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Drink Your Vegetables! Guide to the Best Vegetable Juice Options

Drink Your Vegetables! Guide to the Best Vegetable Juice Options

Experts recommend that we get 9 servings of fruit and vegetables each day in order to stay healthy and reduce our likelihood of a wide range of diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer. An evaluation of long-term studies conducted in Europe and the US found that those who ate more than 5 servings of fruit and vegetables daily had a 20 percent lower risk of stroke and coronary heart disease than those who ate fewer than 3 servings per day.

Although fruit is very healthy (it provides lots of vitamins and fiber), it contains a lot of sugar in the form of fructose. This is why experts say that about three-fifths of those 9 servings of fruit and vegetables should be comprised of vegetables. But it’s not easy for a lot of people to get those all-important servings each day, given our increasingly busy schedules. Luckily, it’s relatively simple to get your daily veggies from drinking juice.

Just to be crystal clear on this point—it is generally better for you to eat whole vegetables either raw or very lightly cooked as often as possible. Vegetable juices are generally pretty low in fiber, depending on the juice (or juicer) you get. Fiber is important for digestive health, reducing the risk of constipation and keeping your cholesterol at a healthy level. Nevertheless, drinking vegetable juice is far better than getting little or no vegetables at all!

Juicing can be a particularly useful option for people who have digestive issues. To get the most nutritional value from your vegetables (or from any other food you eat, for that matter), your body must first break them down during digestion. Generally speaking, the simple act of chewing and swallowing our food so that it can be dissolved elsewhere along the digestive tract should be sufficient to release the nutrients in whatever we eat. However, some people (including the elderly, whose digestive enzymes may not be as powerful as they once were) have digestive problems that interfere with the absorption of nutrients. Since juice has had most of the vegetables’ cellulose removed or broken down, it’s easier for the digestive system to absorb all those important nutrients.

For veggie juices with the highest nutritional content, consider juices featuring some of the following vegetables:

  • Tomatoes – Possibly the best vegetable to juice, tomatoes contain lycopene, which has been shown to lower the risk of prostate cancer and is supportive of heart health.
  • Kale – Chock full of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B, C and K, calcium, copper and magnesium, kale also is high in cancer-fighting phytonutrients.
  • Cabbage – Helps protect against ulcers, and its indoles help to regulate metabolism and the balance of estrogen.
  • Peppers – Red bell peppers in particular are high in vitamin C and antioxidants. Adds a refreshing flavor to any vegetable juice.
  • Celery – High in potassium, celery helps to regulate blood pressure. It also reduces uric acid in the blood, which is good news for anyone with gout.
  • Spinach – High in the cancer-fighting antioxidant lutein, spinach is also high in vitamins A, C and E, and is a good source of calcium, folic acid, iron and potassium.
  • Carrots – These contain large amounts of beta carotene, good for the skin, eyes, brain and arteries. They blend well with other vegetables as well. Just be sure to use them somewhat sparingly, as they are also quite high in sugar.
  • Parsley – Cleanses the liver and kidneys and is supportive of heart health. It is also high in vitamin C.

So drink up, and enjoy the health benefits you can gain from these wonderful vegetables!

  • Special Note: Using a high-powered blender such as a Blendtec or Vitamix Blender allows you to get your juice and fiber as well! Not everyone can afford one but for those that can, it can be a wonderful investment!

 

6 Reasons to Stop Buying Microwave Popcorn

6 Reasons to Stop Buying Microwave Popcorn

6 Reasons to Stop Buying Microwave Popcorn

Ah, popcorn. A movie staple, a campfire favorite, even a Christmas decoration. We’re big fans of the stuff here at our house. The way we enjoy it, though, is the semi-old fashioned way: we make ours with the air popper (the truly old-fashioned way is in a skillet, over a fire, just in case you were wondering).  Back in our pre-microwave days in the 1980s, my mom always made popcorn with the air popper. She’d salt it a little and mix in some melted butter. Mmmmm…

Then the microwave relegated the air popper to the back of the cupboards, taking up space alongside the other hardly used appliances. It just seemed so much more convenient to just pop the bag in the microwave. Sure, sometimes a good portion of the bag’s contents were either charred or completely unpopped, but that was the trade-off for a pre-seasoned and effortless bag of popcorn. That’s the way it was for us, at least.

For Christmas in 2008, my parents gave us an air popper (we’re still using the same one) and some fun serving containers. We stopped buying the microwave stuff and have only used our air popper ever since. Though this is our preferred way to pop, there are other methods, like cooking it on the stovetop or microwaving popcorn kernels in a brown paper bag. Each way works well and is better than the stuff sold pre-packaged at the store.  Here are six reasons why you should take the boxes of microwave popcorn off your shopping list…

1. Homemade popcorn is frugal.
Hence the mention on here, right?  There is no denying that buying the popcorn kernels is much cheaper, especially if you can find it in the bulk food bins at the grocery store (most common in health/natural food stores).  With microwave popcorn, you’re paying for the bags, the brand, the oils and seasonings, and plastic packaging. For the same price of a few bags of microwave popcorn, you could get pounds of the kernels. It only takes a half cup of kernels in our air popper to yield a big bowl of popcorn. A pound of popcorn goes a long way. Even if you buy the popper (which run around $15-25), it’s still the more frugal way to enjoy popcorn. Just by skipping microwave popcorn and getting the kernels in bulk, the popper soon pays for itself in savings.

2. Homemade popcorn is less wasteful.
Whenever I make popcorn, there’s maybe two or three kernels left unpopped, maximum. And I’ve never had burned popcorn making it with the air popper. All those burnt/unpopped kernels at the bottom of the microwave is waste. Unless you’ve gotten microwaving popcorn down to a science or the popcorn setting on your microwave actually works, waste is practically inevitable.

3. Microwave popcorn takes as long to pop as homemade.
To prove this, I timed how long it took to pop half a cup of kernels (which equals a big bowl of popcorn). Barely over two minutes (plus the 30 or so seconds it took to get the popper out of the pantry, get a bowl out of the cupboard, and plug it in). That’s just about as long as it takes to do the microwave stuff. I can’t say how long it takes to do it the other ways I mentioned — on the stovetop or in the paper bag — but I’m willing to bet it’s pretty close. So, really, what are you paying for with microwave popcorn? Is it really that much more convenient?

4.  Microwave popcorn is unhealthy. Like, really unhealthy.
I recently read an article entitled, “7 Seven Foods That Should Never Cross Your Lips” and microwave popcorn is on the list. Here’s why, quoting the article:

“Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize—and migrate into your popcorn. ‘They stay in your body for years and accumulate there,’ says Dr. Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals. DuPont and other manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of bags of popcorn will be sold between now and then.”

Yuck.

5. Cheap entertainment.
My older son has been entertained by the popcorn popper since the first time we used it, back when was barely two years old. Even now as a big five-year-old, he still likes watching the kernels spin and then pop like crazy. It’s a great way to dispell a grouchy mood. Even though the baby doesn’t eat popcorn yet (choking hazard and all), he giggles and squeals as we make it.  Homemade popcorn is also better for crafts like popcorn chains (can you imagine stringing greasy microwave popcorn?).

6. Homemade popcorn tastes better.
Microwave popcorn in “butter flavor” doesn’t come close to popcorn with real butter. It just doesn’t. It might take you a little adjustment at first if you’re used to the intensely flavored and super-salty stuff, but once you’re used to the wholesome taste of popcorn seasoned with some salt and real butter, you’ll think the microwave stuff is gross. Plus, there are other options for seasoning air popped popcorn: cocoa popcorn (my son literally licked the bowl clean), basil popcorn (yum), toffee popcorn (this recipe looks amazing), and more. The best part about homemade popcorn is that you control what goes (and doesn’t go) in it. You can make it as healthy or as decadent as you want.

All this is making me hungry. I’m going to go make some now. So should you.

Today’s article was written by Heather and shared from the following website: http://theparsimoniousprincess.blogspot.com/2012/01/6-reasons-to-stop-buying-microwave.html
What Are the Best Sources of Fiber?

What Are the Best Sources of Fiber?

fruits in supermarket

Getting adequate amounts of fiber in your diet is important for a variety of reasons. The primary ones are that it improves digestion and contributes to lowering your risk of contracting chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The FDA recommends that adults get at least 25 to 30 grams in their diet every day. However, our typical western diet, which is high in refined grains and processed food, provides the average person only about 15 grams of fiber per day.

There are two different types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble, each of which fulfill an important task. Soluble fiber dissolves in water (and our stomach’s digestive juices), transforming into a gel-like substance that helps to lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and reduce high blood sugar. The primary purpose of insoluble fiber is to work as an indigestible bulking agent to keeps things moving along the digestive tract, which aids elimination and reduces the risk of constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis. Fiber may also help you to lose weight, and is important in maintaining general bowel health.

Among the best sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber are the following:

  • Beans and lentils – Make a three-bean salad, a bean burrito, some chili or soup. Hummus (chick pea puree) is another tasty option.
  • Bran cereal – You don’t have to endure Grape Nuts to meet your daily requirement. Any cereal with 5 or more grams of fiber per serving is considered high in fiber.
  • Whole grains – Chuck the white bread for whole-grain bread and pasta. It tastes better, and it does not make your blood sugar spike so quickly due to its higher fiber content.
  • Brown rice – Has a great, nutty taste and is particularly nice with a little soy sauce added.
  • Vegetables – Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and celery are among the vegetables with the highest fiber. Be sure not to overcook them though. They should remain crunchy.
  • Popcorn – A low-calorie snack (if you skip the added butter) and an easy source of fiber.
  • Nuts and seeds – Those highest in fiber are almonds, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
  • Baked potatoes – Be sure to eat the skin, as it’s the part with the good fiber.
  • Berries – There’s a lot of fiber contained in the seeds and skin of berries.
  • Oatmeal – Steel-cut oats are the best in providing good amounts of cholesterol-lowering fiber. If you’re in a rush, instant oatmeal provides fiber as well, if at a lower amount.

So be sure to add more from the above list to your weekly menu and enjoy the many benefits that increased fiber has to offer! If you have questions about your diet choices, always remember that you can call either of our Billings offices and schedule an appointment to meet with Dr. Oblander or a member of our staff!

Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Digestion

Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Digestion

Couple enjoying lunch at cafeA well-functioning digestive system is crucial to maintaining your body’s overall health. Without it, you are likely to have bowel problems and suffer from digestive upsets, not to mention a host of other conditions that can result from not getting enough nutrients from the food you eat. The digestive system affects all the other systems of the body, so it’s important to do what you can to be sure it’s working the way it should. Following are the top 5 things you can do to help improve your digestion.

Eat more fiber – Soluble and insoluble fiber are both essential for moving food through the digestive tract. Soluble fiber, such as that found in oatmeal, beans, nuts and apples, turns to a gel in your intestines and slows digestion, helping to maintain stable blood sugar levels. It absorbs water, softening the stool, and promotes the health of the good bacteria in your gut. Insoluble fiber, such as that found in the skins of fruit and vegetables, speeds digestion, adds bulk and passes primarily intact through the digestive tract. Both are important in preventing constipation and can improve conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Drink more fluids – Insufficient water intake can harden the stool, increasing constipation. You should be sure to drink at least 1.2 liters of fluid per day, which is about 6 glasses. Some people need more, based on their activity level and the ambient temperature. However, do not drink more than about 6 ounces of liquid during a meal (taking the occasional sip), as it can dilute your stomach acid, making digestion more difficult. Aim to get most of your fluid intake 15-30 minutes before a meal or at least an hour afterward.

Take probiotics – Probiotics such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria are the good bacteria that populate our digestive tract. Eating yogurt with a variety of helpful live cultures as well as fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir can help promote the production and health of these beneficial bacteria.

Eat more fat – Although increasing your fiber intake can improve your digestion that fiber does not move through the digestive tract so easily if you are not getting enough fat in your diet. Good fats will not raise your cholesterol and in fact are a healthy part of your diet when eaten in moderation. Some healthy sources of fat are olive oil, coconut oil, butter and avocados.

Reduce stress – When you are under stress, your digestive system slows down and circulation to the digestive tract is reduced, lowering your body’s ability to efficiently break down and utilize the food you eat. Do not rush through meals, and be sure to sufficiently chew and savor your food when you eat. If you must eat while under stress, be sure you eat foods that are simple to digest, such as broth or yogurt.

Cranberries

Cranberries

The cranberry has long been thought of as simply a holiday food or a tart snack.  The truth of the matter is that the lonely cranberry is one of nature’s best super fruits.  And now the cranberry craze has moved beyond cranberry sauce and has moved into the topping world.  Dried sweetened cranberries, more commonly known as “craisins”, have become a topping of choice on most salads, as well as just a simple treat.

The cranberry is considered one of the top super fruits because of its natural antioxidant characteristics and its nutritional content.  Raw cranberries contain healthy levels of vitamin C, manganese and dietary fiber, as well as high levels of polyphenol antioxidants which have been shown to improve the cardiovascular system, as well as the immune system.  The polyphenols within cranberries have also been studied for their anti-cancer benefits.

Probably the best known rumor tied to cranberries has to do with women consuming cranberry juice to fight against recurring urinary tract infections.  Preliminary studies have shown that consuming 300 ml of cranberry juice (not cranberry cocktail) per day can help to limit the amount of bacterial infections in the urinary tract. Cranberry juice has also been studied for its abilities to decrease dental plaque and its ability to decrease kidney stone formation. There have been many studies done on the various health benefits of cranberries and other so called super fruits.  Most of these studies are still in their preliminary phase or are looking for other similar studies to confirm the findings.

The benefits that come from a natural unaltered food far outweigh anything man made that can be placed in a pill, drop, or powder. The moral of the story is that nature provides the things we really need to allow the body to heal from above, down, and inside out.

So, go out and enjoy what nature has to offer!

Great Sweet Potato Recipe!

Great Sweet Potato Recipe!

Sweet potatoes seem to be one of those things that you either like or you don’t. I honestly thought I was in the Don’t Like category until I had a chef serve a recipe similar to this one. I thought I was going to have to put on a good face and endure a couple of bites. Instead, I loved them and I would have gladly eaten more than I was served! This recipe comes from the following link: http://southernfood.about.com/od/sweetpotatoes/r/bl51029d.htm. I recently made this recipe and found that it tasted just like the sweet potatoes my chef friend served to me and my family. Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber. They are low in sodium,  saturated fat and cholesterol.  They are also a good source of Vitamin B6 and Potassium, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Manganese.

Bon Apetite!

Easy Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 4 medium sweet potatoes, about 2 pounds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (I used real maple syrup)
  • cinnamon, to taste
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons half-and-half or milk

Preparation:

Cook sweet potatoes in boiling water until tender. Let cool slightly; peel. Mash with salt, butter, and maple syrup. Add cinnamon to taste then continue to mash with the milk or half-and-half to desired consistency.
Serves 4 to 6.

 

Got Pumpkin?

Got Pumpkin?

Autumn is here and the fall harvest is upon us.  Most of us have eaten a fall harvest product such as an apple, broccoli, cabbage, spinach or squash, but how about a pumpkin (other than pumpkin pie!).  Pumpkins are plentiful and very good for you.  They are low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. Pumpkins are also a good source of Vitamin E (AlphaTocopherol), Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.

The bright orange color of pumpkin is a dead giveaway that pumpkin is loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body. In the conversion to vitamin A, beta-carotene performs many important functions in overall health.  Current research indicates that a diet rich in foods containing beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and offers protection against heart disease, as well as some degenerative aspects of aging.

Pumpkin can be used in many unexpected ways.  Of course you can turn it into pie, but why not add it to your chili, mix it in a stew, make pumpkin pancakes, cook it on your grill, or make it into soup.  Check out www.pumpkinnook.com for some great recipes and information about pumpkins, including the history of the Jack O’Lantern.

Speaking of Jack O’ Lanterns! When you carve pumpkins this year, save the seeds. Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc which is good for the prostate, as well as building the immune system. They also contain fatty acids that kill parasites. For maximum nutritional benefits, seeds should be eaten raw.  However, boiled, baked or raw pumpkin seeds contain essential fatty acids and beneficial proteins.

This year, instead of buying pumpkins only to decorate your front steps, why not try a tasty and nutritious pumpkin recipe.

An Apple A Day

An Apple A Day

Image
The old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” comes from an old English adage, “To eat an apple before going to bed will make the doctor beg his bread.” While this may not be completely true, a regular dose of apples in your diet is a good choice.

As we approach fall apple orchards across the country are preparing for the fall harvest. Most people have a favorite apple variety and with 100 commercially grown varieties in the U.S. there is no shortage of options. Apples are a diverse fruit found around the world and are packed with nutrients and fiber.

Nutritionally, apples are an all star. Vitamins A, C, E, K and B are all found in apples. Minerals, electrolytes, and phytonutrients are also abundant in apples. Apples contain no sodium, fat, or cholesterol and for a medium-sized apple you are looking at about 80 calories. So as you can see it really is a great choice for anyone that is conscientious about what they eat.

For the maximum benefit eat your apples raw with the skin. The skin of the apple is where you will find your highest concentration of fiber and nutrients. I recommend that you eat organically grown fruit whenever possible, but if that is not an option, apples are a fruit that can be easily washed. You don’t want to offset the benefits of the apple with the harmful effects of chemicals that may have been sprayed on the fruit.
Finally, if where you live allows it, take advantage of the fall weather and the apple harvest, pile into the car and go apple picking. Many orchards allow you to pick your own apples and often have special events throughout the fall to draw people in. Make an afternoon of it. Enjoying the sunshine with loved ones, walking around the orchard in the fresh fall air, and of course eating the fruits of your labor, makes for a well rounded day of health and wellness. If you don’t live in a region where you can pick apples, still make a day of it.  Pack a picnic with your favorite food, including apples, and take a trip that includes a nice outdoor hike and picnic!  How do you like them apples?

The Skinny on Fats

The Skinny on Fats

Skinny Years ago fats got a bad name in nutrition. As a result, food manufacturers started taking out the fat, but in order to make the food palatable they had to enhance the flavor with sweeteners, which created a whole different set of problems. Now people are gaining a better understanding about fats and are realizing that not all fats are created equal and fats are even essential to a healthy diet.

Fats are necessary for many biological processes. Fats provide energy and are necessary for the absorption and assimilation of many vitamins. Omega-3 fatty acid is a good example of a fat known to have many health benefits such as being an anti-inflammatory.

You will find that there are a lot of terms associated with fats such as saturated, unsaturated, trans and so on. All these terms describe the chemical composition of the fat but can be confusing for the newly health conscious consumer. While these are not hard and fast rules, these suggestions will get you started towards helping you gain some understanding about this complex subject. Let’s keep it simple to start and you can use this to build on as you learn more about nutrition.

Generally speaking unsaturated fats are going to be the healthier fats. You may see the prefix Poly or Mono in front, which is fine. Unsaturated fats generally come from plant sources and tend to be a liquid at room temperature.

Saturated fats are a bit complex and not clear cut as to whether they are healthy or not. Saturated fats come from animal sources and things like coconut oil. We know that coconut oil has many health benefits but there is disagreement about the nutritional value of animal fats.

However, trans fats are considered unhealthy. trans fats have been chemically altered to make them more stable. Look for terms such as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated. This is a chemical process used to extend the shelf life of many products. Products such as shortening are good examples of trans fats.

As I stated earlier, this is a complex subject with many exceptions to the rules. If you would like to learn more about this topic I suggest the book Good Calories, Bad Calories. This book will help you get The Skinny on Fat.

Why Fiber is So Important to Your Health – Oblander Chiropractic

Why Fiber is So Important to Your Health – Oblander Chiropractic

 

We all know that fiber is important in our diet, but what is fiber?  Why is it good and how do we know if we are getting enough OR too much?

Fiber is the carbohydrate or starch that our bodies cannot digest and can act like a broom to sweep out the digestive tract. Dietary fiber is found only in plant based foods such as fruits,    vegetables, and whole grains.  There are 2 types of fiber:  Water soluble and insoluble fiber.

Insoluble fiber passes through the gut quickly and is known to help prevent constipation, reduce the risk of infections of the gut and the occurrence or development of hemorrhoids, heart disease, and some types of cancer. This type of fiber is found in fruits with skins, uncooked vegetables, nuts, legumes, bran, brown rice and whole-grain flours.

Soluble fiber acts like a sponge in the gut as well as aides in the removal of cholesterol from the blood stream. Because soluble fiber slows the      digestive process, it can reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel/diarrhea and it is known to lower blood sugar, so it is essential in the prevention of diabetes. This type of fiber is found in oats, oat bran, barley, dried beans and peas, and certain vegetables and fruits, such as applesauce,  strawberries, potatoes, citrus, and prunes.

How much fiber should we eat?

The American Dietetic Association recommends eating 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day which is well above the 15 grams the average American eats per day. It is recommended that you slowly increase your fiber intake to avoid gas, cramping and/or bloating as well as maintaining a high level of hydration equal to half your body weight in ounces per day.

How can I get more fiber in my diet?

Start by increasing the amount of fresh or dried fruit you eat each day and use those as a substitute for candy. If you like snacking on chips and dip, substitute with whole grain crackers or veggie sticks and use bean dips such as black bean, hummus and refried beans instead of sour cream based dips. Choose 5 or more servings of fruit or vegetables each day.

After reading this article, I hope you have a clear and useable understanding of fiber and your diet. This information is adapted from a PDF that can be found online at:   http://sci.washington.edu/info/forums/reports/FiberFacts.pdf.
This is an Eat Well reminder and when combined with Thinking and Moving Well, it will provide you with the tools you need to thrive in life!

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