Summer’s #1 Fruit – Watermelon!
Tired of listing all the foods you can’t have? Then breathe a sigh of relief and focus on something you can eat to your heart’s content – watermelon. What better way to improve health – both physically and mentally – than to nibble on sweet and juicy, chin-dribbling watermelon?!
One reason to snack on watermelon instead of chips is that heart health begins with fruits and vegetables. The more fruits and vegetables you eat, the lower your heart disease risk. Watermelon, in particular, is an excellent source of lycopene, a red pigment that lowers heart disease and heart attack risk. In fact, watermelon has more lycopene than do tomatoes – up to 20 milligrams in each two-cup serving. Watermelon also is low or free of cholesterol, fat, and sodium, and is a good source of arginine and citrulline, amino acids that maintain the blood vessels.
Like other colorful fruits and vegetables, watermelon is one of the best defenses against cancer. The lycopene in watermelon helps lower risk for prostate cancer in men, while researchers estimate that more than a third of cancer deaths could be avoided by diet alone, with vegetables and fruits like watermelon leading the pack in cancer prevention. In a study from the University of Kuopio in Finland, men with the highest blood levels of lycopene had significantly lower risk for overall cancer incidence. Vitamins A and C in watermelon also show promise in lowering risk for cancers of the esophagus, stomach, lungs, liver, cervix, colon, and pancreas.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Heaping the plate with produce helps side-step stroke, reduces symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, prevents urinary tract infections and cataracts, lowers the risk for diabetes and high blood pressure, and boosts the immune system. A study from Tufts University found that lycopene-rich diets lowered bone fracture risk, while diets rich in produce also are a must for weight control. Then there’s the longevity factor. According to a study from the University of Naples in Italy, people who live more than a century also live the healthiest. Their secret? You guessed it, they eat the most fruits and vegetables. So, include watermelon in your summer picnics, barbecues, parties, and family meals, knowing you are doing you and your family a favor for their health today and down the road.
Photo credit: iStockphoto.com
Just Do This Today
1) Bring it: Bag slices and cubes of watermelon and place in your gym bag, briefcase, or purse before leaving home.
2) Double it: Have two cups of watermelon instead of one cup and you are one-quarter toward your goal of 8 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
3) Hide it: Toss watermelon in salads, salsa, soups, and smoothies.
4) Cross dress it: Disguise fruit as dessert, i.e., top lemon yogurt with watermelon cubes, blend watermelon and Splenda and freeze for a homemade sorbet, or puree watermelon, sweeten with concentrated apple juice and freeze into ice cubes or pops. Add cubes to club soda for a refreshing drink.
Hot Off the Diet Press
1. Omega-3s: The Fountain of Youth: People who consume optimal amounts of the omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA from fatty fish or supplements, live longer, state researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. More than 70,000 study participants between the ages of 50- and 76-years-old were followed for incidence of mortality through 2006, at which time there had been 3,051 deaths. When dietary intakes were compared to mortality risk, the researchers found that a higher combined intake of EPA and DHA from diet and supplements lowered mortality risk by 18% and death from cancer by 23%. The researchers conclude that, “…intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids may reduce risk of total and cancer-specific mortality.”
Bell G, Kantor E, Lampe J, et al: Intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids from diet and supplements in relation to mortality. American Journal of Epidemiology 2014;179:710-720.
2. Weight Loss Success Stories: The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) at Brown University and the University of Colorado follows people who have lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off for more than a year. In their 10-year follow-up of 2,886 weight-loss successes, the average weight loss maintained was almost 51 pounds. Those who regained the most weight also had decreased their activity levels, slacked off on dietary restraint, stopped weighing themselves regularly, or started eating more calories from fat. The good news is that the majority of NWCR participants maintain a significant amount of weight loss after a decade when they stick with their behavior changes.
Want to know more about what weight-loss successes are doing to keep the weight off? Check out the website at: http://www.nwcr.ws/
Thomas J, Bond D, Phelan S, et al: Weight-loss maintenance for 10 years in the National Weight Control Registry. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2014;46:17-23.
3. Protein Rules for Muscles: The best muscle function comes when people spread their protein intake evenly throughout the day, according to a study from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. A total of 90 grams of protein was distributed differently throughout the day in a small sample of healthy men and women (ages 34- to 40-years-old). One diet provided 30 grams of protein at each meal, while the other provided 10 grams at breakfast, 15 grams at lunch, and 65 grams at dinner. Lean beef was the main source of protein in both diets. Blood samples and muscle biopsies were taken. Results showed that muscle protein synthesis was 25% higher when protein was evenly distributed than when it was provided primarily at the evening meal.
Many Americans consume diets that are low in protein at breakfast and lunch, but very high at dinner. This study showed that we don’t need huge amounts of protein to maximize its benefits; we just need to distribute it evenly throughout the day.
Mamerow M, Mettler J, English K, et al: Dietary protein distribution positively influences 24-h muscle protein synthesis in healthy adults. Journal of Nutrition 2014;144:876-880.
Photo credit: iStockphoto.com
Food & Mood Tip
If there is a first commandment in nutrition it is, “Thou shalt meet all your nutritional needs from a balanced diet.” Most of your dietary woes are soothed if every day you eat at least 10 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables, 5 whole grains, 3 glasses of calcium-rich milk or soymilk, and 2 servings of extra-lean chicken, fish, or legumes. Sounds reasonable, but there’s a catch – finding anyone who does that is about as likely as walking on water. The irony is most of us think we’re eating pretty well. A Gallup poll conducted by The American Dietetic Association found that 90% of women surveyed said their diets were healthful. Most of them are delusional, since every national nutrition survey dating from the 1960s to the present repeatedly and consistently finds that most Americans don’t come close to adequate, let alone optimal. Only one in every 100 people meet even minimum standards of the proverbial “balanced diet.” So, keep aiming for an optimal diet, but in the meantime, take a moderate-dose multiple vitamin and mineral, a calcium-magnesium, and a fish oil or omega-3 DHA to fill in the gaps.
Photo credit: Colin Dunn via CompfightI
Mood-Boosting Recipe of the Month –
Grilled Cheese, Watermelon & Arugula Sandwich
You need at least 10 colorful fruits and vegetables every day. What an easy way to meet one of those servings by adding them to a sandwich!
4 slices watermelon, approximately 4”X4″X ½” thick
8 slices 100% whole grain bread, preferably chewy in texture (Dave’s Killer Bread is great!)
2 Tablespoons stone-ground mustard
6 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, divided into 4 equal portions
1 1 /2 cups baby arugula
1. Place watermelon pieces between paper towels to absorb extra fluid. Set aside.
2. On each of four slices of bread, spread mustard and top with 1 1 /2 ounces cheese. Top with second slice of bread.
3. On a griddle or Forman grill, spray cooking spray and grill the 4 sandwiches on each side until cheese begins to melt. Remove from griddle/grill, open and place a slice of watermelon and arugula. Close sandwich and cut in half. Serve. Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional Analysis per serving: 424 Calories; 36 percent fat (17 grams); 10 grams saturated fat; 18 percent protein; 46 percent carbohydrate; 6.4 grams fiber.
Answers to “Do you know?” from last issue:
1. Can spicy foods help you lose weight?
No. Granted, a few studies found that spicy foods containing capsaicin, the compound that makes chili peppers hot, revs metabolism, but the boost is small and temporary and you won’t see any drop on the scale. However, if spicy foods help satisfy you, so you eat less, then the cut in calories will definitely help with weight loss.
2. Will an apple a day keep the doctor away?
This is true only if that apple is part of a healthy eating plan that includes 10 servings of fruits and vegetables, plus lots of whole grains, legumes, nuts, calcium-rich foods, and a few weekly servings of fatty fish. Adding any food, from an apple to a zucchini, to an otherwise unhealthy diet will do next to nothing to keep doctors and disease away.
Do You Know?
1. Should you eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper?
2. Does everything you eat after 9 P.M. turn to fat?
Check next week for the answers….
Label Lingo – Hormone Free!
The label on a package of chicken says “No hormones.” That’s good, right? Probably, except that hormone use is prohibited in chickens, so even if a package of chicken thighs or breasts or any chicken part doesn’t have this claim, it still is free of any added hormones, as well as steroids.
Food Finds/Food Fails:
1. Bonga’s Baobab Superfood Chews:
These little 1.4 ounce packages of tasty dried fruits in flavors such as strawberry, mango, raspberry, and pomegranate, will satisfy any sweet tooth, yet supply a whopping dose of antioxidants (up to 50,000 ORAC points, a measure of the total antioxidant content in a given food). Baobab fruit is “…a wild-harvested fruit that creates a sustainable income for women in southern Africa and encourages protection of the ancient trees,” according to the package. This tasty snack also is rich in fiber, potassium, magnesium, and other nutrients. Not bad for only 90 calories! http://www.bongafoods.com/
2. Bolthouse Farms 100% Carrot Juice:
While I would prefer people eat whole vegetable, if you’re thirsty for a juice, this one is the one to choose. No concentrated apple, pear, or white grape juice here. A one-cup serving is 70 calories of pure carrot juice. Nothing else. That cup supplies 700% of the Daily Value for vitamin A (as beta carotene) and 540 milligrams of potassium. Great addition to smoothies, sauces, or even the liquid for cooking rice.
1. Entenmann’s Little Bites Blueberry Muffins:
The good news on these little “bites,” is that they at least contain blueberries. How much is questionable, since sugar is the first ingredient, followed in order by bleached flour, eggs, and oil. Blueberries come just before sodium acid pyrophosphate and baking soda, which suggests there is maybe 2 blueberries per “bite,” at most? All that you really get is 180 calories with 2 teaspoons of fat and a tablespoon of sugar.
2. Snikiddy Eat Your Vegetables Chips:
These chips are touted on the front of the package as “handcrafted with kale, carrots, sweet potatoes, beans, and other vegetables.” Turn the package over and look at the ingredient list and it’s an entirely different story. Yes, a ‘bean blend” is the first ingredient, but it’s followed by dried potatoes (do I hear potato chips here?), then rice flour, and 2 kinds of oil. Those handcrafted vegetables show up only just before the seasonings. Nutrition-wise, these chips are about as calorific as potato chips and have a similar amount of fat and sodium. They do supply some fiber and vitamin A, which is the amount of that vitamin you would get in 1/3 of a sweet potato, for a third the calories and no fat.
The Daily Menu
Put know how into practice with this simple, nutritious meal plan. Eliminate the snacks if you want to cut additional calories. And, with all the menus in my newsletter, feel free to tweak to your food preferences and choices.
2 eggs, scrambled with 1/4 cup diced red peppers and 2 tablespoon diced onion
1 slice 100% whole wheat toast topped with 1 teaspoon butter
1 medium tomato, sliced
1 cup 1% milk w/ DHA
Green tea (optional)
1 Grilled Cheese, Watermelon & Arugula Sandwich
1 sliced red bell pepper & 10 baby carrots with 1 tablespoon low-fat Ranch Dressing
2 small oatmeal cookies
1 cup 1% low-fat milk w/ DHA
1 /2 whole wheat bagel, toasted and topped with 1 tablespoon fat-free sour cream and 1 teaspoon all-fruit jam. Serve with sparkling water or tea.
1 4-ounce grilled chicken breast, marinated in wine, garlic, and herbs
2/3 cup green peas and carrots, steamed
1 /2 acorn squash, baked and drizzled with 1 teaspoon honey and 1 /2 teaspoon rum extract
Tossed salad made from 2 cup Fresh Express Tender Ruby Red lettuce, 1 /2 winter pear cut into slivers, and 2 tablespoon fat-free vinaigrette dressing
Fruit and Chocolate Fondue: Dunk 1 cup fresh strawberries and 1 peeled and sliced kiwi in 1/4 cup fat-free chocolate syrup.
Nutritional Information : 1,795 Calories, 24% fat (48 g fat, 16 g saturated), 22% protein (99 g), 54% carbs (242 g), 38 g fiber, 1,203 mg calcium, 577 mcg folate, 2,133 mg sodium.
What is Elizabeth Up To in June and July?
1. She was on Chicago’s Fox Noon News on June 9th. Here’s the clip: http://www.myfoxchicago.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=10248203
2. She was quoted in an interview with Savannah on Today. Here’s the link: http://on.today.com/1krdJeg
3. She was on Portland Oregon’s AMNorthWest on June 23rd, talking about Super Fruits with Benefits. Learn more here: http://www.katu.com/amnw
4. She will be on AMNorthWest, KATU in Portland, Oregon on July 21st. Topic: Sugar Belly: How and Which Sugars Cause Weight Gain
5. She will be on San Diego Living, July 17th. Topic: How to Avoid the 5 Summertime Diet Pitfalls