Breast Cancer Awareness Month ends tomorrow but your vigilance in keeping ALL cancer at bay is a year-round affair. Keeping your environment free from chemicals and buying organic foods are two important steps to ensure a long and healthy life.
In an analysis by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) undertaken by the University of Newcastle in Australia, scientists found that on average, people are consuming approximately 5 grams of plastic every week in their food and water supply.
That equals about a credit card a week!
But, plastic is everywhere, not just in our food and drinking water! And, we want to avoid it because – Plastic is an endocrine disruptor. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. Any system in the body controlled by the endocrine system can be derailed by these disruptors.The endocrine system is the collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood – in other words, EVERYTHING important.
Endocrine disruptors may be associated with the development of learning disabilities, severe attention deficit disorder, cognitive and brain development problems; deformations of the body; breast cancer, prostate cancer, thyroid and other cancers; sexual development problems such as feminizing of males or masculinizing effects on females, etc.
In May (5/22), I wrote about endocrine disruptors and suggested ways to avoid them:
- Carry your drinking water in a glass container or a glass-lined or stainless steel thermos or bottle
- Dispose of your plastic cutting board and go back to using a wooden one
- Do not microwave food in plastic containers or allow plastic wrap to touch food when heating; ceramic or ovenproof glass dishes provide safe and effective substitutes
- Store foods, especially those with high fat content, in glass
- Carry food-on-the-go in Stashers, reusable silicone bags
- Don’t store oils, vinegar, or wine in flexible plastic containers because these foods more quickly draw chemicals from plastic. When purchasing foods that are wrapped in plastic or heat-sealed containers from the supermarket or deli, slice off a thin outer layer where the food comes into contact with the plastic.
- Discourage children from chewing on plastic. Offer wood or natural fiber toys. Select PVC-free toys whenever possible.
- Before accepting the new plastic coating treatment for your children’s teeth, ask your dentist whether it contains bisphenol-A
Most tea bags and even coffee filters are treated with epichlorohydrin to reduce the chances of the product tearing during use.
Epichlorohydrin is an industrial solvent and a known carcinogen.
If you’ve been brewing your tea or coffee with bottled water in the hopes of avoiding contaminants commonly found in tap water, it is important to note most bottled water contains microplastics, adding to the toxic burden from your tea bags.
Bottled water is usually obtained from municipal water supplies, well water or spring water which is not regulated for polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) by the EPA. The FDA places responsibility for testing on the manufacturer without any oversight from a federal agency.
Water bottles also contain xenoestrogen which mimic estrogen and other hormones in the body. Estrogen is a natural hormone males and females need in our bodies and this mimicker amplifies the effects in a completely unnatural way.
Xenoestrogens can be found in most synthetic products because they make them more durable. You can find them in:
- Plastic bottles, bags and food containers
- Shampoos and conditioners
- Cling film and glad wrap
- Pans treated with nonstick coatings
- Pesticides and herbicides
Some of the proven issues include:
- Hormone-related reproductive cancers such as breast, ovarian and prostate cancer
- Neurological issues
- Feminization in men, such as man boobs, loss of testosterone and low sperm count
- Unnaturally early puberty in girls
- Type 2 diabetes
- Obesity – Plastics get stored in fat deposits and are very hard to loose
- Heart disease
- Thyroid problems
Unfortunately xenoestrogens are not limited to plastic bottles. They are also found in commercially-raised dairy, meat and eggs. Commercially-raised livestock are actually fed a diet pumped with xenoestrogens. Not only does it help get them plumper, but it also helps increase the amount of milk and eggs they produce.
Commercially raised livestock food is also sprayed with pesticides, so they ingest a double dose of xenoestrogens on a daily basis.
Try for an 80/20 approach to a natural lifestyle. Work hard for 100% but settle for 80%. (60/40 is admirable when you are getting started with a natural lifestyle!)
- Eat organic whenever possible. Ensure the produce is organic by checking labels, especially eggs and meat products.
- Use organic, natural soaps and toothpastes – eco friendly, bamboo toothbrushes and biodegradable cotton swabs
- Avoid using pesticides and herbicides in your garden
- Try and keep nail polish, acrylic nails and nail polish remover use to a minimum – Try Tenoverten, Butter nail polish, or Zoya
- Spend a little more and get beauty products that use natural ingredients – Try Beautycounter– Contact Meredith Perabo, Senior Manager at Beautycounter, www.beautycounter.com/meredithperabo, for personalized help. Ditch your perfume for new lines of fragrances without synthetic (toxic) chemicals – Try Henry Rose, Skylar, Kai, and Phlur.
- Use natural household cleaners and detergents
- Carry reusable bags when you are shopping for groceries, clothes, drug store, dog food, etc. – Try Baggu
Some of the best xenoestrogen inhibiting foods include:
- Onions and garlic
- Green tea (buy loose in bulk)
- Citrus fruits
- Organic, full fat, dairy such as grass fed butter and raw grass fed cheese
- Raw nuts and seeds
- Organic virgin olive oil
Sweet Potato is a starchy, sweet-tasting root vegetable. They have a thin, brown skin on the outside with colored flesh inside. They are most commonly orange in color, but other varieties are white, purple or yellow. You can eat sweet potatoes whole or peeled, and the leaves of the plant are edible too.
They may both be called ‘potatoes’, but sweet and white potatoes are not related. Botanically, the sweet potato belongs to the bindweed or morning glory family, whereas the white potato sits in the nightshade family. Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Sweet potatoes are not a type of yam, and yams are not a type of sweet potato. They are both tuberous root vegetables that come from a flowering plant, but they are not related and actually don’t have a lot in common. Compared to sweet potatoes, yams are starchier and drier. (The skin of yams look like tree bark. They look more like yucca in texture and flavor.)
One cup (200 grams) of baked sweet potato with skin provides:
- Calories: 180
- Carbs: 41.4 grams
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fat: 0.3 grams
- Fiber: 6.6 grams
- Vitamin A: 769% of the Daily Value (DV) !!
- Vitamin C: 65% of the DV
- Manganese: 50% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 29% of the DV
- Potassium: 27% of the DV
- Pantothenic acid: 18% of the DV
- Copper: 16% of the DV
- Niacin: 15% of the DV
The orange and purple varieties are especially rich in antioxidants that protect your body from free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage DNA and trigger inflammation.
Sweet potatoes contain two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Your body cannot digest either type. Therefore, the fiber stays within your digestive tract and provides a variety of gut-related health benefits. Certain types of soluble fiber known as viscous fibers absorb water and soften your stool. Non-viscous, insoluble fibers don’t absorb water and add bulk.
Some soluble and insoluble fibers can also be fermented by the bacteria in your colon, creating compounds called short-chain fatty acids that fuel the cells of your intestinal lining and keep them healthy and strong.
Fiber-rich diets containing 20–33 grams per day have been linked to a lower risk of colon cancer.
Anthocyanins, a group of antioxidants found in purple sweet potatoes, have been found to slow the growth of certain types of cancer cells in test-tube studies, including those of the bladder, colon, stomach, and breast. Mice fed diets rich in purple sweet potatoes showed lower rates of early-stage colon cancer, suggesting that the anthocyanins in the potatoes may have a protective effect.
Extracts of orange sweet potatoes and sweet potato peels have also been found to have anti-cancer properties in test-tube studies.
Sweet potatoes are very rich in beta-carotene, the antioxidant responsible for the vegetable’s bright orange color. One cup of baked orange sweet potato with skin provides more than seven times the amount of beta-carotene that the average adult needs per day.
Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in your body and used to form light-detecting receptors inside your eyes. Test-tube studies have found that the anthocyanins they provide can protect eye cells from damage.
Although cooking sweet potatoes slightly reduces their beta-carotene content, they still retain at least 70% of this nutrient and are considered an excellent source.
How to Buy
Select sweet potatoes that are clean, blemish-free, decay-free, dry, smooth, and firm. One decayed area can spoil the whole sweet potato; cutting it away won’t help.
How to Store
Refrigeration changes the structure of the cell walls of sweet potatoes, making them harder to break down. As a result, refrigerated sweet potatoes can remain hard in the middle and take longer to cook.
Instead, store your sweet potatoes at cool room temperature, preferably in a dark place away from light. Sweet potatoes stored this way will cook up evenly and be soft all the way through.
Store in a cool, dry area for up to about 7 days (they have a shorter home shelf life than white potatoes).
Store at 55-65 degrees F.
How to Cook
Sweet potatoes can be enjoyed with or without the skin and can be baked, boiled, roasted, fried, steamed, or pan-cooked. Their natural sweetness pairs well with many different seasonings, and they can be enjoyed in both savory and sweet dishes.
Some popular ways to enjoy sweet potatoes include:
- Sweet potato chips: Peeled, thinly sliced, and baked or fried.
- Sweet potato fries: Peeled, cut into wedges or matchsticks, and baked or fried.
- Sweet potato toast: Cut into thin slices, toasted, and topped with ingredients like nut butter or avocado.
- Mashed sweet potatoes: Peeled, boiled, and mashed with milk and seasoning.
- Baked sweet potatoes: Baked whole in the oven until fork-tender.
- Sweet potato hash: Peeled, diced, and cooked with onion in a pan.
- Spiralized sweet potatoes: Cut into spirals, sautéed, and sauced.
- In baked goods: Sweet potato puree adds moisture without fat.
Preparing sweet potatoes with a little fat such as coconut oil, olive oil, or avocado can help boost the absorption of beta-carotene since it’s a fat-soluble nutrient.
Vegetarian Sweet Potato Chili
Cookie + Kate
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced, or 1 heaping tablespoon of minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less, depending on how spicy you like your chili)
- 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 large can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, with their juices -I recommend using Muir Glen canned tomatoes because their cans are BPA-free.
- 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained, or 1 ½ cups cooked black beans
- 1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained, or 1 ½ cups cooked kidney beans
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- Suggested garnishes: sour cream, grated cheese, thinly sliced green onions and/or chopped cilantro
- In a 4-to-6 quart Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat, warm the olive oil until shimmering. Add the chopped vegetables (onion, peppers and sweet potatoes) and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions start turning translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the garlic and spices (chili powder, cumin, cayenne, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and another dash of salt and pepper) and liquid ingredients (tomatoes, beans and broth), and stir. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally and reducing heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer, until the sweet potatoes are tender and the chili has reduced to a heartier consistency, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- If you would like an even thicker consistency, use a potato masher to mash the chili until the texture suits your preferences. Season chili with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the chili into individual bowls, garnish as desired and serve
This chili should turn out well after cooking in a crock pot on low for 7 to 8 hours, or on high for 4 to 5 hours.