Fresh Bowls of Fruits

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Starting the day off with a fresh bowl of fruit sets the tone for my day. It energizes me and makes me feel full. Having a fruit bowl also reminds me of a hot summer day especially, during these winter snowy days we’ve been having here in New York City. These bowls really brightens up my mornings. I couldn’t tell you when was the last time I had a bacon egg and cheese on a toasted bagel for breakfast. For the past three years my morning breakfasts have been much healthier and much more nutritious.

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A healthy breakfast should contain fruits or vegetables, nuts for added protein and sometimes a whole grain bread or oats. This type of combination of fiber, protein, and a small amount of fat will help provide the nutrients you need to carry you through the day. But for me, a fruit bowl does that same thing.

I can get really creative with my fruit bowls. Depending on what’s in season, I add in one or two citrus fruits, some berries, melons, bananas, apples and even some nuts. Fruit provides vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C and potassium.

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If you notice in all of these picture, I mostly included orange and red colored fruits. Well, according to the International Carotenoid Society, these colors are known to be essential for plant growth and photosynthesis, and are a main dietary source of vitamin A in humans. They are thought to be associated with reduced risk of several chronic health disorders including some forms of cancer, heart disease and eye degeneration. Lycopene is a carotenoid, a natural color pigment that contributes to the red color of tomatoe and various other fruits and vegetables. The yellow/red fruits and vegetables contain mostly hydrocarbon carotenoids (carotenes). The common yellow ones are apricot, cantaloupe, carrot, pumpkin, and sweet potato that are the primary sources of beta-carotene and beta-carotene and several other hydrocarbon carotenoids.

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In part, the beneficial effects of carotenoids are thought to be due to their role as antioxidants. Antioxidants supports cellular activities by fighting off other chemicals known as free radicals.

Consider adding the following orange/red hue fruits and vegetables to your diet for more antioxidants.
Apricots, carrots, oranges, papaya, peaches, pumpkins, cantaloupe, sweet potato, winter squash, tangerines, nectarines, mangoes and butternut squash.
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Day 5: Breakfast and Lunch

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Breakfast this morning consisted of my usual as you can see 7 whole grain bread with peanut butter, my berry/spinach smoothie, organic grapefruit, and a cup of organic white tea. This was very filling although it doesn’t look like much.

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I decided on Indian food for lunch today. My favorite Indian restaurant is Agra. The food is authentic and amazing. There’s also a business lunch special that’s very reasonable. I got the curry vegetable dish (eggplant, carrots, potato, and cauliflower), 2 potato samosas appetizers (I ate one before I took the pic), curry cabbage, and basmati rice. I went a little off my diet today. I had white basmati rice and I shouldn’t have. I tried to get brown but they didn’t have. It’s not the worst thing. I figured it was Friday, so why not!

Food Fact: The Avocado

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Consider adding avocado to salads, and not only on account of taste!

Recent research has shown that absorption of two key carotenoid antioxidants—lycopene and beta-carotene—increases significantly when fresh avocado (or avocado oil) is added to an otherwise avocado-free salad. It supports cardiovascular health, promotes blood sugar regulation, anti-cancer benefits, and optimizes absorption of carotenoids.

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    One cup of fresh avocado (150 grams) added to a salad of romaine lettuce, spinach, kale, tomatoes, and carrots increased absorption of carotenoids from this salad between 200-400%.

Wide-Ranging Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

The ability of avocado to help prevent unwanted inflammation is absolutely unquestionable in the world of health research. The term “anti-inflammatory” is a term that truly applies to this delicious food.

Avocado’s anti-inflammatory nutrients fall into five basic categories:

  • Phytosterols, including beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, and campesterol (protects from cancer)
  • Carotenoid antioxidants (prevent chronic disease), including lutein, neoxanthin, neochrome, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, violaxanthin, beta-carotene and alpha-carotene
  • Other (non-carotenoid) antioxidants, including the flavonoids epicatechin and epigallocatechin 3-0-gallate, vitamins C and E, and the minerals manganese, selenium, and zinc
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (approximately 160 milligrams per cup of sliced avocado)
  • Polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PSA)s (suppresses inflammation)
  • Source:
    Whole Foods: Avocado

    New Study: Turmeric Extract Puts Drugs to Shame

    Millions turn to non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and analgesics, like Tylenol, for pain relief, but the regular, chronic use of these types of medications is associated with significant, and very serious, side effects such as cardiovascular problems, gastrointestinal harm and kidney and/or liver damage. There are natural alternative that already exist that are as easily accessible and inexpensive as the spices found in your kitchen cupboard.

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      Turmeric (Curcuma longa), is a bright yellow spice. Even more potent than its volatile oil is the yellow or orange pigment of turmeric, which is called curcumin. It’s a powerful natural spice that has long been used in the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a variety of conditions, including flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, hemorrhage, toothache, bruises, chest pain, and colic.

    Despite many years of investigation as a lead drug compound, and the availability of thousands of preclinical studies indicating turmeric’s therapeutic value, many people haven’t realize that this common kitchen spice may offer a suitable drug alternative for common health conditions.

    We’re living in a world that depends on popping pills to treat illnesses and it’s also affecting how investors spend their money.

    Not many companies are willing to do the human research on the health benefits of turmeric, mainly due to lack of capital available to fund expensive clinical trials. A study that confirm turmeric’s medicinal value was published in the Indonesian Journal of Internal Medicine in April, 2012. The study found the curcuminoid extract of turmeric was able to reduce inflammation in patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis.

    To read the entire study click here! The results are astonishing and very promising. I urge you to pass this article on and reblogg. It’s very important to spread the word about this Super-spice.

    Numerous studies have looked into this potential cancer-fighting link with curcumin, and promising results. For instance, curcumin has been found to:

      Inhibit the proliferation of tumor cells
      Inhibit the transformation of cells from normal to tumor
      Help your body destroy mutated cancer cells so they cannot spread throughout your body
      Decrease inflammation
      Enhance liver function
      Inhibit the synthesis of a protein thought to be instrumental in tumor formation
      Prevent the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth

    Other readings on Turmeric:

    Food Fact: Turmeric
    Research conducted on Curcumin/Turmeric
    Dr. Andrew Weil/Huffington Post
    Nagabhushan M, Bhide SV. Curcumin as an inhibitor of cancer. J Am Coll Nutr. 1992 Apr;11(2):192-8. 1992. PMID:1578097.

    Antioxidants and Good Food Sources

    Naturally occurring antioxidants help fight diseases in the body, boost immunity, and repair damaged cells. These antioxidants can be found in a variety of whole foods that nutritionists have been recommending for years, including fruits, legumes and whole grains.

    It’s important to include antioxidants in your diet because of their many health benefits, so try digging in to one of these especially antioxidant-rich foods like pomegranates, berries and veggies.

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    Vitamin C – As an antioxidant it protects proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, DNA and RNA from oxidation by free radicals. Foods like citrus fruits and their juices, berries, dark green vegetables (spinach, asparagus, green peppers, brussel sprouts, broccoli, watercress, other greens), red and yellow peppers, tomatoes and tomato juice, pineapple, cantaloupe, mangos, papaya and guava.

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    Vitamin E –
    Vitamin E is also a fat soluble vitamin. As an antioxidant it protects fats from oxidation, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Foods like vegetable oils such as olive, soybean, corn, cottonseed and safflower, nuts and nut butters, seeds, whole grains, wheat, wheat germ, brown rice, oatmeal, soybeans, sweet potatoes, legumes (beans, lentils, split peas) and dark leafy green vegetables.

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    Selenium –
    Selenium is a powerful antioxidant mineral that protects tissues from free radical damage. Foods like Brazil nuts, brewer’s yeast, oatmeal, brown rice, chicken, eggs, dairy products, garlic, molasses, onions, salmon, seafood, tuna, wheat germ, whole grains and most vegetables.

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    Beta Carotene –
    Beta-carotene is a form of vitamin A found in many foods that are dark orange, red, yellow and green vegetables and fruits such as broccoli, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots, red and yellow peppers, apricots, cantaloupe and mangos.

    Source:
    http://www.whfoods.com/

    Food Fact: Cranberries

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    A substantial number of recent studies have shown that whole fresh cranberries consumed in dietary form—in comparison with purified cranberry extracts consumed in either liquid or dried supplement form—do a better job of protecting our cardiovascular system and our liver.

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    This rule about whole/fresh dietary intake of cranberries appears to apply to the antioxidant benefits, anti-inflammatory benefits, and anti-cancer benefits of cranberry. The cancer-preventive benefits of cranberries are now known to extend to cancers of the breast, colon, lung, and prostate. The bar for cranberries are as high as blueberries. They’re powerhouses of aniti-cancer fighting properties.

    Basically, fresh is best! However, it’s easier at times to open up a can of cranberries for the holidays. I know based off of experience the length of time that goes into preparing a Thanksgiving feast. Cranberry sauce was the last thing from my mind to prepare, so I was that person who opened cans of jellied cranberry sauce. I also grew up watching my mother do it, so I did eventually. This year, my aunt is hosting and preparing the feast, so my contribution will be a fresh salad and guess what…fresh cranberries. After reading about the benefits of cranberries, I will never open up another can of jellied cranberry sauce in my house. As for my parents house, that’s another story.

    Cranberries health highlights:
    Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
    Cardiovascular Benefits
    Immune Support
    Antioxidant Protection
    Anti-Cancer Protection
    Digestive Tract Benefits

    For an in-depth reading click here

    Anti-Inflammatory Fruits and Vegetables

    Exposure to potentially toxic substances in our food and water, or in the air we breathe both indoors and outdoors, exposure to allergy-triggering substances, poor general health, dietary deficiencies, use of prescription and over-the-counter medications, and other lifestyle practices can result in a level of danger to our bodies that prompts our inflammatory system to work in overdrive on a 24/7 basis. An anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle are critical for full recovery from diseases.

    Anti-inflammatory foods help to modulate the immune system and give it a more accurate pair of eyes so as to not over-inflame when stimulated. To effectively de-inflame it is key to completely avoid man-made foods, sugars, and food allergens as listed above. The long chain omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA powerfully de-inflame the body by restoring natural balance to the lipid wall of the cell membrane.

    Beware of high-protein diets, sugary foods, white rice, white potatoes, white bread, over-processed cereals, cooking foods on high heat (especially meats), and foods containing omega-6 fats such as corn and soybean oils. They all provoke inflammation, according to Carper. She also says that the high-glycemic foods listed such as sugar, white bread, white potatoes and white rice “spike blood sugar” which in turn “spur inflammation.”

    Anti-inflammatory foods are often found among produce, where more color means a higher vitamin content.

    Vegetables:
    These vegetables below contain great amounts of anti-inflammatory nutrients, antioxidant nutrients, detox-support nutrients, and anti-cancer nutrients. Which is needed to repair and decompose inflammation in our bodies.

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    Purple peppers, purple cabbages, eggplant and radicchio are packed with anti-inflammatory properties.

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    Broccoli, brussels sprout, radishes, red peppers, and rhubarb are extremely high in anti-inflmmatory properties.

    Fruits:
    Anthocyanin’s which is the colorful antioxidant pigments that give many foods their wonderful shades of blue, purple, and red – are usually the first phytonutrients to be mentioned in descriptions of these fruits below. They are rich in antioxidant nutrients such as carotenes, vitamin C, E, A and flavonoids; the B vitamins, folate and pantothenic acid; and the minerals, potassium and magnesium; and fiber. Together, these nutrients promote the health of the cardiovascular system and also provide protection against diseases.

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    Purple grapes, pineapple, cranberries, blood oranges, and red pears have more color which, means the vitamins are higher.

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    Blueberries, cherries, purple plums, strawberries and papaya are packed with anti-inflammatory agents.

    Resources:
    http://www.womentowomen.com/inflammation/naturalantiinflammatories.aspx

    The Best Foods for Your Skin

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    Tomatoes: Definitely one of your skin’s best defenses, tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene. While studies have not yet been entirely conclusive, many suggest that lycopene may be responsible for helping to protect the skin against sun damage.

    Lycopene is best absorbed by the body when it has been cooked or processed, so eating tomato sauce, tomato paste, and ketchup is likely to be more effective than just eating raw tomatoes when trying to safeguard your skin against harmful UV rays. Lycopene is also fat soluble, which means that it is absorbed more easily when consumed with fat, such as eggs, avocado, and olive oil.

    Green Tea: It’s no secret that green tea is an antioxidant powerhouse. Its strong anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effects are attributed to its high concentration of catechin compounds. Studies have shown that green tea can be used both orally and topically to help protect the skin from sunburns and UV-associated skin cancers. Research also suggests that drinking one cup of green tea twice a day over the course of six months may actually reverse sun damage and significantly improve any problems you have with redness and broken capillary veins.

    Green Beans: As long as we’re going green, let’s talk about how these low-calorie beans can help you grow thicker hair and healthier nails. Green beans are a star Feed Your Face food because they’re one of the richest sources of silicon — not to be confused with silicone, which is found in bad lip jobs and breast implants! The USDA has not yet established recommended daily intakes (RDIs) of silicon, but 10 mg per day seems to be adequate for strengthening hair and nails, according to recent studies. Dr. Wu recommends choosing organic green beans, since they retain more silicon from the soil. Don’t like green beans? You can also get your silicon fix from volcanic mineral waters such as Volvic, which contains 14.5 mg per liter.

    Walnuts Usually it’s salmon that’s synonymous with omega-3 fatty acids, but did you know that walnuts are also incredibly high in omega-3s? If you’re concerned with redness, swelling, blotchiness, acne breakouts, or wrinkles, walnuts may be your new best friend. Plant-based omega-3s, such as the ones found in walnuts, are naturally anti-inflammatory; they can help seal moisture into your skin and protect it from chemicals and other toxins. In particular, the alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in these omega-3s can work to combat the dryness associated with aging that leads to wrinkles. But don’t stop with walnuts; you can also increase the amount of plant-based omega-3s in your diet by eating almonds, olive oil, and flaxseed, too.

    Probiotic: Supplementing the diet with high-quality probiotics will help prevent acne by re-balancing the intestinal system and put those good bacteria back in control. Whenever you are prescribed antibiotics you need to take a probiotic to counter the negative effects on your digestive system.

    Even if you suffer from a serious skin condition such as acne, you will notice a dramatic improvement to your skin if you take a probiotic supplement. This is because acne has been linked in some studies to intestinal health with researchers reporting increased blood levels of toxins absorbed from the gut in acne sufferers.

     

    By Jennifer Laskey