Eat the Rainbow: Powerful Health Benefits of Colorful Foods!

11509476-fruit-and-vegetable-color-wheel-12-colorsBy: Stephanie Heino

Did you know that the color of fruits and vegetables can actually give you specific information about the benefits of a specific fruit or vegetables. Take a look at how each color is associated with certain health benefits:

The Yellow Power. Yellow fostack-of-yellow-fruits-and-vegetablesods such as pineapple, citrus, corn, yellow tomatoes, yellow grapefruit, papaya and yellow peppers all contain important nutrients to keep the body functioning properly. For example, pineapple contains bromelain which is an enzyme that contributes proper functioning of the digestive system. Did you know that citruses can inhibit the formation of cancerous cells, and therefore protecting against breast cancer, skin cancer, etc. In addition, it’s no secret that vitamin C and folic acid found in citrus fruits have an amazing effect on the immune system by strengthening it, while also reducing the negative effect of free radicals. You may not think of corn as a miracle vegetable but it actually is a significant source of lutein and zeaxanthin which are two remarkable substances that reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration caused by aging. On top of this yellow foods are also rich in flavonoids and fitonutrients which plays a detoxifying role.

ss_101700660_L_wThe Red Power. In fruits and vegetables like peppers, radishes, cherries, watermelon, red grapefruit, strawberries, red grapes, pomegranate, and red apples we find an important substance called lycopene which can significantly reduce the risk of prostate cancer up to 35%. This substance also has a significant role in preventing heart diseases, ovarian cancer and also for the recycling of glutathione, also called the protein of life. This is one of the most powerful antioxidants produced in our bodies and it plays an amazing role in eliminating toxins from our body. Red fruit and vegetables have so many benefits to your health, and what I found most amazing is that by eating only a half of cup of tomatoes you can reduce ovarian cancer up to 60%! Wow, I am having a salad full of tomatoes tonight, so many nutrients, super low in calories and  prevention of ovarian cancer. Score!

Saints-Slimmesr-OrangeThe Orange Power. This truly spectacular color is found in foods such as carrots, mangoes, peaches, nectarines, pumpkin, sweet potato, oranges, squash and melon, and gets its color from  beta-carotene, a terpenoid that is converted by the body into vitamin A. Vitamin A plays an important role in our body from helping to smooth the function of white blood cells to acting as an important beneficial antioxidant. This vitamin, along with two other types of carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, is essential to strengthen the immune system and to give us good vision. Beta-carotene also has a huge effect on preventing the development of cancer cells in the stomach, as well as in preventing heart diseases by decreasing cholesterol levels.

green-fruit-and-vegetablesThe Green Power. Green is known to be the color of life, and I think many people associate the vibrant color with health and vibrancy. We have been told to eat our greens for as long as we can remember, and once and for all, we will tell you why your parents didn’t let you leave dinner before you had eaten your leafy greens. The green pigment is found in green apples, grapes, kiwi, avocado, pistachio nuts, broccoli, spinach, zucchini, lettuce, asparagus, celery, peas, cucumber and  so many more. In green plants we find chlorophyl,l which helps in lowering the risk of liver cancer. In addition to this substance we find nutrients like potassium, fiber, folic acid, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, iron, carotenoids and omega 3 fatty acids. As if this wasn’t enough of a reason to go make a green juice right now, we also find tryptophan in the green plants, which is a substance that helps strengthen bones and teeth, and gives us a good vision while defending our body against cancer! So go eat your greens!

[Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

To Juice Or To Blend? That is the question…

By: Stephanie Heino

juicingversusblendingLately, it seems juicing and blending are on every health fanatic’s lips, and we wanted to weigh in.  For a long time I was wondering what the actual difference was between blending and juicing foods, and I know that I am not alone so let us clear this confusion by listing the pro’s and con’s of each so you can see what fits you best. First of all, it’s important to note that just because it is a smoothie doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Buying pre-made smoothies in stores is probably not a good idea if you are looking for optimal health benefits. Often times they are loaded with sugar and preservatives to be kept fresh (a major no-no!).

Let’s start by defining juicing to clear the confusion. “Juicing is a process in which a machine, either through centrifugal force, grinding or mastication (chewing), extracts juice from its source. The juice will contain most of the nutrients, but not all of them, despite what ardent juicers claim. This process removes the insoluble fiber and some of the soluble fiber from the juice, which contains healthy colorful antioxidants. According to studies, juicing delivers 80% to 90% of the antioxidant potential of a veggie or fruit. Blending provides close to 100%.”

After extraction, it is best to consume the juice or blended foods within 10 to 15 minutes because antioxidants are activated and used as soon as air and liquid hit the food. There are some juicers that claim a vacuum extraction, however that doesn’t totally stop the loss of antioxidants.

Some also say juicing and blending gives the body more energy than solid food because the only nutrient that is quickly available for energy is sugar. Remember, with blended foods the sugar absorption is slower and steadier (which is a good thing), but even juice requires some form of digestion.

Benefits of Juicing

  • green_juice_smoothies_recipes_apple_cucumber_Broccoli_spinachVery fast delivery of nutrients to the blood stream. Only a small amount of digestion is required.
  • Gives the digestive system a break. Primarily the stomach, pancreas and colon.
  • Because of the lack of fiber, a lot of plant juice can be consumed. You can effectively drink more, consuming more nutrients.
  • Helpful for people sensitive to fiber since there is no insoluble fiber content. Juice does have some soluble fiber, but only a small amount.
  • Provides 80% to 90% of the nutritional value of the food being juiced.

Negatives

  • Allows very fast delivery of sugars to the blood stream.
  • Removes most of the fiber and some antioxidants from the juice.
  • Not as filling or satisfying for most people.
  • More time consuming and more difficult to clean.
  • Good juicers are expensive.

Meanwhile, blending is a process in which the whole foods, along with some liquid, are put in a machine and blended to form a puree. You get everything the whole food has to offer: vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins, essential fatty acids, antioxidants and fiber.

tofu-banana-strawberry-smoothieBenefits of blending

  • Fast delivery of nutrients to the blood stream. Only a small amount of digestion is required.
  • Gives the digestive system a break. Primarily the stomach and pancreas.
  • Because the food is blended, it takes up less space than a full meal would. This allows for more nutrient intake at one time.
  • The natural fiber slows the release of sugars into the blood stream.
  • More nutrient availability due to the whole plant being consumed.
  • More filling due to the fiber.
  • Very fast to make a smoothie (or Blast) and clean up.
  • Blenders are less expensive than juicers.

Negatives

  • If someone is sensitive to fiber, it could make a person bloated and a little gassy.
  • You can’t consume as much liquid as you could juicing.
  • Some blenders can create too much heat if you let them blend too long. The heat will kill the naturally occurring enzymes. (This is not the case with NutriBullet, as it doesn’t heat to the point of destroying enzymes.)

In the body, nutrients work together and support health through their interaction. For example, when the pulpy white part of the orange is removed in the processing of orange juice, the flavonoids in the orange are lost. This loss of flavonoids is one of the many reasons for eating the orange in its whole food form. The skin on a apple contains other antioxidants that you are not going to get in the juice and skins of vegetables and fruits contain some of the highest concentrations of nutrients and juicing is not as efficient as the body at extracting those nutrients.

There’s a jungle of blenders and juicers out there, but here is a few great ones to help you chose the best one for you!

Nutribullet ($90-$120)

The praised blender has taken the health market by storm and it truly takes blending to a whole new level by enhancing the absorption of nutrients. It has been called the superfood nutrition extractor since this powerful blender is used to grind up all types of foods into drinks yet keeps all the nutrition. Not only can you use it to make health shakes and juices, but you can also make soups, dressings, desserts, flour, and peanut butter.  We’ve been using this amazing kitchen tool for almost a year and love it.  At under a hundred bucks, it’s an amazing value and is the easiest way to start making super healthy smoothies at home right away!  You get 4 convenient to-go smoothie cups that you can take with you anywhere. (Click to read our full review of the Nutribullet.)  Get it here!

Ninja Mega Kitchen System ($160-$220)

If you’re ready to take your blending up a notch, and want the option for higher capacity blending and food processing, this is the blender for you.  It has a super high powered motor, and is an all-around great blender, because of the combination of the patented Ninja technology and powerful pulsing action. It comes with two to-go sized blender cups (like the Nutribullet), a full-size blender, and a food processor, making it a truly indispensable kitchen tool. At less than half the cost of the Vitamix, this puppy does pretty much everything it’s big expensive brother can do, but at a much friendlier price point.  We recently upgraded to this blender and couldn’t be happier! (Click to read our full review of the Ninja.)  Get it here!

Vitamix ($330-$650)

This healthy kitchen favorite not only makes perfect smoothies, but Vitamix machines are also built to stand up to years of demanding use in commercial kitchens and decades of daily use in your home. Impressive!  It can liquify almost anything, making blended soups and smoothies a cinch.  The high powered motor also warms blended soups without cooking them, which is essential for raw foodies in the colder months!  Get it here for less!

Breville Juice Fountain Compact ($99-$139)

This juicer is one of the best! It collects all the pulp and extracts 8 oz of yummy, refreshing juice in less than 5 seconds. Amazing.  Plus it’s nice and compact, which makes it much more flexible a kitchen tool than many of the bulkier juicers out there.  An awesome value!  Get it here!

Check out these delicious blended soup recipes, perfect for a cold winter day!

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash is delicious, and did you know they’re low in calories and fat and packed with vitamins A & C as well? This soup makes a fabulous, nourishing soup.

Ingredients:bowlcloseup

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 2½ lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • ½ cup of coconut milk or soy milk
  • ½ cup of cashew puree
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa

Directions:

Sauté onions and apples in a stockpot with olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the rest of the ingredients, except coconut milk, cashews and quinoa. Cover pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Add batches of mixture to the blender, add coconut milk, cashews, and quinoa, and puree until smooth. Add a crispy green salad and you have a complete, healthy dinner!

Delicious Tomato Soup

This tomato soup recipe really gives you the nutrition your body needs thanks to the Nutribullet. It’s a great way to heat up on those cold winter days, and in addition to that it is so easy to make.

Ingredients:Tomato-Soup-1

  • 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz. can Italian tomatoes
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup brown rice or quinoa (cooked)
  • ¼ cup of cashews
  • ¼ cup coconut milk (optional)

 Directions:

1.      Place tomatoes, 1 cup of broth, onions, garlic and sweet potatoes in a pot.

2.      Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, until potatoes are fork soft.

3.      Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

4.      Place cashews in blender and grind.  Add to soup.

5.      In small batches add soup and puree with extractor blade until smooth.

6.      Add brown rice or quinoa to soup and finish with coconut milk.

Happy blending everyone!

Don’t forget to check out our delicious Nutribullet smoothie recipes!

Good vs. Bad Bacteria – How To Maintain Balance In Your Gut

By: Stephanie Heino

The human body plays host to a number of micro-organisms, most of which are our friends.  But we do have some that create imbalances which show up in your overall health. Our colon has the largest microbial community in the body, and this is where the micro-organisms live. In this part of the body, the bacterial population usually doubles once or twice a day. Many of these bacteria are, of course, also eliminated during the course of the day, so that a healthy balance is maintained. Under normal circumstances, the microbial community in the colon – which includes more than 300 different species of micro-organisms – regulates itself. These micro-organisms normally prevent infection and growth of “bad” bacteria (parasites like Salmonella and clostridia, for instance), and have a positive effect on nutrition.

However, the intestinal flora of the colon can very easily be disturbed. This may change the balance of normal micro-organisms in the colon greatly. Several factors, like stress, altitude changes, starvation, parasitic organisms, diarrhea, and use of antibiotics, could contribute to such an imbalance.

When the balance is disturbed, one can become susceptible to disease. In these circumstances, boosting the numbers of “good” bacteria present in the gastrointestinal tract can be particularly useful. This is where probiotics come into play. Probiotics are microbial foods or supplements that can be used to change or improve the intestinal bacterial balance to boost the health of the host. The most common forms of probiotics include Lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. These good guys destroy the overgrowth of toxic bacteria by competing for attachment sites and nutrients in the gastrointestinal tract. Lactobacillus and bifidobacteria also produce organic acids that reduce the intestinal pH and retard the growth of “bad”, acid-sensitive bacteria.

If you are like me, and aren’t a fan of fermented dairy products, there are tons of other forms of fermented foods, such Imageas sauerkraut (white cabbage cut finely, salted and fermented in its own liquid shown in picture) or kimchi, miso (a thick paste made from fermented and processed soy beans) and tempeh (a dish made from split soybeans and water), which are also cultured with Lactobacillus, bifidobacteria, and other forms of beneficial bacteria. However, the potency and number of live organisms in commercial products may vary greatly. And many manufacturers are finding it difficult to overcome technical problems, especially in terms of keeping the micro-organisms alive under unfriendly conditions.

When it comes to intestinal health, we also need to consider prebiotics, which are non-digestible carbohydrates that act as food for probiotics. When probiotics and prebiotics are combined, they form a symbiotic relationship. Prebiotics include foods like dietary fiber that nourish the beneficial micro-organisms in the gut. It is therefore essential to include enough fiber in the diet by eating fruit, vegetables and whole-grains, as well as bananas, onions, garlic, honey and artichokes.

So if you are not a fan of dairy (like me!) make sure to get enough of these foods, or choose a dietary supplement like NOW Dairy-Free Probiotic-10. You don’t necessarily need probiotics to be healthy. However, these microorganisms may help with digestion and offer protection from harmful bacteria, just as the existing “good” bacteria in your body already do.

Probiotics may help to:

  • Treat diarrhea, especially following treatment with certain antibiotics
  • Prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
  • Treat irritable bowel syndrome
  • Reduce bladder cancer recurrence
  • Speed treatment of certain intestinal infections
  • Prevent and treat eczema in children
  • Prevent or reduce the severity of colds and flu

Nutribullet — A Healthy Kitchen Must-Have!

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

I was home with a terrible virus for over a week not too long ago, which led to a lot of regrettable television choices.  As I was making the rounds of afternoon infomercials, one in particular caught my eye, and honestly, revolutionized my kitchen!  David Wolfe, raw food guru (and one of my instructors at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition) was speaking on behalf of Nutribullet — which, at first glance, seemed like a souped up MagicBullet (a tool I knew I didn’t need).  I really respect David Wolfe’s take on food, and count him among my favorite nutrition experts, so I thought I would see what he had to say.

Mechanically, the Nutribullet isn’t that different from the MagicBullet.  It’s a compact single or double serving blender that can smooth, chop, blend, or liquify pretty much anything.  But that’s the key!  It has a super powerful 600 watt motor that literally liquified fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds into an incredibly potent, concoction that is neither juice nor smoothie, but some magical hybrid.  It’s basically a mini-Vitamix — which is pretty much my dream come true.  (Though the Vitamix is a phenomenal kitchen tool, its bulk and generally unfashionable design–not to mention its hefty price tag–have been keeping me from investing in one)

Though I am an enormous fan of juicing (and base a lot of my cleanses on it), the amount of wasted food and fiber has always been a big issue for me.  Plus, a juicer doesn’t allow me to add nuts and seeds, which are key to created a superfood, detoxifying health cocktail.

Smoothies have been my standby for a long time.  I love making delicious morning creations out of fruit, greens, nuts, and almond milk, but am always annoyed when my smoothie comes out mealy, overly thick, or not completely blended.  Especially when blending fibrous greens like kale or swiss chard, having those stringy pieces still in the smoothie really makes it less palatable even for me (who LIVES for greens!).  And I never hear the end of it from some of my pickier clients, for whom eating greens is already a huge challenge.  I end up adding cups and cups of liquid to my smoothies to get them even close to smooth enough, and still, I find whole, unmilled flax seeds and food particles at the bottom of my glass.  Not ideal.

So you can imagine how pumped I was when I opened my Nutribullet, and made a delicious, super-potent, completely liquified drink, chock full of tons of greens, fruit, nuts and seeds… in under a minute.  I knew mornings would never be the same!  The benefit of a super powerful motor combined with a specialized extractor blade is that it completely breaks down the food for you, pulverizing stems, seeds, and skins of foods to maximize the amount of nutrients you can derive from it and make the whole process that much easier on your digestive system.  We definitely don’t want to liquify all our meals — making our system break down fibers is a good thing! — but being able to efficiently deliver so much nutritious goodness into our bodies for one or two meals a day is amazing.

Everyday for the past two weeks, I have started each morning with a powerful, mega-nutrient drink that leaves me feeling full (but not weighed down after I do after a thick smoothie), energized, and just plain awesome.  Since the blades are so powerful, I can throw whole fruit and veggies into my Nutribullet without having to chop anything up, which saves me tons of time, and with the super fast motor, the perfect consistency takes just a few seconds to achieve.  My favorite part is coming up with new, delicious fruit and veggie combos to try… My new favorites are watermelon/cucumber/apple/lemon/flaxseed and pineapple/kiwi/spinach/sunflower seed.  The recommended proportion is 50% fruit and 50% greens, with a good solid handful of nuts or seeds to top it all off.  Though I’ve always rocked smoothies blended with almond milk, I use spring water with my Nutribullet, which gives the concoctions a consistency more like juice, and less like a heavy smoothie.  Check out my favorite Nutribullet smoothie recipes!

This little gadget will also make doing my seasonal detox/cleanse that much easier!  I’m going to recommend it to all my cleansing clients.  Bottom line… I’m in love!

Benefits of drinking just one full size concoction made up of organic fruit and veggies a day include:

  • Decreased risk of cancer and other diseases (provided you use organic fruit and veggies!)
  • Weight loss (replace breakfast and/or dinner with an amazing Nutriblast, and you’ll reach your target weight in no time!)
  • Increased energy
  • Better skin and hair
  • Increased longevity
  • Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Relief from joint and muscle pain
  • Balanced blood sugar
  • Increased immunity
  • Relief from chronic inflammation
  • Improved mood and concentration

You can get your Nutribullet from nutribullet.com for about $120, or you can purchase it from BrandsMart for $99.98, complete with all the bells and whistles!

Check out our delicious and healthy Nutribullet Superfood Smoothie recipes, and please share your favorite recipes and amazing results below!