Category Archives: Articles

Just An Apple A Day? Why Whole Foods Are Best

apples

“Eat an apple on going to bed, And you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” ~1866 Welsh folk proverb

We are all familiar with this well known saying about an apple a day but do we know why? We know apples are a good source of vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, fiber, and carbohydrates. Some other benefits with eating apples are vitamins K, B6, boron, pectin, and natural sugar for energy. But are these the only reasons? No. These nutrients are actually just the surface of an “iceberg” of elements contained in apples, and for that matter, elements in all fruits and vegetables.

Apples and other fruits and vegetables contain thousands of phyto-chemicals whose names are almost nowhere to be found in books or would even be familiar to us. But these natural components all work together interdependently, like a huge team of doctors each with a unique function to build our health. That’s a lot of doctors! What nutrition researchers have been doing for far too long is looking at single components in food. What they should be doing is focusing on how these phytonutrients interact as a “whole.” Analyzing nutrients in an isolated sense will not only leave “holes” in discovering their full potential, they will likely produce an incomplete effect on the body and our health.

For the most part, this “standard” of research in isolating nutrients has been part of the problem in the field of nutrition. As a result of these studies, self interested food companies have been successful at selling us processed and packaged food and supplements marketed with a good source of (pick one!) nutrients such as vitamin A, C, calcium or fiber. In the end, we’ve become obsessed with these “parts”for the sake of convenience. Much to our loss, extracting or manipulating nutritional components as an attempt to “improve” what we eat would be like removing the door from a house. What can our body do with just a door?? Protection from disease requires the whole house!

Enriching our food with isolated “plant fragments” may be helpful to a certain point, but it doesn’t provide us with optimal nutrition for preventing disease. The bottom line is, we will never get ALL of the nutrients, phytochemicals, and their interactions with each other as a whole and the effects on our health from any bottle as we would from real food. So long as research scientists continue to work in this way of evaluating single pieces of the puzzle instead of gaining knowledge with the “bigger picture,” medical schools, hospitals, and government agencies will continue to downgrade the whole foods concept as the true path to health.

As a matter of fact, identifying this whole foods “whole house” concept isn’t an unrealized theory either. We already have information on how we can multiply the nutritional value slide_249911_1504867_freefrom our food through a strategy known as food synergy. Instead of thinking of food in terms of 1+1 equals 2, research has already shown us that combining certain whole foods such as tomatoes and avocado, apples and grapes, spinach and lemon, oatmeal and orange juice, turmeric and black pepper, broccoli and tomatoes, can actually equal to far more nutrition than we thought we could get. What’s been discovered about food synergy is just the tip of the iceburg. Researchers need to continue focusing on finding these food relationships in order to fully unleash the amazing power of our food.

For now, its time we start thinking for ourselves and eat food in its original form as much as possible while ditching its manipulated and packaged profit selling version. An apple a day is a good start but on average, Americans only consume around 20 pounds of apples a year, around 1 apple a week. Nowhere near the ideal of everyday. But if we’re eating many other whole fruits and vegetables everyday, and in the right combinations, we will have enough “doctors” in the house!

by Lupita Ronquillo, holistic nutrition writer

sources:
http://www.bspcn.com/2007/08/05/9-reasons-why-an-apple-a-day-really-keeps-the-doctor-away/
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=15&tname=foodspice
Campbell, T. Colin. Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition. Dallas: BenBella Books, 2013
http://www.publichealthreviews.eu/upload/pdf_files/10/00_Jacobs.pdf
http://www.amazon.com/Food-Synergy-Hundreds-Powerful-Combinations/dp/1594866228

Oatmeal: 8 Types and The Differences

oats
As most people know by now, eating oatmeal is very healthy and heart protecting because it provides fiber and lowers cholesterol. What they may not know is the type to eat for the most nutrition! Some forms of oatmeal may not even be good for us. This is because since oat grains can undergo various stages of processing, some forms of oatmeal can therefore not be as nutritious. Becoming aware of how oatmeal is made or milled can help us make a better choice, which can make a real difference to our health.

The star phytonutrient in oatmeal is Beta-Glucan, well known to reduce the risk of heart disease and control blood sugar in diabetics. It is also known to boost the immune system. Just one bowl each day can reduce high LDL levels, the bad cholesterol, by 8-23%.

To get the most of oatmeal’s nutritional benefits, we should choose oats that are the least processed since cooking and processing will destroy some of Beta-Glucan’s effectiveness.  Here is a list of 8 types of oatmeal in the order of least processed to most and how their formed:

1. GROATS– This is oatmeal as whole as you can get! Only the inedible hull is removed. They take the longest to cook, 50-60 minutes, and are best if soaked before using but you get the most nutrition so its definitely worth the time!

2. STEEL CUT OATS– This type of oatmeal is basically groats cut with steel blades into small pieces, which reduces its cooking time to 10-20 minutes. Their also known as Irish or pinhead oats. This type of oat also packs the most nutrition and has a chewier texture.

3. SCOTTISH OATMEAL– This oatmeal is basically the groats broken into bits. They are stone ground instead of cut and cooks in about 10 minutes. Stone grounding is a form of processing so they may not be as nutritious as groats and steel cut.

4. OAT FLOUR– Oat flour is still a whole grain because nothing is removed. Its basically just pulverized groats that can be used in recipes. Keep in mind oat flour is gluten free so it won’t behave like wheat and rise if used alone. It should be mixed with other flours if used for breads and baking.

5. OAT BRAN– This is the high-fibered part of the oat. The bran is normally discarded during the milling process but in this case, the bran is kept and sold separately for those who want the fiber. Its commonly used as an additive in breads, muffins, and cereals and adds a distinctive flavor. It can go rancid so it needs to be kept in a cool and dry place.

6. OLD FASHIONED or ROLLED OATS– This oatmeal is basically groats that are steamed and pressed flat. It can cook in 5 minutes. Rolled oats are often thought of as more nutritious but as you can see they are heated which is processing. They can be thick or thin and can be used to make old fashioned oatmeal, cookies, or granola. Thinner rolled oats can be used in baby food.

7. QUICK OATS– These oats are made by taking oat grains and breaking them into pieces before rolling them out. Rolled or old fashioned oats on the other hand, are just rolled out and not cut. The cutting reduces their size to ensure the oats cook very quickly. They are rolled much thinner then steamed and will only take 1-2 minutes to cook.

8. INSTANT OATMEAL– This form of oatmeal is the most processed. Its cooked and steamed much longer and then rolled the thinnest possible. This way you only need add hot water to “instantly” cook and plump them up. This type usually has stuff added in such as sugar, salt, and artificial flavors because its sold as convenience food.

Keep in mind that quick and instant oatmeal usually have their oat bran removed, which is the high fibered part of the grain. Much of the oat’s fiber and nutrients are contained within the bran, so removing it diminishes its nutritional value.

by Lupita Ronquillo, holistic nutrition writer

Sources
How Oats are Processed – Buzzle.com
Types of Oatmeal – You Tube

A Vegan Thanksgiving: 8 Good Reasons

vegan TGD

This is snapshot of some of the vegan entrees we ate for Thanksgiving which included green chili and cheese tamales, roasted mixed veggies, pumpkin banana pie, and a cranberry wild rice stuffed vegan roast!

On my way to work after the holiday, I noticed there were more bicyclists and runners out on the road. So I made an obvious assumption that it was all due to those excess calories eaten the night before. The notorious post-holiday belly bloat must have finally digested off and now excess proteins from the turkey are supposedly enabling these early birds to get up and move, or else. So after some introspective thought, and after celebrating Thanksgiving FULLY VEGAN for the first time, I concluded to write an article on the BIG benefits of veganizing the holidays. Following are some of the reasons I thought going plant based over the holidays would be one of the best decisions you could make for your health:

Simple Recipes Most plant based recipes are simple to make and they usually don’t require a long list of ingredients or a lot of time to put together. raw pumpkin tartsDepending on what it is your making for Thanksgiving, vegan recipes are actually easier than you think, even if they are new! For a Thanksgiving raw dessert, I made some raw mini pumpkin pie tarts for the first time and was surprised it took less time than I had expected. It can also be fun getting the family involved making new recipes that are healthy. If your not exactly sure on what kind of plant based recipes to make, there are plenty of websites out there that offer plenty of ideas and recipes for free.

⇒Savings$ If your cooking and buying, you’ll save money with vegan entrees. A small 12 pound turkey can cost on average from about $21.00 depending on where you buy the turkey. You’ll certainly pay more if your concerned (and who wouldn’t be!) with how the turkey was raised. We paid $12.00 for Gardein‘s Cranberry and Wild Rice Roast which serves up to 8 people. The options available now for substituting meat have improved and are really great. If I had been blindfolded and tried Gardein unknowingly, I wouldn’t have known the difference! The texture and flavor were perfect. Making things from scratch is typical with a plant based diet so if everything else you serve will be homemade, you’ll be saving money.

⇒You Eat Less  During the holidays everyone tends to eat a little more, especially being around family and friends! How else are we to try what vegan TG plateeveryone else has made without overindulging just a little? We could if the food is healthy. The fact is, traditional holiday recipes call for a lot of sugar, oil, butter, and fat. In fact, committing to a vegan holiday will actually save you on average about 1400 calories, 86 grams of fat, and a whopping 523 grams of cholesterol! You’ll also eat about 31 grams more fiber sticking with a plant based plate. So you will eat less because fiber fills you up and sends signals to your brain telling you to slow down or stop eating.

⇒Healthier and Happier  If you can stick to your guns and eat right even on Thanksgiving, chances are your already healthy. Every meal counts because it can all add up so by filling  your plate up with healthier food during the holidays, you’ll stay healthy and happy. Eating a heavy meal filled with refined sugars, meat, and dairy can cause shifts in your mood. The link between food and mood is a lot more solid than you think and many people go through life depressed  never connecting the dots.  During this time of the year, it can be frustrating having to tell everyone you have preferences but you’ll gain more confidence and become more comfortable with saying NO each time that you do. Avoiding foods with unhealthy ingredients may be hard to do now, but has big rewards in the long haul because you’ll less likely gain weight and be a happier person.

⇒Plant Based Leftovers  If your a plant based person most of the time or rarely eat meat and decided to go with having a turkey for the holiday, let’s get down to the bottom line of your decision. A lot of healthy eaters will sometimes make “adjustments” to their diet for special occasions such as Thanksgiving in order to please others, or to avoid confrontations with relatives and family. After all, its just one day of eating turkey right? But let’s get real with this “once a year” mentality that persuades you into having turkey. It isn’t going to be just one meal. Turkey’s are big and have a lot of meat. Your going to end up with turkey and a lot of other high fat left overs for several days to come.

⇒Less Bloat More Energy  Eating a high fiber plant based meal can help to prevent bloating because you’ll stay regular even after your Thanksgiving meal. No bloating means less discomfort and more energy for you to continue enjoying the holiday with family and friends.

⇒Prevents Binges  Eating processed foods that are high in sugar and fat can trigger certain behaviors in persons who already deal with unhealthy eating patterns. Sugar can act like a drug and can initiate destructive binges lasting for days. Making plant based desserts that are high in fruits, nuts, and whole grains can help prevent out of control binges from starting in the first place.  Using whole food, nutrient dense ingredients full of fiber will help to slow us down. Furthermore, our cravings are better controlled when we’re getting enough nutrients.

⇒Less Illness  Its already been confirmed, 80% of all antibiotic drugs used in the U.S. are given to animals. Almost 90% of all store bought meat had signs of contamination with fecal matter at some point during or after its processing. If we continue to keep buying these meats, the industry will continue to use their antibiotics in raising animals. And it would be just a matter of time that we end up putting our health at risk.

by Lupita Ronquillo, holistic nutrition writer

sources

¹Are You Eating Superbugs? Resistant Bacteria Found At Alarming Rates On Meat~ Forbes

²Benefits Of A Vegan Thanksgiving~NamelyMarley

Great Reasons To Love Grapefruit!

my grapefruit1

The Enduring Grapefruit Diet

Most of us are well aware of grapefruit’s weight loss and metabolism boosting benefits. The popularity of the Grapefruit Diet dating back from the1930’s is how and when this association became fixed. Through the decades, the grapefruit diet became reinvented under new names, such as The Hollywood Diet, Mayo Clinic Diet, Indian River Grapefruit Diet, all the while keeping its popular principle of eating grapefruit before each meal. Today, as a result of these reinvented versions, the grapefruit is for certain now branded a “get skinny food” associated with benefits primarily for losing weight. Consequently, the grapefruit’s other superior benefits have likely been unheard of or forgotten in the midst of proven and constant weight loss popularity.

Since the 1930’s, grapefruit has proven to be a super food in other ways. Besides helping to curb the appetite and shed unwanted weight, did you know it can help fight depression with its aroma? That it can lower the “bad” levels of cholesterol according to a Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry study? Grapefruit can also help reduce the severity of inflammatory conditions, such as asthma, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis as well as improving our cardiovascular health. Furthermore, it has been shown to help prevent lung and colon cancer.

Getting to Know the Grapefruit

A few facts about grapefruit you probably never knew…
•Only 4 states in the U.S. commercially grow grapefruit, California, Arizona, Texas and Florida where warmer climates exists.
•For almost 20 years, the red grapefruit has been the official state fruit of Texas.
•Its name sprung from the way the grapefruit grows, in clusters on trees resembling grapes on the vine.
•Grapefruit trees can produce up to 40 years!
•Grapefruit season is from winter through early spring.
•Grapefruit can last for up to 3 weeks in your refrigerator.

Vitamin C Boost

Grapefruits are very high in vitamin C. Vitamin C is an immune booster and can help to combat and prevent the common cold among other things that attack our health. Getting enough vitamin C can help heal wounds faster such as from cuts, burns, surgery, and even help heal broken bones! Vitamin C works as an antioxidant and can fight free radical damage to our cells. It can lower blood pressure and prevent hypertension. Vitamin C can also scrub away dangerous levels of lead in the body, especially helpful in children. Just one half of a grapefruit provides over 70% of the RDA for valuable vitamin C!

Energize

Grapefruit can help fight fatigue, especially in the winter months when our activities tend to wind down with the colder season. Grapefruit are at their peak during the winter, which is the perfect time to help burn those excess calories and balance out those heavier winter meals we’re surrounded with during the holidays. This tangy sweet super fruit is also great for jump starting a sluggish metabolism and can boost our energy levels with just the right amount of natural sugar. Grapefruits are bursting with nutrition and phytonutrients, including the energy producing B vitamins to help us while exercising and improve our athletic performance.

Low Sugar

Most citrus fruits are high in natural sugars but grapefruits are not. They can help diabetics keep their glycemic index low. Grapefruits are also lower in carbohydrates than most other fruits. For diabetics, this is important because they not only need to keep track of their sugar, but also to check their intake carbs. One half grapefruit contains less than half of the carbs found in a banana or pear. Furthermore, they offer a good source of soluble fiber which can be another benefit for diabetics. Getting more soluble fiber can assist in keeping sugar levels stabilized because fiber helps keep carbohydrates from being absorbed too quickly in the bloodstream. To boot, grapefruits contain a rich source of the trace mineral, chromium which studies have shown lowers blood sugar levels by as much as 50%, a bonus if your watching sugar levels.

grapefruit smoothie

Grapefruit Smoothie! Blend 1 peeled grapefruit with 1 frozen banana until smooth.

Fiber

As we just mentioned, grapefruits are high in fiber! Sound surprising for a citrus fruit? What most people don’t realize about grapefruit and other citrus is you can easily get a good serving of fiber from the pectin, the stringy white membrane surrounding each juicy piece. As refreshing and delicious as it sounds, juicing grapefruit will not provide much of that fiber. If your going to count fiber from eating grapefruit, eat as much of the inside as you can, including the white inner layer found under the skin. The white pith is also full of cancer fighting antioxidants. If you don’t like eating the stringy pectin, which I presume most don’t, you can blend the whole grapefruit in a smoothie with other fruits and vegetables to yield that fiber. A smoothie recipe with banana is shown above.

Good Skin

If your interested in fighting the signs of aging, grapefruit can provide amazing skin benefits from the inside out. How? First, the grapefruit’s generous supply of vitamin C can stimulate collagen production in aging skin, an exciting bonus in fighting unwanted wrinkles. Second, grapefruits are rich in lycopene which can help protect the skin from UV damage. By the time we are in our 40’s, we can usually start to see skin damage caused by the sun from earlier years. Adding grapefruit to our diet can add a layer of defense to aging skin with this important phytonutrient. Thirdly, lycopene also helps to protect the skin against environmental damage by fighting free radicals from the inside out. Did you know that grapefruit can work topically as well? Simply applying it directly to the skin can calm, firm and clear the skin. It can even work to remedy skin problems such as dry skin, acne, rashes and psoriasis!
Grapefruit Cautions with Prescriptions

Are you on medications? Before loading up on grapefruits, keep in mind certain compounds found in grapefruit can actually reduce breaking down some cholesterol lowering medicines leading to dangerous build up in the bloodstream! Just a single glass of grapefruit juice could reduce the body’s natural ability to metabolize “statins” by up to 47 percent, according to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide. Statins found to react with grapefruit juice include Atorvastatin, Simvastatin and Lovastatin prescription drugs. Grapefruit juice can contribute to dangerous side effects with other medicines too. Some of these are calcium channel blockers, birth control pills, antidepressants, some antivirals, anti-anxiety medicine and other psychiatric drugs. To learn more about these dangers, listen in on Donnica Moore, M.D. Always check with your doctor if your on any medication before loading up on grapefruit.

Best way to enjoy grapefruit

♥ Juicing Grapefruit
♥ Grapefruit Limeade
♥ Grapefruit Infused Water
♥ Grapefruit Smoothie
♥ Grapefruit Sorbet
♥ Grapefruit Marinade
♥ Grapefruit Salad
♥ Grapefruit Salsa
♥ Grapefruit Popsicles
♥ Grapefruit Salad Dressing
♥ Simply raw and fresh

by Lupita Ronquillo, holistic nutrition writer © 2013