Woohoo for Watermelon!

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Here in CNY, it may hit close to 100 degrees the next few days. What does that mean? Beat the heat by loading up on the watermelon. Here are five reasons I love watermelon and you should too.

Watermelon is hydrating

The heat increases your risk of becoming dehydrated and if you are like me, I can only drink so much water so I like to eat foods with a high content of water. Watermelon is comprised of 92 percent water, which makes it an ideal food to help prevent dehydration.

Watermelon can decease your risk of heart disease

Watermelon has a lot of lycopene, an amazing antioxidant that can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, two risk factors for heart disease. Watermelon also contains citrulline, an amino acid, which increases nitric oxide in your blood and nitric oxide helps your blood vessels expand, lowering blood pressure.

Watermelon is good for your eyes

Lycopene is the star again! Several studies have found that lycopene can help prevent macular degeneration, which is a common eye problem in older adults that at times can cause blindness.

Watermelon is good for your skin and hair

Obviously in the heat, sunscreen is important! You can also help counteract the damage the sun does to your skin and hair by eating watermelon! Watermelon is high in vitamin C and A. Vitamin C increases collagen, a protein that keeps your skin smooth and your hair strong. Vitamin A repairs skin cells, preventing dry, flaky skin.

Watermelon is a win with the kids

I have never met a kid who doesn’t love watermelon. This is one of the healthiest summer treats to bring to your next cookout or picnic and it will be a hit with all of the kiddos!

Woohoo for watermelon! Oh so sweet—oh so delicious—and oh so healthy!

 

 

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Real Food First

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We live in a convenience society and because of this, we have turned to eating processed food and we are destroying our health in the process. This blog is all about choosing real food first! It may be a hard step to make at first, but once it becomes routine, it becomes second nature. You have to trust me here!

What do I mean by real food? I mean whole, single-ingredient food. Here are just some of the reasons why you should choose real food first.

Real food is loaded with important nutrients

Unprocessed animal and plant foods contain the vitamins and minerals you need for optimal health. For instance, one cup (220 grams) of red bell peppers, broccoli or orange slices contains more than 100% of the RDI for vitamin C. Eggs and liver are especially high in choline, a nutrient that’s essential for proper brain function. And just a single Brazil nut provides all the selenium you need for an entire day.

Real food is heart-healthy

Real food is packed with antioxidants and nutrients that support heart health, including fiber, magnesium and healthy fats.

Real food is high in antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that help fight free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage your body’s cells. They are found in all real foods, especially plant foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and legumes

Real food is low in sugar

Some research suggests that eating sugary foods can increase your risk of obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease and heart disease. Even though fruit contains sugar, it’s also high in water and fiber, so it’s much less concentrated than sugar in soda and processed foods.

Real food helps control blood sugar

Eating a diet high in fibrous plants and unprocessed animal foods may help reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and people who are at risk of developing the disease.

Real food is good for your gut

Eating real food may be beneficial for your gut microbiome, the bacteria that live in your digestive tract.

Real food promotes dental health

Sugar and refined carbs promote dental decay by providing food for the plaque-causing bacteria that live in your mouth.

Real food Is good for your skin

Eating real food nourishes and helps protect your skin from the inside out. Did you know that some foods are natural sunscreens too? Some examples are carrots, citrus fruits and strawberries.

Start thinking about healthy swaps you can make in favor of real food. Instead of candy, keep fruit on hand. Instead of sugary breakfast feel, have yogurt with nuts and fruit. Instead of granola bars with 25 ingredients in them, have a snack-size bad of raw nuts and dried fruit. There are so many ways to start transitioning to more real food. Be sure to keep some with you at all times so that you don’t need to turn to fast food or gas station snacks when you’re ravenous!

Get your heart healthy with a smoothie bowl for breakfast

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February is Heart Health Month and I’m going to tell you about how eating a smoothie bowl for breakfast can help reduce your risk of heart disease! Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in both men and women in the United States, so give this smoothie bowl a try!

Now, you may be wondering, what is a smoothie bowl? Aren’t smoothies supposed to be drunk from a glass? Smoothie bowls are simply smoothies you can eat with a spoon with lots of delicious toppings!

This smoothie was made with mixed berries, a frozen banana, plain Greek yogurt, and unsweetened cashew milk. It was topped with oranges, hemp seeds, and pomegranate!

Berries, oranges, and pomegranate are packed full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, they are naturally low in calories and high in fiber and water! Fiber helps lower your cholesterol.

Bananas are a great source of potassium. Potassium can help manage high blood pressure by reducing the effects of excess sodium. When you eat more potassium, you lose more sodium in urine. Other foods rich in potassium are avocados, beans, potatoes, and more!

Greek yogurt and cashew milk are both fantastic sources of calcium. Calcium is a mineral that helps with muscle contraction!

And last but not least, hemp seeds are an excellent source of those healthy fats, omega-3 and rare omega-6 GLA. They are also packed with protein, iron, zinc, magnesium, vitamin E, and riboflavin! It’s really important to limit saturated and trans fats as they can damage your arteries and lead to heart disease. Load up your diet with omega-3 rich foods like hemp seeds instead!

There are so many variations of smoothie bowls you can make, so I’m going to give you a base recipe and you can create your own!

Step 1: Choose your fruit. Frozen fruit works best in smoothies because it makes it nice and cold!

Step 2: Choose your yogurt. Any kind is fine, but if you want extra protein try Greek yogurt. Try to stay away from yogurts with a lot of added sugars to cut back on calories.

Step 3: Choose your milk. Any kind of milk is fine too! I always go for nut milk because it is a lot lower in calories. If you are trying nut milk, make sure it’s the unsweetened variety to decrease added sugars.

Step 4: Pick some optional add-ins: spinach, nuts, seeds, protein powders. Add-ins like spinach are very tasteless and give you an extra serving of vegetables!

Step 5: Pour into a bowl and load up with healthy toppings like sliced fruit, coconut flakes, granola, and extra dark chocolate!

Go to Kellyschoice.org to see this recipe and more that were created by Rosemary Squires.

 

How the Great Outdoors Makes you Healthy

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My boyfriend Greg and I have been hiking in the Adirondacks quite a bit this summer. We love Lake Placid; the restaurants cater to health enthusiasts like us with hearty, delicious, and healthy food choices and there is something uplifting about the fresh air of the Adirondack Mountains.

What I truly love is that just by being outside I am taking awesome measures to take care of myself—yes, even as healthy as I am, I am improving my health. Here are

my favorite scientifically proven benefits of the outdoors.

  • Vitamin D Rocks!

The best source of Vitamin D is the sun. Soak in those rays for at least 20 minutes a day without sunscreen to reap the benefits. Vitamin D boosts your immune system, collaborates with calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K to protect your bones, and it can even help prevent diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and heart disease.

  • Super Slumber

Sweet sleep feels so amazing…and when you are outside often, you keep your circadian rhythm working the way it was meant to, helping you to sleep when it is dark and rise when it is light. Nature has been proven to help prevent insomnia as well-an awesome bonus. See, there are psychological and physiological reasons you sleep better just by spending time outside!

  • Bright Eyes

Most of us wear sunglasses in the summer and that’s important for protecting your eyes, but even with those shades on, do you being outside helps your eyes? Artificial light and constant staring at electronic devices inside literally kills your eyesight. Get outside often to rest those eyes!

  • Maintainin’ a Healthy Weight

Being outdoors generally forces you to move your body more…and that exercise is awesome for maintaining a healthy weight. You don’t need to hike mountains like me; even a nice walk around the block is literal steps in the right direction!

  • Helpin’ my Heart

A recent study in Australia found that just 30 minutes of exposure to nature each week can reduce the prevalence of high blood pressure by nine percent. Imagine if you spent 30 minutes outdoors a few times each week?!

  • Marvelous Mood

Exposure to nature has been proven to boost your serotonin (feel-good hormone) levels! Sometimes when you are feeling blah, a step int the Great Outdoors can spark the joy we all need!

Time to pull yourself away from the electronic device, step outside, take in a deep breath, and delve into all the benefits that nature offers us!

Celebrate Cherry Season

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Cherry season is upon us in Central New York and I love it! Cherries are the perfect snack and they are a nutrition-boosting compliment to every meal. Add them to your yogurt, smoothie, or oatmeal for breakfast. Toss them in a salad for lunch or dinner. The best news about cherries is their health benefits. In fact, they are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. Here are a few reasons why.

Cherries can help with weight-loss efforts.

Cherries are a high-fiber food, which is always good for weight-loss because fiber keeps us fuller longer. A lab study actually proved that cherries can in fact help prevent weight gain. In a study published in the Journal of Medical Food, rats that were given tart cherry powder mixed into a high-fat diet didn’t gain as much weight as rats consuming the same diet without cherries. The cherry powder intake was associated with lower lipid (fat) levels in the blood, percentage fat mass and abdominal fat weight as well.

Cherries can help you sleep better.

We could all use some good slumber, right? Well, cherries can help with this! Cherries are a great source of melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone. Very few foods contain melatonin. Our bodies can manufacture a little bit of it through the pineal gland in our brain—consuming cherries can give us some extra melatonin to make sure we sleep soundly.

Cherries can increase your energy levels.

Of course better sleep can help with better energy levels, but there’s something else about cherries that can help boost your energy. The natural sugar and water content of cherries along with a plethora of antioxidants will no-doubt help prevent any energy dips you might experience during the day.

Cherries can protect against Diabetes

A lot of people with diabetes deter from fruit because of the sugar content. Cherries have a low glycemic index though so they don’t sky-rocket your sugar levels. Cherries have a glycemic index (GI) of 22 compared to say grapes that have a GI of 46, strawberries that have a GI of 41 or apples that have a GI of 39.

Cherries can reduce muscle and joint pain.

Hold off on the ibuprofen please! Cherries can reduce muscle and joint pain! A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that cherries helped prevent post workout pain in runners. Another study conducted at the Osteoarthritis Research Center found that cherry consumption greatly reduced the pain experienced by patients with osteoarthritis.

Cherries can protect your heart.

High in antioxidants and fiber, it should come as no surprise that cherries can protect your heart. The potassium content of cherries is particularly healthy for the heart by helping to regulate blood pressure,

Get yourself to the market and get some cherries today. They’re in season right now in Central New York through the month of July! And for a special treat, dip them in dark chocolate, which is also high in antioxidants!

By Kelly Springer RD, MS, CDN

Spring into Health with Asparagus

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4012644047_0828109f44_o.jpgNow that it is FINALLY starting to feel like spring (after it just snowed a couple days ago), I feel inspired to do a mini-series on spring cleaning (your body). Let me begin with asparagus. There is no better time to start increasing the seasonal veggies in your diet. It’s time to detox from those heavy winter meals!

When you eat fresh, seasonal veggies, you automatically feel more alive. Head out to the farmers’ markets the next couple of months and you will no doubt find fresh asparagus from local farms. I consider asparagus a spring veggie superstar! Here’s why Asparagus gets an A+ for nutrition in my book.

Asparagus is super high in vitamin K and folate.

Many people I have worked with know that vitamin K is important for healthy blood clotting and most people get enough vitamin K in their diet to help ensure that the blood is clotting optimally. However, vitamin K helps with so many other functions and most people do not get enough vitamin K to help with these factors.

Vitamin K keeps your bones strong. It is crucial as we age to protect our bones. Bone loss is the cause of so many health problems, especially hip fractures, which in many cases starts a downward spiral in health ailments for women after they go through menopause. But it is never too early to protect your bones. Most of us know that calcium is great for bone health; consider vitamin K as the key holder to getting calcium and other important minerals into your bones. Several Japanese clinical trials have proven how amazing vitamin K is for your bones. One study using data collected from the trials found that vitamin K supplementation produces a 60 percent reduction in vertebral fractures and an 80 percent reduction in hip and other non-vertebral fractures.

Vitamin K can also help prevent cancer. A German study in 2008 found that vitamin K helped prevent prostate cancer; other studies have found that vitamin K helps protect you from non-Hodgkin lymphoma, colon, stomach, and oral cancers.

Folate is an energizer! Folate helps prevent soaring homocysteine levels. When your homocysteine levels are high, you are at a much larger risk for developing heart problems. High homocysteine levels can also impair the brain, causing dementia or mood imbalances. So get your folate to manage your heart and mind! Folate is one of the most important vitamins for women to consume when they are pregnant; in addition to helping maintain a healthy mood, it also helps prevent birth defects.

In addition to vitamin K and folate, asparagus is heralded as an anti-inflammatory because it contains dozens of antioxidants! Because those antioxidants destroy free radicals, you are essentially helping to prevent almost every health ailment when you eat asparagus!

Head out to the market and get yourself some asparagus today! The white and purple varieties are yummy too. Lightly sauté it as a side dish. Toss it in salads too. To get the most nutrients from asparagus, try to consume it within a couple days of getting it from the market.

Spring into Health with Asparagus

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4012644047_0828109f44_o.jpgNow that it is FINALLY starting to feel like spring (after it just snowed a couple days ago), I feel inspired to do a mini-series on spring cleaning (your body). Let me begin with asparagus. There is no better time to start increasing the seasonal veggies in your diet. It’s time to detox from those heavy winter meals!

When you eat fresh, seasonal veggies, you automatically feel more alive. Head out to the farmers’ markets the next couple of months and you will no doubt find fresh asparagus from local farms. I consider asparagus a spring veggie superstar! Here’s why Asparagus gets an A+ for nutrition in my book.

Asparagus is super high in vitamin K and folate.

Many people I have worked with know that vitamin K is important for healthy blood clotting and most people get enough vitamin K in their diet to help ensure that the blood is clotting optimally. However, vitamin K helps with so many other functions and most people do not get enough vitamin K to help with these factors.

Vitamin K keeps your bones strong. It is crucial as we age to protect our bones. Bone loss is the cause of so many health problems, especially hip fractures, which in many cases starts a downward spiral in health ailments for women after they go through menopause. But it is never too early to protect your bones. Most of us know that calcium is great for bone health; consider vitamin K as the key holder to getting calcium and other important minerals into your bones. Several Japanese clinical trials have proven how amazing vitamin K is for your bones. One study using data collected from the trials found that vitamin K supplementation produces a 60 percent reduction in vertebral fractures and an 80 percent reduction in hip and other non-vertebral fractures.

Vitamin K can also help prevent cancer. A German study in 2008 found that vitamin K helped prevent prostate cancer; other studies have found that vitamin K helps protect you from non-Hodgkin lymphoma, colon, stomach, and oral cancers.

Folate is an energizer! Folate helps prevent soaring homocysteine levels. When your homocysteine levels are high, you are at a much larger risk for developing heart problems. High homocysteine levels can also impair the brain, causing dementia or mood imbalances. So get your folate to manage your heart and mind! Folate is one of the most important vitamins for women to consume when they are pregnant; in addition to helping maintain a healthy mood, it also helps prevent birth defects.

In addition to vitamin K and folate, asparagus is heralded as an anti-inflammatory because it contains dozens of antioxidants! Because those antioxidants destroy free radicals, you are essentially helping to prevent almost every health ailment when you eat asparagus!

Head out to the market and get yourself some asparagus today! The white and purple varieties are yummy too. Lightly sauté it as a side dish. Toss it in salads too. To get the most nutrients from asparagus, try to consume it within a couple days of getting it from the market.