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The Fast Food Industry's 7 Most Heinous Concoctions
Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

By Brad Reed, AlterNet:

Although the organic movement has certainly started to influence how Americans think about their food, it is still no match for the American fast food industry, which continuously finds creative new ways of piling sugar, salt and fat on a plate and charging customers $4.99 for the privilege of eating it.

In recent years, in fact, some of America's favorite chains have gone above and beyond the call of duty and concocted thoroughly repellent dishes that make the Double Quarter Pounder look like a celery stick. These companies have offered Americans these revolting meals despite the fact that roughly one-third of the country is now obese, a deplorable state of affairs that accounting firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers estimates costs the U.S. health-care system $200 billion a year in wasted spending.

In this article, we'll name and shame the very worst offenders, whether they're 1,400-calorie hamburgers or 550-calorie cups of coffee. So let's get things rolling with …

No. 7 -- The Krispy Kreme Doughnut Sundae

Donut

Two years ago, the brain trust at Krispy Kreme decided to answer the age-old question of how to make ice cream sundaes even less healthy. The solution, it turns out, is to remove bananas, strawberries or anything that looks remotely like it might contain nutrients, and replace it with a doughnut.

When the sundae -- known affectionately as the Kool Kreme -- premiered in Tacoma, Wash., customers had the choice of adding several toppings, including bits of Snickers, Butterfinger, Heath and Junior Mints. They could add some fruit as well, of course, but what's the point? If you regularly eat a doughnut sundae, no level of Vitamin C will save you.

No. 6 -- Starbucks's Mocha Coconut Frappuccino Blended Coffee With Whipped Cream

frapp

At first glance, the Starbucks Mocha Coconut Frappuccino Blended Coffee with whipped cream doesn't seem to belong on this list. After all, its 550 calories and 22 grams of fat pale in comparison to some of the burgers and pizzas we'll encounter a little bit later. But then you remember that the Frappuccino is supposed to be a breakfast drink. As in, something you drink the first thing in the morning while you eat your cereal. And then you understand that if you're willing to consume one-fourth of your daily caloric intake before you even arrive to work, there's nothing to stop you from wolfing down a 1,200-carlorie KFC Double Down (see Item No. 2) for lunch and dinner.

No. 5 -- Cheeseburger Fries

cheesefries

These treats were apparently made for people who love eating cheeseburgers and fries but who don't want to go through the hassle of mashing them together into a fine paste. Cheeseburger fries gained national attention when the New York Times reported that they had become a mini-sensation in the Midwest. The fries, said the Times, were "made of a meat-and-cheese compound" that was "breaded, then deep fried and served with ketchup or barbecue sauce." The caloric intake for these beasts was 75 calories per fry, meaning that eating 10 of them would account for more than a third of your daily intake.

No. 4 -- The KFC Famous Bowl 

KFC Bowl

KFC has a long and proud history of making Americans morbidly obese, but the company reached a new high in 2007 when it unleashed its Famous Bowl upon the world. The Bowl is really a variation on a classic American method of cooking that involves taking a bunch of unhealthy goo from different sources and then slopping them all into a bowl. In this particular example, KFC threw together mashed potatoes, corn, fried chicken, gravy and cheese to create a 720-calorie horror that contains 1 1/2 times your daily fat allowance. The thought of joylessly plowing through the Bowl's starchy potatoes, greasy gravy and processed cheese sounds about as soulless and monotonous as working in a puppy-slaughtering factory.

No. 3 -- Hardee's Monster Thickburger

Thickburger

Simply put, the Monster Thickburger is a fat, sloppy middle finger aimed at nutritionists everywhere. Clocking in at an artery-blowing 1,420 calories and 107 grams of fat, the Thickburger premiered in 2004, when McDonald's and Burger King were starting to sell out and offer their customers salads. In defending his decision to sell such a gaping monstrosity, Hardee's CEO Andrew Puzder played George W. Bush to McDonald's and Burger King's John Kerry, essentially calling them out as wimps who didn't have the balls to dramatically shorten their customers' life expectancy with just one meal. Specifically, he said the Thickburger was "not a burger for tree-huggers" but rather "for guys who want a really big, delicious, juicy decadent burger." Yes, gents, nothing will show the ladies how manly you are quite like a belly made entirely of butter.

No. 2 -- The KFC Double Down

double down

Apparently determined to take the Atkins Diet to its most insane and illogical conclusion, KFC has released a new sandwich that succeeds in eliminating carbohydrate-packed bread by replacing it with two slabs of fried chicken. And oh yeah, in between the chicken they lay down heaping gobs of bacon and Swiss and pepper pack cheese. The KFC Double Down is really the ideological heir to the Thickburger, as it was seemingly designed for the sole purpose of pissing off nutrition advocates.

You can imagine future commercials where a rugged Ford-truck-style announcer comes on and says, "The next time some fruity bureaucrat tells you to exercise, look him in the eye and say, 'Hell no! I'm doublin' down with the KFC Double Down!' " The Double Down is slightly wimpier than the Thickburger as it only contains an estimated 1,200 calories. However, it more than makes up for this because it also contains something called "The Colonel's Sauce," which probably contains at the very least 2 percent all-natural radioactive waste.

No. 1 -- Domino's Oreo Cookie Pizza

cookie pizza

Sure, everybody loves pizza. But what do you do when traditional pizza has lost its magic? How do you retain your love for it when all the fatty toppings -- pepperoni, buffalo chicken, Alfredo sauce and so forth -- just aren't satisfying you the way they used to? If you're Domino's, you take one of the world's least-healthy cookies and couple it with large doses of frosting to cover an entire pizza crust. Were Dr. Jack Kevorkian still practicing his trade, he'd surely use consumption of the Oreo pizza as his preferred method of assisted suicide. Truly, the only way this sucker could be any worse would be to put it in blender with a bucket of cheeseburger fries and then pour the resulting mixture into a bowl and then cover it with processed cheese.

Which, come to think of it, hasn't been tried yet. Anyone want to drive me to the patent office?

alternet


August 27, 2009 | 10:14 AM Comments  {num} comments

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Hopefully I am mistaken!
Related to country: United States

Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

Reflections of Fidel

Taken from CubaDebate

I read with astonishment weekend news agency reports on the internal politics of the United States, where a systematic debilitation of President Barack Obama’s influence is evident. His surprising electoral victory would not have been possible without the profound political and economic crisis of that country. American soldiers killed or wounded in Iraq, the scandal of torture and secret prisons, the loss of homes and jobs, had shaken U.S. society. The economic crisis was extending throughout the world, increasing poverty and hunger in Third World nations.

Those circumstances made possible Obama’s nomination and subsequent election within a traditionally racist society. No less than 90% of the African-American population, discriminated against and poor, the majority of voters of Latin American origin and a broad middle and working class white minority, particularly young people, voted for him.

It was logical that many hopes would be aroused among U.S. citizens who supported him. After eight years of adventurism, demagogy and lies during which thousands of U.S. soldiers and close to one million Iraqis died in a war of conquest for the oil of that Muslim country, which had nothing to do with the atrocious attack on the Twin Towers, the people of the United States were weary and ashamed.

Many people in Africa and other parts of the world were enthused with the idea that there would be changes in U.S. foreign policy.

However, an elemental knowledge of reality should have sufficed for not falling into illusions in relation to a possible political change in the United States on the basis of the election of a new president.

Obama had certainly opposed the Bush war in Iraq before many others in the U.S. Congress. He knew from his own adolescence the humiliations of racial discrimination and, like many Americans, admired the great civil rights fighter, Martin Luther King.

Obama was born, educated, went into politics and was successful within the imperial capitalist system of the United States. He did not wish to nor could he change the system. The strange thing is, in spite of that, that the extreme right hates him for being an African American and is fighting against what the president is doing to improve the deteriorated image of that country.

He has been capable of understanding that the United States, with barely 4% of the world population, consumes approximately 25% of fossil energy and emits the greatest volume of the world’s contaminating gases.

Bush, in his ravings, did not even subscribe to the Kyoto Protocol.

In his turn, Obama proposes to apply tighter regulations in the context of tax evasion. He has announced, for example, that out of the 52,000 accounts held by U.S. citizens in Swiss banks, these banks are to provide information on approximately 4,500 suspected of tax evasion.

In Europe, a few weeks ago, Obama committed himself before the G-8 countries, especially France and Germany, to bring to an end his country’s use of tax havens in order to inject vast quantities of U.S. dollars into the world economy.

He has offered health services to almost 50 million citizens who lacked medical insurance.

He has promised the people of the United States to lubricate the productive apparatus, halt growing unemployment and restore growth.

He has informed12 million Hispanic illegal immigrants that he will put a stop to the cruel raids and the inhuman treatment to which they are subject.

There were other promises that I am not enumerating, not one of which questions the system of imperialist capitalist dominion.

The powerful ultra-right is not resigned to any measure whatsoever that diminishes its prerogatives to the most minimum degree.

I shall confine myself just to referring textually to information coming from the United States that has been arriving in the last few days, taken from news agencies and the U.S. press.

August 21:

"Americans’ confidence in the leadership of President Barack Obama has fallen sharply, according to a survey published today in The Washington Post."

"In the midst of growing opposition to health system reforms, the telephone survey undertaken jointly with the ABC TV network from Aug 13 to 17 of 1, 001 adults, reveals that… forty-nine percent now say they think he will be able to spearhead significant improvements in the system, down nearly 20 percentage points from before he took office."

"Fifty-five percent see things as pretty seriously on the wrong track, up from 48 percent in April."

"The heated debate on healthcare reform in the United States is showing signs of an extremism that is worrying experts, alarmed at the presence of armed men at public meetings, paintings of swastikas and images of Hitler."

"Experts in hate crimes recommend closely watching these extremists, and while many Democrats have been overwhelmed by the protests, others have opted for directly facing their co-citizens."

"A young woman carrying a manipulated photo of Obama with a Hitler-style mustache is feeding the theory that the leader is to create ‘death panels’ that would back euthanasia for elderly people with terminal illnesses…"

"Some people are turning a deaf ear and opting for hate messages and extremism, which former FBI agent Brad Garrett is observing with alarm."

"It's certainly a scary time," Garrett told ABC last week, adding that the secret services ‘really do fear that something could happen to Obama.’"

"Without going any further, on Monday, around 12 people airily displayed their weapons outside the Phoenix Convention Center (Arizona), where Obama was making a speech to war veterans, defending, among other things, his medical reforms."

"Another man was carrying a pistol and a sign saying ‘It is Time to Water the Tree of Liberty," a reference to Thomas Jefferson's quote that "the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

"Some messages have been even more explicit, wishing for ‘Death to Obama, Michelle and his… daughters.’"

"Those incidents demonstrate that hatred has erupted into U.S. politics with more strength than ever."

"’We are talking about people who are shouting, who are carrying photos of Obama characterizing him as a Nazi… and who are using the term socialist contemptuously," EFE was informed by Larry Berman (University of California, author of 12 books on the U.S. Presidency), who attributes part of what is taking place to the latent legacy of racism."

"After The New York Times reported yesterday that, in 2004, the CIA hired Blackwater for planning, training and surveillance tasks, in today’s edition the daily provides more details on the activities assigned to that controversial private security company whose current name is Xe."

"The daily noted that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency recruited Blackwater agents to plant explosive devices in drone aircraft with the objective of killing Al Qaeda leaders."

"According to information given by government officials to The New York Times, the operations were carried out in bases located in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the private company assembled and loaded Hellfire missiles and 500-pound laser-guided bombs."

"The agency’s current director, Leon Panetta, canceled the program and notified Congress of its existence in an emergency meeting in June."

"Blackwater’s work on the program actually ended years before Mr. Panetta took over the agency, after senior C.I.A. officials themselves questioned the wisdom of using outsiders in a targeted killing program."

"Blackwater was the central private security company responsible for protecting U.S. personnel in Iraq during the George W. Bush administration."

"Its aggressive tactics were criticized on a number of occasions. The gravest case occurred in September 2007, when company agents killed 17 Iraqi civilians."

"Faced by record suicide figures and the wave of depression among soldiers, the U.S. army is gradually training specialized formations aimed at making its troops ‘more resistant’ to emotional stress related to war situations."

August 22:

"U.S. President Barack Obama today launched harsh criticisms of those opposed to his plan to reform the country’s health system and accused them of circulating lies and distortions."

"As he has noted in his speeches, the objective of the reform of the medical care system is to halt its spiraling cost and to guarantee medical coverage to close to 50 million Americans who lack insurance."

"…’should be honest debate, not dominated by falsehoods and intentional distortions circulated by those who would most benefit from things being maintained as they are.’"

"The U.S. State Department is still financing Blackwater, the private company of mercenaries involved in the murder of Al Qaeda leaders and which is now called Xe Services, according to today’s New York Times."

"David Patterson, governor of New York state, stated on Friday that the media has utilized racial stereotypes in its coverage of African-American officials, like himself, President Barack Obama and the governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick."

"The White House calculates that the budget deficit over the next 10 years will be $2 trillion more than recent forecasts, a devastating blow for President Barack Obama and his plans for creating a public health system funded to a large extent by the state."

"Ten-year forecasts are seen as highly volatile and could vary with time. However, the new red figures in public finances are going to pose difficult problems for Obama in Congress, and enormous anxiety among foreigners who are financing the U.S. public debt, especially China. Almost all economists consider them unsustainable, even with a massive devaluation of the U.S. dollar."

August 23:

"The U.S. army joint chief of staff stated on Sunday that he was concerned at the loss of popular support in his country for the war in Afghanistan, while he stated that that country still remains vulnerable to extremist attacks."

""I think it is serious and it is deteriorating, and I've said that over the past couple of years – that the Taliban insurgency has gotten better, more sophisticated, in their tactics," said Admiral Mike Mullen."

"In an interview broadcast on NBC, Mullen declined to specify whether it was necessary to send in more troops."

"A little over 50% of people consulted in a recently published Washington Post-ABC survey, stated that the war in Afghanistan is not worth it."

"At the end of 2009, the United States will have three times more soldiers in Afghanistan than the 20,000 deployed there three years ago."

Confusion reigns in the heart of U.S. society.

Next September 11 is the eighth anniversary of the fateful 9/11. That day we warned in an event in the Ciudad Deportiva [Havana] that war would not be the way to put an end to terrorism.

The strategy of withdrawing troops from Iraq and sending them to the Afghanistan war to fight against the Taliban, is an error. The Soviet Union sunk there. The European allies of the United States will steadily put up more resistance to shedding the blood of their soldiers there.

Mullen’s concern over the popularity of that war is not unfounded. Those who plotted the September 11, 2001 attack on the Twin Towers were trained by the United States.

The Taliban is an Afghani nationalist movement that had nothing to do with that event. The Al Qaeda organization, financed by the CIA from 1979 and utilized against the USSR in the Cold War years, was the group that plotted that attack 22 years later.

There are shady events that have not as yet been sufficiently clarified before world public opinion.

Obama has inherited those problems from Bush.

I do not harbor the slightest doubt that the racist right will do everything possible to wear him down, blocking his program to get him out of the game in one way or another, at the least possible political cost.

Hopefully I am mistaken!

Fidel Castro Ruz
August 24, 2009
5:15 p.m.

granma.cu


August 26, 2009 | 11:42 AM Comments  {num} comments

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More Evidence That Marijuana Prevents Cancer
Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

By Bruce Mirken, Marijuana Policy Project:

Among the more interesting pieces of news that came out while I was on vacation the first half of August was a new study in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, which found that marijuana smokers have a lower risk of head and neck cancers than people who don’t smoke marijuana. Alas, this important research has been largely ignored by the news media.

While this type of study cannot conclusively prove cause and effect, the combination of this new study and existing research — which for decades has shown that cannabinoids are fairly potent anticancer drugs — raises a significant possibility that marijuana use is in fact protective against certain types of cancer.

A team of researchers from several major universities conducted what is known as a “case-control” study, comparing patients who had squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth, larynx, and pharynx with control patients matched for age, gender, and residence location who did not have cancer. By looking at matched groups with and without cancer, researchers hope to find patterns indicating risk or protective factors. In this case they focused on marijuana use, but also took into account known risk factors for this type of cancer, including tobacco and alcohol use.

After adjusting for those confounding factors, current marijuana users had a 48% reduced risk of head and neck cancer, and the reduction was statistically significant. Former users also had a lower risk, though it fell short of being significant. The investigators crunched the numbers several different ways — for example, by amount of marijuana used or the frequency of use — and the findings stayed the same nearly across the board, with moderate users showing the strongest and most consistent reduction in cancer risk.

The scientists write, “We found that moderate marijuana use was significantly associated with reduced risk HNSCC [head and neck squamous cell carcinoma]. The association was consistent across different measures of marijuana use (marijuana use status, duration, and frequency of use).”

Strikingly, among drinkers and cigarette smokers, those who also used marijuana reduced their cancer risk compared to those who only drank and smoked cigarettes. So marijuana may actually have been countering the known bad effects of booze and cigarettes.


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August 24, 2009 | 9:35 AM Comments  {num} comments



The empire and the robots
Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

Reflections of Fidel

(Taken from CubaDebate)




A little while ago, I wrote about U.S. plans to impose the absolute superiority of its air force as an instrument of domination over the rest of the world. I mentioned the project of that country possessing more than 1,000 state-of-the-art F-22 and F-35 bombers and fighter planes in its fleet of 2,500 military aircraft. By 20 years later, the totality of its warplanes will be robot-operated.

Military budgets always have the majority support of U.S. legislators. There are very few states where employment is not at least partially dependent on the defense industry.

On a global level and constant value, military costs have doubled in the last 10 years, as if no danger of crisis existed at all. At this juncture it is the most prosperous industry on the planet.

In 2008, approximately $1.5 trillion was invested in defense budgets. Forty-two percent of world spending on defense, or $607 billion, corresponded to the United States, not including war expenditures, while the number of hungry in the world reached the figure of one billion people.

A Western news agency reported two days ago that in mid-August the U.S. army exhibited a remote-controlled helicopter, as well as robots capable of doing the work of sappers, 2,500 of which have been sent to combat zones.

A robot marketing company maintained that new technologies are revolutionizing the ways of commanding war. It has been published that in 2003 the United States had next to no robots in its arsenal but “today it has — according to AFP — 10,000 ground vehicles and 7,000 aircraft, from the little Raven, which can be launched with one hand, to the giant Global Hawk, a spy plane of 13 meters in length and 35 in wingspan capable of flying at a great height for 35 hours.” Other weapons are listed in that dispatch.

While that colossal expenditure on technologies for killing is taking place in the United States, the president of that country is sweating blood in order to bring health services to 50 million U.S. citizens who lack them. The confusion is so great that the new president affirmed that reform of the health system was closer than ever but “the battle is turning ugly.”

“But now’s the hard part,” he added. “Because the history is clear – every time we come close to passing health insurance reform, the special interests with a stake in the status quo use their influence and political allies to scare and mislead the American people.”

It is a true fact that in Los Angeles, 8,000 people – the majority of them unemployed, according to the press – gathered in a stadium to receive medical attention from a free traveling clinic that provides services in the Third World. Most of them had waited there overnight. Some of them had traveled from hundreds of kilometers away.

“‘What do I care if it’s socialist or not? We are the only country in the world where the most vulnerable of us have nothing,’ said a woman from a black neighborhood and with higher education.”

It was noted that a “blood test could cost $500 and routine dental treatment more than $1,000.”

What hope can that society offer the world?

Congressional lobbyists are spending their August working against a simple bill that is an attempt to provide medical care to tens of millions of poor people — the vast majority of them black or Latino — who lack that service. Even a blockaded country like Cuba has been able to do that and, moreover, cooperate with dozens of Third World countries.

If robots in the hands of the transnationals can replace the imperial soldiers in wars of conquest, who will detain the transnationals in the search for markets for their artifacts? Just as they have inundated the world with automobiles that are now competing with humans for the consumption of non-renewable energy and even for foodstuffs converted into fuel, they can also inundate it with robots that will displace millions of workers in their workplaces.

Better still, scientists can likewise design robots capable of governing; thus sparing the government and Congress of the United States that horrible, contradictory and confused labor.

No doubt they would do it better and more cheaply.



Fidel Castro Ruz
August 19, 2009
3:15 p.m.

Translated by Granma International

granma.cu


August 20, 2009 | 7:22 PM Comments  {num} comments



20 Foods That Make You Smarter
Translations available in: English (original) | French | Spanish | Italian | German | Portuguese | Swedish | Russian | Dutch | Arabic

By Sara Ost, EcoSalon. Posted August 18, 2009.


Simply put, your brain likes to eat. And it likes powerful fuel: quality fats, antioxidants, and small, steady amounts of the best carbs.

On a deadline? Need to rally? Avoid the soda, vending machine snacks and tempting Starbucks and go for these powerful brain boosters instead. The path to a bigger, better brain is loaded with Omega-3 fats, antioxidants, and fiber. Give your brain a kick start: eat the following foods on a daily or weekly basis for results you will notice.

20 foods that will supercharge your brain:

1. Avocado

Start each day with a mix of high-quality protein and beneficial fats to build the foundation for an energized day. Avocado with scrambled eggs provides both, and the monounsaturated fat helps blood circulate better, which is essential for optimal brain function. Worst alternative: a trans-fat-filled, sugar-laden cream cheese Danish.

Green it: you don’t need to buy an organic avocado – conventional is fine. But make sure your supplementary protein is free range, cage free, or organic.

2. Blueberries

These delicious berries are one of the best foods for you, period, but they’re very good for your brain as well. Since they’re high in fiber and low on the glycemic index, they are safe for diabetics and they do not spike blood sugar. Blueberries are possibly the best brain food on earth: they have been linked to reduced risk for Alzheimer’s, shown to improve learning ability and motor skills in rats, and they are one of the most powerful anti-stress foods you can eat. Avoid: dried, sweetened blueberries.

Green it: buy local and organic, and be mindful of seasonality. When blueberries are out of season, opt for cranberries, grapes, goji berries, blackberries or cherries to get your brain boost.

3. Wild Salmon

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for your brain. These beneficial fats are linked to improved cognition and alertness, reduced risk of degenerative mental disease (such as dementia), improved memory, improved mood, and reduced depression, anxiety and hyperactivity. Wild salmon is a premium source, but we’ll highlight a few other sources on this list for vegetarians and people who just don’t like salmon. Avoid farmed (read: sea lice infested) salmon.

Green it: the California salmon stock is threatened, so choose wild Alaskan salmon only, and eat small portions no more than twice a week.

4. Nuts

Nuts contain protein, high amounts of fiber, and they are rich in beneficial fats. For getting an immediate energy boost that won’t turn into a spike later, you can’t do better than nuts. The complex carbs will perk you up while the fat and protein will sustain you. Nuts also contain plenty of vitamin E, which is essential to cognitive function. You don’t have to eat raw, plain, unsalted nuts, but do avoid the ones with a lot of sweetening or seasoning blends. Filberts, hazelnuts, cashews, and walnuts are great choices, with almonds being the king of nuts.

For those avoiding carbs, macadamia nuts are much higher in fat than most nuts. By the way, peanuts just aren’t ideal. Aside from the fact that many people are allergic, peanuts have less healthy fat than many other types of nuts…maybe that’s because peanuts are not actually a nut! They’re still much better than a candy bar, however.

Green it: try to choose organic, raw nuts, and if you can’t get those, at least avoid the tins of heavily-seasoned, preservative-laden nuts that may have taken many food miles to get to your mouth.

5. Seeds

Try sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed, and tahini (a tangy, nutty sesame butter that tastes great in replacement of mayo and salad dressing). Seeds contain a lot of protein, beneficial fat, and vitamin E, as well as stress-fighting antioxidants and important brain-boosting minerals like magnesium.

Green it: Again, just look for organic and try to avoid the highly-seasoned, processed options. In general, things like fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts are pretty low-impact, environmentally speaking, in comparison to meats and cheeses.

6. Coffee

Thine eyes do not deceive (even if you are in the midst of a sugar crash). Coffee is good for your brain. Did you know coffee actually contains fiber? That’s going to help your cardiovascular system. Coffee also exerts some noted benefit to your brain in addition to providing you with a detectable energy boost.

The trick is not to have more than a few cups. But you can safely enjoy 2-4 cups daily – we are talking about supercharging here. Just please don’t go ruining a good thing by loading it up with sugar! Espresso beans are actually a phenomenally healthy snack, by the way.

Green it: brew yourself some fair-trade organic coffee to benefit both the planet and the workers who grow your beans. Use a thermos instead of a throwaway cup.

7. Oatmeal

Nature’s scrub brush is one of the best foods for cardiovascular health, which translates to brain health. Additionally, oatmeal is packed with fiber, a reasonable amount of protein, and even a small amount of Omega-3’s. It’s a good grain that will sustain you throughout the morning so you aren’t prone to irritability or an energy crash.

Green it: the healthiest oatmeal is the real, steel-cut deal. Steer clear of those little microwavable packets that are loaded with sugar. All that packaging isn’t very green.

8. Beans

One more for carb-lovers. (The brain uses about 20% of your carbohydrate intake and it likes a consistent supply.) Beans are truly an amazing food that is sadly overlooked. They’re humble, but very smart. Not only are they loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals and protein, they’re ridiculously cheap. An entire bag of beans usually costs only a few dollars and will provide many meals. Beans provide a steady, slow release of glucose to your brain – which means energy all day without the sugar crash. Don’t go eating a whole platter of frijoles, though – just 1/4 of a cup is fine.

Green it: look for heirloom beans that are raised sustainably, like those from Rancho Gordo.

9. Pomegranate

Opt for the fruit over the juice so you get more fiber. Pomegranates contain blueberry-like levels of antioxidants, which are essential for a healthy brain. Your brain is the first organ to feel the effects of stress, so anything you can do to offset stress is a smart choice.

Green it: pomegranates are seasonal and not generally local for most of us, so enjoy sparingly and rely on other berries like acai, grapes and cherries when you can’t get this fruit.

10. Brown Rice

Brown rice is a low-glycemic complex carbohydrate that is excellent for people sensitive to gluten who still want to maintain cardiovascular health. The better your circulation, the sharper your brain.

Green it: don’t buy the excessively-packaged "boil in a bag" rice packets. Just make up a big batch of brown rice in a rice cooker on Sunday so you have it on hand for easy lunches all week.

11. Tea

You have to brew tea fresh or you won’t get the benefits of all those catechines (antioxidants) that boost your brain. Because tea has caffeine, don’t have more than 2-3 cups daily.

Green it: buy organic, fair trade loose leaf or packets to support sustainable business practices.

12. Chocolate

Things are looking increasingly better for chocolate. It’s got brain-boosting compounds, it’s loaded with antioxidants, and it has just the right amount of caffeine. Chocolate sends your serotonin through the roof, so you’ll feel happy in short order. Dark chocolate is also rich in fiber. (Remember, fiber = healthy cardiovascular system = healthy brain.)

Green it: go for super dark, fair-trade, pure organic chocolate, not the sugary, processed milk chocolate candy bars.

13. Oysters

Oysters are rich in selenium, magnesium, protein and several other nutrients vital to brain health. In one study researchers found that men who ate oysters reported significantly improved cognition and mood! Not all shellfish are good for you but oysters are a sure bet.

Green it: oysters are actually one of the most eco-friendly seafood options, so eat up!

14. Olive Oil

Though we know the brain does need a small, steady supply of glucose, don’t overlook fat. Studies have consistently shown that a low-fat diet is not the health boon we hoped it would be (remember the 90s low-fat craze?). In fact, avoiding fat can increase foggy thinking, mood swings, and insomnia. A diet rich in healthy fats is essential to clear thinking, good memory, and a balanced mood. Your brain is made of fat, after all.

One study of men found that those who relied on the processed vegetable fats found in salad dressings, snacks and prepared foods had 75% higher rates of mental degradation (dementia, memory loss) than men who ate healthy fats. Most processed foods and fast foods use corn oil, palm oil, soybean oil and other Omega-6 fats. You don’t want Omega 6 fats. Even saturated fat is safer than Omega 6’s.

Choose healthy fats such as those present in olive oil, nut butters, nuts and seeds, flax, oily fish, and avocados. Avoid processed fats found in pastries, chips, candy bars, snacks, junk food, fried foods and prepared foods. Eating the wrong fat can literally alter your brain’s communication pathways.

Green it: look for organic, local, or farmers’ market options when it comes to your food. You should also explore herbal remedies for mood swings and brain health.

15. Tuna

In addition to being another rich source of Omega-3’s, tuna, particularly yellowfin, has the highest level of vitamin B6 of any food. Studies have shown that B6 is directly linked to memory, cognition and long term brain health. Generally, the B vitamins are among the most important for balancing your mood. B6 in particular influences dopamine receptors (dopamine is one of your "feel good" hormones along with serotonin).

My personal cocktail: SAMe (nature’s happiness molecule) and a mega-dose of B-complex keeps me humming even when I’ve got a mountain of work to do. Which, like you, is all the time.

Green it: only eat tuna from sustainable fisheries, and if you’re looking for a B6 source that is vegetarian, opt for a banana, which contains a third of your day’s requirement (tuna offers nearly 60%).

16. Garlic

Garlic – the fresher the better – is one of the most potent nutritional weapons in your arsenal. Eat it as much as your significant other can stand. Not only is it fabulous for reducing bad cholesterol and strengthening your cardiovascular system, it exerts a protective antioxidant effect on the brain.

Avoid: I know it makes life easier, but don’t even think about buying the chopped or peeled garlic. Nutritional benefits = zero.

Green it: just choose organic, and go for local if you can get it.

17. Eggs

Eggs contain protein and fat to provide energy to your brain for hours, and the selenium in organic eggs is proven to help your mood. You really needn’t worry about the overblown cholesterol fears. (I have quite a bit to say on this topic but I’ll restrain myself for once.)

Green it: choose organic, free range, vegetarian fed eggs.

18. Green Leafy Vegetables

Spinach, kale, chard, romaine, arugula, lolla rossa – whatever green you like, eat it daily. Green, leafy vegetables are high in iron (slightly less "green" iron sources include beef, pork and lamb). Americans tend to be deficient in iron, which is too bad, because the deficiency is linked to restless leg syndrome, fatigue, poor mood, foggy thinking, and other cognition issues.

Green it: choose organic, and shop at your farmers’ market or order from a local CSA. Leave out the red meat a few days a week and rely on a big, well-seasoned green stir fry or salad.

19. Tomatoes

Go figure, but tomatoes don’t usually make the brain-boosting food lists. (Thank goodness I found the one that did so I’m not the only one.) Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that is particularly good for your brain – it even helps prevent dementia. You have to cook tomatoes to get the lycopene – take that, raw foodies! Just kidding. But this does mean that ketchup is good for your brain. Although because of the sugar in it, you should look to other sources for most of your lycopene intake, such as fresh tomato sauce.

Green it: try to eat tomatoes that are local and get your lycopene in vitamin form when tomatoes aren’t in season. You’ll know when that is – the tomatoes will be pale, tasteless, and pithy.

20. Cacao nibs

That’s right, I’m putting chocolate on this list twice. My boyfriend knows I need it. I eat chocolate or cacao nibs daily and I think you might want to consider it, too. Cacao nibs are among the top five most powerful brain foods, right next to wild salmon and blueberries. My girlfriends and I like to mix cacao nibs with frozen blueberries and a generous splash of organic heavy cream while we watch really bad television on Sunday nights.

Green it: as long as it’s fair trade and organic, it’s green.

Things that drain your brain:

Alcohol kills your brain cells outright! Alcohol also interferes with dopamine production. Moderate amounts of alcohol, particularly resveratrol-rich red wine, can help improve your health, but anything beyond a glass or two of wine daily is a recipe for reduced brain function and energy loss.

Corn Syrup and Sugar lead to health problems like diabetes and obesity, and they’re terrible for your brain. Don’t eat sugar except on special occasions or as an infrequent treat. If you can’t cut back that much, try to limit yourself to just two bites of whatever tempts you daily.

Nicotine constricts blood flow to the brain, so while it may "soothe" jittery nerves, smoking will actally reduce your brain function severely – and the effects are cumulative.

A high carbohydrate lunch
will make you sleepy and sluggish. Opt for a light meal with some quality protein, such as a salad with grilled chicken breast or vegetables and hummus or wild American shrimp and avocado.

alternet


August 19, 2009 | 10:43 AM Comments  {num} comments



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