hearthealthy

#Watermelon #Mint #Icepops! Watermelons’ naturally sweet taste and high water content make it a perfect fruit for blending and making ice-pops without any added sugars (or even water). It’s jam-packed with #vitaminC, #vitaminA, and #potassium (#hearthealthy). One cup is only about 45 calories. Choose deep red/pink since studies show that 
fully ripened watermelons have higher #antioxidants. 

 Blend 4 cups of tightly packed, cubed, fresh/frozen watermelon and a handful of fresh mint or spearmint leaves. Blend and stir as needed. Makes 10 3-ounce #popsicles. About 20 calories each! 
#lowcalorie #healthydessert #summer #bushwick #bushwicknutrition #lazynutrition #lazynutritionist

#Watermelon #Mint #Icepops! Watermelons’ naturally sweet taste and high water content make it a perfect fruit for blending and making ice-pops without any added sugars (or even water). It’s jam-packed with #vitaminC, #vitaminA, and #potassium (#hearthealthy). One cup is only about 45 calories. Choose deep red/pink since studies show that
fully ripened watermelons have higher #antioxidants.

Blend 4 cups of tightly packed, cubed, fresh/frozen watermelon and a handful of fresh mint or spearmint leaves. Blend and stir as needed. Makes 10 3-ounce #popsicles. About 20 calories each!
#lowcalorie #healthydessert #summer #bushwick #bushwicknutrition #lazynutrition #lazynutritionist

Watermelon: Nature's Canteen

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When the weather outside rises upwards of 90°F and humidity levels soar above 70%, it becomes crucial to remain hydrated. According to general guidelines, men and women should drink ~13 cups and ~9 cups, respectively, of water a day. This number should increase when you exercise, sweat a lot, or if you are overweight/obese. So make sure to always have water handy or…

Take advantage of seasonal foods that have high water content, such as watermelon. As the name implies, watermelon is almost entirely water – 92% (or higher) with 6% sugar and traces of protein. In season from July to September, watermelon is part of the Cucurbitaceae family, and is related to the cantaloupe, squash, pumpkin, cucumber, and gourd. Despite there being 1,200 known varieties, only about 50 are grown in the US. To find out more about your locally grown varieties, which are naturally low in pesticides and more wallet-friendly, check out What is Fresh.  

Delicious and Nutritious!
One cup of cubed red watermelon contains 25% of your Daily Value (DV) of vitamin C, 10% vitamin A (from carotenoids), 175 mg of potassium and one gram of fiber – all for only about 45 calories! Watermelon also contains magnesium, vitamin Bs (B1-thiamine and B6-pyridoxine) and has high content of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in the reddish pigment.

The Benefits of Watermelon

  • It’s a great low-calorie snack.
  • It’s a heart-healthy food according to the American Heart Association because of high potassium, magnesium and vitamin C content.
  • It decreases cancer risk due to lycopene content – specifically prostate, breast, endometrial, lung and colorectal cancers.
  • It supports healthy eyesight and prevents glaucoma.
  • It aids in the maintenance of electrolyte and cellular function.
  • It increases levels of arginine, an amino acid researchers believe improves blood flow and consequently high blood pressure. Preliminary evidence also shows that it may aid in preventing excess accumulation of fat in fat cells.

Selecting a Watermelon

  • Color: Deep red/pink is better. Recent studies confirmed that fully ripe watermelon has a much higher nutritional content, and is flush with lycopene, beta-carotene and phenolic compounds. If purchasing pre-cut watermelon, look for flesh that is a deep color with as few white streaks as possible. Today, 85% of all watermelons grown in the US are seedless. However, if you select a watermelon with seeds make sure it is deep in color or white. The underside should be creamy yellow, indicating ripeness. Note: seedless watermelons are not the result of genetic engineering but of hybridization.
  • Weight in Water: A fully ripe watermelon will feel heavy for its size because water content increases as it ripens. Heavier is better!

How to Store and Prepare
Whole watermelon is best stored below 70°F as room temperature has been shown to increase levels of lycopene and beta-carotene. Once cut, cover and refrigerate. Eat within a few days up to a week. Note: always wash the watermelon before cutting to eliminate any bacteria that may be on the surface, that way the knife won’t contaminate the inner flesh.

Ideas on How to Cook and Serve

Watermelon has a thirst quenching texture but is also delicately crunchy, which makes it unique.

  • Cut up into triangles or “melon balls” for an easy snack.
  • Make a fruit salad and add yogurt and/or granola.
  • Grill watermelon as a side dish or dessert.
  • Make ice pops or ice-cubes. Blend watermelon (no added water necessary) with fresh mint, crushed ginger, and black pepper. Freeze and enjoy!
  • Try one of many fresh summer salads including a watermelon and jicama salad or a watermelon and tomato salad (pictured above). Recipe: Mix 2 cups of watermelon (cubed) with 1 red tomato (½ inch pieces) and chopped fresh basil. Drizzle balsamic vinegar and sprinkle crumbled feta or queso fresco. So easy, and so tasty!

Did you know about watermelon’s amazing properties?

Written and photographed by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD

Dietary reference intakes for water, potassium, sodium, chloride and sulfate. Institute of Medicine.

Watermelon, Summer’s Antioxidant Splash. Environmental Nutrition. August 2010. 

Find Out Why Watermelon is a Nutritional Powerhouse. Natural News.

Watermelon. WHFoods.

Edited by Tamara Cabrero

Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr 

Oats & The Heart

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It is pretty common knowledge that heart disease is the number one killer in the United States. Yet unexplainably, even in the health field, heart disease is associated more with men. A scary statistic states that 1 in 2 women will die from heart disease compared to 1 in 25 women who will die from breast cancer. Rates are even higher in the African American community. Therefore, this message is especially written for all women and men living in the United States or any other higher income country.

In honor of February- The Heart Health Month- I am going over a few ways that you can make an extra special contribution to your heart health- with a special focus on oats!

TIP #1: Eat more soluble fiber. Soluble fiber has shown to reduce cholesterol, help keep blood sugar levels steadier, and keep your appetite under control. Sources: oatmeal, oat cereal, lentils, apples, oranges, pears, oat bran, strawberries, nuts, flaxseeds, beans, dried peas, blueberries, psyllium, cucumbers, celery, and carrots.

  • Oats, oatmeal, and oat bran has a special type of fiber called beta-glucan, which for decades has proven beneficial to lower total cholesterol. Consuming ~3 grams of soluble fiber in 1 cup of cooked oatmeal has shown to lower cholesterol by 8-23%. This is so important! - since a 1% drop is equated to a 2% decrease in the risk of developing heart disease. Oats also have antioxidant properties called avenanthramides and selenium that have shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Oats 101: All oats start as oat groats. Steel cut (Irish) oats are the least processed. Stone ground (Scottish) oats are exactly like steel cut except smaller. Steel cut take about 45 minutes to cook and Scottish oats about half. Old-fashioned rolled oats have been steamed and rolled prior to consumption and can be eaten out of the package or cooked for oatmeal in about 10 minutes. Quick-cooking oats are just cut into thinner flakes and cook faster. Instant oats are the most heavily processed and usually have added salt and sugar.
  • So, which should you buy? Steel cut, stone-ground, and old-fashioned are all made from whole grains and they all pretty much have the same nutrition breakdown. Quick-cooking also has the same nutritional properties as the above, but the glycemic index is higher, which spikes your blood sugar at a faster rate. I would limit quick-cooking and avoid most instant oats.
  • Buying Tip: Buy smaller quantities of oats at a time since this grain is slightly higher in fat content (~5 grams per cup) and therefore can go rancid more quickly.

TIP#2: Limit foods high in saturated fat. Dietary cholesterol has minimal effects on the amount of cholesterol in your blood, therefore focusing on saturated fat intake is highly effective. Sources: butter, cheese, full-fat dairy, fatty meats, fried foods, and peanuts (nuts with the highest amount of saturated fat!)

TIP#3: Limit your salt intake by avoiding canned foods, fast food, and cooking more at home. Recommendations are usually <2400 mg/ day, even though recommendations may be lower - down to 1500 mg per day- depending on your health history, weight, and other lifestyle behaviors.  

Other recommendations include: being in a healthy weight range (BMI ~18.5- 25), doing more exercise, not smoking!, eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and relaxing. Check out the detailed program entitled “28 Days to a Healthier Heart” by the CDC for more ideas. 

Another way to enjoy the benefits of oats is by baking. I have to admit the below recipe is healthier, but definitely not the healthiest. Use in moderation, enjoy, and share!

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“Spicy” Oatmeal Coconut Cookies

Makes 24 cookies

  • 1 ½ cups of old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup of whole wheat flour  
  • 4 oz of unsalted butter
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • ¼ cup of brown or turbinado sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup of raisins, golden or other
  • ¼ cup of unsweetened coconut flakes (crushed)
  • ¼ tsp of baking soda
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • ¼ tsp of cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp of ground cloves
  • a pinch of ground ginger
  • ½ tsp of vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat over to 350 F.
  2. Line tray with parchment paper.
  3. Sift together dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt); set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugars, on medium speed, until light in color (3-5 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy (1-2 minutes).
  5. Mix in the oats until just combined.
  6. Add dry ingredients in thirds.
  7. Sprinkle in the raisins and coconut until just combined.
  8. Make cookies about the size of 1 heaping tsp leaving between 2" between the cookies for spreading. Lightly tap each cookie with the spoon. Irregular shapes are welcomed!
  9. Bake the cookies for ~8-10 minutes. Finished cookie should be golden brown. Let cool before serving.

If you are interested in a private nutrition session (in person, over the phone, or via skype), contact me here.

Picture By TheCulinaryGeek on Flickr 

Recipe revised from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook. 

References: Oats. WHFoods. The top 10 causes of death. WHO.  Are Steel Cut Oats Healthier? Nutrition Diva.  CVD and other chronic conditions in women. AHRQ