Avoid Sugar Blues with Blueberries
For me, the July 4 Independence Day holiday is the official kick-off of my summer. Finally it is hot and sunny every day, and the long dark wet winter is a faint memory. Many healthy and less-than-healthy food choices tempt us as we go about our summer recreation activities.
There are many reasons to avoid the empty carbohydrate calories from sweetened foods that are so common in the grocery store.
Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, a board-certified nutrition specialist, nationally known author and expert on weight loss and nutrition, offers the following ten ways we can cut back on our sugar intake:
- Don't add it to foods. This is the easiest and most basic way to immediately reduce the amount of sugar you are eating. Biggest targets: cereal, coffee and tea.
- Don't be fooled by "healthy sugar" disguises. Brown sugar, turbinado sugar, raw sugar… it's all pretty much the same thing far as your body is concerned!
- Make a real effort to eliminate or reduce processed carbohydrates. Most processed carbs—breads, bagels, and most pastas and snacks—are loaded with flour and other ingredients that convert to sugar in the body almost as fast as pure glucose. The sugar gets stored as triglycerides, which is a fancy way of saying fat!
- Watch out for fat-free snacks. One of the biggest myths is that if a food is fat-free it doesn't make you fat. Fat-free does not mean calorie-free, and most fat-free snacks are loaded with sugar.
- Shop for color. The more your grocery basket looks like a cornucopia of color, the better. It usually means you are getting more fresh vegetable and low-glycemic fruits such as berries and cherries.
- Become a food detective. This tip from author and nutritionist Ann Louise Gittleman, who adds "To reduce sugar, you have to know where it is first." Start reading labels.
- Beware of artificial sweeteners. Unfortunately, they can increase cravings for sugar and carbohydrates. They can deplete the bodies' stores of chromium, a nutrient crucial for blood-sugar metabolism.
- Do the math. Look at the label where it says "total sugars" and divide the number of grams by four. That is the number of teaspoons of sugar you are ingesting.
- Limit fruit. (Notice I didn't say, "eliminate"). Fruit has sugar, but it also has fiber and good nutrients. Just don't overdo it. For weight loss purposes, eat two servings a day and try to make most of them low glycemic, such as berries.
- Eliminate fruit juice. It's a pure sugar hit with none of the fiber and fewer of the nutrients found in the fruit itself.
We have Bowden's book, The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, at the Creswell Library. Check it out.
This summer, I have been enjoying my trips to our Creswell Farmers' Market. The produce, crafts, music and conversation with friends make it a wonderful experience. This week, the market should begin featuring blueberries, one of my favorite foods.
Now is the time to start filling your freezer with blueberries for the rest of the year, for snacks, smoothies, etc. A handful of frozen blueberries, a cooling and nutritious treat, is my favorite snack on a hot day.
Researchers have found that freezing blueberries breaks up the cell walls and helps us get the full benefits of all of the nutrients, especially the anti-oxidants.
At the market, chose blueberries that are deep blue and ripe; they will be at their peak of nutritional benefits. If the berries have a red tinge, put them in the fridge in a paper bag and the natural ethylene gas they produce will help complete the ripening process.
Blueberries promote brain health. In studies researchers have found that they protect brain tissues from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related dementia. The fiber in blueberries supports normal elimination, which in turn helps in our daily detoxification.
Blueberries are astringent, and help reduce inflammation that causes loose stools. Like cranberries, blueberries also promote a healthy urinary tract. In addition to powerful anti-oxidants anthocyanidins and resveretrol, blueberries contain the compound called ellagic acid that can help prevent cancer.
A patriotically colored, healthy, summertime snack/dessert that I enjoy is a bowl of raspberries and blueberries, topped with heavy whipping cream. It's a delicious low sugar, high nutrient extravaganza.
Yaakov Levine, NTP
About the Author:
Born and raised in the New York area, Yaakov has made his home in Oregon since 1998. He brings his passion for healthy nutrition and herbal medicine to his practice as a Nutritional Therapist and Herbalist.
Yaakov is an avid researcher and writer. He has a regular column in the Creswell Chronicle, and writes for the NTA Newsletter. He has been involved in the natural products industry for many years as a retailer, manufacturer, and educator. Yaakov has participated in the Breitenbush Herbal Conference since 1997 and is now a conference organizer, and has staffed the NW HerbFest since it’s inception in 2005.
In 2007 he received his certification as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. Yaakov is currently practicing as a Nutritional Therapist/Herbalist and is the Assistant Instructor for the NTP training class in Eugene, OR.
He can be reached at (541) 895-2427 or email@example.com
Additional Training: Medical Herbalism, Homeopathy and Flower Essences therapies.
Yaakov’s newspaper column link:
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