Monthly Archives: July 2012

Food Facts Summer Fruit Series … Life is just a bowl of cherries

Summer cherries are just one of a myriad of fruits abounding at the farmer’s market this time of year. Your Food Facts crew really loves cherries, but your blog writer REALLY loves them. That’s because I’m allergic to berries and have an affinity for this small, tasty fruit that doesn’t help me break out in hives! They are tasty to snack on by themselves or to substitute (for me) in recipes requiring berries …. actually they work like a charm. So, if I’m going to be eating that dessert that called for berries they are a great substitute, providing taste and texture without having to completely redo a recipe because the fruit I’m using might have a different water content. So tonight, I wanted to look at the health benefits of cherries.

So here’s what you need to know about cherries and your health:

- Although cherries are very low in calories, they are very rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

- The pigment in cherries that causes their beautiful color are due to polyphenolic flavonoid compounds … or anthocyanin glycosides. That means that fruits with red, purple or blue skins carry these compounds and that their skins have powerful anti-oxidant properties.

- Those anthosyanins act like anti-inflammatory agents in your body. They can have helpful effects against chronic pain associated with gout, arthritis, fibromyalgia and sports injuries. In addition, some (tart) cherries can help to prevent cancers and neurological diseases.

- Cherries contain melatonin. Melatonin can produce soothing effects for the brain and calm nervous system irritability. So if you suffer from headaches, eat cherries. In addition, if you have a hard time falling asleep at night, cherries might help.

- Like many other summer fruits, cherries also provide potassium and manganese. When we sweat in the summer, our body needs to replace these minerals and cherries can help us do that.

- Other great properties of cherries include anti-oxidants. Lutein, beta carotene and others can protect your body from free radicals that might prevent some forms of cancer.
Oh, and if you’re like me, cherries won’t cause hives. Of course I’m sure there are some folks who can eat berries, but cherries can cause hives. We all have our individual food issues (and berries are certainly coming in our Summer Fruits Series).

My favorite cherry dessert is a parfait. After pitting some sweet cherries, I layer a glass with them, alternating between freshly made whipped cream and topping it off with a whole cherry. That’s not a recipe substitution for me. I just love the flavor!

That’s the latest from our Food Facts Summer Fruits Series. Stay tuned for blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, honeydew and maybe a few that aren’t quite that familiar! Let us know about your favorites!

The Food Facts Summer Fruit Series: Here’s why watermelon should be on your table this summer

Watermelon is one of those special summer fruits. It’s refreshing, tasty and almost everyone loves it, even picky kids! But Food Facts wants to dig a little deeper into this beautiful red fruit that is at home on our picnic blankets, beach blankets, patio tables and our air-conditioned kitchens during the summer months.

Many people mistakenly believe that there really isn’t much to the watermelon. And that’s really a powerful misconception. Let’s take a look:

Watermelon is packed with vitamin C. One serving can provide up to 39% of your recommended daily allotment. And let’s not forget about the Vitamin A content of that same wedge, providing up to 33% in the serving. Vitamin A is supportive of our vision and help with heart function.

Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals in the body. Watermelon contains a tremendous amount of lycopene, this makes it a valuable food that helps prevent some types of caner, especially skin, cervical, breast and prostate cancer. In addition and can help improve short and long term memory and protect against heart disorders. Watermelon contains the highest concentration of lycopene of any fresh fruits or vegetables.

Additionally, this special summer fruit is high in electrolytes, sodium and potassium which we need to replace in our bodies during these months as they are lost through our perspiration.

Watermelon is a good source of thiamin and magnesium as well as the B vitamins we need to produce energy.
Food Facts is more than enthusiastic about watermelon. This sweet and juicy treat reminds us that nature really does know best and has given us what’s best for our health.

If you’re looking for interesting ways to incorporate watermelon into your meals, you might try a tomato and watermelon salad. Just make a tomato salad with red onion and add chunks of watermelon over a small bed of romaine lettuce. Add a bit of a simple vinaigrette and enjoy. You won’t be disappointed.

Food Facts will bring you more important information on the nutritional value of summer fruits in the coming days. Meanwhile, enjoy watermelon every chance you can!

Vitamin D in the news

There have been so many different health headlines featuring Vitamin D lately! We wanted to make sure that our Food Facts friends have the information they need to make informed decisions.

Most of the information out there encourages people to have their Vitamin D levels checked in order to assure that there are no deficiencies. Studies are suggesting that getting enough Vitamin D is essential to your health and longevity. These studies include:

- Calcium and Vitamin D levels can reduce the mortality rate in older adults.
http://www.privatemdlabs.com/blood-testing-news/Vitamin_D_Deficiency-Diagnosis_and_Treatment_/Calcium-and-vitamin-D-may-help-reduce-mortality-rate-in-seniors—$800798920.php

- Low levels of Vitamin D may increase stroke risk. http://www.privatemdlabs.com/blood-testing-news/Vitamin_D_Deficiency-Diagnosis_and_Treatment_/Low-vitamin-D-levels-may-increase-stroke-risk—$800793033.php

- Treating Vitamin D deficiency can improve depression. http://www.privatemdlabs.com/blood-testing-news/Vitamin_D_Deficiency-Diagnosis_and_Treatment_/Treating-vitamin-D-deficiency-improves-depression-treatments—$800806477.php

These and many more benefits have been coming to light for Vitamin D recently. Truly sounds like this could be the wonder-vitamin. So, why aren’t we all being advised to find ways to get more Vitamin D?  That’s where it appears that experts seem to disagree. While we can be sure about defining too little, there is some concern about what defines too much. In 2010 the Recommended Daily Allowance for Vitamin D was raised to 600 IU for anyone from 1 – 70 years of age and increasing to 800 IU if you’re over 70. There are studies showing that up to 10,000 IU would not be toxic, and could be considered the upper limit for dosing of the vitamin.   http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vitamin-d/NS_patient-vitamind/DSECTION=dosing.   But this was in 2010 and there are new studies coming online all the time that show more and greater benefits.

Interestingly, our intake of Vitamin D is less food dependent than our intake of other vitamins. There are certainly foods containing the important vitamin. A variety of fish, including salmon, tuna, cod, flounder, halibut, herring, mackerel, oysters and shrimp; cheeses like swiss and cheddar; whole eggs (the D is in the yolk), milk, all contain Vitamin D. But, traditionally, most of our Vitamin D intake occurs through our skin’s exposure to the sun. It’s widely felt that 30 minutes of sun exposure twice per week gives us the Vitamin D we need to maintain our health.

The recommendations we’ve all followed to limit our skin’s exposure to sunlight does have something to do with the idea that Vitamin D deficiencies have increased. There are studies that show that sunscreens can reduce ultraviolet-radiation-generated vitamin D in the skin. Since those recommendations are probably not going to go away and are necessary to maintain our good health as well, we may need to look at food and supplement sources to take advantage of all the good news that seems to be connected to Vitamin D.