It’s no surprise that for optimal health, you need to make sure to get plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet. To help make this happen, some people turn to juice to get it all in, but it’s important to know that fresh juice packs more of a punch than store-bought, packaged juice. Let’s see how:
1. More Fiber - Fresh juices are packed with soluble fiber that has been shown to lower cholesterol. Store-bought juice doesn’t usually contain any fiber.
2. Digestion - Drinking fresh juice can help if you’re having digestion problems since it’s easier for our bodies to digest than whole fruits and veggies and the previously mentioned fiber can help.
3. Less Sugar - While the fruits themselves contain sugars, fresh juice allows you to know there’s no added sugars like there are in store-bought juice.
4. More Nutrients & Antioxidants - Compared to commercial juice, fresh juice contains more vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, antioxidants, and antiviral properties.
5. Detox - Most fresh fruit juices contain an amino acid compound called glutathione that helps our bodies detoxify things like pesticides and lead. Store-bought juice doesn't contain this compound.
Peanut butter is a marvelous creation. It doesn’t require refrigeration, is salty and sweet, and can transform something like saltines into a delicious snack. There are countless varieties to choose from but one key category that’s made its way to shelves in recent years is natural peanut butter. So what makes natural peanut butter different? Let’s take a look:
🥜 According to the FDA, for something to be called “peanut butter” it has to contain 90% peanuts. The only other ingredients allowed are salt, sweeteners and hydrogenated vegetable oils. This applies for regular and natural peanut butter.
🥜 If anything else is added (such as palm oil to help avoid separating) then it must be labeled as “peanut butter spread” but be aware it can still be called “Natural Peanut Butter Spread” as well.
🥜 Natural peanut butter typically only contains peanuts and salt.
🥜 Natural peanut butter (not spread) is prone to separating as it sits untouched. Oils rise and sit on the top and the product needs to be stirred before using. The texture is somewhat more grainy, but also creamier.
🥜 Nutrition values between regular and natural are typically very similar but with less sodium and trans fats in natural.
🥜 This reduction in sodium and trans fats is why natural peanut butter can have the nutritional advantage between the two.
🥜 Natural usually has less or no added sugar.
If there’s one thing we know, it’s that meal prepping saves time and makes life easier. If you’ve got dinner handled but want to make sure your kids are taking awesome lunches with them to school, we can help. Here are 5 tips for packing school lunches:
Have a set of good lunch packing supplies in a place that makes sense and is organized. This will help increase efficiency and reduce frustration.
2. Plan It Out
The plan doesn’t have to be too detailed but have a basic idea of what you’ll be packing each day of the week. Something like “Mon-Pasta, Tues-Leftover quesadilla, Wed-Soup, etc” is enough to have a basic outline that you can even repeat with small variations each week.
3. Follow a Healthy Formula
To make this part real simple, go with this combo: protein + fruit + veggies + carb. This will ensure you create a balanced and satisfying meal that you and your kids can be happy about.
4. Pack Lunch Early
Pack lunches ahead of time every time. Try and make it a habit whether it’s as soon as you get home each day, before you go to bed, or while dinner is cooking. Reduce the morning insanity by at least having lunch ready to go.
5. Shop and Prep Ahead of Time
Buying everything you need for the week at one time will make packing lunches easy. Additionally, you can do things like portion out grapes or cut celery sticks ahead of time to make things even easier.
It’s not often that science discovers a new nutrient, but Choline is one of them. In 1998, the Institute of Medicine acknowledged it as an essential nutrient. But what is it and why does it matter? Let’s find out:
- Choline is an essential nutrient - which means it’s required by your body to function properly but must be obtained through diet.
- While it’s often grouped with Vitamin B, choline is neither a vitamin nor a mineral - it’s a compound.
- Key functions of choline include liver function, nervous system and brain development, muscle function, and metabolism. Deficiencies can have negative effects on many key systems of the body.
- Adequate intake amounts of choline are around 425mg/day for women and 550mg/day for men, but it’s noted that intake amounts vary quite a bit based on individual needs and with more required during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- This vital nutrient can be found in eggs, fish, meat, and dairy. One egg contains 113mg and 3oz of cod contains 248mg.
- Those on a plant-based diet will want to ensure they’re getting enough choline. Foods such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, wheat germ, peanuts, and beans have some choline, but amounts are low and may warrant supplementation. One half cup of broccoli contains 31mg of choline.
Coconut is used for its milk, water, oil, and meat. It can be a natural way to replace lost electrolytes, a healthy source of fats, or even used to treat burns and wounds. Eating the white meat inside the coconut has its own set of benefits. Let’s take a look at what those are:
- A one cup serving of coconut contains 75% of your daily value of manganese. This mineral is essential for bone health and your body’s nervous system.
- The same size serving contains 36% of your daily fiber needs.
- You can also get a decent amount (15-22% DV) of other vitamins and minerals from coconut including iron, phosphorous, potassium, copper, and selenium.
- Because coconut is low in carbs but high in fat and fiber, it may help stabilize your blood sugar.
- Phenolic compounds are found in coconut meat, which are antioxidants that help protects cells.
Keep in mind that because coconut is so high in fat, it’s also high in calories at 354 in a 1 cup serving.
Both honey and agave nectar are natural sweeteners that are less refined than white sugar. They’re sweeter than sugar and are becoming a popular alternative to it. One isn’t necessarily healthier than the other, but they each have their differences. Let’s take a look at some key facts:
Garlic has been used for thousands of years for its health and medicinal properties. The Greeks, Chinese, Romans, and Egyptians all knew there was something about garlic that made it special. Here are just some of the health benefits of garlic:
•Powerful antibiotic - Diallyl sulfide, a compound in garlic, was found to be 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics in fighting off intestinal infections.
•Combat colds - Garlic supplementation can reduce the chance of catching a cold by 60% and reduce the length of having a cold if you do catch one from 5 days to 1.5 days.
•Very nutritious but low in calories - One clove of garlic contains only 4.5 calories but is rich in vitamins C and B6 and manganese. It also contains trace amounts of other nutrients like copper, calcium, potassium, and iron.
•Lower blood pressure - Human studies found that the active compounds in garlic were just as effective as the drug Atenolol at reducing blood pressure when taken in high daily doses (the equivalent of 4 cloves per day but as supplements).
•Improve cholesterol levels - Garlic supplements were able to reduce total and LDL cholesterol by about 10–15%.
•Heavy metal detox - In a human study of workers exposed to high levels of lead, garlic reduced lead levels in the blood by 19%. It also lowered symptoms of toxicity, such as headaches and high blood pressure.
Everybody has a preference for when a banana is perfect. But does the nutrition of a banana change as it goes from green and firm to brown and soft? In short, yes. Let’s take a look at what happens:
🍌Starch and Sweetness - Green bananas are full of complex carbohydrates and as they ripen they’re broken down into simple sugars which makes them sweeter.
🍌Glycemic Index - A riper banana that has lower starch content and a higher amount of sugar can be digested quicker, but that means it’s higher on the Glycemic Index.
🍌Antioxidant Levels - The brown spots on a ripe banana are from the chlorophyll breaking down into antioxidants. Green bananas do not have these antioxidant properties.
🍌Calories - Even though lots of other things change, the calories stay the same in a banana whether it’s green, yellow, or brown.
🍌Digestion - A ripe banana is easier to digest, but a more green banana is higher in resistant starches that you can’t digest and act as prebiotics.
🍌Potassium - Potassium amounts pretty much stay the same regardless of the ripeness of a banana.
🍌Vitamins and Minerals - Micronutrients like vitamin C, thiamin, and folic acid decrease as a banana ripens.
Earlier this week we talked about the difference between probiotics and prebiotics. Now let’s look at what you can eat and drink to take in these helpful bacteria and their own food sources.
• Probiotics (note that most are fermented in some way):
- Traditional Fermented Buttermilk
- Fermented Cheeses, such as Gouda
• Prebiotics (these contain the fiber that feeds probiotics):
- Legumes, Beans and Peas
- Jerusalem Artichokes (not the same as regular artichokes)
- Dandelion greens
Keeping your gut bacteria balanced can affect many different aspects of your health. To maintain this balance, it’s important to eat a mix of things called probiotics and prebiotics. Let’s look at what each of them are and why they matter:
•Probiotics - These are live, beneficial bacteria found in certain foods and supplements.
•Prebiotics - These are substances that come from types of fiber you eat that feed the friendly bacteria in the digestive system. You aren’t able to digest them, but probiotics can so they both work together.
•Put more simply - Probiotics are helpful bacteria you eat/drink. Prebiotics are food for the probiotic bacteria.
•Why does it matter? Proper gut health can lead to improved overall digestive function, mental health, a reduced need for antibiotics, less sick days from colds, less yeast infections, and a decrease in eczema symptoms.