China

  1. Different brands have different health benefits of green tea

    Green tea: choose your weapon

    If you want the disease-fighting power and health benefits of green tea, it's best to get out your kettle and brew your own -- because some bottled teas contain all the nutrients of a glass of rainwater.

    In other words, practically none at all.

    One of the best antioxidants in green tea, for example, is a catechin called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG for short. It's been shown to fight dementia, cancer, and more.

    (To learn more about green tea's dementia-fighting powers read this.)

    But Diet Snapple Green Tea was found to have just about none of these health benefits of green tea, according to a series of tests conducted by ConsumerLab.com. Honest Tea's Green Tea with Honey did a little better -- but not by much. The label claims each bottle contains 190 mg of healthy catechins, but ConsumerLab.com's tests found just 60 percent of those levels.

    Maybe it's time to change the name -- because that's not exactly what I'd call an "honest" tea.

    Clearly, you want to stick to loose teas and teabags with the largest amount of health benefits of green tea instead -- but even then, the choice isn't as cut-and-dry as it might seem. Lipton and Bigelow, for example, contain high levels of antioxidants at a low price -- and very little caffeine, too.

    But don't stock up just yet -- because both contain lead, according to the test results.

    It could be because Lipton and Bigelow's green teas are grown largely in China, where lead contamination in the soil is all too common. While the lead seems to stay in the tea and not leech out into the water, I wouldn't take the risk myself.

    Teavana's Gyokuro green tea from Japan contains no lead and even higher levels of antioxidants. On the other hand, it also comes with a much higher price tag and as much caffeine as a cup of coffee.

    I won't recommend a specific brand, since it seems like there are tradeoffs all around. For the best results, avoid bottled teas and stick to green teas grown in safer regions to get the largest amount of health benefits of green tea.

    And if you're sensitive to caffeine, be sure to purchase a decaffeinated version.

  2. Why you should never buy honey from the supermarket

    You might think the most difficult part of choosing honey is deciding between a little plastic bear and big glass jar.

    Turns out the decision's a lot more difficult than that -- because just about all the honey in your supermarket is barely even honey at all.

    A new analysis finds that more than three-quarters of mass-market honey is low-quality junk that has been stripped of all its pollen.

    That's not just a key part of what makes honey honey. It's also the one and only way to identify where the honey came from -- and when the pollen is deliberately removed, it's a sure sign that it really came from China.

    Cheap Chinese honey is banned from most places and heavily taxed in others to keep it off the market, and with good reason: It's often contaminated with antibiotics and toxic heavy metals.

    But it's still getting here. Chinese beekeepers simply remove all the pollen and sell it through a middleman in another country -- often India.

    There's even a name for the practice: honey laundering. And it's so common that recent tests on more than 60 honey samples from stores in 10 states and Washington, D.C. found that 76 percent of the honey sold in big chain supermarkets was completely pollen free.

    In other words, this stuff is almost certainly "laundered" Chinese honey.

    The tests also revealed that 77 percent of the honey from "big box" stores such as Walmart, Costco and Target were missing pollen, along with 100 percent of honey sold in chain pharmacies like Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS.

    Just about the only honey from a chain store that had pollen was the honey from Trader Joe's. The other consistently reliable choice: the vendors who sell honey at local farmers' markets and co-ops.

    Food Safety News, which ordered the tests, has a complete list of honey brands that contained no pollen -- and they're brands found in cupboards across the country, including Sue Bee and Winnie the Pooh.

    Yes, not even Pooh Bear is safe from Chinese honey!

    Read the full list here.

    Of course, there are other reasons to make sure your honey is local: In addition to supporting local beekeepers, honey with local pollen can help protect you from seasonal allergies.

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