Archive for the ‘Fruit’ 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 –
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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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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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