13 Mar 2012, 7:27pm
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  • Why you Should Eat Your Strawberries: Some Nutrition Facts

    For nutritional value, strawberries serve an important role in a balanced diet.   They come in a variety of types ranging from sweet to sour; most are uniformly red.  You can eat them raw, but they are versatile– you can bake them, puree them, and even grill them.  These fruits are a powerhouse of flavor and health-giving nutrients.

    Strawberry Health Facts and Nutrition Facts on Strawberries

    • When it comes to nutrition data, strawberries are perfect for the dieter due to their low caloric level of only 32 kilocalories per hundred grams.  Strawberries have phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals that can keep you in tip-top shape.
    • Strawberries contain large amounts of phytochemicals like ellagic acid and anthocyanins, which safeguard the body against the development of inflammation, neurological diseases, aging, and cancer.
    • Ripe, freshly-picked strawberries are also excellent sources of Vitamin C. When you consume Vitamin-C-rich fruits and vegetables, you develop improved resistance versus pathogens and other infectious agents, aside from eliminating free radicals that cause cell deterioration.
    • B-Complex vitamins are also present in these fruits. There are large amounts of niacin, riboflavin, folic acid, pantothenic acid, and B-6 in a single serving of strawberries.  These components speed up the way the body metabolizes fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, making it easier to lose weight.
    • Vitamin A and E, as well as other antioxidants like beta carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein are also found in strawberries. These protect the body against the effects of aging and disease.
    • Strawberries have many minerals that help the bodily fluids and cells regenerate and perform specific tasks such as controlling blood pressure and heart rate. These minerals are copper, iodine, iron, potassium, fluorine, and manganese. Copper and iron, for example, are necessary for blood cell production. Fluoride helps build and strengthen bones, helping prevent bone deterioration.

    Storage and Preparation
    Strawberries are generally best eaten raw as soon as possible.  Raw, fresh strawberries have more taste and health benefits.  When choosing strawberries, pick ones that are shiny and vibrant in color.  They should also be firm, plum, and free of mold.  Don’t keep them in the refrigerator longer than a few days before you eat them.

    The human immune system maintains an individual’s physical health by fighting the effects of unwanted invaders, such as harmful bacteria and cancer cells.  Strawberries can help boost the immune system in a painless way.

    An Easy Strawberries and Arugula Recipe

    -6 cups of arugula, torn

    -3 cups strawberries

    -1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

    -Olive oil

    Sprinkle cheese on arugula and strawberries, and pour olive oil as desired.

    9 Feb 2012, 10:56pm
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  • Dried Apricots Nutrition: The Pros and Cons of Choosing Dry Fruit Over Fresh

    When it comes to the health benefits of eating fruits, most places and experts usually focus on fresh fruit. The truth, however, is that dried fruits can be part of a healthy diet if eaten in moderation.

    Health Benefits of Dried Fruits

    When it comes to nutrition, not all dried fruits are the same. Some, like raisins, contain lots of sugar but very few nutrients (except iron). Others, like dried apricots, are more nutritionally sound. A cup of dried apricots provides you with 94% of your daily requirement of vitamin A and 19% of your daily requirement of iron. Dried apricots also contain a small amount of calcium and vitamin C, as well as 9.5 grams of fiber.

    Dried apricots are often cited as one of the healthiest options when it comes to dry fruits. They contain high amounts of pectin, or soluble fiber, which can help lower cholesterol, ease constipation and improve digestion. Dried apricots also contain a good amount of potassium, which is essential for heart health. When it comes to nutrition, dry apricots are a better choice over fresh ones because they contain a higher concentration of carotenoids. Carotenoids are antioxidants that can protect you against the oxidative damage of free radicals, which can increase your risk of developing cancer and other diseases.

    Dried Fruits vs. Fresh Fruits

    Dried fruits tend to be higher in calories and sugar than fresh fruit. This is in part because drying a fruit shrinks it, so you’re likely to eat much more when compared to the fresh version. Another reason for the high calorie content is that most dried fruits have sugar added to them to make them more candy-like. You can look for unsweetened fruits in health food stores but be prepared for them to taste tart or bland in comparison to the real thing.

    Another disadvantage of dried fruits is that some of them lose much of their nutritional content during processing. It’s hard to tell how a company processes their dried fruits unless they specify that on the label. Some processes add sulfur dioxide to dried fruit to preserve their color and taste. However, adding sulfur dioxide also degrades some nutrients, especially thiamine. Some companies blanch (boil or steam) fruits before drying them, in an effort to kill possible contaminants and speed up the drying process. Unfortunately, blanching kills vitamin C, as well as other nutrients.

    Calories in Dry Fruits

    Dry fruits are notorious for being high in calories. This could be a problem if you’re trying to lose weight, but a great thing if you’re looking for something to provide you with a quick burst of energy. This high-energy burst is the reason why dry fruits and nuts are a preferred choice among hikers and people involved in endurance sports. The sugar in dried fruits is converted into glucose quickly and effective, so it can keep you going when you’re tired and need something to push you along.

    The caloric difference between dry and fresh fruit is very evident in the case of apricots. A cup of fresh apricots is 74 calories and contains 14.3 grams of sugar. A cup of dried apricots, on the other hand, contains 313 calories and a whopping 69.5 grams of sugar.

    If you’re looking for a healthy snack, a handful of dried apricots could be a good choice. Just make sure you don’t eat too many or too frequently.

    6 Feb 2012, 1:48am
    Juices and Smoothies
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  • Orange Juice Nutrition: Are You Getting As Much as You Think?

    Oranges are not only one of the most popular fruits, but also one of the most nutritious. A single orange contains high amounts of vitamin C, fiber, thiamin and potassium. It also contains small amounts of vitamin B6, vitamin A, niacin, magnesium and iron. Although there are many types and varieties of oranges, all have similar nutritional values.

    Oranges (and orange juice) are one of best sources of vitamin C. In fact, a single glass of orange juice provides you with 137% of your daily requirement of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful anti-oxidant that can help protect your body against the effects of free radicals, which age your cells and can lead to the development of certain diseases and health issues, including atherosclerosis, heart disease, breast cancer and stroke.

    A glass of 100% unsweetened orange juice also gives you two other important nutrients: potassium (14% of your daily requirement) and thiamin (18%). Potassium is essential for the health of muscle, including heart muscle, as well as for the proper functioning of the kidneys, and to regulate blood pressure. Thiamin is one of the B vitamins (B1). Its main function is to help your body convert blood sugar into energy, regulating appetite in the process. Thiamin also helps improve the health of your muscles and nervous system.

    Fresh Oranges vs. Orange Juice

    Pros of Orange Juice: Orange juice has one major advantage over fresh oranges. Many brands of boxed orange juice now come with added calcium. Depending on the brand, a single glass of orange juice can provide you with up to 50% of your daily requirements of calcium.

    Pros of Fresh Oranges: Fresh natural oranges are much lower in sugar and calories than orange juice. This is because artificial sugar is added to boxed juice in order to improve its taste. That added sugar also increases the calorie count. A single medium-size orange contains about 64 calories, while the calories in a glass of orange juice are much higher: 110 calories for every 8-oz. Fresh juice sold as “100% juice” should be free from added sugars, but always check labels to make sure. When sugars are added, a single glass of orange juice can contain as much sugar as a glass of Coca Cola.

    Another big advantage of eating an orange versus drinking a glass of juice is the orange’s fiber content. Fiber is essential if you’re trying to lose weight, as it keeps you full without adding a lot of calories to your diet. Fiber can also keep you regular, help lower cholesterol and could help prevent certain types of cancer (especially colon cancer).

    Pros and Cons of Frozen Concentrate Juice

    Many people think frozen juice concentrate is just juice that has been frozen. However, frozen concentrate packs much more nutritional value than juice (even fresh juice made at home).


    One big advantage of frozen concentrate juice is that is cheaper than fresh boxed juice and a more practical option if you don’t drink juice every day, since it can last for months in the freezer.
    If you choose frozen orange juice from concentrate, you get an additional advantage. Fresh or boxed orange juice contains only the juice of an orange. Although that gives you all the vitamins and minerals found in an orange, you’ll be missing the fiber, which is only found in the pulp of the fruit. Orange juice made from concentrate is made using the whole fruit, including the peel and sometimes the pith (depending on the brand). This means juice from concentrate is the most nutritious option or at least as good as eating a whole fresh orange. Juice from concentrate gives you more soluble pectin (a form of fiber that slows down glucose absorption and binds to cholesterol) and more antioxidants than any other option.


    Frozen concentrate doesn’t taste as “fresh” as boxed orange juice. This is especially true after you’ve already opened the container and then return it to the freezer, where it can absorb odors or get freezer burn.

    Drinking orange juice could be a great way to add important nutrients to your diet. However, the key is in choosing the best available option. Always read labels and make sure you’re choosing a brand with no added sugars. Also, look for the words “100% juice” on the front label.

    6 Feb 2012, 1:40am
    General Nutrition
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  • Daily Nutritional Needs: How Much to Eat and Why

    There’s no such thing as an appropriate caloric intake that fits everybody. The numbers vary greatly from one person to the next, based on size, age, sex and activity level. Your body composition also affects how much you should eat. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even at rest. This means you can eat more calories and still maintain your weight.

    The FDA does provide very general guidelines based on age and sex, but this should not be taken as definitive, since they don’t take into consideration how active you are. According to the FDA, adult women (between 19 and 50 years of age) should eat about 1,950 calories, while adult men should eat about 2,500.

    Weight Loss and Calories

    If you’re trying to lose weight, the appropriate caloric intake will be much different. As a general rule, you need to cut 500 calories from your diet every day in order to lose 1 lb. per week. If you want to lose 2 lbs. per week, you’d have to cut 1,000 calories from your diet.

    Your BMR (or basal metabolic rate) is the amount of energy your body uses when at rest. This means you need a minimum of daily calories for the functioning of your lungs, digestive system, muscles and more. Again, these numbers vary depending on your size, but experts recommend eating a minimum of 1,200 calories even if you’re trying to lose weight. Crash diets that cut your calorie intake to fewer than 800 calories per day have a negative impact on your metabolism. When you don’t eat enough to meet the minimum required by your body, your metabolism will slow down to compensate for the difference. A slower metabolism leads to slower weight loss and a number of other problems.

    Daily Calorie Burning

    Weight loss through exercise alone is difficult. This is because to achieve a daily calorie burning of 500 calories, you would have to do cross country skiing, run (at least 5 mph), mountain bike or play field hockey for at least an hour seven days a week. Moderate exercise such as riding the stationary bike, doing yoga or taking a low-impact aerobics class won’t burn enough to produce a significant difference on the scale in a single week.

    Daily Vitamin and Mineral Requirements

    Your daily vitamin needs are affected by your age and sex (but not your weight). In most cases, men needs slightly more of all vitamins than women do. Some vitamins, however, don’t have different recommended intakes for men and women. For example, men need about 625 mcg of vitamin A per day, while women need 500 mcg. However, both men and women need about 2 mcg of vitamin B12 a day.

    Needs change during pregnancy and lactation, as well as for teens and children.

    People who eat a balanced diet should be able to obtain all the vitamins and minerals they need from food. In many cases, however, this is simply not possible, especially if you don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Vegetarian nutritional requirements can also be different. This is especially true in the case of vegans, who don’t consume any animal products. Since vitamin B12 is only found in animal products, strict vegetarians might need supplementation in order to stay healthy. Vegetarians could also suffer calcium and iron deficiencies. These can be addressed by taking supplements or by increasing the amount of dark green leafy vegetables and sea vegetables in the diet.

    Understanding the Nutrition Information Label

    The nutrition information label can give you a glimpse into what you’re eating (and what you’re missing), but only if you learn to read it properly. Probably the most important part of the label is the “serving size.” In most cases, you get several servings per container of anything you buy. For example, a pack might contain 20 cookies but the serving size is only 2 cookies. This means all the numbers you see on the label will be about those 2 cookies. If you eat the whole package, you’ll need to multiply all the numbers by 10.

    When you look under “Amount Per Serving,” the two most important numbers are Saturated Fat and Sugars. The recommended maximum intake of sugar is 25 grams per day. A single can of Coke contains 39 grams of sugar, so you can see how easily those numbers stack up.

    Our bodies need fat in order to absorb certain vitamins and nutrients, so going completely fat-free is not a good idea. However, your body does NOT need saturated fat, so if you cut all animal fats from your diet and only eat unsaturated (vegetable fat), you’ll be perfectly fine. A person on a 2,000 calorie diet should eat a maximum of 22 grams of saturated fat per day. A 4-oz. piece of cheddar cheese contains 24 grams of saturated fat, while a 6-oz serving of lean ground beef contains 11 grams of saturated fat.

    If you focus on eating a healthy, moderate diet that includes all food groups, you should have no problem meeting your daily nutritional requirements and keeping your weight stable.