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9 Reasons to Lose Weight That Have Nothing to Do with Fitting into Your Skinny Jeans

9 Reasons to Lose Weight That Have Nothing to Do with Fitting into Your Skinny Jeans

Superfoods: Science or Marketing?

Superfoods: Science or Marketing?

There is no medical definition for a “superfood”. Food manufacturers are eager to use the word to promote sales of their products that contain traces of supposed superfoods such as blueberries, pomegranates and chocolate. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a superfood as “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.” However, there are no set criteria about what makes a food nutrient-rich. Most superfoods are high in antioxidants and phytonutrients relative to other foods. However, if you were to eat only one of these superfoods to the exclusion of all else, you would be seriously deficient in many of the nutrients your body needs in order to stay healthy. So what exactly is the science behind the idea of superfoods?

While we would like to believe that if we eat certain foods we can stave off illness and keep aging at bay, the truth is that it’s not so easy. Although there is no doubt that a diet consisting primarily of fruits and vegetables is one of the keys to healthy longevity, it is also what you don’t eat and do that is important. For instance, if you eat a breakfast of blueberries and pomegranates in a bowl of oatmeal, along with a cup of green tea, that does not mean that your health will improve overall if for lunch you have a bucket of fried chicken, French fries and a 64-ounce Coke, followed by a cigarette.

The majority of scientific studies indicating that there may be some positive health effects associated with the nutrients contained in certain foods were conducted in a laboratory. In general, high levels of nutrients are used in these studies—usually far more than what can be consumed in a normal diet. For instance, the compound resveratrol that studies have shown to be heart-healthy and to guard against prostate cancer is found in grape skins only in very small amounts. So although “the French paradox” (why the French have low rates of heart disease despite a rich diet) is often partially attributed to the regular consumption of red wine, in fact, you would have to drink 40 liters of wine a day to get the same amount that was shown to benefit the health of mice in these studies.

The positive results of studies performed in test tubes on a few human cells and studies performed on mice do not necessarily translate into health benefits for the wider population. The effect of a single nutrient on human health is difficult to pinpoint, as we all eat a combination of foods. Some nutritional benefits may only occur in the presence of other nutrients in the same food, or even in a different food eaten at the same time. Iron absorption, for example, is boosted when a food rich in vitamin C is eaten at the same time.

The best nutritional advice someone can follow if they’re interested in maintaining good health is to eat a wide range of whole foods, and (even more importantly) to avoid foods that are bad for you such as processed foods and hydrogenated oils. As the European Food Information Council advises, “A diet based on a variety of nutritious foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, remains the best way to ensure a balanced nutrient intake for optimal health.”

 

Spotlight on Food Allergy Trends. What’s the Best Advice?

Spotlight on Food Allergy Trends. What’s the Best Advice?

auburn-haired girl, young woman wiping her nose

One thing is certain: food allergies are on the rise. According to a 2013 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 50% more food allergies in 2011 than there were in 1997. An estimated 15 million Americans have food allergies, and the numbers are increasing. Four percent of the population has a food allergy now, as opposed to only one percent ten years ago. What is not so certain is what is causing this increase in food allergies. Experts believe it is likely due to a few different causes, including over-cleanliness, reluctance to feed children certain foods at an early age, and the quality of the foods we eat. It may also be that physicians are becoming more skilled at recognizing the problem and, therefore, that food allergies are diagnosed more frequently.

One interesting thing to note is that American children are more likely to have food allergies than children in other nations. It may be due in part to Americans being better-off than people in other countries. The CDC noted on their website that, “Food and respiratory allergy prevalence increased with income level. Children with family income equal to or greater than 200% of the poverty level had the highest prevalence rates.”

Experts surmise that the immune systems of people in poorer and undeveloped nations get exposed to pathogens far more often than people in nations with higher standards of cleanliness and more access to antibiotics. Exposure to a wide range of microbes at an early age helps to ensure that the immune system is kept busy and learns early to recognize the difference between a dangerous microbe and a harmless one. Many children in the US now grow up in homes so clean that they encounter relatively few germs until they are exposed to them in school.

Another issue is the reluctance of parents to feed their children foods that may possibly cause an allergy. For example, some women avoid eating peanuts during pregnancy and will not feed them to their children until they are older. However, if we look at the rate of peanut allergies in Israel, it is far lower than that in the US. The primary difference between the two countries is that Israeli parents feed their children peanut snacks at a far earlier age than American parents do.

The American diet also consists of far more processed foods and GMOs than the diets of other countries. The side effects of genetically modified foods have still not been thoroughly investigated, but more studies are finding health issues in animals fed genetically modified foods. In addition, conventionally-raised meat in the US is typically fed hormones and antibiotics, which may be wreaking havoc with our own immune systems when we eat meat from these animals.

Extensive pesticide and herbicide use can also increase the risk of food allergies. A study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology found that people exposed to chemicals called dichlorophenols (DCPs) were more likely to develop food allergies. These chemicals are created when common pesticides and herbicides break down. People with the highest level of this chemical were more than twice as likely to have a food allergy.

The best thing you can do to help ensure that you and your family do not develop food allergies is to eat whole foods from reliable sources as often as your household budget will allow. Organically-grown foods may be one part of the answer. To be labeled “100% organic,” foods must not have been exposed to pesticides and herbicides, has not received hormones or antibiotics, and cannot be genetically modified. In addition, don’t be afraid of getting dirty! Regular exposure to germs helps keep your immune system exercised and it will be less likely to overreact to harmless microbes.

 

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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!

Beating the Odds: How Some People Stick with Diet and Exercise Plans

Beating the Odds: How Some People Stick with Diet and Exercise Plans

Billings Chiropractic Diet Services
balance-scales

How long did your last diet or exercise plan last? If you’re like many people, your answer is “not that long.” In fact, one UK survey found that the average length of time a person stays on a nutrition plan is 19 days. A slightly more positive poll found that women tended to quit their diets after five weeks and two days. If these statistics sound distressingly familiar, it might be time to reassess how you approach your own diet plan.

How Do People Stick with Their Diet and Exercise Plans?

If you want to make sure your diet and exercise plan doesn’t become just another statistic, a change in attitude can make all the difference. In order to create a diet plan you can stick with, it’s important to be honest with yourself about what types of changes will fit into your lifestyle. Diet plans with long lists of “bad” foods might help you cut back on calories in the short term, but do you really plan to go the rest of your life without cake? People who stick with their diet plans take a more moderate approach, making small changes that they can live with in the long term.

Exercise plans can be just as difficult to carry out. People who stick with their exercise plans view physical activity as a regular part of life, not something they do only when they have the time, energy, and motivation. Of course, sticking with physical activity is much easier when it’s enjoyable. Rather than slogging it out on the treadmill, try yoga, martial arts, or another exercise program that stimulates your mind as well as your body. And variety helps too!

You Don’t Have to Go It Alone

Whether you’re building a diet plan or an exercise program (or are making changes in both areas), the people around you can make a huge difference in your level of success. If your spouse, children, or friends tend to turn to food in celebration or out of boredom, it’s easy to forget about your diet goals. Getting enough exercise is a lot more difficult if the people around you would rather watch TV than go on a walk.

Fortunately, when it comes to sticking with your diet and exercise plan, the people around you can also be a huge help. Making dietary changes as a family can help everyone involved lose weight and improve their health, while exercising with a friend can make the time go by much more quickly and pleasantly.

Having the support of a chiropractor who really understands the power (and challenges) of making healthy lifestyle changes (think nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management, for example) is another way to help you meet your goals. The staff here in Billings at Oblander Chiropractic can work with you to make targeted, realistic adjustments that you’ll be able to stick with in the long term. Sticking with a diet and exercise program isn’t always easy, but you might be surprised by just how easy it is to make the changes you’re looking for with the right type of advice and support!

Fruits and Vegetables Add Years to Your Life – Literally

Fruits and Vegetables Add Years to Your Life – Literally

fruit-vegitable-face
fruit-vegetable-face

We’ve been told for years – and by pretty much everyone involved with either nutrition or health care – that eating more fruits and vegetables is good for you and can improve your life. Well, it turns out that these people weren’t telling us the whole story. Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables can actually extend your life, and add years to it.

That’s the message of a study conducted at University College London, and published recently in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. The researchers used data from the Health Survey for England to analyze the eating habits of over 65,000 people considered representative of the English population between the years 2001 and 2013. What they found was that the more fresh fruits and vegetables these people ate – at any age – the less likely they were to die.

This study is the first to compare the consumption of fruits and vegetables with rates of cancer, heart disease, and all-cause deaths in a nationally-representative population. It is also the first to link health benefits to per-portion quantities of fruits and vegetables, and the first to identify the types of fruits and vegetables with the most benefit.

The figures are compelling and consistent. Eating 1-3 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables per day decreases your risk of death in the three categories (cancer, heart disease, and all causes) by 11%, 9%, and 14%, respectively, compared with eating none. Eating 3-5 servings per day decreases these risks by 19%, 18%, and 29%, respectively. Eating 7 or more servings of fruit and vegetables per day decreases your risk of dying from these causes by a whopping 25%, 31%, and 42%, respectively.

The researchers also found that fresh vegetables have a more significant effect on longevity and lowered mortality risk than fruits, with each daily vegetable portion added to the diet lowering mortality risk by 16%. Eating salad lowered mortality risk by 13% for each portion added daily, and fruit lowered mortality risk by 4% for each added portion.

Interestingly, the researchers found no benefits to longevity from fruit juice, as opposed to fresh, whole fruit. Furthermore, canned or frozen fruit appeared to actually increase risk of death by 17% per portion. The researchers attributed this to the fact that most canned and frozen fruits contain high sugar levels, and that  the negative health impacts of the sugar may outweigh any benefits.

Lead author of the study Dr. Oyinlola Oyebode says of the findings, “We all know that eating fruit and vegetables is healthy, but the size of the effect is staggering. The clear message here is that the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to die at any age. Vegetables have a larger effect than fruit, but fruit still makes a real difference. If you’re happy to snack on carrots or other vegetables, then that is a great choice but if you fancy something sweeter, a banana or any fruit will also do you good.”

 

Thinking About Food Labels: What the Future Might Bring

Thinking About Food Labels: What the Future Might Bring

woman-reading-food-label
woman-reading-food-label

In a move applauded by nutritionists and health experts (but criticized at the same time for not going far enough), the Obama administration has proposed sweeping changes to the regulations surrounding the labeling of packaged foods. The new proposal, announced and championed by first lady Michelle Obama, aims to make it easier for consumers to figure out whether a packaged food product is healthy or unhealthy, and whether it contains large amounts of ingredients that are potentially harmful to their health.

These proposed changes have been long in coming—the current standards were first introduced over 20 years ago, in 1993. Much has changed since then and Americans have become “supersized” in more ways than one. They are eating larger portions of foods than they did in 1993, and more is known now about the effects of harmful ingredients like hydrogenated oils, trans fats, and sugar than was known then. But today’s labels still hold to the old standards, which allow manufacturers to create “serving sizes” that are completely unrealistic, and to bury useful information like the actual amount of calories, fats, and sugars you’re likely to consume in the “fine print” of the label.

As an example, the current labeling standards allow manufacturers of soda to list its calories and sugar content based on a “serving size” of eight ounces, whereas the actual bottles of soda (which are almost always consumed in one sitting) contain 20 ounces, or 2-1/2 times more. Ice cream manufacturers currently use half a cup as the “serving size” used to calculate their products’ calorie and sugar counts, whereas most Americans consume an average of two cups when they eat ice cream.

The proposed standards would change this, and instead of listing calories “per serving size,” they would list them as “amount per 2/3 cup,” or using a similar easily recognized measure. Because of national and global concerns about obesity, calorie counts would no longer appear in small print, but be highlighted in a large font. Each packaged product would list the “number of servings per package” in a more prominent location and font. Also, for the first time, a new indicator called “Added Sugars” would be included on every label, which again relates to calories, because Americans consume over 16% of their total calories from sugar.

“Calories From Fat” would no longer be listed, because more recent science tells us that it’s the type of fat that is more important for consumers to know about. Therefore, labels will list amounts of “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat.” The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would also update their recommended “Percent Daily Values” (%DV) ratings for common nutrients to bring them into line with current science, and would finally add Vitamin D and potassium.

While all of these proposed changes are legitimate improvements, it’s (of course) impossible to please every special interest group that will be affected by new labeling regulations. Although consumers themselves will doubtlessly benefit, consumer advocates are disappointed because they were lobbying for changes like indicating added sugars, saturated fats, and trans fats in a bold, colored font to indicate that they are present in high amounts. On the other side of the argument are food manufacturers and retailers who worry about the cost of new labeling requirements and what the new information might mean for buying behavior.

The bad news is that these proposed food labeling requirements are not slated to take effect for at least two years. The good news is that the FDA has put in place a very robust process designed to allow stakeholders to “weigh in” and contribute their suggestions. You can learn more about that process at www.regulations.gov and searching for the term “food labeling”.

 

What to Look For When Buying Nutritional Supplements

What to Look For When Buying Nutritional Supplements

pillsThere are quite literally hundreds of different brands of nutritional supplements (also called dietary supplements) on the market today, and it’s difficult for the average consumer to tell the difference between one and another. Each manufacturer claims that its products are supportive of your health, but how can you really determine if a nutritional supplement is safe and effective? Then there’s the price tag. Brands vary considerably in cost—one multivitamin may cost 20 cents per day, whereas another can cost a whopping $7.50! How can you decide whether it’s worth it? Our goal is to provide you with some practical advice—basic facts combined with a few do’s and don’ts—that you can use to be a more educated consumer if you decide to buy nutritional supplements.

Just because a nutritional supplement is “natural” does NOT necessarily mean it is safe. There are plenty of products that can be dangerous if you suffer from certain health conditions, use them along with certain other foods, medicines or supplements, or take them incorrectly. Even if you avoid interactions and take a supplement correctly, it is still possible for your body to have a negative reaction to a supplement. If this happens, stop taking the supplement immediately and see your doctor.

The FDA regulates dietary supplements very lightly. A supplement manufacturer does not need FDA approval to put its products on the market, but the FDA is responsible for monitoring the products’ safety, removing them only if they have caused problems. However, the FDA does require that manufacturers follow “good manufacturing practices” for processing and that they meet quality standards. This includes ensuring that the supplement contains the stated amount of ingredients and that it is free from contamination from things such as pesticides and heavy metals.

One thing to look for in a nutritional supplement is the “USP Verified” seal of approval. This is given to products that meet the stringent requirements for quality, purity and potency as established by the non-profit group U.S. Pharmacopeia.

The form in which you take your dietary supplements may also make a difference. Tablets tend to contain more fillers and binders than capsules because the powder they are made from must stick together in a regular mass. They may also be coated to keep it from falling apart and to make swallowing easier. They may also have added coloring and flavoring to make them more palatable. All else equal, it usually makes sense to avoid these. Capsules or gel caps are more likely to be free from excess fillers and binders. But if you are vegetarian or vegan, be sure to read the label to ensure the capsules are not derived from animal sources (cellulose is the most common vegan-friendly form of capsule).

Always read the product’s label thoroughly to see exactly what each supplement contains. While buying the most expensive supplement obviously won’t guarantee its quality or effectiveness, it is often true that you get what you pay for. Cheap supplements are frequently made from inferior ingredients or those that cost less to manufacture, and are often less readily absorbed by the body. Who wants to pay for supplements only to have them flushed down the toilet? A high-quality supplement will be more bioavailable, which is what you’re taking it for in the first place!

As with most other products, it usually pays to do a little homework before choosing a manufacturer and buying a supplement. Above all, you’ll want a manufacturer who has a good reputation and stands behind its products. Good companies will stress their excellent quality control and will be happy to provide you with independent evaluations of their products. Many chiropractors have specialized training and experience related to nutrition, and can help you decide which dietary supplements might be right for you.

Food as Medicine: Close-Up on Ginger

Food as Medicine: Close-Up on Ginger

ginger-root
ginger-root

Hippocrates gave good advice when he said “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.” What we eat has a major effect on our health and well-being. One of the healthiest foods is ginger, which has been recognized for certain healing properties since ancient times. Ginger has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2000 years.

The Romans discovered ginger in India and imported it to Europe, where it was used not only as medicine, but in cooking as well. Candied ginger was particularly popular (and remains so today). Ginger was so valuable during the Middle Ages that a pound of it would cost the equivalent of one sheep.

Traditionally, ginger has been used to treat all manner of digestive upset, such as nausea and diarrhea, motion sickness and morning sickness (which is why pregnant women and those with stomach aches are advised to sip ginger ale). In addition to improving circulation and reducing arthritis and muscle pain, there is also evidence in the literature suggesting that ginger may be helpful in addressing a number of other health issues, including the following:

Colon and ovarian cancer – As a powerful anti-inflammatory, a study performed by researchers at the University of Michigan medical school found that ginger reduced inflammatory markers in the colon, which are a precursor to colon cancer. In addition, when ovarian cancer cells were exposed to ginger they either committed suicide or devoured themselves. Ginger also helps keep cancer cells from becoming resistant to cancer treatment and reduces chemotherapy associated nausea by up to 40% when taken with anti-vomiting medication.

High blood pressure – Thai researchers from Chiang Mai University found ginger extract to be more effective than medication in reducing hypertension in laboratory rats.

Asthma – When purified elements of ginger were used in conjunction with the asthma medication isoproterenol, the airway smooth muscle that contracts during an asthma attack relaxed far more than when the isoproterenol alone was used. Ginger seems to have a synergistic effect on this anti-asthma medication.

Muscle pain – Taking a daily ginger supplement can reduce muscle pain caused by exercise by up to 25%, according to researchers at the University of Georgia. And over 80% of women who have painful menstrual periods can benefit from ginger supplements as well, if taken during the first three days of their period.

Migraine headache – The results of an Iranian study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that ginger powder is as effective as the medication sumatriptan, which is commonly used to treat migraine pain.

Liver damage caused by acetaminophen – It is commonly known that taking large amounts of Tylenol (acetaminophen) or taking it for an extended period can cause liver damage. But researchers have found that pre-treatments with ginger or taking ginger along with acetaminophen can reduce the incidence of liver damage.

Always speak with your doctor before taking ginger, since it can interact with other medications (particularly blood thinners). But including more ginger in your diet can be a great natural way of keeping healthy while adding flavor to your meals.

Why Eating with the Seasons Makes Good Sense

Why Eating with the Seasons Makes Good Sense

Basket of Fruits and Vegetables --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Basket of Fruits and Vegetables — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

It’s true.  The combination of industrial agriculture and efficient global logistics has made it possible for many American families to enjoy a wide variety of fruits and vegetables year round.

But just because they’re available doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the best choice for you or your family. In fact, there are several really good reasons that your diet—particularly your choice of fruits and vegetables—should change with the seasons. Now that fall is here and winter is just around the corner, this is a great time to talk about seasonal eating and how you can make the most of the cold-weather months.

The reasons for eating local produce in-season basically fall into four categories: nutrition, taste, cost and environmental sustainability.

Nutrition. Local fruits and vegetables picked seasonally at their ultimate ripeness are usually more nutritious than produce that is grown in a hot-house environment or that is raised in other parts of the world and transported over long distances.

Taste. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, flavors and textures tends to suffer when they’re grown out-of-season or spend lots of time in transit. This encourages farmers to do things they might not ordinarily do, including adding colors, sweeteners or preservatives. The fact that out-of-season produce needs to be marketable after shipping may also encourage farmers to grow varieties that are more durable but less flavorful. The net result is often a poorer product.

Cost. Growing produce out-of-season or transporting it over long distances involves expenses that just don’t exist when fruits and vegetables are grown and marketed locally. As anyone who has ever bought fresh strawberries or tomatoes in the middle of January has noticed, these expenses translate into higher prices at the grocery store.

Environmental Sustainability. The emergence of a global marketplace for fruits and vegetables has opened up lots of possibilities for growers and consumers alike but has also come with high environmental costs. The new economics of farming and distribution have changed how land, water, energy, and chemicals are used in producing food. In some cases, they’ve also tipped the scales against centuries-old patterns of sustainable crop rotation and conservation practices. Plus, moving and storing large amounts of fresh produce requires energy and increases our collective carbon footprint.

When you consider all of these factors together, it’s clear that out-of-season produce is really a pretty big compromise. So what’s the alternative? There are many winter fruits and vegetables that will soon be their peak. Knowing about these and adding them to your diet over the coming months can provide plenty of variety and may even help you get important nutrients that you wouldn’t normally get from produce at other times of the year.

Here’s a brief rundown of some of our winter favorites.

Winter Butternut Squash. Squash has relatively few calories (only 63 calories per cup) but contains lots of vitamin A and potassium. Plus, a single cup of squash also provides half your daily requirement of vitamin C!

Kale. Kale is another winter vegetable that’s packed with important nutrients, including vitamins A, B, C and K, and minerals such as calcium, copper and magnesium. Kale is also rich in cancer-fighting phytonutrients called flavonoids (quercetin and kaempferol, among others) and has been shown in some research to lower cholesterol. Cooked kale can easily be added to mashed potatoes to make for a healthy side dish.

Leeks. Leeks too are abundant at this time of year. They are rich in vitamin K (good for bone health and vital for blood coagulation), and have a healthy amount of folate. A versatile member of the allium family (like onions and garlic), leeks can be added to soups and stews in pretty much the same way you might typically use onions. Leeks are also tasty on their own—just braise them a little liquid. If you’re willing to put just a bit more effort into preparation, creamed leeks is another tasty alternative. Just clean and slice 2-3 leeks thinly, then sauté them in a little butter, add a couple of tablespoons of water, and cover for about 10 minutes or until cooked. Mix in a tablespoon of flour and about ½ cup of sour cream and you have an excellent side dish to serve along with fish or chicken.

Apples. Apples are a great seasonal complement to the vegetables on our list. Over 2,500 varieties of this fruit are grown in the U.S., with 100 varieties grown commercially.  A medium apple contains about 80 calories and is fat, sodium, and cholesterol free. If you’re interested in getting the most nutritional bang for the buck, be sure to eat the peels! Two-thirds of a typical apple’s fiber and lots of its antioxidants are concentrated in the peel. Most apples are still picked by hand in the fall and are ready for eating throughout the country all winter long!

Nuts. Many popular types of nuts (which are technically fruits containing a hard shell and a seed) are actively harvested in the fall and are available throughout much of the country year-round. Almonds, chestnuts and walnuts are a few winter favorites. It’s worth noting that while almonds and walnuts are not true nuts in the botanical sense, they are considered nuts in the culinary sense. Nuts like these are typically very high in protein and fat and naturally low in carbohydrates. They also contain several important vitamins and minerals. They are a particularly dense nutritional package and have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.