With the assortment of health labels on our foods today, it is a confusing time for consumers. A common question: does organic matter?
Organic produce tests lower in pesticides, but research is mixed on whether it contains more nutrients.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases a list of foods each year with the least and most pesticide residues (called the Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen, respectively). If you’d like to make a change, choosing organic produce from the Dirty Dozen list is the best bang for your buck.
The Dirty Dozen
The Clean Fifteen
Regardless, research shows eating enough fruits and vegetables may help lower risk of premature death from chronic illnesses, like heart disease. While it is recommended to eat 4 to 5 cups of fruits and vegetables each day, only about 10% of us get that much.
So if organic isn’t in the budget, don’t fret. A non-organic apple is better than no apple at all.
Brantsæter A et al. Organic food in the diet: exposure and health implications. Annual Review of Public Health. 2017; 38: 295-313.
Lee-Kwan S, Moore L, Blanck H, Harris D, and D Galuska. Disparities in state-specific adult fruit and vegetable consumption — United States, 2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep (CDC). 2017; 66:1241–1247.
Slavin J and B Lloyd. Health benefits of fruits and vegetables. Adv Nutr. 2012; 3(4): 506–516.
* A small amount of sweet corn and papaya in the United States is produced from genetically modified seeds. Organic versions cannot be genetically modified.
Incorporating vegetables into breakfast is not always easy, but smoothies can help kick start your day with powerhouse nutrients in a travel-friendly format.
Blended food can feel less filling, but incorporating protein, fat, and fiber into your smoothies increases fullness by slowing down digestion and adding volume.
Other strategies for promoting satiety include sipping slowly and chewing a handful of nuts (instead of adding protein and fat to your smoothie).
MAKE A BALANCED BREAKFAST BY USING THIS CHART
Here are two smoothie ideas to get you started:
1 cup frozen mixed berries + 1 cup cauliflower + ½ cup unsweetened almond milk + ½ cup plain Greek yogurt + 1 tablespoon peanut butter + 1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup blueberries + ½ banana + 1 cup spinach + ½ cup milk + 1 teaspoon grated ginger with small handful of almonds on the side (about ¼ cup)
Dhillon, J et al. The effects of increased protein intake on fullness: a meta-analysis and its limitations. J Acad Nutr Diet; 2016. 116(6): 968-983
Rogers, PJ and R Shahrokni. A comparison of the satiety effects of a fruit smoothie, its fresh fruit equivalent and other drinks. Nutrients; 2018. 10(4):431.
Slavin, JL. Position of the American Dietetic Association: health implications of dietary fiber. J Am Diet Assoc; 2008. 108(10): 1716-3.
Beans are packed with nutrients, yet often neglected. They are a plant-based protein containing soluble fiber, which can help lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar control.
Research has shown fiber-rich diets may reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer – and beans are a great way to boost your intake.
Add them by:
Dietary fiber: essential for a healthy diet. Mayo Clinic; 2015. Accessed October 2018.
Garden-Robinson J and K McNeal. All about beans nutrition, health henefits, preparation, and use in menus. North Dakota State University Food and Nutrition; 2013. Accessed October 2018.
Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: health implications of dietary fiber. JAND. 2015; 115 (11): 1861- 1870.
Whether it’s the Super Bowl or Valentine’s Day, February is full of party opportunities. Here are some tips to take the stress out of eating and enjoy what really matters – the company!
Pre-game wisely: avoid getting too hungry beforehand by including a snack with fiber and protein.
Celebrate mindfully: pay attention to what you are eating and really taste it.
Don’t avoid your favorite foods: all foods can fit – add some vegetables for balance (they are also linked to a decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes).
Skerrett, P. Harvard health blog: Tips for holiday eating. Harvard Health Publishing; 2012.
Slavin JL and B Lloyd. Health benefits of fruits and vegetables. Adv Nutr. 2012; 3(4):506-16.
Story EN, Kopec RE, Schwartz SJ, and GK Harris. An update on the health effects of tomato lycopene. Annu Rev Food Sci Technol. 2010; 1:189-210.
Boost your immune system to help fight cold and flu season by adding these foods to your diet.
Berries (such as blueberries and blackberries) are packed with anthocyanins which have powerful antioxidant benefits. Add them to cereal or yogurt.
Garlic contains allicin which has been studied for its antimicrobial properties and shown in one small study to be effective at preventing the common cold.
Citrus fruits are well known for their vitamin C content, but did you know they also contain flavonoids? Flavonoids are a type of phytonutrient that have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting benefits.
Sweet potatoes and carrots contain beta carotene, which plays a role in maintaining your body’s natural defenses including keeping your lungs and gut healthy and free of disease-causing pathogens.
Looking to increase your intake of these foods? Try these recipes:
Breakfast: baked blueberry oatmeal
Lunch: loaded baked sweet potato
Dinner: ginger-spiced chicken with roasted winter vegetables
Barbieri, R. et al. Phytochemicals for human disease: An update on plant-derived compounds antibacterial activity. Microbiological Research, 2017. 196: 44-68.
Chew, B. and J. Park. Carotenoid Action on the Immune Response. J Nutr, 2004. 134(1):
Konczak I and W. Zhang. Anthocyanins-More Than Nature's Colours. J Biomed Biotechnol, 2004. 2004(5): 239-240.
Marchese, A. et al. Antifungal and antibacterial activities of allicin: a review.Trends in Food Science & Technology, 2016. 52: 49-56.
Wang, S., et al. Characterization and Metabolic Diversity of Flavonoids in Citrus Species. Scientific Reports. 2018.
Wang, Y., et al. Molecules. (2017). Antioxidant Capacity, Anticancer Ability and Flavonoids Composition of 35 Citrus (Citrus reticulata Blanco) Varieties. Molecules, 2017. 5: 22(7).
With the return to cool temperatures, we also usher in a season of squash. Varieties include butternut, spaghetti, delicata, kabocha, and acorn.
These winter vegetables are a good source of vitamin A, which supports a healthy immune system and may help protect against cancer.
They also contain fiber and generally have fewer calories per cup compared to other types of carbohydrates.
Due to their tough exterior, squash can be intimidating to cook. But certain varieties (like spaghetti or acorn squash) are easy to prepare. To roast them:
1. Cut the squash in half using a large sharp knife
2. Scoop out seeds and stringy flesh
3. Brush inside with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
4. Roast (flesh side down) in a 400° oven for 30 to 45 minutes (or until tender when pierced with a fork)
5. Shred the spaghetti squash with a fork or scoop out the acorn squash flesh using a spoon
Need inspiration? Try this recipe.
Nosowitz, D. The Modern Famer Guide to Winter Squash Varieties. Modern Farmer, 2017. Accessed September 2018.
Vitamin A: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. NIH: Office of Dietary Supplements, Updated 2018. Accessed September 2018.
Winter Squash. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: The Nutrition Source. Accessed September 2018.
Studies show eating vegetables can reduce risk of early death, especially related to heart problems. Yet, only 13% of us meet the recommended intake. Most people should have at least 2 to 3 cups a day.
Leafy greens are particularly protective, but increasing any type is helpful. Here are five ways to add more vegetables to foods you love:
Already include a vegetable with dinner? Serve more than one. Research shows when multiple vegetables are offered, a larger quantity is eaten overall.
Hung, H.C., et al., Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Risk of Major Chronic Disease. J Natl Cancer Inst, 2004. 96(21): 1577-84.
Hung H.C, et al., Health-Promoting Components of Fruits and Vegetables in the Diet. Advances in Nutrition, 2013. 4(3): 384S–392S.
Meengs, J., Rose, L., Rolls, B. and H. Guthrie, Vegetable Variety: An Effective Strategy to Increase Vegetable Intake in Adults. J Acad Nutr Diet, 2012. 112(8): 1211-1215.
Slavin, J. and B. Lloyd, Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables. Adv Nutr, 2012. 3(4): 506–516.
Wang, X. et al., Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Mortality from All Causes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer: Systematic Review and Dose-response Meta-analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies. BMJ, 2014. 349:g4490.
Plant-based diets are becoming increasingly popular—and for good reason.
They can help lower blood pressure, reduce risk of diabetes, and lower risk of early death. People who follow plant-based diets also tend to weigh less, despite consuming similar calories compared to meat-eaters.
The type of plant-based diet you follow matters though.
To see health benefits, include a variety of protective foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Looking to increase your plant intake? Here are some ideas to get you started (click on the links below):
For the CARNIVORE: mushroom meatloaf
For the CARB lover: broccoli cauliflower parmesan pasta
For the TOFU-neophyte: peanut tofu
For the ON-THE-FLY meal-planner: 5 plant-powered meals
Ambika, S. et al., Healthful and Unhealthful Plant-Based Diets and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in U.S. Adults. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2017. 70(4): 411.
Derbyshire, E., Flexitarian Diets and Health: A Review of the Evidence-Based Literature. Front Nutr, 2016. 3:55.
McEvoy, CT., Temple, N. and JV Woodside, Vegetarian Diets, Low-meat Diets and Health: A Review. Public Health Nutr, 2012. 15(12): 2287-94.
Rizzo, N., Jaceldo-Siegl, K., Sabate, J. and G. Fraser, Nutrient Profiles of Vegetarian and Non Vegetarian Dietary Patterns. J Acad Nutr Diet, 2013. 113(12): 1610-1619.