October 2014

Persimmon Power!

Subscribers Only The folklore. Legend has it that persimmons may hold the power to predict the weather of the coming winter. If you split the seeds of this autumn fruit a white marking in one of three shapes is revealed: a knife shape, which supposedly forecasts a cold, “cutting” winter, a fork shape which means a mild season, and a spoon shape that represents lots of snow shoveling. More reliably, the persimmon is known for delivering an intensely sweet flavor, along with an impressive bite of nutrients.

Eating Local with the Seasons

Subscribers Only When you recall memories of eating the most delicious juicy peach or near-perfect ear of corn, summertime comes to mind. And if you think of the perfect plump pumpkin for a pie, fall is in the air—and the most likely time to find this vegetable in the market. If you want delectable, nutritious, fresh produce, the way to eat it is in season.

Open Your Eyes to Yellow Vegetables

Subscribers Only We hear a lot about the health benefits of brightly colored vegetables, such as scarlet red tomatoes and deep green leaves, but paler shades often are overlooked. Yellow vegetables also pack a powerful nutrition punch.

Crunching the Numbers on Veggie Chips

Subscribers Only Crunchy chips made out of nutrient-packed vegetables, such as kale and beets—why didn’t someone think of this sooner? Veggie chips sound too good to be true—and indeed, you need to be careful. While there are plenty of new products made of pure vegetables with a few flavorings mixed in, there are also many “vegetable” chips that are actually potato- or corn-based with just a few vegetables added in.

Catch of the Day: Think Beyond “Fish”

Subscribers Only There is truth in the saying, “There are many fish in the sea.” However, when it comes to consuming seafood, most people look to fish, such as salmon or tuna, and don’t realize the numerous options and benefits offered by other seafood choices, such as mollusks—mussels, clams, and squid—or crustaceans, including crab, shrimp and lobster. Strong and consistent evidence for the health benefits of eating seafood—including non-fish options—has resulted in the USDA Dietary Guidelines and the American Heart Association recommending that we eat seafood at least twice a week.

Palm Oil: EN Spills the Facts

Subscribers Only Palm oil may seem like the latest item to hit the food world, but it’s been around for decades. After World War II, improvements in palm oil technology and transportation brought palm oil to convenience and snack food manufacturing on an industrial scale. Palm oil—made from the fruit of the oil palm tree—has the perfect properties for food production; it’s odorless, tasteless, and solid at room temperature, which provides for consistent texture, mouth-feel and extended shelf-life in products like baked goods, fried foods, and pizzas. Palm oil has gained in popularity, as food manufactures look for a substitute for partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs)—the source of dangerous trans fats, which have been increasingly banned across the globe (the U.S. FDA is considering banning them, too.)

Probiotic Yogurt: Do it Yourself

Subscribers Only A teeming environment of microorganisms known as the gut microbiota lives in your gastrointestinal tract, providing many functions, including digesting food, fighting harmful microorganisms, and supporting immune function. Probiotics are organisms that foster the gut microbiota—but you don’t have to rely only on supplements to get a dose; fermented foods, such as yogurt with live and active cultures, are an excellent dietary source of probiotics.

New Study Reaffirms Benefits of Organics

Subscribers Only The largest study of its kind found that organic foods and crops have more antioxidants and less pesticide residues compared to conventional produce. Overall, the researchers found that organic produce, produced without synthetic pesticides, tend to contain more antioxidants—18 to 69 percent higher concentrations—compared to conventional. These higher levels are because the plants—free of synthetic pesticides—have to mount an antioxidant defense to protect against pest attacks and injury. In addition, conventional crops had much higher levels of pesticide residues, as well as heavy metals. However, it’s important to consider that the benefits of organic agriculture extend far beyond nutrient value. Organic production helps create healthy soils and waterways, crop and species diversity, resource conservation, and healthier farm communities.

Target Risk Factors To Lessen Chronic Disease

Subscribers Only Risk factors that contribute most to chronic disease, such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, include poor diet and physical inactivity; both are associated with obesity, tobacco and alcohol use, uncontrolled high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Half of U.S. adults have at least one chronic condition, while a quarter have two or more.

Feeding Your Bones Means More than Calcium

Subscribers Only When you think about bone nutrition, you probably think of calcium first. And rightly so: A solid body of research suggests that you should meet your daily calcium needs (1,000-1,200 milligrams) for optimal bone health. With 54 million Americans suffering from osteoporosis, it’s important to do all you can to feed your bones to prevent this debilitating condition. The promising news is that a host of other nutrients, such as magnesium and vitamins C and B12, are emerging as potential nutrients for optimal bone health, too.