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Posts Tagged ‘antioxidants’

beets

Numerous health and wellness media outlets have printed various “The Best Foods You Aren’t Eating” articles over the last few years. Included in many of those lists are beets.  I have to admit they were not on my ‘favorite’ veggie list when I was a kid. But I’ve grown to like them as an adult, and would like to encourage you to think about incorporating them more often into your diet.

What nutritional benefits can you get from eating beets? 

  • Beets are part of the chenopod family. Other members include chard, spinach, and quinoa.
  • The reddish purple pigments in beets contain phytochemicals called betalins. Betalins help lessen growth of tumor cells in the colon, stomach, nerve, lung, breast, prostate, and testicles.
  • Beets are especially protective of our eyes and our nervous system. They also help protect against heart disease, birth defects, and cancer.
  • Beets are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and manganese.
  • Beets help reduce inflammation. Heart disease and diabetes are two chronic health problems aggravated by inflammation.
  • The fiber in beets is unique, and may provide health benefits in the digestive tract and cardiovascular system.

Preparing Fresh Beets

Cut the majority of the leaves and stems off.  Leave about 2” of the stems on to prevent bleeding.  Do not wash before storing.  Place in a plastic bag or saran wrap and wrap tightly to keep out air. They will keep about four days in the refrigerator.

Raw beets do not freeze well.  However, you can freeze cooked beets. To begin preparing beets, run them first under cold water to clean. You may notice that beets “bleed” a little and turn your hands red.  You can remove the temporary dye by rubbing your hands with lemon juice.

Cut beets into quarters, leaving 2” of the tap root and 1” of stem.  Cook as lightly as possible by steaming or cooking in a small amount of liquid. When you can insert a knife or fork easily into the beet, they are done.  Peel beets on a cutting board and use gloves to prevent staining your hands. You can also eat beets raw by grating and adding to salads.

Easter Tradition

You may want to try this unique beet recipe for Easter dinner. “Beets and horseradish” is a side dish used on ham. I learned how to make it years ago from my father-in-law whose ancestors came from Czechoslovakia. It is an Eastern European tradition.

Beets and Horseradish

1 bunch fresh beets (4-5)

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

4 tablespoons vinegar

1 tablespoon grated horseradish

Boil beets until soft.  Skin and cool to room temperature. Grate beets by hand, do not use a food processor. Add remaining ingredients. Refrigerate. Canned beets may be substituted for fresh (save the beet juice to make pickled eggs).

Written by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Sources:

https://www.health.com/nutrition/beets-health-benefits?slide=327494#327494

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/311343.php

https://foodandnutrition.org/november-december-2015/beets-deserve-spotlight/

https://www.justbeetit.com/beet-nutrition

 

 

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Cupboard with different types of teas

January is National Tea Month, and what a great time of year to enjoy a hot, steamy cup! These past few cold days have called for us to find hot drinks to warm us up, from the inside out. A hot, steamy cup of tea is perfect for any time of day.

According to the Tea Association of the USA, tea is nearly 5,000 years old. It was purportedly discovered in 2737 BC by the Chinese Emperor Shen-Nung, aka “The Divine Healer”. As legend tells us, some tea leaves accidentally blew into the Emperor’s pot of boiling water and created the first tea brew. According to Chinese tea scholars, the Emperor, as a botanical explorer, accidentally poisoned himself some 85 times, each time being cured by this wonderful tea brew.

There is a great deal of research about the benefits of drinking hot tea. Below are five common benefits:

  • Tea is packed with antioxidants. These help keep our bodies “young” and protect them from toxins.
  • Tea has less caffeine than coffee. The kinds that contain caffeine usually have about 50% less than coffee, which means you can drink it without affecting your nervous system.
  • Research shows a correlation between tea and heart health. A recent study says people who drink tea have a 20% lower chance of having a stroke or heart attack than those who don’t.
  • Tea may help with weight loss, especially when paired with a well-balanced diet and exercise. Tea is usually calorie-free, and it can give you energy and cause your body to burn more calories throughout the day.
  • Tea may protect your immune system. Studies show that tea helps immune cells reach their targets more quickly.

The Daily Tea suggests drinking hot tea all throughout the day. Here are some of the guidelines for what kind and how it might help your health:

Early Morning: To start your day off right, try white tea first thing when you wake up. It’s gentle on a stomach that has been fasting (which we do when we sleep) and has a light, aromatic quality. For a caffeine boost first thing in the morning, choose a high quality white tea and boil with extremely hot water to bring out the caffeine.

Mid-Morning: Around 10:00 or 11:00 in the morning, move to a green tea. This will help give your metabolism a kick start, and it has a very light, uplifting, approachable flavor.

Lunch: Black tea is recommended at this time of day for a few reasons: it’s widely available and easy to find if you’re out and about to grab a mid-day bite to eat, it’s great paired with food, and you can choose your level of caffeine depending on how your energy levels are that day.

Post-Lunch: Pu-erh tea is a great choice for after lunch, because it only has a small amount of caffeine – enough to help ward off that afternoon slump, but not so much that you’ll be up all night. It’s a perfect follow-up to a healthy, well-balanced lunch.

Evening: There are several great options for nighttime tea. Varieties such as chamomile, valerian root, lavender, lemon balm, and passion flower do not contain caffeine, and they may help calm you down and promote a good night’s sleep. Give them a try, do a little experimenting and figure out which you prefer.

 

Sources:

Edgar, J. (2009). Types of Teas and Their Health Benefits.  WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/tea-types-and-their-health-benefits#1

Harvard Men’s Health Watch (2014). Tea: A cup of good health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/tea-a-cup-of-good-health

Tea Association of the USA. Tea Fact Sheet 2018-2019. http://www.teausa.org/14655/tea-fact-sheet

The Daily Tea (2018). A Cup of Tea for Every Time of Day. https://thedailytea.com/taste/a-cup-of-tea-for-every-time-of-day/

 

Written by: Brenda Sandman-Stover, Extension Program Assistant, 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Greene County

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County; and Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences.

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apple-cider-337x335I bought my first gallon of apple cider in mid-September and will continue to do so for a couple more months. No other beverage conjures up as many happy childhood memories of fall as drinking cider. I’m not an apple juice drinker, but I do love my cider!

As a rule, I tend not to drink much juice because of the sugar content. I prefer to eat whole fruits and/or veggies to get the maximum amount of health benefits. But it isn’t always easy to get the recommended number of plant foods in my daily diet. One four-ounce serving of apple cider counts as a serving of fruit.

Apple cider is usually made from a blend of different types of apples to give it a nice balance between sweet and tart. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, apples are first ground into pulp and then pressed to extract the juice. The juice quickly oxidizes, giving the cider its deep amber color. Apple cider is made in the cooler months because hot weather hastens fermentation.

Apple cider is not clarified like apple juice, so it still contains its starches and pectins. They are the ingredients that give cider its dark, cloudy color.

Below are some of the health benefits found in apple cider:

Antioxidants

You probably eat a variety of foods to protect your organs, bones, and muscles. Plant foods contain antioxidants, which help protect your cells. Antioxidants prevent or stop cell damage caused by oxidants (because they are “anti” oxidation). Oxidants are free radicals found in the environment as well as produced in your body.

Flavonoids

Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits. Diets high in flavonoid-containing foods, like apples, may lower your risk for cancer, neurodegenerative disease, cardiovascular disease, and Type 2 diabetes.

Constipation/Fiber

If you’ve been a frequent cider drinker over the years, you probably remember that cider helps with “regularity.” The small amount of fiber in cider, in combination with the sugar alcohol sorbitol, helps promote regular bowel movements and looser stools.

Pectin

Apples are an excellent source of pectin, and fortunately cider contains just as much as the whole fruit. Pectin helps absorb bad cholesterol in the body.

Where to buy?

Apple cider is found in grocery stores, farm markets, local farms that sell fruit and/or cider from their own orchards and cider mills, as well as some convenience and drug stores. Cider purchased in retail establishments will most likely be pasteurized, whereas you may potentially purchase unpasteurized cider from farms or farm markets. There is a difference in taste between the two types. If you purchase unpasteurized cider, look for the Label Warning Statement**.

WARNING: This product has not been pasteurized and, therefore, may contain harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness in children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems.”

**A warning statement for untreated cider and/or juice products must appear on the label.

 

Written by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

 

Reviewed by:  Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

 

Sources:

http://www.aicr.org/press/health-features/health-talk/2014/dec14/serving-size-juice.html

https://www.farmersalmanac.com/food/2008/09/29/apple-cider-season/

http://www.agri.ohio.gov/FoodSafety/docs/hcomm/food-apple_cider_fs.pdf

 

 

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I grew up eating black raspberries as a child. They are very hard to find these days; most of the darker colored berries in the grocery store are blackberries.  Now, you’re probably sitting there scratching your head and asking “Whatchu talking about, Willis?” Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that there are two distinct “black berry” choices.

Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know there was a difference; even some food companies and nutritionists don’t realize that these are two different food items. Yes, they are both berries, and yes, they are both black. But there are distinct taste and nutritional differences between the two.

blackberries

BLACKBERRIES:

What they look like: Blackberries are bigger; with larger single cells that bulge out more than the cells in a black raspberry.  The berry top appears closed.  Blackberries are more shiny or glossy than a black raspberry.

How they taste: Less tart than a red raspberry and sweeter.

Health benefits: Blackberries definitely provide health benefits, but do not contain the same levels of antioxidants and anthocyanins as black raspberries.  They have higher levels of natural sugars, which can be an issue for people with diabetes. They haven’t been studied as much as black raspberries.

black raspberries

BLACK RASPBERRIES:

What they look like: Looks like a red raspberry only black.  Farmers call them “blackcaps” because when the berry comes off the bush, they are hollow inside (top appears open or hollow).  The individual cells of the black raspberry are much smaller than a blackberry’s and do not protrude or stick out.

How they taste: More fruity and less tart than a blackberry. They contain less sugar, so are not as sweet. A black raspberry has a unique taste that is not like other berries.

Health benefits: Black raspberries are one of the healthiest berries you can eat.  They are lower in sugar than other berries and provide a lot of fiber (about 8 grams per cup).  They contain large amounts of anthocyanins, with approximately three times the number of antioxidants found in blackberries.  They are also one of the most highly-researched berries, especially in the area of cancer prevention.

Berry Comparison

Nutritionally, plant foods can be measured to see how many antioxidants a specific serving of food will provide. Used by the USDA, it’s called an ORAC score, which stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (how many free radical cells can those antioxidants sweep up or absorb). Below is a chart comparing the antioxidant content of a variety of berries. Note which version is in first place.

ORAC berry score

Bottom Line

All berries are good choices to eat for optimum health benefits. But try to acquire some black raspberries this summer when you’re out at the farm market; your body will thank you.

 

Written by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

 

Reviewed by:  Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

 

Source:

http://berryhealth.fst.oregonstate.edu/health_healing/fact_sheets/black_raspberry_facts.htm

 

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cherries

Did you know that tart (sour) cherries have powerful secret nutrients? Studies have found that the antioxidants in tart cherries are highest at peak ripeness, so consuming them when they are fully ripe will offer the most health benefits. Both fresh tart cherries and cherry juice concentrate contain compounds called anthocyanins that provide the following health benefits:

  • Arthritis pain relief
  • Lower risk of stroke.
  • Protection for people with existing gout from recurrent attacks.
  • Lowered risk for inflammation
  • Beneficial metabolic affects such as decreasing fat, sugar, and insulin levels in the blood
  • Melatonin in tart cherries promotes better sleep
  • Helps reduce free radicals in the body, possibly reducing the risk of some cancers and Alzheimer’s disease

Everyone should try to eat more fruits and vegetables; adding tart cherries (or the concentrate) can easily add an extra serving of fruit to your meal plan each day!

Ohioans are fortunate to be able to enjoy many different types of locally produced foods (including cherries). Ohio State University Extension is providing the opportunity for people to celebrate that fact during the second annual Ohio Local Foods Week, Aug. 7-13.

“We are blessed here in Ohio with an abundance of locally grown and produced items,” said Heather Neikirk, OSU Extension educator and co-leader of Extension’s Local Foods Signature Program. So celebrate local foods week with us and get started today!

Written by: Marie Diniaco Economos, Ohio State University Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Trumbull County, Western Reserve EERA, economos.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Donna Green. Ohio State University Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Erie County, Erie Basin EERA, green.308@osu.edu

Resources:

http://localfoods.osu.edu/maximizenutrients.

www.anthocynin.com

www.choosecherries.com

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peppersA few days ago we read about the abundance of zucchini plants in many of our gardens. Peppers are another vegetable that has been producing non-stop recently. My grandson’s garden is providing all of us with more peppers than we can use!  Being a young entrepreneur, he even set up a small stand near their lane to sell peppers and zucchini to neighbors who don’t have a garden of their own!

The varieties of peppers grown locally include bell which can be green, orange, red, or yellow; jalapeno and other hot peppers and the milder sweet banana peppers. All of the members of the pepper family provide great nutritional value in our diets. They’re low in calories and are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, potassium, folic acid, and fiber. Compared to green bell peppers, the red ones have almost 11 times more beta-carotene and 1.5 times more vitamin C. A single raw red pepper, sweet or hot, can meet the daily requirements for two important antioxidants, vitamin A and C.

Peppers are a very versatile vegetable. They can be eaten raw or cooked and can be used as additions to sandwiches, salads, stuffing, soup, stews, and relishes. Roasting peppers, however, brings out a totally different taste. This takes some time but the results are well worth it. Char thick-skinned peppers until the skin is black and blistered. They can be charred under a broiler, over an open flame or on the grill. While they are still hot, cover or place in a paper bag for 15 minutes and allow the steam to loosen the charred skins. Peel over a bowl to catch the juices, and use in your favorite recipe.

Peppers can also be preserved safely by freezing, pickling or canning. The National Center for Food Preservation and Ohio State University Extension provided guidance on freezing, pickling and canning peppers and pepper recipes.

If you are harvesting peppers from your garden or purchasing at a local farmer’s market, remember to wash peppers just before using them. Rinse them under cool running water. Peppers can be stored in a plastic bag for use within 5 days. When preparing hot peppers, be sure to wear gloves, keep your hands away from your face and wash your hands thoroughly as soon as you are finished. They can burn your skin and eyes!

The Ohioline fact sheet – Salsa from Garden to Table  includes several delicious varieties of salsas that can be prepared and canned for use year round. Be sure and follow the directions exactly for a safe product.

Here is a quick and easy recipe for a refreshing summer salsa provided on the USDA What’s Cooking web site.  Check out this site for many great, economical, healthy recipes!

Easy Mango Salsa

Prep time: 10 minutessalsa

Makes: 4 Servings

Total Cost: $1.29

Serving Cost: $0.32

The sweetness of fresh mango combined with savory pepper and onion and the zest of lime give this salsa a balance of flavors that are refreshing and crisp. Serve this appetizer with baked tortilla chips or whole grain crackers for a tasty snack.

Ingredients

1 mango (peeled and chopped)

1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 green onion, chopped

1 lime, juiced (1-2 Tablespoons)

Directions

  1. Peel and chop the mango, be sure to remove the seed.
  2. Cut the pepper and onion into small pieces.
  3. Mix all the ingredients together.

Iowa Department of Public Health. Iowa Nutrition Network.

Written by:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County Rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Amanda Bohlen, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Washington County Bohlen.19@osu.edu

References:

http://ohioline.osu.edu

http://www.webmd.com/diet/peppers-health-benefits?print=true

https://extension.illinois.edu/veggies/peppers.cfm

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hot-chocolateHot chocolate is my favorite drink during the fall and winter months. The snow was falling outside and I was anxious for my 1st cup of the New Year. However, I made a New Year’s Resolution to be healthier and watch my sugar intake. Have you ever taken time to stop and read the nutrition label on a box of hot chocolate?  The first two ingredients are sugar and corn syrup. Cocoa is not listed until the fifth ingredient. My once loved drink was slowly adding weight to my body. One cup of hot chocolate can contain anywhere from four to seven teaspoons of sugar. Since my favorite way of making mine is with reduced fat milk and using original hot chocolate packaged mix I was drinking SEVEN teaspoons of sugar in one cup!

I was not going to let one little drink ruin my goal of becoming healthier. I set out to find a better option. Standing at the grocery store my mind was overloaded with all the different options. All too many times we believe what we read on the outside of the box instead of taking the time to read the nutrition label. No sugar added had to be better for me right? It should have fewer calories. Or what about the all-natural versions where you can pronounce all the ingredients?  There aren’t any added sweeteners or artificial flavors in them. What if I pick the dark chocolate flavor? Dark chocolate has antioxidants so that hast to be the best option. What about my whipped cream or marshmallows on top?

So what is a person to do when they still want that cup of hot chocolate but are trying to be healthier? The American Heart Association offers some suggestions on how to trim the calories by using fat free milk, low sugar hot chocolate packets and a minimal amount of toppings. If you would prefer, make it yourself so you can control the amount of sugar. Chances are you probably already have the ingredients in your kitchen. By personally controling the amount of sugar you are using it’s no longer the number one ingredient. Start with taking your favorite hot chocolate recipe and only use half the amount of sugar. It will not seem as sweet but you can add cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla extract to help give it that extra something special. For a greater depth of flavor try simmering a cinnamon stick with your milk. Maybe you are looking for a recipe that is a sophisticated, European-style of hot chocolate which is thick and rich.

A healthier version of hot chocolate is very doable and in moderation has great health benefits. After all cocoa beans do come from seeds of a fruit that is grown on trees in tropical forests. That makes chocolate a fruit right?

 

Source: Gampel, S., & Bobroff, L. B. (2010, October). Dark Chocolate Benefits. Retrieved from http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FM/FM38300.pdf

Source: Core, J. (2005, April 4). In Chocolate, More Cocoa Means Higher Antioxidant Capacity . Retrieved from http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2005/050404.2.htm

Author: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

 

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