I’m thrilled to be working with the California Strawberry Commission again this year! Looks like this year’s crop is going to be dandy!
WATSONVILLE, Calif., May 2, 2013 — May is National Strawberry Month, a time when farmers and consumers alike celebrate the peak abundance of America’s favorite fruit. Strawberries are a fond and familiar fare at any time of day. According to the U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture, Americans now consume twice as many strawberries than two decades ago.
The versatile strawberry stretches beyond shortcake, inspiring unexpected savory and sweet dishes. A key ingredient in endlessly creative recipes, strawberries can be blended with garbanzo beans and lemon juice to make a tart hummus, or strung on rosemary-stem skewers, grilled and served with black pepper ice cream and ruby port syrup. The strawberry’s photogenic color and shape, easy preparation and adaptability make strawberries among one of the most talked about fruits on culinary websites, blogs and social media. They are featured on hundreds of creative Pinterest boards, while conversations on Twitter mention strawberries with its most popular companions, chocolate (1.5 million+ mentions) and cream (585,000+ mentions).
Just a generation ago, fresh strawberries were a fleeting reward of spring. Thanks to the decades-long effort of California strawberry farmers, however, the once-precious crop is now one of the country’s most popular fruits, available year round. California strawberry farmers have done their job so well that in just 20 years, Americans have doubled their consumption of fresh strawberries, with per capita consumption rising to almost eight pounds in 2012. At the same time, refined growing methods on more than 40,000 acres have improved yields by 44 percent since 1990.
Today, nearly 90 percent of U.S.-grown fresh strawberries come from California.
Universally loved, locally grown, California strawberries are picked, shipped and delivered to stores within 24 hours. These fresh strawberries inspire out-of-the-ordinary recipes, including strawberry goat cheese pizza and strawberry tostadas that brighten up daily meals. These and other delicious recipes can be found at http://www.CaliforniaStrawberries.com.
Tags: canola, Cholesterol, corn, phytosterols, pistachios, rice bran, sesame seeds, sunflower, supplements
By David Grotto, RDN, LDN
As seen on Real Life Nutrition on WebMD
Phytosterols are a plant’s version of cholesterol; however instead of clogging up our arteries, they clean them! Phytosterols promote the movement of cholesterol into the intestinal tract and help block the absorption sites responsible for attracting cholesterol. Think of it like a game of musical chairs. If there are only 10 seats for 10 cholesterol bodies, then all of them will get a seat. But if you add in an additional 10 bodies of phytosterols, odds are that the seats will be divided evenly between cholesterol and phytosterols allowing for the remaining cholesterol to be whisked away.
There are two basic types of phytosterols: plant sterols and stanols. Despite their different names, research indicates that there are no significant differences in their health impact on cholesterol when consumed as part of a low-fat diet. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a health claim for plant sterol/stanol esters for reducing the risk of heart disease: “Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include at least 1.3 grams of plant sterol esters or 3.4 grams of plant stanol esters, consumed in two meals with other foods, may reduce the risk of heart disease.”
What Foods Contain Phytosterols?
In general, plant phytosterols are abundant in nuts, seeds, legumes and in plant oils. The richest sources are as follows:
Rice Bran Oil: 322mg/ounce: It has a mild nutty flavor and is a great oil to cook with because it has such a high smoke and is more resistant to oxidation giving it a nice long shelf life. It is an excellent source of vitamin E and contains an antioxidant called gamma-oryzanol, which has been thought to help lower one’s risk for heart disease. In one Japanese study, rice bran oil helped reduce symptoms of hot flashes among women subjects.
Corn oil: 264mg/ounce: Corn oil is one of the most popular cooking oils in the United States, especially in commercial cooking and baking. A double blind placebo controlled human study put men on either a diet containing 30% fat mainly from corn oil or from a sunflower/olive oil blend. Researchers found that the vitamin E content of corn oil did a better job of protecting the DNA of cells from mutating into dangerous cancer cells compared to a diet with sunflower and olive oil.
Sesame seeds/oil: 200-223mg /ounce. Cold-pressed sesame oil is great for deep frying because of its high smoke-point, whereas the dark brown oil is better suited for stir frying or sauces and dressings. Sesame seeds and their oil may have other heart health benefits beyond their phytosterol content. In a small study of hypertensive men who were placed on a daily regimen of a little over an ounce of sesame oil, it was observed that they had better blood flow through their arteries. This was the first study to show that daily intake of sesame oil improves endothelial function and this effect is sustained with long-term daily use.
Canola oil: 188mg/ounce: Canola oil is made from canola seed which belongs to the Brassica family where you’ll find members like cabbage and cauliflower. It contains the lowest level of saturated fats of any vegetable oil and is an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids and omega 3 fats, which benefit healthy cholesterol levels. Like corn oil, canola is also a rich source of vitamin E.
Sunflower seeds: 150mg/1/4 cup: Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of magnesium, copper, manganese, selenium, thiamine, and a Vitamin E (almost half of your daily requirements!). These nutrient packed seeds are also a good source of the B vitamins and other trace minerals, not to mention that they are also a great source of protein and fiber. The major phytosterol in sunflower seeds is beta-sitosterol which may benefit prostate and heart health.
Pistachios: 80mg/ounce: Pistachios are one of the oldest nuts in existence and it is estimated that humans have been eating pistachios in one form or another for at least 9,000 years. They are rich in the plant nutrients lutein, beta-carotene and contain a hefty amount of the gamma-tocopherol form of vitamin E. A randomized cross-over controlled Penn State study found that a couple of handfuls of pistachios a day added to a low cholesterol diet lowered LDL cholesterol and boosted heart-healthy antioxidants better than a heart healthy diet alone.
Wheat germ oil: 150mg/ounce: Wheat germ is the oily component of the wheat kernel. The oil contains high amounts of octacosanol, a plant nutrient found in vegetable oils that has been reported to enhance endurance, reaction time, and exercise capacity by increasing oxygen in cells of the body. It has also been associated with reducing cholesterol. A one- tablespoon serving supplies over 100% of the daily value of vitamin E. Wheat germ oil has also been used to treat various skin conditions such as eczema and skin rashes with some success.
Supplement it? Intakes of plant phytosterols/stanols in excess of the recommended 2g/day dose are associated with additional reductions in harmful LDL cholesterol, which may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends adding 2 grams daily of phytosterols to a cholesterol-lowering diet for people who have not been successful in lowering cholesterol by diet alone. In order to achieve this level, fortification of foods such as margarine-type spreads, orange juice, yogurt and yogurt-based drinks and dietary supplements might be necessary, even in addition to the plant sterol-rich foods mentioned above. A 5-week double blinded placebo controlled study demonstrated nearly a 5 percent reduction in “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in participants who had elevated cholesterol levels when a supplement containing approximately 2 grams of plant phytosterols was added to their cholesterol reducing diet.
Tags: melatonin, pumpkin seeds, sleep, Tart Cherries, walnuts
Tags: fat, Habits, skinny, Solutions
I’m excited to announce that two nutrition experts, whom I hold in high esteem, have jointly written a book entitled The Real Skinny: Appetite for Health’s 101 Fat Habits & Slim Solutions (Penguin). Julie Upton, MS, RDN, CSSD and Katherine Brooking, MS, RDN run the a great website and blog called Appetite For Health which is loaded with great information on health, nutrition and features new products and great deals that are health related.
Now on to their book. Truth be told, I’m not much of a fan of diet books in general. I guess that’s why I haven’t written one yet …don’t hold me to that, though! Ha! But The Real Skinny isn’t really a diet book, per say. It’s more of a book of solutions to common “fat traps” that we all fall into. Sure, there’s some neat recipes and a 14-day menu plan tucked inside, but what I liked most were the 101 Fat Habits and the Slim Solutions that Julie and Katherine offer. Take Fat Habit #61 for example. I’m a nighttime nosher, for sure. I have a degree in nutrition and should know better but as I always say, when it comes to lifestyle, knowledge is great but it’s what you do that counts! Nighttime nibbling, especially the just-open-a-bag-of-anything-and-start-eating habit is the worse. Eating late at night can really ratchet up the number of calories that your mind doesn’t even register because it’s not a “sit-down” meal. But it’s not just eating late at night that’s the problem. According to Upton and Brooking, “Studies show that distracted eaters gobble up more calories compared to non-distracted eaters, and those who watch TV and eat consume 20-100% more calories compared to individuals who eat without distractions. Even worse, distracted eaters reported being less satisfied.”
People who tend to eat late at night are at more risk of being overweight, having sleep disorders and the list goes on. So what’s the Real Skinny solution? Well Julie and Katherine give you eight to choose from including eating a fiber-rich dinner and eating dinner a little later so you are full and satisfied until bedtime. My favorite tip is keeping yourself busy. Think about it. Most of us just want to unwind – which translates to zoning out in front of the tube and keeping our hands and mouths busy by filling them with food. And of course, your ability to monitor what you eat and cut off eating when you are actually full goes out the window when watching TV. Find things to do or hit the hay early and get up earlier!
Julie and Katherine also offered some insight to their book that I thought I’d share with you.
Do you need diet foods to lose weight?
There are no “special” or “manufactured” foods required to lose and maintain a healthy weight. In fact, good-for-you unprocessed foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean proteins are probably the best foods to help you lose weight.
Many dieters get stuck on using pricey unhealthy “health” foods: diet foods, sugar substitutes, diet sodas and other calorie-reduced items that aren’t necessary and they aren’t always associated with diet success. Some studies even suggest sugar substitutes interfere with the body’s natural mechanisms to regulate caloric intake. Use diet foods and beverages sparingly and be mindful that they alone, will not equal diet success. A recent statement from health organizations say that if you use sugar substitutes as a replacement for foods and beverages with added sugars, they can help you cut calories. We suggest using sugar substitutes sparingly and limiting diet beverages.
How do you recover when you totally blow your diet?
Chronic dieters often adhere to strict all-or-nothing diets that are too restrictive and unrealistic. It’s like trying to walk on a tightrope for life, which explains their lack of success. We all will eventually fall off. Instead of thinking of a strict eating plan that doesn’t fit your lifestyle, focus on strategies that you can, with a little work, realistically live with.
You need to expect slip-ups to happen when you’re losing weight, so how you deal with a bad day, week or month helps predict success. Individuals who can lose and maintain weight loss can be flexible enough with themselves to bounce back to healthy eating. Think: Life Happens or as I like to say, #$%! Happens! And start fresh tomorrow.
of meals and snacks, you need to only eat. When the brain is distracted, it takes significantly more calories to get the same level of satiety.
Is there a difference between food calories and liquid calories?
New research shows that we’re drinking a great proportion of our calories than ever before. In fact, one-quarter of the population drinks nearly 300 calories a day from sugary drinks like soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks, flavored water and gourmet coffee drinks. The problem with drinking our calories is that they’re less satisfying than when we eat foods, so we’re unlikely to eat less when we drink more calories. In addition, most beverages with calories get their calories from nothing other than sugar. This sugar is rapidly absorbed by the body and may increase risk for metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes and may increase hunger and cravings. It’s important to think before you drink.
Would you like to win a copy?? Hit me up in the comment section and tell me why you need this book! Most compelling story wins!!
Tags: hot peppers, pain, salmon, Tart Cherries, turmeric
As seen today on WebMD
Spring is in the air and hopefully for many of us, that spurs the desire to move more. Unfortunately, more movement can spell more pain, especially for joints that haven’t moved in a while or are subjected to abuse. Although millions of Americans use prescription and non-prescription drugs daily in an effort to control inflammation and pain however, studies are ongoing to see if what we eat can help with pain relief. Here are some foods that look promising:
Cherries are packed with anthocyanins which have similar pain-reducing effects as anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that tart cherry juice before long distance running can reduce post-run muscle pain. Several studies support the pain relieving effects in joints, too!
Ginger is loaded with powerful antioxidants such as shogaols, zingerones and gingerols which are all effective anti-inflammatories. In the science Journal of Pain, a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study found that subjects who either ate about ½ teaspoon of raw or cooked ginger for 11 days prior to muscle injury from exercise saw pain reduced within 24 hours compared to the control group. In another related study, ginger was not effective for reducing pain when it was taken 24-48 hours after an injury. The study’s authors emphasized the importance of consuming ginger daily for maximum pain relief.
Hot Peppers cause pain to the tongue and any other mucous membrane. But surprisingly, it is effective for halting pain in other areas of the body. Hot peppers are extremely rich in vitamin C which helps repair wounded tissue that causes pain. They are also abundant in the type of phytochemicals which reduce pain-causing inflammation such as flavonoids and capsaicinoids, including capsaicin, which has become part of salves and ointments for aching joints and muscles. A randomized double blinded study of 30 patients with chronic dyspepsia (upset stomach) found that those who ingested about ½ teaspoon of red pepper (2.5 g) daily for 5 weeks had 60% reduction in reports of stomach pain, fullness and nausea compared to the placebo group who experienced a 30% reduction of complaints. Long-term ingestion of hot chilis was found to improve dyspepsia and GERD symptoms in small randomized, controlled studies.
Salmon is one of the best fish sources of omega-3s and also a source of vitamin D. These nutrients help with aches and prevent arthritis and joint soreness. Omega-3s help to reduce the production of inflammatory cytokines and enzymes that cause painful joints, muscles and nerve endings. Clinical studies have shown that intake of omega-3 fats found in foods like salmon result in reduction in pain associated with arthritis, dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual cramps), inflammatory bowel disease, and neuropathy (nerve pain).
Turmeric is loaded with the pain and inflammation-fighting plant nutrient called curcumin. Several animal and human studies have demonstrated effectiveness of Turmeric as an effective pain reliever. A double-blind placebo controlled study found that turmeric was effective for relieving post surgical pain and fatigue.
Turmeric, fresh grated ginger, diced hot peppers and tart cherry preserves, all mixed together, makes a wonderful glaze for salmon. Add a little ground pepper and salt to taste. Dust off the grill and try it as your season opener entrée to a pain-free spring and summer. Any other ideas for combining these ingredients or any other foods that you have found helpful in controlling pain would be most welcomed!
Tags: anthocyanins, arthritis, insomnia, melatonin, pain, Tart Cherries
Photo and recipe courtesy of choosecherries.com
By David Grotto, RDN, LDN
I’m thrilled to be working with ChooseCherries.com this year in promoting the nutrition and health benefits of tart cherries. Many of my patients who I recommend tart cherries to were not aware that there is a difference between tart and sweet cherries. So I thought I would write a post to recap the difference and highlight the nutrition and health benefits of tart cherries.
This isn’t your average drupe (fruit that contains a pit). All cherry varieties are proud members of the rose family. They either fall into one of two categories: sweet or tart. Examples of sweet cherries are the ever popular Bing and Ranier. The Montmorency cherry is one of the most popular tart varieties and is the one most often used in making cherry pie. The bulk of cherry research has been done on the tart cherry and in fact, there are now over 50 studies on the health benefits of tart cherries.
Nutrition: A one-cup serving of cherries is a good source of fiber and vitamins A and C. Cherries contain a host of other nutrients such as boron and quercetin which can help build strong bones and may play a role in maintaining heart health. Amygdalin and perillyl alcohol are two plant nutrients that function as cancer-fighting antioxidants that may have antitumor activity. Melatonin is a hormone found both in the human body and in tart cherries that can help regulate sleep. Tart cherries are one of the richest fruits in a group of plant antioxidants called anthocyanins which also may help promote sleep and put a serious hurt on pain. Tart cherries also contain many phenolic compounds, such as gallic acid, p-coumaric acid, kaempferol, and quercetin, all of which are potent antioxidants. Speaking of antioxidants, tart cherries rank 14th in the top 50 foods for providing highest antioxidant content per serving size.
Heart (and every other part) Health: It is believed that the plant nutrients that give cherries their bright red color, anthocyanins, are responsible for extinguishing the flames of inflammation but not of desire. In fact, cherries may help stimulate nitric oxide production in arteries allowing more blood flow to all the right places (wink, wink).
Arthritis Pain: There’s a good chunk of scientific literature that supports cherries role in helping to relieve painful inflammatory conditions such as gouty arthritis. Anthocyanins, in tart cherries, help suppress cox-2 enzymes that are responsible for causing pain and inflammation. In a study of women who ate two servings (280 grams) of tart cherries after an overnight fast, there was a 15 percent reduction in uric acid levels and the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein, which are both associated with gouty arthritis.
Sleep: Three separate studies have looked at the melatonin content of tart cherries and have established that cherries as one of the top melatonin containing foods that may prove beneficial in improving sleep quality and duration.
Bad breath: Many phytonutrients in cherries help remove the odor of methyl mercaptan, the colorless gas released in decaying food particles in the mouth and from garlic. Yum!
Exercise recovery: The anthocyanins in tart cherries are known to decrease muscle soreness. In fact, red tart cherry juice has been shown to reduce muscle damage and soreness caused by intense strength workouts and running. Cherries have been found to have similar pain-reducing effects as anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin. A recent study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that consuming tart cherry juice before long distance running can reduce post-run muscle pain.
Warm Salmon, Cherry, Arugula Salad
Serves 4. Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
6 cups loosely packed arugula (about 3 ounces)
1/2 small head radicchio, cored and shredded
4 salmon fillets, about 3/4-inch thick
3 shallots, sliced
1/2 large jalapeno (halved lengthwise), seeded and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups thawed frozen tart cherries
1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup tart cherry juice
In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, turmeric, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the arugula and radicchio and toss. Add salt and pepper to taste and divide mixture among serving plates. Set aside. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the salmon and cook until barely opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Arrange the salmon on top of the salads. Return the skillet to medium heat, add the shallots and chile, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cherries and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Add the cherry juice, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, scraping up any browned bits in the skillet, until the juice is almost entirely evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the cherry mixture over the salmon and serve.
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