Archive for the ‘Healthy Diet’ Category

Superfood Nutrition for Stress

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

Providing your body with nutrition is intricately linked with nourishing your mind. If your body is unhealthy, you will be more likely to suffer from symptoms of stress, low mood and anxiety. Eating foods that are high in calories but low in nutritional value can cause dramatic spikes in blood sugar and leave you feeling unsatisfied and tense. Eating foods, such as cottage cheese or those high in vitamin C can help combat stress, take the edge off and keep you calm, no matter how tense life may get.

Paying attention to your nutrition can help you nurture your mental health. Try to incorporate the foods below into your daily diet.Superfood Nutrition for Stress

  • Spinach: This leafy green vegetable can regulate your blood pressure and keep you calm. Spanach also contains high levels of Vitamin C, A, B, and K.
  • Cottage cheese: Loaded with protein and calcium, cottage cheese can help you feel satisfied and reduce hunger pangs.
  • Citrus fruits: When you’re stressed, your body releases free radicals that can be damaging to your health. Eating foods that are high in vitamin C can provide the nutrition you need to maintain a healthy immune system and combat health hazards.
  • Chocolate: Although it’s best to avoid excess sugar when dealing with stress, chocolate may activate the pleasure centers in the brain, helping to boost mood and relieve anxiety. Dark chocolate, which has more cacao, can be more effective at reducing stress than regular or milk chocolate. Eating too much chocolate can cause moodiness after the effects of the sugar and caffeine have worn off, so eat chocolate in moderation to regulate your mood.
  • Fish: Fish with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce surges of stress hormones that are released during tense situations. Tuna, an excellent source of omega-3, is also high in vitamins B6 and B12, which support the production of stress-relieving neurotransmitters.
  • Oatmeal: Besides being a great remedy for soothing the skin, oatmeal can also soothe your nerves. The grain stimulates the production of serotonin in the brain, which has a calming effect on the body. Because the body digests oatmeal slowly, the calming effects are long-lasting.
  • Avocado: This rich, creamy, natural treat is packed full of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals used for to combat stress. The healthy fats and high levels of potassium in avocados can also help lower high blood pressure.
  • Beef: Lean red meat is a good source of nutrition and is packed with the mood stabilizers zinc, iron and B vitamins.
  • Asparagus: With high levels of folic acid, asparagus can help you regulate your mood. Folic acid helps create serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of happiness.
  • Green Tea: Well known for its stress fighting ingredient Theanine, this soothing beverage is also packed full of free radical fighting antioxidants such as vitamin C. Studies have also shown that the act of making tea can help relax the mind.

What foods do you use to balance your stress levels? Share your nutrition secrets in the comments section below.

References –
Stress Relief –
Benefits of Cottage Cheese –
Vitamin C Antioxidants -

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Weight Loss Benefits of Raspberry Ketones

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Raspberry ketone has been touted as a wonder supplement for burning fat. The compound, which occurs naturally in red raspberries, helps boost metabolism and lower glucose levels in the blood. Achieving weight loss through diet and exercise alone can be challenging. It’s easy to plateau before hitting your goal weight, because your body gets used to the increased exercise and reduction in calories. Adding raspberry ketone to your daily regimen may be just the jump-start you need to shed those extra pounds.

Raspberry ketone increases the levels of norepinephrine in the body, which can raise body temperature and boost metabolism. The compound also increases the levels of a hormone that regulates blood glucose levels. Less sugar in your blood and a faster metabolism result in decreased body fat and increased weight loss.

There are other benefits of raspberry ketone that extend beyond weight loss.

  • RaspberriesAs your body fat decreases, so may your cholesterol and blood pressure, boosting your overall health.
  • The antioxidants found in raspberry ketones can help repair damage caused by free radicals in the body and prevent future damage.
  • Patients with arthritis pain or those who have experienced sore muscles after exercising have reported pain relief while taking the compound. This may be due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
  • The supplement has also been shown to help protect against carcinogens in the body. In one study, after being administered raspberry ketone over a period of time, rats with liver cancer experienced a decrease in the size of their tumors. As more of the compound was administered, the tumors shrunk even more.

Although raspberry ketone is found in fresh red raspberries, you would have to eat an impossible amount of raspberries to achieve the same effects as a single dose of the supplement offers. However, eating raspberries and other whole foods is important. People taking the compound for weight loss should also strive to eat healthy meals with plenty of fruits and vegetables to achieve the maximum health benefits.

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High Fiber Foods that Suppress Appetite

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

No matter what diet plan you’re trying to follow, there always seems to be one thing that gets in your way: your appetite! It’s true that you’ll never lose weight if you can’t cut those calories, but doing so can leave anyone feeling hungry and deprived. Before you know it, you’re taking just a nibble of something you know you shouldn’t have. That’s perfectly fine within reason, but you know how easily that habit can get out of control.

However, you can eat sensibly and never feel starved if you learn how to use these high fiber foods to suppress your appetite:

Oatmeal
Skip the instant varieties and go with rolled or steel-cut oats for the best results. This traditional breakfast dish is one of the tastiest high fiber foods out there. Depending on personal preference, you can dress it up with a little brown sugar and dried fruit or even go savory with some low-fat cheese. A low-glycemic food, oatmeal is filled with slow-burning carbs that reduce your natural production of grehlin, a hunger hormone.

Salad Vegetables
This broad category includes all those crunchy raw veggies you’d typically throw into a salad including dark leafy greens, carrots, celery, broccoli and cucumbers, all considered to be high fiber foods. Studies have shown that starting your meal with a healthy salad means that you’ll eat much less during the rest of your meal. Make the most out of this part of your meal with an olive-oil dressing. These healthier condiments aren’t considered high fiber foods, but they are very satisfying and suppress the appetite in a different way.

Apples High FiberApples
Did you know that the common apple has four grams of fiber? That’s more than you can find in a typical piece of whole wheat bread! This fruit has a special kind of fiber called pectin that does even more than keep you feeling full. This substance helps regulate your blood pressure and maintains even energy levels. Toss a little apple and cinnamon in your daily serving of oatmeal for a double whammy of appetite-suppressing goodness!

Flax Seeds
These tiny little seeds taste great on just about anything including oatmeal and salads! They’re high in fiber and protein, but the real beauty is that they’re packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Flax seeds work overtime to regulate your blood sugar and reduce your appetite. As far as high fiber foods are concerned, this is one of the best.

These high fiber foods do their part to suppress your appetite and keep you healthy. Now, you have to do yours by making them a regular part of your meal plan.

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Maca and Its Super Food Benefits

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

maca rootSimilar in appearance to a turnip or radish, the humble maca root has been used by the natives of Peru and Bolivia for centuries for its nutritional value and stimulating properties. Now recognized as the next in a long line of super foods, dried maca root is available in supplemental form for those who don’t have access to the real thing. The dried root consists of about 14 percent protein with high levels of calcium, potassium and essential fatty acids. If you’re interested in adding this super food to your diet, here are a few more of its benefits.

Maca is an Adaptogen!
This funny name simply means that maca can do great things for most people without causing any negative side effects for anyone. The list of benefits includes:

  • Boosts Immunity and Speeds Healing
  • Increases Energy Levels and Endurance
  • Supports the Endocrine System for Healthy Hormone Regulation
  • Enhances Memory and Brain Functioning
  • Nourishes the Skin, Bones and Teeth
  • Helps Build Muscle

Is Maca Root Really an Aphrodisiac?
Many claim it is, and the actual studies have shown some positive results in this area. A few random trials have been conducted that indicate maca root can increase the male sex drive and improve male fertility. Other studies conducted on animals found that male rats demonstrated an increased desire to mate when maca root was included in their diet compared to rats that weren’t given this food source. Some feel that these results are due to the hormone-balancing properties of the maca root while others credit the exceptional nutritional value of this super food.

Maca has also been credited with helping the ladies in this same area. While we won’t go so far as to claim this super food is an actual aphrodisiac, feeling your best has to help put anyone in the mood. Those same hormone-balancing properties help ease the symptoms of menopause and pre-menstrual syndrome while filling the body with energy and vigor. Many women who suffer from iron-poor blood or thyroid conditions also benefit from including maca root in their diet. This super food alleviates anemia and helps regulate hyper-thyroidal symptoms.

How Much is Too Much?
Although maca root has no ill effects according to many, there is one thing to watch out for. If your diet is low in iodine, the glucosinolates in maca can cause goiters if you consume this vegetable in huge quantities. However, this is not a major risk for most people.

Like anything else, you should enjoy maca root in its original form or as a supplement in moderation noting any positive or negative effects on your body. No one has reported any allergies to this healthy super food to date, but you should always contact your doctor if you have an unusual reaction to maca root or any other supplement.

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Primrose Oil: Super-Nutrient a Vegetarian Alternative to Fish Oil

Friday, January 6th, 2012

If you don’t like the idea of ingesting any type of animal product, even in supplement form, primrose oil can provide the same benefits as fish oil while allowing you to maintain a vegetarian lifestyle. Extracted from the evening primrose, a plant that displays yellow blooms in the evening hours, this oil contains a high percentage of GLA, gamma-linolenic acid, also known as Omega 6 fatty acid.

Don’t I Need Omega 3s?
Your body does need the Omega 3 fatty acids contained in fish oil, but it’s also capable of converting plant-based Omega 6 compounds into Omega 3s. This provides the same health benefits as consuming them directly through either fish or fish oil supplements.

Primrose Oil and FlowerWhat are the Health Benefits of Primrose Oil?
The GLA in evening primrose oil is reported to support brain function, body growth and overall development. It also promotes hair and skin growth, healthy bones, an efficient metabolism and reproductive health. This vegetarian-friendly supplement has also been shown to help treat or manage a number of diseases including:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Sjogren’s Syndrome
  • Osteoporosis
  • Hypertension

The Future of Primrose Oil
Because of primrose oil’s other benefits, researchers have been looking for new ways to use this vegetarian supplement. So far, it has been found to help with some cancers, especially cerebral gliomas. Primrose oil has shown some promise with skin disorders like atopic dermatitis, mastalgia and some uremic skin disorders.

Sticking with a vegetarian diet doesn’t mean you should ignore the nutrients traditionally provided by animal products.Instead, seek out plant-based alternatives that offer the same health benefits. The omega nutrients are a vital component to your overall health and should not be disregarded just because the most common form comes from animals. Primrose oil is the perfect alternative to the fish oil supplements.

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Is Gluten the Culprit for Your Mood Swings?

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Wheat Gluten MoodIf you’ve been struggling with mood swings and nothing has helped, there could be a simple answer: Your diet might be the cause of your emotional ups and downs. Gluten intolerance can wreak havoc on your body leading to adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalances and mood swings.

What is Adrenal Fatigue and How Does Gluten Come into Play?
Adrenal fatigue is a state of chronic tiredness caused when the adrenal gland doesn’t work as it should. Reports indicate that as many as 80% of people will experience this disorder at some point in their lives. Warning signs include:

  • You’re tired most of the time for no reason.
  • It’s hard to get up and going in the morning.
  • You crave caffeine or sugar to keep going.
  • You feel stressed and run-down most of the time.

Thought to be a product of chronic stress, allergies or obesity in the past, many researchers now attribute adrenal fatigue to gluten intolerance. In a person with this problem, gluten, the basic protein in wheat, rye and barley, puts stress on the adrenal glands. These tiny organs sit just above the kidneys and regulate the body’s hormones.

How Does Gluten Intolerance Cause Mood Swings?
Gluten intolerance causes mood swings by stressing the adrenal gland. This in turn causes an imbalance in hormone levels. The main purpose of balanced hormones is to allow the body to repair itself and prevent aging. When this balance breaks down, your body can’t repair itself and each system starts to deteriorate. Eventually, this leads to unexplained fatigue, uncontrolled PMS, mood swings, hot flashes, depression and even a loss of libido.

How Can I Remove Gluten From My Diet?
It sounds so simple to just not eat bread. Unfortunately, removing all traces of gluten from your diet is a little more complicated. Start off by looking for gluten-free products and restaurants that serve gluten-free items. Learn to read the labels religiously for any type of flour that commonly contains gluten. When in doubt, remember that basic food items like meats and fresh fruits and vegetables are always gluten-free!

Although it’s perfectly fine to remove gluten from your diet to see if it makes you feel better, you should see your doctor if you think you may have adrenal fatigue. These symptoms could be a sign of a number of other health problems.

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What Fish Oil is Right for You?

Friday, January 6th, 2012

omega 3 fatty acidFish oil is reported to be a miracle supplement for every ailment under the sun from heart disease to depression. This has resulted in shelves crowded with a variety of products all claiming to be the best. To ease your confusion, here’s a practical guide to fish oil:

What’s so Great About Fish Oil?
The Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil are composed of DHA and EPA, docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid. Considered essential fatty acids, the human body requires these substances to function, but it can’t produce them on its own. In other words, you must obtain all of your DHA and EPA from your diet or through supplements. Omega 6 is another essential fatty acid that can be obtained from plant-based sources like flaxseeds, nuts, and olive oil. This substance contains a different amino acid called ALA or alpha-linolenic acid. The body can use Omega 6 fatty acids, but they must be converted into DHA and EPA first. Because this process stresses the body, it’s always better to get your daily requirement of DHA and EPA directly from your diet or through fish oil supplements.

Types of Fish Oil:
Fish oil comes in three basic varieties: old-fashioned cod liver oil, health-store fish oil and pharmaceutical-grade fish oil. All three include Omega 3 fatty acids, but these products are definitely not created equal. Here’s a breakdown of each one:

  • Cod Liver Oil – This inexpensive oil is harvested from fish liver. It’s OK in small dosages, but higher amounts can expose you to contaminants and excessive levels of Vitamin A. An entire teaspoon, five grams, contains about 500 mg of Omega 3 fatty acids, but you’ll also receive plenty of organic mercury and commercial chemicals including DDT and PCB.
  • Health-Store Fish Oil – Slightly more expensive, this type of fish oil is often extracted from salmon, tuna, anchovies, herring or sardines. Some products are filtered to remove a portion of the contaminants and concentrated to provide a higher dose of Omega 3 fatty acids. On average, this type of fish oil contains 300 mg of Omega 3s per one-gram serving, about three times as much as cod liver oil. Although safer than cod liver oil, this type of fish oil can be dangerous at high dosages.
  • Pharmaceutical-Grade Fish Oil – This type of fish oil has been filtered to remove almost all contaminants and concentrated to increase the Omega 3 percentage to very high levels. If you’re interested in using a high dosage of Omega 3s in your diet, this is the safest and easiest way to proceed. This type of fish oil generally contains 600 mg of Omega 3s per one-gram serving, about double the amount of the typical health store product.

Which Fish Oil Should I Take and How Much?
Although the FDA has not yet set a recommendation for fish oil intake, but several other medical groups have presented their opinions on the subject based on specific health concerns. Here are a few of the most popular recommendations:

  • Omega 3 Fish OilHealthy Adults – This group should get about 2,000 mg of Omega 3 fatty acids every day. This fatty acid supports brain development, brain health and memory. Children and seniors can also benefit from additional amounts of essential fatty acids.• Crohn’s Disease – The recommendation for this ailment is 2,000 mg twice a day for a total of 4,000 mg in a 24-hour period.
  • Lupus – This disorder responds well to 6,000 mg per day split into three 2,000 mg doses.
  • Asthma, Arthritis and High Blood Pressure – Doctors may recommend 3,000 mg per day for these health problems, split into three 1,000 mg doses.

Because of the contaminant levels associated with health-store fish oil capsules, pharmaceutical-grade fish oil is always the safest choice.Speak with your doctor about their recommendations for any of your specific health concerns.

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Probiotics: A Little Known Stress Reducer

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Does your normal diet fall by the wayside during the holidays? Have you yet to introduce yourself to probiotics? If so, you’re definitely not alone! To fully enjoy this time of year, most people indulge in rich foods at every turn. Whether you sample your own gourmet creations or you can’t resist a second serving of your favorite aunt’s world-famous macaroni and cheese, a sudden change in your diet or meal schedule can quickly take its toll on your digestive health.

Yogurt and ProbioticsProbiotics Keep You Feeling Great!
The stress and discomfort of digestive problems only add to the pressure of the holidays, but you can use probiotics to take control of your troubling stomach issues. Unlike harsh medications, probiotics work naturally by gradually introducing healthy bacteria to your system in order to restore balance to your digestive tract. As your body begins to feel normal again, you’ll feel like a new person!

Can Probiotics Be Just as Good as Valium?
Probiotics have been proven in the past to help the body use nutrients more efficiently, but the latest research shows an even better reason to use this healthy supplement. In a recent animal study, scientists discovered that beneficial bacteria in the digestive system reduced the body’s level of corticosterone, a stress-related hormone. After feeding mice a diet rich in probiotics, they were noticeably more relaxed than other mice that were given a placebo. The researchers noted that this reaction was similar to the effects seen after injecting a mouse with Valium!

How Do I Get Probiotics?
Although the strain of bacteria used in the study is not yet commercially available, the market is filled with probiotic supplements that promote digestive health. If you’d like to introduce beneficial bacteria to your system naturally, here are the best foods to include in your diet on a regular basis:

  • ProbioticsYogurt – active-cultured with Lactobacillus bacteria
  • Sauerkraut – fermented cabbage
  • Kefir – a European health drink made by fermenting milk and kefir grains
  • Natto – fermented soybeans
  • Kimchi – pickled cabbage with Korean spices
  • Miso – Japanese seasoning made by fermenting soybeans, barley, rice and other grains with koji fungus
  • Tempeh – soybeans fermented with the rhizopus oligosporus fungus

Whether you choose a supplement or a dietary change, probiotics can reduce your stress levels and improve your digestive health. To feel your best during the holiday season, balance those rich meals with healthy choices and remember to continue this habit into the New Year!

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Cupuacu | An Exotic Super Fruit!

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Cupuaçu, also spelled Cupuassu, Cupuazú, and Copoasu is definitely not the prettiest fruit, but its health benefits are more than attractive! Just in case pronouncing this strange-looking name has you a little worried, here’s a phonetic representation to help you out: “coo-poo-wa-soo.”

This superfruit grows naturally in the lush Amazon basin as well as in the jungles of Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Columbia. As a member of the Cacao family, Cupuacu is tasty, too! With a unique flavor that includes hints of banana, passion fruit and chocolate, you would enjoy adding this one to your diet even if it wasn’t good for you.

Cupuaçu Healthy Properties
Cupuacu gets its power from a healthy dose of phytochemicals and flavenoids, the same chemicals that are thought to make green tea, red wine, green leafy vegetables and so many other plant-based food items extremely healthy for humans. Here’s a breakdown of the specific chemicals that give Cupuacu its superfruit status:

  • CapuacuPolyphenolic Tannis – Found in red wine and grape juice, tannins have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown they also have antiviral, antiparasitic and antibacterial effects.
  • Thegrandins – A unique polyphenol, this substance acts as a super antioxidant. Cupuacu is one of the only known sources of this healthy ingredient.
  • Catechins – This antioxidant is responsible for dark chocolate’s healthy properties. In animal studies, it’s been shown to protect the brain from experiencing a stroke when included as a regular part of the diet.
  • Quercetin – A beneficial flavenoid, quercetin has strong antiviral, anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties.
  • Kaempferol – This flavenoid, also found in green tea and broccoli, protects the body from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
  • Isoscutellarein – A powerful flavenoid that promotes a healthy heart.

Additional Health Benefits of Cupuaçu
The health benefits don’t stop at the end of that impressive list! Natives use this fruit to ease the pain of childbirth and to increase stamina and energy levels. Although it does act as a mild, uplifting stimulant, Cupuacu has much lower levels of caffeine and theobromine than its cousin, the cacao seed. It is also high in vitamin C, and the seeds are often made into a rich moisturizer similar to cocoa butter.

When shopping for the raw fruit, look for an oblong, fuzzy, brown fruit that’s about eight-inches long with a hard shell. Once opened, the white pulp will smell of pineapple and chocolate. Cupuacu is also available in supplemental form including capsules and juice drinks. While the capsules will have little of the delicious Cupuacu flavor, the juice tastes mostly like pear with just a touch of banana.

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The Glycemic Index

Monday, August 29th, 2011

The glycemic index, or GI, indicates how a specific food influences blood sugar levels. Foods with high glycemic index values cause blood sugar levels to rise faster and higher than foods designated with a lower glycemic index rating.

Using the Glycemic Index

Glycemic IndexTo be honest, it’s not always easy to use the glycemic index. Although most people can usually tell which foods are calorie laden without too much thought, the glycemic index isn’t that clear. For example, cherries are generally thought of as a sweet fruit, but they only have a glycemic index rating of 22, whereas watermelon on the other hand is also sweet, but has a much higher glycemic index rating of 72.

Most people simply refer to a list of glyemic index values until they know where most of their usual food choices fit, but these rules of thumb can help you make an educated guess when your list isn’t available:

  • White foods usually have a high glycemic index .
  • Foods with a lot of fiber usually have a low glycemic index .
  • High-protein foods usually have a low glycemic index.
  • Fats in general, are low glycemic foods but try to stick with healthy fats whenever possible.

When using the glycemic index to make dietary choices, look at your diet as a whole. To maintain steady blood sugar levels, consistently create complex meals composed primarily of foods that are low on the glycemic index. Add in some foods that are in the median range of the glycemic index for variety and well-rounded nutrition. Only consume high glycemic index foods sparingly.

Low and High Glycemic Index Foods

Generally, any food with a GI under 55 is considered low glycemic foods, and anything over 70 is considered high glycemic foods. Review the following lists to see where your favorite items fall on the GI scale:

Low Glycemic Foods

  • Broccoli – 25
  • Corn – 48
  • Carrots – 47
  • Wholegrain Bread – 40
  • Sausage – 28
  • Kellogg’s All-Bran Breakfast Cereal – 42
  • Whole Milk – 27
  • Apple – 38
  • Linguine – 40
  • Yogurt – 14

Medium Glycmeic Foods

  • Steamed Potatoes – 65
  • Bran Muffin – 65
  • Cheese Pizza – 60
  • Fruit Loops – 69
  • Oatmeal Cookie – 55
  • Pineapple – 66
  • Fruit Punch – 67

High Glycemic Foods

  • Instant Mashed Potatoes – 74
  • French Baguette – 95
  • Rice Chex Breakfast Cereal – 89
  • Instant Rice – 87
  • Low-Fat Frozen Tofu – 115
  • Rice cakes – 77
  • Brown Rice pasta – 92
  • Corn Flakes – 83
  • Parsnips – 97

For some people, using the glycemic index as a dietary aid to pick low glycemic foods seems counter-intuitive because it says that many formerly-safe choices are no longer acceptable. For example, macaroni and cheese is a good choice with a GI of 39, but plain rice cakes are a definite no-no with a high glycemic index of 82. Pretzels and popcorn, generally thought of as safe snack foods, deliver GIs of 83 and 72 while those greasy potato chips have a GI that’s considered low at 54.

While the glycemic index is a wonderful tool that can help maintain stable blood sugar levels, it can’t be used in isolation. When planning your diet, include a healthy dose of common sense and make choices based on the complete nutritional picture for the best results. Using tools such as the glycemic index, the USDA’s myfoodpryamid.gov, moderate exercise, and good judgment will help you manage and maintain a healthier lifestyle.

References:

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September Recipes

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Almond and Berry Muffins with Flaxseed and Lemon Zest

Almond and Berry MuffinsServes 12 muffin

Cooking Time: 36 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups of whole grain or wheat pastry flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ cup of ground flaxseed
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup of fresh blueberries
  • 2/3 cup of fresh raspberries
  • 1 cup of 2% milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 lemon

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Line 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, flaxseed and salt.  Wisk to mix.  Add berries and fold into dry ingredients.
  3. In another bowl, combine milk, eggs, sugar, oil and almond extract. With fork, beat until smooth.
  4. Pour egg mixture into berry mixture and gently mix to moisten dry ingredients. Do not overmix, a few lumps in the batter is normal and desired.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups
  6. Bake for 20-24 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.
  7. Grate lemon peel over tops of muffin, to yield desired amount of lemon zest
  8. Let muffins stand for 5 minutes on rack before serving.

Nutritional Facts Per Serving:

210 Calories, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of protein, 1 gram saturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 280 mg of sodium, and 3 grams of fiber

 

 

Dijon Pepper Steak

Serves 4 people

Cooking Time 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp cracked or coasrsely ground mixed peppercorns
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • 4 center-cut filet mignon steaks (6 oz each), about 1 ¼ inch thick
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup beef broth
  • 3 Tbsp red wine or 2 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard

Instructions:

  1. Sprinkle peppercorns and salt on both side of steak and press in
  2. Coat large heavy skillet with vegetable or olive oil spray.  Place over high heat for 1 minute.
  3. Add oil. When oil is hot, reduce heat to medium-high and place steaks in pan.
  4. Cook steaks for five minutes per side for medium rare; 6 minutes per side for medium; or 7 minutes per side for well done
  5. Remove steaks to a large plate, and set aside
  6. Add broth and wine or vinegar to skillet.  Simmer for 30 seconds. Stir in mustard.
  7. Spoon sauce over steak
  8. ENJOY!

Nutritional Facts Per Serving:

300 calories, 1 gram carbohydrates, 36 grams of protein, 15 g of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 105 mg of cholesterol, 414 mg of sodium and 0 grams of fiber

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Resveratrol: The Truth

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Resveratrol | Red Wine

At one time, the fact that the French could eat extremely rich, high-fat meals on a regular basis without suffering from the same levels of heart disease as the rest of the world was a mystery. It was such a mystery that it was named the French Paradox. The only significant difference was the people of France loved their local wines and enjoyed a glass or two with every meal.

Suddenly, everyone was eager to add wine to their diet. Some felt that it was the alcohol itself, while others thought it might be the stress relief that could come with a small drink or two. Other forms of alcohol in moderation provided small benefits, but nothing could compare to red wine. Soon, researchers discovered the chemical in red wine that was responsible, Resveratrol. Let’s take a closer look at this healthy, all-natural substance:

The Health Benefits of Resveratrol
Resveratrol’s biggest claim to fame is that it can reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in our blood stream to prevent heart disease. It also improves circulation, modulates blood pressure, and protects blood vessels. As if this wasn’t enough, Resveratrol acts as a strong antioxidant to prevent cancer. Studies in rats have shown that mega-doses of this miracle chemical can even destroy a large amount of tumor cells.

Resveratrol has been thought of as the fountain of youth by some. Although the jury is out on that one, it has been shown to be helpful as a weight loss aid. It is thought to activate the SIRT1 gene during low-calorie diets to burn fat instead of allowing the body to go into a starvation mode where it desperately hangs onto every bit of extra weight. This gene is also thought to be the key to prevent aging.

Even if Resveratrol can’t help us look younger, it can definitely help us feel that way. It prevents or slows the progression of  many age-related diseases including Alzheimer’s, gout, and inflammatory diseases. Many reports say that this red-wine component can even help with hair loss and increase energy levels.

The Problem with Supplements
Many people were interested in adding Resveratrol to their diet, but they weren’t so thrilled with drinking red wine with every meal. For most Americans, consuming enough of this healthy chemical through wine alone wouldn’t fit into their lifestyle. Most jobs nowadays frown on even a single glass at lunchtime.

Soon, the diet industry responded with Resveratrol supplements in both liquid and pill form. However, many were just marketing gimmicks that didn’t supply nearly enough active ingredients to reach therapeutic levels.  Many supplement products provide a daily dose of 200-600 mcg per day.  This is significantly less than 500mg-2000mg shown to be effective in various clinical studies.  Unfortunately these substantially higher dosages of Resveratrol would be equivalent to hundreds of glasses of wine per day.

Something else to consider is that low-quality Resveratrol tablets are only about 50% pure. This would mean that a 100 mg pill only contains about 50 mg of Resveratrol with the remaining 50 mg taken up by other ingredients including emodin, a substance responsible for side effects like upset stomach and a variety of other digestive symptoms. When possible, only purchase supplements labeled as 99% pure trans-Resveratrol.

In addition to purity, the absorption rate is critical. After all, you can take pill after pill, but they will have little affect on your health if your body can’t absorb the Resveratrol. For the best bio-availability, choose supplements that are manufactured with a micronization process that has already broken down this chemical into small units for easier digestion. This is the reason that so many people rely on liquid supplements as opposed to the tablet form. Although it’s much easier to pop a pill than to drink a glass or more of Resveratrol in liquid form, the bio-availability is much better with the supplemental drinks.

Resveratrol | Red GrapesOther Food Sources of Resveratrol
Of course, it’s always best to get critical nutrients from your diet. In most cases, our body’s digestive system breaks down vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients better when they’re delivered through food sources. Over 70 plant-based foods contain Resveratrol including grapes, blueberries, peanuts, and Japanese knotweed. If you plan on adding grapes to your diet, the muscadine variety has the highest levels. Also, Japanese knotweed is so high in Resveratrol that this exotic herb is rapidly hitting the Western supplement market.

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15 Natural Aphrodisiacs

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Natural Aphrodisiacs MessageIt’s no accident that Valentine’s Day is placed exactly in the middle of the month dedicated to love. As the cold weather drives us indoors, a little extra togetherness often brings romance to mind.  However, age and poor health can often slow down even the strongest libido. If you’d like to find a natural way to spice up life in the bedroom, try one of these natural aphrodisiac suggestions:

Recipes for Romance
Although oysters have been rumored to be nature’s aphrodisiac for centuries, many common food items are just as effective. A night of romance may be as close as your pantry! If you don’t already have a few of these natural aphrodisiac items on hand, add them to your shopping list:

  • Tomatoes – Known as the “apple of love,” the tomato helps calm pre-coital nerves and promote muscle control.
  • Avocados – The Avocado is packed full of Vitamin E for enhanced arousal and more intense climaxes.
  • Chocolate – This sensual treat actually has the same chemical that our body produces naturally when we first fall in love, phenyl ethylamine. No wonder this is a favorite addition to those shiny, heart-shaped boxes.
  • Celery – This low-calorie vegetable includes androsterone, a male hormone. This chemical has a two-fold effect for women: it increases their sexual arousal directly and promotes the male production of pheromones, another source of female arousal.
  • Chili peppers – The natural capsaicin contained in the chili pepper stimulates the body to product endorphins, a feel-good chemical, as it speeds up our circulation and metabolism.
  • Honey – Spreading this sweet, sticky fluid on each other might get you all hot and bothered, but that’s not the only way honey can help in the bedroom. Honey helps the body produce both estrogen and testosterone, critical hormones when it comes to sexual function.

Supplements for Love
A healthy diet isn’t the only thing that can get your motor running! Next time you’re stocking up your Vitamin supply, look for these supplements:

  • Saw Palmetto – Promotes a healthy prostate and stimulates testosterone production for male sexual health.
  • Horny Goat Weed and Ginseng – These two herbs have been coveted for centuries by Chinese herbalists to improve sexual health.
  • L-Arginine – this all-natural amino acid opens up the blood vessels for a healthy heart and circulation. It has been compared to Viagra.
  • Ginkgo Biloba – another great supplement to promote blood flow to all the right places!
  • Zinc – This is what all those oysters are for! This mineral is reputed to help with both fertility and a healthy sex drive.
  • Fish Oil – If you haven’t heard about the health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids yet, this natural substance helps with almost everything including your heart and circulatory system.

A Surprising Erogenous Zone
Chances are you never considered your nose a sexual organ. While offensive smells can be an instant turn off, the right fragrance can lead you straight into the bedroom! If you think the magic formula has to be held within a crystal jar with an expensive price tag, you couldn’t be more wrong. Choose from one of these affordable options for the next time you need a little push in the right direction:

  • Dancing Couple | Natural AphrodisiacsPeppermint Oils – This cool scent helps boost a woman’s climax. Opt for the all-natural products because synthetic peppermint aromas don’t pack the same punch.
  • Vanilla – A study once compared men’s preferences when it came to various aromas. Vanilla won out over expensive perfumes time after time.
  • Jasmine, Lavender, and Ylang Ylang – these flowery scents are often used in combination in perfumes at all price levels. Choose these fragrances when buying scented candles, bath oils, or air fresheners to set the mood.
  • Natural Body Odors – We’re not talking about BO here, but the body’s own pheromones. Everyone emits these scents, and they’re often responsible for the unexplainable attraction and chemistry between two lovers.

Massage Is Good for More than Your Muscles
Nothing feels better than a massage! Whether you like a rigorous rub-down or more gently manipulations, this therapeutic treatment increases your blood flow, reduces stress, and conditions your muscles. It is known to increase the production of both serotonin and endorphins for healthy moods and natural pain relief. If you can’t afford a professional massage, give this gift to each other! If either of you is a little shy, even a foot massage has been known to warm things up in the boudoir!

With these natural aphrodisiacs, no one needs any harsh chemicals from the pharmacy for the most romantic February ever!

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Chocolate – The Confection for Love and Health!

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Chocolate StrawberryIf you’re expecting a big box of chocolate for Valentine’s Day, you’re in luck! This sweet treat is actually good for you, in moderation, of course. That’s a good thing since over 58 million pounds of chocolate are sold in the weeks leading up to the February holiday.  To put an end to the guilt before opening that heart-shaped box, review this list of healthy facts about everyone’s favorite candy:

Heart-Healthy Treats
Can you believe that anything as decadent as chocolate can actually be good for your heart! It’s true! According to many different studies, chocolate contains flavonoids, an important antioxidant. Not only does it contain this substance, but it contains it in relatively high amounts. In fact, chocolate contains approximately eight times more flavonoids than strawberries – that means chocolate-dipped strawberries are doing double duty! Chocolate’s flavonoids can reduce bad cholesterol levels and hypertension, two big causes of heart disease.

A Psycho-Active Food
Don’t let this technical term scare you away from this creamy, dark confection. This simply means that chocolate contains substances that affect your brain – in a good way!

  • Some studies have shown increases in cognitive function after consuming a small amount of chocolate.
  • Chocolate contains a little bit of anandamide, a chemical found naturally in the brain that promotes feelings of wellbeing.
  • Chocolate contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid required to produce serotonin for balanced moods and reduced anxiety.
  • Best of all, chocolate contains phenyl ethylamine, also known as the “love chemical!”

The Healthiest Choices
Although chocolate is good for you, all chocolate isn’t considered equal. If you choose to eat candy with a ton of sugar and little natural cacao, the benefits will be diluted to the point of uselessness. When shopping for the best quality chocolate, keep these pointers in mind:

  • Valentine's Day ChocolateDark chocolate is healthier than milk chocolate.
  • For the healthiest options, look for chocolate bars with 75% or more of cacao.
  • Most cacao seeds are harvested in third-world countries. By purchasing Fairtrade chocolates, you can put an end to slave labor and other abuses in the chocolate industry.

When you consider that the scientific name of the cacao tree, Theobroma, can be literally translated into “food of the gods,” it’s no wonder that we’re practically addicted to chocolate.

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Molybdenum

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

While you’re probably familiar with iron, calcium, zinc, and many of other minerals your body needs to function at peak levels, most people have never have heard of molybdenum. In fact, you might think you had caught some infectious disease if your doctor started talking about levels of this trace mineral. Molybdenum is an important mineral involved with everyday functions of the body.

Molybdenum ChartWhy is Molybdenum Important?
This little-known element helps every part of the body, from your brain to your liver, function properly. Molybdenum is essential for the proper metabolization of RNA and DNA, the acids that make up a large part of every cell in our body. This process converts food into energy, regulates blood sugar, and carries away the toxic bi-products. By helping our cells function properly and riding our body’s of toxins, Molybdenum prevents the development of cancer cells.

As a cleansing agent, molybdenum is particularly good at removing sulfite toxins from the human body. Because sulfites are commonly used in preservatives, most people are constantly adding them to their system through food and drugs. Without molybdenum, increased sulfite levels could cause symptoms similar to an allergic reaction.

Molybdenum also helps detoxify the liver, produce essential enzymes, and even prevents tooth decay. It is also critical to proper brain and kidney function. Low levels caused by genetic malformations, which prevent proper absorption, can lead to anything from neurological problems to mental retardation.  Impotence in older men can even be caused by abnormally low levels of this mineral.

How Much Do I Need?
Now that you know how important it is to get a sufficient amount of molybdenum, you’re probably wondering about your own body. Luckily, there’s no need to panic. Unless you have a genetic problem, you’re almost guaranteed to get enough of this trace mineral from your diet. Because molybdenum deficiency is so rare, an official recommended daily allowance (RDA) has not even been established. Opinions on the subject vary, but most experts agree that the 25 micrograms found in most supplements is enough to prevent problems.

Only a tiny amount of Molybdenum is needed for proper cell function and since it is a mineral you do not want to intake higher levels than necessary.  Too much can make your body lose copper, another important mineral, or cause gout, anemia, or diarrhea.

MolybdenumNatural Sources of Molybdenum
Lucky for us, molybdenum can be found in a wide variety of food sources. If you live in an area with hard tap-water, especially well water, this mineral-rich fluid probably contains molybdenum in addition to other important elements. While the highest levels of molybdenum can be found in legumes, leafy green vegetables, and whole grains, the type of food isn’t actually the biggest indicator of mineral levels. Because plants absorb this mineral from the soil, any plant product grown in molybdenum-rich areas will contain more than those cultivated in mineral-poor soil. This mineral can sometimes be found in animal liver and low-fat milk, as well.

Symptoms of Molybdenum Deficiency
There’s rarely a reason to worry about low levels of this mineral. Most of the time, symptoms can be attributed to other problems and aren’t a result of too little molybdenum. However, this is a list of possible symptoms just in case you need a little reassurance:

  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Impotence
  • Tooth Decay
  • Anemia
  • Poor General Health

 

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Eat This, Not That

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Eat This Not That FamilyIf you usually pile on the pounds around the holidays, this year can be different. Before you moan and think about all the once-a-year delicacies that you’ll be missing, remember that many of your favorite dishes can be figure-friendly. By making just a few smart choices, you can enjoy a festive dinner without feeling deprived of all those delicious holiday treats. This could even be your early start on a healthy New Year’s resolution. Below are some easy swaps to save on calories and fat, and to increase your essential nutrient intake.

Turkey Breast vs. Roast Pork
While both of these main dishes are succulent holiday traditions, a 3-ounce portion of roast turkey breast without the skin only has 117 calories and 1 gram of fat compared to the 199 calories and 11 grams of fat in the same size piece of roast pork. To make matters even worse, 4 grams of the 11 are saturated fat. This is just one more reason that every Christmas menu should include roast turkey!

Stuffing vs. Dinner Rolls
Ounce per ounce, the savory stuffing that accompanies that healthy turkey is a better choice at 50 calories per ounce than white dinner rolls that weigh in at 77 calories an ounce. While the fat content is about the same, once you start to butter those rolls, the fat content can skyrocket. To make stuffing even more nutritious, it allows the creative cook an excuse to add in a few more healthy fruits and vegetables. Depending on your recipe, you could include onions, celery, raisins, apples, or cranberries. Your imagination is the only limit.

Sweet Potatoes vs. Mashed Potatoes
Whether they’re baked, boiled, mashed, or candied, sweet potatoes in any form are generally healthier than mashed potatoes. While many people love buttery sweet potatoes, their natural sweetness and flavorful character doesn’t need many additions to make an appetizing dish. If you compare a 1/2 cup serving of baked sweet potato to the same amount of home-style mashed white potatoes, the sweet potato wins out in calories by a small margin. However, there is virtually no fat in the sweet potato while the mashed potatoes have 9 grams of fat. The real benefit of sweet potatoes is that they have a dramatically higher anti-inflammatory factor, almost eight times the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Vitamin A, a 65% RDA of Vitamin C, and a healthy dose of beta carotene.

Cranberry Sauce vs. Gravy
This one should be a no-brainer. How could a healthy fruit-based sauce not win out over what really amounts to meat fat and white flour? Although an ounce of prepared cranberry sauce has 42 calories and an ounce of turkey gravy has about 20 calories, this is the only benefit to the gravy. Cranberries have a the highest concentration of a special category of antioxidants called phenols, a well-known disease fighter.

Collard Greens vs. Creamed Corn
If you’re not a fan of collard greens, you don’t know what you’re missing. This traditional southern dish is not only tasty, but healthy, too. Whether you like yours with a splash of vinegar or plain, a half cup of this fiber-packed vegetable only has 25 calories compared to creamed corn’s 90+ calories. Collard greens also have more Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Calcium, and Iron. While Popeye loved his spinach, we’re voting for collard greens for a healthy holidaytable.

Cranberry-Pear Cobbler vs. Yule Log
Create a new Christmas tradition this year by trading that tired old Yule log for a healthy cranberry-pear cobbler. While they both include their fair share of sugar, the cobbler leaves out the heaviness of a full stick of butter and adds in healthy cranberries and seasonal pears. As already mentioned, cranberries are packed with phenols and loads of anti-oxidants. To make this even more dish healthy, pears have almost as much phenol as the cranberries. This sweet treat gives you an added boost to the battle against the winter flu and cold.

Red Wine vs. Dark Ale Beer
When you compare a 4-ounce glass of red wine to a 12-ounce mug of dark ale, you’ll save almost 100 calories. In addition to lightening up your calorie load, red wine gets its beautiful warm-red color from resveratrol, an antioxidant that has been credited with everything from protecting the human body from cancer to reducing “free radicals” thought to contribute to heart disease. White winehas lower levels of resveratrol because the grape seeds and skins are removed much earlier in the wine-making process. Remember not to  overdo it with any alcoholic beverage. While one or two alcoholic drinks a day can be healthy for some, those glasses beyond two can  often cause more harm than good .

The One-third Plate Rule
When dishing out your meal at parties and family gatherings think of your plate in thirds.  One third is for vegetables, one for lean proteins and one for complex carbohydrates.  Each category gets one-third and one-third only of your plate, but of course if the vegetables are healthy and they want to spill over a little that is always ok.  Make your choices wisely because the best way to portion control is by never going back for seconds!

By making smarter diet choices you will be less likely to pack on extra holiday pounds and start the New Year off with a healthier, happier and lighter you!

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Scrumptious Butternut Squash Soup

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Butternut SquashIngredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2-3 lbs) – peeled, seeded, and cubed (instructions below)
  • 1 (32 fluid ounce) container low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

Directions

Cubing tips for your butternut squash soup:

  • Pick a squash that has a long section, as this is the part that is fully of fleshy goodness.  The round bottom part is mostly hollow and full of seeds to scoop out.
  • Start by cutting the ends off and then cutting the squash in half length wise.
  • Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds and fibers and throw away.
  • Use a vegetable peeler to remove the outside skin.  Work from top to bottom until you reach the bright orange part of flesh.
  • You are now ready to cube the squash! Cut in 1-1 ½ in cubes
  1. Butternut Squash SoupMelt the butter in a large pot, and cook the onion, carrot, and squash 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  2. Pour in the chicken stock so that it covers the vegetables, set aside remaining stock for later. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and cover pot.  Simmer 40 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender.
  4. Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth.
  5. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg and blend for another 15-30 seconds.
  6. Return to pot, and stir in the remaining chicken stock.
  7. Ready to serve!
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Gluten Free Diet – What’s it all About?

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Gluten WheatIf you’ve paid attention to any media source recently, you’ve probably heard  about gluten sensitivity and gluten-free diets. Even Chelsea Clinton has gone gluten-free and had a gluten-free menu at her recent wedding. This fad has been triggered by the growing awareness of health benefits that a gluten free diet provides. In addition to Chelsea, Jennifer Aniston, Zooey Deschanel (star of Bones), and Rachel Weisz (star of The Mummy) have joined the ranks of the gluten free.

Why is Everyone Going Gluten-Free?
Gluten-free diets are not just for the rich and famous. Marketing surveys indicate that 15 to 25% of shoppers, a startling one out of four, are asking for gluten-free products. Doctor’s estimate that only 1% of the population has an actual gluten intolerance, so there must be some reason that everyone else is giving up gluten. Gluten-free followers find their new diet,  free of most processed foods and rich in fruits and vegetables, gives them a vitality and energy level they never had before. A gluten-free diet will naturally stabilize blood sugar as processed sugars are removed from the foods being eaten. While this is good for everyone, it is particularly good for diabetics.

What is Gluten?
People talk about gluten like it’s pure poison, the worst thing since fat and cholesterol. Gluten is simply a type of plant-based protein that is in many wheat and grain products. It is in most traditional breads, pasta, cookies, cakes, and other baked products. In other words, it’s the comfort foods that most of us think of as “the good stuff.” While a reasonable amount of gluten doesn’t seem to harm most people, if you have a gluten intolerance, also known as celiac disease, or diabetes, it can cause fatigue, disgestive problems and interefer with the absorbtion of nutrients.

Is a Gluten-Free Diet the Answer to Type 1 Diabetes?
There is a high occurrence of patients with both celiac disease and Type 1 Diabetes. U.S. statistics show that 1 in 100 people in the general population have celiac disease, while 1 in 10 people who have Type 1 Diabetes also have celiac disease. Many celiac patients find that their diabetic symptoms disappear when they follow the strict, gluten-free diet that is recommended for their gluten intolerance. In fact, researchers believe that this correlation may be their first clue to finding a way to prevent Type 1 Diabetes. This is quite a break through because this is the first indication of any firm idea on how Type 1 Diabetes could be triggered. Wouldn’t it be a miracle if Type 1 Diabetes could be prevented or driven into remission by simply changing your diet? It would give Type 1 patients the same hope that Type 2 patients enjoy.

To Go Gluten Free, or Not?
The gluten-free diet will effectively help those with wheat allergies, celiac disease and diabetes if followed 100% but gluten-free may not be for everyone.  If control over your diet is what you are aiming to achieve then gluten free can be beneficial, but if you don’t have a gluten intolerance or diabetes consider the gluten-free diet as a guideline.  Avoid the common foods that contain gluten, like pastries, pizza, beer and even soy sauce and remember to replace these with lots of fruit, vegetables, lean meats and low-fat dairy options.  Also, always be sure to read the nutritional labels on any “gluten-free” products; just because it is gluten-free doesn’t mean it isn’t full of calories, fat or sugars.

Some common foods that may contain gluten:

  • Pastries: Pretzels, muffins, cakes, pastas, cookies, etc
  • Gluten CrissantPizza
  • Beer
  • Lucheon  meats and sausages may contain gluten fillers
  • Soups with a flour base
  • Instant coffee
  • Licorice
  • Hot Chocolate powders
  • Soy Sauce
  • Dry mustard
  • Gravy powders and stock cubes
  • Baked beans
  • Pates
  • Anything with wheat, wheat germ, wheat grass, rye, barley, bulgur, couscous, farina, graham flour, kamut, matzo, seitan, semolina, spelt, or triticale
  • Also avoid foods that contain hydrolyzed vegetable protein
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Best Summer Fruits

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Oh the Joy of Summer Fruits!

Summer fruits glistening with their dew in the morning sunshine beckon us with the promise of sweetness and succulent juices. They remind us of roadside stands with homemade signs; of fresh berry pies and picnics. The summer fruits are more than nostalgia and watering mouths though. These fresh summer fruits pack a powerful punch of health benefits, including cancer fighting antioxidants, daily requirements of vitamins and minerals, and live enzymes used to aid digestion. Some of the most powerful summer fruits include  berries, mangoes, watermelon and peaches, just to mention a few.

Mango

Mangoes, though difficult to peel (see picture for easy slicing method), contain more beta-carotene than any other fruit, which helps to prevent cell damage leading to heart disease and stroke.  These multi colored fruits also contain high levels of fiber which help to control appetite and aid in metabolism. One cup of sliced mangoes supplies 25 percent of the needed daily value of vitamin A, important for the promotion of good eyesight.

Watermelon

Watermelons are a significant source lycopene, a carotenoid only obtainable through diet, known to help prevent and treat many types of cancer, including prostate cancer.  A watermelon contains about 6% sugar and 92% water by weight.  making it a perfect snack for any outdoor summer activity due to its natural hydration.  Watermelons are rich in electrolytes, sodium and potassium which are lost through perspiration. FUN FACT: Did you know that Watermelon is a vegetable?  It is part of the cucumber and squash family and your average American eats approximately 17lbs of watermelon each year!

Strawberry

Strawberries, like other berries, are famous in the phytonutrient world as a rich source of phenols.  Strawberries’ unique phenol content makes them a heart-protective fruit, an anti-cancer fruit, and an anti-inflammatory fruit, all rolled into one. Strawberries are a great diet food as well.  The low calorie and high fiber content helps to keep you feeling full.  A one cup serving of halved strawberries contains 49 calories and 3g of fiber.   Dip them in melted dark chocolate for a delicious heart-healthy dessert.

Blueberry

Sometimes referred to as “brainberries,” these little fruits help reduce the effects of mental health conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.  According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the high content of anthocyanins found in blueberries  improves cognitive health by increasing signaling in brain centers associated with memory. This is important to help slow memory loss naturally associated with aging.  Other studies have shown that these magnificent berries also protect the brain from stress caused by oxidation.

Blackberry

Blackberries rank highly among fruits for antioxidant strength, particularly due to their dense contents of polyphenolic compounds, such as ellagic acid, tannins, ellagitannins, quercetin, gallic acid, anthocyanins and cyanidins. One cup of these bumpy berries contain more than 30% of your daily fiber requirements and 47% of the recommended intake for manganese.  This mineral promotes healthy skin, nerves and bones, and is important for muscle tone.  If only the aptly named smart phone were this healthy, too!

Peaches

These favorites of the summer stone fruits are rich in Vitamin A & C as well as iron and potassium, which promote proper cell function, nerve signaling and electrolyte balance.   Peaches comprised of more than 80 percent water and have a mild laxative effect, beneficial for constipation symptoms.  Like many other fruits and vegetables, a large majority of the health benefits are contained within the skin of the peach, so try to enjoy all the fuzzy goodness the peach has to offer.

To keep enjoying them during the winter months look for unsweetened dried varieties, or plan ahead and freeze some for use with smoothies and desserts. Whether you enjoy these sumptuous summer fruits, whole, sliced or baked, you’ll be sure to get high levels of cancer-fighting nutrients and minerals that tantalize your palate and keep your body well-hydrated for all your summer activities.

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Teaching Kids to Eat Healthy Food

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Parents want their children to snack on high-quality foods instead of reaching for the junk. One way to do this, of course, is not to have the junk around. But if you keep a few indulgences, how can kids tell the difference without always asking you, “what’s there to eat” or “what can I have as a snack?”

 

Pull out your multi-colored pack of sticky notes and start labeling the foods. You can try a simple method of green means ‘go,’ so enjoy this food anytime; yellow means ‘caution,’ only eat once or twice a week; and pink/red means ‘once in a while.’ Your children, and also your partner, can quickly determine what foods make the best choices for good health.

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