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“Superfoods” may get all the buzz, but don’t forget your favorite everyday food all-stars!
By Carol LeBeau
7/21/2014 9:57:11 AM


–FULL BIO
 

Have you ever wondered what’s so super about “superfoods?”    

Somehow, I managed to live more than 55 years without acai? I still can barely pronounce it. I think it’s (ah-sah-EE.) Oh, I’ve tried to incorporate the all-star berry into my diet, but like pomegranate, another fruit rock star, to me it tastes like dirt.

Kale may be the current king of the leafy greens, but hey, it’s an acquired taste.  

Actually, I just read about another trendy green that might give kale some competition. It’s the “fiddlehead.” I’m serious! Fiddlehead is a curly fern that’s getting a lot of buzz as the next “fit food.”

Lately there’s been so much focus on these nutritional newcomers that less glamorous fruits and veggies are sometimes treated like second-class citizens.

Fortunately researchers are discovering new reasons to get excited about the old stand-bys! The best part? You probably already stock many of them in your kitchen.

Celery
The crunchy green is back on the must-eat list as a potential cancer fighter. It’s a top source of a flavonoid called apigenin. The substance activates a chemical reaction inside diseased cells, causing them to self-destruct. No one is suggesting celery can cure cancer, but scientists say over time a diet containing apigenin-rich foods may help prevent the disease.

Grapes
The skins of these snackable bites are bursting with resveratrol…the same superstar antioxidant that helps make red wine good for your heart. A recent study has discovered that resveratrol may also aid in boosting immunity…by helping increase levels of a molecule that kills bacteria and viruses. In fact, adding grapes to your diet may even protect you from contracting infections in the first place.

Mushrooms
For years, fungi have been thought to be heart healthy and immunity boosting. Now science shows that they may even help prevent breast cancer by lowering estrogen levels. Cancer researcher Dr. Shiuan Chen found that when postmenopausal women consumed 13 grams of mushroom powder (the equivalent of one and a third cups of white button mushrooms) per day for three months, their estrogen production dropped by 27%.

Bell Peppers
Researchers have long known that smokers have a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s. And while no doctor would encourage lighting up, there may be another way to get the benefit: peppers. They’re a safe source of nicotine, which may protect dopamine-producing cells. The results of a study published in the “Annals of Neurology” found that eating bell peppers twice a week or more was associated with at least a 30 percent reduced risk of Parkinson’s.

Talk about super foods!

And there’s more. Remember the old rule, “eat the rainbow?” When nutrition experts first urged us to fill our plates with brightly hued produce, it made sense.  They were just discovering the powerful benefits of a crayon box of antioxidants – from red (lycopene in tomatoes) to blue and purple (anthocyanins in berries and grapes) to orange (beta carotene in carrots).

Well, guess what? Nutrition experts now admit, “white is a color, too!” Cauliflower packs the powerful cancer-combating compounds also found in its flashy cousin, broccoli. Garlic and onions may be pale, but they protect against stomach and colorectal cancer. And Portobello and cremini mushrooms are just as rich in antioxidants as green beans, carrots and red peppers.

So don’t let so-called “superfoods” crowd out staples that are just as nutritious. When it comes to fresh produce, whatever the color, it’s all good!

The Wonders of Water (and the dangers of not getting enough!)
By Carol LeBeau
7/10/2014 11:04:19 AM


–FULL BIO
 

What began as a pleasant bike ride took a potentially dangerous turn recently.   

You see, I’m training for a bicycle tour in Iowa the end of July. Hoping to be prepared for the seven-day, 300-mile trek across the Hawkeye State, I’ve been slowly upping my mileage since early spring. 

So far, so good.  

That is, until something went terribly wrong on a typical training ride. It was hot and dry with Santa Ana winds. I though it would be good training since the July heat in Iowa can be oppressive and the headwinds a real challenge.  

At 18 miles, I started feeling “funny…” mildly nauseous, cool, and clammy. As I pedaled down the Strand in Coronado, I found myself mildly disoriented.

Then I got scared. I thought back to the 16 ounces of water I chugged before taking off two hours earlier… then checked the water bottle on my bike and saw it was still half full.

That’s when I realized I’d become severely dehydrated.

After downing the remainder of my water, I slowly rode home. Exhausted and a little shaky, I gratefully realized it could have been a lot worse.

It’s not like I don’t know the importance of getting enough water. How could any of us forget the timeless mantra reminding us to “drink eight glasses of water a day?”  But with added activity, excessive heat and low humidity, I should have been drinking eight ounces an hour!  

As we head into what’s expected to be an especially hot summer, don’t make my mistake. Get plenty of H2O. Need more motivation? Here are a few more reasons to keep your water bottle close by.  

Stay Slimmer With Water

Trying to lose weight? Water revs up your metabolism and helps you feel full. Replace calorie-filled beverages with water and drink a glass before meals to help you feel fuller. Drinking more water helps amp up metabolism – especially if your glass is icy cold. Your body must work to warm up the water burning a few extra calories in the process.

Water Boosts Your Energy

If you’re feeling drained and depleted, get a pick-me-up with water. Dehydration makes you feel tired. The right amount of water will help your heart pump your blood more effectively. Plus, water can help your blood transport oxygen and other essential nutrients to your cells.

Lower Stress With Water

Up to 80 percent of your brain tissue is water. If you’re dehydrated, your body and your mind are stressed. If you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already a little dehydrated.  To keep stress levels down, keep a glass of water at your desk or carry a sports bottle and sip regularly.

Build Muscle With Water

Drinking water helps prevent muscle cramping and lubricates joints in the body.  When you’re well hydrated, you can exercise longer and stronger without “hitting the wall.”

Nourish Your Skin

Fine lines and wrinkles are deeper when you’re dehydrated. Water is nature’s own beauty cream! Drinking water hydrates skin cells and plumps them up, making your face look younger. It also flushes out impurities and improves circulation and blood flow, helping your skin glow.

Stay Regular With Water

Along with fiber, water is important for good digestion. Water helps dissolve waste particles and passes them smoothly through your digestive tract.

Water Reduces Kidney Stones

The rate of painful kidney stones is rising. One of the reasons could be because people including children aren’t drinking enough water. Kidney stones can’t form in diluted urine, so reduce your risk with plenty of water.

So, are you getting enough water? According to Web MD, most healthy adults get enough to drink by letting thirst guide them. But the exact amount you need depends on your size, level of activity, the weather and your general health. As I learned the hard way, you may need more water, if you exercise or sweat heavily.