Prunes are Plums

Prune is the dried version of any type of plum.   There are many types of plums. The dried version of the European plum (Prunus domestica), is the one that is commonly found in stores. There are other versions of plums like Prunus Americana and Prunus Salicina.

Prunes are concentrated source of:

Fiber

Potassium

Vitamin A, B, K

Calcium

Magnesium

Iron

Zinc

Copper

Manganese

Selenium

Boron

There is 7g of fiber per 100 of fruit.  A serving is 3-4 fruits that gives roughly 3g of fiber which is about 12% of daily value.  Dried plums retain both soluble and insoluble fiber and sorbitol. Soluble fiber helps slow down the absorption of glucose that stabilizes blood glucose level.  80% of the fiber in prunes is soluble fiber. Prunes have about 15% sorbitol when other fruits contains less than 5% of the same. The sorbitol, like fiber, absorbs more water and also increases the intestinal microorganisms that improves the guts’ health.

Prunes are rich sources of Glucose, fructose, sorbitol and sucrose. But prunes do not spike blood sugar because it is compact with natural fibers. So, consumption of prunes should be not more than 3-4 prunes.

Fresh plums are filled with water and so packed with water soluble vitamin C, too.  Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that help prevent the formation of free radicals in the body. But we should also keep in mind that plum fruits, during the process of drying will lose its water and vitamin C and ends as a source of concentrated sugar with other nutrients and fiber.  It is the high sugar content that helps dry this fruit without fermentation.  So, 3-4 prunes can be taken, twice or thrice a week but not every day.

It also sounds good that prunes have lower GI when compared to other common dry fruits like raisins, figs and dates.  This low GI number is because of the fiber it is packed with. Fiber keeps you full for longer and helps relieve constipation, too!

Prunes are rich in antioxidants (polyphenols), lutein, cryptoxanthin, chlorogenic acid, coumaric acid that prevents cell mutation and reduce cancer cell formation.

Potassium, an essential mineral found in prunes helps maintain a healthy blood pressure level.

Vitamin A promotes strong vision and prevents macular degeneration and cataracts.

Small children’s digestive system in not fully developed and their requirements are much lesser than adults. Seek doctor’s advice before adding prunes to your child’s favorite food because excess amount will show the symptoms of diarrhea.

It is easy to incorporate prunes to our daily meal. Prunes can be added to oats cereal, porridge that requires no extra added sugar. Prunes are very sweet and can be taken alone or with mixed nuts or salads. Oats porridge with prunes, a delicious and colorful breakfast!

Regular exercise and right portion of meals, every day, will help maintain your weight, blood sugar, and cholesterol.

 

 

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Super food

 

Bananas are one of the most widely consumed fruits in the world and fresh bananas are available year-round. Adding sliced banana to your morning cereal or oatmeal sounds great for breakfast. Bananas are packed with flavonoids, beta carotene a powerful antioxidant that gobbles free radical. In addition, it is a good source of potassium important for controlling the heart rate and blood pressure. Vitamin B6 in banana, help prevent anemia.

Increase happiness

Bananas help to overcome depression by releasing mood regulating substance called tryptophan, which is converted to serotonin in the brain that elevates mood and makes you happier!

Energy

Bananas, a pack of energy punch, good supplier of carbohydrate necessary to replace the muscle glycogen after your heavy work out. Before a strenuous workout, it help sustain your blood sugar. Blend a banana with a cup of soy milk and a teaspoon of honey and refrigerate. Enjoy a chill smoothie after workout!

Bowel health

Bananas are high in soluble fiber that acts as prebiotic, stimulating the growth of friendly bacteria in the bowel that helps relieve constipation and restore regular bowel function.

Potassium

Bananas are high in potassium that helps lower blood pressure and protect against heart diseases and help the body’s circulatory system, deliver oxygen to the brain. Potassium help transport more oxygen to your brain, that keeps your brain do its job better. If you are taking beta-blockers, prescribed for heart disease, consult with your doctor if potassium level become a concern, for this medication have the potential to increase in the potassium levels.

Iron

Bananas are rich in iron that help individuals with anemia. It help stimulation of production of hemoglobin that aids in oxygen transport.

Digestion

Bananas are rich in pectin, aiding digestion and detoxification process in the body. It soothes the digestive tract and help restore lost electrolytes after diarrhea. Banana Smoothie, a wonderful energy punch.

A sliced banana mixed with sliced strawberries, mandarin orange and a teaspoon of honey and chopped mint leaves, makes a great dessert.  Enjoy with your family!

 

 

Teen: Nutrition

Growth and development are in high-speed during teenage years and the demands for calories during this period in early adolescence is more than at any other time of life.  A number of physiological, physical and behavioral changes occurs and these changes requires an increase in the amount of nutrients.  The taller kids and those who involve in sports activity will still need increased amounts of energy into late adolescence.

Though it is obvious that adolescents need sufficient energy and nutrients for their growth and development, some are inactive and eat more than they need and become overweight. If they don’t show interest to reduce their weight by controlling their intake, obesity will take over them.  Lifestyle changes will improve their weight in the long-term.

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Protein is an essential micro nutrient for growth, and tissue repair. An athlete performance depends on muscle strength and these muscles are made of protein. It is not just the protein consumed in one sitting aid in muscle strength.  Regular exercise along with high biological value proteins that is spread all throughout the day will help build up muscles. Young people should do regular exercise at least for 60 mins of moderate intensity activity (walking, cycling, dancing) every day.  Protein recommendation per day for 11-13yrs is 34g and 14-18yrs is 46g. Athletes require a higher amount of protein than recommended, which is calculated by a sports physiologist/nutritionist, based on the intensity of the activity.

Teens needs carbohydrates that is vital to their health for various reasons. Carbohydrates are main source of energy. They help fuel the brain, kidneys, heart, muscles and central nervous system. It is the main fuel source of energy. But not all carbohydrates are equal.  Eating breakfast made with “slow-release” of carbohydrates, like oatmeal 3 hours before exercise will help burn more fat efficiently.

  • Whole grains are good sources of complex carbohydrates that takes longer time to digest and are high in fiber, selenium, magnesium and potassium than refined grains and products.
  • Whole fruits and vegetables add water, fiber and bulk that are packed with fewer calories and at the same time it helps to feel fuller.

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In order to maximize the amount of nutrients you take in, consume nutrient dense foods that is naturally  lean and low in solid fats, sugars, refined starches and sodium.  Beverages account for almost 40-50% percentage of added sugars consumed by teenagers. Desserts like cakes, pies, cookies, doughnuts, pastries, ice cream, frozen desserts and puddings, candies, syrups makes more than 75% of intake of all added sugars. Shift to reduce sugars consumption to less than 10 percent of calories per day. Choose beverages with no added sugars in place of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Mixed dishes (made of cheese, meat or both and sodium) like burgers, sandwiches, pizza, tacos, rice, pasta are major source of saturated fats. Shift to reduce saturated fats intake less than 10 percent of calories per day. Shift from high saturated fats to polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Read the food labels and choose lower fat forms of foods. Best option is to change ingredients of the mixed dishes to healthier choices like vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and low-fat cheese, in place of fatty meat and cheese.

Most sodium consumed by teens comes from salts added during commercial food processing and preparation. Commercially processed or prepared mixed dishes and soups account for almost half of their sodium consumption.  Reading food labels to compare sodium content of the product will help choose the product with less sodium. Limiting sauces, mixes and instant products like flavored rice, instant-noodles, ready to eat pasta will help reduce the sodium consumption.  Garnishing the food with herbs and spices is another better option that curbs the salty desire.  High sodium intake will increase blood pressure and cause calcium losses that leads to bone demineralization that increases the risk of osteoporosis causing fragility and breakages even in young people.

Calcium rich foods like low-fat dairy products, green vegetables like watercress, broccoli, almonds, fish with bones will help to increase the bone mass in young people.  A combination of protein, calcium and vitamin C together help form collagen. So, balancing the meal is the key.

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Iron requirements increase during adolescence to help with growth and muscle development. Girls need more iron to replace their menstrual losses.  So, teens should focus more on iron rich foods. Iron from meat sources are readily absorbed by the human body. Though meat is a good source of iron, teens should go for lean protein that is low in saturated fat.  Nuts, wholegrains, dark green leafy vegetables, figs are also loaded with iron. Iron in egg and vegetarian sources are not easily absorbed by the body. Vitamin C from fruits will help absorb the iron from these sources. So, it is wise to take fruits rich in vitamin C along with these foods. For example spinach and egg salad garnished with orange slices and lemon & mint dressing is a good, colorful and natural shot of iron. In addition it is also loaded with vitamins & minerals and fibers.

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Adolescents should focus on fiber too. Fiber is a carbohydrate that aids in digestion and keeps cholesterol in control. Fiber latches onto your food and chauffeurs it through your body. Fiber is a natural laxative that promotes the movement of material through the digestive system and benefits those struggles with constipation.  Teens should aim to have 25-30g of fiber every day.

Eating disorders are seen in many teen girls, particularly those aged between 12-18yrs. During middle and late adolescence, girls eat roughly 20-30% fewer calories per day than boys. Anorexia nervosa is an illness where girls tend to keep their body weight low either by consuming less,  Some vomit after eating and some refuse to eat!  Some girls use laxatives or overdo the exercise to keep their body weight low. Bulimia nervosa is another illness where the sufferers are obsessed with the fear of gaining weight. They lack self-control and have a recurring pattern of eating large food, followed by self-induced vomiting. Some have emotional overeating like eating large quantities of food in response to negative emotions. Few teenagers are binge eaters where they eat large quantities of food in faster pace than normal.

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They are more likely to have vitamins & minerals in a scant amount. Lesser the amount of food consumed than recommended, lower the availability of vitamin A, zinc, iodine, and folate in some girls. Unless a doctor evaluation states a specific deficiency, it’s preferable to obtain nutrients from food instead from dietary supplements. Some teen boys too have eating disorders!

Awareness of food & exercise will help teens to avoid mistaken attitudes about food, weight and body shape. “A balanced meal” is the key to prevent eating disorders and regular exercise will help improve their moods!

References

https://www.nutrition.org.uk

https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015

http://www.mayoclinic.org/

https://www.nal.usda.gov

https://www.healthychildren.org/

 

Power Your Brain

Controlling the risk factors of chronic disease, like heart disease and diabetes with healthy food and regular physical activity will help us keep our brain active and healthy. Physical activity along with healthy foods will strengthen the brain cells, especially the memory and learning.

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Higher the amount of trans fats, saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, higher the risk of ischemic stroke.  Besides that, excess salt intake increases the blood pressure and stroke risk.

Free radicals in the bloodstream will strike and sabotage our cells. Prolonged exposure of free radicals will reduce the flexibility and harden the arteries  that eventually elevates blood pressure. Furthermore these free radicals will damage the brain cells and impede the message transmission. It is cut-clear that free radicals will fast forward our aging process and if we don’t grapple this, we are likely to experience age-related memory loss, skin wrinkles, stiff joints and hardening of arteries.

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Fortunately we have plenty of foods loaded with powerful antioxidants, available in the market. These strong antioxidants will interact with free radicals and prevent the cell damage.  Polyphenols, named anthocyanins, found in berries and dark pigmented fruits and vegetables help slow cognitive decline through their powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

People who enjoy food rich in fruits & vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish and unsaturated fatty oils are less likely to have ischemic stroke and depression than those who consume high meat and dairy foods.

Foods rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phyto-nutrients will protect our brain cells from oxidation and free radical damage.

Complex carbohydrates, in starchy foods like wholegrain breads, pasta and rice releases energy slowly that helps brain to function in a stable way. For better concentration and mental performance whole grains are better than refined foods.

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Vegetables

Spinach, mustard greens, parsley, avocado, olives and broccoli are good sources of vitamin E. Spinach and broccoli are also rich in folate and Swiss chard is high in Vitamin E and also Vitamin C, a powerful anti oxidant. Beet is an excellent root vegetable rich in nitrates that increases blood flow to the brain.

 Fruits

Papaya is a good source of Vitamin A one of the powerful antioxidants. Citrus fruits, Kiwi, Mango and Strawberries  are rich in Vitamin C.  In addition strawberries are rich in folate and mango is loaded with Vitamin A. Pineapple is another fruit rich in vitamin C and in addition it contains bromelain, an enzyme that acts as a natural anti-inflammatory.

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 Fiber

Fiber just keeps our brain function at its best. We all know that our brain operates on sugar. But the sugar must be delivered in a very stready stream  and in the right amount. Flooding the blood with sugar, our brain gets overwhelmed. Fibrous food will help release the sugar in our blood gradually.

Dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts & seeds, peas & beans are rich in fiber and in addition they are good sources of magnesium that protects from age-related memory loss.

 Fish

Our human brain is 60% fat. Trans fat is bad for the brain because it will interrupt the functions of the essential fatty acids. Omega 3 that promotes healthy heart also helps our brain. DHA, one of the omega fatty aids, is the primary structural fatty acid of the brain that promotes communication between cells and message transmission. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish like salmon, herring, tuna sardines, can help fend off numerous brain diseases. Trans fat is bad for the brain because it will interrupt the functions of the essential fatty acids. Processed foods and commercial chocolates, margarines, shortening, baked goods are high in trans-fat.

Look through the labels before purchasing the products.

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Tryptophan & Tyrosine

Neurotransmitters are the messengers that carry brain signals. Tryptophan and tyrosine are few among the components of neurotransmitter. Tryptophan is an anxiety calmer and sleep promoter and Tyrosine is a metabolism booster and anti-depressant.  Seafood, lean meat, eggs, soy, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and dairy products are good sources nuerotransmitter-building foods. Grass-feed lean red meat are also is rich in vitamin B-12 that is vital for the brain function and iron that help transport oxygen throughout the body and to the brain.

 Hydration

Be sure to drink water at regular intervals. Our mental energy is decreased even if we are slightly dehydrated . Dehydration causes fatigue and impairs memory. Drinking water, at least 2 litres every day, will keep our body and brain hydrated.  Drinking tea with low-calories will improve your arteries. The polyphenols in tea exhibits antioxidant properties. Consider sipping different types of teas like-English tea, Green tea, Peppermint tea, for both black and green provide different beneficial compounds.

Chocolate

Dark chocolate, as  we all know is associated with a positive influence on mood. In addition the dark chocolate help scavenge free radicals through catechin a group of plant polyhphenols.

Antioxidant-rich foods

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Vitamin C

Citrus fruits, Berries (strawberries, blueberries, cranberries), Dragon fruit, Dark green vegetables, Cabbage, Broccoli, Bell peppers.

Vitamin A

Carrot, Squash, Sweet potatoes, Tomatoes, Peaches, Mangoes, Papaya, Apricots, Cantaloupe

Vitamin E

Nuts, Seeds, Wheat germ, Whole grains, Vegetable oil, Fish, Green leafy vegetables

Selenium

Eggs, Chicken, Red meat, Shell fish, Whole grains, Mushroom

Lycopene

Tomatoes, Guava, Grapefruit, Watermelon, Guava

Regular physical activity and healthy food  help reduce inflammation, oxidative stressadn other vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure all of which have a role in increasing the risk for brain and heart diseases.

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References

http://www.diabetes.org

http://www.neurological.org.nz

http://www.eatright.org

http://www.mayoclinic.org

http://www.webmd.com