By Kati Mora, MS, RD
Summer is the perfect time to explore fresh produce. Whether you are purchasing it at a local farmers market, your favorite grocery store, or receiving it as part of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), you don’t want to miss all of the fabulous flavors, aromas, and textures that summer brings through its in-season produce.
Yet some fruits may garnish more of your attention than others, and it can be easy to forget just how many fruits there are to choose from. Nevertheless, it is important to keep an open mind and an open eye out for a variety of fruits to adorn your table with. Why? Because each type of fruit has its own unique nutritional benefits to offer.
For example, let’s talk about stone fruits – or drupes as they are sometimes called. Not sure what a stone fruit is? The best way to remember or identify a stone fruit is to recall if it has a pit or not. Apricots, prunes, cherries, nectarines and peaches would all belong in this category because each of them have a pit or a stone surrounded by a fleshy outside. (more…)
Although there not exactly in season, February is National Cherry Month, and we couldn’t let an opportunity to talk about some of the health benefits of this fruit pass. Cherries, particularly tart cherries like the Montmorency variety, are an excellent source of the antioxidant anthocyanins, which also gives the fruit its red color. In addition to antioxidants, cherries also contain vitamin A, vitamin E, melatonin and beta carotene.
Although the research is very preliminary, one study suggested that concentrated cherry juice may reduce soreness after workouts, and cherry anthocyanins have been shown to reduce pain in animal studies.
Research aside, the best way to celebrate National Cherry Month is obviously by incorporating some cherries into a meal this month. Here are a few of our favorite picks from our own recipes collection around the web.
Busy families everywhere know how hard it is to get some quality time in nowadays—that’s why it’s important (and tasty!) to celebrate Bake for Family Fun Month. If February is dragging and you’re searching for family-friendly dreary day activities, add some sunshine to your kitchen with a refreshing (and healthy) baking project.
Time-savvy moms can bake brownies from the box or cookies from a tube, but what about a healthier option like fruit crisp? Keep it cheap, healthy and delicious — and you can even let your kids pitch in to help.
DID YOU KNOW?:
Remember a few years ago when pomegranate juice was all the rage? Well, it seems as though there may be a new super-food fruit juice in town: tart cherry juice.
Makers of tart cherry juice claim that the drink can do everything from help with wrinkles, insomnia, headaches, swelling, puffiness around the eyes and — most importantly for exercisers — increase muscle recovery time. Manufacturers say that tart cherry juice is high in the antioxidant vitamin E, along with melatonin, vitamin A and beta carotene.
While there hasn’t been that much independent research on the juice, one study published in the online version of the British Journal of Sports Medicine evaluated whether or not a highly-concentrated, specially-processed tart cherry juice blend could prevent the symptoms of muscle damage in a 14 male college students. The study participants were asked to either drink a bottle of the cherry juice blend twice a day for three days before exercise and for four days afterwards, or to drink a placebo juice containing no cherries. The 12-ounce bottle of juice contained the liquid equivalent of 50 to 60 tart cherries blended with commercially available apple juice (from all the cherry juice blends on the market, this is a pretty typical blend, I’ve found).
We’ve all heard that superfruits are good for you, but what exactly are superfruits? Superfruits are exotic fruits found around the world that have been known to have the highest concentration of antioxidants and nutrients of any other food or beverage.
“Superfruits are great because they multi-task,” said fit-living expert Laurel House. “Not only do they give you more energy throughout the day, but they are filled with antioxidants that help prevent disease.”
While nutrition experts are always searching for the “next big thing” in the diet and health industry, some of the most popular superfruits are available in most supermarkets, usually in the form of juices and extracts. (more…)