Live a “berry” colorful life

Is your plate colorful at meal time?
The majority of foods in a typical American diet are bland and pale in color such as pasta, white breads, cheese and white rice.
Science has shown that colorful foods are healthier because they contain antioxidant pigments. For example, the orange pigment in carrots and sweet potatoes is due to the beta carotene, the red in tomatoes is from lycopene and the blue in blueberries is from anthocyanin. Antioxidants have been proven to protect against cancer, to boost the immune system as well as prevent cardiovascular disease. Berries are the second only to herbs and spices as having the most antioxidant concentration. They pack an average of nearly ten times more antioxidant content than other fruits and vegetables. According to a study comparing antioxidant levels of 100 different berries, blackberries have the most, followed by blueberries, raspberries, cranberries and strawberries. Other berries to consider are tart cherries or goji berries. Cherries have shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and natural levels of melatonin. In order to enjoy berries year around, it is reassuring to know that frozen berries retain most of their nutritious qualities.
What about the sugar content of fruit? Consuming sugar (fructose) in natural fruit form is different than the added sugars in processed foods. Eating berries can actually blunt the insulin spike that occurs after eating high glycemic foods. The fiber content apparently slows the digestion of the sugars and the phytonutrients appear to block absorption through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream.
When shopping, antioxidant supplements are not a good substitute. The body digests and absorbs nutrients and fiber from fruits and vegetables more effectively in their natural state. Therefore, start reaching for a variety of colors in the produce section. Consider red rather than green grapes, red onions instead of white, or purple cabbage rather than green. Look for the brightest deepest colored berries and try to consume a ½ cup of them daily for health benefits.
Carol Penfield MS, NPc is a nurse practitioner and certified personal trainer who specializes in Lifestyle Medicine at Emerald Physicians in Yarmouth. She offers private consultations as well as shared medical appointments for weight loss, which are covered by insurance.

 

 

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Say “CHEESE”!

Cheese is one of the most frequently eaten foods in America, the home of obesity and overweight. For health reasons, many individuals are decreasing their meat intake but when it comes to cheese, “no way”! What makes cheese so difficult to eat in moderation or to avoid? It provides the combination of fat which helps you feel satisfied and salt which tantalizes your taste buds. It also contains compounds called casomorphins which are derived from the protein found in milk called casein. Casomorphins attach to the opiate receptors in the brain and trigger the brain to release dopamine, which leads to feelings of reward and pleasure. It is no surprise that cheese consumption has sky rocketed. In 1909 the average American ate less than 4 pounds of cheese per year. Today, an American eats more than 33 pounds annually. It has become a multi-million dollar industry to promote tasty and cheesy high fat foods to the public.
The rising amount of cheese consumed in the United States is directly associated with the obesity epidemic and leading cause of death, heart disease. Cheese is very calorie dense and the majority of calories come from fat. Most of the fat is saturated fat which leads to insulin resistance and elevated cholesterol levels. The typical sodium content per ounce ranges from 175 mg (cheddar) to 450 mg (parmesan) for those concerned about their blood pressure. So why do we eat it? If you are eating cheese for the protein or calcium content, choose healthier choices such as nuts.
Interested in alternatives to cheese?
• Try sprinkling roasted sunflower seeds or chick peas on your salad
• Mix nutritional yeast into your pasta sauces or meat-less meatball recipes
• Find a recipe for cashew cheese or try vegan cheese
• Squeeze fresh lemon on your cooked vegetables for flavor
• Take cheese out of your sandwich and add avocado, roasted red peppers or hummus
It is still important to watch the calorie content when choosing your foods. Good luck!
Carol Penfield MS, NPc is a nurse practitioner and certified personal trainer who specializes in Lifestyle Medicine at Emerald Physicians in Yarmouth. She offers private appointments as well as shared medical appointments for weight loss, which are covered by insurance.