The Benefits Of Fruit

FruitFruit has gotten a bad rap recently in people’s efforts to eradicate sugar from their diets.  However, I strongly believe that this is a big mistake.  Fruits are low-calorie and (with the exception of avocados) low in fat, and are plentiful in vitamins and soluble fiber.  Soluble fiber aids the body in ridding fats and cholesterol from the body as well as ensuring regular transit of food particles in excretion.  In addition, fruits offer antioxidants which protect the  body from oxidant stress and many diseases, as well as boost our immune response.

I especially love blueberries as they contain a special type of antioxidant known as anthocyanins.  In fact, all “blue” fruits (blackberries, acai, mulberries and black grapes contain these powerful antioxidants just underneath their skins.

Here is a list of some of the most popular fruits along with their associated health benefits:

APPLE:  Apples are packed with soluble fiber and are high in vitamins.  Due to their high fiber content they can be excellent aids for individuals who suffer from constipation.

BANANA:  This fruit is well known for its high potassium content.  Those who have issues with high blood pressure might want to make bananas a regular part of their meal plans in order to manage their pressure issues.

BLUEBERRIES:  As stated before, blueberries are one of my favorite fruits because they offer so many health benefits.  This fruit is ranked number one in antioxidant activity and may help to lower the risk of developing neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.  They also freeze very well.  In fact, not too long ago I was in the habit of purchasing large batches of blueberries, then freezing them for use in my morning oatmeal.

CRANBERRY:  This extraordinary fruit prevents bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall and in so doing can be very effective in preventing urinary tract infections from developing.  I recommend the extract or juice to women who are prone to frequent urinary tract infections as it minimizes the chance of developing infections.  Cranberries have a strong antioxidant effect as well.

PINK GRAPEFRUIT:  This fruit is very high in a form of soluble fiber known as pectin, which can help to lower cholesterol.  It also is rich in lycopene and flavonoids, which may have a protective effect against certain types of cancer.  Beware of this fruit if you take cholesterol-lowering statins or some other medications, as grapefruit can interfere with some medications.

KIWI:  This strange, beautiful, tart fruit is packed with vitamins C and E, has 3 grams of fiber in one fruit, and is also rich in potassium and magnesium.  In fact, kiwi has more vitamin C than oranges do. 

MANGO:  This fruit has ample amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, which have a protective effect on vision and can reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness in adults.

ORANGE:  Oranges are rich in folate, an essential substance which helps to prevent neural tube defects in unborn infants and which also has a protective effect against the development of high blood pressure in women.  It is also rich in vitamin C and fiber.

PEAR:  Pears contain a lot of soluble fiber and for this reason can be very effective in relieving constipation.

PINEAPPLE:  This tropical fruit, besides containing large amounts of vitamin C, contains an enzyme known as bromelain which assists in breaking down protein and facilitating digestion.  Bromelain also has wound healing properties, helps to prevent blood clots and inhibits cancer cell growth.  Pineapples also have anti-inflammatory properties which can help to alleviate arthritis pain.

POMEGRANATE:  This fruit is rich in antioxidant tannins which have a demonstrated protective effect on the heart.  Individuals with high blood pressure or risk of heart attack will benefit from ingesting this fruit on a daily basis.

PRUNE:  Prunes are very high in sorbitol which has a mild laxative effect, so the old wive’s remedy of drinking prune juice for constipation was extremely valid.  This fruit is also very rich in boron, a mineral which may help prevent osteoporosis.

RASPBERRY:  Raspberries are rich in folate, magnesium and ellagic acid, an antioxidant which may help to prevent cervical, esophageal and colon cancer.  They also provide large amounts of fiber, as well as vitamins A and C.

STRAWBERRY:  Strawberries are packed with vitamin C, fiber, folic acid and potassium.  They also have a protective effect against carcinogens.

I realize that many people are not able to locate the fresh varieties of fruits throughout the year, so I want to call attention to the varieties of fruits which are available frozen.  Dole offers the following fruits in frozen versions:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Mangos
  • Mixed berries
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Pineapple
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Frozen fruit is picked, washed, peeled, cut and frozen immediately in order to retain the bulk of its nutritional value.  When you are ready to use the fruit, you can either thaw it at room temperature or lightly defrost it in the microwave, though I strongly prefer room temperature thawing.

People who compete may have adopted the attitude that fruit is a big no-no, as they believe the fructose in fruit will potentiate fat retention.  However, if you consume small portions with meals, especially with your post-training meal, there is no way that you would consume enough to create such an issue.  I strongly disagree with the mindset that fruit consumption should be eliminated during contest prep, as this robs the body of powerful antioxidants and deprives a competitor of natural sweetness, which could result in strong cravings for sweet items which are made with sucrose or artificial sweeteners.  If you are extremely concerned about consuming too much fruit, try a small portion (1/4 to 1/3 cup of fruit in the morning with your first meal, and the same portion size with your post-workout meal. 

You might find it challenging to consume fresh fruit on a regular basis, and if so, you might not be incorporating vital nutrients into your diet on a daily basis. I recommend taking a multivitamin several times a day to optimize absorption, and my favorite is SWAT Fuel’s .40 Caliber. SWAT Fuel’s .40 Caliber Multivitamin delivers high bioavailability on a three time dosing regimen each day and is suitable for everyone, but it is especially great for individuals who tend to experience intestinal discomfort from multivitamin formulas.

You can order .40 Caliber directly from the website: http://swatfuel.com/products.aspx

Sugar And Cognitive Decline

hero-cookie-candy-bars
How can sugar be such a bad thing when it tastes so wonderful? Well, you might want to consider the consequences of indulging in sweet treats on a regular basis. Consume a diet high in processed sugar and you can almost count on experiencing a pronounced cognitive decline with advancing years. Numerous studies have revealed a decline in cognitive function after consuming processed carbohydrates. A 2011 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition examined habitual sugar intake in over 700 nondiabetic middle-aged subjects of Puerto Rican descent. The results showed that consumption of sugary beverages resulted in lower MMSE scores, while a higher total sugar consumption resulted in lower word list learning scores. Numerous other studies have shown a strong correlation between insulin resistance and lowered cognitive function.

sugary-drinks

As it is, cognitive function begins to decrease by our late 20’s with memory problems surfacing about ten years after that. Some individuals are already doomed to develop insulin resistance with increasing age, and this is magnified dramatically when processed carbohydrates are consumed on a regular basis. Processed carbohydrates such as refined sugar are absorbed more rapidly, causing a surge in insulin release. When this occurs frequently, the result is an increase in insulin resistance. Another consequence of increased blood sugar is decreased blood flow, which also inhibits cognitive function.

By no means am I saying that you have to COMPLETELY eliminate all sugar from your diet all the time (though it isn’t a bad idea). If you allow yourself the RARE indulgence, such as birthday cake, that is fine. The more insidious culprits are the sugary sodas, flavored yogurts and packaged crackers which tend to creep into regular diets. They may be tasty to many people, but they carry a heavy consequence. Knowing all of this, why would you risk “dumbing down” and increasing your dementia risk by eating sugary foods all the time? Now, that is just stupid.

Eliminating sugar from your diet is a great step towards improved health and mental clarity, but you should also make sure to get vital nutrients in on a daily basis. I recommend taking a multivitamin several times a day to optimize absorption, but most of the large brand multivitamin formulations out there are dosed once daily. In addition, the bigger brands do not have high bioavailability. What I love about SWAT Fuel’s .40 Caliber Multivitamin is that the nutrients in the formulation are highly bioavailable, and the supplement is taken three times daily. This is my personal choice of multivitamin, and yes, I do take it three times daily. This formulation is very clean and doesn’t cause the intestinal upset that some multivitamins can cause.

You can order .40 Caliber directly from the website: http://swatfuel.com/products.aspx
References:

Br J Nutr 2011 Nov; 106(9):1423-32.

It All Adds Up

good-or-bad foods
When you add the label of “forbidden” to a food, it suddenly becomes quite irresistible, revealing the human tendency to become lured by temptation. Of course it doesn’t help that these so-called forbidden foods are full of sugar and other substances which trigger more cravings. You may be the type of person who occasionally nibbles on a food which is ordinarily on the do-not-eat list, or you may find yourself in a pattern in which you rationalize your dietary transgressions and cannot stop the behavior. If your indulgences are frequent, you have probably noticed the evidence accumulating around your waistline.

While competitors must follow rigid meal plans which discourage the consumption of any fat-laden or sugary treats, those of you who do not compete can follow a clean diet 90% with the occasional treat and suffer minimal consequences, However, individuals who do not follow rigid meal plans may be consuming nutrient-poor foods laden with saturated fat and sugar far more often than they realize. They may also be tricked into ordering a meal which seems to be clean, such as a chicken caesar salad, only to find out that the salad dressing alone can obliterate any possibility of consuming a healthy meal. The temptations continue when people are trying to keep up with busy schedules and ordering less than foods out of hunger and exhaustion. More temptations may also be lying in wait at home. Perhaps you have rationalized a nightly glass of wine or a Pop Tart as a treat for a busy day at work, but when this is practiced on a daily basis, it will surely trap you in a “one step forward, two steps back” pattern which will prevent you from achieving your fitness goals. Suddenly the clean and healthy diet is followed only about 40%, meals are random, and the risk of malnutrition also emerges as a result of erratic and unhealthy eating practices.

The key is to follow nutritional guidelines which will ensure that you get the nutrients and calories which your body requires. If it is too difficult to determine what it is that you need to consume on a daily basis for optimal nutrition, hire a nutrition coach to give you structure and consistency. You will still be able to enjoy the occasional treat, as long as you remember that moderation is the key. Another valuable habit to implement is the daily intake of a multivitamin, preferably one which is taken several times a day to optimize absorption. What I love about SWAT Fuel’s .40 Caliber Multivitamin is that it has high bioavailability of nutrients along with a three time per day dosing recommendation. This is my personal choice of multivitamin, and yes, I do take it three times daily. This formulation is very clean and doesn’t cause the intestinal upset that some multivitamins can cause. I can tell that I actually feel more energized when I take this particular multivitamin as opposed to other brands.

You can order .40 Caliber directly from the website: http://swatfuel.com/products.aspx

Eggs Are Superfoods

eggs
If you haven’t already incorporated eggs into your regular meal plan, you should. Eggs are an excellent source of protein, and also provide all eight essential amino acids which are necessary for optimal muscle gains. Eggs are also packed with the following nutrients:

· Vitamin A
· Vitamin E
· Vitamin K
· Vitamin B12
· Riboflavin
· Folic acid
· Iron
· Zinc
· Calcium
· Selenium
· Choline

You may have been duped into believing that eggs should not be eaten due to the fat content in the yolks. However, there are only 2 grams of saturated fat and a total of 5 grams of fat in an average egg. The body actually requires a certain amount of saturated fat for proper function, which translates to about 20 grams of saturated fat on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. If you add only four whole large eggs to your daily diet, you will get 20 grams of quality protein with only 8 grams of saturated fat. As for the cholesterol content in egg yolks, it has been determined that dietary cholesterol does not raise blood cholesterol levels. In fact, consumption of eggs can improve blood lipid panels.

Here is a macronutrient breakdown of one large egg:

· 71 calories
· 6 grams protein
· 5 grams fat
· Zero carbohydrates
· 211 milligrams cholesterol
· 70 milligrams sodium
· 37 milligrams Omega 3 fatty acids
· 574 milligrams Omega 6 fatty acids

As a general rule, I purchase large or extra-large eggs for our household so that I can get the most protein possible. The larger eggs cost only a bit more than small or medium eggs and are a very cheap and high quality protein source which can be consumed during contest prep.

Individuals who want to gain muscle, especially during a bulking phase, should incorporate egg yolks in order to meet the high energy requirements that such a phase demands. Eggs are very easily digested and absorbed and can help to ensure a balanced diet. They are also quite versatile and can be eaten with other foods in omelets and high protein pancakes. If you want a quick snack which provides a good amount of protein, you can hard-boil eggs, making them a portable food source which can easily be packed in a food cooler for the day.

One of the best ways to ensure proper nutrition on a daily basis is to take a multivitamin. Though many multivitamins are dosed as one pill daily, the body cannot utilize all the nutrients in one large dose, so it is more beneficial to the body to take a multivitamin several times a day to optimize absorption. What I love about SWAT Fuel’s .40 Caliber Multivitamin is that it has high bioavailability of nutrients along with a three time per day dosing recommendation. This is my personal choice of multivitamin, and yes, I do take it three times daily. This formulation is very clean and doesn’t cause the intestinal upset that some multivitamins can cause.

You can order .40 Caliber directly from the website: http://swatfuel.com/products.aspx