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    Archive for the ‘vitamin C’ Category

    Beyond Milk: There’s Much More To Bone Health than Calcium and Vitamin D

    Milk is a good source of calcium and vitamin D (though, remember, milk in the US contains vitamin D because it is mandated by law; in many other countries, milk is devoid of the sunshine vitamin), but it lacks many other nutrients crucial for healthy bones.

    Too often, conversations and debates on the nutritional “worth” of milk turn into a “cows” versus “soybeans” face-off or, if it’s slightly more advanced, “cows” versus all the available milk alternatives (soy, almond, coconut, hemp, oat, and hazelnut).

    As far as calcium is concerned, fortified foods and beverages contain calcium that is just as absorbable as — and in some cases, more absorbable than — the calcium in milk.  In other words — the added calcium in soy or almond milk is just as good for your bones as the one in cow’s milk (or any other animal’s milk, for that matter).

    In order to truly tackle the topic of bone health, though, we need to go beyond the calcium and vitamin D content of milk and its vegan analogues and instead identify all the nutrients that play important roles in bone health.  In doing so, we find that milk is far from the king of the bone health hill.

    Continue Reading »

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    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Allergy-Friendly Breakfast Pie (Wheat, Soy, Dairy, and Nut-Free!)

    goodmorningiu9You can have this pie whenever you please — day or night.  However, its fruity flavors are breakfast-ish to me.  And, while it is a pie, it is made of such healthful ingredients that you can start your day off quite nutritiously with a slice.

    Chock-full of fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, it makes minimally-nutritious morning pastries quiver in fear!

    YIELDS: One 8-slice pie

    INGREDIENTS:

    For crust:

    3/4 cup raw almonds (see NOTES at bottom of post)
    3/4 cup raw walnuts (see NOTES at bottom of post)
    (NOTE: For nut-free version, you will need 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds, 1/2 cup hemp seeds, and 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds; see NOTES at bottom of post)
    2 Tablespoons unsweetened shredded dried coconut (optional)
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup pitted dates (any variety; I like Medjool)

    For filling:

    1.5 cups blueberries
    1.5 cups strawberries, sliced
    1 medium banana, sliced
    2 Tablespoons cup raisins
    1 scoop unsweetened whey or hemp protein powder (optional; see NOTES at bottom of post)
    1 Tablespoon water (if needed, to thin out)

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    To make the crust, process the nuts/seeds, coconut (if using), vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in food processor into a finely ground powder.

    Add the pitted dates, 1/3 of a cup at a time, and process for 30 to 45 seconds at a time.

    Once all the dates have been added, you should have a solid “dough-like” product.  If it does not stick together, add a few more pitted dates and process again.

    Remove the “dough” from the food processor and press it into a 9 or 10-inch pie pan (preferably glass), forming a crust that goes up onto the sides of the pan.  Once done, place pie pan in freezer for 30 minutes.

    While crust freezes, make the filling, as detailed below.

    Rinse out the food processor and fill it with berries, the sliced banana, and the raisins.  Process for 45 to 60 seconds, or until completely smooth.  If needed, add up to 1 Tablespoon of water to make processing easier (careful, though, you don’t your filling to be watery!).

    Once filling is smooth (and has a creamy texture), remove crust from freezer and pour filling into pie pan.

    Refrigerate pie pan for at least 90 minutes.

    Once pie has been fully refrigerated, cut into eight uniform slices and enjoy!

    NUTRITION FACTS (for 1 slice, crust made with almonds and walnuts, filling without protein powder):

    245 calories
    1.5 grams saturated fat
    150 milligrams sodium
    5 grams fiber
    4 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: B vitamins (except B12), folate, magnesium, manganese, potassium, vitamin C, zinc

    Good Source of: Iron, monounsaturated fats, omega-3 ALA fatty acids, vitamin E, zinc

    NOTES:

    1. For a simpler and less costly crust, you can definitely use one type of nut or seed.  I like using a combination in order to achieve more flavors, but that is completely up to you.  If using multiple nuts/seeds, feel free to experiment with different ratios, too.  You can also try ingredients not listed in this recipe (i.e.: Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, etc.)

    2. The extra scoop of whey or hemp protein in the filling provides an additional 2.5 grams of protein per slice, and thickens up the texture slightly.  I find that an unsweetened, vanilla-flavored type works best with the filling.

    3. Serving this for guests?  Top it off with whole fresh berries or sliced fruits of your choice!

    4. If you want to give the crust a hint of chocolate flavor, add one tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder to the crust.  For a deep chocolate flavor, add two tablespoons.

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    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Spiced Lentil & Quinoa Bowl with Avocado Dressing

    lentejas_-lensculirnarisI consider this a perfect year-round dish.

    In the cold winter months, the warm lentils and quinoa, along with the spices, make for a comforting dish.

    Once summer hits, I love this as a cold salad!

    This is also one of those meals that keeps you full for a very long time, as it combines heart-healthy fats, soluble fiber, and protein.

    Don’t be let the long steps fool you; this is a very simple recipe.  The lentils and dressing can both be prepared while the quinoa cooks.

    By the way, if you don’t have a food processor (or don’t feel like taking it out, using it, and cleaning it), you can always replace the dressing with some fresh avocado slices.  Even if you don’t have avocados handy, the lentil and quinoa combination in itself is delicious!

    YIELDS: 4 servings (1 cup quinoa + 1 cup lentils + 2 TBSP dressing)

    INGREDIENTS (Quinoa):

    2 cups quinoa
    4 cups water
    Pinch of salt

    INGREDIENTS (Spiced Lentils):

    2 TBSP olive oil
    1 cup onions, chopped
    1/2 cup carrots, shredded
    1/2 cup red pepper, diced
    1/4 cup green pepper, diced
    1 cup mushrooms, chopped
    2 T garlic, minced
    1/2 t cumin
    1/4 t cinnamon
    1/2 t curry powder
    1/3 t salt
    1/4 t paprika
    1/8 t black pepper
    1 cup dried lentils, rinsed (any color; if you can find sprouted dried lentils, even better!)
    3 cups water
    1 Tablespoon lemon juice

    INGREDIENTS (Avocado Dressing):

    1 large avocado, pitted
    2 t lime juice
    1 garlic clove
    2 t ginger
    1/4 t salt
    1/4 c water

    INSTRUCTIONS (Quinoa):

    In a small pot, combine quinoa, water, and a pinch of salt.

    Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to simmer until all water evaporates.

    Fluff quinoa with fork.

    INSTRUCTIONS (Spiced Lentils):

    In a large pot, heat olive oil.  Once sufficiently hot, add onions, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, and garlic.

    Stir frequently over the course of 2 minutes over medium-high heat.

    Add spices.  Stir frequently for 2 more minutes.

    Add lentils and water, stir and bring to a boil.

    Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring two or three times.

    Turn off stovetop, uncover, add lemon juice, and stir one more time.

    INSTRUCTIONS (Avocado dressing):

    Combine all ingredients in food processor and process until evenly combined.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (per serving):

    538 calories
    2.5 grams saturated fat
    450 milligrams sodium
    15 grams fiber
    18 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: Folate, manganese, monounsaturated fats, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K

    Good Source of: Iron, phosphorus, vitamin E, zinc

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    You Ask, I Answer: Broccoli Rabe

    i-broccolirabeFrom a nutrition standpoint, are broccoli florets and broccoli rabe the same?

    — Chris Tozer
    (City withheld), TX

    Ah, broccoli rabe.  One of my favorite vegetables.  Sauteed in olive oil and garlic, topped with a few crushed red pepper flakes and a generous squirt of lemon juice… it’s unbridled culinary beauty.

    Now that I’ve wiped off the drool from my keyboard, let’s talk nutrition.

    Broccoli rabe offers three times the vitamin A and calcium, double the vitamin K, and half the vitamin C that broccoli florets do. It’s also an excellent source of potassium and folate.

    While not super high in calcium or iron, the absence of oxalates (which are prominent in spinach) in broccoli rabe indicate that we are able to efficiently absorb the decent amounts of both those minerals that it contains.

    Its slightly bitter taste hints at more good news — it is loaded with unique antioxidants and phytonutrients!  For example, it offers high amounts of isothiocyanates, compounds that fiercely battle carcinogens in the body.  High isothiocyanate consumption has been shown to significantly reduce risk of developing breast, esophageal, lung, and prostate cancers.

    Isothiocyanates affect thyroid function, so individuals with thyroid complications should carefully monitor their intake of broccoli rabe and other leafy green vegetables.

    PS: Broccoli rabe is also known as rapini.  Chinese broccoli is a milder-tasting variety of broccoli rabe.

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    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Perfect Pasta Sauce

    51vnSOGsI6L._SL500_AA280_Your typical tomato sauce recipe calls for plenty of chopping — and time! Many sauce purists, in fact, claim the only way to achieve deliciousness is by simmering tomato sauce for hours on the stovetop, allowing flavors to blend and fully integrate.

    While all that is true, it is not the only way to make an out-of-this-world pasta sauce.

    This recipe is super quick, but provides a sauce that truly tastes as if you had labored over it for hours.  I knew this was a must-share recipe when a friend of mine — who consider herself a “sauce connoisseur” — proclaimed this one of her top-three all-time favorite sauces and demanded the recipe.

    YIELDS: 1/2 cup (2 servings)

    INGREDIENTS:

    12 grape tomatoes
    1 medium garlic clove
    1/3 cup roasted or raw red peppers
    2 Tablespoons sundried tomatoes (packed in olive oil)
    1 Tablespoon white onion, chopped
    1/3 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/3 teaspoon dried basil
    1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
    1/8 teaspoon sea salt
    Pinch of pepper
    1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    1 Tablespoon lemon juice

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor and blend/process until well-mixed.

    NUTRITION FACTS (per quarter-cup serving)

    100 calories
    1 gram saturated fat
    170 milligrams sodium

    Excellent Source of: vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E

    Good Source of: folate, niacin, potassium, thiamin

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    You Ask, I Answer: Cucumbers

    cucumber_marketmore76_organicI always hear that cucumbers help with weight-loss because they are mostly water and low in calories, but I never see them referred to as being very nutritious.

    Are they high in any nutrients?

    — Diana Wegfield
    (Location withheld)

    Cucumbers provide a generous amount of manganese, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin K.  To get the highest amount of manganese and potassium, be sure to leave the skin on.

    Compared to other vegetables, their phytochemical and antioxidant content is low.

    That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy cucumbers.  I don’t believe that every single morsel you put in your mouth has to be chock-full of nutrients.

    If, for example, adding sliced cucumbers to a salad helps you eat more dark leafy green vegetables, you’re reaping benefits!

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    You Ask, I Answer: Free Radicals

    antioxidant-protecting-cellWhat exactly are free radicals, and how worried should I be about them?

    I realize I have barely a kindergarten concept of them.

    — @Beth_Pettit
    Via Twitter

    The concept of free radicals within the scope of health and nutrition can get super complicated, but here is an informative, simple-as-I-can-make-it “101” crash course.

    Free radicals are compounds with both positive and negative characteristics.

    Their main positive function relates to our immune system.  Our body actually deploys free radicals when it detects a foreign substance in the body.

    Without free radicals, our bodies would have a harder time combating most viruses and bacteria.

    Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends.

    Free radicals have what is called a “free-floating electron”.  This makes free radicals very upset, since they want that electron to be paired off with another one.

    In their quest to find another electron, they scour all over the place, damaging cells and DNA in the process.

    DNA damage is particularly disturbing, as it is the chief cause behind degenerative diseases like cancer.

    While our cells have some built-in protection against free radicals, there is only so much they can take before they basically become powerless.

    What makes the issue of free radicals complicated is that there is no way to avoid them.  Most free radicals are byproducts of necessary metabolic processes (like digesting food and cell regeneration).

    Of course, certain factors increase free radical content in our bodies.  These include:

    • Air and water pollution
    • Smoking
    • Emotional stress
    • Exposure to radiation
    • Pesticides
    • Excessive intakes of omega-6 fatty acids
    • Aging

    The best thing you can do to limit as much damage possible?  You guessed it — eat a healthy diet.

    Consider this: most of the enzymes our body sends out to attack free radicals are created from nutrients like manganese, selenium, and zinc.

    Diets low in these nutrients are unable to create as good of a defense against free radical damage as diets where these nutrients are consistently consumed in adequate amounts.

    While vitamins C and E are well-known for their antioxidant (that’s code for “free-radical-neutralizing”) capacities, keep in mind that the thousands of phytonutrients in whole, unprocessed foods also help minimize cellular damage.

    FYI: to read more about antioxidants, I HIGHLY recommend you read this post.

    This is precisely why you want to be sure to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes — all those foods are packed with unique and exclusive compounds that provide plenty of assistance.

    It is also crucial to eat whole foods that intrinsically contain these compounds (as opposed to supplements that isolate certain ones) since clinical research has clearly demonstrated that in order to work effectively, these compounds need to work in tandem.

    As morbid as it sounds, free radicals are also the body’s way of guaranteeing eventual death.  A person in their eighties produces much higher amounts of free radicals than someone in their thirties.

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    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Lentil Paté

    Red Lentils 002Due to their stellar nutrition profile, hearty texture, and unique flavor, I am a die-hard fan of lentils.

    Though they are often prominent in soups and casseroles, they also go well as a dip for crudité or heart whole grain crackers.

    This lentil paté is especially wonderful served warm in the winter months.

    YIELDS: 8 servings

    INGREDIENTS:

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1/2 cup white or yellow onion, chopped
    2 medium garlic cloves, diced
    1 small carrot, peeled and shredded
    1/3 cup red pepper, chopped
    1 cup dry lentils, rinsed (I think red lentils look nicer for dips, but feel free to use brown)
    1 1/2 cups water
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    1/2 teaspoon paprika
    3/4 teaspoon cumin
    Pepper, to taste
    1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Heat olive oil in pot over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, carrot, and red pepper.

    Cook the vegetables until soft, stirring frequently.

    Add lentils and water.  Bring contents to a boil.

    Lower heat to a low simmer and cook until no more water remains in pot.

    Add salt and spices.  Stir until well-combined and cook, still over simmer, for two minutes.

    Pour contents into food processor, add lemon juice, and puree until smooth.

    Feel free to add more spices after pureeing, if you deem it necessary.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (per serving):

    123 calories
    0.8 grams saturated fat
    150 milligrams sodium
    8 grams fiber
    6 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: B vitamins, copper, magnesium, manganese, monounsaturated fats, pantothenic acid, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C

    Good Source of: Iron, phosphorus, zinc

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    You Ask, I Answer: Seaweed

    895835I consider myself an adventurous eater, but other than a few sushi rolls when I go to a Japanese restaurant, I don’t eat much seaweed.

    Whenever I am at Whole Foods, I see a pretty good-size chunk of one aisle devoted to different kinds of dried seaweed.

    What are some ways I can eat them?  Do they offer any real nutrition  benefits or are they healthy just because they are low in calories?

    — Joanna MacKay
    New York, NY

    Seaweed — which is literally available in thousands of varieties — offers an array of flavors, textures, and health benefits.

    All varieties are good sources of B vitamins, calcium, copper, iodine, magnesium, manganese, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and zinc.

    Most varieties also provide substantial amounts of lignans — the compounds found in flaxseed that are linked to decreased cancer risk AND lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels!

    Nori is the most commonly consumed seaweed, as it is the one used in sushi rolls.  However, many people also like to add a few slivers of nori to salads and soups.

    You can even buy sheets of nori and make home-made vegetable rolls.

    For example, roll up mesclun greens, sliced avocado, sliced mango, and julienned (that’s chef-speak for “thinly sliced”) red peppers in a nori sheet, cut the long roll into round bite-size chunks, drizzle a bit of dressing on top (this peanut-cilantro one complements the flavors fabulously), and you have yourself a fun — and nutritious — lunch!

    In Japan, toasted nori snacks are immensely popular (almost as much as potato chips are in the United States).

    Kombu is a type of seaweed mainly used for stocks, while kelp is often added to soups (like miso) or used in granule form to add fishy flavors to vegetarian items that aim to mimic seafood.

    Arame is used in many savory dishes, including stews and grain-based side dishes, while hijiki is often steamed and consumed as a side dish of its own (one restaurant I frequently establish serves up hijiki as part of a platter alongside brown rice, chickpeas, and stir-fried tofu).

    Dulse is mainly available as granules to add fishy flavors to food, although whole dried dulse can be eaten right out of the bag as a snack or used as a salad topper.

    FYI: most seaweed salads at Japanese restaurants use a combination of seaweeds.  The downside?  They contain a substantial amount of added sugars and oils.  If you want to start your meal with it, keep that in mind and make light entree selections.

    The biggest mistake I come across when it comes to the nutritional aspects of seaweed is the completely erroneous claim that they are a good source of vitamin B12.

    They are NOT.  Seaweed contains B12 analogues — compounds that mimic the vitamin.

    Vegetarians and vegans need to be very mindful of B12 analogues; they attach to B12 receptors in the body, and prevent real B12 in the diet from being absorbed properly!

    Also, since seaweed is very high in iodine, anyone with thyroid issues should first consult with a Registered Dietitian before adding it to their diet on a consistent basis.

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    What’s for Lunch? Snacks!

    otlMany people I speak with mention that they quickly tire of repetitive lunches.

    Day after day of wraps or sandwiches with a side of chips or baby carrots is certainly a recipe for boredom.

    One of my boredom-beating tactics?  Make a “snack lunch”!

    This is one of my favorite ways to eat lunch, since it is very easy to construct in a nutritious fashion (it’s perfect for lazier days when I don’t feel like dicing, chopping, and stirring!) and allows you to satisfy multiple cravings at once.

    Here, for example, is the snack lunch I ate today:

    • 1 small Granny Smith apple
    • 1 ounce Gruyere cheese
    • 1 ounce whole grain crackers (I love the Mary’s Gone Crackers brand — they are thin, ultra crispy, and made with quinoa, sesame seeds, and brown rice)
    • 3 Tablespoons fresh salsa
    • 1/3 cup baby carrots
    • 3 Tablespoons hummus
    • 2 Tablespoons raw almonds
    • 1 Tablespoon raw walnuts
    • 1 Tablespoon raw cacao nibs

    Deliciousness aside, this combination racks up a more-than-worthy nutrition profile:

    • 710 calories
    • 6.6 grams saturated fat
    • 660 milligrams sodium
    • 16.5 grams fiber
    • 20.5 grams protein

    Additionally, it is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, manganese, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and hundreds of top-notch phytonutrients and antioxidants.  It’s also a good source of B vitamins, phosphorus, vitamin E, and zinc.

    Added bonus?  The almonds and walnuts contribute heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and ALA Omega-3 fatty acids, respectively.

    Depending on your particular calorie needs, you can tailor this meal by increasing or reducing the amounts of certain foods.

    Do you have a favorite “snack lunch”?  Post it in the “comments” section and inspire other Small Bites readers!

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    You Ask, I Answer: Freeze-Drying

    freeze-dried-fruitAre freeze-dried foods nutritious, or does that process destroy a lot of nutrients?

    — Samantha Seidell
    (Location withheld)

    Freeze-drying is quite a nifty process.  It simply consists of of freezing food and then removing moisture by manipulating temperatures and pressure.

    It allows an entire meal (like, say, three-bean chili) to be shelf-stable for extended periods of time, without sacrificing flavor or the need to tack on boatloads of sodium and artificial preservatives.

    When you’re ready to consume the freeze-dried meal, it’s simply a matter of adding water and heating!  In the case of fruit, you can eat it as is for a crunchy treat.

    Studies have shown that while freeze-drying affects vitamin C content to a certain degree, phytonutrients and antioxidants mostly remain intact.  In fact, freeze-dried fruits and vegetables offer more nutrition than their canned counterparts.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Arugula

    arugula1219364897There are few things I love more than arugula salads.

    Is arugula as healthy as other leafy green vegetables?

    — Dan Christom
    (Location withheld)

    I, too, love arugula’s peppery flavor.

    Something else worthy of affection?  Its stellar nutritional profile!

    A cup and a half (the amount typically used as a salad base) offers 15% of the Daily Value of vitamin A and almost half a day’s worth of vitamin K.

    Arugula also delivers decent amounts of folate and vitamin C.

    Remember, however, that vitamins and minerals are only half the tale.

    Arugula is a very good source of many phytonutrients, including lutein and zeaxanthin (two powerhouses that fight macular degeneration).

    Another bonus?  Arugula belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family (where it counts broccoli, kale, and mustard greens as relatives).  High intakes of these vegetables (five to six times a week) are associated with reduced risk of cervical, colon, lung, and prostate cancer.

    PS: I often like to add a small amount of arugula to pesto for a unique flavor boost!

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    You Ask, I Answer: Applesauce

    applesauce3What is your take on applesauce?  Can I count a half cup serving as one of my fruits for the day?

    — Julia Larson
    Philadelphia, PA

    It’s somewhere in between drinking apple juice and biting into a whole apple.

    Since apples are boiled prior to becoming applesauce, levels of vitamin C and B vitamins are significantly reduced.

    Even within the applesauce world, there are variations.

    On the “less healthy side” you have applesauce made from peeled apples that also tacks on added sugar.

    On the healthier side, you have homemade applesauce made from unpeeled apples and flavored with spices, as opposed to sugar.

    Remember, half the fiber — and a large number of antioxidants and phytonutrients — is found in the apple peel!

    The other issue with applesauce is that, due to its texture and lack of necessary chewing, it can be very simple to down tablespoon after tablespoon.

    The process of eating a whole apple is more time consuming and more satisfying from a psychological perspective.

    Final verdict: it’s fine.  Much better than drinking apple juice, but not quite as “two thumbs up” as eating a piece of whole fruit.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Nitrates, Nitrites… and then Some!

    Cold cutslargeA recent post on cured meats, cancer risk, and nitrates sparked a significant number of comments and personal e-mails.

    Alas, here is a compilation of all the questions I received on the subject — and the appropriate answers.

    What are nitrates?

    Although they can be manufactured in laboratories (mainly to cure meats), nitrates are a type of inorganic (jargon for “carbon-free”) chemical found in nature.

    Fertilizers and sewerage contain significant amounts of nitrates (they contain high amounts of nitrogen, which bacteria feast on and, among other things, convert into nitrates).

    Is there a difference between nitrates and nitrites?

    Not really.  Most food manufacturers prefer nitrites because they present fewer complications from a processing standpoint.

    It’s akin to asking if there is a significant difference, nutritionally speaking, between the artificial sweeteners Splenda and aspartame.  Although their makeup is different, they are used in similar ways.

    Are nitrates only found in cold cuts?

    No.  Certain vegetables — including spinach, celery, lettuce, and eggplant — contain nitrates.

    So, then, why do we only hear about nitrates and cold cuts?

    For two reasons.  One: cold cuts contain higher amounts of nitrates/nitrites than vegetables.

    Number two: the average American consumes more cold cuts than celery, spinach, or eggplant.

    What are the health risks of consuming too many nitrates?

    This is where it all gets interesting — and slightly complicated.

    A large portion of nitrates are converted into nitrites by our bodies.

    Obviously, if you consume ham that contains nitrites, this first step is a moot point.

    Nitrites can then combine with particular compounds known as amines in the stomach.

    This combination forms a new hybrid compound: nitrosamines.

    Due to the cellular damage they cause, nitrosamines have been linked with higher risks of a wide array of cancers — particularly that of the prostate, colon, and pancreas.

    Earlier this summer, a study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease concluded that frequent consumption of nitrates and nitrites relates to higher risks of developing the neural disorder.

    Some research also suggests that when nitrites in food are exposed to high heat — as they are, say, when you fry bacon — their chemical structure morphs into that of nitrosamines.

    PS: Another reason why you don’t hear much about nitrites in vegetables?  All nitrate-containing vegetables also provide vitamin C, which has been shown to reduce the formation of nitrosamines in the body.

    Are there any guidelines for what amount of nitrates is safe to consume?

    The Environmental Protection Agency has come up with a “parts per million” guideline in reference to the water supply, but there is no exact amount in regards to food.

    The general idea with cold cuts is: the less, the better.  Conservative guidelines recommend no more than two ounces per week, while more liberal recommendations place the limit at six ounces per week.

    Since vitamins C and E appear to reduce nitrite-to-nitrosamine conversion, one “safety measure” you can always take is to include a food high in either of those nutrients in a meal that contains processed meats.

    For example, add plenty of sliced tomatoes to a ham sandwich, or make bacon the accompaniment to a broccoli and red pepper frittata.

    Do organic cold cuts contain nitrites?

    Some of them don’t.  As with everything else, it’s always good to check the ingredient list.

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    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Bananacado Shake

    Most of us avocado-banana-420-420x0are accustomed to eating avocado in its savory form, usually as guacamole or part of a salad.

    In some parts of the world — especially Indonesia and the Philippines — avocado is commonly included in sweet concoctions.

    Fret not: although this delicious breakfast smoothie utilizes avocado to achieve a creamy texture, its taste goes unnoticed.  The key is to use very ripe fruit in order to provide a good amount of sweetness.

    This is one of my favorite breakfast foods whenever I’m in a rush.  The combination of healthy fats, fiber, and protein keeps me full through most of the morning!

    YIELDS: 1 serving

    INGREDIENTS:

    1 small avocado, sliced (or one half of a large avocado)
    1 medium frozen banana (previously sliced and stored in Ziploc bag)
    1/3 cup frozen strawberries OR frozen peaches OR frozen pineapple
    1 cup milk of choice (choose unsweetened varieties if using non-dairy milk)
    1 scoop (or 1/2 scoop) unflavored protein powder (ONLY if using low-protein milk, like almond milk)
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 Tablespoon oat bran or psyllium husks

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Place all ingredients in blender and process until evenly combined.

    For optimal texture, blend for at least 20 seconds.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION:

    441 calories (460 if using 2% dairy milk, 485 if made with low-protein milk + protein powder)
    2 grams saturated fat (3 grams if using 2% dairy milk)
    15 grams fiber
    180 milligrams sodium
    0 grams added sugar
    12 grams protein (24 if made with low-protein milk + 1 scoop protein powder)

    Excellent Source of: Folate, manganese, monounsaturated fatty acids, pantothenic acid, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K

    Good Source of: Magnesium, vitamin E

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