4 Reasons To Eat More Watermelon (Besides TheTaste!)

watermelonA summertime favorite, watermelon is more than just a refreshing afternoon snack – it has health benefits, too. Despite popular belief that watermelon is made up of only water and sugar, watermelon is actually considered a nutrient dense food, a food that provides a high amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for a low amount of calories.

 

Watermelon is:

  1. Low in calories
  2. Rich in antioxidants
  3. A good source of vitamins C, A, B6 and B1
  4. A good source of the carotenoid lycopene, which may help reduce the risk of prostate and other cancers
  5. A source of amino acid L-citrulline which can reduce muscle soreness in athletes.
  6. It is also versatile, lending its sweet flavor and crisp texture to everything from tomatoes to cheese.

When choosing, look for a hefty, symmetrical, unblemished melon. A creamy yellow spot on the bottom indicates ripeness. Add this colorful fruit to your summer menu for a healthy way to cool off – perfect for any hot day!

See this page for Dr. Weil’s Watermelon and Heirloom Tomato Salad.

Just one cup of watermelon provides 21% of your daily Vitamin C.

Along with cantaloupe and honeydew, watermelons are a member of the botanical family Cucurbitaceae. There are five common types of watermelon: seeded, seedless, mini (also known as personal), yellow and orange.

Muscle soreness: Watermelon and watermelon juice have been shown to reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery time following exercise in athletes. Researchers believe this is likely do to the amino acid L-citrulline contained in watermelon.

 


Mediterranean Diet

March 14, 2016


The Mediterranean Diet

When people imagine the Mediterranean region, pastoral images of ancient hill towns, picturesque island fishing villages, sunshine, warm smiling people, and of course good food and wine are often part of the picture. Not surprisingly, the “Mediterranean” diet is associated with the good things in life too–and perhaps a longer life in which to enjoy them. And while some (butimages-2 not all) studies of the Mediterranean diet are indicative of longer life-spans, they are strongly associated with a healthier life, especially for people who suffer from cardiovascular disease, or are at risk of developing it.

Key components of the Mediterranean diet include:

  • Mainly consuming a broad range of plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
  • Using spices and herbs, especially those high in trace mineral and vitamin content rather than much salt
  • Using olive oil rather than other oils or butter
  • Consuming some lean red meat, but only two or three times a month
  • Eating fish and/or poultry several times a week
  • Drinking (mainly red wine) but always in moderation. This is entirely optional, especially if there are any problems associated with alcohol consumption–such as diabetes, alcoholism, liver problems or simply personal preference or religious belief.
  • Sharing and enjoying meals with both family and friends
  • Staying active–walking, dancing, swimming, playing sports, music, etc.

An extremely important aspect of this diet is the role that fresh vegetables, nuts and whole grains play in it. It’s abarley-kernel-germ-germinating-cereal-flakes-725x544n antioxidant rich diet where fats are mainly derived from nuts and olive oil rather than dairy products or meat. The least processed forms of olive oil contain antioxidants and help reduce LDL (low density) cholesterol associated with coronary diseases and many other illnesses. The nuts and oily types of fish in the diet also provide a regular supply of Omega-3 fatty acids that improve cardiovascular health by lowering blood sugars, decreasing blood clots, lowering blood pressure and strengthening the entire vascular system. The nuts, chicken and fish all provide a reasonable amount of high quality protein as well because they are nutrient dense. That is, it doesn’t take a lot of nuts or small oily fish to provide a solid amount of protein and healthy fats in a compact form.

3060935008_994195f247_oResearchers have noticed that in many parts of the Mediterranean, especially where people adhere to traditional diets, life expectancy is quite long. Cardiovascular diseases are also less common than in other developed countries. Many clinical studies have been conducted to understand why this is so.

Studies

One of the most widely cited recent, large cohort studies was carefully conducted over nearly 5 years. Known as the PREDIMED study, it compared a low fat control group with two different Mediterranean diet subgroups–one with additional olive oil in their diet, and the other with additional nuts. The PREDIMED study generated many specific studies of various subgroups such as diabetics, or those with heart disease, and also contained some overall large scale findings.

A recent review of 5 of the major publications [1] showed that both of the Mediterranean groups fared much better than the low-fat diet group on virtually every measure, including not dropping out of the study (which many of the low-fat diet group did).

The Mediterranean diet was statisticallyfruits & veggies in tray significant for men in many ways, but generally not so much for women. Statistical significance means that a result is highly unlikely to be due to chance. In the broadest terms, the diet with extra nuts was marginally better than the one with increased amounts of olive oil–especially for those with what is called metabolic syndrome. This is a grouping of metabolic measures that combine to increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. They include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, abnormal cholesterol levels and abdominal obesity. Over the course of the five years, far fewer of those on the Mediterranean diet actually became diabetic than those on just the low fat diet. In one of the largest cohort comparisons (7,216 participants) the risk of death was significantly lower for those who consumed nuts compared to the other groups. This may be largely because those consuming Omega 3 rich diets had far fewer heart attacks than those of the other groups–and heart attacks are often fatal. The diet also has been shown to reverse metabolic syndrome markers by very large percentages in controlled comparisons.

One final factor associated with this diet is the ability of people to change their lifestyle and stay on it. In that respect, the Mediterranean diet tends to work. It is a traditional diet which emphasizes the social role that food (and moderate drink) play in helping people to lead fulfilling lives. It’s not a diet associated with denial, or dietary restriction of calories, but with lifestyle changes that improve overall health and life satisfaction through what people eat, and how they eat. It can lead to some gradual weight loss if people eat “sensibly” (not too much) and don’t drink very much (or any) alcohol, and avoid any sweets other than fresh fruits and some honey.

Overall, the Mediterranean Diet points to the simple fact that healthy eating should not be about living a dull, unfulfilling life. On the contrary, a focus on denial not only diminishes life itself, but it just doesn’t work. After reading through the comparisons, many readers may wonder why anyone actually stayed in the low-fat diet cohort during the entire course of study. Perhaimagesps someone should have invited them over for a nice Mediterranean style dinner. Given the numbers of controls who left the study, maybe that’s just what happened: they gave up, called some friends, and finally just went out “for Italian”.

[1] Gunnars, Kris https://authoritynutrition.com/5-studies-on-the-mediterranean-diet/ November 2015


Lifestyle Diets

March 12, 2016


Introduction to Lifestyle Diets

Lifestyle diets are directed at transforming eating patterns over the long term, rather than fast short-term weight loss, which ultimately just doesn’t work. Lifestyle diets are meant to restore healthy attitudes towards foods, as well as healthy habits, and have the added benefit of more gradual weight loss for people who are overweight, or even obese.They have been widely used, so there are lots of online groups to consult, and chat rooms where you can see how others are doing. Most diets work best with the support of others in some form of community.

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The lifestyle diets we summarize include:

  • Paleolithic (Paleo) Diet
  • Mediterranean Diet
  • South Beach Diet
  • Atkins Diet

The diets we review all have certain benefits—some more than others—but each of them has been around for awhile, and so some of the successes and problems associated with each of them are well known. They are all still popular to some degree. If there are clinical controlled studies conducted over time, we will describe some of them so you can get a good idea of whether or not they will work for you in ways that might last. Not all diets have been carefully studied in an unbiased way though. Some diets that claim to be well supported by research either rely on anecdotal information or include a heavy dose of self-interest, or even an apparent conflict of interest on the part of the researchers. We avoid citing those studies that are not controlled, or were conducted by people who have a financial/professional interest in promoting them.

There are many variants of each of these diets that ‘tweak’ them to emphasize one aspect or another. So if you are mainly interested in anti-inflammatory properties of the Paleo Diet or the Mediterranean Diet, for example, you can focus on that. If lowering triglycerides and dealing with insulin resistance is important, then another part of the diet may prove most beneficial. Our descriptions are just places to begin.

leafy lettuceAfter reviewing the diets, you might find one that suits your own special goals, and then start investigating it further. You should ask yourself :

  • how difficult (or easy) will it be to stick to a particular diet?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How accessible are the foods?
  • Do you actually like them?
  • Can you prepare the foods yourself?
  • Can you find them when you go out to dinner?
  • Can you purchase them from outlets in prepared form?

After all, you don’t want to make things worse in the end because you can’t find the food, or afford it, and just don’t like it.

 

Accessibility is not always just a matter of going to a supermarket. If you can join a ‘farm to table’ purchase cooperative, you might be able to save a lot of money on seasonal vegetables that would make a diet with lots of fresh vegetables both accessible and affordable. Maybe you can get them delivered right to your home. If you have a friend or relative who fishes or is a hunter, then perhaps the Paleo diet wouldn’t actually cost you so very much. The main point is to do some thinking about these things before you start.

This site does not deal with illness related diets such as those for persons with serious food allergies, acute illnesses, or for those undergoing drug treatments like chemotherapy, or recovery from surgery or injury. Such diets are best worked out in partnership with health care specialists who deal with these highly specific areas.