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Fall Squash and Gourds: A Little Background on These Fall Fruits

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Now that summer is coming to a close, it's time to enjoy one of the most popular fruits that fall has to offer: squash and gourds. While in cooking squash and gourds are considered vegetables, botanically speaking squash and gourds are fruit.

Summer squashes like zucchini and yellow crookneck are harvested during the growing season, are eaten almost immediately and require very little cooking time.

Winter squashes like butternut, acorn, spaghetti and pumpkin are harvested at the end of the summer, can be stored in a cool, dry place for eating later and generally require longer cooking times.

Gourds are from the same family as squashes.

When purchasing these fruits, look for squash and gourds that are fairly heavy and firm. Choose squash that have bright, glossy exteriors and avoid squash that have nicks, bruises or soft spots.

Straight From the Headlines: Eating Junk Food An Addiction?

Written by Lisa Jillanza

According to a recent study published in the journal “Nature Neuroscience,” a high-calorie diet, including junk food, may be as addictive as drugs like nicotine or even cocaine.

The study, conducted on rats, shows that over consumption of high-calorie foods can trigger addiction-like responses in the brain, thereby turning the rats into compulsive eaters.

Decreased levels of a specific dopamine receptor : a brain chemical that allows a feeling of reward : have been found in these overweight rats, as they are found in humans with drug addictions.

The research was conducted in conjunction with the announcement that obesity-related diseases cost the U.S. and estimated $150 billion each year and an estimated two-thirds of American adults and one-third of children are obese or overweight.

Researchers say that eating snack foods are okay to eat from time to time, it's when we repeatedly overindulge that the problems begin.

Wild About Watermelon!

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Summer is the season when that tasty fruit, the watermelon, once again makes an appearance around the dinner table and the picnic area. Besides being made up of nearly 90% water, watermelons are also a great source of significant vitamins and minerals.

So, what is watermelon made of? It is chock full of a considerable amount of vitamins A and C. It contains thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate and niacin in small amounts. It is a great source of potassium, and also contains magnesium, calcium, phosphorous and iron in trace amounts. It is also very low in calories, free of fats and cholesterol and is rich in carotenoids.

Because of these nutritional facts and their amazing taste, we should enjoy watermelons while they last!

Dieting for Stress Management: Choosing Stress-Fighting Foods

Written by Lisa Jillanza

STRESS. We all deal with it at some point in our lives. But having too much stress in your life can be very harmful to your health and can make you more vulnerable to everything from colds to high blood pressure and even heart disease.

Stress management is a valuable tool to learn when it comes to your overall wellness. While there are many ways to cope with stress, eating stress-fighting foods is one good way to start.

From boosting serotonin levels to lowering stress hormones, there are a number of foods that actually counteract the impact of stress on our lives.

The following foods should be part of your diet for stress management:

Complex Carbohydrates : All carbohydrates give a signal to the brain to produce that “feel good” chemical, serotonin. To keep a steady flow of serotonin, dieticians suggest complex carbs like whole grain cereals, breads and pastas and oatmeal.

Oranges : Because they are a wealth of vitamin C, studies show that oranges are great stress-busting foods, as well as a great immune system strengthener. Experts suggest taking 3,000 milligrams of vitamin C before a stressful event.

Spinach : It's the magnesium in spinach that helps to regulate cortisol levels that particularly get depleted when we are in stressful situations. Not enough magnesium can trigger headaches, adding to stressful situations. One cup of spinach is the recommended amount, as the magnesium goes a long way. Can't do spinach? Try cooked soy beans or salmon instead, for the same effects.

Fatty Fish : Omega-3 fatty acids are important to prevent surges in stress hormones, as well as protect against heart disease. Try fatty fish like salmon or tuna for your Omega-3's.

Black Tea : Good for lowering levels of cortisol following stressful events, many experts swear by the healing powers of black tea. Black tea helps you to recover quickly following stresses and helps you to remain calm.

Pistachios : Chosen for their ability to soften the pre- and post-effects of stress, experts suggest eating a handful of pistachios every day to help lower blood pressure so it won't spike when faced with stressful situations.

Avocados : Another great high blood pressure reducing food is avocados, due to their potassium content. Half of an avocado has more potassium than a medium-sized banana. Additionally, avocados, in guacamole form, are a great and nutritious treat when stress has you craving snack foods.

Almonds : Chock full of vitamins, like vitamin E and a range of B vitamins, almonds are a great treat to eat that help with resiliency when dealing with stress.

Raw Vegetables : In a purely mechanical way, crunching on raw vegetables can help to alleviate stress. By releasing your clenched jaw and possibly warding off headaches, chomping your carrots, celery and other veggies is beneficial on many levels

While these are but a few suggestions, they will all help to get you back on track towards a less stressful life.

 

Great Summertime Fruits: Get Them While They Last!

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Summer is a great season to partake in the numerous delicious seasonal fruits. Not only do these summertime fruits taste great, but they also give you many nutritional benefits.

Some fruits to enjoy before the season ends include:

Berries: the phytochemicals in blueberries, strawberries and blackberries all boost immunity, and protect against heart diseases and circulatory problems.

Peaches and Plums: full of vitamin C and beta carotene, peaches and plums help to eliminate free radicals from the body.

Pineapples: being packed with the most vitamins and minerals, pineapples are also a great digestive aid.

Papayas and Mangoes: both are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, beta carotene and fiber.