Feeling Fruity

Fruits are considered to be a vital part of our daily diet. It is now widely documented that you must include fruits in order to maintain a healthy diet. As a minimum, from two serves of fruit a day, up to five serves, is acceptable. 

These are some of the great benefits that fruit have to offer: they are a great source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre; they are low in calories, contain natural sugars, and in their raw state they offer more nutrients and can help to prevent many diseases or even cancers.  There are many ways to include fruit into your daily eating via breakfast, snacks, desserts, juices, smoothies and salads. When fruit is eaten in its natural state (raw), it provides more nutrients to your body, and the essential enzymes and vitamins are not destroyed by heat through the cooking process. So try an apple instead of an apple pie. 

As fruits are sweet and contain fructose (natural fruit sugars) they can help you to satisfy a sugar craving without the unwanted empty calories that other sweet products contain. Fruits also have a high fibre content which is essential in your daily diet for maintaining a healthy and efficient digestive system. Most of the fibre in fruits can be found in the skin, so where possible don’t always peel off or throw away the skin. It is also better to consume the fruit as a whole instead of juices. Although they may seem healthy and delicious, there are usually a lot of calories in juices and if they are packaged from the supermarket they may not be all natural. You want to make sure that the juice is 100% fruit juice, and not to over-consume them as they can lead to weight gain, tooth decay and digestive problems. 

Dried fruit can be eaten as part of your daily fruit serves, but here are a few things to be mindful of. Because they are dehydrated, the nutrients are concentrated in the fruits; therefore, they may be packed full of nutrients, but also have more calories. So you should only need a small serve to obtain the equivalent nutritional value compared to whole fruit. 

Different fruits offer different nutritional benefits; here are a few examples. 

Pineapple is high in the enzyme bromelain as well as the minerals potassium and calcium, which aid digestion, reduce inflammation & arthritis, help in skin conditions, are great for bone and teeth health, and can help in heart disease and assist in weight control.

Blueberries are high in antioxidants and are considered a super fruit. They can help prevent urinary tract infections, are low GI (great for diabetics), great for heart health due to high levels of antioxidants, and are high in silicon, which is great for your hair and nail growth and can assist in weight loss.

Figs are an unusual fruit and not overly popular, however they have many health benefits you may not be aware of, such as relieving constipation, lowering cholesterol and assisting in weight loss due to its high fibre content, preventing heart disease and diabetes and even some forms of cancer, and maintaining your digestive system.

As you can see, fruits are rich in different vitamins and minerals, which is why it is important to eat a variety of fresh fruits daily, not just apples and oranges, to obtain the maximum benefits for your diet. 

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I’ll Have Mine With Out The Chemicals Please!

Organic foods are becoming more common in our supermarkets and fruit stores. It is a growing industry in Australia with the consumer demand increasing by 20-30% each year. Organic foods refer to the way fruit, vegetables, animals, eggs, honey, grains and dairy foods are grown, processed and prepared. This means organic crops must be grown in a nutrient rich soil, with no synthetic fertilisers or pesticides or GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Organic livestock (animals) must be allowed to roam free outdoors, be fed organic food, not given any antibiotics or growth hormones and treated humanely.

People are starting to consume these foods, but let’s look at the reasons why you should buy organic foods. Some of the main reasons to eat organic fruits, vegetables and meats, are that they have a higher level of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, they are grown with no harmful pesticides or fertilisers, they are free of artificial additives, they support the local farmers, have a lower impact on the environment , are healthier and taste better, of course.

One of the downfalls you may notice about organic foods is the cost. They can be expensive mainly due to being labour-intensive to produce, and not using any pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals and the yield is often smaller. Aside from this there are more positive reasons to consume foods which are more natural and better for the environment with farmers conserving soil and water.

For a food product to be termed and sold as ‘organic’ farmers need to follow strict principles for 3 years before they are awarded certification. In Australia however the industry is not regulated, so to ensure you are buying a truly organic product, make sure your foods are from a certified organic grower.

Overall, there is no conclusive research into the benefits of consuming organic foods but anything that is grown as naturally as possible without chemicals can’t be doing you any harm.

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The Hippy Hippy Steak

Soy beans are part of the legume family and are not just for vegetarians. They have an array of health benefits for all, including preventing heart disease, osteoporosis, some cancers, menopausal health, and weight issues.

Soy beans are high in plant-based proteins which contain all the same essential amino acids as those found in animal meat products. They are also high in fibre, protein, phytoestrogens and omega-3 fatty acids, low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and lactose-free. They are also high in many vitamins (B6 & 12) and minerals (folate, magnesium, calcium, and potassium) – a complete food with many health benefits.

There have been many studies done in reference to soy products and their benefits on heart disease. It is believed that consumption of these products can lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, and improve artery walls and elasticity. Soy products also have an effect on helping to reduce the severity of menopausal symptoms. They can assist in bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis by increasing bone density, and more importantly can slow down and prevent the progression of some breast and ovarian cancers.

The best sources of soy products, firstly, are soy beans, tofu, soy beverages (milk), tempeh, soy yoghurt, soy sauce, and soy bread. Many of these foods are commonly found in supermarkets now days and can be substituted for dairy and meat products in your everyday diet.

It is important to maintain a well-balanced diet, which can include some soy products (in place of animal protein products), which can help maintain a healthy body. Try something new next time you’re out, and start to incorporate some soy into your diet.

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Health Benefits of Tea

Tea is the most commonly consumed beverage in the world, second after water and there are many documented health benefits of drinking the many available varieties of tea. There are many types of tea which can be consumed today including, black, white, green, red, oolong, peppermint and herbal teas. These studies have found that some teas may help with cancer (through high levels of antioxidants), heart disease, diabetes, assist in weight loss, lower cholesterol levels, lower stress hormone levels, help fight cavities and reduce plaque, keep your hydration levels up, aid in digestion, make you more alert and aware and can have antimicrobial qualities. Let’s explore the different varieties and their many health benefits.

Black tea, the most popular in the western world is either consumed with or without milk and sugar. Black tea is made with fermented tea leaves and has the highest caffeine content and high in polyphenols and flavonoids.

Green tea is very popular in the western world and increasing in popularity in the western world. It is made with steamed tea leaves, and it is thought that the antioxidants in green tea may inhibit with bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers. Its other benefits are to improve cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of strokes and neurological diseases, detoxify your body, help stimulate the metabolism and lose weight.

White tea is similar to green tea, as it is unfermented and has a high antioxidant value. It therefore has similar properties as green tea, like helping with some cancers, heart disease, anti-aging and boosting your immune system. It is rarer and more expensive than the above 2 varieties.

Herbal teas are usually made from herbs, fruits, seeds or plant roots and generally have a lower concentration of antioxidants when compared to green, white, and black teas. There are many varieties of herbal teas which all have varying health benefits. Some of the main ones include Echinacea tea which is great for oral issues and cold and flu symptoms. Chamomile tea is best for stress relief and relaxation, also used to help alleviate digestive problems and inflammation. Ginger tea is excellent for circulation, stomach aches and nausea (suitable for pregnant women). Peppermint tea is usually recommended for nausea and vomiting, IBS, stress relief and digestion problems. Red tea (or rooibos) is derived from a South African herb and is high in antioxidant properties.

Overall, there are many benefits to this underrated drink. So next time you go to have a warm cup of tea, think about the wonderful things you are doing to your body and how many amazing benefits it offers. 

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Carbohydrates: The Low Down on Loading Up

Carbohydrate loading can be a confusing term and is often misinterpreted in the sporting world. It is defined as a change in your training and nutrition that allows you to maximise your muscle glycogen stores prior to an endurance event, to perform better. Many people think that if they are involved in a sports team or a sporting event they need to “Carbo load” the night before. This is only necessary for people who are planning to compete in endurance events (longer than 90 minutes).

Any individual who will be exercising continuously for over 90 minutes at a constant pace will benefit from carbohydrate loading. People involved in sports like marathon running, cycling, long distance triathlons, cross country skiing, endurance swimming and hiking, will see the value of this dieting technique.

It has been proven through many studies that increasing your muscle glycogen levels, through a high carbohydrate diet, will delay the onset of muscle fatigue by 20% and improve your exercise performance by 2-3%.

The way to carbohydrate load is to change your training and eating during the lead-up to the event. This technique was originally developed in the 1960’s and involved a depletion phase and a loading phase. The depletion phase is where you would exercise to fatigue for 1-4 days and follow a low carbohydrate diet. Then for the loading phase you would taper off your exercise or rest for 1-4 days, prior to the event, while following a diet high in carbohydrates.

The best way to increase your carbohydrate intake is to include foods that are considered high GI, like sugars, cordials, soft drinks, sports drinks, jams, honey, jellies, canned fruits and lollies. It is also important to remember to reduce your protein intake and fibre intake during this phase. Another point to remember (and not to be concerned about), is that during this carbohydrate loading phase you may increase your body weight by a few kilos, through increased food intake and water consumption. This will naturally decrease after you finish the event and return to your normal nutritional ways.

Overall, if you feel that you will benefit from carbohydrate loading before an endurance event, it is important to speak with a professional about what is involved, to prepare yourself. Ensure that you do not make these changes too close to the event, to guarantee your body will respond well to this nutritional training.

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Nutritious Snacks

Snack AttackMany people choose to snack between meals, others not so much. Each individual is different in what their body needs, but most importantly, if snacking throughout the day, you need to choose healthy and nutritious snacks. Snacking between meals is extremely important for people who are diabetic, people who want to lose weight, young children and active people.

There are many positives to consuming small amounts of food throughout the day, including managing hunger pains, maintaining blood sugar levels, refuelling your body, preventing overeating at main meals, and obtaining more nutrients. Planning and choosing healthy snacks is important, because they can add fibre and essential nutrients to your diet, and help you avoid unwanted calories.

The best snacks are ones that are healthy, nutrient-dense food. There are many options for healthy snacks for both adults and children, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, high-fibre breakfast cereals, plain popcorn, canned fruit in natural juices, boiled eggs, low fat muesli bars, baked beans, low fat dips (like tzatziki), cup-a-soups, low fat dairy-based snacks (milk, cheese, yoghurt, smoothies, custards), wholemeal bread/rolls, rice crackers and natural nuts, just to name a few. If you are unprepared and need to choose processed foods for snacks, aim for low-fat, low-sugar options and low-calorie options.

There are many ways to include healthy snacking options into your everyday diet; just make sure you plan ahead, always have healthy, appropriate snacks on hand and don’t feel you always have to eat, just because its morning tea time. This will help you to lose weight, feel energised and enhance your diet.

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