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Posts Tagged ‘chronic disease’

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As long as you don’t add gobs of sugar, fat and salt to your garden produce, they will be some of the healthiest fruits and vegetables in your kitchen. However, there are ways to store, preserve, and prepare them so that they can even be healthier.

Phytonutrients are natural compounds derived from plants that can have health benefits when consumed. As opposed to nutrients, omission of phytonutrients in the diet will not cause deficiency symptoms, but including them can have additional health benefits. Some examples include anthocyanins in berries, capsaicin in peppers, and carotenoids in melons, carrots, tomatoes, sweet corn, green leafy vegetables, and green beans.

Nutrients and phytonutrients in the diet are important to our health because they often neutralize harmful substances called free radicals which are thought to be culprits of chronic disease such as heart disease and cancer. They are also helpful in preventing or slowing down inflammatory processes also linked with chronic disease. If you already live with a chronic disease such as diabetes, consumption of fruits and vegetables can help prevent or delay complications such as eye, kidney, or nervous system diseases.

Fruits, vegetables, and their combination of nutrients and phytonutrients likely play a role in preventing or delaying the development of age-related chronic diseases, like cancer and cardiovascular disease. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommend that most people consume 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables per day.

How Cooking or Preserving Can Impact the Nutrition of your Harvest

Cooking and preservation exposes the fruit or vegetable to heat, oxygen and light, all which can degrade nutrient and phytonutrient levels. How do you maximize the levels in your food? Keep reading:

  • Boiling—Shorter cooking time minimizes nutrient loss. Consume cooking water or save for later, such as in soups or for cooking rice.
  • Steaming—Minimal contact with water helps retain water-soluble nutrients. Light steaming improves the availability of nutrients and phytonutrients.
  • Sautéing—Lower temperatures and shorter cooking times minimize nutrient loss. Lack of water during cooking reduces loss of water-soluble nutrients. A small amount of oil can increase availability of carotenoids.
  • Roasting or grilling—Compared to other cooking methods with lower temperatures, may result in a higher nutrient loss.
  • Canning—Can improve absorption of lycopene (a carotenoid) from tomatoes. Can cause loss of vitamin C.
  • Freezing—Results in high nutrient retention. Blanching (briefly boiling) can have small loss of heat-sensitive and water-soluble nutrients.
  • Drying—Loss of all water-soluble nutrients, but retains fiber. To maximize nutrient and phytochemicals, a different preservation method is advised.

What’s in your Garden? Nutritional Powerhouses!

Your garden produce have many health promoting vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. USDA’s MyPlate model suggests that consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables is a key to good health, since nutrients often work together.

Vegetables

  • Beets have significant sources of folate, potassium and phytonutrients called betalains, compounds that may prevent the development of heart disease and certain cancers.
  • Cruciferous vegetables (leafy vegetables, broccoli) contain vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and phytonutrients called glucosinolates. Many of these compounds may provide cancer protection, especially for the bladder and prostate.
  • Green beans and pea pods have vitamin A, vitamin C, folate and phytonutrients including carotenoids, chlorophyll, polyphenols and saponins. These compounds may prevent development of heart disease and cancers.
  • Sweet corn contains vitamin C, niacin, and carotenoids. The compounds in sweet corn are antioxidants and have been demonstrated to slow digestion and control blood sugars.
  • Tomatoes contain vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and carotenoids. Tomatoes may provide protection from heart disease and certain cancers, especially prostate.
  • Green leafy vegetables contain vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin B6, riboflavin, folate, magnesium, iron, calcium and potassium. Phytonutrients include carotenoids and polyphenols. Compounds in leafy vegetables may prevent cancers and promote bone health.
  • Peppers have vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, carotenoids, phenolics, and capsaicin. Compounds found in peppers may provide cancer protection and improve cholesterol.
  • Winter squash, pumpkins and carrots contain vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin B6, potassium and carotenoids. These compounds are antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory. Health benefits include possible cancer protection and blood sugar control.

Fruits

  • Apples, pears and peaches have vitamin A, vitamin K and the phytochemical quercetin, which are all anti-inflammatory.
  • Berries contain vitamin C, vitamin K, and have the phytonutrients anthocyanins and ellagitannins. Many of these are anti-inflammatory compounds and are thought to provide cancer protection, especially of the mouth, esophagus, intestine and prostate.
  • Melons contain vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, carotenoids and polyphenols. These compounds may prevent the development of heart disease and certain cancers.

Source: Ohioline Factsheet HGY 5581: Farm to Health: Maximizing Nutrients and Phytonutrients in Ohio Produce. Retrieved on 8/27/2017 from https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5581

Author: Dan Remley, PhD, Assistant Professor, Field Specialist, OSU Extension

Reviewer: Susan Zies, Assistant Professor, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Wood County

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bmiWeight is a topic that gets discussed from the moment we are born. “You just had a baby girl? How much did she weigh?” While we are young, we happily get on the scales and announce that we have gained a couple more pounds. Weight determines which car seat an infant or toddler or young child needs to be safe while riding in a vehicle. Weight is documented on a chart each time we visit the Dr.’s office.

It seems though, that as we grow older, we feel more insecure about our weight. Most likely we are comparing ourselves to all of our friends and acquaintances thinking more about our body size, shape, and overall appearance rather than our weight. I find that looking in a mirror, I feel pretty good, but when I see myself in pictures I am very self-conscious that I am “bigger” than I thought.

Weight seems to creep up slowly for many over the years, and as we age it is more difficult to lose. Our metabolism slows down. We sit more than we did as youth and young adults. We are eating on the run and indulging in treats more often. So, what should we, as adults, do to equip ourselves with the best plan for living a healthy life?

Knowledge is power.

  1. We should not avoid the scales, but we should not overdo either. It is best to weigh yourself once a week at the same time. This will give you the best comparison. Once you know your weight and height, you can calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index). To calculate your BMI the formula is: weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 x 703. You may also use this BMI Calculator from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control).
  2. We need to also evaluate our Waist Circumference. A BMI alone may not give us a full picture. For example, persons with high muscle mass will often have a high BMI when they are actually very fit and healthy. While standing, use a flexible tape measure to find your waist circumference just above your hip bones. For women, a waist above 35 inches may indicate additional health risks. For men, a waist circumference above 40 inches may be of concern.
  3. Finally, we want to think about other risks such as family history, tobacco use, an inactive lifestyle, men over the age of 45 and women who have gone through menopause, and having already been diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes, or some other chronic disease.

Weight is just one indicator of our health and it is one many of us struggle with maintaining in a healthy range, but it is one worth tracking. Decreasing our body weight by just 5 – 10% can greatly reduce our risk of health problems. My husband has been working hard to lose some weight and eat healthier. I am consuming more vegetables and increasing my activity. When we support one another in our healthful adventures, it is more fun and the results are greater. What are you doing to reach and maintain a healthy weight? Let’s get started!

Author: Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D., L.D. SNAP-Ed Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, spires.53@osu.edu

Reviewer: Liz Smith, R.D.N., L.D. SNAP-Ed Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, smith.3993@osu.edu

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthy Weight – it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle! 16 July 2014. Web.

U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.” 2010. http://www.dietaryguidelines.gov. Web.

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HerbsHerbs have been around since the dawn of civilization. Ancient people gathered herbs to flavor foods, which were often spoiled, and to use as natural health remedies. Today, we still use herbs to enhance the flavor of our foods.

Herbs can also be thought of as health promoting. Replacing salt with herbs has been used by many cultures in the Mediterranean, South America, Asia and Europe. Although sodium plays an important role in the body too much salt is can cause hypertension and fluid retention. Experts recommend that we not consume more 2400 mg (teaspoon) to prevent hypertension and cardiovascular disease. We are not born with a taste for salt but we develop it with our diet. A preference for salt can be unlearned by gradually lowering it in our diets. Fortunately, herbs are fat-free and often sodium free so that you can spice up your dishes with sacrificing flavor and nutrition.

In addition to being low-sodium, research suggests that culinary herbs are health promoting in other ways. A diet in which culinary herbs are used to flavor food provides a variety of active phytochemicals that may protect against chronic diseases.

Herbs should used sparingly so as to not overwhelm the flavor and fragrance. Herbs can be used as fresh or dried. To substitute dried herbs for fresh, the general rule is to use 1/3 teaspoon of ground or 1 teaspoon of crumbled dried herbs for 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs.

Fresh herbs can easily be grown in containers with lots of sunshine and water. When harvested, bunches of fresh herbs can be stored in the refrigerator with their stems in water. To dry fresh herbs, tie stalks into small bunches with a string and hang upside down in a paper bag punched with holes. Store the bag in a warm, well ventilated place. Once the herbs are dried they should be stored in tightly closed glass jars and kept in a cool dry place.

Here are some ways to use the following herbs:

 Allspice: Use in pickling, baked apples, puddings, cakes, cookies, meat and fish.

 Basil: Use in soups, stews, eggplant, squash, tomatoes, sauces, egg dishes, stuffing, tossed salads and potatoes.

 Bay leaves: Provides a pungent aroma and flavor. Use in stews, sauces, and salad dressings.

 Cayenne: Use in stews, sauces and salad dressings.

 Chili Powder: Provides a hot flavor. Use in stews, boiled eggs, chili, and other Mexican dishes.

 Thyme: Add carefully; very penetrating. Use in soups, stews, meat loaf, onions, carrots, beets, stuffing and sauces.

 Oregano: Use in tomato sauce dishes, egg dishes and salads.

 Paprika: Use in potato dishes, shellfish, and salad dressings.

 Parsley: Is mild and versatile. Use with meat, vegetables, soups, eggs, and potatoes.

Growing herbs can be a family affair. Childhood obesity rates are at all time highs and many children will suffer from chronic disease in early adulthood. Many diseases are preventable if lifelong habits of physical activity and healthy eating are adopted. Involving children in the process of growing, harvesting, and using herbs could foster an interest in life-long interest in cooking and healthy living.

Herb garden

Sources: “Spice Up Your Life with Herbs” by Jennifer Even. OSU factsheet SS-208-02.

“Health-Promoting Properties of Common Herbs”, by Winston Craig. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 70, No. 3, 491S-499S, September 1999.

Writer:  Dan Remley, M.S.P.H., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Field Specialist, Family Nutrition and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension, Remley.4@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Michelle Treber, M.A., L.D., Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension,  Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu

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