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    Archive for the ‘carrots’ Category

    Q &A Roundup #2

    Another compilation of thoughtful questions courtesy of Small Bites readers. Enjoy!

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    Numbers Game: Friendly Fire

    Researchers at England’s Institute of Food Research concluded that our bodies absorb ____________ times more betacarotene from cooked carrots than raw carrots.

    (NOTE: “Cooked” mainly refers to steaming, which retains more nutrients than boiling).

    a) 85%
    b) 500%

    c) 275%

    d) 100%

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Monday for the answer.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Carrots

    How many carrots do you have to eat before your skin turns orange?

    Or is this an old myth?

    — Anonymous
    Via the blog

    Although countless myths surround food and nutrition, it is indeed true that eating too many carrots will turn your skin temporarily yellow or orange.

    Remember, betacarotene (the plant form of Vitamin A) is fat-soluble, meaning it is stored in adipose tissue (fat cells).

    Our bodies can only store a given amount at a time. Unlike with a water-soluble vitamin (like C or B6) excess amounts of Vitamin A are not quickly eliminated in urine. Instead, they are contained in the body and begin to affect our pigmentation.

    There is actually a term for this condition – carotenaemia.

    So just how many carrots do you need to eat in order for color changes to take place.

    Consider this.

    The Recommended Daily Intake is set at 5,000 International Units. A cup of sliced carrots provides approximately 30,000 International Units!

    This is not to say that having a cup of steamed carrots with dinner once a week is cause for concern.

    However, a cup of carrots every day for several weeks will definitely result in an orange tint to your skin color.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Carrots

    How many carrots do you have to eat before your skin turns orange?

    Or is this an old myth?

    — Anonymous
    Via the blog

    Although countless myths surround food and nutrition, it is indeed true that eating too many carrots will turn your skin temporarily yellow or orange.

    Remember, betacarotene (the plant form of Vitamin A) is fat-soluble, meaning it is stored in adipose tissue (fat cells).

    Our bodies can only store a given amount at a time. Unlike with a water-soluble vitamin (like C or B6) excess amounts of Vitamin A are not quickly eliminated in urine. Instead, they are contained in the body and begin to affect our pigmentation.

    There is actually a term for this condition – carotenaemia.

    So just how many carrots do you need to eat in order for color changes to take place.

    Consider this.

    The Recommended Daily Intake is set at 5,000 International Units. A cup of sliced carrots provides approximately 30,000 International Units!

    This is not to say that having a cup of steamed carrots with dinner once a week is cause for concern.

    However, a cup of carrots every day for several weeks will definitely result in an orange tint to your skin color.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Late Night Snacking

    The only real issue I have with dieting is stopping late-night snacking.

    I tend to snack on toast and butter, or olive oil and garlic, or cottage cheese… anything creamy, crunchy, and warm. I will usually have 2 or 3 snacks after dinner.

    They are cravings I am having a hard time dealing with. I am sure I could lose weight if I simply eliminated these cravings.

    I am trying to see what triggers this and the only thing I can figure out so far is that my bedroom seems to be set up for everything, not exclusively sleep. I will eat at 6:30 or 7 pm and tell myself, “this is my last meal,” but it never works.

    I have small snacks starting at 9 pm, which continue until around 11 pm. Each small snack delivers a powerful oily punch to my calorie count!

    What do you think?

    — Marta (last name withheld)
    Miami, FL

    Snacking is a very sharp double-edged sword.

    On the one hand, many people find it helpful to gnosh on something small in between meals to prevent hunger attacks that result in high-calorie binges.

    Snacking also adds calories to your day, though.

    Hence, one popular nutrition-related debate is, “Is snacking an effective weight-management tool?”

    I personally vote a resounding “yes.” While research and studies are a great way to support theories, I don’t need to read a clinical research trial to come to this conclusion; I simply base it on personal experience.

    An 8 AM breakfast followed by a 10:30 AM snack leaves me perfectly satisfied until a 1 PM lunch. Leave out that mid-morning snack, though, and I am famished by lunch. Result? I not only eat more, but also crave greasier, unhealthier foods.

    I don’t think your issue, Marta, is late-night snacking itself, but the types of after-dinner snacks you are enjoying.

    Toast and butter (or olive oil) can be very high in calories and do not help you feel as satiated as other options.

    A cup of non-fat Greek yogurt is a great snack. Despite being fat-free, it has a surprisingly creamy texture that will trick you into thinking you are eating a much more decadent snack.

    Sprinkle some ground flaxseed on top and I guarantee it will very likely be the only snack you have before going to bed.

    Creaminess in a low-calorie package can also be achieved by topping fruits with two tablespoons (only 30 calories’ worth!) of Cool Whip Lite.

    If it is crunch you are seeking, I recommend investing in a hot air popcorn popper. Each cup of popped kernels registers at a mere 31 calories!

    So, two cups of popcorn accompanied by a cup of strawberries adds up to only 100 calories and delivers 5 grams of satisfying fiber.

    Baby carrots are great for dipping — especially in savory hummus. One ounce of corn chips (about 12 of them) add up to 140 calories. Meanwhile, a cup of baby carrots only contributes 52 calories!

    Also, if you are up until 11 PM, I would recommend having dinner a little later than 6:30. It is not at all surprising that you would feel hungry four hours after finishing dinner!

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    Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: Veggie Chips

    NOTE: Although this post discusses Robert’s American Gourmet veggie chips, it can be applied to any other brand with a similar ingredient list.

    The packaging boasts “potato, spinach and carrot,” as well as “natural,” but a closer look finds that there is nothing healthy about this rather new snack food.

    Contrary to popular belief, the inclusion of vegetables (usually in powdered form) to otherwise nutrient-void choices does not make them healthier.

    Take a look at these ingredients: Potato Flour, Potato Starch, Spinach, Carrot, Beet Root Powders, Rice and/or Sunflower Oil and Salt.

    True, there nothing is inherently unhealthy (i.e.: high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils). There is also nothing inherently nutritious.

    A baked potato, consumed with its skin, offers fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and some B vitamins, all of which are non-existent in potato flour.

    Keep in mind that a nutrition label lists ingredients by order of prominence by weight. In this product, potato flour and starch are the big players.

    Yes, spinach and carrot are there, but a look at the nutrient values makes it clear they aren’t the featured stars of these chips.

    A one and a half ounce serving contains:

    180 calories

    6 grams fat

    375 mg sodium

    1.5 grams fiber

    And as far as vitamins and minerals go, all we find is:

    2% of the iron daily value

    Remember, the more processed a food, the higher the sodium amount (and the lower the potassium). Granted, we do not know how much potassium is in this product, but keep in mind that whole fruits and vegetables contain virtually no sodium.

    So, those 375 milligrams indicate this is not just a whole carrot being roasted and turned into a crispy chip.

    Another clue this is basically just a potato chip with some spinach dust sprinkled on top? The low fiber amount. Vegetables are some of the best sources of fiber (a medium baked potato provides 4.5 grams, a cup of peas packs in 8, and a cup of brussel sprouts delivers 6.4!). These chips, though, deliver a weak 1.5 grams.

    These veggie chips are by no means the equivalent of a larger order of McDonald’s fries. However, they are not a good choice if you are looking for a nutritious snack, despite what the packaging may have you believe.

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    All-Star of the Day: Carrots

    Although today’s A-list vegetables are of the dark, leafy, and green variety, let’s not forget the mighty carrot.

    These colorful root vegetables are super abundant in antioxidants known as carotenoids. Remember, anytime you see the word antioxidant, you need to associate that with “cancer-fighter”.

    One famous carotenoid found in carrots is beta-carotene, which gets turned into Vitamin A in our livers. And what is Vitamin A good for? A lot of things, including keeping lungs, eyes (Vitamin A helps absorb light into our eyes), and skin healthy.

    A 14-year Dutchy study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2005 found that people with high risks of developing macular degeneration of their eyes — the leading cause of blindness for adults over 60 in the United States — had that risk decreased by 35% when they consumed diets high in beta-carotene.

    Carrots have SO much beta-carotene that the body can’t turn all of it into Vitamin A. The rest stays in its natural antioxidant form and sticks around as an immunity-system booster, making sure any free radicals (cancer-causing chemicals) are slowed down.

    Next time you’re grocery shopping, keep in mind that the more orange the carrot, the more beta-carotene it contains.

    That’s not all. In 1989, a team of biochemists at Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine in Japan discovered that a carotenoid in carrots known as alpha-carotene played a significant role in slowing down the growth of many tumors.

    Meanwhile, falcarinol, which is actually a natural pesticide produced by carrots, has been found to be quite powerful in lowering our risk of colon cancer.

    One cup of carrots only clocks in at 30 calories but provides 650% of our Vitamin A and 20% of our Vitamin C needs, 4.5 grams of fiber, and 12% of our recommended potassium intake.

    Before you break out the baby carrots and fat-free dip, though, here is some Nutrition 101.

    Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. Two important things to take from that. First, fat-soluble vitamins are stored for longer periods of time than water-soluble ones.

    Vitamin C, for instance, is water-soluble. Have too much in one day and the body will urinate the excess rather quickly. It is important to consume water-soluble vitamins in a consistent fashion, since the body isn’t able to hold on to them for very long. Have a lot of Vitamin A one day and not as much the other and you’re still OK, since the body can hold it in the liver for a few days.

    Most importantly, though, the body needs fat in order to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. So, when eating carrots, pair them up with healthy fats (whether it’s dipping baby carrots into hummus or adding some avocado to your spinach and carrot salad).

    If you can’t get into the whole baby carrot snack habit, worry not — cooked carrots offer even more nutrition than their raw counterparts. Research has shown that heat increases the antioxidant activity of Bugs Bunny’s staple.

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