Fresh Produce and a Healthier Diet

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Various fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains; ...  I have noticed in the news they have been pushing the fresh fruits and vegetable thing again and I think it is a good idea. Unfortunately most fresh fruits and vegetables are quite expensive compared to the unhealthy foods most of us like and eat. There is one way to cut costs on fresh produce and that is to grow your own and can them yourself. What you don’t eat during the season is still healthier as home canned than store bought canned. Frozen produce has been proven also to be as healthy if not sometimes healthier than the fresh produce at the grocery store. This is due to the fact the produce is frozen close to the harvest time that retains the nutritional levels unlike produce that is shipped and stored which makes it less nutritional due to the time between harvest and consumption. Fresh picked produce is better especially if you were the one to grow it because the fact you would use less pesticides if none during the growing process.

  Even Meat sources that are raised by the consumer would be healthier due to the absence of hormones and antibiotics that commercial farms use. Plus fresh meat tastes better or at least it does to me. Just remember the old saying you are what you eat so when you eat chemicals and additives in processed food your body either has to work hard to remove the toxins or it is storing it in your body fat. Do not always listen to what the media and government tries to say is or isn’t healthy just follow the rule if it is not natural then more and likely it isn’t healthy to eat. And if it is natural is is safe to eat if not healthy. Some natural things are not as healthy as others but if you balance your good with not as good then you can have a enjoyable and healthy diet.

Peace and happiness to you all

Ray Barbier


Food City Joins in Nuval Scoring System

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Food City has joined in the Nuval Scoring system which makes good nutrition easy by providing comprehensive nutritional information in a single number.

To help Explain Nuval a bit here is an excerpt from the Nuval site

How the Scoring Works

NuVal™ Scores summarize comprehensive nutritional information in one simple number between 1 and 100.  Each NuVal™ Score takes into account more than just the nutrition fact panel.  It considers 30-plus nutrients and nutrition factors – the good (protein, calcium, vitamins) and the not-so-good (sugar, sodium, cholesterol).  And then it boils it down into a simple, easy-to-use number; a number you can trust to make better decisions about nutrition in just a few seconds.

for further information on Nuval go to

Understanding Carbohydrates – More Complex Than You Think

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You may think you know all you need to know about carbohydrates. There are the simple ones, which are digested quickly, and the complex ones, which are digested more slowly. Carbs give us energy, and sometimes raise our blood sugar too much. End of story. Right? Wrong!

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Cinnamon Facts

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Although available throughout the year, the fragrant, sweet and warm taste of cinnamon is a perfect spice to use during the winter months.

Cinnamon has a long history both as a spice and as a medicine. It is the brown bark of the cinnamon tree, which is available in its dried tubular form known as a quill or as ground powder. The two varieties of cinnamon, Chinese and Ceylon, have similar flavor, however the cinnamon from Ceylon is slightly sweeter, more refined and more difficult to find in local markets.

Recent studies have found that cinnamon may have a beneficial effect on blood sugar.

One of the first human studies was published in 2003 in a medical journal called Diabetes Care. Sixty people with type 2 diabetes took 1, 3, or 6 grams of cinnamon in pill form daily, an amount roughly equivalent to one quarter of a teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.

After 40 days, all 3 amounts of cinnamon reduced fasting blood glucose by 18 to 29%, triglycerides by 23 to 30%, LDL cholesterol by 7 to 27%, and total cholesterol by 12 to 26%.

In a study at Copenhagen University, patients given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month.

When added to food, it inhibits bacterial growth and food spoilage, making it a natural food preservative.

One study found that smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory.

Researchers at Kansas State University found that cinnamon fights the E. coli bacteria in unpasteurized juices.

   Cinnamon’s antimicrobial properties are so effective that recent research demonstrates this spice can be used as an alternative to traditional food preservatives. In a study, published in the August 2003 issue of the International Journal of Food Microbiology, the addition of just a few drops of cinnamon essential oil to 100 ml (approximately 3 ounces) of carrot broth, which was then refrigerated, inhibited the growth of the food borne pathogenic Bacillus cereus for at least 60 days. When the broth was refrigerated without the addition of cinnamon oil, the pathogenic B. cereus flourished despite the cold temperature. In addition, researchers noted that the addition of cinnamon not only acted as an effective preservative but improved the flavor of the broth.

  Cinnamon’s unique healing abilities come from three basic types of components in the essential oils found in its bark. These oils contain active components called cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, and cinnamyl alcohol, plus a wide range of other volatile substances.

Anti-Clotting Actions

Cinnamaldehyde (also called cinnamic aldehyde) has been well-researched for its effects on blood platelets. Platelets are constituents of blood that are meant to clump together under emergency circumstances (like physical injury) as a way to stop bleeding, but under normal circumstances, they can make blood flow inadequate if they clump together too much. The cinnaldehyde in cinnamon helps prevent unwanted clumping of blood platelets. (The way it accomplishes this health-protective act is by inhibiting the release of an inflammatory fatty acid called arachidonic acid from platelet membranes and reducing the formation of an inflammatory messaging molecule called thromboxane A2.) Cinnamon’s ability to lower the release of arachidonic acid from cell membranes also puts it in the category of an "anti-inflammatory" food that can be helpful in lessening inflammation.

Cassia cinnamon, the kind of cinnamon normally found in grocery stores and in supplement form, naturally contains a compound called coumarin. Coumarin is also found in other plants such as celery, chamomile, sweet clover, and parsley.

At high levels, coumarin can damage the liver. Coumarin can also have a "blood-thinning" effect, so cassia cinnamon supplements shouldn’t be taken with prescription anti-clotting medication, such as Coumadin (warfarin), or by people with bleeding disorders.

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Health Benefits of Strawberries

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   Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health reported their findings in the August issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Using dietary intake records of approximately 27,000 of the women who participated in the decade-long Women’s Health Study, lead researcher Dr. Sesso looked at levels of strawberry consumption and several risk factors for heart disease. The findings revealed that women who ate the most strawberries – two or more servings per week – compared to those who reported eating none in the past month, were 14 percent less likely to have elevated C-reactive protein levels – a blood biomarker that signals the presence of inflammation in the body.

Strawberries are High in Antioxidants

   You’ve heard it before, but a diet high in vegetables and fruits can help you combat cardiovascular disease, cancer, and prevent or delay the onset of many of the effects of aging. Research at the USDA ‘s Agricultural Research Service at Lane, OK suggests that the high antioxidant levels in strawberries can help neutralize the destructive effects of free radicals in your system, while helping your body to repair its tissues by giving you an added boost of vitamin C.

Strawberries help your Body Combat Heart Attach, Stroke, and Alzheimer’s Disease

   A serving of strawberries will provide you with 210 mg of potassium, a mineral that will help regulate the electrolytes in your body, lowering your risk of heart attack and stroke. Strawberries are also high in folate, a key ingredient in the manufacture of red blood cells, and a possible aid in delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

   Strawberries, like other berries, are famous in the phytonutrient world as a rich source of phenols. In the strawberry, these phenols are led by the anthocyanins (especially anthocyanin 2) and by the ellagitannins. The anthocyanins in strawberry not only provide its flush red color, they also serve as potent antioxidants that have repeatedly been shown to help protect cell structures in the body and to prevent oxygen damage in all of the body’s organ systems. Strawberries’ unique phenol content makes them a heart-protective fruit, an anti-cancer fruit, and an anti-inflammatory fruit, all rolled into one. The anti-inflammatory properties of strawberry include the ability of phenols in this fruit to lessen activity of the enzyme cyclo-oxygenase, or COX. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen block pain by blocking this enzyme, whose over activity has been shown to contribute to unwanted inflammation, such as that which is involved in rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, and cancer. Unlike drugs that are COX-inhibitors, however, strawberries do not cause intestinal bleeding.

   The ellagitannin content of strawberries has actually been associated with decreased rates of cancer death. In one study, strawberries topped a list of eight foods most linked to lower rates of cancer deaths among a group of over 1,000 elderly people. Those eating the most strawberries were three times less likely to develop cancer compared to those eating few or no strawberries.

  A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry analyzed eight strawberry cultivars for their content of protective plant compounds (phenols, flavonoids and anthocyanins) and their antioxidant capacities. Although the various cultivars differed significantly in the amounts of the various beneficial compounds each contained, all cultivars (Earliglow, Annapolis, Evangeline, Allstar, Sable, Sparkle, Jewel, and Mesabi) were able to significantly inhibit the proliferation of human liver cancer cells. Interestingly, no relationship was found between a cultivar’s antioxidant content and its ability to inhibit cancer cell proliferation, which suggests that this beneficial effect of strawberries is caused by other actions of their many beneficial compounds.

   Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. They are also a very good source of dietary fiber and iodine. Plus, strawberries are a good source of potassium, folate, vitamin B2, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, copper, and vitamin K.

   Strawberries also contain an array of beneficial phytonutrients, including flavonoids, anthocyanidins and ellagic acid.

Reference links:

 Health Benefits of Strawberries: Enjoy a Low Calorie Way to Get Vitamins and Minerals

Rhubarb: Health Benefits

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  Rhubarb is a relative of buckwheat and has an earthy, sour or tart flavor. Although it’s typically eaten as a fruit, rhubarb is actually a vegetable that’s packed with health benefits and taste.
The stalky vegetable is 95 percent water and contains a myriad of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, dietary fiber and calcium. One cup of diced rhubarb contains about 26 calories, so it serves as a great low-calorie filler in desserts and savory pies.

  Rhubarb also has medicinal uses, as it is recognized – because of its high dietary fiber content – as a digestive system stimulant. It operates directly as a conveyor of bile salts, meaning it helps the intestine regulate the absorption of fats. Rhubarb is thus used as a laxative, anti-inflammatory and homeostatic in the treatment of constipation, diarrhea, jaundice, ulcers and more.
For those with high cholesterol, some studies have shown that rhubarb has the potential to lower cholesterol, because of its high fiber content. 

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Blueberry Health Benefits

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   Want to retain your memory? Try a blueberry. Lower your risk factors for some cancers? Make blueberries part of your diet. How about a great natural source of antioxidants for optimum health? That’s right, true blues.

   The long list of health benefits associated with blueberries is becoming as well known among the general public as it has been for many years in the health and research communities and with professional growers. From Newsweek to the Wall Street Journal and beyond, it’s almost impossible now not to hear something good, make that great, about blueberries.

   “When it comes to brain protection, there’s nothing quite like blueberries, according to Tufts neuroscientist James Joseph,” as recounted in Newsweek (6/17/02). "’call the blueberry the brain berry,– says Joseph, who attributes the effects to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds.” In the Wall Street Journal (4/29/03), a recent article on reversing memory loss noted “blueberries . . . had the strongest impact” in a study showing aging rodents behaved more like their younger counterparts when fed several different fruits.

   In fact, blueberries are a standout fruit in the 5 A Day The Color Way™ for Better Health Program, the nation’s largest public-private nutrition education initiative. With the goal of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption to 5 A Day for 75 percent of Americans by 2010, the program recommends that consumers should Eat Your Colors. Of course that means blueberries as one of the top fruits and vegetables in the Blue/Purple category. According to the program, blues and purples lower the risk of some cancers and promote urinary tract health, memory function, and healthy aging with their varying amounts of health-promoting phytochemicals such as anthocyanins and phenolics, currently being studied for their antioxidant and anti-aging benefits.

For easy reference, the list from many sources of reported blueberry benefits includes:

improved vision
clearing arteries
more antioxidants for disease protection
strengthening blood vessels
enhanced memory
stopping urinary tract infections
reversing age-related physical and mental declines
promoting weight control.

   “We now know that blueberries are one of the best sources of antioxidants, substances that can slow the aging process and reduce cell damage that can lead to cancer,” according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Besides all the health benefits blueberries are delicious.

Processed foods and Chemical additives

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Have you ever thought about the fact most food either has been processed and or contains chemicals not meant for humans to consume. Our bodies are designed to process natural sources of nutrients not preservatives and dyes made in a lab. The term Junk food pretty much now covers most of the food we consume. Yes i know scientists deem most of the additives safe for consumption but they have said that about allot of things. Science doesn’t have the facts straight all the time look at how many medications that were deemed safe in the past that either now contain warning labels or have been pulled off the shelf entirely due to new found problems in their consumption. Food also has had allot of do’s and don’ts change through out the years. Eggs are one, they say don’t eat them due to cholesterol then say do eat them for the omega3 fats. Margarine and butter also have had there days of do and don’ts. Seems our scientists and medical researchers need to do more complete studies before announcing there findings. So are we going to believe those whom so far have proven to be a shaky source of facts thus far or will we choose to eat what is meant for us the things that the earth provides. Its up to the individual to choose but i at least suggest you read the labels on the packages before you eat the food inside for now on so at least you understand the facts of what is in your food. I know i will eat some of the foods that had been processed and have chemical additives due to both the convenience and fact i just like them. Just limit the amount of processed foods and foods with chemical additives and eat more fresh foods. You may find you will feel a little better and fresh foods taste so much better.

Cooking Oils, Which are more Heart Healthy?

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The cooking oils below are low in saturated fats and trans fats. Some have high concentration of monounsaturated fats such as olive oil. Use corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, soy oil or canola oil if you wish to fry foods as these oils have higher smoke point. It is best not to fry with olive oil as its has a low smoke point.

canola oil
flax seed oil
peanut oil
Olive Oil
safflower oil
corn oil
sunflower oil
soy oil

Foods That Contain Omega-3 Fatty Acids

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omega-3 Fatty Acids are a good way to help control cholesterol levels
Below is a list of some foods that contain the omega-3 Fatty Acids

Salmon, flax seeds and walnuts, scallops, cauliflower, cabbage, cloves, mustard seeds, halibut, shrimp, cod, tuna, soybeans, tofu, kale, collard greens, and Brussels sprouts.

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