As the sun warms our gardens and everything is coming up summer, let’s focus on FRUITS this week. Mmm, salivatingly fresh, juicy, sometimes even local and in season FRUITS! There are a handful of them on the Super Foods list, and since using fruits is generally fairly simple (wash, cut, serve, enjoy), we get to take a quick look at why each one is on the super foods list and then we’re on to talk plastics for the Monday Mission this week.
You’ll notice “anti-cancer” on these fruits across the board. They all contain a good deal of antioxidants, which fight free radicals and oxidation, which can cause cell mutations and cancer. Basically what you can learn from that is eat fruit, focus on the “super” ones as much as possible, and enjoy life!
The Super Fruits
Oranges (and other citrus):
An easy one – Vitamin C. Helps lower risk of death by heart disease, cancer. Also contains fiber, folic acid, caroteniods (immune booster). Bioflavanoids in most citrus are anti-cancer agents.
- Blueberries: rich in antioxidants, known as a “brain food”, might help reverse short term memory loss that comes with aging
- *Strawberries: rich in Vitamin C
- All berries have antioxidants = cancer protectors, Vitamin C, soluble fiber
carotenoids, Vitamin A and C, beta-carotene. Anti-cancer, immune booster.
Contains resveratrol, a long word that is responsible for the anti-aging benefits of red wine. Currently being used in supplements, including Shaklee’s new anti-aging wonder. (Why not just eat grapes and drink wine?) Anti-cancer; prevents sticky platelets, lowering risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
High in lycopene (like tomatoes), anti-cancer.
Excellent source of vitamin C,K, Potassium and Magnesium.
Contains Quercetin (anti-inflammatory), flavenoids, pectin (a soluble dietary fiber with all the cholesterol-lowering and diabetes-controlling benefits thereof); anti-cancer.
*On the dirty dozen list (strawberries and cherries, imported grapes, and apples). Grapes from California are acceptable; watch out for those from Chile.
Yay for blueberries! Blueberries make the Clean Fifteen (the opposite end of the evil-chemical list from the EWG).
- Some oranges, especially out of season, can have so little vitamin C that you might as well drink water. Vitamin C is highly sensitive to air (oxidizes) and water (soluble), so it’s important to get fresh oranges. I’m guessing the canned stuff doesn’t have any Vitamin C left, but I’m not certain.
- Yes, juice counts! Make sure it’s really oranges, but otherwise the nutrition is all in there.
- Oranges are on the top 20 list of pesticide residue, so WASH and scrub them thoroughly before peeling. Your own fingers can transfer the residue to your food.
A care note on melons: Yes, please, wash your melons. Obviously you won’t be eating the rind, but tell me that it doesn’t touch your cutting board in the same place as the melon you’re about to eat, and you get the kitchen magician award of the year. Your knife can also transfer chemicals from the outside of the fruit to the inside as you slice.
Cantaloupe is said to have some of the worst pesticides on it, but they don’t affect us as much because the rind is so thick, so they’re not on the Dirty Dozen list. You still need to be aware that the outer skin/rind/shell/whatever is covered with poison. I even use a vegetable brush and sometimes a squirt of soap (not anti-bacterial – remember, you’re not killing the chemicals. They’re not living organisms. You just want them off your food and down the drain) to really scrub off all the yuck before my melons touch my cutting board.
Does anyone want to know how to cut a cantaloupe? I took photos to show you, but I don’t know if it’s worth bothering. You all are probably experts already!
Most of the health benefits of the apple is found in and just under the skin. If you can keep it on, do it to conserve nutrition. You may even find that some recipes that you always peeled apples for, like applesauce and some quick breads, are just as delicious leaving the skins on. I tried it last time I made applesauce, and I used my stick blender instead of a potato masher to really make it smooth. It was good, with no chewy skins in there, and I felt great about the fiber I knew my kiddos were getting.
See you later this week for a love note to local strawberries, fruit dips for company, and maybe even watermelon sorbet. Mmmm!
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Other Super Food Health Benefits:
- Chicken Stock/Broth
- Cruciferous Vegetables
- Garlic and Onions