You already know they’re good for you in all kinds of ways, but the latest research on fruits and vegetables has revealed some very surprising results. Apparently, eating more produce can actually increase your level of happiness over time. The newly released study, conducted at the University of Warwick, followed 12,000 people who kept food diaries and had their psychological well-being measured. What it found is that people got incrementally happier with every daily serving of fruit and vegetables they ate (up to eight portions a day). Why the connection between increased produce consumption and increased happiness? Researchers don’t know for sure, but one possible theory is that the abundance of antioxidants the fruits and vegetables provides leads to higher levels of carotenoids in the blood — and having higher levels of carotenoids has been linked to optimism. Read more
Healthier veggie prep
We all know vegetables are healthy, but some ways of preparing them are healthier than others. In general, cooked beats raw, CNN reports, noting, “Studies show the process of cooking actually breaks down tough outer layers and cellular structure of many vegetables, making it easier for your body to absorb their nutrients.” And while the ideal method may differ slightly for different vegetables, the news site reports, as a rule of thumb it’s often best to steam (don’t boil) or microwave your veggies and “keep cooking time, temperature and the amount of liquid to a minimum.” Then throw in a wee bit of olive oil and you’re good to go. Read more
I know you’re asking: How is March tart cherry month? Tart cherries are different than the sweet cherries that are in season during the warm summer months. These sweet-sour cherries aren’t eaten fresh; rather they are enjoyed year-round dried, frozen, canned and as concentrated juice. Research has also shown that these delicious cherries contain numerous health benefits.
Fish for brain health
You’ve heard fish is good brain food, but also worry about the effects of mercury in fish on your brain. What to do? New research tips the scales in fish’s favor. A recent study by Rush University Medical Center, in Chicago, indicates that eating a serving of seafood per week may protect the brains of older adults from the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease — especially among those at a higher genetic risk for developing Alzheimer’s. The study also concluded that, although those who ate seafood had higher levels of mercury in their brains, that mercury did not correlate to brain damage. “The evidence is quite clear that people who consume healthier forms of fish … are going to end up with healthier brains,” James T. Becker, an Alzheimer’s expert who was not involved in the study, told CNN.
Stone fruits, blueberries and grapes have always wanted to be roasted. We know this is true because they taste so good! Roasting amplifies the flavors of the fruit: As they soften and caramelize, they release their juices and their flavor is intensified. Plus, there’s no need to add extra sugar or fat; all you need is ripe and beautiful fruit. Read more
Think twice before you reach for that tiki drink. When you consider that one standard shot (1 1/2 fluid ounces) of 80-proof vodka, rum or gin contains roughly 100 calories, you’re likely throwing back more calories than you bargained for on a typical night out, especially if you’re combining a few of these with sugary mixers. One way to take control of your caloric intake is to skip the bar all together and mix your drinks at home. For a lighter version of your favorite cocktail, start by measuring out the hard stuff. Choose 100 percent juice or use fresh fruits and herbs to flavor your drink in place of overly sweetened bottled mixers. And remember: Size matters. Keep the calorie count under control by pouring your cocktails into 8-ounce glasses, or smaller. Whether you prefer clear vodka or dark rum, here are a few classic cocktail recipes, slimmed down for your next summer party.
As far as cocktails go, mint juleps are far from the worst. Bobby Flay sticks to the classic combination of bourbon whiskey, mint, sugar and shaved ice when preparing his old-fashioned Mint Julep (pictured at top).
Canned options can be a healthy and budget-friendly way to incorporate more servings of fruit into your diet. Try using canned fruit in fun and exciting ways, such as these five inspiring recipes.
Turn canned fruit into a frozen treat that’s way better for you than a sugary ice pop.
Feasting on fresh fruit is always a summertime ritual, but try roasting some of that just-plucked bounty or throwing it onto the grill until it’s nice and charred. Intense heat adds rich new layers of flavor, deepening and caramelizing sugars. With these vibrant recipes, there’s more incentive to keep the grill’s flames going, long after the turkey burgers have been demolished.
Grilled Plums with Spiced Walnut Yogurt Sauce (above)
Forgo that everyday berry parfait, and spring for this juicy plum dish instead. The fruit is draped in Greek yogurt that is brightened with honey, orange juice and grated orange zest — and warmed by cinnamon and toasted walnuts.
We’ve all heard that half of our plates should be filled with colorful fruits and vegetables at every meal. But is eating a rainbow of recipes possible all of the time, even in the dead of winter? (And can you really get picky youngsters to eat a spectrum of produce?) Frances Largeman-Roth, RD, author of Eating in Color: Delicious, Healthy Recipes for You and Your Family, shares some tips from her new cookbook.