Posts Tagged ‘fruit’

The Dark Side of the Smoothie

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When starting this blog, I knew that the obligatory smoothie post was destined to occur. For some reason I just couldn’t get to it. Smoothies are so overhyped in so many ways. Quite often, a smoothie is actually the last thing someone should be drinking because they are usually loaded with copious amounts of sugar. Although a smoothie with 2 bananas, 19 strawberries, 32 blueberries, 2 dates, a mango, and a cup of orange juice may sound like the ultimate vitamin packed breakfast, you are actually consuming anywhere between 17 and 20 teaspoons of sugar! I encourage my patients to eat fruit often and on a daily basis- but the key is to eat in moderation. Up to 5 servings a day is enough, believe it or not. You never want to eat your entire fruit allotment in one serving. Too much of a good thing is usually not a good thing. Smoothies can be tricky, so you must proceed with caution. I have even seen “healthy” smoothies made with vanilla frozen yogurt. Hello! This is a dessert! Not breakfast. Not a healthy snack.

Many drink smoothies to allow their digestive tract to rest a bit. The fiber is broken down so finely that we more readily absorb all those fabulous nutrients that nature has to offer. Oh, aren’t you smart for blending up all those sweet fruits and virtually making the fiber disintegrate in that orange juice. Now that sugar is even more quickly absorbed into your bloodstream without a hint of fiber to slow it down. I have an idea, let’s next inject maple syrup directly into our veins! It certainly does have an exceptional mineral composition. But really, drinking these high sugar smoothies, albeit with the best intentions, only causes a major insulin spike. And what does insulin do? Being that it is a growth hormone, it assists in your growth…of fat cells very often. Not to mention the hard work that your pancreas has to do to secrete the necessary amount needed to keep that blood sugar in check. No bueno.

However, a smoothie can truly be a vehicle of health and wellness if we are smart about it. Here are some rules to live by:

1. Limit fruit portions to 2, 3 at the very most. That’s right, this should be plenty of sugar for one sitting. And don’t worry-you are getting a slew of vitamins and minerals from two simple servings of fruit.

2. Add greens. This is a perfect time to throw in a handful of dark leafy greens. I recommend spinach, kale, and Romaine lettuce. A handful is enough to give you plenty of benefits from the greens without overpowering your smoothie’s deliciousness. The benefits of these vegetables go way beyond a concoction of 15 fruits. So add them to every smoothie.

3. Go clear with the liquid. Let’s be real here… A smoothie is healthy, fruit juice is not. Make your base water only. Water does not have any added sugar or fat. It is pure and will not alter the taste of your smoothie. If you have been exercising heavily, or sweating a lot, add coconut water.

4. Skip the added sugar. I don’t care how healthy the sugar is that your adding- whether it be honey, maple syrup, or the healthynotreallyhealthy agave nectar. Don’t do it. The fruit that you choose should be sweet enough to sweeten the smoothie. If it is not sweet enough, then I recommend you not drink smoothies at all. Or if you absolutely must, have a small one for desert.

5. Include healthy fats. Healthy fats give staying power to the smoothie. This is especially important if you are making your smoothie a meal, like breakfast. Fat allows you to go a few hours without seriously considering eating the copy paper before lunchtime rolls around. Healthy fats are: nuts, seeds, avocado, and coconut flakes (unsweetened, of course).

These 5 basic tips will allow you to either continue or begin your smoothie habit in a very healthful and beneficial way. Stay tuned for more smoothie tips and upcoming recipes!

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Behold, the Power of the Grapefruit

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Don’t miss out on this luscious fruit that is freshly available now! This nutrient-packed treasure is in season from November through June, with the best tasting varieties available mid-December through April. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t start my morning with one of these babies.

During the winter, we tend to drink much less water. We also eat less fruit, presumably preserving our taste buds for summer. Wintertime allows us to load up on heavy foods (or as we like to say, “warming foods,” because that naturally sounds better). This leads to dehydrated, bloated bellies, and a lack of fundamental nutrients. Well, I am proud to proclaim that this special fruit can change all of our winter misconceptions.

Grown in Florida and Texas predominantly, the grapefruit is a perfect addition to any meal or snack. It is actually an excellent fruit for weight loss. It can accelerate your body’s ability to burn fat and assist in the breakdown of protein during digestion. Studies have linked this fruit with greater weight loss, lower waist circumference, and better insulin utilization. It is a metabolism-boosting splendor. Because of its rich fiber content, it allows us to feel fuller longer. Grapefruit also helps dispel excess water and waste in our system due to its low sodium and high potassium content, and even prevents kidney stones.

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty – Citrus Limonoids – compounds found in grapefruit. These are phytonutrients that research has shown to prevent a multitude of cancers. They decrease the proliferation (multiplying and spreading) of already present cancer cells.  We also know that this phytonutrient is even more powerful when paired with green tea (that’s for another blog). Preliminary research is suggesting that limonoids help to decrease cholesterol by allowing the liver to produce less Apolipoprotein B, a componenet of LDL (lousy) cholesterol.

Pink and Red grapefruit have lycopene, a splendid phytonutrient that we usually associate with tomato sauce. It is a carotenoid that gives fruit and vegetables their red color. Watermelons are another example. Lycopene has been linked with the prevention of both cancer and heart disease. Unlike beta-carotene (think carrots), this carotenoid does not convert to Vitamin A in our bodies. It has a role of its own, for which researchers are feverishly attempting to pin down.  Unfortunately, this antioxidant is not found in the white variety of grapefruit. Eh, you win some, you lose some.

As with all citrus fruit, grapefruit is a phenomenal source of Vitamin C. One large grapefruit provides over 200% of our daily value. Vitamin C is an important component of iron absorption. Few know that its role in skin and tissue repair is vital…think sailors plagued with scurvy when Vitamin C was absent. Of course it is also a strong ally when embarking into the nasty flu season. It is a powerful immune boosting anti-oxidant, that helps destroy all of the vicious free radicals we pick up on a daily basis. An important thing to remember with this vitamin is that it is water soluble. This means that it is not stored in our fat cells, and is flushed out each day. Therefore we must regularly ingest it in order to keep our Vitamin C levels high.

Of course with all good things, there is always a caveat. I know this whole grapefruit thing sounds too good to be true, and unfortunately for some, it is. Grapefruits are metabolism manipulators and for this reason, it is advised that we do not eat them if we are taking certain drugs. Grapefruit and its juice contain a compound called furanocoumarin, which inhibits the liver from properly breaking down certain medications- thus leading to toxic blood levels. Some of these drugs include, cholesterol lowering medications, some blood pressure medications, some cancer drugs, some antibiotics, and others. Bottom line: if you are taking a prescription drug, ask your doctor or pharmacist before indulging in the grapefruit.

With that being said, this winter-busting fruit is incomparable because of its benefits. Enjoy alone, in a salad, or drizzled with a little honey all season long!

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