It’s important to eat a rainbow of vegetables everyday. Vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals that help us maintain our health. The fiber in vegetables also aids the digestive system.
The spear like vegetable asparagus, can help thwart disease. It’s full of antioxidants that are good for the skin. Vitamin K is high in asparagus which aids in blood clotting and the vitamin C strengthens immunity. The folate is great for pregnant women and it’s anti-inflammatory. Yes, your urine may smell after a delicious meal of asparagus, but the fiber is great for digestion.
In the Northern hemisphere it usually grows between March and June. You will find thinner spears early in the season and thicker ones as the season progresses. Asparagus are great for roasting, grilling or in a stir fry.
Watermelons are a great summer fruit. The red juicy center of the watermelon is chalked full of vitamins and minerals. It contains high levels of vitamins C as well as Vitamin A, B1, B6 and magnesium. And, don’t forget about the seeds which contain iron and zinc. The lycopene found in the refreshing red part of the melon is great for cardiovascular health. Watermelon is also an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. This fruit is electrolyte rich which is good for keeping hydrated. And, the water and fiber can help with constipation.
In the United States, watermelons are primarily grown in Florida, California, Texas, Georgia and Indiana. Help strengthen your immunity and have some watermelon.
The kiwi may be small brown and fuzzy on the outside but cut one open and you’ll find an enormous amount of nutrition in this vibrant green fruit. Kiwis have more vitamin C than an orange, which will help strengthen the immune system. The fiber in kiwis can improve digestion. This little fruit is a great antioxidant that can support the overall health of the body. They are lutein rich to strengthen vision. Kiwis are also a good source of vitamin K and potassium as well. Other health benefits include: helps blood pressure, balances acid/alkaline content in the body, great for heart health and disease prevention.
A majority of the kiwis found in stores are grown in California, between October and May, and New Zealand, between June and October. Add them to your juice mixture, put them on your salad or just enjoy the sweet little green fruit on its own.
Pomegranate, the other red fruit, is usually in season from September to January. This nutrient dense food is high in vitamin C, potassium, B vitamins, fiber, folic acid, and iron. They’re a great antioxidant that can help the body against free radicals and oxidation. In fact, pomegranates are more powerful as an antioxidant than green tea, cranberries, or blueberries. Some of the other benefits include: lowering blood pressure, preventing plaque build up in the blood vessels, lowering cholesterol, and inhibiting cancer growth. This vibrant red fruit is great for the heart and blood vessels.
In Indian tradition the root chakra or muldhara is equated with the red color. It’s said that if you consume red foods such as the powerful pomegranate it can strengthen this base chakra which grounds the body, provides security and confidence. If you’re feeling ungrounded, break open a pomegranate and enjoy the sweet juicy seeds found inside.
It’s autumn, that means pumpkins galore. They’re not just for carving, pumpkins have a lot of great health benefits, and I’m not talking about the pie. Pumpkins are contain fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and beta carotene which is a source of vitamin A and an antioxidant. The pumpkin seeds contain amino acids used to make hormones in the body and can also help with cholesterol. So when you go to the store to get the jack o’lantern buy an extra pumpkin to consume.
We get our fiber from plant based foods. Plants use fiber to support their structures whereas animals use muscles and bones.
Fiber helps with sugar or glucose levels in blood, cholesterol, and constipation. It can be found in various grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and oils. If the food is highly processed the fiber contents will be affected.
If you’re increasing your fiber intake please start gradually because your body needs time to adjust. If you increase your intake of water it can help in this transition.
Some may think that carbohydrates are bad, but that is a broad generalization. Some forms are not the healthiest and should be consumed in moderation while other forms are important for energy in the body. The better types include fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. The types to be more conscious with are usually found in processed foods like cakes, muffins, and foods made with white flour.
Carbohydrates begin to break down in our mouth as we start to chew them. Our saliva contains amylase, an enzyme that aids in digestion of carbohydrates. The rest of the carbohydrates go right through the stomach and are digested in the small intestines where the nutrients, now glucose or sugar, are absorbed into the blood for use by the body. The brain tells the pancreas to release insulin which is used to place the excess glucose into the muscles for storage. These glucose stores are later used for energy.
If excessive amounts of carbohydrates are consumed then the blood sugar levels will rise rapidly. Our bodies can only handle a certain amount of sugar or glucose in our blood. At this point insulin is released and some of the glucose is stored in the muscles. Unfortunately, our muscles can only hold so much, the rest of the extra glucose is surrounded and “stored” in various places that the body deems safe. These stores become fat deposits in our body. This is why it’s important to be aware of the nutrients you’re consuming.
The body utilizes fat as a fuel source in this nutrition system. When excessive carbohydrates are consumed the body utilizes this as a fuel source through releasing insulin to transport the carbohydrates to the muscles to burn. When your intake is mostly protein, fiber and fats then your body will begin to use more fats for energy. There are four phases in this system, it begins with few carbohydrates to transition your body over and slowly adds them back as you progress.
Dr. Robert Atkins created the Atkins system. If you would like more information, check out http://www.atkins.com/Home.aspx