Chia seeds come from the plant Salvia hispanica L., and were at one time a major food crop in Mexico and Guatemala. The chia seed market is projected to reach more than 2 billion USD in sales by 2022. Chia seeds are rich in polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 fatty acids), fiber, protein, calcium, phosphorous, and zinc.
Two tablespoons of chia seeds (1 ounce or 28 grams) contain about 140 calories, 4 grams of protein, 11 grams of fiber, and 7 grams of unsaturated fat. They are the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Reasons to Eat Chia Seeds
Chia seeds contain several components that, when eaten as part of a balanced plant-rich diet, may prevent the development of various chronic diseases.
1. Digestive Health
Chia seeds are high in fiber, providing 11 grams of fiber per ounce. Being high in fiber, chia seeds benefit bowel regularity. These fibers may also lower LDL cholesterol and slow down digestion, which can prevent blood sugar spikes after eating a meal and promote a feeling of fullness.
2. Heart Health
Chia seeds are a very good source of ALA omega-3 fatty acids. Just one tablespoon of chia seeds contains 2.5 grams of ALA. Omega-3 fatty acids protect the heart by lowering bad cholesterol, blood pressure and inflammation. Inflammation can put strain on blood vessels and cause heart disease.
Ways to Enjoy Chia seeds
Chia Gel: Chia seeds absorb water quickly. Place 1/4 cup seeds in 1 cup liquid, stir well and cover. Allow to sit for 15-20 minutes until the texture becomes a soft gelatin. Add to smoothies and soups for a thicker consistency and added nutrition.
Chia Pudding: Mix 1/4 cup seeds with 1 cup liquid such as milk (almond, soy, or dairy) or 100% fruit juice. Allow to sit refrigerated for 15 minutes. Add nuts, chopped fresh fruit, or cinnamon if desired.
Egg Replacer: Can be used to replace whole eggs in baking. For 1 whole egg, mix 1 tablespoon whole chia seeds or 2 teaspoons ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons water. Let sit for at least 5 minutes or until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a raw scrambled egg.
Cereal Topping: Sprinkle a few teaspoons into breakfast cereals (hot or cold).
Baking: Stir into cake/muffin/bread batter.
Stews and Soups: Stir into stews or soups.
Sauces and Marinades: Stir into salad dressings, sauces, and marinades.
Oats is a type of cereal grain from the Poaceae grass family of plants. The grain refers specifically to the edible seeds of oat grass, which is what ends up in our breakfast bowls. Oats are most prized for their nutritional value and health benefits. In fact the Food and Drug Administration allows the use of a health claim on food labels associating reduced risk of coronary heart disease with the consumption of beta-glucan soluble fiber from whole grain oats. Oatmeal is also a desired asset to those trying to lose weight and control hunger levels due to its high water and soluble fiber content.
Types of oats
Oats are available in a variety of forms based on how they are processed. The following list shows the types of oats in order of least to most processed. Keep in mind that although the nutritional content of all the types are relatively similar, their effect on blood sugar is not. The least processed oats, like groats or steel-cut, take longer to digest and therefore have a lower glycemic index than rolled or instant oats.
Oat Groats: The whole oat kernels that have been cleaned with only the inedible hulls removed. Groats contain the intact germ, endosperm, and bran.
Steel-cut or Irish: Oat groats that have been cut into two or three smaller pieces using a steel blade. The larger the pieces, the longer they will take to cook.
Scottish Oats: Oat groats that have been stone-ground into a meal creating a porridge-like texture when cooked.
Rolled or Old fashioned: Oat groats that have been steamed, rolled and flattened into flakes, and then dried to remove moisture so they are shelf-stable.
Quick or Instant: Oat groats that are steamed for a longer period and rolled into thinner pieces so that they can absorb water easily and cook very quickly. Be aware that many brands of instant oats come sweetened or flavored, so be sure to check the ingredients for no added sugar.
Reasons to Eat Oats
1. Heart Disease
Beta-glucan, the primary soluble fiber in oats, has been shown to slow digestion, increase satiety, and suppress appetite. Beta-glucan can bind with cholesterol-rich bile acids in the intestine and transport them through the digestive tract and eventually out of the body. A scientific study found that eating 3 grams of beta-glucan soluble fiber daily from whole oats decreased blood cholesterol levels by 12 points. Whole grain oats also contain antioxidants that help reduce chronic inflammation that are associated with cardiovascular disease.
Beta-glucan fiber can help prevent sharp rise in blood sugar and insulin levels after a meal, and may benefit gut health as the fiber is broken down and fermented by intestinal bacteria. Though a carbohydrate-rich food, minimally processed whole grain oats can be incorporated in a diabetic diet. The glycemic load of less processed oats like steel-cut is low to medium, while highly processed instant oats have a high glycemic load.
3. Digestive Health
Fiber contributes to regularity and the prevention of constipation. Cereal fibers, as found in wheat bran and oat bran, are considered more effective than fiber from fruits and vegetables. The breakdown and fermentation of beta-glucan oat fiber has also been reported to increase the diversity of gut microbiota. This may improve certain digestive issues such as diarrhea and constipation.
Ways to Enjoy Oats
Oatmeal: A breakfast favorite. Cooked oats pair well with fruit, nuts, and seeds. Generally, less-processed oats such as steel-cut oats take 25 -30 minutes to cook, whereas instant oats take 1-2 minutes.
Oat Flour: These are oats that have been ground to a flour-like consistency. Oat flour lacks gluten, and gluten adds structure, moisture, and volume to a baked product. Without gluten, cookies would crumble and breads would become dense and lack volume. However, oat flour can add chewiness to cookies and a boost of nutrients to breads. Substitute 25-30% of flour in a recipe with oat flour for best results.
Oat Risotto: Oats are also delicious in savory dishes. An example is replacing rice in risotto with whole oat groats or steel-cut oats. Typically, the oats are first toasted in hot oil with aromatics like shallots or diced onion. Then stock and/or water are added, 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition, until the oats are cooked (about 25 minutes).
Oat Bran: Oat bran, which contains the most fiber in a groat, is also removed and eaten as a cereal or added to recipes to boost fiber content. Add 2-3 tablespoons of oat bran to any hot or cold cereal.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, come in two varieties. The Kabuli-type is large, round and light-colored; The Desi-type is small, dark, and irregularly shaped. Chickpeas have high nutritional value and are rich in carbohydrate, protein, fiber, B vitamins, and some minerals (phosphorus, iron). They are a nutritional staple of many diets.
Reasons to Eat Chickpeas
Chickpeas, and all pulses contain several components that, when eaten as part of a balanced plant-rich diet, may help prevent the development of various chronic diseases.
Both dried and canned chickpeas have a low glycemic index and low glycemic load. They also contain amylose, a resistant starch that digests slowly. These factors help to prevent sudden surges in blood sugar and insulin levels, which can improve overall blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes.
2. Gut Flora
Chickpeas contain a soluble fiber called raffinose that is fermented in the colon by beneficial bacteria. As bacteria break down this fiber, butyrate is produced. Butyrate plays a role in reducing inflammation in the cell wall of the colon, promoting regularity in the intestines, and possibly preventing colorectal cancer.
3. Heart Disease
Chickpeas contain a plant sterol called sitosterol that is structurally similar to cholesterol in the body. It interferes with the body’s absorption of cholesterol and thereby can help lower blood cholesterol levels. The fiber and unsaturated fats in chickpeas may also favorably affect blood lipid levels.
High fiber foods can help to promote a feeling of fullness and satiety by delaying digestion and adding bulk to meals. The satiating effect of the fiber along with the protein content of chickpeas may help in weight management.
Ways to Enjoy Chickpeas
Salads: Top green salads with chickpeas to add protein and texture. Also use in bean salads.
Pasta: Add chickpeas to your signature pasta dishes.
Soups and stews: Add chickpeas to stews and soups.
Roast: Season and roast chickpeas for a tasty snack.
Hummus: Blend chickpeas with tahini, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice to make a hummus spread.
Bake: Mash chickpeas and use in baking as a replacement for flour.
Unlike a potato (edible tuber of the nightshade family), the sweet potato is a large edible root of the morning glory family. Sweet potatoes are typically recognized by their copper-colored skin and vibrant orange flesh. However there are varieties grown worldwide that display colors such as white, cream, yellow, and purple. The more common orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are a top source of beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A.
True to their name, sweet potatoes have a naturally sweet flavor, which is further enhanced through cooking methods like roasting. They are versatile and can also be steamed, pureed, baked, or grilled. They can be added to stews and soups, and roasted or grilled and placed on top of leafy greens for a delicious salad.
Benefits of Sweet Potatoes
1. Rich in Phytochemicals
Sweet potatoes with orange flesh are rich in beta-carotene, while sweet potatoes with purple flesh are richer in anthocyanins. Beta-carotene and anthocyanins are naturally occurring plant chemicals (phytochemicals) that give vegetables their bright colors. These phytochemicals are researched for their potential role in human health and disease prevention.
2. Heart Healthy
Sweet potatoes are rich in both potassium and magnesium which are healthy for our blood vessels and heart. They are also rich in vitamin B6 which helps reduce the chemical homocysteine in our bodies. Homocysteine has been linked to heart attacks.
3. Reduce Stress
Sweet potatoes are rich in magnesium, which is the relaxation and anti-stress mineral.
4. Provide Energy
Sweet potatoes are rich in iron, which helps give us energy.
5. Help in Weight Loss
Sweet potatoes are rich in fiber, which helps keep our digestive system healthy and keep us lean.
Ways to Enjoy Sweet Potatoes
Roasted: Cut sweet potatoes into wedges. Coat with olive and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with herbs or spices if desired. Bake at 375 F for 25 – 35 minutes or until the insides are tender and the outsides are crisp.
In soups or salads: Add cooked, diced sweet potatoes to soups or salads.
Mashed: For mashed sweet potatoes, use a fork, masher, or blender to puree the sweet potatoes. Add a liquid such as broth, milk, or water if a smoother consistency is desired. Season with pepper, herbs, or spices as desired.
Smoothies and baked goods: Puree sweet potatoes and add them to baked goods and smoothies.
Cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family – along with cabbage, kale, broccoli, and brussel sprouts. Recent studies suggest that cruciferous vegetables are an excellent source of natural antioxidants due to their various phytochemicals.
Recent research also demonstrate that cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower are highly correlated with preventing chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders, and various forms of cancer.
Top Benefits of Cauliflower
1. Reduces cancer risk
Numerous studies demonstrate that cauliflower is useful for preventing breast cancer as well as colon, liver, lung, and stomach cancers. Cauliflower has been shown to have chemo-preventive agents that stall early phases of cancer development to help shut off tumor growth.
2. Fights inflammation
Cauliflower is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds which lower oxidative stress and the presence of free-radicals in our body. These compounds include vitamins, beta-carotene, quercetin, rutin, and kaempferol.
Cauliflower also contains vitamin C (one cup serving contains 73% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C) which helps to reduce inflammation, boost immunity, and keep the body free of harmful bacteria, infections, and common colds.
3. Decreases risk of cardiovascular disease and brain disorders
High levels of inflammation are correlated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Cauliflower’s anti-inflammatory abilities (found mainly in its supply of vitamin K, vitamin C, various antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids) help keep arteries and blood vessels free from plaque build-up. This lessens the chances of developing high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
4. Provides high levels of vitamins and minerals
Cauliflower is a good source of vitamins C and K. Vitamin C is important for immunity. Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin responsible for healthy skeletal structure, blood clotting, and fighting inflammation in the body.
5. Improves digestion
Cruciferous vegetables are beneficial for digestion because of their rich supply of sulphur-containing compounds called glucosinolates. These compounds support proper nutrient absorption and toxin and waste removal.
6. Aids in weight loss
Cauliflower is extremely low in calories (only 29 calories per cup), and yet is high in volume and filling fiber. This makes it an excellent choice for those looking to lose weight, since you can consume large amounts of cauliflower and fill up without over-consuming calories.
Cauliflower also helps to reduce constipation and to keep excess waste or water moving out of your body, which helps you feel immediately better.
7. Preserves eye health
The sulphoraphane found in cauliflower has been shown to protect the vulnerable tissues of the retinal area from oxidative stress that can result in blindness, cataracts, macular degeneration, and more.
Ways to enjoy Cauliflower
Roast it: Cauliflower is delicious when roasted because roasting draws out its natural sweetness and caramelizes the florets.
Salads and pilafs: Add roasted cauliflower to salads and grains like quinoa or rice dishes.
Puree into soup: Cauliflower adds a great creamy texture to soups. Just chop, boil, puree, and stir into your favorite recipe.
Serve mashed: Steam florets until tender, then puree them with milk, a drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
Long recognized as a potent source of vitamin C, oranges are considered by most to be tasty, juicy, and all too familiar. The discoveries being made about the power of oranges to support heart health and prevent cancer, stroke, diabetes and other chronic ailments are bringing them and other citrus fruits into the limelight as crucial components of a healthy diet.
Oranges originated in Asia thousands of years ago and have become one of the most popular fruits the world over. Christopher Columbus brought orange seeds to the Caribbean Islands in the 15th century, and Spanish explorers then brought oranges to Florida in the next century. About 200 years later, Spanish missionaries brought oranges to California. Florida and California remain the primary producers of oranges in the United States.
Portable fruits, they are easy to eat and crucial to good health. They are easy to put in children’s lunch boxes and bags, and they are the perfect mid-day snack when you are craving something sweet. Oranges are also great flavor boosters when cooked with chicken or lean turkey breast.
Oranges are classified into two general categories: sweet and bitter. The sweet varieties are the most commonly consumed and popular varieties include valencia, jaffa, navel, and blood oranges. The blood orange is a hybrid species that is smaller in size and marked by red hues running throughout its flesh.
Bitter oranges are often used to make jam or marmalade, and their zest is used as the flavoring for liqueurs such as Grand Marnier and Cointreau.
Reasons To Eat Oranges
1. Oranges protect against cancer
Oranges contain a phytonutrient called limonene. Limonene stimulates our antioxidant detoxification enzyme system, helping to stop cancer before it begins. Oranges contain significant amounts of limonene in the peel and smaller quantities in the pulp. Limonene has been proven to help fight a number of varieties of cancer including that of the lung, skin, breast, stomach, and colon.
Vitamin C, abundantly available in oranges, also plays a role in fighting cancer. One study of Swiss men found that those who died of any type of cancer had vitamin C concentrations about 10 percent lower than those who died from other causes.
2. Oranges lower cholesterol
One cup of orange segments contain four grams of fiber, most of which is soluble fiber. Since they are full of soluble fiber, oranges help lower cholesterol by binding with cholesterol in your gut and preventing it from being absorbed into your bloodstream. This reduces risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.
3. Oranges strengthen immunity
Scientific studies show the abundance of polyphenols in oranges protects against viral infections. The vitamin C in oranges also protects cells in your body by neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals cause chronic diseases, like cancer and heart disease.
4. Oranges lower stroke risk
Oranges are rich in vitamin C, and several scientific studies found a high blood concentration of vitamin C is associated with a lower stroke risk. In one large study published in 2008, University of Cambridge researchers measured vitamin C levels in roughly 20,000 people and followed them for over a decade. The participants were divided into four groups based on vitamin C levels. The researchers found that those with the highest concentrations of the vitamin in their blood had a 42 percent lower stroke risk than those with the lowest concentrations.
5. Oranges regulate blood sugar levels
The orange has a glycemic index of 40. Anything under 55 is considered low. Therefore oranges will not spike your blood sugar and cause problems with insulin and weight gain as long as you do not eat too many at one time.
6. Oranges support heart health
Oranges are full of potassium, an electrolyte mineral responsible for helping the heart function well. When potassium levels get too low, you may develop an abnormal heart rhythm known as an arrhythmia.
7. Oranges regulate high blood pressure
The flavonoid hesperidin found in oranges helps regulate high blood pressure. Oranges also contain potassium and magnesium which help maintain blood pressure.
8. Oranges protect your vision
Oranges are rich in carotenoid compounds which are converted to vitamin A and help prevent macular degeneration as we age.
Putting It Into Practice
Warm your day: Oranges added to oatmeal is a great way to start your day.
Spice up your fruit salad: Be sure to include oranges in your next fruit salad. Mix orange slices, mango chunks, and strawberries to your fruits salad with a sprinkle of chili powder.
Vibrant salad: Add orange slices, strawberries, and walnuts onto a bed of your favorite field greens for a salad that is sure to please.
100 percent juice: Just squeeze fresh oranges and enjoy. Keep in mind that the whole fruit is more nutritious than the juice, because it contains more fiber.
Slice it or just peel and eat: Whatever your favorite way to eat an orange is, just take a bite into this delicious citrus fruit.
Use the peel: Orange peel is both flavorful and healthy. If your recipe calls for orange zest, be sure to use organically grown oranges since conventionally grown fruits have pesticide residue on their skin and may also be artificially colored.
The kiwi or kiwifruit is one of nature’s perfect foods: low in calories and an excellent source of antioxidants, and people are attracted to it because of its brilliant green color and exotic taste. While many fruits offer one or two nutrients in their profile, kiwi offers an unusual array of health-promoting substances.
Kiwi is native to China. Cultivation spread from China in the early 20th century to New Zealand, where the first commercial plantings occurred. It is now a commercial crop in several countries, such as Italy, New Zealand, France, Greece, and Chile.
Kiwi Fast Facts
Extremely rich in vitamin C.
Contains folate, potassium, fiber, and various antioxidants like carotenoids and polyphenols.
Is an unusual source of vitamin E because most sources of this important vitamin, like nuts and oils, are high in both fat and calories. However kiwi offers its rich nutritional bounty for only about 93 calories per two kiwis.
Reasons to Eat Kiwis
1. Vitamin C
A kiwi contains a rich bounty of vitamin C (70 mg for one kiwi). That is more than an equivalent amount of orange. Vitamin C is proven to boost the immune system and fight the effects of stress and aging. It is no wonder that a high consumption of foods containing this vitamin is associated with reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Two kiwis contain 5 g of fiber, which helps maintain heart health, regular digestion, and lower cholesterol.
A kiwi contains 237 mg of potassium. Potassium helps lower blood pressure, maintain fluid and electrolyte balance, and release energy during exercise. The potassium in kiwifruit also counteracts the effects of sodium and is a vasodilator, relaxing the blood vessels throughout the body.
Kiwis are an excellent source of antioxidants like carotenoids and polyphenols which are important in reducing your risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
5. Low Glycemic Index
Kiwis have a glycemic index of 52, which is relatively low. This means that kiwis should not cause major blood sugar spikes.
A kiwi contains 13 mg of magnesium, which improves nerve and muscle function while boosting your energy level. Magnesium is also important in lowering blood pressure.
Kiwis contain the phytochemical lutein, which works to prevent age-related blindness and protects the eyes from various kinds of damage.
A kiwi has 20 micrograms of folate. That is nearly 10% of the recommended daily allowance. Therefore kiwis are a good way to protect the health of mother and baby during pregnancy.
9. Vitamin K
Kiwi’s substantial supply of vitamin K (31 micrograms in one kiwi) is needed in your body for healthy arteries. Vitamin K is also needed to use calcium to make bones. Studies suggest that diets high in Vitamin K can improve bone health and reduce risk of bone-related injuries and diseases like osteoporosis.
10. Vitamin E
Kiwis are one of just a handful of fat-free foods that contain vitamin E, which boost immunity, lower cholesterol, and fight free radicals.
Putting It Into Practice
Conventionally grown kiwis are low in pesticides: Kiwis are one of the fruits with low pesticide residue. They are included in the list of commonly eaten fruits and vegetables known as the “clean 15.” Therefore it is not necessary to buy organically grown varieties. Also, always wash fruit before eating.
Eat fresh and in salads: Kiwis are great eaten fresh or tossed into green salads.
Use as a topping: Kiwis can be added to oatmeal, cereal and yogurt.
Cook them: Kiwis can be used in baked foods like cobblers and fruit tarts.
Chutney: Mix sliced kiwis and other fruits (like orange and pineapple) to make chutney, which can be served as an accompaniment to fish or chicken.
A balanced diet is best: While kiwis are healthy, it is best to include other fruits to meet your daily fruit quota. So in addition to kiwis, also eat the colors of the rainbow (blue, purple, red, yellow, green, orange) for better total health.
Blueberries are a very popular and tasty fruit. Although blueberries are native to North America, they are grown commercially in the Americas and Europe. They are low in calories and incredibly healthy. Often referred to as a superfood, blueberries are an excellent source of several vitamins, minerals, beneficial plant compounds, and antioxidants.
Blueberries have a pleasant, sweet taste and are available fresh, frozen, juiced, and dried. They can be used in a variety of baked goods, jams, jellies, and for flavorings.
The two most common varieties of blueberries are highbush and lowbush blueberries. Highbush blueberries are also called cultivated blueberries and are the most commonly grown species in the US. They are cultivated on farms where they grow on bushes that usually peak around 6 feet high. The blueberries are harvested by hand and also by machine.
Lowbush blueberries are also called wild blueberries. They are not cultivated, but grow in the harsh northern climate of Maine and Canada. The harsh climate, and what it takes to survive in it, gives wild blueberries a higher level of antioxidants than cultivated blueberries.
Blueberries range in color from blue to purple.
Reasons to Eat Blueberries
1. Blueberries are nutritious
A half-cup serving of blueberries contains 2 grams of dietary fiber and 25 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, and only 40 calories. Much of the power of blueberries lies in their colors. The deep blue hue comes from anthocyanins, antioxidants that could help protect the body from cardiovascular disease and cancer, as well as increase immune function.
2. Blueberries keep your brain sharp
A 2012 study by Harvard researchers found that a high intake of blueberries and strawberries, over time, could delay memory decline in older women by two and a half years. The researchers observed a modest reduction in memory decline among women who consumed two half-cup servings or more of blueberries and strawberries a week.
3. Blueberries fight cancer
Research done by Rutgers University show that Pterostilbene, a major component of blueberries, protects against colon cancer. Blueberry extract has also been found to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells and decrease enzymes associated with cancer spreading.
4. Blueberries lower blood pressure
Blueberries are an excellent source of anthocyanins which seem to lower blood pressure and make blood vessels dilate. A 2011 study showed that eating just one cup of blueberries or strawberries a week can lower your risk of developing high blood pressure. Over 100,00 men and women participated in the 14-year study. The researchers found that those who consumed the most anthocyanins from blueberries and strawberries had an 8% reduction in their risk of developing high blood pressure. They concluded that the anthocyanins lower blood pressure by dilating the blood vessels.
5. Blueberries protect the heart
A study published in 2013 by Harvard School of Public Health showed that women who consumed three servings a week of blueberries or strawberries were 34% less likely to suffer a heart attack than women who ate the least of these fruits. Although the 18-year study focused on young and middle-age women, the findings likely apply to everyone, including men.
6. Blueberries aid weight loss
Blueberries are a juicy fruit, which means they contain mostly water. Juicy fruits are great for weight loss or weight maintenance, because they fill you up quickly with their high water content and minimal calories.
7. Blueberries improve blood sugar
Blueberries have a glycemic index of 53, which is relatively low. This means that blueberries should not cause major blood sugar spikes.
8. Blueberries protect against Parkinson’s Disease
A 2011 study by the Harvard School of Public Health concluded that men and women who regularly eat berries may reduce their risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. The researchers believe that the high flavonoid content in berries help ward off the disease. Study participants who consumed the most flavonoids were 40% less likely to develop Parkinson’s.
Putting It Into Practice
Buy organic when possible: Because blueberries are vulnerable to worms and other insects, the conventionally grown varieties are heavily sprayed with pesticides. Therefore it is best to buy organically grown varieties. Also, always wash fruit before eating.
Eat fresh and in salads: Blueberries are great eaten fresh or tossed into green salads.
Use as a topping: Blueberries can be added to oatmeal, cereal and yogurt. To prolong the shelf life, it is best to keep them refrigerated.
Cook them: Blueberries can be baked for added sweetness and nutrition. They can also be made into jam and jelly.
Freeze them: You can buy frozen blueberries, or you can freeze fresh ones yourself. During the summer months when blueberries are plentiful, you can buy them in large quantities on sale and freeze them. Just wash and dry the berries, lay them on a pan and freeze until they are solid. Package the frozen berries in freezer-safe storage bags, so they are ready for the winter months.
Try other berries: If you don’t like blueberries or can’t find them, other berries like strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are a tasty alternative.
A balanced diet is best: While blueberries are healthy, it is best to include other fruits to meet your daily fruit quota. So in addition to blueberries and other berries, also eat the colors of the rainbow (blue, purple, red, yellow, green, orange) for better total health.
An apple a day is perhaps one of the most delicious prescriptions ever made. An apple contains a dose of pectin, the soluble fiber that thickens jellies and helps lower artery-damaging LDL (bad) cholesterol. Apples also contain a mix of antioxidants. Flavonoids, such as quercetin, prevent LDL cholesterol from being oxidized to a more dangerous form.
Apples have skin that’s loaded with nutrients. For instance, the peel has six times the antioxidant power of the flesh. Also, about two-thirds of an apple’s fiber is found in the peel. Apples come in naturally gorgeous shades of green, golden yellow, red-orange and deep crimson
Some Key Scientific Studies
Some important scientific studies that reveal apples’ benefits are:
U.S. Study (2011): Florida State University researchers evaluated the long-term cardio-protective effects of daily consumption of apple in postmenopausal women. They randomly assigned 160 women ages 45-65 to one of two dietary intervention groups: One ate dried apples (75 g/day for 1 year), and the other ate dried prunes everyday for a year. Blood samples were taken at 3, 6, and 12 months. Within 6 months, the apple-eating women experienced a 23% reduction in LDL (bad) cholesterol. Another advantage is that the extra 240 calories a day did not lead to weight gain in the women. In fact the women lost on, average, 3.3. lbs.
Dutch Study (2011): Researchers studied the diets of over 20,000 adults, with an average age of 41. At the start of the study, all participants were free of cardiovascular disease. Researchers examined the links between fruits and vegetable color group consumption and 10-year stroke incidence. Fruits and vegetables were classified into four groups: Green (dark leafy vegetables, cabbages), Orange/Yellow (mostly citrus fruits), Red/Purple (mostly red vegetables), and White (mostly apples and pears). During the 10-year study, 233 strokes were documented, and only white fruits and vegetables were linked to lower incidence of stroke. In fact the risk of stroke incidence was 52 percent lower for people with a high intake of white fruits and vegetables compared to those with low intake.
Reasons to Eat Apples
Apples are nutritious. Apples contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. One medium apple contains about 72 calories and has about 3 g of soluble fiber in the form of pectin. An apple counts as one cup of fruit towards your daily fruit quota (around 2 cups on a 2,000-calorie diet).
Apples can help prevent high blood pressure. Apples contain potassium which helps our arteries dilate, lowering blood pressure. Also quercetin, an antioxidant in apples, works with the cells in the inner lining (endothelium) of our arteries to make them dilate which lowers blood pressure.
Apples lower cholesterol. Apples contain pectin (about 3 g per medium apple), a soluble fiber, that binds with cholesterol in our gut and prevents it from being absorbed into our bloodstream. This reduces risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.
Apples protect against colon cancer. According to research from Germany, the fiber in apples ferments in the colon and produces chemicals that fight the formation of cancer cells.
Apples provide bone protection. Researchers believe that a flavonoid called phloridzin, found only in apples, may protect post-menopausal women from osteoporosis and also increase bone density. Apple also contain boron which strengthens bones.
Apples may help stave off Alzheimer’s disease. Apples contain quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that protects brain cells from degeneration in rats and may do the same in humans.
Apples may lower cardiovascular disease risk. Apples help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in our arteries thus reducing atherosclerosis. This reduction in hardening of the arteries lowers our risk of cardiovascular disease.
Apples decrease diabetes risk. From a 2012 study, apples, as well as pears and blueberries, were linked to a lower risk of type II diabetes. Researchers attribute the benefit to a class of antioxidants, anthocyanins, that give fruits and vegetables their purple, blue and red colors.
Apples help in weight loss. Flavonoid-rich fruits like apples have been linked by Harvard scientists to lower weight gain over many years. The class of flavonoids called anthocyanins have been linked to the most weight control.
Putting It Into Practice
Buy organic when possible: Because apples are vulnerable to worms and other insects, the conventionally grown varieties are heavily sprayed with pesticides. Therefore it is best to buy organically grown varieties. Also, always wash fruit before eating.
Eat the peel: Apples are bursting with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. It turns out that most of these nutrients are in the peel.
Eat fresh and in salads: Apples are great eaten fresh or cut up into slices and tossed with field greens, toasted pecans and a light vinaigrette in a delicious salad. Also try apple slices on your favorite sandwich.
Cook them: Apples can be cooked in a myriad of ways – baked into pies, crisps, and tarts; added to poultry stuffing; and made into jelly, apple butter, and sauce.
Try pears: If you don’t like apples or can’t find them, pears are a tasty alternative.
A balanced diet is best: While apples are healthy, it is best to include other fruits to meet your daily fruit quota. So in addition to apples, also eat the colors of the rainbow (blue, purple, red, yellow, green, orange) for better total health.
Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world, second only to water. There are three main types of tea, green, black, and oolong. Scientific studies suggest that green tea in particular has many health benefits. Researchers believe the antioxidants, which are mostly polyphenols, in the tea leaves are responsible for the health benefits.
Green, black, and oolong teas are all derived from the leaves of the Camellia synensis plant. This plant grows throughout Asia, parts of the Middle East, and Africa. Green tea is prepared from unfermented leaves. The leaves of oolong tea are partially fermented, and the leaves of black tea are fully fermented. The more the leaves are fermented, the lower the polyphenol content and the higher the caffeine content. Green tea has the highest polyphenol content, while black tea has 2 to 3 times the caffeine content of green tea. Therefore green teas have the most nutritional benefits, followed by oolong and black teas. You may have heard of white tea, which is simply the unfermented young leaves and buds of the Camellia synensis plant.
Reasons to Drink Green Tea
The health benefits of drinking green tea:
Green tea is rich in antioxidants: The antioxidants found in green tea are mainly polyphenols. A particular polyphenol, EGCG has been studied extensively, can powerfully destroy free radicals (metabolic byproducts that are chemically reactive and that can damage cells). In research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the polyphenols found in green tea are reported to be 6 times stronger than those found in black tea.
Green tea lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol: Research shows that green tea lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol and raises HDL (good) cholesterol in people. One large-scale study found that men who drink green tea have lower total cholesterol than those who do not drink green tea.
Green tea fights atherosclerosis: Large scale studies suggest the polyphenols in green tea help prevent atherosclerosis, the plaque buildup in your arteries. The researchers believe that green tea fights atherosclerosis by lowering cholesterol and triglycerides. Studies show that black tea has similar effects. In fact they estimate the rate of heart attacks decrease by 11 percent with consumption of three cups of tea daily.
Green tea lowers risk of high blood pressure: A study published in 2004 reported that regular consumption of green and oolong tea reduced risk of developing hypertension. Another study published in 2012 reported that regular long-term consumption of black tea lowered blood pressure.
Green tea lowers cardiovascular disease risk: In a large-scale study, drinking three cups of green tea or black tea is associated with a 20 percent reduction in stroke risk.
Green tea lowers cancer risk: Risk of cancer of the GI tract has been shown to be 17 percent lower in women who drink at least 3 cups of green tea a week. There have also been lower risks associated with green tea consumption of the following cancers: bladder, breast, ovarian, lung, pancreatic, prostate, and skin.
Green tea strengthens your bones: The Harvard School of Public Health states that the tea polyphenols are thought to strengthen bones and protect against fractures. Also a study published in Nutrition Research found the bioactive components of green tea may help decrease the risk of fractures by improving bone mineral density.
Green tea helps protect your vision: A 2010 study reported that the components in green tea positively affected the tissues of the eyes, particularly the tissues of the retina.
Green tea improves memory and cognitive function: Some of the compounds found in green tea boost certain brain tasks associated with working memory. Working memory is the brain function that keeps in mind and manipulates multiple pieces of information simultaneously, helping you to plan ahead, organize information, solve problems and retrieve information, such as names.
Green tea calms and relaxes you: L-theanine is the standout ingredient in green tea that has been studied for its calming effects on the nervous system. A study published in Trends in Food Science & Technology found that green tea produces relaxing effects without drowsiness after just 40 minutes of ingestion.
Putting it into Practice
Brew it yourself: For the biggest benefit, definitely brew it yourself. Bottled tea has significantly fewer polyphenols than home-steeped tea, plus added sugar that add unwanted calories. You can serve it hot, or make a pitcher of home-brewed iced tea during the warmer months.
Watch the additives: It is not a good idea to resort to additives to make tea more palatable. Be careful not to add spoonfuls of sugar to make tea go down easier. The health benefits were observed for tea with little or no additives. So maybe try a little honey or lemon to taste without compromising the purity of your tea, but stop there.
Daily dosage: The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends two to three cups of green tea per day. This provides about 240 to 320 mg of polyphenols.
Try a healthy alternative: If you just can’t stomach green tea, you may want to try a healthy alternative – coffee. Coffee is a perfectly reasonable and possibly equally healthful alternative. Click here to read my article on coffee.
Caution if you are pregnant: Because of its caffeine level, green tea can be unsafe for pregnant women and their babies. Always consult your doctor about consuming caffeinated beverages while pregnant.
Problem with iron: Drinking green tea may cause your body to absorb less iron, so it is best not to drink green tea with an iron-rich meal. Rather drink green tea between meals. Consult your doctor if you are anemic.