You are probably well aware that Americans consume entirely too much sugar.
Maybe you’re concerned with your own sugar intake. Maybe you’re taking steps toward limiting your sugar intake, or choosing to use artificial sweeteners to cut back on calories and still fulfill your sweet tooth. Does this sound like you?
The average American consumes an average of 22 or more teaspoons of sugar a day, adding an additional 355 calories to our daily intake. Most of our sugar consumed is in the form of soda and processed foods vs. more naturally-occurring sources like the ones found in milk (lactose) and fruits (fructose). When sugar and artificial sweeteners become a staple in our diets, we lose the ability to detect foods that are naturally sweet (sweet potatoes, fruit and dairy products for example), and instead crave highly sugared foods like baked goods, sweetened beverages and processed foods. Continue reading “Not So Sweet After All?”
All chocolate is not created equal. It all contains some cacao (same as cocoa, by the way), usually the main ingredient, that has taken on “Superfood” status as of late. But variations in quantity and processing may make a significant difference in the health benefit a given cacao-containing food can offer.
A growing body of scientific research supports dark chocolate and cacao for reduced blood pressure, improved blood vessel health, reduced cardiovascular disease risk and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, the bitter fermented seeds of the cacao fruit have extremely high antioxidant potency, scoring higher on the ORAC scale by weight than other common superfoods like acai, pomegranate, grapes and blueberries.
Studies have linked the health benefits to a group of bioactive compounds known as flavanols, part of a larger class of phytonutrients called polyphenols (think Resveratrol). Thus, it stands to reason that in order to maximize the health benefits we get from chocolate or cacao, we must maximize the concentration and integrity of the flavanols.
How can we do that? There are two main factors to consider in choosing the best chocolate for your health. Continue reading “How to Choose the Best Chocolate for Your Health”
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released their Dirty Dozen™ for 2013 on Monday. The list outs the most pesticide-contaminated produce. This year, apples topped the list, followed by celery and cherry tomatoes. Although washing produce thoroughly can help reduce the pesticide residue, I would still recommend choosing organic, especially for top 10 to 20 fruits and vegetables on the list.
A Clean Fifteen™ list was also released. This list, which includes sweet potatoes, avocados and kiwis, contains produce that has the least amount of pesticide residue. So if you can not afford organic, consider eating the foods on the clean list more often.
EWG also offers two great tools for those who may find sticking to this list too expensive or limited, or even time consuming. The first is EWG’s Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce 2013™ , which can be downloaded as a PDF or used as an app for your smart phone.
The second tool is Good Food on a Tight Budget, a site that offers tips on saving money on food, as well as tasty recipes!
Cinnamon has a long history of use as a spice and medicine and is revered for its many health benefits. Recently, cinnamon has received a lot of positive press for its ability to help with blood sugar control. Cinnamon has been shown to lower blood glucose levels in prediabetics and individuals with type 2 diabetes. However, concerns about cinnamon’s safety have also been raised.
Safety concerns stem from the source of the cinnamon and chemical content. Most cinnamon sold in supermarkets is Cassia (Cinnamomum cassia, Cinnamomum aromaticaum, and Cinnamomum burmannii), which are not true cinnamon. Only Ceylon cinnamon, from the Cinnamomum zylanicum plant is considered true cinnamon, “Cinnamomum verum.”
While there are many similarities between Cassia and true cinnamon, Cassia has a higher coumarin content. Coumarins are naturally occurring plant components that have been shown to be hepatotoxic (toxic to the liver). Even small amounts (like that found in sprinkling over oatmeal or drinking cinnamon-based tea) can exceed the tolerable daily intake for children and adults. Therefore, it is recommended that when buying cinnamon to use as a spice, seek out the Ceylon powder/sticks over Cassia to ensure your safety. Continue reading “Which Cinnamon is Safe?”
For the second installment of our series Scary Foods to Make Yourself Eat, we’re venturing into vegetables – debatably an even tougher sell than sardines (read part one about sardines). If you don’t already eat a lot of green vegetables, then you may just want to start by adding dark leafy greens (spinach, romaine, kale, chard, etc.) to your everyday diet. If greens are a staple, then consider incorporating the less common leaf of the dandelion plant.
In the Northeast we primarily know dandelions as those pesky weeds that invade our lawns every spring. Some of us may remember the childhood challenge of blowing all the seed spores off a mature flower with a single breath. But we rarely considered the leaves as an edible green vegetable. Turns out, not only are they edible, they’re quite nutritious. Continue reading “Scary Foods to Make Yourself Eat: Dandelion Greens”