Monthly Archives: January 2015

5 Amazing Health Benefits of Avocados

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If your New Year’s resolutions have anything to do with eating better, you may want to start by loading your shopping cart with avocados. These super fruits are not only delicious, but they are also packed with nutritional and health benefits — to your heart, eyes and much more — that may surprise you.

1: Heart Health
Avocados contain the plant chemical beta-sitosterol which helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels. They are packed with monounsaturated fat and according to the American Heart Association, when monounsaturated fats are eaten in moderation in place of saturated and trans fat, this can help reduce the bad (LDL) cholesterol.

2: Healthy Eyes
The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin are also found in these fruit. Both have been shown to keep the eyes healthy as we age and may help reduce the risk of macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss as we get older.

3: Growth and Development
Avocados contain 3.5 grams of unsaturated fat per 1 ounce serving (about 1/5th an avocado). Studies have shown that unsaturated fat is important for proper growth and development of the central nervous system and the brain of youngsters.

4: Blood Pressure
Avocados are free of sodium and are recommended while on the DASH Diet – which is the prescribed diet to help lower blood pressure. They also have a nice amount of potassium, which may also help lower blood pressure. Studies have found that when avocados are eaten in place of other fats (like butter and mayo), they can help control blood pressure.

5: Weight Loss
These babies are brimming with healthy fat, which takes the body longer to digest and help keep you full and satisfied (so you’re less likely to snack!). Further, avocados are nutrient-packed with over 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients which is especially beneficial if you’re trying to cut calories and keep up with all the nutrition your body needs.

Avocado Recipes To Try:

Crunchy Avocado Salad
Soy Glazed Salmon with Cucumber-Avocado Salad
Avocado BLTs
Snow Pea and Avocado Slaw
Roasted Carrots with Avocado
Steak with Avocado Sauce and Tomato Salad
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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Juicing: Myths vs. Facts

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The juicing craze is still going strong, but many folks are still doing it for all of the wrong reasons. If you love juicing, make sure you’ve got the facts.

Myth: Juicing helps you lose weight
Fact: Although fruits and vegetables are relatively low in calories and have plenty of vitamins and antioxidants, too much of anything can pack on the pounds. Each ½ cup of fruit has about 60 calories. Juicing 4 to 5 cups of fruit comes out to 480 to 600 calories in one serving. If you’re trying to lose weight while juicing, portions still matter. Furthermore, diets that advocate juicing alone aren’t balanced (where’s the protein?) and are often dangerously low in calories overall.

Myth: Juicing is a way to cleanse your body
Fact: Your liver and kidneys were created to detoxify and naturally cleanse your body. Juicing or taking special concoctions won’t do a better job and there is no scientific evidence proving otherwise.

Myth: Juicing provides more vitamins
Fact: Fruit and vegetables contain loads of vitamin C and some B-vitamins which are easily destroyed by slicing, cooking and juicing. (In order to get the most vitamins from your juice, prepare right before drinking.) Also, the nutrient-rich skin of the fruit or vegetable is often peeled before juicing and the fiber-rich pulp is left behind.

Myth: Expensive juicing machines are best
Fact: There’s no need to invest in an expensive juicer. Many fruits can be juiced right in the blender. I recommend starting with your blender and if juicing is something you really love (and continue doing regularly), then shop around and invest in reasonably priced juicer.

Myth: Juicing is better than eating the whole fruit or vegetable
Fact: There’s nothing better than munching on the whole fruit or vegetable. Advocates of juicing say it provides much needed rest to the digestive tract, especially from fiber. However, most folks don’t come close to taking in the recommended 25 to 40 grams of fiber per day.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition.

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Everything You Need to Know About The Benefits of Tea

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Tea is well-established as a healthy drink for many reasons – it’s low in calories and filled with antioxidants, just to name a couple. But are you in tune with the vast array of options and flavors? Get better acquainted with this ancient brewed beverage.

Health Benefits

One cup of unsweetened brewed tea has less than 5 calories but plenty of flavonoids – plant compounds that help protect cells from damage. This protection may benefit heart health, reduce the risk of certain types of cancer and even (slightly) increase metabolism. One particular compound found in tea is known as EGCG. This potent antioxidant has been linked to various health benefits, including weight loss and anti-inflammation.

Flavor profiles of tea vary dramatically, and ultimately it comes down to personal preference. Ever wonder if it’s best to put milk or cream in your tea? According to many tea connoisseurs, whole milk complements it best. But there’s a small amount of research that suggests adding milk to tea blunts some of the antioxidant content.

Traditional Leaf Tea

These teas stem from the Camellia sinensis plant. Leaves are processed in a variety of fashions; these different methods will affect the flavor and color of the tea once steeped in water.

Black

These tea leaves are fermented, then heated and dried. They tend to be highest in caffeine and have a bold, rich flavor. Many studies link black tea to health benefits including a reduction in cholesterol. Research continues to find favorable outcomes. (A study published in October 2014) found that moderate black tea consumption could reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by as much as 31 percent.

White

This is typically the least processed tea, because the leaves are picked when the plant is still young. The flavor is mild, and this type of tea tends to retain a high amount of antioxidants.

Green

These leaves are steamed and dried, but not fermented. Green tea boasts a high content of EGCG and one of the lowest amounts of caffeine; it accounts for about 20 percent of tea consumed. Studies have linked consumption to reduction in illnesses including cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. There is, however, a lack of research to substantiate claims that drinking green tea aids in weight loss.

Oolong

To make this less common type of tea, the leaves are partially fermented, leaving the flavor somewhat mild, in the middle of the road between green and black teas.

Herbal and …

“Teas” can also be created by steeping plants, flowers and seeds. These are formally referred to as “tisanes” and come in many forms. There are countless varieties and, overall, less scientific evidence to support many of the health claims. Here are a few of the most-popular types.

Chamomile

This flower-based tea is known for its pleasant aroma and soothing properties. It may also help calm an upset stomach. Like other herbal teas, it’s caffeine-free.

Hibiscus

Known for its sweet, floral flavor and brilliant hot-pink hue, hibiscus tea contains numerous antioxidants, including vitamin C. There’s a small amount of research to support the theory that (hibiscus) has a blood pressure-lowering effect.

Tulsi

Also known as “holy basil,” this Indian herb has been linked to treating everything from anxiety to diabetes to the common cold. While there’s currently insufficient evidence to support these claims, it does contain a hefty dose of antioxidants. Supplements of holy basil have been associated with slowed blood clotting.

Fennel

Steeping fennel seeds in hot water will yield a warm cup of aromatic tea. This type of brew is often recommended as a digestive aid and is considered safe when consumed in the amounts typically found in food and beverages. There is evidence of potential side effects when it is taken in large medicinal dosages.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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