Showing posts with label nutritional properties. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nutritional properties. Show all posts

Friday, August 10, 2012

Respect Your Elder-berries

I have to be honest.   Elderberries, or Sambucus, are not one of the first berries that come to mind when I think “berries.”  But all of that is about to change.  It turns out the health benefits of elderberries are too awesome to be ignored.  According to those in the know at herbwisdom.com, the elderberry:
  • Is a powerful antioxidant
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Improves vision
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Improves heart health
This little berry can be taken and is effective for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections, and tonsillitis.  According to a study done in Norway and published at Pubmed.gov, a random study was done on influenza patients with the following results, "Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo. Elderberry extract seems to offer an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza."

elderberry health benefits
Elderberries - a hidden health fruit!
There are also herbalists that believe the chemicals in the black elderberry have anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antiviral properties.  This is also reflected in the University of Maryland Medical Center article on elderberries.  The benefits of elderberry juice were even used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama in 1995.  Who could argue with health information like that?

Elderberry health benefits can be found in drug stores and grocery stores and even the wine store in items like:
  • Elderberry cough syrup
  • Elderberry extract
  • Elderberry juice
  • Elderberry syrup
  • Elderberry tea
  • Elderberry wine
  • Elderberry jelly
The elderberries nutritional information is impressive.  Sambucus elderberry contains vitamins A, B, C and amino-acids.  Other elderberry benefits include carotenoids and flavonoids which have a huge impact on the immune system.  As a food there is a load of nutrition packed in these tiny little berries.  Like many berries with a deep rich color, such as these, some consider them a “Superfood.”

Although elderberries are a great source for vitamins, if you are taking medication of any kind, be sure to check with your pharmacist especially if you are looking for a flu or cold remedy.  It should not replace your medication without the supervision of your doctor and NEVER mix herbs with your medications or with other
elderberry syrup
Health benefits by the  bunch!

In the Natural

Elderberry plants are not actually plants, but more like a tree.  My sister grows one in her backyard, but they can also be found in the wild.  They typically grow where there is water nearby.

There are some cautions that come with this powerful little berry.  Black elderberry extract is considered safe when used for up to five days, but it’s not known what the effects are of taking elderberry juice extract for long periods of time.

The cooked elderberry fruit is safe for consumption.  But the raw and unripe fruit could cause nausea, vomiting, or severe diarrhea.  Only fully ripe or cooked berries are safe so don't pick it off the tree and eat it!     You should never eat the stems, unripe berries, or any other part of the elderberry plant.  But don’t let fear stop you from enjoying the elderberry syrup benefits or the elderberry juice benefits; it could be just what your body needs.

Gwendolyn Adams
First Level Raw Nutrition Certification
Advanced Practitioner of Health through Nutrition, Exercise, and Education
Yoga, Cycling, Group Exercise and Personal Trainer Certified

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Healthy Eating - Serve It Up

Do you live to eat or eat to live?  Food in our society serves several purposes: taking in proper nutrients, maintaining health, and let's face it, being satisfied! It is also a big part of our social lives - so many a gathering over food!

Sooo many food options - diet or pleasure.  However, whenever I diet, it often leaves me wondering, "Where is the rest of the food?"  Diet is often viewed as what we cannot eat with a focus on how to portion control as a way of cutting down.

Diet definition
Dictionary.com) - food and drink considered in terms of its quality, composition, and effect on health

New Perspective
  • What if we looked at the problem as if we simply don't eat enough (of the right foods)?  
  • What if we were more concerned with healthy eating, less about small serving sizes and letting the scale take care of itself? 
  • What if we rearrange our refrigerators, picnic tables, and holiday feasts so that healthier, more filling foods are within easy reach and more appealing to the eye and palate?

Sounds great, right? But you're probably wondering how much time and effort this will take. Well, it's actually quite easy. 

I Can See Clearly Now


A study published in Environment and Behavior clued me in on healthy eating.  Researchers Gregory J. Privitera and Heather E. Creary found that when a group of college students were given a choice between food placed in bowls closer to them and food in bowls that they had to walk to, they chose food from bowls within arms reach.  Students also chose larger food servings from food placed in clear bowls than food placed in opaque bowls. Being able to see the food makes it more visually appealing and more likely to wind up on our plates than food served in ceramic or opaque plastic dishes.  Check out some more insights at Science Daily.

I even go for the clear view.  At the supermarket I look for fruits, vegetables and proteins packaged in clear containers. What's more disappointing than coming home with those juicy red strawberries only to find that the ones on the bottom are not ripe or worse, overripe and not edible? I like to see what I am getting ahead of time.
portion control portion size
A clear view of healthy foods promotes healthy eating.

Tip:  Put it to work in the refrigerator. Keep healthy foods, fruits and vegetables, in clear bowls or plates and move them to the front of the shelves for easy reach.  Store sugary snacks and high calorie foods to the back and keep them in opaque containers.  This will discourage choosing them at snack time.

Serve It Up The Right Way


Reaching for a crisp, juicy apple and an ounce of fat-free cheese is a tasty and filling snack that gives energy and satisfies for a longer period of time than a cookie or piece of cake. Cutting up a piece of fruit, pairing it with a low-fat protein and serving it on a small dessert plate is a great way to achieve portion control.  The snack will look like more when served on a smaller plate, creating the illusion of more food.  Creating the perception that there is more when there is less will keep us fuller and make us take less. (Portion Tricks)
  • Keep smaller dishes and paper plates available for company and use them at all meals. A good portion plate should be about six inches in diameter, according to the Journal of Consumer Research. Eliminate the "dinner plate" and think of the smaller dishes as healthy portion plates.
  • Put away those large serving spoons and use teaspoons or tablespoons instead. People will take less and save calories. 
  • Even using tall, skinny glasses for beverages tricks us into thinking we are drinking more than if we use short, fat glasses. 
Barbara Rolls, Ph.D., author of Volumetrics (Harper Collins, 2000), discovered that giving healthy foods more volume aids portion control for weight loss and healthier eating.  Adding pureed vegetables, like squash and cauliflower, to soups, sauces or even macaroni and cheese will add volume to these dishes without adding calories. Therefore, we can eat more food but consume fewer calories. We can even go back for seconds. By using healthy eating tips like these, we can confidently say, "Super size it!"  

portion size
Super size vegetables for healthy eating.

Tips on healthy portion control:
  • Eat a small appetizer before a meal
  • Add vegetables to everything, whole or pureed
  • Choose a smaller plate
  • Add protein servings (energy)

 Determining what is a serving size on the go is easy.
  • A correct portion size of meat is about three ounces. (Imagine a deck of cards.) 
  • A serving of nuts and seeds is about the size of a ping-pong ball 
  • A serving of beans is about the size of a billiard ball. (Portion Sizes)
Eating healthy and nutritionally isn't just about what or how much we eat. It's also about the sizes and colors of the dishes and utensils we use as well as perception.  In a world where we often eat on the run or as an after thought and we tend to eat our food very fast, without giving our brains time to notify our bodies that we are full, choosing smaller plates, dishes, and serving utensils can help us control our portions, our health, and our weight.

Caroline
Contributing Writer

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Blue Plate Special: Food Serving Size

"Your eyes are bigger than your stomach!" 

How many of us heard those words from our grandparents as we heaped more of our favorite foods, mashed potatoes, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, onto our plates at family dinners? Yet somehow I always found myself squinting when it came time to serve the broccoli or green beans! 

color plate test
Are the black circles the same
size or is one larger than the other?
Delboeuf Illusion
Washiucho/Wikimedia Commons
What I thought was just healthy eating now appears to be a little more involved.  Several factors probably influenced what and how much we ate back then and today.  Brian Wansink, a Cornell eating behavior expert, suggests that plate color influences serving size.  Based on the Delboeuf illusion, an optical illusion that demonstrates two circles of the same size placed inside two other circles where one is larger than the other, the two circles of equal size will appear to be different sizes. Wansink shows that the greater the contrast between the color of food and the plates, the smaller the portion size - regardless of plate size.  No contrast or low contrast produces larger portion size.  This occurs because the plate where there is higher contrast appears smaller in size than the plate with lower contrast.

In his color plate test, published in 2011 in Journal of Consumer Research, a group of diners was randomly given either a white plate or a red plate and were served pasta with either white sauce or red sauce.  People using plates matching the color of their food, pasta with white sauce on a white plate, served larger portions, as much as 22% more.  Those using dishes that contrasted their food, pasta with white sauce on a red plate, served smaller portions. Further consumer research concludes that lowering the contrast between the plates and the background, place mat or tablecloth, reduces serving size up to 10% more. (Cornell Research )

So, how can we use this research to control our portion size? Well, whether you're trying to take off a few extra pounds or trying to eat healthier, using plate color can help control our serving size. Try these tips when serving up your next meal.

portion size plate color
Blue Plate Special
Blue Causes You to Eat Less
1. Choose dishes that contrast your food choice. For example, pasta with red sauce on a white plate is a high contrast. If you are unable to change the dish color, minimize the illusion by using a place mat or tablecloth that lowers the contrast between the background and the plate color . This will create the illusion that the plate is smaller and could lead to smaller portion size.

2. Serve food on plates or in containers that are a color you dislike. This could make you eat less as the background color is unappetizing to you.

3. Eating dessert on a blue plate is a great idea for dieters. Blue is considered unappetizing to most adults. Since there are very few blue foods that occur naturally, blue could act as an appetite suppressant. (Color & Appetite)

4. Serve green salads on a green plate to encourage you to take more. The lower the contrast, the greater the portion.  Use matching food colors and plates for healthier, lower calorie foods.

Various factors determine what and how much we eat. Some factors such as altering our behavior may prove more difficult to tackle than others. However, we can alter our environment by using simple tips from above. Whether by using a smaller plate or creating the illusion of a smaller plate, we can reduce our portion sizes to eat and live healthier.

Caroline

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Watermelon Recipe Contest Winner Is!

Thank you to everyone who posted a recipe and for those of you who voted!

We now have a winner for the Watermelon Recipe Contest - Gwendolyn's "Watermelon Green Smoothie"!  The Watermelon Summer Cocktail was a close second, but the healthy green smoothie won 51% of the votes!  Congratulations Gwendolyn!

healthy recipe Familywize
Winning healthy green smoothie made with watermelon.
Here is the winning watermelon recipe:

Watermelon Green Smoothie:

Fill blender 3/4 full with seedless Watermelon (you can include the seeds if you have a powerful blender like a Vita-mix).
Fill the blender the rest of the way with greens (spinach, romaine, or green leaf work great!).
Add a 1/4 slice of Avocado,(this gives the smoothie a nice texture and adds nutrients at the same time:)

Blend till liquefied, and ENJOY! A life giving, energy enhancing, fabulous tasting Green Smoothie.

If you have not checked out the green smoothie recipe or our other watermelon recipes, be sure to read our "Fruit-tastic Watermelon News for Your Summer Health" blog.  There are nine delicious recipes for children and adults!  This sweet, cool tasty fruit is an easy way to incorporate the nutritional properties of watermelon into every-day meals or drinks!

A little about our winning smoothie recipe.  Green smoothies are a growing trend!  You can find them in most grocery and health food stores today!  But... I am here to tell you - you can easily make your own and save money if you have a blender.  There are many healthy green smoothie recipes online, but why not start with our contest winning "Watermelon Green Smoothie" - just scroll down to the comments to see this recipe. With this healthy recipe you can combine the watermelon's nutritional benefits and the health benefits of green smoothies to make a refreshing drink any time of the day!

Be sure to come back for more fun ways to improve your health!  Our goal at FamilyWize.org is to provide you with information you need about health, health care, medicine, money savings, and overall how to live a healthy, happy life!  

Here's to a healthy green smoothie drink that will cool you off this summer - courtesy of Gwendolyn and FamilyWize!

Donna Cornelius
Online Marketing Manager

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nutrition in a Nut-Shell

"Nuts" - it is a loaded word.  It could be referring to a state of mind or a behavior or action, but today I am going to look at nuts in its simplest form - a bountiful food full of nutrition and health benefits.  

It is no coincidence that nuts are either a morning or afternoon snack for me. In fact, as I am writing, I just grabbed a handful out of the jar that sits on my desk.  These are raw almonds, but I enjoy just about every flavor of nut from walnuts to the sweet pecan to cashews, macadamia, peanuts, and more.  Why?  Because the nutritional value in tree nuts and peanuts is tremendous.  They are a perfect, bite-sized power snack.  You may call me a raw health "nut", but I'm okay with that.

health nut nutritional facts
One handful a day is all you need!
Did you know that nuts are considered a fruit or drupe?  And in the case of the peanut - a legume?  Whatever you call them - they are full of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and unsaturated fats. 

Nuts sometimes get a bad wrap due to the high caloric content of this small delicacy, but in fact they are one of the healthiest foods you can eat.  From heart health to Type 2 diabetes to obesity and cancer prevention, the nutritional value of nuts is great.  We may not be able to control health care, diseases, water, and the environment, but we can take the information on nutrition found in nuts and take small steps to learning how these tasty essential nutrients may have a profound impact on our health.

Just a few nutty studies include:
  • Human Research Center on Aging study as posted on the United States Department of Agriculture website, concluded that antioxidants found in nuts due to their high polyphenol benefits have positive effects against chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and diabetes.  
  • The Hershey Center for Health & Nutrition also touts the antioxidant and phytonutrient benefits of resveratrol, phytosertols and beta-sitosterol found in peanuts and tree nuts.
  • In 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a statement that 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts may reduce the risk of heart disease.  
  • The University of Nebraska published an article "NUTS for Nutrition" which references studies by the International Journal of Obesity for weight control, and a Harvard School of Public Health study for helping with Type 2 diabetes.  
The nutritional facts about walnuts, almonds, peanuts and the many other tree nuts include a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids for fighting inflammation, iron and zinc which delivers oxygen to your cells and can prevent anemia, heart healthy monounsaturated fat (macadamias have the highest MUFA), which help with cholesterol and heart health, while selenium and the antioxidant gamma-tocopherol have certain cancer fighting properties (Journal of Medicinal Food and University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center).  

Wondering what are the tree nuts?  The FDA list of tree nuts includes:
Almond, beech nut, Brazil nut, butternut, cashew, chestnut, Chinquapin, coconut, gingkgo nut, hazelnut (filbert), hickory nut, macadamia nut, pecan, Pili nut, pine nut, pistachio, shea nut, and the oh so beneficial walnut.

Incorporating nuts into your diet as a snack may give your body some of the advanced essential nutrients you might otherwise be missing.  Try it - you might just like it!

No matter how you crack it - tell us which nut is your favorite and how you like to eat it.

Donna Cornelius
Online Marketing Manager

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fruit-tastic - Watermelon News for Your Summer Health

BE SURE TO READ TO THE BOTTOM - THERE'S A CONTEST INVOLVED!

Summer is probably my most favorite time of year!  Not only because it is hot and sunny, but oh - the food!  Creativity on the barbecue is key!  I grab fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans from the garden; visit the local farms and pick fresh fruit.

This turns in to fresh strawberries over homemade short cake, grilled zucchini and peaches on the grill.   Soooo many choices of healthy, juicy, luscious foods to add into my diet that makes me feel good and improves my health.

I agree with Krysta's blog on Monday about watermelon becoming a food group (nutrition.gov) in the summer.  It has to be my favorite - I can eat a half of one every day!  I eat it, juice it, add it to other recipes - the options are endless.  But this fruit isn't just a good tasting treat on a hot day.  The nutritional properties of watermelon can improve your health.  For beginners, a one cup serving size of watermelon has:
  • Only 46 Calories; 0 grams Fat and Cholesterol; 11 grams Carbohydrates; 1 gram Dietary Fiber; 1   gram Protein; 2 mg Sodium; 865 IU Vitamin A; Less 1 mg of Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Thiamin and Vitamin B6; 12 mg Vitamin C; 11 mg Calcium; 170 mg Potassium; 7,481 micrograms Carotenoids
So how does this amazing fruit improve health?

Because it is loaded with vitamins, minerals, amino acids (proteins) such as L-Citruline, which creates L-arginine, and Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. (You may be saying "HUH?" on the last few - but read below and I will share.)

Watermelon is full of nutritional benefits.

Like what you ask?  It is good for:
  • Arthritis, kidney and bladder issues - because it is 92% water it is a natural diuretic thus reducing inflammation. This is also great for pregnant women and water retention.
  • Cholesterol - A University of Kentucky (Oct. 2011) study showed that watermelon in mice reduced fat mass and cholesterol.  Watermelon also provides good HDL cholesterol. 
  • Asthma and overall healing - the antioxidants, Vitamin C, A, and Carotenoids by combating free radicals.
  • Blood pressure, prehypertension, and atherosclerosis - According to the American Journal of Hypertension, Dr. Arturo Figueroa, lead food scientist, from Florida State University conducted a study which indicated that eating watermelon can help reduce these risks aiding in the prevention of heart attacks and strokes.
  • Cancer (prostate cancer) - the pink middle (in most watermelons) or meat of the melon is high in lycopene and carotenoids reduces the risk of cancer especially prostate cancer.
  • It is even good for skin care - just rub it on your face and leave the juice on for 10 minutes before washing to help control blemishes.
Watermelon minerals vitamins
Watermelon a great summer snack and Lycopene rich food.
The list of health benefits goes on.  The bottom line is - watermelon isn't just my favorite sweet, refreshing, fiber filled treat.  It is a really HEALTHY treat!  And there about 100 varieties to choose from.

CONTEST STARTS HERE!
There are hundreds of recipes on the Web, but please share with me some of your favorite recipes using watermelon!!  Then we will have everyone vote on the recipes. (Voting link forthcoming.)  The recipe with the most votes will be posted on the FamilyWize Facebook page and will receive a $25 Gift Card from Barnes & Noble!

Contest begins today and ends June 30th!  We will share the winner in time for your July 4th picnic!

Be sure to subscribe to our blog.  We will be sharing great topics as we grow our blog!

Donna
Online Marketing Manager

*Please note:  even though watermelon is a great source of nutrients, it is not a replacement for your prescription medications, so do not give those up.