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Blog posts tagged with 'fruits'

The Missing Part to a Balanced Diet

Fruits and VegetablesAre You Eating Enough Fruits and Veggies?

As adults, it’s time to take responsibility – and realize that our parents may have been onto something when they said to finish our greens. Unfortunately, too many have us haven’t taken that advice to heart. Recent studies have shown that only 1 in 10 Americans meet the federal fruit and vegetable recommendations. You usually need 1½ to 2 cups per day for fruit and 2 to 3 cups for vegetables. Yet only 9% of adults eat enough vegetables, and 12% even get enough fruit. If you’re one of those adults skipping past the salad bar, it’s time to take action.

The Missing Part to a Balanced Diet

There’s a reason you should care about fruits and vegetables. Many important vitamins and minerals are in these food types more than others. Potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A and folate are just some of the more common nutrients that you can mainly get from plant-based food, and are beneficial to the body. For example, potassium can help maintain blood pressure. Folate builds up the red blood cells while helps stave off birth defects in pregnant women. Vitamin A promotes healthier eyes and skin, vitamin E protects from free-radicals, and vitamin C supports healthier gums and helps the body absorb iron. 

One other vital nutrient is fiber, and you get plenty of that from fruits and vegetables. Fiber is perfect for weight management, as it helps you feel full faster, while also lowering your blood cholesterol. It is also important for a healthy digestive system for regular bowel movements. Fruits and vegetables are also quite low in fat, sodium and calories, another great use for weight management.

But perhaps one of the most important aspects of this food group is their richness in phytonutrients – which are certain extracts that are only available in fruits and vegetables. 

Getting Your Share of PhytonutrientsFruits and Vegetables

Phytonutrients are known as the protective effects on fruits and vegetables, and many have shown their worth in helping ward off health complications in our own bodies. These phytonutrients are what gives fruits and vegetables their taste, scent and color. As many work like antioxidants, fruits and vegetables can very well protect your body from free-radicals and keep your cells healthy. Some examples of phytonutrients are:

Carotenoids: Present in carrots, broccoli and spinach, carotenoids are antioxidants that give these foods their bright colors. This phytonutrient is a boon to the immune system, while also showing positive impact for good eye health. 

Capsaicin: Peppers are rich in this nutrient and have shown benefits in reducing clotting for better heart health.

Curcumin: A phytonutrient that is rich in the turmeric spice. It is an anti-inflammatory agent, as well as antioxidant, that is commonly used in joint health.



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The ABCs of Health: How Well Do You Know Your Vitamins?

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The ABCs of Health: How Well Do You Know Your Vitamins?Essential vitamins and minerals are vital to everyday health. Interestingly, the uses of many essential vitamins were discovered only when people observed the effects that their deficiencies caused. The more we understand about our health the more we realize our minds and bodies need proper daily support to function properly. How much do you know about the essential vitamins and minerals you need each day?

ACE Nutrition

Vitamin A (as known as retinol or beta-carotene) is said to help build good vision and promote bone development. It has antioxidant properties to support immune and cellular health. Vitamin C, also an antioxidant, is a water-soluble vitamin that is important for building connective tissues (such as joint cartilage and collagen), bones, and teeth. It assists in metabolizing other vitamins and is vital to proper immune system function. Vitamin E helps maintain healthy cells and may help promote cognitive function. Like vitamins A and C, it also functions as an antioxidant. Studies have shown that combinations of vitamin A, C, and E help protect the macula, the region of the eye that is integral for detailed vision. All three nutrients can be found in many different foods, so you aren't limited for choice:

  • Vitamin A – Sweet potatoes, beef liver, fruits and eggs.
  • Vitamin C – Citrus fruits, peppers, and greens like broccoli.
  • Vitamin E – Whole grains, nuts, and spinach.

Being Healthy Doesn't Need to "B" Complex

The B-complex vitamins are mostly concerned with energy production in your body. Vitamin B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), and B6 all help metabolize or produce energy. Vitamin B1 helps metabolize carbohydrates, while B3 releases energy from carbohydrates and fats. Vitamin B2 assists in energy production and red blood cell formation, while B6 supports nervous system function. Red blood cells are vital in transporting fresh oxygen to every part of your body and taking carbon dioxide back to the lungs. Another important B vitamin is B9 (folic acid). Folic acid is known to support a healthy brain and heart, and it also synthesizes proteins and DNA. Folic acid can be found in green, leafy vegetables and whole grains. A study done at the Department of Neurology, Oregon Health & Science University, on B vitamins as biomarkers showed favorable results for supporting cognitive health and brain function with folic acid.

D + Calcium = Healthy Bones

Vitamin D and calcium are two of the most important vitamins and minerals for the integrity of your bones and teeth. Even though vitamin D is quite well known, recent reports say many people still aren't getting enough. Research shows that, worldwide, an estimated 1 billion people have inadequate levels of vitamin D in their blood, and deficiencies can be found in all ethnicities and age groups. Vital to healthy bones and immune function, vitamin D can be produced in skin cells whenever you're exposed to UV rays from sunlight. Despite this fact, people may still not be getting enough sun exposure due to location and skin being concealed by clothing. Vitamin D also aids the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. Together, all three nutrients keep your internal structure strong and healthy.

"Zinc" Hard About Other Nutrients

Once you've checked off all the letter-vitamins on your nutrition list, don't forget to include minerals in your diet, too. Trace minerals such as iron and selenium are all important to your daily health, albeit in small doses. Iron is necessary to produce the hemoglobin found in red blood cells. Recent studies have also highlighted the importance of iron in brain development, showing it is needed for the mind as well. Selenium is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from free radical damage. Zinc is an essential mineral to many different bodily processes. Most notably it supports immune function. A recent study looked at the role that both vitamin C and zinc play in boosting immune health. Results showed that supplementation with a combination of zinc and vitamin C "was found to improve components of the human immune system such as antimicrobial and natural killer cell activities."

Multitask Your Nutrition with a Multivitamin

Keeping track of all the amounts and types of vitamins you need to take each day can be exhausting, but it's worth the effort because of all the ways they can positively influence your health. Luckily there are multivitamin supplements out there that can help you reach the recommended daily value of all these essentials. Multivitamins are often called a daily insurance policy on nutrition. By understanding the basics and where to get them, you can stay one step ahead in fortifying good, daily nutrition for healthy living.


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Can You Guess Which Ordinary Fruit Is as Nutritious as the Trending ‘Superfruits’?

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Can You Guess Which Ordinary Fruit Is as Nutritious as the Trending ‘Superfruits’?Fruits have long been touted as a necessary staple of our daily diet and nutrition needs. But according to experts, we aren’t getting enough. The USDA recommended serving of fruit—depending on your age—is at least 2 cups a day. The benefits of natural fruits are nothing short of wondrous, but every month there seems to be a new “superfruit” trend being hailed as the best fruit around. Often forgotten is one of the go-to staples that we have relied upon for years: the apple. While it may not be as glamorous or exotic-sounding as the acai berry, pomegranate, papaya, or kumquat (all of which are nutritious in their own right) an apple contains just as many vitamins and nutrients to give you the boost you need from your daily fruit intake.

Plentiful Benefits from a Familiar Fruit

A simple apple has many nutritional benefits. As a handy and relatively inexpensive snack a medium apple contains around only 80 calories and is fat free, sodium free, and cholesterol free. It can also support a healthy immune system because of its vitamin C content. A single apple holds enough nutritional value to cover half of your daily recommended intake of fruit!

Nutrition is Skin Deep

Many of the nutritional benefits of an apple can be derived from its skin. The skin of an apple can contain up to 3.3 grams of fiber. This type of dietary fiber can help support healthy cholesterol levels, aid digestion, and keep you feeling fuller for longer. Apple skins also contain a high amount of the antioxidant, quercetin, which can help protect against free radical damage. Quercetin is a phytochemical possessing anti-inflammatory qualities that can be beneficial to your heart. Apples can be seamlessly integrated into your daily diet because they make for such a convenient and inexpensive snack that can last longer than most fruits. An apple kept in a bag in your refrigerator can stay fresh up to three weeks.

Covering the Crucial Areas of Your Daily Nutrition

The USDA guidelines for fruits and other food groups exist to help steer you towards making healthier food choices. Apples can be a tasty, nutritious way of complementing your daily intake of nutrients that your body needs for top performance and overall health maintenance. But if you’re on a diet that restricts the type of food you can eat, you don’t like a particular food group, or you simply don’t have time to eat healthy meals all of the time, you may not be getting all the nutrition you need. Supplementing your diet with the proper antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals is a perfect way to fill in the nutritional gaps regardless of your eating habits. Balance is always important and making sure you get sufficient levels of essential daily nutrients can be vital to supporting a healthier way of life.


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The Role Diet Plays in Heart Health

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The Role Diet Plays in Heart HealthIf you’re currently taking medications for cardiovascular health and think that’s all you need to do to turn your health around, a new study reports that a healthier diet may also help prevent further heart health incidents. While it’s important to follow the advice of your physician and continue taking your heart health medications as directed, the study shows that it’s also important to revamp the current lifestyle that got you into the predicament in the first place. A healthier diet plays a big role in that change.

Heart-Friendly Diet Reduces Cardiovascular Risk

The study, published in the journal, Circulation, followed 32,000 people from 40 countries over the course of five years. The participants had an average age of 66.5 years old and all of them were currently enrolled in other clinical trials because of prior history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Eating habits were tracked with a food frequency questionnaire consisting of 20 food items. Over the course of the study, about 5,000 cardiovascular events occurred. However, it was found that participants who stuck to a heart-healthy diet had a lower risk of succumbing to cardiovascular events.

Eat More Fruit, Vegetables, Grains, and Nuts

Based on research results, people who consumed more fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts, and fish fared better in reducing their cardiovascular risks than those who relied on medications alone. American participants who adhered to current U.S. daily guidelines of four servings of fruit; five servings of vegetables; one serving of nuts or soy protein; and three or more servings of whole grains were among those at lower risk. The source of protein seemed to matter, too, as fish was more preferable to meat, poultry, or eggs. Older adults stuck to these guidelines more closely as they appeared to be more concerned with their health after the occurrence of previous cardio health events.

Make Your Lifestyle Work for You

Whether you have poor heart health or not, it’s always a good idea to adopt healthier habits, including eating a better diet, exercising regularly, and managing a healthy weight. If you haven’t already done so, switch up your diet to include more balanced servings of nutritious foods so that you’ll have one less thing to worry about.

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Manage Your Sugar Levels by Being Picky About Your Fiber

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Manage Your Sugar Levels by Being Picky About Your FiberIt’s always great to get more fiber in your diet. However, it also pays to be picky about where you’re getting your fiber from because not all high-fiber foods are great at blocking sudden increases in your blood sugar levels. When you obtain your fiber from grains, for example, the starch in the grain converts into additional sugar, so it overpowers any sugar-blocking effects the fiber might have.

Fruits and vegetables contain more soluble fiber than sugar per serving, so they won’t raise your blood sugar levels as much when you get your fiber from these sources. True, these foods contain some amounts of sugar that make them naturally sweet. But unlike processed grains they lack starch that can change into additional sugar.

Choose Foods with Low Glycemic Loads

A simple way to determine which high-fiber foods are best for managing blood sugar is by checking their glycemic load. The glycemic load is an indicator of how much a certain food will raise blood sugar levels after consumption. Foods with glycemic loads greater than 100 increase your risk of health challenges due to high blood sugar levels. The best sugar blockers are fruits and veggies with glycemic load values less than 50. It’s also important to consider the order which you consume your fiber with meals in order for them to have any useful effect. There’s a good reason why salad is served before the main course: the soluble fiber in leafy greens helps counteract any sugar-raising starches that may be present in any carbohydrates in your meal. In general, vegetables are better sugar blockers than fruit because they contain more soluble fiber and have lower glycemic loads. You should try eating vegetables raw or cook them as little as possible to preserve their fiber content. However, both are much healthier alternatives to starch-rich grains.

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