SPF 50+
Badger Sunscreen Badger Sunscreen and Baby Sunscreen, SPF 30+

And avoid these and other worst offenders, no matter how alluring the marketing.

aveeno Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection SPF 55
Banana Boat Sunscreen Banana Boat Sport Performance Active Max Protect, SPF 110
Rite Aid Sunscreen Rite Aid Kids Sunscreen Spray Lotion SPF 45

The Food and Drug Administration

The FDA announced it would regulate sunscreens back in 1978. The most recent version of its proposed rules came out in 2007. Those proposed regulations still aren’t final. Until they are, sunscreen makers are not required to verify that their sunscreens work, test for SPF protection, check waterproof claims or provide UVA protection. This year six in 10 high SPF sunscreens do not have enough UVA protection to be sold in Europe.

Buyer beware!

The agency’s proposed regulations would require sunscreens to be labeled with both an SPF rating, reflecting protection against UVB rays that burn, and a UVA star rating indicating protection against silent UVA. In the meantime, consumers should ignore advertising hype and read the ingredient list. Products that contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, Mexoryl or avobenzone offer some assurance that the user will have some protection from UVA rays.

For more information, please see: FDA fails consumers.

EWG continues to pressure FDA to complete its sunscreen regulations:

May 23, 2011 Letter to the FDA

Slimming Strawberries For Weight Loss

Category : HEALTH & BEAUTY

May 31, 2011

Featured on HuffPost Health by Leo Galland, M.D.

Red, ripe and delicious, strawberries are a little fruit that work overtime for your health.

Peak strawberry season is just around the corner, so now is the perfect time to add strawberries to your menu for summer weight loss. From farm stands to your local supermarket, these luscious berries are sure to turn up just about everywhere.

The exciting research that is being done shows that the special nutritional components in strawberries might be able to stimulate your metabolism and help suppress your appetite. They can control blood sugar and can also help you lose weight.

It is no wonder that scientists across the United States, in Sweden and other countries have been researching the wonders of the strawberry and discovering more evidence of its health benefits. There is no doubt that strawberries have joined the other rock stars of super nutritious fruit such as blueberries, cherries, cranberries and pomegranates.

What Gives Strawberries Their Nutritional Punch?

Strawberries are a healthy food to eat to lose weight, because there are 49 calories in one cup of strawberries. They are also loaded with Vitamin C, 3 grams of fiber, and some calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Strawberries are rich sources of phenolic antioxidants that can help:

  1. reverse inflammation
  2. aid in weight loss
  3. reduce the risk of chronic disease.

Strawberries Promote Weight Loss

The ellagic acid and anthocyanins found in strawberries aid weight loss in at least three ways:

  1. Chronic inflammation blocks the hormones involved in keeping you lean. Anti-inflammatory foods like strawberries help restore normal function to weight-reducing hormones.
  2. Anthocyanins actually increase the body’s production of a hormone called adiponectin, which stimulates your metabolism and suppresses your appetite.
  3. Both ellagic acid and anthocyanins slow the rate of digestion of starchy foods, controlling the rise in blood sugar that follows a starchy meal. This effect is used to control blood sugar in people with adult-onset (Type 2) diabetes.

Organic Strawberries Have More Nutrition

I recommend organically grown strawberries. Organic strawberries have been shown to have higher levels of vitamin C and than conventionally grown strawberries, due to a higher content of phenolic antioxidants.

In a fascinating study, researchers from Washington State University compared organic strawberries and farms to conventional strawberries and farms. They found the organic strawberries to be higher in quality, and the soil to be healthier. Specifically, in comparison to the conventionally grown berries, the organic strawberries had higher total antioxidants, ascorbic acid, and total phenolics.