June Food Focus: Fruit

Happy June! Summer is here and so is the wide assortment of yummy fruit!!

Healthy Snacking

There’s no denying that everyone, at one time or another, has had a snack attack. Views on snacking differ. Some feel that snacking is bad and that eating between meals leads to weight gain. Others believe that eating many small meals and snacks throughout the day is healthy for maintaining energy levels and optimal weight. If there were one way of snacking that was right for everyone, we would all be doing it!  

To alleviate snack attack guilt, try to understand why you are snacking and what snacks work best for your body. Perhaps you snack because your daily diet is missing nutrition, or because you are eating too little at meals. You might be snacking to soothe jangled nerves when you are emotional, or to entertain yourself when you are bored. Whatever your reason, acknowledge it and start thinking about how to create a life that is nourishing and truly satisfying.

Although snacks are no substitute for loving your life, they can be great energy boosters. Many convenient snack foods are highly processed and full of chemicals, additives, damaging fats and refined sugars. When a snack attack hits you, try foods that are filling and satisfying, but also nutritious. Here are some tips:

  • Snack on things that don’t come in a plastic wrapper or a box, like fresh fruit, leftover vegetables or rice cakes with almond butter and fruit spread.
  • Make your own signature trail mix, organic hot chocolate made with almond milk sweetened with agave nectar, or blue corn chips with hummus.

You can also try “upgrading”:

  • If you are craving something crunchy, upgrade from potato chips to raw carrots, apples or whole grain crackers.
  • If you are craving a candy bar, upgrade to a handful of nuts and dried fruit.
  • Instead of a cup of coffee, upgrade to green tea.

Instead of ice cream, upgrade to applesauce with cinnamon.

Upgraded snacks are high in nutrition and give you a greater sense of satiety and satisfaction; you won’t feel physically or psychologically deprived, and you’ll have plenty of energy to sustain your activities for hours.

Snacking is enjoyable and there is a wide variety of healthful goodies for whatever you’re craving, be it sweet, crunchy, salty, creamy or spicy. Dive in, be creative and enjoy your snack attack.

Food Focus: Fruit                                                                                                 

A healthy lifestyle is the key to longevity, optimum weight, abundant energy and balance. By using fruit to satisfy our taste for sweetness, we can leave behind the use of chemical, processed and refined sweeteners. Fruits are easy to digest, are cleansing and cooling and are great for those who are overstressed and overheated from excessive mental strain or hot climates. Fruits are filled with fiber and liver stimulants, which act as natural, gentle laxatives. Whenever possible, buy fresh, locally grown fruit as opposed to imported fruits shipped from far-off places. This keeps you eating in season, and more in harmony with your environment and climate.

Eating raw fruit in summer months is highly cooling, while baking it in the winter months neutralizes the cooling effect. Fruit in the form of juice is a great choice for cleansing the body, but be aware that juice rapidly raises blood sugar levels, leading to an energy crash soon after. Frozen, whole, puréed or juiced fruit can make great summertime cool-down treats. Try frozen grapes, banana-coconut smoothie popsicles or lime juice ice-cubes in iced tea!

Whether you are having fresh fruit for a light early morning breakfast, a midday snack or evening treat, enjoy nature’s sweetness and whenever possible buy organic. Here are a few summer fruits and their health benefits:

Apricots: Apricots are a good source of soluble fiber, which feeds healthy gut bacteria and boost gut health. Strengthen bones. Improve heart health. Boosts metabolism. Has anti-inflammatory properties. May boost skin health. Dried apricot may help people with low iron levels.

Bananas: Bananas are fairly rich in fiber and resistant starch, which may feed your friendly gut bacteria. Are rich in potassium (which may help fight against hypertension).

Cherries: Cherries are a great source of  antioxidants and anti-inflammatory. These cellular body guards slow down aging and may ward off chronic diseases. Cherries are especially high in polyphenols, a large group of plant chemicals that help fight cellular damage, reduce inflammation, and promote overall health. Slightly warming in nature.

Grapefruits: Treat poor digestion, increase appetite during pregnancy, alleviate intestinal gas and reduce mucus conditions of the lungs.

Papayas: Are loaded with nutrients. Papayas have high antioxidant effects, contain carotenoids and contains a digestive enzyme called papain, which can break down the tough protein chains found in muscle meat. Papayas can help tone the stomach, act as digestive aid, moisten the lungs and alleviate coughing; contain carpaine, an anti-tumor compound.

Raspberries: Benefit the liver and kidneys, cleanse blood of toxins, regulate menstrual cycles, treat anemia and can promote labor at childbirth.

Plums and prunes: Are rich in nutrients. They contain over 15 different vitamins and minerals, in addition to fiber and antioxidants. Prunes and prune juice are well known for their ability to relieve constipation. Prunes may be beneficial for improving bone health. Plums and prunes are anti-inflammatory. Plums and prunes contain anthocyanins, a specific type of polyphenol, appear to be the most active antioxidants found in plums and prunes. They may have powerful health effects, including reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Recipe of the Month: Fruit Nut Smoothie

Prep time: 5 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup coconut milk

1 banana

1 cup berries

1 cup kale or spinach

1/2 cup almonds or cashews

2-4 ice cubes

Directions:

1.   Mix in blender for 1-2 minutes and serve.

Note: You can add other ingredients for added nutrition such as a spoonful of bee pollen, coconut oil, flax seed oil, spirulina powder or a scoop of protein powder.

Forward to your friends, family or to anyone who may benefit from this post.

Sources:

Effect of dietary fiber on constipation: A meta analysis (nih.gov)

Free Radicals, Antioxidants in Disease and Health (nih.gov)

Plums, dried (prunes), uncooked Nutrition Facts & Calories (self.com)

Health benefits of dietary fiber – PubMed (nih.gov)

Diets for Constipation (nih.gov)

A Systematic Review on the Health Effects of Plums (Prunus domestica and Prunus salicina) – PubMed (nih.gov)

Antioxidant capacities, phenolic compounds, carotenoids, and vitamin C contents of nectarine, peach, and plum cultivars from California – PubMed (nih.gov)

Evidence for anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties of dried plum polyphenols in macrophage RAW 264.7 cells – PubMed (nih.gov)

Flavonoid Intake and Bone Health (nih.gov)

Contribution of individual polyphenolics to total antioxidant capacity of plums – PubMed (nih.gov)

Carotenoids are more bioavailable from papaya than from tomato and carrot in humans: a randomised cross-over study – PubMed (nih.gov)

Relationship between aging and susceptibility of erythrocytes to oxidative damage: in view of nutraceutical interventions – PubMed (nih.gov)

Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils (nih.gov)

Bitter apricot essential oil induces apoptosis of human HaCaT keratinocytes – PubMed (nih.gov)

The health benefits of dietary fiber: beyond the usual suspects of type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease and colon cancer – PubMed (nih.gov)

A Review of the Health Benefits of Cherries (nih.gov)