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CAT | Toxins and Health

halloweenAs part of the healthystuff.org project, researchers from The Ecology Center recently tested more than 100 Halloween-themed items including costumes, treat bags and decorations available from well-known retailers. The scary part? Those products contained an alarming number of hidden toxins, including brominated flame retardants, lead, phthalates and tin compounds—all of which have been linked to developmental and behavioral problems in children. Click here to read more.

5 Quick Tips for a Safe and Healthy Halloween:

  1. Decorate Naturally. Use pumpkins, gourds and hay bales to create a haunting scene, and try to reuse holiday decorations from year to year. Choose fragrance-free candles made from bee, palm or soy wax to avoid petroleum byproducts.
  2. Create Low-impact Costumes for Kids. Rather than choosing a store-bought costume, get creative with items you already own or can get used from a local resale shop or from friends. Consider organizing a costume swap at your child’s school.
  3. Choose Play Makeup Carefully. Children love to wear colorful cosmetics as part of their costumes. If they do, make sure they use safe, non-toxic products and apply them as directed.
  4. Skip the Hairspray. Kids can easily breathe in sprays, many of which contain toxic chemicals, colors and fragrances. Find a great hat or wig instead, or create a fun hair-do with ribbons, barrettes and safer, non-spray hair products.
  5. Avoid Synthetic Facemasks and Teeth. Masks and fake teeth are made from a variety of synthetic materials that aren’t always labeled. Plastics may be softened with endocrine-disrupting phthalates. Make your own mask instead from simple materials; masquerade-style masks are fun to create with kids.

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fruitThe bounty of summer produce may be coming to an end, but the fall season has a lot to offer in the way of healthful fruits and vegetables. And since a recent study found that eating seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily reduces your risk of death at any age by 42 percent (and decreases your risk of heart attack and stroke), here are five of our favorites!

Apples: In addition to beneficial vitamins and antioxidants, apples are chock full of soluble fiber—which is not only important for digestive health and regularity but also promotes cardiovascular health and healthy cholesterol levels. Because of their high fiber content and fewer digestible sugars, Granny Smith apples are a great choice. They have also been shown to help increase the numbers of beneficial bacteria in the gut and may support weight loss and healthy weight management, according to a recent Washington State University study.

Pumpkin: Put down the carving knife… unless you’re carving up that pumpkin for soups and smoothies! The Halloween staple is loaded with essential nutrients like vitamin A for healthy vision (a cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 200% of your RDA), vitamin C to support immune health, the antioxidant beta-carotene, potassium, iron and of course plenty of fiber. And did we mention the seeds? In addition to magnesium and zinc, pumpkin seeds contain the amino acid tryptophan, which is linked to serotonin production and a positive mood.

Arugula: Spice up your fall salads with arugula! Dark leafy green are essential for healthy detox, gut health and overall wellness—and arugula stands out in particular. Its peppery leaves are high in fiber, antioxidants and health-promoting plant compounds called glucosinolates, as well as vitamin K (needed for calcium absorption), essential B vitamins and beneficial compounds that support a healthy inflammatory response in the body. Arugula is also an aphrodisiac!

Cranberries: Cranberries are low in sugar and loaded with vitamin C and fiber—not to mention they have more immune-supporting antioxidants (including vitamin E) than nearly any other fruit or vegetable. In studies, cranberries have been shown to support immune function as well as promote healthy blood pressure levels, and research shows they also promote urinary tract health. Just remember to avoid high-sugar juices and sauces!

Brussels Sprouts: Gone are the days of turning up our noses at these little green bulbs. Belonging to the same family as broccoli and kale, non-starchy Brussels sprouts are loaded with good things like fiber, vitamin C, folate, iron, potassium and B vitamins—along with powerful antioxidants and other plant compounds shown to support immune function and overall health. And the best part? Brussels sprouts are really simple to prepare: just cut off the ends, mix them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them in the oven for about 35–40 minutes.

When shopping for fall fruits and veggies, go organic whenever possible and check out your local farmers market first. You should be able to find locally grown, in-season produce that’s fresh and affordable—in addition to being a healthful and delicious addition to your table!

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