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

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    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

    Cherries & Gout: 50% Reduction in Risk

    According to PubMed Health, Gout is a kind of arthritis that occurs when uric acid builds up in blood and causes joint inflammation.

    • Acute gout is a painful condition that typically affects one joint.

    • Chronic gout is repeated episodes of pain and inflammation, which may involve more than one joint.

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Gout is caused by having higher-than-normal levels of uric acid in your body. This may occur if:

    • Your body makes too much uric acid

    • Your body has a hard time getting rid of uric acid

    In a study of over 600 people with gout, those who ate a ½-cup serving of cherries a day, the equivalent of about 10 or 12 cherries, or consumed cherry extract, had a 35 percent lower risk of a subsequent gout attack.  Those who ate more cherries, up to three servings in two days, had an even lower, 50 percent reduction in risk.

    • Cherries contain powerful compounds like anthocyanins and bioflavonoids, which are known to fight inflammation and may help lower your uric acid levels; gout occurs when the metabolic processes that control the amount of uric acid in your blood fail to do their job effectively. The stiffness and swelling are a result of excess uric-acid-forming crystals in your joints.
    • If you have gout, it’s very important to restrict your fructose intake to below 25 grams a day, including from fruit, as fructose drives up uric acid levels in your body.

    Gout occurs when the metabolic processes that control the amount of uric acid in your blood fail to do their job effectively. The stiffness and swelling are a result of excess uric-acid-forming crystals in your joints, and the pain associated with this condition disease is caused by your body’s inflammatory response to the crystals.

    Past studies have found:

    • Eating two servings of cherries after an overnight fast lead to a 15 percent reduction in uric acid, and lower nitric oxide and C-reactive protein levels (which are associated with inflammatory diseases like gout.)2 The researchers noted the study supports “the reputed anti-gout efficacy of cherries” as well as “evidence that compounds in cherries may inhibit inflammatory pathways.”
    • Consuming tart cherry juice daily for four weeks may lower your levels of uric acid3

    Be careful not to overdo it on cherries. I know from personal experience because they are my favorite fruit and I could easily eat a pound of them in one sitting.

     

    For more on Gout visit the following resources:

    1. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/art.34677/abstract
    2.  J Nutr. 2003 Jun;133(6):1826-9.
    3. http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/meeting_abstract/25/1_MeetingAbstracts/339.2?sid=0abdf691-fd4f-4c51-8307-8f43730e5350
    4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001459/
    5. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-checkup/post/got-gout-cherries-might-help/2012/09/27/7f0440ea-08ec-11e2-9eea-333857f6a7bd_blog.html

    Three Benefits of Olive Oil

    Olive oil improves cardiovascular health

    The 2003 issue of the Journal of the National Medical Association published a study involving over 3,000 men and women showing that a diet rich in olive oil, fish, fruits, and vegetables decreased the risk of heart disease and inflammation. When cross-matched for body mass index, exercise levels, age, gender, and education levels, only a healthy diet made the difference between illness and wellness.

    The Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology published a study in 2009 stating that there was clear evidence that olive oil consumption, as a part of a Mediterranean diet, is associated with a lowered risk for cardiovascular disease.

    The World Journal of Gastroenterology concurred in a clinical study also published in 2009. Scientists stated that not only do olive oil and the Mediterranean diet in general lower the risk of heart disease; olive oil also decreases triglycerides in the liver, improves insulin levels, and regulates blood sugar levels.

    Olive oil supports liver health

    In 2007, Oxford University noted that the global obesity epidemic was due in part to the increased consumption of fast foods, soft drinks, saturated fatty acids, trans fats, and foods containing high fructose corn syrup. These foods elevate serum lipid levels of fat cells in the bloodstream. The extra fat creates inflammation in the body, which leads to organ dysfunction. Eventually, diseases such as fatty liver, cirrhosis, hepatitis, and liver cancer can occur.

    Olive oil reduces the cytokines in the liver which lead to inflammation and the development of tumors. It does this by removing undesirable fat from the liver. Doing so cleans out the serum lipid levels in the bloodstream, which lowers cholesterol levels in overweight individuals.

    Olive oil reduces blood pressure

    The reason olive oil reduces blood pressure is because of its high oleic acid content of roughly 70-80 percent. Scientists at the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America suggest that consuming olive oil increases the oleic acid levels in cell membranes, which control protein signaling, thus reducing blood pressure. The scientists also noted that oleic acid analogues, such as soybean oil, have no effect on blood pressure, which means that the type of oil needed to reduce blood pressure is very specific.

    For more in depth reading see articles below:

    Sources:

    Guardian. co.uk, “Olive oil food fraud: pressing truths,” by Oliver Thring
    http://www.guardian.co.uk

    Daily Mail.co.uk, “Fraud and intimidation: The unpalatable truth about your supposedly extra virgin olive oil,” by Felicity Cloake
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk

    Pubmed.gov, Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology. 2009 Dec; 54(6):477-82. “Olive oil and cardiovascular health.” Covas MI and Konstantinidou V, et al. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19858733

    Pubmed.gov, World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2009 April 21; 15(15): 1809-1815. “Olive oil consumption and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.” Nimer Assy and Faris Nassar, et al.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

    Pubmed.gov, “Hepato-pancreato-biliary fat: the good, the bad and the ugly,” by Henry A. Pitt
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

    Pubmed.gov, . 2008 September 16; 105(37): 13811-13816. “Oleic acid content is responsible for the reduction in blood pressure induced by olive oil.” S. Teres and G. Barcelo-Coblijn, et al.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

    Pubmed.gov, . 2003 December; 95(12): 1139-1140. “Diets Rich in Olive Oil, Fish, Fruit, and Vegetables Are Key to Good Health,” by George Dawson
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2594826/?page=2