Tag: fruits

Spring Has Sprung

Despite the random snow Chapel Hill was bestowed with Saturday night, it is spring! And with springtime comes budding flowers, active squirrels, and longer days of sunshine. Winter blues, be gone.

Kickstart your spring renewal with the produce that comes into season:


Apricots (May—July)

Blackberries (May—October)

Blueberries (May—August)

Cherries (April—July)

Nectarines (May—October)

Peaches (May—October)

Plums (May—November)

Raspberries (May—November)

Rhubarb (April—July)

Strawberries (March—November)


Artichokes (March—June)

Celery (April—December)

Fava beans (March—July)

Peas (April—November)

Purslane (April—November)

Shallots (May—July)

Harvest yourself some fun with a healthy spring day activity. Check out your local farmers’ market:

Chapel Hill Farmers’ Market

Carrboro Farmers’ Market

Durham Farmers’ Market

South Durham Farmers’ Market

Perkins Orchard

Spring clean:

  • Swap heavy blankets and flannel bedding for breathable cotton sheets
  • Vacuum (spring allergies may start acting up)
  • Remember to treat pets with tick/flea/heartworm medication
  • Schedule those appointments you need to schedule
  • Organize your desk to dominate this last half of the semester

Happy spring!

Wellness Wednesdays: ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ Fruits and Vegetables

Wellness Wednesdays: ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ Fruits and Vegetables

Spoiler Alert: ‘Dieting’ won’t help you lose weight. What to know what will? A conscious effort towards making healthier lifestyle decisions. For some people, maybe that means choosing a salad instead of fries – it’s important to them that they try to eat a ‘healthier’ diet. When you mention a ‘healthy’ diet, the first thing that comes to mind is often ‘fruits and vegetables’. But can eating fruits and vegetables really help you lose weight?

Cosmo Online published a piece last week titled, ’11 Fruits and Vegetables to Eat if You Want to Lose Weight: Not all veggies are created equal’. The article referenced a recent study published in an online scientific journal called PLOS Medicine. Here is some of the data they used to arrive at the conclusion mentioned above.


Reference: Bertoia ML, Mukamal KJ, Cahill LE, Hou T, Ludwig DS, Mozaffarian D, et al. (2015). Changes in Intake of Fruits and Vegetables and Weight Change in United States Men and Women Followed for Up to 24 Years: Analysis from Three Prospective Cohort Studies. PLoS Med 12(9): e1001878. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001878

On the right, you’ll see the abbreviation of the data source used by the authors – it’s very expensive to collect new data, so these authors simply ran a new analysis using several existing data sets. In short, that means that each colored line represents dietary information from tens of thousands of people. The dot indicates the average weight change for each serving of that ‘class’ of fruit or vegetable – with citrus fruits, for example, they suggest that eating one additional serving of citrus fruit per day was associated with a 0.25 lb weight loss over four years.

I would encourage the interpretation that fruits and vegetables can, and should, be part of a healthy diet, and that following a healthy diet can lead to weight loss. As far as specific fruits and vegetables to support weight loss, the evidence is far less established. Beyond eating a variety of colors to ensure the adequate intake of vitamins, I think all fruits and veggies can be enjoyed without discrimination.

Wellness Wednesdays: How to Eat Fresh Produce During Winter

Although many familiar fruits and vegetables are not in season during the cold winter months, there are still plenty of opportunities to incorporate fresh, seasonal produce into your diet. Not just for those with adventurous palates, you may be surprised that simple tweaks to classic dishes can make it easy to use even ‘exotic’ ingredients like celeriac and kohlrabi in your kitchen.

Kumquat – As a meKumquatmber of the citrus family, you might not expect kumquats to thrive in cold temperatures. But this hardy little fruit is an excellent source of beneficial antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin that are essential for protecting your eyes from free radical damage. Edible skin also makes kumquats unique among citrus fruits, with 100 grams (about 1 cup) of fruit providing nearly 7 grams of dietary fiber. A diet that contains adequate fiber (25-35 grams per day) can help protect against certain cancers, including colon cancer. Try replacing grapes with kumquats for a new twist on chicken salad –slicing them in half makes it easier to remove the small, bitter seeds located in the center of the fruit.

Celeriac – As appearances go, this homely root vegetable leaves much to be desired. But don’t Celeriacjudge a book by its cover – an excellent source of vitamin K, celeriac also contains potent antioxidants like falcarinol and panaxydiol, which studies show may offer protection against the development of colon cancer and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). First, peel away the thick, knobbly skin with a paring knife to reveal the creamy white flesh underneath. Pan-cook shredded or diced celeriac for a healthy hash-brown substitute, or julienne and bake for a great alternative to French fries!

Kiwifruit – These fuzzy little fruits may look cute, but they pack a serious nutritional punch – one large kiwifruit provides 3 grams of dietarykiwifruit fiber and a full day’s worth of vitamin C. An excellent source of vitamin K, kiwifruit’s edible seeds are thought to have natural blood thinning properties. And that’s not all – kiwifruit may also stimulate the production of melatonin, a hormone which helps to regulate our sleep-wake cycle. One recent study found that eating two kiwifruits an hour before bed decreased the number of mid-sleep waking episodes by almost 30% after just a few weeks. Delectable when eaten raw, kiwifruit also pairs well with other fruits in chilled soups and chutneys – a chunky purée of mango and kiwifruit makes a great salsa to go with baked chicken or fish.Radicchio

Radicchio – Often hidden among the iceberg lettuce in bagged salad mixes, radicchio deserves a more prominent role in your next meal. With a pleasant, spicy flavor and sky-high levels of vitamin K, tardivo radicchio gets its deep, reddish-purple color from anthocyanins. These flavonoid compounds, also found in eggplant, blackberries, and red wine, may help protect against cardiovascular disease, which kills more than 600,000 men and women in the United States each year. For a flavorful side dish, marinate chopped radicchio in balsamic vinegar before roasting until tender – pairs nicely with beef or pork.

Kohlrabi – LikeKohlrabi broccoli and cabbage, kohlrabi hails from the Brassica family and contains high levels of isothiocyanates, a class of compounds that can enhance the detoxification of cancer-causing chemicals in your body. Studies suggest that one of these compounds, sulforaphane, is able to preferentially target pre-cancerous cells in the prostate while leaving healthy prostate cells alone. Buy kohlrabi with the leafy fronds still attached – you can use these greens in a salad, and the crunchy bulbs are delicious when sliced into wedges and eaten raw, like a savory apple.


Photo credits:







That’s A Mighty Fine Lookin’ Burger!

I’ve heard before about the tricks food companies use to make their food look very appetizing on TV. This article lists several of the tricks used: cotton balls, motor oil, and hairspray among others. This week, I came across an official video from McDonald’s (see below) revealing the hard work that goes into prepping their burgers for prime-time. For comparison’s sake, they have a before and after, with the before being a standard burger bought at an actual McDonald’s restaurant. The burger is created by a food stylist (who know that was an actual job?). He uses syringes full of ketchup, blowtorches to fine tune the details. And like all pretty models posing for pretty pictures, the burger’s unsightly flaws are then Photoshopped to make it more appealing.

The video didn’t surprise me, but I did find it interesting how much work goes into making a McDonald’s cheeseburger look appetizing. Now’s the point where I’d offer a standard, “What can public health communicators take away from this practice?” but there’s nothing to take away because healthy food looks naturally appealing. I think it says something that you need a camera crew to make a McDonald’s cheeseburger look appetizing, but next to no work to make fruits and vegetables look appealing. And fresh produce photographs beautifully.

Photo courtesy of lockstockb

Disney Takes Steps to Get Kids to Eat Healthily

Yesterday the news broke that Disney will no longer air junk food ads, becoming the first major media company to do so. The timing of this announcement comes right on the heels of NYC Mayor Bloomberg announcing a ban on large, sugary drinks in the city. I applaud both Disney and Bloomberg for taking these steps to quell the obesity epidemic. Companies that make unhealthy food have said that they are capable of regulating themselves when it comes to food labeling and advertising, however considering that self-regulated food labeling tends to camouflage the unhealthiness of the food and that junk food advertisers spend billions each year on advertising, these companies may be capable of regulating themselves but they aren’t willing to do so. Outside measures are needed. So what’s Disney doing to make kids want to eat healthy food, in addition to banning junk food advertisers? They’re introducing “Mickey Check,” a system of labeling that will tell kids what is healthy to eat. They’re hoping that the emotion kids feel for Disney will resonate in the labeling system and children will opt for healthy food.

I applaud Disney for this. I think it’s a huge step in the right direction, but there are a few issues with this ban and labeling system. I admittedly have never been to Disneyworld or Disneyland, but from what I understand, it’s a place teeming with ice cream and burgers. Will Disney’s emphasis on healthy eating reach its theme parks? It seems a little hypocritical to ban junk food advertisers, yet continue to offer junk food at the theme parks. By offering that food, they’re making it an acceptable option for children. Also, I’m not sure how well the labeling system will do. There are already a few different systems to label food. Adding another one may muddle up the market and confuse already confused consumers. Granted, this system is aimed at children, so the other systems may not be an issue.

What are your thoughts on Disney’s ban on advertisers and new food labeling system? How effective do you think it will be at getting kids to eat well and fighting childhood obesity?

Fruits and veggies, never knew you could look so good

colorful display of fruits and vegetablesWhat you encounter when you walk into your local grocery store may soon change.

Grocery stores are beginning to respond to consumers desires to have more healthy diets and are also finding that they can benefit from this. Brian Wansink, the co-director of the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs notes, “Grocery stores want you to buy healthy things. They want you to buy produce, because if produce goes bad, they lose money.”

Research on what people eat and the subtle cues that facilitate the decisions people make regarding food choices has found that there are changes that stores can make in order to promote healthier food items like fresh produce. For example, product placement and soft lighting may have the power to make that bunch of bananas you may not have intended to purchase, all that more desirable.

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