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Fiber 101 – The Basics (About the Types of Fiber and Their Varieties)

Fiber 101 – The Basics
About the Types of Fiber and Their Varieties

What is dietary fiber?
Dietary fiber is sometimes called “roughage” and includes parts of plant foods that the body cannot digest or absorb. Other food components, like fats, proteins, and carbohydrates are broken down in the digestive process and absorbed into the blood stream. Fiber, on the other hand, is a type of carbohydrate, but it cannot be digested by the human body. Instead, it travels through the stomach and intestinal tract providing food for our intestinal bacteria.

Researchers have found that increasing fiber intake over a mere two-week period significantly altered subjects’ gut microbiome. Specific species of bacteria that break down fiber were increased. When such bacteria digest fiber, they release short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs then become a source of fuel for the cells of the colon and are also used in cell signaling. Some SCFAs also have anti-inflammatory properties, and may influence insulin sensitivity and body weight.

Fiber has two general classifications: soluble and insoluble. Each type has its own health benefits in addition to providing food for the beneficial bacteria that live in the intestines. The amount and types of fiber found in foods varies, but it is only found in plant foods. Whole, intact plant foods (such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, beans, peas, nuts and seeds) will provide dietary fiber, whereas processed plant foods (such as white flour) will provide little to none. Animal-based foods do not provide dietary fiber.

What is insoluble fiber?
Insoluble fiber remains pretty much unchanged as it moves through the digestive tract. Humans do not have the enzymes necessary to break down insoluble fiber. Since it is not broken down during digestion, insoluble fiber does not provide calories in the diet. In the intestines, it absorbs fluid and binds to other nearby materials, forming stool. This type of fiber helps to move the contents of the intestines forward, warding off constipation and promoting bowel movements. Whole grains, nuts, beans, and vegetables are good sources of insoluble fiber.

Types of Insoluble Fiber and Their Food Sources
Cellulose. Cellulose is the main fibrous component of plant cell walls. Many vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, and cauliflower are rich in cellulose. Legumes, nuts, and bran from grains are also rich in cellulose. Cellulose passes through the gastrointestinal tract relatively intact, binding to food components moving them forward along the tract. Cellulose also helps to keep the digestive system healthy by feeding beneficial gut bacteria and supporting their colonies.

Hemicellulose. Hemicellulose is a type of dietary fiber that can be soluble or insoluble. It is a nondigestible fiber found in plant cell walls that can absorb and retain water in the gut. Despite the fact that it absorbs water, it has little effect on stool size. Hemicellulose can be digested by our gut bacteria. It is sometimes used in foods as an added fiber, thickener, emulsifier, or stabilizer. Green beans are high in hemicellulose. They are also found in cereal grains.

Lignin.  Lignin is another type of insoluble fiber that is part of the plant cell wall structure. Lignin provides rigidity to plants. It is also found in some seeds. Lignin is not broken down by human enzymes, and is also poorly digested by our gut bacteria. It absorbs water in the gut, and gives bulk to stool. Lignin can be found in whole grains (such as wheat and corn bran), legumes, vegetables (like green beans, carrots, horseradish, cauliflower, peas, and zucchini), fruits (like avocado, unripe bananas, peaches, and apples), and nuts and seeds (especially flaxseed and Brazil nuts). It is also found in edible seeds, such as those found in berries and tomatoes.

What is soluble fiber?
Soluble fiber is the type of plant fiber that absorbs water and fluids in the intestinal tract, forming a gel-like substance. The gel moves through the digestive tract and is digested by bacteria in the large intestine. The remainder is excreted in feces. The bacteria release gases as they digest the gel, which is what may cause some people to experience bloating when ingesting fiber-rich foods. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley, and psyllium.

Types of Soluble Fiber and Their Food Sources
Inulin.  Inulin helps to keep you feeling full for longer since it slows digestion. This type of fiber also takes longer to absorb, which helps to prevent blood sugar spikes after a meal. Inulin is not digested in the stomach nor absorbed in the intestinal tract. Instead, it promotes the growth and support of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Inulin is found in chicory root, grains such as wheat, barley, and rye, and fruits and vegetables such as bananas, garlic, onions, and asparagus. Inulin is readily fermented by our gut bacteria. This property may give some people GI distress when eating inulin-rich foods.

Gums and Mucilages. Gums are complex carbohydrates that are soluble in water, forming gels and mucilages. Mucilages are a type of thick, viscous gum in plant roots and seeds. The gelling characteristics of gums and mucilages allows them to be used in many food products as thickening agents, and additives for moisture retention, emulsification, and stabilization. Commonly used food sources of gums and mucilages include guar bean, locust bean (carob), tamarind, seaweed (agar and carrageenan), fenugreek, aloe vera, cactus, and flax.

Pectin.  Pectin is a type of soluble fiber that helps reduce the glycemic response in the body by slowing glucose absorption after a meal. Like other soluble fibers, pectin helps to feed our gut bacteria. It also helps to keep cholesterol down by flushing fatty acids out of the body. Pectins can be found in abundance in foods like apples, strawberries, citrus fruits, carrots, and potatoes. Legumes and nuts also contain pectins, but in smaller amounts.

Beta-Glucan.  Beta-glucan forms a gel in the intestinal tract that is fermentable by gut bacteria. It is considered to be a prebiotic, providing food for helpful bacteria. Beta-glucan may also be helpful in increasing satiety and managing blood sugar levels, thanks to the fact that it has a slow transit time in the stomach and intestines. Beta-glucan is plentiful in oats, barley, shiitake mushrooms, and reishi mushrooms.

Psyllium.  This soluble fiber is the active ingredient in products like Metamucil. It is known for softening stool, helping it to pass out of the body. Psyllium also forms a gel that binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract, preventing its absorption into the body. Psyllium is also a prebiotic, feeding friendly bacteria in the gut. Psyllium is derived from a shrub-like herb (Plantago psyllium), grown mainly in India. It will not be found in any specific food source. However, it is often used in fiber supplements, both in powders and pills. Researchers have studied the effects of psyllium and found that it may help to reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, diverticulosis, high blood pressure, and obesity. It may also improve diarrhea, constipation, gas, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and high cholesterol. However, since it is a soluble fiber, those benefits may also be obtained from ample food sources of soluble fiber in the diet.

Resistant Starch. Resistant starch is a type of carbohydrate that resists digestion in the small intestine. It travels pretty much intact until it reaches the large intestine. There, friendly bacteria feed on the undigested starch, so it is often referred to as a prebiotic, feeding the good bacteria in the gut. Resistant starch also helps to control the appetite and reduce blood sugar spikes after a meal. Since resistant starch is not broken down during digestion, it does not release glucose, so it cannot raise blood sugar levels. It can also help to increase our feeling of fullness after a meal, and be used to treat and prevent constipation. It also helps to lower cholesterol, improve digestive health, and lowers the risk of colon cancer. Resistant starch is fermented slowly in the gut, so it causes less gas than other types of fiber. Legumes, peas, beans, lentils (with white beans and lentils being especially high in resistant starch), oats, barley, plantains, and unripe bananas are excellent sources of resistant starch.

How Much Fiber Do You Need?
The Institute of Medicine provides the following recommendations for adults:

* Men age 50 or younger should get 38 grams of fiber.
* Men age 51 and above should get 30 grams of fiber.

* Women age 50 or younger should get 25 grams of fiber.
* Women age 51 and above should get 21 grams of fiber.

Health organizations recommend that both children and adults should get about 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories they eat. That usually means that children ages 1 to 3 years should get about 10 grams of fiber a day. Children ages 4 to 8 years should eat about 25 grams of fiber a day.

Research has shown that the amount of fiber typically consumed in the Western diet is merely between 12 and 14 grams a day. Less than 5 percent of Americans consume the recommended amount of fiber. There is ample scientific evidence that indicates that dietary fiber affects normal physiologic function and the onset of chronic diseases and their progression. Therefore, increasing fiber intake offers a prime opportunity to improve our health and ward of serious chronic diseases.

Despite the above recommendations, there is scientific evidence that ancient man consumed as much as 100 grams of fiber a day! Of course, that was from unprocessed plant foods, primarily from fruits and vegetables. Keeping this in mind, we certainly have plenty of leeway for increasing our daily fiber intake with as many fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains that we can manage to eat.

Benefits of a High Fiber Diet
To keep things easy and get the most benefit from your diet, focus on simple, whole, unprocessed plant foods. Work as many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as you can into your day without worry about how much soluble vs insoluble fiber you’re eating. Most plant foods have a combination of both in different ratios. What’s important when trying to reap the health benefits from fiber in foods is looking at the total picture and focusing on increasing your overall fiber intake through whole, unadulterated foods. The following are some benefits from enjoying a high fiber diet.

Prevents Constipation. Dietary fiber promotes the movement of the contents of the digestive tract forward. It increases stool weight and size, so it helps prevent constipation and irregular bowel movements. If you have loose, watery stools, fiber may help to solidify the stool because it absorbs water and adds bulk to the stool.

Helps Maintain Bowel Health. A high fiber diet helps to reduce your risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in the colon (diverticular disease).

Aids in Weight Management. High fiber foods tend to be more filling than low fiber foods, so you’re less likely to overeat and more likely to feel full longer. Fiber takes up space in the stomach and intestines, which helps us to feel full after a meal, which in turn helps us to manage our weight. We’re less likely to overeat when the meal has had ample fiber. Furthermore, high fiber foods tend to be lower in calories than low fiber, processed foods or animal products. So, loading up on plant foods can help us to manage weight in more ways than one!

Cancer Prevention. Increased fiber intake may help to reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research reports show that for each 10-gram increase in dietary fiber, the risk of colorectal cancer is lowered by 7 percent. There is also scientific evidence that indicates that a high-fiber diet may also be protective against breast, ovary, and endometrial, as well as gastrointestinal cancer.

Helps Prevent Heart Disease and More. Soluble fiber is especially important because it can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by reducing blood pressure, improving our blood lipid profiles, and reducing inflammation.

Soluble fiber is known to help lower blood cholesterol levels. In the digestive tract, soluble fiber binds with bile acids, carrying them out of the body in the feces. Bile acids are made in the liver from cholesterol, and exported to the gallbladder where it is stored until it is needed. When dietary fat leaves the stomach and enters the duodenum, the first section of the small intestine, the gallbladder receives the signal to release bile into the duodenum to emulsify the fat that just left the stomach. This is important because the emulsification process allows the fat to be disbursed among the watery fluids in the intestines. This improves the breakdown of foods and the absorption of nutrients. Without bile, fatty substances may tend to “float” toward the top of the watery fluids in the intestines, hindering the proper breakdown of foods and absorption of their nutrients.

When soluble fiber binds to bile acids in the digestive tract, it carries the bile out of the body through the feces. This action forces the liver to make fresh bile from cholesterol. This process helps to lower blood cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis, while improving our blood lipid profiles and reducing inflammation.

If our diet does not contain enough soluble fiber to carry the bile out of the body, the unbound bile acids will be reabsorbed into the blood from the intestines, and carried back to the liver to be used again. When this happens, the bile becomes more concentrated with toxins, which in turn, can lead to inflammatory diseases such as gallbladder disease, intestinal inflammation, and even skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

Also, research suggests that increasing your dietary fiber intake is associated with a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and all cancers.

Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels. In those with diabetes, fiber (especially soluble fiber) can slow the absorption of sugar helping to improve blood sugar levels. A healthy diet with ample fiber may also reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Best Sources of Fiber
Categories of foods that can boost your fiber intake include:

* Whole-grains
* Fruits
* Vegetables
* Beans, peas, and other legumes
* Nuts and seeds

Refined or processed foods are lower in fiber than the fresh foods they were made from. This includes canned fruits and vegetables, pulp-free juices, white breads and pastas, and cereals made with refined grains. The refining process of grains removes the bran, or outer coat, from the grain. This lowers the fiber content of the grain. Along with the removal of the bran, the germ layer is usually removed too. The germ is where many vitamins and minerals associated with the whole grain are found. When these two components are removed from grains, the inner starchy endosperm that remains is what is processed into white flour or sold as the refined grain. Many times, the refined grains are enriched where some (but not all) of the nutrients that were stripped away, are added back. However, the fiber content is not added back in the enrichment process. So, the only way to get the full nutritional value of a grain, including the fiber content, is to use only the whole grain.

Fiber Supplements.  Metamucil, Citrucel, and Fibercon are examples of fiber supplements. Some people may need such supplements if they suffer from bowel issues and dietary changes aren’t enough to fix the problem. It is advisable to check with your healthcare provider before starting such supplements.

Some specialty foods have fiber added to them. Some cereals, granola bars, yogurt, and ice creams are examples. The added fiber is usually inulin or chicory root. Before adding such foods to your diet, it is important to note that some people complain of gas and bloating after eating foods with these added fibers.

Generally speaking, whole foods are a better option than fiber supplements. Whole foods naturally provide a blend of soluble and insoluble fibers, along with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients that the fiber supplements don’t have. Consuming whole foods as nature provides, offers complementary nutrients that often have a synergistic effect on the body. In other words, their combined effect is often greater than if the individual components were taken separately. Furthermore, foods have many yet-to-be-discovered components that we will never find in isolated supplements. So, it is best to choose whole foods as nature provides, whenever possible.

Tips for Adding More Fiber to Your Diet
There are a LOT of ways to add more fiber to your diet. The following are just a few points that may help along the way. Try what works best for you for starters. Add more as you’re able to and build from there. Take it slow to allow your body (and gut microbiome) time to adjust to the new foods and added fiber intake. This approach will help you to avoid discomfort, gas and bloating, and possibly even diarrhea.

* Examine your usual breakfast. Are you eating low-fiber foods such as processed cereals, pastries, white bread, juice (pulp-free), and/or an array of no-fiber foods like animal products such as bacon, eggs, sausage, milk, cheese, and even yogurt? Try substituting some of those foods with high-fiber options, like oatmeal or a whole-grain cereal and fresh fruit instead of fruit juice.

* How about your snacks? Are you snacking on doughnuts, pastries, cake, cookies, candy, and a sugary beverage or coffee? Try replacing the calorie and fat-laden, low-fiber pastries with fresh fruit and maybe a cookie made simply from whole oats, bananas, a touch of cinnamon, and raisins. How about snacking on fresh vegetables and a small handful of nuts? Or enjoy a snack of vegetables dipped in hummus. Replace sugary beverages or coffee with a tall glass of lemon water or an herbal tea, sweetened with honey, if desired.

* Make it a routine to add a tossed green salad to either lunch or supper each day. Be mindful of what ingredients are added to the salad. Load it up with lettuce and other assorted fresh greens, and top it with assorted chopped fresh (or even lightly cooked) vegetables. Leave off the croutons, shredded cheese, and added meats. Use the simplest dressing you can tolerate. Even just a squeeze of fresh lemon, lime, or orange juice is extremely healthful, although it may take some time to get used to it if you’re accustomed to fat and/or sugar-laden dressings. Studies have shown that those who eat a salad or a small serving of vegetable soup before a meal not only increases fiber intake, but has been linked to eating fewer calories during the meal.

* Once you get used to enjoying a side salad every day, try increasing that to one meal a day consisting of a very large green salad. As detailed above, load it up with your favorite vegetables, and even fruit if you want. Add some cooked beans, peas or lentils for additional protein if you want. Top it with a simple dressing and enjoy! Work up to making this a daily routine and your health will benefit in many ways in addition to getting a nice fiber boost.

* Lean on legumes. Beans, peas, and lentils are wonderful sources of fiber and added protein. Add legumes of choice to soups or a large meal salad.

* At least once a week, choose a meal of beans, peas, or lentils served over a whole grain of your choice. Brown rice, millet, quinoa, amaranth, or even steel cut oats would all work well. Serve it with a large portion of any vegetable of choice and you’ll have a healthy, filling, fiber-filled meal.

* Try a wrap with cooked beans (pinto or black beans would be tasty), lots of fresh vegetables including leafy greens, served on a whole grain tortilla. Top your filling with salsa before rolling it up, and enjoy!

* Make it a point to load up on fruits and vegetables every day. Strive to eat at least five servings a day. As you get used to boosting your fruit and vegetable intake, try to slowly increase your servings to as many as ten servings a day. To do this, you may find that you need to cut back on other foods (the stomach can only hold so much!). Examine the foods you’re eating and identify the least healthful, most processed foods that you’re eating and strive to replace them with more healthful options. That will not only boost your fiber intake, but also will increase your vitamin, mineral, antioxidant, and other phytonutrient intake as well. Your health can only benefit from such a transition.

* Make desserts count. Instead of indulging in cheesecake, ice cream, traditional cookies, or chocolate cake for dessert, opt for a piece of fresh fruit. If you yearn for ice cream, try blending a frozen banana and making “Banana Nice Cream.” If desired, it can be flavored with a little cocoa powder, cinnamon, added fruit, vanilla extract, or even a little milk of choice for smoothness and flavor.

* Enjoy fruit as a snack. Apples, pears, and berries are examples of high-fiber fruits that make a quick and easy snack. They are easy to transport also, and can be included in a packed lunch, tucked in the car when traveling, or stashed in a backpack when hiking.

* When shopping, always opt for whole grains rather than refined or processed foods made with refined flour. When at home, you’ll be reaching in the pantry for foods to prepare. If you don’t have it, you can’t prepare it. Make it a priority to buy only foods that you know will benefit your health.

* Try adding chia seeds to overnight oats, your favorite smoothie, or pudding.  Use chia seeds as an egg replacer in some dishes like quick breads, pancakes, and puddings. Combine 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 2-1/2 to 3 tablespoons of hot water in a small bowl. Allow it to rest about 5 minutes to thicken. Chia seeds provide omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins, minerals, and about 10 grams of fiber per ounce. They are packed with nutritional value, so it pays to include them in your diet any way you can.

* Flax seeds are another high fiber seed to consider. They provide about 2 grams of fiber per tablespoon. Be sure to enjoy them ground rather than whole since they are very hard to break down in the digestive process. Add ground flax seeds to oatmeal, a smoothie, pudding, granola, breading, and baked goods. Mix it into applesauce as a thickener. Use it in recipes in place of wheat bran, wheat germ, or oat bran. Soups and stews may also be thickened with ground flax seeds. Sprinkle it on nut butter. Add it to homemade crackers. Sprinkle a little ground flax on salads. Add it to sauces as a thickener. Add a little ground flax to your favorite hummus (try 1 to 2 teaspoons of ground flax seed to 1 cup of hummus). Ground flax seed can be used as an egg replacer, just like chia seeds. Follow the same directions as detailed above.

* Replace refined fruit juices with whole fruit. Whole fruit has a lot more nutritional value to offer than refined fruit juices. And, the whole fruit will also quench thirst at the same time. For example, enjoying a juicy, ripe pear can satisfy your thirst, help fill a void in the tummy, and provide plenty of vitamins, minerals, and fiber all at once.

* Avocados are very nutritious fruits, and there are many ways to add them to your day. Their creamy flesh is rich in vitamins, minerals, monounsaturated fatty acids, and fiber too. One half of an avocado delivers 5 grams of fiber. Furthermore, avocados have been linked to a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome, a condition that increases your chances of heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes.

* When possible, try to enjoy fruits and vegetables with the peel left on. There is often a lot of nutritional value and fiber associated with the peels, and most of that gets tossed in the trash when the peel is removed and not eaten.

* Try to include some type of fiber-rich food (or foods) at each meal. Whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables (cooked or raw), cooked beans, peas, or lentils, and nuts or seeds can be included with meals and snacks throughout the day. Enjoy a variety of fiber-rich foods as often as you can until it becomes habit and you no longer have to think about it. That will help you to develop life-long habit of eating fiber-rich foods. Your body will thank you!

* Snack on fresh veggies with your favorite hummus dip for a fiber-rich snack.

* Try whole grain pasta instead of pasta made with refined flour. Also, there are some new types of pasta available that were made from legumes and no grain at all. They are naturally high in fiber and are at least worth a try to see if they work well for you.

Adjusting to Increased Fiber Intake
Suddenly switching from a low-fiber diet to one with a lot of fiber too quickly can promote intestinal gas, bloating and cramping, and maybe even diarrhea. Increase your fiber intake slowly over a few weeks or even longer. This allows you time to adjust to the change in food choices and also gives your intestinal bacteria time to adjust to the change as well. This will also give your intestinal tract time to adjust to the increased fiber, especially if you’re going from being chronically constipated to slowly establishing regular bowel movements.

Also, it is VERY important to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Fiber works best when it absorbs water in the stomach and intestines. This makes your stool softer and bulky, promoting regular bowel movements. Herbal teas and fresh vegetable juices are also excellent additions, but should not replace adequate water intake.

It’s helpful to make small, manageable changes at a time. If they work well for you, maintain those changes, then find another change you can make and add it to your regimen. Then maintain both of those changes and find yet another. Repeat the process as often as you feel it is necessary to improve your diet and achieve your goals. This process allows you to gradually change your dietary habits as your body and gut microbiome adjust. Make it a point to maintain those changes until they become second-nature. Such changes should be considered to be lifelong adjustments and not temporary for the sake of achieving a goal within some short period of time, then reverting back to prior habits. That’s a recipe for failure. It’s best to think in terms of lifelong changes that you can maintain long-term. Over time, you’ll be so accustomed to your new habits that you won’t yearn for the foods you left behind and you won’t have to give much thought to what you’re doing at the grocery store or in the kitchen.

Summary
Fiber is an important component of whole plant foods. It is critical to consume plenty of fiber-rich foods to prevent constipation and bowel issues, along with many other serious diseases and conditions. Chronic constipation (provided you have no otherwise obstructive bowel issues) is a clear sign you need more fiber in your diet. Increasing your intake of whole plant foods is a simple solution to the problem. When you’re not used to eating a lot of such foods, it is helpful to increase your intake slowly over time, especially when increasing the amounts of legumes, beans, and peas in your diet. Gradually increasing such foods will help minimize the risk of gas, bloating, or diarrhea that may occur. Give yourself time to work your way up to about ten servings a day of fruits and vegetables. Eventually, your bowel habits will stabilize and constipation will be a thing of the past. You’ll also greatly increase your intake of vitamins, minerals, and important antioxidants and other phytonutrients in the process. Your body will thank you!

 

Resources
https://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/nutrition-101/types-of-fiber

https://www.livestrong.com/article/288536-foods-with-psyllium-fiber/

https://experiencelife.lifetime.life/article/fiber-why-it-matters-more-than-you-think/

https://www.healthline.com/health/soluble-vs-insoluble-fiber

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/fiber/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4942856/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16441938/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319176#what-are-the-benefits-of-fiber

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/short-term-increase-in-fiber-alters-gut-microbiome

https://www.nutrientsreview.com/carbs/dietary-fiber-hemicellulose.html

https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/hemicellulose

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2993399/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lignin

https://www.nutrientsreview.com/phytonutrients/insoluble-fiber-lignin.html

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/whats-the-difference-between-soluble-and-insoluble-fiber/

https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/74425

https://www.preparedfoods.com/articles/124823-hardworking-gums-and-fibers

https://hopkinsdiabetesinfo.org/what-is-resistant-starch/

https://www.webmd.com/children/features/digestive-health

https://www.aicr.org/resources/blog/ask-the-dietitian-get-your-facts-right-on-fiber-and-whole-grains/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1851150/

https://dontwastethecrumbs.com/ways-use-flaxseed/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/16-ways-to-eat-more-fiber#The-bottom-line

https://www.verywellfit.com/why-your-body-needs-fiber-2505934

Whitney, Ellis and Sharon Rady Rolfes. (2011) Understanding Nutrition. 12th Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

 

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Dates

Dates 101 – A Comparison of Medjool and Deglet Noor Dates

Dates 101 – A Comparison of Medjool and Deglet Noor Dates

About Dates
Dates are the fruit of the date palm tree, which is native to the Middle East and Northern Africa. They have been a staple food in the Middle East for thousands of years. Many in that region consider date palm trees and dates to be sacred because they can literally be life-sustaining. Today, dates are also grown in the Mediterranean region, Asia, Mexico, and the United States (mostly in southern California and Arizona). The fruit grows in large clusters that hang from the top of date palm trees. As they ripen, their skin turns brown and wrinkles develop as moisture leaves the fruit. This is the point when they are usually harvested. They still have some moisture at this time. Whole dates have a stone or pit in the center that must be removed before eating. Dates are sold both with and without pits.

Dried and fresh dates are available year-round, but the fresh dates are best from November to January. There are many varieties of dates, but the most popular are the Medjool and Deglet Noor dates. Medjool dates are usually sold with the pit still within the fruit, whereas Deglet Noor dates are commonly sold pitted, with the seed being removed. In general, the Medjool dates are larger, sweeter, and stickier then the Deglet Noor dates.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
When comparing a nutritional analysis of three Deglet Noor dates with one Medjool date, none of which were pitted, the weight was close, with the Deglet Noor dates weighing 21 grams and the Medjool date weighing 24 grams. The slight increase in weight of the one Medjool date resulted in slightly more calories in the Medjool date with 66 calories, and 59 calories in the Deglet Noor dates. However, when comparing gram per gram, 100 grams of Medjool dates has 277 calories, whereas 100 grams of Deglet Noor dates has 282 calories. The high calorie count is due to the abundant natural sugars in both types of dates.

Many of the vitamin and mineral components were very closely matched, often with slightly more in the Medjool date, most likely because it contained more flesh than the three Deglet Noor dates. When comparing gram per gram, the nutritional differences are considered to be negligible.

Medjool Dates: Nutrients that were slightly higher in the one Medjool date include calories, carbohydrates, sugars, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, niacin, pantothenic acid, and Vitamin B6.

Deglet Noor Dates: Nutrients that were slightly higher in the three Deglet Noor dates include protein (although the protein content is low in either type of date), fiber, lutein and zeaxanthin (important antioxidants).

Overall: No matter what type of date you choose, consider them to be high in sugars, with 3 Deglet Noor dates or 1 Medjool date providing roughly one-third of the recommended amount of sugar intake for the day. They also provide a good source of fiber, potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, niacin, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B6, iron, zinc, phosphorus, calcium, lutein and zeaxanthin. They even contain some protein. The high fiber content of dates helps to offset the digestive effects of their high sugar content. This means they will not spark a high spike in glucose levels when eaten, as compared with a piece of candy. Eating dates with some protein (such as a nut butter or cheese) can help to reduce the rise in blood sugar levels when consumed.

High in Fiber…Helps Prevent Constipation. Dates are high in fiber, with about 7 grams in a 3.5 ounce serving. Consuming dates on a regular basis can help to ward off constipation because of their high fiber content.  In one study, 21 people ate 7 dates a day for 21 days and experienced an increase in bowel movements when compared to when they did not eat dates.

Improved Blood Sugar Control. Despite their high sugar content, the fiber in dates helps to slow digestion, aiding in preventing large spikes in blood sugar levels after being eaten. Dates are known to have a low glycemic index, which reflects this benefit. So, if you enjoy something sweet once in a while, indulging in a few dates, especially after a meal, should not cause a large spike in blood sugar. This benefit may be helpful in the management of diabetes.

High in Antioxidants. Dates are especially high in important antioxidants that help to protect us from cellular damage caused by free radical molecules. Such damage causes inflammation and raises our risk for many diseases including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration, and more. Three powerful types of antioxidants found in dates include flavonoids, carotenoids, and phenolic acid.

Flavonoids help to reduce inflammation and may reduce the risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and some types of cancer. Carotenoids have been proven to promote heart health, and may reduce the risk of eye diseases such as macular degeneration. Like the flavonoids, phenolic acid is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits and may help to lower the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Brain Health. Dates may help to improve our brain function. Researchers have found dates to be helpful in lowering inflammatory markers in the brain. Such markers (like interleukin 6) are associated with a greater risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. The benefits of dates to brain health have been attributed to their content of antioxidants (including flavonoids) that reduce inflammation.

Also, animal studies have shown that dates are helpful in reducing the activity of amyloid beta proteins which can form plaque in the brain. Plaque is known to disrupt communication between brain cells, which can lead to the death of brain cells and Alzheimer’s disease.

One animal study found that mice fed food mixed with dates had significantly better memory and learning ability, and exhibited less stress-related behaviors when compared with mice that were not fed the dates.

Pregnancy and Labor Benefits. Dates have been studied for their possible ability to ease labor in pregnant women. Researchers found that eating dates during the last few weeks of pregnancy may promote cervical dilation and reduce the need for induced labor. Dates may also be helpful for reducing labor time.  In one study, 69 women who ate 6 dates a day for 4 weeks before their due dates were 20 percent more likely to go into labor naturally and experienced significantly shorter labor times than those who did not eat the dates. The results were confirmed by at least two other research studies. Researchers speculate that the benefits of dates were due to compounds in the fruit that bind to oxytocin receptors, mimicking the effects of oxytocin in the body. Oxytocin is what promotes labor contractions during childbirth.

Also, dates contain tannins, which have been shown to help promote labor contractions. Dates are also a good source of natural sugars and calories which are needed to maintain energy levels during labor and delivery.

Excellent Natural Sweetener. Dates are high in fructose, a type of natural sugar found in fruit. This gives dates their exceptional sweetness and caramel-like flavor. Dates make an excellent healthy substitute for processed white sugar because of their nutritional profile and antioxidant content. Date paste can be substituted for processed sugar on a 1:1 ratio. In other words, if a recipe calls for ½ cup of granulated sugar, you could substitute ½ cup of date paste with comparable results. See this website for instructions on making date paste as a sugar replacement:  https://www.veggiesdontbite.com/date-paste-goodbye-refined-sugar/#recipe

Selecting Dates
Dates are usually found in packages in the dried food section of most grocery stores. These are usually the Deglet Noor variety. Dates may also be found in the produce section of some stores. Many times, those in the produce department are the Medjool variety. For fresh dates (usually Medjool dates), check that they are tender and not hard when squeezed. They should look plump despite their wrinkles. As dates age, they will develop crystals of sugar on their surfaces. So, if you see a whitish coating on the skin of the dates, it’s most likely crystalized sugar and not mold. There is no harm in this, but it does indicate that the dates are not as fresh as they could be. Expect your dates to be wrinkled, as this naturally happens as they dry.

Storing Dates
Storing dates in the refrigerator will help to extend their shelf life. Since the refrigerator is a very dry environment, be sure to put your dates in an airtight container to help prevent moisture loss. Vacuum sealing them is another option. Store your vacuum sealed container in the refrigerator.

Deglet Noor dates are considered to be dried dates. They may be stored in an airtight container in the pantry, away from direct sunlight, and any heat source. However, they may also be stored in the refrigerator for extended shelf life.

Medjool dates are considered to be “fresh” since they have a higher moisture content than Deglet Noor dates. It is highly recommended that they be stored in an airtight (or vacuum sealed) container in the refrigerator or freezer for extended life. It is important to note that if you opt to store your Medjool dates in the freezer, they should be used within six weeks after having been thawed.

Preparing Dates
Basically, there is no preparation needed to consume these delicious fruits. At most, the pits will need to be removed if you purchased dates that were not pitted. Simply pull or cut them open and pull out the pits. Then use your dates as needed.

Fresh vs Dried
In parts of the world where dates are grown, fresh dates have a short season of only a few weeks. They are yellow and almost round with a mild flavor, and are crisp like an apple. At this stage they are considered to be unripe and are known as khalal, or “yellow crunchy dates.” At this stage, their moisture content is around 80 percent. Khalal dates will not be found in most American grocery stores because they would spoil too fast when being shipped long distance. Dates are grown in some warm climate areas of the United States. Fresh dates may be available in grocery stores located close to the growers.

The next stage in the life of a date is the “rutab” stage. At this point, they are considered to be fully ripe and have a light brown color. They are soft and will melt in your mouth. Their caramel flavor is like nature’s candy. Like dates in the khalal stage, their shelf life is short. However, when kept frozen, they can last for up to two years. At this stage, their moisture content ranges from 50 to 70 percent. Dates at this stage are still labeled as “fresh.”

The next stage, tamr, is when dates are dry. This is the type of date we typically see in American grocery stores. These dates are usually picked at this point. Their skin is wrinkled and the color has turned dark brown. At this point, they have a prolonged shelf life of 18 to 24 months. They have a moisture content of 10 percent or less.

Medjool Dates:  Medjool dates are considered to be a “fresh” fruit since they are harvested and packaged with little processing. In that respect, they are “fresh.” However, since they are allowed to dry naturally on the date palm tree until they are in the tamr stage, they are actually a dried fruit (albeit naturally dried on the tree). They are not physically nor chemically treated in any way. So, you could say they are a fresh, dry fruit. They have a very sweet and rich, caramel-like flavor, and a soft, creamy yet chewy texture. They are truly nature’s candy.

Deglet Noor Dates: Deglet Noor dates are considered to be “semi-dry” and are sometimes described as having a slight crunch, yet they are still pliable. Since Deglet Noor dates are drier and tougher than Medjool dates, they are the preferred variety used for making date sugar.

Flavor and Texture Comparison
Medjool Dates: Medjool dates have a rich, chewy and sticky texture, similar to that of caramel. They are very sweet because of their high fructose content. They almost melt in your mouth. Medjool dates have become known as the “king of dates” or the “crown jewel of dates” because of their excellent flavor, chewy yet soft consistency, large size, and availability.

Deglet Noor Dates: Deglet Noor dates have a firm, fairly thick flesh. Their flavor is sweet and the texture is slightly pithy. They are not as sweet as Medjool dates.

Pit vs No Pit
Deglet Noor Dates: Most Deglet Noor dates come packaged with the pit having already been removed.

Medjool Dates: Medjool dates may be found both pitted and with the pits still intact. So, if you have a preference, it is important to read the label carefully to be sure you’re getting what you need at the moment.

What is the white stuff on dates?
The white coating you may see on dates is actually sugar that has made its way to the surface of the fruit and is crystalizing. It is perfectly fine to eat. If you prefer to remove the sugar coating, the date(s) can be wrapped in a damp paper towel and heated in the microwave for 5 seconds. The sugar will be absorbed back into the fruit.

Uses in Cooking
Medjool Dates: Many recipes, especially for smoothies, call for adding one or two Medjool dates. Their sticky consistency and sweet flavor makes them a great substitute for other high-sugar options, such as syrups, caramels, or caramelized sugars. Medjool dates are also exceptional when added to unbaked energy balls, since they will give a fudgy texture to them.

Deglet Noor Dates: Since Deglet Noor dates do not break down as easily as do the Medjool dates, they work well for toppings and adding texture to baked goods, such as fruit and nut bars. They are often used for making date sugar.

Cost Comparison
Medjool Dates: Medjool dates are usually more expensive than Deglet Noor dates. This is because the process of growing and harvesting Medjool dates is more labor-intensive than the Deglet Noor dates. Medjool dates are left to ripen on the tree, which takes longer and results in a richer tasting fruit. Also, since they are somewhat delicate, they are picked individually, rather than in clusters, making their harvest very labor-intensive. Hence, the cost of production is higher than Deglet Noor dates.

Deglet Noor Dates: Deglet Noor dates are picked early and ripened thereafter. Clusters of fruit on branches may be harvested at once, or individual fruit may be harvested, depending on how they are to be marketed and their stage of growth. Either way, harvesting and processing Deglet Noor dates is less labor-intensive than Medjool dates, so they can be sold a cheaper price.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Dates
* For a simple snack, split a Medjool date and add a spoonful of your favorite nut butter. Enjoy!

* Split Medjool dates and stuff them with a small chunk of dark chocolate. Enjoy as it is, or place it under a broiler for 1 minute…just long enough for the chocolate to start to melt (but not completely). Enjoy!

* For some extra sweetness, add some chopped dates to your favorite fruit or vegetable salad.

* If you have a recipe that calls for dates and you don’t have enough, you could possibly substitute figs, raisins, cherries, cranberries, or dried apricots. Yes, the substitutes may change the flavor profile of your dish, but they would serve as potential substitutes.

* Since Medjool dates are soft, they can easily be blended into smoothies for added sweetness.

* If you need some added sweetness in a sandwich, chopped Medjool dates would work well since they are soft and almost melt in your mouth when chewed. Example: Add chopped dates to a nut butter sandwich instead of jelly or jam.

* Since Deglet Noor dates are drier and a little tougher than Medjool dates, they can easily be chopped without becoming mushy. This property makes them good additions to bakery items like breads, cakes, and cookies. After being baked, they still maintain some of their texture, giving a slight chewiness to the baked food.

* Very few people are allergic to dates. So, if you are one with a lot of food allergies, this should be one food you can eat. Check with your health care provider if you’re not sure.

* Deglet Noor dates are almost always sold as pitted dates. Medjool dates are sold pitted, but more often with the pit still inside. So, when using Medjool dates, be sure to remove the pit if it has not already been removed by the producer. You don’t want to be responsible for someone breaking a tooth on something you served!

* Medjool dates can be stuffed with both sweet or savory fillings. Try dates stuffed with marzipan, candied orange or lemon peel, tahini, goat or blue cheese, bacon, or nuts such as almonds, pecans, walnuts, or pistachios.

* Chopped dates can add a special flavor and texture to pasta or rice dishes, or even savory meat dishes.

* The white coating you may see on dates is actually sugar that has made its way to the surface of the fruit and is crystalizing. It is perfectly fine to eat. If you prefer to remove the sugar coating, the date(s) can be wrapped in a damp paper towel and heated in the microwave for 5 seconds. The sugar will be absorbed back into the fruit.

* Try using dates to sweeten sauces, marinades, salad dressings, and even your morning oatmeal.

* For a simple treat or dessert, simply combine some orange slices and chopped dates in a bowl. Sprinkle with toasted almond slices and enjoy!

* Try a delicious chocolate date smoothie! Blend 2 dates with 1 cup milk of your choice. Blend until the dates are well broken up and incorporated into the milk. Add 1 frozen banana, 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1 tablespoon nut butter of choice. Add a pinch of cinnamon and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

* Since dates are so sticky, they make excellent binders in baked goods, like cookies, bars, and energy balls or bites.

* If your dates have become dry and hard, soak them for 5 minutes in hot water. They will soften up and can be used in a number of ways. The soaking water will be somewhat sweet, so it can be added to anything that calls for a little added liquid and sweetener.

* If you need a liquid sweetener, why not make date syrup? Finely chop 1 pound of Medjool dates. Simmer the chopped dates in 4 cups of water for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and allow the mixture to cool for 30 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and process until very smooth, for at least 1 minute. Strain in a nut milk bag or several layers of cheesecloth. Twist the cloth or bag to remove as much moisture as possible. Taste the liquid. If it is not sweet enough for your needs or if you want it a little thicker, place it in a sauce pan and simmer it over medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until your desired results are achieved. Allow it to cool, and store extra in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Be sure to use it within a few weeks.

* If you need date paste for a recipe and don’t have any, you can make your own. Simply place some Medjool dates in a food processor and process until smooth. Store any extra date paste in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use it within 2 weeks.

* Date sugar is now available in many grocery stores. It is simply finely ground up dried dates. If you’re looking for a natural sweetener to use in place of processed sugar, this may do the job. Note that it will impart a caramel-like flavor to foods. Also, since date sugar is just ground up dates, it still contains the fiber naturally found in the fruit. Therefore, it won’t all dissolve in liquids like granulated or brown sugar would. So, date sugar may add a bit of “grit” when used in hot liquids and some baked goods.

* Date sugar is not the same thing as “date palm sugar” or “palm sugar.” Date palm sugar and palm sugar are made in a similar way as cane sugar. The date palm tree sap is boiled down until the sap is dry and crystalized. It will not have the same nutritional value as date sugar.

* To chop dates without having a sticky, gooey mess on your knife, either spray the knife with nonstock cooking spray, or lightly coat the knife blade with just a little oil of choice. This can be done by moistening a paper towel with oil, then rubbing the knife blade with the oiled paper towel.

* If you want to remove the skin from dates, place them in hot water for 1 to 5 minutes, depending on how hard and dry they are. Allow them to soak until the dates start to soften. Remove them from the water and remove the softened skin and pit, if necessary. Peeled dates are excellent for making smooth date paste, a silky-smooth mousse, or any other application where soft, smooth dates would be needed.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Dates
Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, parsley, salt, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Dates
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, bacon, flax seeds, nuts (in general), peanuts and peanut butter, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, pork, poultry, prosciutto, sesame seeds, tahini, tofu, walnuts

Vegetables: Cabbage (esp. red), carrots, onions (esp. caramelized), parsnips, squash (winter)

Fruits: Apples (dried and fresh) and apple juice, apricots, bananas, cherries, coconut, cranberries, lemon, orange (fresh, zest, and juice), pears and pear juice, pumpkin, tamarind

Grains and Grain Products: Amaranth, bran, oat flour, oats and oatmeal, quinoa, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (esp. blue, cream, feta, Parmesan), cream, mascarpone, milk (dairy or non-dairy), yogurt

Other Foods: Bourbon, brandy, caramel, chocolate (white or dark), coffee, honey, maple syrup, miso, oil (esp. olive), rum, sugar (any type), toffee, vinegar (esp. balsamic)

Dates have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
North African cuisine, baked goods (i.e., breads, cakes, muffins, pie crusts, scones), confections (i.e., truffles), desserts, granola, Middle Eastern cuisine, puddings, salad dressings, smoothies, soups, spreads

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Dates
Add dates to any of the following combinations…

Almond Milk/Almonds + Bananas [Optional: + Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Vanilla]
Apples + Cinnamon + Coconut + Nutmeg + Orange Zest + Pecans
Apples + Cinnamon + Oatmeal
Apricots + Ginger
Balsamic Vinegar + Blue Cheese
Bananas + Coconut [In Muesli]
Bananas + Oats
Chocolate + Walnuts
Coconut + Nuts
Coconut + Orange
Dark Chocolate
Lemon + Oatmeal
Nuts (i.e., Walnuts) + Oats + Sweetener (i.e., Brown Sugar, Maple Syrup)
Orange + Sesame Seeds
Parmesan Cheese + Walnuts or Almonds
Peanuts + Vanilla
Roasted Salted Almonds
Soft Cheese [As a Stuffing for Dates]
Tahini + Sea Salt [Drizzle Dates with Tahini and Sprinkle Lightly with Salt]

Recipe Links
Easy Homemade Larabars https://www.liveeatlearn.com/homemade-larabars/

No Cook Chocolate Vegan Fudge https://www.liveeatlearn.com/chocolate-vegan-fudge/

Salted Date Caramel https://www.liveeatlearn.com/salted-date-caramel/

Medjool Date Power Balls https://www.naturaldelights.com/recipes/medjool-date-power-balls

Cranberry Pecan Bars https://tasty.co/recipe/cranberry-pecan-bars

Cashew Coconut Bars https://tasty.co/recipe/cashew-coconut-bars

Raw Vegan Breakfast Ice Cream Cake http://thecolorfulkitchen.com/2014/09/01/raw-vegan-breakfast-ice-cream-cake/

2-Layer No-Bake Peanut Butter Brownie Bars https://minimalistbaker.com/2-layer-no-bake-peanut-butter-brownie-bars/#wprm-recipe-container-36167

Peanut Butter Eggs https://minimalistbaker.com/peanut-butter-eggs/#wprm-recipe-container-36247

Apple Pie Larabars https://mywholefoodlife.com/2013/04/21/apple-pie-larabars/

Banana Date Smoothie https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-banana-date-smoothie-207636#post-recipe-11032

Kale and Quinoa Salad with Dates, Almonds, and Citrus Dressing https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-kale-quinoa-salad-with-citrus-dressing-healthy-lunch-recipes-from-the-kitchn-199341#post-recipe-11221

Kumquat Tarts with Almond-Date Crust https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-kumquat-tarts-with-almond-date-crust-165785#post-recipe-10477

Vegan Chocolate-Date Smoothie https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-vegan-chocolate-date-smoothie-242817#post-recipe-11796

How to Make Date Caramels https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-vegan-caramels-244025#post-recipe-9750

Creamy Orange-Date Smoothie https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-creamy-orange-date-smoothie-239262

How to Make Date Syrup https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-date-syrup-243951#post-recipe-11226

How to Make Old Fashioned Date Bars https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-old-fashioned-date-bars-243991#post-recipe-11783

Chocolate Date-Nut Lollipops https://www.vegkitchen.com/chocolate-date-nut-lollipops/

Nutty Cashew Dates https://www.vegkitchen.com/nutty-cashew-dates/

Date-Nut Truffles https://www.vegkitchen.com/lauras-date-nut-truffles/

Date-Pecan Bars https://www.vegkitchen.com/date-pecan-bars/

Healthy No Bake Date Bar Recipe https://www.superhealthykids.com/recipes/healthy-no-bake-snack-bars/


Resources
https://www.thekitchn.com/pair-dates-with-these-7-foods-for-a-delicious-snack-244015

https://tools.myfooddata.com/nutrition-comparison/171726-168191/wt9-wt1/1-1

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-dates

https://getrezbar.com/blogs/news/medjool-dates-vs-normal-dates-what-you-should-know

https://mywellbeingjournal.com/2018/11/07/whats-the-difference-medjool-dates-vs-pitted-dates/

https://deliciouslydates.com/f/what-is-the-difference-between-fresh-and-dry-dates

https://www.eatingbirdfood.com/medjool-dates/

https://woodspurfarms.com/medjool-and-pitted-dates/

https://specialtyproduce.com/produce/Deglet_Noor_Dates_11768.php

https://specialtyproduce.com/produce/medjool_dates_1002.php

https://deliciouslydates.com/f/tips-to-keep-dates-fresh-for-a-long-time

http://kianzarrinco.com/product/deglet-noor-dates/

https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-orange-almond-date-saladrecipes-from-the-kitchn-168307#post-recipe-10493

https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-creamy-orange-date-smoothie-239262#post-recipe-9637

https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-date-syrup-243951#post-recipe-11226

https://www.latimes.com/recipe/date-and-lemon-bars-with-sesame

https://www.latimes.com/food/story/2021-10-07/recipes-for-dates-and-how-best-to-cook-with-them

https://www.vegkitchen.com/4-great-tips-for-using-dates/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-dates#TOC_TITLE_HDR_7

https://www.cronometer.com

https://www.thekitchn.com/whats-date-sugar-and-how-do-you-use-it-243959

Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Chia Seeds

Chia Seeds 101 – The Basics

Chia Seeds 101 – The Basics

About Chia Seeds
Chia seeds come from a flowering plant in the mint family, Salvia hispanica. It is native to parts of Mexico and Guatemala. The seeds have been used as a staple source of nutrition dating back to ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations, and it was cultivated as far back as 3500 B.C. Today, chia seeds are primarily grown in Mexico and Central America, as well as several other Latin American countries and Australia. They have become a commercially popular health food in the last decade or so. They can be found in black and white varieties.  Any brown seeds that you see for sale were not fully matured when harvested and will be undesirable in flavor and have a lesser nutritional value than the fully matured seeds.

Chia seeds have a very subtle flavor, so taste is not what they are prized for. Instead, their texture and nutritional value are what attracts people to chia seeds. They have the ability to absorb many times their dry weight in liquid, making them miniature tapioca-like balls, thickening any liquid they are in.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Chia seeds pack a strong nutritional punch, with the black and white seeds being the same in nutritional value. They are high in fiber, protein (with a good balance of essential amino acids), Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin K, calcium, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. They also contain zinc, niacin, potassium, selenium, copper, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, and folate. They are naturally gluten-free and non-GMO. They are also high in antioxidants, which help to preserve the fatty acids within the seeds and provide valuable health benefits when we eat them. Two tablespoons of chia seeds supply about 140 calories.

Weight Control. The soluble fiber in chia seeds absorbs a lot of water and expands in the stomach, which increases fullness and slows the absorption of food. Also, the high-quality protein in chia seeds helps to reduce appetite and ultimately food intake.

In 2017, a study reported in the journal Nutrition Research and Practice, demonstrated that eating chia seeds for breakfast increased satiety and reduced food intake (in the short-term).

Another study reported in 2017 in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases, found that chia seeds helped to promote weight loss in obese individuals with Type 2 diabetes who were on a reduced-calorie diet.

Researchers in these studies concluded that adding chia seeds to the diet alone is unlikely to induce weight loss, but experts agree they can be a useful addition to a weight loss diet and lifestyle.

High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Gram for gram, chia seeds have more Omega-3 fatty acids than salmon. However, it’s important to note that we would normally eat more salmon in one serving than we would chia seeds. Nevertheless, chia seeds do contain a lot of Omega-3 fatty acids. Milled chia seeds will release more of these essential fatty acids than whole chia seeds, since we do not break them down well in the digestive process.

Lower Risk of Heart Disease. Since chia seeds are high in fiber (especially soluble fiber), protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, they may reduce the risk of heart disease. Research studies have shown that chia seeds can reduce triglycerides, inflammation, and insulin resistance, and may also raise HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, all leading to a lower risk for heart disease. A few studies have also shown that chia seeds reduced blood pressure in subjects with hypertension. Overall, chia seeds appear to benefit heart health, especially when combined with a healthy lifestyle and diet.

Bone Health. Chia seeds are high in nutrients that support bone health, including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and protein. In fact, one ounce of chia seeds provides 18% of the recommended dietary intake of calcium. This makes chia seeds an excellent source of calcium.

It is important to note that chia seeds contain phytic acid, which can bind to the calcium and other minerals within the seed, inhibiting their absorption. Soaking the seeds before eating them will release the phytic acid, allowing those minerals to be utilized by the body. Also, considering the fact that the soluble fiber in chia seeds will soak up a LOT of liquid, it is advisable to soak them first rather than eating them dry, to prevent dehydration or a choking hazard.

Stabilized Blood Sugar Levels. Blood sugar levels can tend to rise after a meal, depending upon the food eaten. Such spikes can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases. Animal and human research studies have found that chia seeds may improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control by stabilizing blood sugar levels after meals, reducing the risk of disease.

Possible Inflammation Reduction. Inflammation is a normal and necessary response to injury or infection. However, chronic inflammation is associated with increased risk of heart disease and cancer. Some lifestyle habits can increase our risk for chronic inflammation, such as smoking, inactivity, and a poor diet. On the contrary, other lifestyle habits can reduce the risk for chronic inflammation, with dietary choices being one of them. A study published in a 2007 issue of the journal Diabetes Care showed that subjects with diabetes eating 37 grams (about 2-1/2 tablespoons) of chia seeds a day for three months had reduced inflammatory markers (hs-CRP) by 40%. The control subjects in the study experienced no benefit when fed wheat bran. However, other studies with obese subjects did not show such promising results. So, the data are preliminary but do suggest that chia seeds may have beneficial effects on chronic inflammation.

Note of Caution: Omega-3 fats may have blood-thinning effects. People who take blood thinning medications should consult their doctors before adding large amounts of chia seeds to their diet. Their prothrombin time may need to be monitored for a while.

 

How to Select Chia Seeds
When shopping for chia seeds, choose seeds that are either speckled black or white. Avoid those that are uniformly brown, which indicates the seeds didn’t mature properly. Brown seeds will be bitter and have fewer nutritional benefits.

How to Store Chia Seeds
Store chia seeds in a cool, dry place. The refrigerator is ideal. When kept cool and dry, they should keep for several years. If you have room, storing them in the freezer will give them the longest life.

How to Prepare
Chia seeds need no special treatment. They are ready to use straight from the container they came in.

Some resources say they may be eaten dry, sprinkled on salads or puddings. However, since they soak up a lot of liquid, be sure you consume plenty of liquid if you do opt to eat them dry, so you don’t become dehydrated or cause a choking hazard. Otherwise, to avoid possible issues from eating dry chia seeds, it’s best to soak them with plenty of liquid first before eating them.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Chia Seeds
* Chia seeds do not have to be ground for digestive reasons, like flax seeds do, so they are easy to include in the diet without special treatment.

* Chia seeds can be added to porridge, pudding, smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, and baked goods.

* Chia seeds may be eaten raw, but they should be soaked first to allow their soluble fiber to soak up liquid, and also allow the phytic acid to be broken down.

* Chia seeds may be used to thicken sauces, gravies, or soups.

* To make an egg substitute, simply combine 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Stir, and allow them to sit for about 5 minutes or until a gel is formed. This replaces one egg in baked items like cupcakes, muffins, or cookies.

* Make easy chia pudding. Simply mix ¼ cup of seeds in one cup of liquid, such as nut or oat milk and/or fruit juice. Allow the mixture to rest at least 15 minutes, until it is no longer watery, but more of a “pudding” texture. Chia seeds don’t have much flavor, so many people add spices of choice, and chopped fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, or other toppings. The pudding will keep in the refrigerator for several days.

* Chia seeds may be eaten whole or ground. However, recent studies show that we may absorb more nutrients from ground chia seeds than whole ones.

* Try grinding chia seeds and add into breadcrumbs when making meatballs or breading meats, poultry, vegetables, or other foods.

* Try adding chia seeds to your favorite pancake mix.

* Since chia seeds absorb liquid, forming a gel in the process, they can be used in place of pectin when making jam.

* Try mixing some chia seeds in your favorite dip.

* Try adding chia seeds to homemade crackers.

* Try freezing your favorite chia pudding, making it into an ice cream.

* It is noteworthy that Omega-3 fats may have blood-thinning effects. People who take blood thinning medications should consult their doctors before adding large amounts of chia seeds to their diet. Their prothrombin time may need to be monitored for a while.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Chia Seeds
Cinnamon, ginger, mint, nutmeg, sage, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Chia Seeds
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beans (esp. black), flax seeds, meats, fish, and poultry (in a breading or crust), nuts (in general), nut butters (in general), tofu

Vegetables: Kale, maca, squash (winter, esp. spaghetti)

Fruits: Apples, bananas, berries (of all types), coconut, dates, lemon, lime, mango, pears, raisins

Grains and Grain Products: Baked goods, cereals (breakfast), oats, oatmeal, oat bran

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Coconut milk, coconut butter, milk (in general), cashew milk, hemp seed milk, yogurt and frozen yogurt

Other Foods: Carob, chocolate, cocoa, honey, maple syrup, sugar (all types)

Chia seeds have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e., biscuits, breads, cakes, cookies, muffins), chili (vegetarian), drinks (i.e., limeade), granola, meatballs, porridge, puddings, salads, smoothies, soups, veggie burgers

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Chia Seeds
Add chia seeds to any of the following combinations…

Almond Milk + Apples + Buckwheat + Cinnamon
Cashews + Coconut + Dates
Cocoa + Honey + Silken Tofu + Vanilla
Ginger + Pears + Almond Milk

Recipe Links
Blueberry-Chia Ice Pops https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/blueberry-chia-ice-pops

Chia Pudding with Dried Apricots and Pineapple https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/chia-pudding-dried-apricots-pineapple

Blueberry-Chia Seed Jam https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/blueberry-chia-seed-jam

Pomegranate-Chia Seed Yogurt Parfait https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/pomegranate-chia-seed-yogurt-parfait

Lemon Chia No-Bake Slice https://thechiaco.com/us/lemon-chia-no-bake-slice/

Nut Free Oat Slice https://thechiaco.com/us/nut-free-oat-slice/

Three-Ingredient Chia Pudding https://feelgoodfoodie.net/recipe/3-ingredient-chia-pudding/#wprm-recipe-container-5591

26 Chia Recipes That Don’t Just Involve Pudding https://www.bonappetit.com/gallery/chia-seed-recipes

32 No-Brainer Chia Seed Pudding Recipes https://greatist.com/eat/chia-seed-pudding-recipes

25 Recipes to Get Some Chia in Your Day—Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner https://www.brit.co/living/healthy-eating/chia-recipes/

Overnight Chocolate Chia Pudding https://minimalistbaker.com/overnight-chocolate-chia-seed-pudding/


Resources
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds#TOC_TITLE_HDR_3

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28989578/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28089080/

https://www.lifehack.org/596479/exposed-get-the-most-out-of-chia-seeds-by-soaking-them

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20087375/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23778782/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17686832/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19628108/

https://theprettybee.com/chia-egg/#wprm-recipe-container-20215

https://cronometer.com/

https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/ingredients/article/chia-seeds

https://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20141021/use-chia-seeds-with-caution-researcher-warns

https://www.swansonvitamins.com/blog/chia-seeds/?DFA=1&UTM_Medium=PaidSearch&UTM_Source=GOOGLE&UTM_Campaign=SWAN_National_Gen_Search_NonBrnd_DSA_All+Webpages+DSA+-+Blog&UTM_Content=DYNAMIC+SEARCH+ADS&SourceCode=INTLBVDNA&gclid=CjwKCAjwz_WGBhA1EiwAUAxIcYohGjGlMKACPDo5pX1LDjnGMM05Cc95FgKD38qk5GGtNzXvwPXb6BoCAfAQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/chia-seeds/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/35-ways-eat-chia-seeds#TOC_TITLE_HDR_36

https://www.worldofchia.com/chia/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/chia-vs-flax#TOC_TITLE_HDR_9

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

 

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Beta-Carotene Rich Food

Beta-Carotene 101

Beta-Carotene 101

What is Beta-Carotene?
Beta-carotene is a type of carotenoid found in many foods. Carotenoids are pigments found in plants, algae, and some bacteria. There are over 600 different types of carotenoids, with beta-carotene being one of the more common examples. About fifty carotenoids can be converted into vitamin A. The major carotenoids in humans are beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and beta-cryptoxanthin. Beta-carotene is yellow to orange to red in color and gives many fruits and vegetables their characteristic bright colors ranging from green to orange, red, and purple. Examples include carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, dark leafy greens, cantaloupe, romaine lettuce, red bell peppers, broccoli, butternut squash, and apricots. The color of beta-carotene in dark green vegetables is masked by the chlorophyll in the plants.

Beta-carotene serves as a provitamin (or precursor) to Vitamin A in the body. This means that the body uses beta-carotene to make Vitamin A. Vitamin A is an important fat-soluble vitamin with a variety of functions in the body. Provitamin A (in the form of carotenoids, with beta-carotene being one of them) is only found in plants, whereas preformed Vitamin A (a group of retinoids) is found in animal foods such as dairy products, fish oils, eggs, and meat (especially liver). The Vitamin A your body makes from beta-carotene does not accumulate in the body to toxic levels, whereas preformed Vitamin A from animal sources can.

All carotenoids, including beta-carotene, serve as antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants are critical molecules that help to protect us from harmful free-radicals by neutralizing them, stopping their damaging chain reactions. This helps to protect us from developing a number of chronic diseases and health issues, ranging from cognitive decline to cancer.

Health Benefits of Beta-Carotene
As mentioned above, Vitamin A (that we can make from beta-carotene) has a number of important functions in the body. It helps cells reproduce correctly, is essential for good vision, helps ward off cancer, protects our brain health, and is needed for proper development of an embryo and fetus during pregnancy. It also helps keep the skin and mucous membranes that line various cavities of the body healthy. Vitamin A also plays a role in growth, bone formation, reproduction, wound healing, and the functioning of our immune system.

Vision. Vitamin A is critical for good vision. It is a component of rhodopsin, a protein that allows the eye to see in low-light environments. It is well established that a deficiency in Vitamin A can lead to night blindness.

Vitamin A is also important for proper functioning of the cornea, the protective outer layer of the eye. When Vitamin A is deficient, eyes produce too little moisture to stay lubricated. Prolonged deficiency of Vitamin A can lead to xerophthalmia, the leading cause of blindness among the world’s children in developing countries, many of which die within a year of losing their sight. In this preventable condition, the eyes become very dry, damaging the cornea and retina, eventually making the eyes themselves very crusty and unable to function. Simply ensuring adequate intake of Vitamin A or beta-carotene-rich foods prevents these serious eye problems and possible death, especially among children.

Furthermore, research shows that those who eat a diet rich in beta-carotene (or Vitamin A) are less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration, and have a lower risk of developing cataracts.

Immunity, Pregnancy Outcome, and Children. Vitamin A deficiency impairs immunity by hindering normal reproduction of mucosal cells. These cells line cavities and openings of the body, including all parts of the digestive tract including the mouth, and also the nose, sinuses, bronchial tubes and lungs, vagina, urethra, and anus.  The mucosal cells form barriers helping to prevent infectious microbes from entering the body. When a Vitamin A deficient barrier is damaged by invading microbes, the function of our immune cells (specifically, neutrophils, macrophages, and natural killer cells) is hindered. These cells function in innate immunity. Vitamin A is also needed for adaptive immunity, where the development of T-cells and B-cells are needed to recognize the same invading microbe in the future. In this function, Vitamin A deficiency reduces antibody-mediated responses, reducing our ability to fight the microbe in future infections.

Because of its role in the immune function, Vitamin A deficiency is believed to account for many deaths among infants, young children, and pregnant women around the world. The deficiency lowers the body’s ability to fight infections, leading to respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, slower growth rates and bone development in children, and a lowered rate of survival with serious illness. Simply eating more beta-carotene-rich foods can prevent such tragedies.

Antioxidant Protection. Beta-carotene, like all carotenoids, as an important antioxidant in the body. An antioxidant is a compound that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules, protecting the body from harmful free radical molecules. Free radicals damage the body by robing healthy cells of electrons. This damage can lead to a number of chronic diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants are capable of donating electrons to free radical molecules, stopping their destructive damage. In the process, antioxidants themselves are not damaged. Studies have shown that those who eat at least four servings a day of beta-carotene-rich fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of developing cancer or heart disease.

Cancer. A number of research studies have shown an association between diets high in carotenoids, especially beta-carotene, and a reduced incidence of many types of cancer, including cancers of the breast, lung, pancreas, colon, esophagus, cervix and skin (melanoma). The antioxidant properties of carotenoids appear to be the reason for this effect. Also, researchers have found that beta-carotene can lower the rate of chronic diseases in addition to cancer. It is believed that beta-carotene enhances immune cell function, and this effect is especially seen in the elderly.

Healthy Skin.  Beta-carotene can help to boost the health of skin. This effect appears to be most likely due to its antioxidant properties. A study reported in the November 2012 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that an optimal amount of antioxidant nutrients in the skin increases basal dermal defense against UV irradiation, supports longer-term protection, and contributes to overall maintenance of skin health and appearance. However, the researchers noted that dietary antioxidants such as beta-carotene or lycopene can offer some degree of sun protection, although it is lower than that of a typical sunscreen.

Vitamin A compounds (retinoids) regulate the growth and differentiation of many types of cells in the skin. Deficiency leads to abnormal keratinization. Keratinization is a process where cells are filled with keratin, which is a type of protein filament that forms tough, resistant structures such as hair and nails. Keratin also helps to provide structure to and contributes to the function of soft tissues, such as skin and mucosal membranes. Deficiency of Vitamin A leads to abnormal epithelial keratinization, which can show up as dry, scaly, tough skin, and hindered wound healing of damaged tissue.

Cognitive Decline. Researchers have shown that those who have a long-term high beta-carotene intake are far less likely to develop cognitive decline then those who did not consume a lot of beta-carotene. Oxidative stress is believed to be a key factor in cognitive decline. The antioxidant properties of beta-carotene, when ingested in high amounts over time, appear to help prevent the deterioration of brain function, including memory. Antioxidants, like beta-carotene may be helpful in reducing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Symptoms of Vitamin A Deficiency
Symptoms of a serious deficiency of Vitamin A include dry eyes (which can lead to xerophthalmia, a condition where the eyes become completely dried and thickened, leading to irreversible blindness), night blindness, diarrhea, skin problems, and impaired immunity. Vitamin A deficiency may also contribute to impaired immune function (leading to gastrointestinal and/or respiratory tract infections), poor pregnancy outcomes, and slow growth and bone formation in children.

Keratinization of the skin can occur in Vitamin A deficiency. Keratin is used by the body to form hair and nails (and feathers in birds). When keratinization of the skin occurs, the skin can develop thick, tough, dry, and scaly areas. Examples include the development of corns and calloses. Keratinization can also occur in mucous membranes in the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and urinary tracts from a severe Vitamin A deficiency.

Should You Take Vitamin A Supplements?
Vitamin A supplements may contain only provitamin A (such as beta-carotene), preformed Vitamin A (usually retinyl palmitate, from animal foods or from fish oils), or a combination of both.

Hypervitaminosis A (Vitamin A Toxicity). Hypervitaminosis A is a condition where a person has too much Vitamin A in their body. This can happen when a person takes too many (preformed) Vitamin A supplements or uses some acne creams over a long period of time.

A wide range of symptoms can be indicative of hypervitaminosis A. If a person has taken a large dose of preformed Vitamin A in a short period of time, symptoms of Vitamin A toxicity can include irritability, drowsiness, nausea, abdominal pain, a feeling of pressure on the brain, and vomiting.

Symptoms of chronic Vitamin A toxicity, where a person has taken preformed Vitamin A over a long period of time where it slowly accumulated in the body include mouth ulcers, bone swelling, cracked fingernails, bone pain, loss of appetite, cracks in the corners of the mouth, vision problems, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to sunlight, skin problems (rough, dry, peeling, or itchy skin), jaundice, hair loss, confusion, or respiratory infection.

Taking large supplemental doses of beta-carotene is generally not recommended. Even though large doses are not known to be toxic to the general public, they can be harmful to specific groups of people, including smokers. Smokers who take high doses of beta-carotene supplements have been found to be at a greater risk of developing fatal lung cancer. This same precaution also applies to individuals who have been exposed to asbestos, or who consume excessive alcohol. In such cases, beta-carotene supplements have been linked not only to lung cancer, but also heart and liver disease. Other than the serious risk to these groups of individuals, taking long-term large supplemental doses of beta-carotene may cause the skin to turn orange-yellow. However, this can be corrected by simply discontinuing the supplements.

A study reported in the February 1999 issue of Free Radical Research found that the greatest antioxidant protection associated with beta-carotene and lycopene (a type of carotenoid found in tomatoes, watermelon, red grapefruits, and papayas), was at the concentration found in foods. When greater amounts (as would occur from supplementation) of these compounds were tested, researchers found the antioxidant protection was quickly lost and may have actually increased DNA damage, taking on a prooxidant effect. Similar effects were found when testing the protection of cellular membranes. This suggests that supplementation with individual carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, significantly raises blood and tissue levels with little to no benefit, and may actually be harmful.

Conversely, some studies such as research reported in 2000 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that some individuals do not adequately convert beta-carotene from foods into the active form of Vitamin A. This may be due to inadequate enzymes necessary for the conversion, lack of adequate fat intake when beta-carotene is consumed, or a simultaneous zinc deficiency, since zinc is necessary for beta-carotene uptake and its conversion into the active form of Vitamin A.

If a person is not receiving adequate Vitamin A or beta-carotene in their diet, or for some reason cannot adequately convert beta-carotene to active Vitamin A, the Council for Responsible Nutrition considered supplements of 10,000 IU daily of preformed Vitamin A (retinol) to be generally safe. Those who routinely eat liver or organ meats may be getting enough from their diet and should use caution when considering Vitamin A supplements.

Foods That Contain Beta-Carotene
Foods that are rich in color are usually high in beta-carotene. Some examples include dark leafy greens (such as kale, collards, turnip greens, mustard greens, arugula, and spinach), sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, asparagus, butternut squash, cantaloupe, red and yellow bell peppers, apricots, peas, papayas, plums, mangoes, raspberries, and romaine lettuce. Some herbs and spices also contain beta-carotene. Examples include paprika, cayenne, chili pepper, parsley, cilantro, marjoram, sage, and coriander.

Effects of Cooking on Beta-Carotene in Foods
There is a great debate on whether it’s better to eat fruits and vegetables raw or cooked. The true answer is not simple. It depends on which nutrient you’re talking about, which food you’re considering, and also which cooking method you’re using vs eating something raw. Carrots are well-known for their high beta-carotene content.  Whether they are cooked or raw, they supply plenty of beta-carotene. However, cooking carrots actually increases their beta-carotene content, especially when they are lightly boiled or steamed. This is because cooking opens the cell walls and releases more beta-carotene then when the carrot is raw. This same principal applies to raw vs cooked spinach and Swiss chard. Furthermore, we are able to absorb more of the beta-carotene from cooked carrots than we can from raw carrots, since the cell walls in carrots are softened when cooked, making them easier to digest. If you want to enjoy your carrots raw, chopping them well (and chewing them thoroughly) can help to break down the cell walls, releasing more of the beta-carotene then would be available if they were eaten whole.

Increasing Your Absorption of Beta-Carotene from Foods
A Little Fat Goes a Long Way.  Beta-carotene along with preformed Vitamin A, are both fat-soluble nutrients, meaning that they are absorbed along with fats in the digestive tract. Having a little fat in your meal with foods high in beta-carotene (or including a food in the meal that naturally contains some fat) can help to enhance the absorption of the nutrient. This was demonstrated in a study conducted at Iowa State University where graduate students were recruited to eat green salads with tomatoes. Various types of salad dressings were used, ranging from fat-free to traditional Italian dressing made with oil. Students had IV lines inserted so researchers could test blood before and after the meals. Results clearly showed that students who were given fat-free or low-fat salad dressings did not absorb the carotenoids as well as those who ate the traditional dressings.

Cooked vs Raw Foods.
As detailed in the section above (Effects of Cooking on Beta-Carotene in Foods), beta-carotene is better absorbed from foods that have been cooked or finely chopped. This is because beta-carotene is bound tightly within plant cells. Finely chopping or cooking helps to break down the cell walls, releasing the beta-carotene so it can be absorbed more easily during the digestive process. Whether you enjoy beta-carotene-rich foods cooked or raw, be sure to chew them well to further release the beta-carotene from the foods.

Zinc Status.   In the March 2003 issue of The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, an animal study was reported where subjects were fed the same diets, except for the levels of zinc. One diet was low in zinc, whereas the other contained adequate zinc. The findings demonstrated that a low intake or marginal deficiency of zinc resulted in decreased absorption of beta-carotene. The study suggested that adequate zinc status is an important factor in the absorption of beta-carotene. So, ensuring you have adequate zinc intake will help boost your absorption of the very important nutrient and antioxidant, beta-carotene.

Resources

https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=19&contentid=BetaCarotene

https://www.healthline.com/health/carotenoids

https://www.myfooddata.com/articles/natural-food-sources-of-beta-carotene.php

https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/supplement/beta-carotene

https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-beta-carotene#1

https://www.healthline.com/health/vitamin-a-palmitate#vitamin-a-palmitate-vs-vitamin-a

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322238

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326758#vitamins

https://www.who.int/data/nutrition/nlis/info/vitamin-a-deficiency

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10604207/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11684388/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10193582/

https://www.clinicaleducation.org/resources/reviews/vitamin-a-the-key-to-a-tolerant-immune-system/

https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/96/5/1179S/4577133

https://www.healthline.com/health/beta-carotene-benefits#benefits

https://www.healthline.com/health/beta-carotene-benefits#foods-sources

https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/supplement/vitamin-a-retinol

https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/nutritional-disorders/vitamin-deficiency-dependency-and-toxicity/vitamin-a-deficiency

https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/keratinization

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6049112/

https://askthescientists.com/food-preparation/

https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/cooked-vs-raw-betacarotene-9187.html

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106968683

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12742542/

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/beta-carotene

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11375434/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/252758

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31389093/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5917548/

https://dermnetnz.org/topics/vitamin-a-deficiency/

https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/what-is-xerophthalmia


About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Red Potatoes

Red Potatoes 101 – The Basics

Red Potatoes 101 – The Basics

About Red Potatoes
Botanically, red potatoes are classified as Solanum tuberosum. This is a broad category of plants including many different varieties belonging to the Solanaceae, or nightshade family. Tomatoes, eggplant, and bell peppers are among the plants that fall within this category. Red potatoes are sometimes called “new potatoes.” However, that term only refers to those potatoes that are harvested early and are small in size. That may or may not apply to red potatoes.

Red potatoes are small to medium in size, with a round or oval shape. The smooth skin is thin with a ruby to deep red color, with some light brown speckles, spots, and indentations. The flesh of red potatoes is crisp, white, and firm. Also, the flesh is lower in starch and has a higher moisture content than other potatoes. When cooked, these properties give red potatoes a waxy, dense texture with a mild flavor.

Red potatoes were first cultivated in the mountains of Peru. Spanish explorers took potatoes home with them and introduced them to Europe in the 1560s. The potatoes became popular and were carried across Europe, and eventually to the United States. Today, red potatoes are available year-round in most markets in South America, the United States, and in Europe.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Like other potatoes, red potatoes have nutritional value beyond what we would imagine. A baked red potato is high in Vitamin C, potassium, Vitamin B6, fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, Vitamin B1, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate, calcium, and it even has some protein. For the most nutritional value, bake red potatoes with the skin on. Then, of course, eat the skin along with the flesh of the potato.

When comparing the nutritional aspects of 100 grams of fresh banana with 100 grams of baked red potato, the red potato surpasses the banana in potassium. That’s an interesting fact we don’t often hear about when looking for food sources of potassium!

As a “white” food, potatoes are often included with white bread and pasta and are “off the list” when people are trying to eat healthier. However, potatoes are filled with nutrients (as listed above) that promote health and wellness. Red potatoes are especially healthy to eat since we are more likely to eat their skins, which are full of fiber, B vitamins, iron and potassium.

The red color of the skin of red potatoes is due to the presence of anthocyanin pigments. Anthocyanins are strong antioxidants with many important health benefits. Red potatoes are also high in quercetin, a flavonoid with very strong anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.

Antioxidants. Free radicals are produced in the body through normal metabolism and also through other factors like smoking. Free radicals attack healthy cells making them more prone to disease. Antioxidants help to protect cells against free radicals by stopping their destructive chain reactions. Red potatoes are high in antioxidants, such as Vitamin C and anthocyanins found in the red skin. Eating red potatoes on a routine basis can help to ward off serious diseases such as atherosclerosis, heart disease, cancer, and vision loss, among others. Furthermore, researchers have found that antioxidants function optimally when consumed packaged naturally in foods rather than when taken in supplement form. This is because they tend to work best in combination with other nutrients, plant chemicals, and even other antioxidants, as found in whole foods.

Lower Blood Pressure. Consider eating more red potatoes if you need to lower your blood pressure. One medium baked red potato supplies 943 milligrams of potassium. Potassium reduces the effects of sodium and may help to lower blood pressure, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Most Americans don’t meet the recommended 4,700 milligrams a day of potassium, so red potatoes can help meet that need. As stated earlier, when comparing gram per gram, baked red potatoes have more potassium than bananas.

Iron Absorption. It is well established that Vitamin C in a meal helps the body to absorb more iron from the foods in that meal. Since red potatoes contain both Vitamin C and iron, eating them can help to increase your iron status, helping to build the blood and ward off iron deficiency.

Heart Health. The fiber (in the skin), potassium, Vitamins C and B6, coupled with the lack of cholesterol in red potatoes all support heart health. Researchers in the NHANES study found that a higher intake of potassium along with a lower sodium intake reduced the risk of all-cause mortality along with heart disease. The high level of niacin in red potatoes helps to lower LDL (low-density-lipoprotein) cholesterol, the type of cholesterol we need to keep down to help prevent heart disease. Niacin also helps to support healthy skin and nerves. That’s all the more reason to enjoy red potatoes.

Brain and Nervous System Health. Vitamin B6 is important for maintaining our neurological health. It is used in creating chemicals in the brain including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. This means that eating potatoes may help with the management of depression, stress, and possibly attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Also, the ample carbohydrates in potatoes can help to maintain healthy levels of glucose in the blood. Glucose is the brain’s preferred food and is important for proper brain functioning. A 1995 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that modest increases in glucose can help to enhance learning and memory. The high potassium in potatoes helps ensure your brain gets enough blood, since it promotes the relaxation (widening) of blood vessels.

Immunity. All potatoes are high in Vitamin C, which is well-known for supporting a healthy immune system. One medium baked potato provides a substantial amount of this critical vitamin.

How to Select Red Potatoes
Choose potatoes that are firm, smooth, and without sprouts. Avoid those with wrinkled skins, soft dark areas, cuts, bruises or with green areas. Any green areas should be cut away before using potatoes.

How to Store Red Potatoes
Store red potatoes unwashed in a cool, dry, dark place with good ventilation. They should keep well for about two weeks. Do not store potatoes in the refrigerator. The cold temperature causes the starch in potatoes to convert to sugar, which will cause the potato to darken when cooked. Also, do not store potatoes near onions. Both vegetables release gases that can cause the other to age and decay faster than they normally would.

How to Prepare Red Potatoes
Gently scrub red potatoes under cool water with a vegetable brush. The skin of red potatoes is very thin, so it’s good to leave the skin on the potato, if possible, when preparing, cooking, and handling them. If needed, the skin can be removed with a vegetable peeler or paring knife.

Red potatoes may be cooked in many ways, but are especially delicious when cooked with moist heat. They may be boiled, steamed, sautéed, grilled, and roasted. They are excellent in potato salad since they hold their shape well when cooked. They can be added to soups, stews, casseroles, gratins, and salads. They can also be made into potato hash, scalloped potatoes, and mashed potatoes.

How to Preserve Red Potatoes
Like other potatoes, red potatoes can be preserved either through freezing or dehydrating. It is not a difficult process, but does take some time and effort. There is a growing trend to freeze vegetables without first blanching them. This should not be done with potatoes because they will turn dark in the process. This is very undesirable and will lead to results you won’t be happy with. So, if you have an overabundance of red potatoes, allow enough time to prepare them properly and in the long run, you’ll be glad you did!

Freezing Red Potatoes.  Wash, peel the potatoes, then dice or slice them, as desired, or leave them whole. As you are preparing your potatoes, place them in a bowl of water to keep them from turning dark. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Place the prepared potatoes into the boiling water and immediately set the timer for 3 minutes (for diced or sliced potatoes), or 5 minutes (for small whole potatoes) or 8 minutes (for larger whole red potatoes). The potatoes should be partially, but not completely cooked. When they feel “al dente” or just barely soft enough for a knife to poke through, they are ready. When the time is up, immediately transfer the potatoes to a bowl of ice water. Allow the potatoes to cool for about the amount of time they were in the hot water. Drain them well and spread them out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Place them in the freezer until frozen, then transfer the frozen potatoes to a freezer container or bag. For best quality, use them within 1 year.

Dehydrating Sliced Red Potatoes.   Dehydrating potatoes is not hard, but of course, does take some preparation and time. Wash and peel the potatoes. Slice them into 1/8 to ¼ inch thick slices. Place them in a bowl of water to keep them from turning dark. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Place the potatoes in the boiling water and boil them for about 5 minutes, until they are barely fork-tender. When the time is up, immediately transfer the potatoes to a bowl of ice water. Allow them to cool completely. Drain them well, then arrange them in a single layer on mesh drying trays. Set the dehydrator for 135°F, or the manufacturer’s recommended temperature for drying vegetables. Allow them to process until they feel dry, are crisp, and have no sign of moisture inside when broken open. This can take anywhere from 10 to 24 hours, depending upon how many potatoes are in the dehydrator, and the dehydrator itself. Once they are dry, allow them to cool, then transfer them to air-tight containers. Their shelf life will be prolonged if an oxygen absorber is placed in the container and as much air as possible removed from the container before storage. Mylar bags or glass mason jars work well for this application. Keep the potatoes in a cool, dry, dark environment. Dehydrated potatoes should keep well for 5 to 10 years.

Dehydrating Cubed Red Potatoes. Prepare potatoes as above (Dehydrating Sliced Red Potatoes), except cut them into ½-inch cubes. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the prepared potatoes and allow them to remain in the boiling water until they are barely fork-tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water. Allow the potatoes to completely cool, then drain them. Spread them in a single layer on a mesh dehydrator tray. Set the temperature according to the manufacturer’s recommendations (usually 135°F), and allow them to process until they feel dry, are crisp, and have no sign of moisture inside when broken apart. This can take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, depending upon how many potatoes you are drying and your dehydrator. When they are ready, allow them to cool, then transfer them to air-tight containers. For the longest shelf life, place an oxygen absorber inside the container and remove as much air as possible. Mylar bags or glass mason jars work especially well for preserving dehydrated food.  Store your containers in a cool, dry, dark environment. Dehydrated potatoes should keep well for 5 to 10 years.

Dehydrating Potatoes for Hash Browns. Potatoes for hash browns should be washed, then peeled. They can be left in large pieces and cooked about 2/3 of the way, until just barely fork-tender, then cooled and shredded. Or they may be shredded first, blanched in boiling water for 30 seconds, then immediately transferred to a bowl of cold water. Allow them to cool completely. Drain them well to remove excess water. Spread the cooked, cooled, and shredded potatoes on a mesh dehydrator tray, breaking up any large clumps of potatoes. Set the dehydrator for the temperature recommended by the manufacturer (usually 135°F) and allow them to dry until crisp, translucent, and have no moisture inside when broken apart. This may take 3 hours or more, depending on the volume of potatoes and the dehydrator itself. When they are dried, remove them from the dehydrator trays to a shallow dish or baking tray to cool completely. If they are left on the dehydrator trays, they may stick as they cool down. Store them as you would other dehydrated foods, preferably in Mylar bags or glass jars with an oxygen absorber inside. Remove as much as air as possible for the longest shelf life. Store in a cool, dry, dark environment. Potatoes prepared in this way and stored properly can keep well for 5 to 10 years.

To Use Dehydrated Potatoes. For hash browns, soak the dehydrated shredded potatoes in hot water for 15 minutes, drain, and pan fry as usual.

Dried potato slices or cubes, may be added in their dry state to casseroles, soups, or stews. You will need to add extra fluid to recipes when adding them dehydrated. You could also rehydrate them first by placing them in a bowl and covering them with hot water. Allow them to rest for about 30 minutes or more, until they become rehydrated. Drain off any extra water and add them to recipes as needed.

Conversion Rate. As a general rule, dried potatoes will double in size once rehydrated. For example, 1 cup of dried potatoes will yield 2 cups when rehydrated.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Red Potatoes
* Red potatoes are high in moisture and low in starch. This combination makes them excellent for roasting, pan frying, and smashing.

* The skin of red potatoes is thin and tender, so they can easily be eaten. Save some time and add color to your dish by using unpeeled red potatoes.

* Red potatoes are an excellent salad potato because they hold their shape well when cooked.

* Try red potatoes in soups, stews, casseroles, and curries, or serve them baked or mashed.

* Red potatoes are excellent when diced and sautéed. Try including them in a breakfast hash.

* Do not store potatoes around onions. Both vegetables release gases that cause the other to age and decay faster than they normally would.

* When baking or roasting red potatoes, cook extras at the same time. Grate them and make hash brown potatoes with them in the next day or two. If that’s not convenient, grate them, then spread them on a tray and freeze them. When frozen, store them in an airtight container in the freezer for easy hash browns later.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Red Potatoes
Basil, bay leaf, capers, caraway seeds, cardamom, cayenne, celery seeds, chervil, chicory, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder and curry spices, dill, fenugreek, garam masala, garlic, ginger, horseradish, lavender, lovage, marjoram, mint, mustard powder, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, rosemary, saffron, sage, salt, savory, sorrel, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Foods That Go Well with Red Potatoes
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Bacon, beans (in general), beef, cashews, chickpeas, eggs, green beans, lamb, lentils, meats (in general), peas (including split peas), pine nuts, pork, poultry, sausage, seafood, tahini, walnuts

Vegetables: Arugula, asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, celery root, chard, chiles, chives, eggplant, fennel, greens (all types), kale, leeks, mushrooms, okra, onions, parsnips, root vegetables (in general), rutabagas, scallions, shallots, spinach, squash (winter), sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, watercress

Fruits: Coconut, lemon, olives

Grains and Grain Products: Corn, grains (in general), pasta, quinoa, spelt

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, buttermilk, cheese (esp. cheddar, goat, Gruyère, mozzarella, Parmesan, pecorino, Swiss), coconut cream, cream, crème fraiche, milk (dairy and non-dairy), sour cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Mayonnaise, mustard (prepared), oil (esp. olive), pesto, stock, vinegar, wine (i.e., dry white)

Red potatoes have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e., breads, cakes), casseroles, curries, French cuisine, frittatas, gratins, Indian cuisine, omelets, potato cakes/pancakes, quiche, salads (i.e., egg, green salads, potato salads, cold or hot), skordalia, soups and bisques, stews, stuffed baked potatoes/twice-baked potatoes, tortillas

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Red Potatoes
Add red potatoes to any of the following combinations…

Butternut Squash + Sage
Cauliflower + Leeks
Cheddar Cheese + Chiles + Corn
Chives + Lemon + Olive Oil
Cider Vinegar + Dill + Horseradish + Olive Oil
Cream + Garlic + Thyme
Crème Fraiche + Dill
Dill + Olive Oil + Parsley + Milk of Choice [in mashed potatoes]
Fennel + Garlic + Leeks
Fennel + Lemon + Yogurt
Garlic + Herbs (i.e., oregano, rosemary, sage)
Garlic + Lemon + Mustard
Garlic + Olive Oil
Garlic + Shallots + Tarragon + Vinegar
Herbs (i.e., oregano, rosemary, thyme) + Lemon
Horseradish + Mustard + Scallions + Yogurt
Leeks + Nutmeg + Onions + Parsley

Recipe Links
Tonight It’s All Meat and Potatoes https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/can-eat-salad-tomorrow-tonight-meat-potatoes

Five Ingredient Crock Pot Rosemary Lemon Red Potatoes https://www.runninginaskirt.com/crock-pot-rosemary-lemon-red-potatoes/

Southwest Roasted Red Potato https://www.aberdeenskitchen.com/2016/05/southwest-roasted-potato-salad/

Smashed Potatoes https://www.simplejoy.com/italian-roasted-smashed-potatoes/#wprm-recipe-container-20848

Healthy No Mayo Potato Salad https://oursaltykitchen.com/no-mayo-potato-salad-basil-vinaigrette/

Potato Soup https://www.tipsfromatypicalmomblog.com/2010/01/potato-soup-recipe-machine-shed.html

Roasted Potato Cups with Loaded Guacamole https://www.shelikesfood.com/roasted-potato-cups-filled-loaded-guacamole-gfv/

Tamarind Chickpea Curry Recipe http://treataweek.blogspot.com/2007/05/tamarind-chickpea-curry-channa-bateta.html

Red Hasselback Potatoes https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/red-hasselback-potatoes-51230610

Warm Garlic Herb Red Potato Salad https://www.potatogoodness.com/recipes/warm-garlic-herb-red-potato-salad/

Ginger Turmeric Mashed Potatoes https://www.potatogoodness.com/recipes/ginger-turmeric-mashed-potatoes/

Air Fryer Garlic Parmesan Potatoes https://www.potatogoodness.com/recipes/air-fryer-garlic-parmesan-potatoes/

Thai Lettuce Cups with Red Curry Potatoes https://www.potatogoodness.com/recipes/thai-lettuce-cups-red-curry-potatoes/

56 Ways to Use Red Potatoes https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/red-potato-recipes/

Green Goddess Vegan Potato Salad https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/green-goddess-vegan-potato-salad/

Roasted Red Potatoes https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a29787990/roasted-red-potatoes-recipe/

15 Red Potato Recipes https://www.acouplecooks.com/red-potato-recipes/

67 Smashed, Mashed, and Roasted Red Potato Recipes to Transform the Baby Spud https://parade.com/1209630/felicialim/red-potato-recipes/

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Red Potatoes https://breadboozebacon.com/garlic-parmesan-roasted-red-potatoes/

 

Resources
https://cals.arizona.edu/fps/sites/cals.arizona.edu.fps/files/cotw/Red_Potato.pdf

https://specialtyproduce.com/produce/Red_Potatoes_2015.php

https://healthyfamilyproject.com/produce-tips/potatoes/

https://www.allrecipes.com/article/how-to-choose-the-right-potato-for-recipes/

https://www.potatogoodness.com/red-potatoes/

https://tools.myfooddata.com/nutrition-comparison/173944-170435/100g-100g/1-1

https://www.livestrong.com/article/417195-are-red-potatoes-healthy/

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/antioxidants/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/280579#tips_for_eating_potatoes

https://healthfully.com/385187-what-are-the-health-benefits-of-red-potatoes.html

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/antioxidants/

https://www.finecooking.com/article/red-potatoes-5-ways

https://www.leaf.tv/articles/how-to-freeze-red-potatoes/

https://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/drying/dehydrate-potatoes-for-various-uses-zbcz1507

https://www.gettystewart.com/dehydrating-potatoes/

https://www.harmonyhousefoods.com/assets/images/default/PDFs/rehydrate_chart.pdf

https://melmagazine.com/en-us/story/ranking-types-of-potatoes-by-how-healthy-they-are

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6071262/

https://www.livescience.com/45838-potato-nutrition.html

Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia. (1993) So Easy to Preserve. Bulletin 989. Athens, GA: Cooperative Extension Services, The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences/Athens.

MacKenzie, Jennifer, Jay Nutt, and Don Mercer. (2015) The Dehydrator Bible. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.


About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Berries

Anthocyanins 101

Anthocyanins 101

What are anthocyanins?
Anthocyanins are a very large group of water-soluble colored pigments found in various plants, especially flowers and fruits. They are also found in the leaves, stems, and roots of assorted other plants, including foods.

Anthocyanins are types of flavonoids that are formed when their related compounds, anthocyanidins, are coupled with sugars. Sugars can bind at different places on the anthocyanidin molecule. With assorted types of sugars and different binding sites available, many different types of anthocyanins may be formed. In fact, over 600 different anthocyanins have been identified in plants.

The color and stability of the pigment is affected by pH, light, temperature, and its own structure. Acidic conditions make the pigments red, whereas alkaline conditions turn them blue. Diversity of anthocyanins is further increased by the chemical combination of sugars with organic acids. So, from the various potential molecular combinations, the different types of anthocyanins are vast.

Anthocyanins have a variety of functions for the plants that contain them. They serve as antioxidants, protectants from UV-light, and defense mechanisms. They are also used in pollination and reproduction. The colors help attract pollinators, such as bees and hummingbirds. Some anthocyanins also protect plants against some destructive larvae.

Anthocyanins are what makes many foods red, purple, or blue. The amount of anthocyanin found in a food is generally proportional to the depth of color of the skin of the food. The compounds are found mostly in the skin, except for some fruits such as red berries and cherries, which also contain anthocyanins in their flesh.

Plants containing these compounds have been traditionally used as medicine, and natural food colorants, and dyes. More recent research has uncovered various important health properties of these colorful compounds.

Health Benefits of Anthocyanins
Anthocyanins have been found to have potent antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, improve eye and neurological health, and also provide protection against various diseases. Some anthocyanin-rich foods, such as black carrots, red cabbage, and purple potatoes have been considered as functional foods, and are often eaten for the prevention of specific diseases. Anthocyanins have been shown to help ward off diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and inflammation.

Antioxidant Effects. Most of the health benefits of anthocyanins are attributed to their antioxidant effects. Antioxidants are critical for health by neutralizing harmful free radical molecules. Free radical molecules are generated in the body through normal metabolism, and also when we’re exposed to toxins of any sort, infections, high blood sugar levels, alcohol, cigarette smoke, excessive or intense exercise, radiation, and more. They are missing an electron and are very unstable. In an effort to gain stability, a free radical will steal an electron from a nearby molecule making themselves stable, while damaging the other molecule in the process. That “robbed” molecule then becomes a free radical, and the process continues until an antioxidant comes along. The antioxidant is able to “donate” an electron to the unstable molecule without itself becoming unstable and turning into a free radical. An antioxidant stops the damaging process.

Free radicals can serve important functions that are essential for health. For instance, immune cells use free radicals to fight infections, destroying viruses, bacteria, and damaged body cells along the way. Then, antioxidants are used to neutralize the free radicals, stopping further damage in the body. The body strives to maintain a balance of free radicals and antioxidants. When free radicals outnumber antioxidants, it leads to a state of oxidative stress, which invites disease.

Excessive free radicals in the body can damage DNA, cell membranes, and other parts of cells. They have been linked to many illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, degenerative eye diseases, atherosclerosis, senile dementia, asthma, inflammatory joint disease, and more. Antioxidants stop harmful free radical molecules by the means detailed above. Antioxidants are critical in the body for health and well-being.

The body makes its own antioxidants. However, since the body needs so many antioxidants, it’s also important to obtain them from foods to help the body in its neutralizing efforts. Antioxidants may also be obtained from various foods (especially plant foods), certain vitamins (such as Vitamins C, E, and the Vitamin A precursor, beta-carotene), and minerals (such as zinc and selenium). It is important to note that it is best to obtain antioxidants from food sources, rather than taking very high dosages of supplements because in some cases, such high dosages may actually promote oxidative stress and the formation of free radicals. Foods that are high in antioxidants should be included as a regular part of the diet to help ward off many diseases.

Cardiovascular Disease. Researchers have found that anthocyanins help to relax blood vessels, thereby lowering blood pressure. They also help to prevent excessive blood clotting. Anthocyanins have also been found to improve the blood lipid profiles of healthy subjects by increasing the formation of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), while decreasing the formation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL). Anthocyanins have also been found to lower the risk of non-fatal myocardial infarction (heart attacks). So, including anthocyanin-rich foods in the diet can be an important part of helping to ward off heart disease.

Anticancer Effects. Anthocyanins have been found to suppress tumor growth, inflammation, and angiogenesis (the development of new blood vessels that feed tumors). Such effects have been seen in the deterrence of esophageal, breast, colon, and prostate cancers, as well as leukemia.

Antidiabetic Effects. Anthocyanins have been found to increase insulin sensitivity (reducing insulin resistance), thereby reducing blood sugar levels. The improved lipid profiles, enhanced antioxidant capacity, and reduced insulin resistance promoted by anthocyanins all work together to help ward off Type 2 diabetes. Anthocyanins have also been found to improve kidney function by reducing oxidative stress, lipotoxicity (the accumulation of fats in non-fatty tissue such as the kidneys, liver, heart and skeletal muscle), and angiogenesis in the kidneys of diabetics, helping to protect them from the damaging effects of diabetes.

Visual Effects. Anthocyanins have been found to improve the visual function in patients with glaucoma. They have also been found to improve blood flow to the eyes without increasing intraocular pressure. In another research project, anthocyanins reduced inflammation in photoreceptor cells, helping to improve their functioning. Anthocyanins have been found to improve dark adaptation, so this may be helpful in people with poor night vision. They have also been found to prevent the formation of cataracts in diabetic subjects.

Antimicrobial Properties. Researchers found that anthocyanins protected cell walls from damage due to invasive microbes. Antibacterial activity was demonstrated against a variety of gram-negative bacteria, including Escherichia choli, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Aeromonas hydrophilia, and Listeria innocua. Therefore, anthocyanins can help to protect us from the diseases caused by these harmful bacteria.

Antiobesity Effects. Anthocyanins have been found to slow weight gain and suppress the formation of fatty tissue, while improving the lipid profiles of obese subjects. Researchers also found that anthocyanins reduced blood and urine glucose concentrations in obese subject. So, if you are striving to lose weight, it would be in your interest to include as many anthocyanin-rich foods in your diet as possible.

Neuroprotective Effects. Anthocyanins have been found to protect against inflammation and degeneration of nerve fibers in mouse models and cell studies. These effects offer protection against Alzheimer’s Disease by preserving memory and synaptic nerve transmission function. The enhanced antioxidant effects of anthocyanins were found to provide extra protection against free radical damage and oxidative stress, improving the functioning of nerve pathways. Anthocyanins were also found to provide protective activity by suppressing dopamine-producing cell death commonly found in Parkinson’s disease.

Foods That Contain Anthocyanins
Deeply colored foods with red, purple or blue hues contain anthocyanins. They are particularly high in berries (such as elderberries, chokeberries, bilberries, black raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries).

Anthocyanins are also found in black currants, black olives, goji berries, red cabbage, black plums, cherries, red and black grapes, strawberries, red raspberries, cranberries, black rice, wild rice, purple corn, red onions, red radishes, pomegranates, purple cauliflower, blood oranges, rhubarb, black beans, eggplant, black or purple carrots, and other foods in lesser amounts.

Although they have high nutritional value in their own way, grapefruits, nectarines, peaches, apples and pears contain some, but not appreciable amounts of anthocyanins.

How to Protect Anthocyanins in Foods
Fresh vs Frozen. Researchers have found that anthocyanins in fresh food degrade relatively quickly after being harvested. When fresh and frozen foods were analyzed, they found that frozen foods, such as berries, contained higher amounts of anthocyanins than their fresh counterparts that spent three to ten days in refrigeration after harvest. Since foods are usually processed and frozen quickly after being harvested, if you want to obtain the highest level of anthocyanins in berries, unless you are picking your own or purchase them freshly harvested at a farm market, frozen berries may be a better choice.

Cooking. In a meta-analysis study published in 2014 in Food Research International, researchers compared the anthocyanin levels in foods that were cooked with various methods, including pressure boiling, pressure steaming, conventional steaming, microwaving, and baking. They found that foods cooked with moist heat methods tended to lose the most anthocyanins. The greatest loss of anthocyanins occurred when foods were pressure-steamed.

Dry-heat methods of cooking, such as microwaving and baking, tended to increase the concentration of anthocyanins in the foods tested. Anthocyanins were increased the most when foods were microwaved.

Based on the results of the above studies, if you must cook a food that is high in anthocyanins, baking or microwaving the food may be your best options for preserving as many anthocyanins as possible. When consuming fresh anthocyanin-rich foods, such as berries, use them as quickly as you can after purchase. When consuming frozen foods such as berries, to obtain the most anthocyanins, use them frozen, or allow them to thaw naturally or very briefly in the microwave.


Resources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5613902/

https://www.healthline.com/health/gram-positive#vs-gram-negative

https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/80400525/articles/jafc54_4069-4075.pdf

http://www.food-info.net/uk/colour/anthocyanin.htm

https://pediaa.com/difference-between-anthocyanin-and-anthocyanidin/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-antioxidants

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/antioxidants-explained#free-radicals

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7619452/

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Anthocyanin-contents-in-foods-of-plant-origin_tbl2_44609005

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7278599/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/parkinsons-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20376055

https://drannwellness.com/foods-highest-in-anthocyanins-in-order-from-most-to-less/

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/what-are-anthocyanins-and-why-are-purple-foods-so-healthy

https://content.iospress.com/download/journal-of-berry-research/jbr022?id=journal-of-berry-research%2Fjbr022

https://www.tuscany-diet.net/2014/05/06/anthocyanins-fruits-vegetables-cereals/

https://foodandnutrition.org/november-december-2016/colorful-truth-anthocyanins/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0963996914004074

https://www.healthline.com/health/oxidative-stress#effects

https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jf104724k

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0570178314000025

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11853511/

https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/nutrients-purple-cauliflower-5633.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2815309/


About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Glass Jars

Glass 101 – Why Switch From Plastic to Glass Food Jars or Containers AND Ways to Use Them

From Plastic to Glass Food Containers
Why Switch, and Ways to Use Them


Why switch to glass food containers?

There is a growing trend with people moving away from using plastic in the kitchen. This includes plastic wrap, plastic bags, plastic utensils, and plastic containers for storing, freezing, heating food, and eating. There are many reasons for this trend including:

* The desire to be more earth-friendly with less waste. Plastic waste is littering the planet in insurmountable amounts. Switching to glass helps to reduce potential plastic waste and is ultimately recyclable, even when broken. Also, the production and reuse of glass products creates less pollution in the environment than does the production of plastics.

* Avoiding chemicals that may be in or released from plastics that could leach into foods. Plastics are made from assorted chemicals, some of which are endocrine disrupting chemicals such as Bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates. These chemicals can affect the brain, hormone system, reproductive system, and may also increase the risk of getting cancer. Furthermore, many such chemicals have not been completely tested for their health effects. Research has shown that some of these chemicals can leach into foods and beverages, in addition to possibly contaminating air, creating hazardous dust, and getting onto our hands. Glass does not leach chemicals into food or liquids, nor into the air or surfaces it comes in contact with.

* Durability. Glass lasts longer than plastic, unless of course, it gets broken. Also, plastic containers can melt or get warped when in contact with hot food, whereas most glass can tolerate hot to warm food without being damaged. Also, plastic wears out, becomes scratched or cracked, and breaks down much faster than glass, possibly causing chemicals to leach into the contents of the plastic container.

* Functionality. Glass has more potential uses than plastic containers, and may be reused indefinitely. Plastic containers wear out over time and may develop odors, scratches, a greasy film, and/or cracks.

* Glass is easier to clean. It will not absorb grease nor stain like plastic.

* Odor control.  Glass does not absorb odors, whereas plastic can.

* Glass is microwavable.  Most glass may be used in the microwave, whereas most plastics should not be microwaved. When plastic containers are microwaved, they may soften or melt. Also, the heat from the contents may cause plastic containers to leach chemicals into the contents of the container.

* Oven use. Most glass intended for kitchen use may be used in the oven, whereas plastic may not be used in the oven.

* Flavor. Glass preserves flavor better than plastic and won’t impart its own flavor into food, like plastic can, especially with prolonged storage.

* Glass containers are reusable for a much longer time than plastic containers. When purchasing items like tomato sauce, pickles, jelly, jam, beverages, nut butters, or anything that may be packaged in a glass jar or container, opt for glass packaging rather than plastic, if possible. It will help to reduce waste and the glass containers can be reused at home for many different purposes in the kitchen and around the house.

Uses for Glass Jars and Containers

There are many ways to reuse cleaned out food jars of all sizes and shapes, in addition to using canning mason jars for applications other than preserving food. For instance, glass jars can be used in any of the following creative ways:

* Sort and store assorted hardware such as nuts, bolts, screws and nails in separate jars.

* Store vegetables cut in advance for salads or meal preparation in jars.

* Use a lidded jar as a beverage glass at home or “to go.”

* Use a glass jar for drinking a smoothie at home or “to go.”

* Store small craft or sewing items such as pins, buttons, ribbons, or small tools in a jar.

* Use a jar as a pencil holder. Place pencils, pens, crayons, and/or markers in a jar on a desk.

* Store paper clips in a jar.

* Package your own prepared foods such as a “to-go” lunch in a jar.

* Make (and serve) a layered salad in a jar.

* Store leftover liquid items in a jar in the refrigerator. Examples include soups, sauces, beverages, or baby formula.

* Store leftover foods such as cooked rice, mashed potatoes, vegetables, cooked beans, tuna salad, cut fruit, etc. in a jar.

* Store pre-measured baking ingredients in jars. When you want to measure ingredients in advance to shorten meal prep time, measure baking ingredients in advance and store them in clean, dry food jars.

* Use a jar as a simple vase for cut flowers or a decorative floral arrangement with artificial flowers.

* Use a glass jar as a small vessel for rooting plant cuttings.

* Store extra dried herbs or spices in small glass jars with lids.

* Store extra dry foods such as beans, rice, pasta, flour, nuts, and seeds in jars.

* Store and mix homemade salad dressing in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.

* Use a jar as a container for homemade cake, brownie, bar, quick bread, and cookie mixes. Decorate the jar and give it as a gift.

* Make a homemade luminary in a jar.

* Make homemade candles in jars. Decorate and give them as gifts.

* Make a homemade terrarium in a decorative jar.

* Make and store homemade cosmetics in small jars with tight-fitting lids.

* Pack a homemade first-aid kit in a small jar for traveling.

* Store extra matches in a jar for safe keeping.

* Make painted or decorated jars for gift giving.

* Make a decorative, colorful sand art in a jar for your home or gifting.

* Make a decorative holder for a tea light with a pretty jar.

* Make flavored oils or vinegars in jars.

* Make overnight oats in a jar.

* Make a mini planter (such as for one flower bulb) with a decorative jar.

* Make a citronella candle in a jar for keeping mosquitoes away when you’re outside on a summer evening. Simply put the lid on the jar when it’s not being used.

* Store cotton balls and cotton swabs in a jar in the bathroom.

*  Use a glass jar for an easy piggy bank for saving extra change at the end of the day.

* Make a homemade, reusable soap dispenser by putting a pump in the top of a glass jar.

* Freeze food in jars, such as chopped bell peppers or onions, leftover soup in individual servings, or easy to-go lunches made in advance.

* Store extra garden seeds in the freezer in a glass jar.

* Make a decorative table centerpiece with a pretty jar.

* Store extra hair care items such as hair ties, bows, bobby pins and hair barrettes in jars.

* Use a jar as a toothbrush holder in the bathroom.

* Store extra combs in a glass jar.

* Use a small jar as a toothpick holder.

* Decorate a small glass jar to be used as a small planter for succulents.

* Make and serve a parfait in a tall jar.

* Carry “to go” snacks in a jar.

* Store makeup brushes in a jar.

* Store extra granola in a jar so it keeps fresh.

* Make a bug catching jar for children.

* Store extra candy in a jar after the bag/container is opened.

* Organize extra pantry items by placing dry food in jars, especially after the original packaging has been opened.

* Marinate meat in a jar. It would be much easier to clean than a plastic bag, or would save trashing the bag after it was used.

* Store painting supplies in jars. Larger jars can be used for storing paint brushes. Smaller jars can be used to store small amounts of extra paint.

* Display small vacation souvenirs in a jar for a decorative memoir.

The uses for glass jars of any size and shape are only limited to your imagination. So, start saving them when any store-bought food item is finished and you’ll have enough containers for all sorts of uses before you know it!

 

Resources

https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/blog/tempered-vs-borosilicate-glass/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/best-glass-storage-containers-4154183

https://healthy-cookware.com/why-glass-food-storage-containers-are-better-than-plastic/

https://www.amazon.com/Piece-Glass-Food-Storage-Container/dp/B01IU416YG

https://www.walmart.com/ip/1790-Glass-Food-Storage-Containers-with-Lids-Glass-Meal-Prep-Containers-Airtight-Glass-Lunch-Boxes-BPA-Free-FDA-Approved-Leak-Proof/921652275

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076HZFG41?th=1

https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-Oblong-Baking-Dishes-BPA-Free/dp/B08BS692GS/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?dchild=1&keywords=glass+bakeware&qid=1622758294&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEyUUFTQ0VYREtRWElaJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNDAyODEyMVpWTFpYQVg4Ujk0NSZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwMjQ1MTM0SDVNUUdPUjVXNlo3JndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfYXRmJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==

https://www.amazon.com/OXO-Grips-Freezer-Oven-Baking/dp/B019FHD0FK/ref=sr_1_12?dchild=1&keywords=glass+bakeware&qid=1622758418&sr=8-12

https://www.nontoxicliving.tips/blog/why-choose-glass-over-plastic

https://www.ruralsprout.com/reuse-glass-jars/

https://www.forgerecycling.co.uk/blog/reuse-glass-jar/

https://www.sonshinekitchen.com/24-ways-to-reuse-glass-jars/

https://mindfulofthehome.com/reuse-glass-jars/

Blackberries

Blackberries 101 – The Basics

 

Blackberries 101 – The Basics

About Blackberries
Blackberries are large, deep purple berries that often grow wild on thorny bushes. The plants are members of the Rubus (rose or Rosaceae) family. They are closely related to raspberries, which are in the same plant genus, Rubus. Blackberries are native to northern temperate areas, especially in eastern North America, and on the Pacific coast of North America.

There are 375 species of blackberry plants, found around the world. Today there are thousands of blackberry hybrid varieties, including thornless bushes, which were developed in recent years. The first modern blackberry variety was developed in 1880 by Judge Logan of California. His plant was released as the Loganberry. Blackberries are sometimes referred to as brambleberries. However, the term “brambleberry” can also be used to refer to other thorny bushes that produce fruits, such as raspberries, boysenberries, loganberries, and others.

Blackberries are sweet/sour, with a juicy texture and lots of crunchy seeds. They can be enjoyed fresh, cooked, and frozen, and are popular in desserts, jams, jellies, candy and sometimes wine. Blackberries are often combined with other fruit, such as apples, for pies and crumbles.

Ancient cultures rarely cultivated blackberry bushes. Instead, they were treated as wild plants and used for medicinal purposes. The ancient Greeks used blackberries as a remedy for gout. The ancient Romans made a medicinal tea from the leaves of the blackberry plant to treat assorted illnesses.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Blackberries are an excellent source of Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, E, and K, and also folate, calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. They are a good source of amino acids (protein) and fiber. Blackberries have only 43 calories in 3.5 ounces (100 grams), and 1 cup (about 140 grams) has about 62 calories. They are a low-calorie food, so eat all you want!

Blackberries also have an abundant supply of antioxidants, especially anthocyanins and phenolic compounds, that give blackberries their deep color and offer a variety of health benefits.

Antioxidant Protection, Anti-Cancer and Other Health Effects. Research studies have suggested that berries high in anthocyanins (like blackberries) may protect against cancers of the esophagus, mouth, breast, colon, and possibly other types of cancer. Blackberry extracts have been shown to demonstrate antimutagenic effects by suppressing tumor promoting factors. This in itself helps to lower the risk of developing cancer. Research to this effect is scarce, but warrants further testing.

Blackberries, along with other berries are high in antioxidants that keep harmful free radical molecules under control. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells when their numbers get too high, causing oxidative stress. Reducing oxidative stress lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The antioxidants found in blackberries and other berries have been shown to help protect eyes against harmful free radicals and oxidative stress. Rutin, a plant pigment (flavonoid) found in blackberries, has been shown to strengthen blood vessels to the eyes and thereby improve eye health and ward off diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts.

High in Vitamin C. Just one cup of fresh blackberries has about 30 milligrams of Vitamin C. That’s half of the recommended daily intake of this crucial antioxidant vitamin needed for collagen formation in bones, connective tissue and blood vessels. Vitamin C is also used in wound healing, regenerating skin, fighting harmful free radical molecules in the body, iron absorption, fighting disease, and preventing scurvy (the Vitamin C deficiency disease). Vitamin C also is an important antioxidant in the body that helps reduce oxidative stress that can lead to the development of cancer.

Low Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load: Blood Sugar and Insulin Response. Blackberries may improve your blood sugar and insulin levels. They have a low Glycemic Index of only 25. This means they will not cause a big spike in blood sugar when eaten and should be safe for diabetics to eat. This improves blood sugar regulation and may be helpful in keeping cholesterol levels in check.

The Glycemic Load of blackberries is also very low, being only 4. This represents how one’s blood sugar levels may be affected after eating a specific food. With a very low Glycemic Load of only 4, blackberries will hardly, if at all, affect blood sugar levels. Research studies suggest that blackberries may protect cells from high blood sugar levels, help increase insulin sensitivity, and reduce blood sugar and insulin response to high-carbohydrate meals. These effects appeared to happen in both healthy people and those with insulin resistance. This is critical information for diabetics and those managing blood sugar levels, which means that blackberries are fruit such individuals should be able to eat without issue.

High Fiber Benefits. Blackberries are a good source of fiber, including soluble fiber. This type of fiber slows the movement of the intestinal contents, helping to increase the feeling of fullness, reducing hunger. This can help in weight management, reducing the need to eat frequently. Increased fiber also helps to reduce the number of calories absorbed from mixed meals. One research study found that doubling fiber intake could result in eating up to 130 fewer calories in a day.

The high fiber content of berries also means they are low in digestible or net carbohydrates (which is determined by subtracting the total fiber from total carbohydrates). For instance, 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of blackberries has 10.2 grams of total carbohydrates, 5.3 grams of which are fiber. This brings the net carbohydrates of 100 grams of blackberries to 4.9 grams. Because of their low net carbohydrate content, blackberries are considered to be a low-carb-friendly food.

Anti-Inflammatory Benefits. Because of their many antioxidants, berries (including blackberries) have been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is a natural part of the body’s defense mechanism in fighting infection and injury. However, current lifestyles often contribute to excessive, long-term inflammation brought on by increased stress, inactivity, and unhealthy foods. This type of chronic inflammation contributes to diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Research has shown that the antioxidants in berries may help to lower inflammatory markers, thus reducing the risk of diseases brought on by long-term inflammation.

Skin Health.  Antioxidants in berries help to control free radicals in the body. Free radicals are among the leading causes of skin damage that contribute to aging. Ellagic acid, one of the antioxidants found in blackberries and other berries, appears to be responsible for some of the skin-related benefits attributed to berries. Research suggests that this antioxidant may protect skin by blocking the production of enzymes that break down collagen in sun-damaged skin. Collagen is a protein within the skin’s structure that allows skin to stretch and remain firm. When collagen is damaged, the skin may sag and develop wrinkles.

Brain Health. Blackberries and other berries may improve brain health and prevent memory loss caused by aging. In a review published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers concluded that antioxidants in berries help fight free radicals and alter how brain neurons communicate. This may help reduce inflammation in the brain, which can lead to cognitive and motor issues that often accompany aging.

High in Vitamin K. Blackberries are high in Vitamin K. This vital vitamin plays an important role in the blood clotting function. It is also important in bone metabolism. A deficiency of Vitamin K can lead to bone thinning and fractures, and may cause easy bruising. Just one cup of raw blackberries provides over one-third of the daily recommended value of Vitamin K.

It is noteworthy that if you take blood thinners, monitoring your intake of Vitamin K is important because it can interfere with medications. Eating a consistent amount of Vitamin K-rich foods such as blackberries, green leafy vegetables, soybeans, and fermented dairy foods, helps in the management of medication dosages. Consult with your healthcare provider if you expect to make significant dietary changes that may affect your medication dosages.

High in Manganese. Blackberries are high in manganese. This mineral is vital to healthy bone development, a healthy immune system, metabolizing carbohydrates, amino acids, and cholesterol, and also plays a role in the formation of collagen during wound healing. Manganese may also help prevent osteoporosis, manage blood sugar levels, and reduce epileptic seizures. One cup of fresh blackberries contains almost half the daily recommended value of manganese, so they are clearly a great source of this vital mineral.

How to Select Blackberries
When buying blackberries, choose ones with color ranging from deep purple/black to deep blue/purple. They should not have any green or white patches on them. They should be moderately firm, plump, dry, uniform in color, and not wrinkled or dried out.

When buying blackberries in a grocery store, examine the container for signs of dampness from crushed berries or water droplets that have accumulated, stains and mold. Avoid any containers with any of those indications, which would be signs of age and possible decay. Most blackberries will be packaged with a moisture absorber in the container to help extend the life of the berry (which is desirable). Avoid containers without them, since the berries will age faster.

When picking your own blackberries, choose ones that are plump with a slightly tender feel. They should be dark in color. The skin of a ripe blackberry is dull black and not shiny. [Note that fully ripe blackberries have a short life, so plan to use them right away. Those packaged commercially are picked earlier, when not fully ripe, so they will last longer.] Red to light purple berries are not ripe yet. A ripe blackberry will release from the plant with a slight tug. If a blackberry is dull (not shiny), soft, and starting to leak its juices, it is overripe.

Blackberries start to ripen when the weather is consistently warm. When picking your own blackberries, don’t overfill your container. Limit stacking them to no more than 5 inches high (maximum) to avoid crushing the berries on the bottom. If you pick berries in the heat of the day, the warmth in the picked berries will cause them to age fast. It’s best to spread them out and/or expose them to air conditioning as soon as you can to release the heat and preserve your delicate berries.

How to Store Blackberries
First, remove any damaged or decaying blackberries from the container. Do not wash blackberries until you are ready to use them. Refrigerate unwashed blackberries right away in an open area in the refrigerator. They need to be kept dry. If storing them in a crisper drawer, be sure to have the air vent open, or on the low humidity setting.

For best quality, use your blackberries within 3 days. If they are very fresh, they may keep for up to one week.

How to Prepare Blackberries
Simply wash your berries right before you want to enjoy them. Place them in a colander and rinse them under cold water. Allow them to drain. Or, place them in a bowl of cold water. Gently swish them around, then carefully remove them to a colander to drain.

How to Preserve Blackberries
Extra blackberries can easily be frozen. Simply wash them, drain well to remove as much water as possible. Remove any hulls or stems from the berries and place them in a freezer bag or container. Remove as much air as possible and freeze.

To freeze blackberries so they don’t form one big clump, spread the washed berries out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the tray in the freezer. When the berries are frozen, transfer them to a freezer container or bag. Use frozen blackberries within one year.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Blackberries
* Combine blackberries with apples in a pie.

* If a recipe calls for blackberries and you don’t have any, loganberries, boysenberries, or raspberries may be used as substitutes.

* One pint of fresh blackberries is about 2 cups.

* Ten ounces of frozen blackberries is about 2 cups.

* Ten blackberries count as one serving.

* Make easy Blackberry-Banana Overnight Oats. Blend 1 cup of blackberries with ½ banana, ½ cup milk of choice, and ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract. Pour into a mason jar. Stir in ½ cup oats. Cover the jar and place it in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, top with more blackberries and the other half of the banana and enjoy!

* Try a Blackberry-Pomegranate Salad. Make a salad base with red cabbage, lettuce, spinach, blackberries, slivers of pears, and a little red onion. Dress it with a mixture of 2 cups of pomegranate juice, up to ¼ cup honey for a little sweetener, and the juice of ½ lime. Sprinkle the salad with toasted, sliced almonds and enjoy!

* Unripe blackberries will not further ripen after being picked. So, if you’re picking your own, choose only the ripe berries.

* Try easy blackberry popsicles. In a blender, combine ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk, 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup, 2 tsp lemon juice, and 4 cups fresh or frozen blackberries. Blend until smooth, then pour into popsicle molds. Freeze then enjoy! Makes 4 popsicles.

* If you can’t get fresh blackberries locally, opt for frozen. They are usually picked at their peak of ripeness and frozen very quickly after being harvested, sometimes as soon as 20 minutes after being harvested. You can’t get much fresher than that!

* Try toping some pancakes or waffles with fresh blackberries and a little yogurt.

* Top your favorite pudding with fresh blackberries and a sprinkle of granola.

* How about a nut butter and fresh blackberry sandwich? Make it richer by adding sliced banana.

* Try a savory blackberry sauce by gently cooking until smooth: 1 pint of blackberries, ½ cup of balsamic vinegar, and 2 teaspoons of maple syrup or honey. Try it over grilled meat, chicken or seafood. It would work really well with grilled salmon.

* Try an easy frozen treat by blending mashed banana, blackberries, and fruit-flavored yogurt. Pour into muffin cups with a popsicle stick in the middle and freeze.

* Make a parfait by layering yogurt, granola, blackberries and banana slices.

* Add blackberries to a smoothie.

* Use blackberries as a topping for frozen yogurt or ice cream.

* Make a simple fruit salad by combining blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, banana slices, and orange segments. Top with a dollop of yogurt and enjoy!

* Add fresh blackberries to your favorite green salad. Dress it with a balsamic vinaigrette and top it off with a sprinkle of slivered almonds or toasted walnuts.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Blackberries
Basil, chamomile, cinnamon, lemon herbs (i.e., lemon balm, lemon verbena), mint, nutmeg, pepper, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Blackberries
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beef, chicken, ham, hazelnuts, pecans, poppy seeds, pork, pumpkin seeds, salmon

Vegetables: Endive, ginger, rhubarb

Fruits: Apples, bananas, blueberries, figs, lemon, lime, mangoes, melons, nectarines, oranges, papaya, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon

Grains and Grain Products: Granola, oats

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (i.e., cream, ricotta), cream, crème fraiche, ice cream, mascarpone, milk (in general), sour cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Caramel, chocolate, honey, liqueurs, maple syrup, meringue, rose geranium, sugar, vinegar (balsamic), wine (i.e., fruity, sweet red)

Blackberries have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Cereals (breakfast), coulis, desserts (i.e., cobblers, crisps, crumbles, tarts), muesli, pies, puddings, salads (fruit), sauces, smoothies, sorbets, soups (fruit)

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Blackberries
Add blackberries to any of the following combinations…

Apples + Brown Sugar + Cinnamon
Apples + Cinnamon + Hazelnuts
Cinnamon + Orange
Honey + Yogurt
Lime + Mint
Lime + Yogurt
Papaya + Yogurt

Recipe Links
50 Blackberry Recipes to Make Summer So Much Sweeter https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/g2450/blackberry-recipes/

Blackberry-Glazed Chicken https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/a28610037/blackberry-glazed-chicken-recipe/

Blackberry Freezer Jam https://www.recipegirl.com/blackberry-freezer-jam/

Blackberry Banana Overnight Oats https://www.leahsplate.com/blackberry-banana-overnight-oats/

Blackberry Pie Bars https://thenovicechefblog.com/blackberry-pie-bars/

Blackberry Cobbler in Mason Jars https://spinachtiger.com/blackberry-cobbler-in-mason-jars-and-a-little-bit-of-lifes-thorns/

Blackberry Arugula Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/blackberry-arugula-salad-with-citrus-vinaigrette/#_a5y_p=1149813

Watermelon, Blackberry, and Mint Salad https://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/watermelon-blackberry-and-mint-salad/

Fall Spiced Skirt Steak Tacos with Blackberry and Pear Slaw https://thenoshery.com/fall-spiced-skirt-steak-tacos-with-blackberry-and-pear-slaw/#_a5y_p=2976145

Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes with Blackberry Salsa https://www.howsweeteats.com/2012/05/sweet-potato-quinoa-cakes-with-blackberry-salsa/#_a5y_p=1720538

45 Blackberry Recipes Bursting with Juicy Flavor https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/blackberry-recipes/

Berry-Beet Salad https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/berry-beet-salad/

Blackberry Frozen Yogurt https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/blackberry-frozen-yogurt/

Avocado Fruit Salad with Tangerine Vinaigrette https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/avocado-fruit-salad-with-tangerine-vinaigrette/

Four-Berry Spinach Salad https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/four-berry-spinach-salad/

Arugula Salad with Berry Dressing https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/arugula-salad-with-berry-dressing/

34 Blackberry Recipes https://www.bonappetit.com/gallery/slideshow/15-blackberry-recipes-convince-king-berries

20 Totally Beautiful Blackberry Desserts https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/g2832/blackberry-recipes/

30 Delicious Blackberry Recipes You Should Try At Least Once https://morningchores.com/blackberry-recipes/

18 Knockout Blackberry Recipes https://www.brit.co/blackberry-recipes/

Spiced Roasted Apples and Blackberries https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/spiced-roasted-apples-blackberries

Blackberry Strawberry Sorbet [Vegan] https://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/blackberry-strawberry-sorbet/

Resources
http://justfunfacts.com/interesting-facts-about-blackberries/

https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-blackberries#takeaway

https://www.britannica.com/plant/blackberry-fruit

https://www.naturipefarms.com/how-buy-perfect-berries/

https://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/food/article/how-choose-best-blackberries

https://www.raspberryblackberry.com/consumers/buying-picking-storing-and-using-your-berries/picking-your-own-blackberries/

https://pickyourown.org/blackberries.htm

https://www.leahsplate.com/blackberry-banana-overnight-oats/#tasty-recipes-7064-jump-target

https://thenoshery.com/fall-spiced-skirt-steak-tacos-with-blackberry-and-pear-slaw/#_a5y_p=2976145

https://cleancuisine.com/blackberry-popsicles/

https://www.bhg.com/recipes/healthy/cooking/heart-boosting-raspberry-and-blackberry-recipes/?slide=slide_77c9e253-2d56-4330-812b-d3083589c93d#slide_77c9e253-2d56-4330-812b-d3083589c93d

https://fruitsandveggies.org/stories/top-10-ways-to-enjoy-blackberries/

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/fruits/fegen/what-are-brambles.htm

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/glycemic-index#what-it-is

https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/the-lowdown-on-glycemic-index-and-glycemic-load

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-blackberries

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/what-are-anthocyanins-and-why-are-purple-foods-so-healthy

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22082199/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17147415/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-reasons-to-eat-berries#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2

https://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-009126000000000000000.html?maxCount=34

https://www.carotene.org/top-10-foods-eat-healthy-eyes/

https://www.webrn-maculardegeneration.com/antioxidant-berry.html

https://www.onegreenplanet.org/natural-health/6-amazing-health-benefits-blackberries/

https://ezinearticles.com/?Improving-Your-Vision-Health-With-The-Blackberry-Fruit&id=9720756

Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

 

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Peaches

Peaches 101 – The Basics

 

Peaches 101 – The Basics

About Peaches
Peaches are stone fruits, native to northwest China. From there, the trees spread westward through Asia into the Mediterranean countries, then onward to other parts of Europe. Spanish explorers transported peaches to the Americas, where they were found in Mexico as early as 1600. Large-scale production of peaches started in the United States in the 19th century. Early crops were of poor quality. With improved techniques of grafting, large commercial peach orchards were eventually established.

The color of peach flesh can be white or yellow to orange. There are two main varieties of peaches: freestone, where the flesh easily separates from the one large pit or stone, and clingstone, where the flesh adheres securely to the stone. The freestone varieties are usually eaten fresh, “out of hand,” since the pit almost falls out once exposed. They can also be used in any application, like baking, cooking, canning and freezing. Clingstone peaches are a bit sweeter, smaller, and juicier than freestone varieties. They are excellent options for canning and preserving. Most commercially canned peaches are clingstone varieties.

Thousands of varieties of peaches have been developed over the years. Yellow-fleshed varieties are the most popular in North America.  Europeans enjoy both white and yellow fleshed peaches. Globally, China, Italy, Spain, and the United States are major producers of peaches.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Peaches have noteworthy nutritional value and health benefits. One medium peach contains Vitamin C, Vitamin A, fiber, potassium, niacin, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, copper and manganese. They also have smaller amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and B-vitamins. One medium peach has about 58 calories, so they would make a healthy, low-calorie snack or addition to any meal or dessert.

Peaches also contain a number of antioxidants, compounds that are known to neutralize harmful molecules in the body, protecting us from aging and assorted diseases. It’s noteworthy that the fresher and riper a peach is, the more antioxidants it contains.

Digestive Help. The fiber in peaches is half soluble and half insoluble. This is especially helpful since each type of fiber serves its own purpose and they are not interchangeable. Soluble fiber feeds our gut bacteria, keeping colonies strong and active. Soluble fiber also binds with bile in the digestive tract, removing it in the feces. This forces the liver to make more bile from existing cholesterol, which in turn, helps to keep our blood cholesterol levels in check. Insoluble fiber is important for helping to propel the contents of the digestive tract forward, preventing constipation. This also helps to ward off disorders like Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and ulcerative colitis. It is important to note that much of the fiber in peaches is found in the skin, so to get the most benefit from your peaches, don’t peel them, if possible.

Heart Health. As mentioned under “Digestive Help,” the soluble fiber in peaches helps to keep cholesterol levels down. This in itself helps to ward off heart and cardiovascular diseases. Also, potassium, which is found in peaches, is an electrolyte known for helping to manage the balance of fluids in the body. It also promotes lower blood pressure, by helping blood vessels to relax and expand appropriately, allowing for better blood flow and transport of nutrients and oxygen throughout the body.

Skin Health. The high level of Vitamin A and antioxidants found in peaches helps to promote healthy skin. First, peaches are high in Vitamin C. This crucial vitamin is important in the development and maintenance of collagen in the body. Collagen is vital in providing a support system for the skin, promoting wound healing, and strengthening the skin. It can also improve the appearance of skin by reducing wrinkling, improving elasticity, smoothing roughness, and improving skin color.

Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and the other antioxidants (along with Vitamin C) found in peaches work together as anti-inflammatory agents, helping to protect the skin from sun damage, improving the skin tone, calming inflammation by squelching harmful free-radical molecules, and helping to protect against premature aging. Also, since peaches are largely water, they help to hydrate the skin, giving it a healthy glow and minimizing wrinkles.

Cancer Protection. The skin and flesh of peaches are rich in carotenoids, caffeic acid, and polyphenols. These types of antioxidants have been found to have anticancer properties, limiting the growth and spread of cancer cells and also helping to prevent non-cancerous tumors from becoming malignant. Animal and human studies confirm that peaches may be helpful in preventing breast cancer.

Allergy Symptoms. Peaches may help to reduce allergy symptoms. Studies have shown that peaches may help to reduce or prevent the release of histamines in the blood after exposure to allergens, thereby reducing allergy symptoms. More research is needed in this area, but the findings look promising.

Immunity. The antioxidants found in peaches may help to boost immunity by fighting certain types of bacteria.

Diabetes. Animal studies found that compounds in peaches may help to prevent high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. More studies with humans are needed in this area, but it appears that peaches, along with other foods high in antioxidants, may be helpful in preventing and treating diabetes and insulin resistance.

Eye Health. The powerful antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin found in peaches, helps to protect the retina and lens of the eyes. Along with that, the compounds have been shown to reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, two common eye disorders that hinder the vision of many people. The Vitamin A found in peaches also is important for supporting eye health. A serious Vitamin A deficiency causes xerophthalmia, which can result in eye damage causing problems from night blindness to complete and irreversible total blindness. In fact, severe Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of blindness among children in underdeveloped nations around the world.

Cognitive Health. Antioxidants, like those found in peaches, are known to fight harmful molecules in the body. When affecting the brain, harmful free-radical molecules can cause neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Ingesting ample antioxidants from foods in their natural form is the best way to obtain these helpful compounds. Including peaches and other fresh fruits and vegetables in your daily diet is a simple way to help ensure you lower your risk for serious conditions as detailed above.

How to Select Fresh Peaches
When choosing fresh peaches, bear in mind your personal preference or intended use. The white-fleshed peaches are sweeter and less acidic than the yellow-fleshed peaches, which are more of a sweet-tart flavor.

When buying fresh peaches, look for those that are hard or only slightly soft, with no bruises or wrinkles. Don’t be shy…smell the peach before you place it in your cart. Those that smell sweeter will be riper, sweeter in flavor, and ready to eat sooner than those with little to no aroma. Also, you can tell if a peach is ripe and ready to eat by gently pressing down on its flesh and feeling it slightly give…like you would test an avocado for ripeness.

Avoid peaches that are brownish, damaged, mushy or wrinkled, because they are old, overripe, and will not last long.

How to Store Fresh Peaches
If your fresh peaches are not fully ripe, they can be placed on the kitchen counter in a single layer, away from sunlight and heat. They should ripen within one to three days.

Ripe peaches will last up to one week when kept at room temperature. If you won’t be able to use them within that time, place them in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process. They may be kept in an open area of the refrigerator, or in a crisper drawer to help protect them from damage. If they are placed in the crisper drawer, leave the air vent open, on the low humidity setting.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Peaches
* Try grilling or roasting peaches, then add them to a salad.

* Try grilled or roasted peaches with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or mascarpone cheese.

* Serve chicken with a peach sauce.

* Make a peach salsa to serve on tacos or pork tenderloin.

* On a hot day, try adding some sliced peaches to your favorite iced tea. For the most flavor, smash the peaches in the bottom of the glass before adding the ice cubes and tea.

* Blend some peaches with coconut milk for a “peaches and cream” smoothie or dessert. Add some dates or sweetener of choice, if desired. Add banana for more richness, if desired. Spice it up if you want with a little cinnamon and nutmeg.

* Blend peaches with yogurt or coconut cream and freeze it in popsicle molds. Sweeten it with dates or sweetener of choice, if desired. Add a touch of lemon juice for a little tartness and color retention, if desired.

* Add diced peaches to your morning oatmeal.

* Blend peaches with raspberries to make a sauce, then serve it over ice cream or coconut milk sorbet. Top with chopped almonds and enjoy!

* Try a salad with a bed of mixed greens mixed with cherry tomatoes and peach slices. Top with some fresh basil leaves and drizzle with a balsamic-honey dressing.

* The lighter, white flesh peaches taste sweeter and are less acidic than the traditional yellow flesh peaches. The yellow flesh peaches are sweet, but more acidic which makes them a little tangier.

* Peaches come in two basic varieties regarding their pits or stones. They can be freestone, where the flesh separates easily from the stone. Or they can be clingstone, where the flesh adheres to the stone and is not easily removed. The freestone peaches are easier to work with since the stone comes out easily. They also tend to be larger and less juicy than their counterparts, the clingstones. Clingstone peaches tend to be slightly softer, sweeter, and juicier than freestone peaches.

* Botanically speaking, nectarines are actually a variety of peach. They are so closely related that sometimes nectarines naturally appear on peach trees.

* 1 pound of fresh peaches = 4 medium peaches = about 2-1/2 cups chopped or sliced = about 1-1/2 cups pureed.

* If you need fresh peaches for a recipe and don’t have enough, even though the flavors may be a bit different, the following fruit may be used as a substitute: nectarines, apricots, plums, mangoes, papaya, cherries, and pluots or apriums (crosses between plums and apricots).

* If you need dried peaches for a recipe and don’t have enough, even though the flavors may be a bit different, the following may be used as a substitute: dried apricots, dried nectarines, and dried cherries.

* Top rice pudding (or any other pudding) with diced fresh peaches.

* Try a peach parfait by layering diced fresh peaches, yogurt, banana, pistachios, and granola.

* If you buy conventionally grown peaches and are concerned with pesticide or other chemical residues on your fruit, most of it can be easily removed by a simple (scienced-based!) 15-minute soak in a baking soda solution. Combine a ratio of 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 2 cups of water. Make up enough solution to be able to submerge your peaches. Weigh the peaches down with a plate to keep them under the water and allow them to soak for 15 minutes. Then simply rinse them with clean water and pat them dry. Store them and use them as usual. To see a demonstration on this technique, watch this video … https://youtu.be/AsUAD6EWyzw

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Peaches
Allspice, basil, cardamom, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, lemongrass, lemon verbena, mint, nutmeg, pepper, rosemary, saffron, salt, tarragon, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Peaches
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, bacon, beef, cashews, ham, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, nuts (in general), pecans, pistachios, pork, poultry, prosciutto, pumpkin seeds, salmon (and other seafoods), walnuts

Vegetables: Arugula, chiles, endive, fennel, ginger, greens (salad), onions (red), radishes, scallions, tomatoes, watercress

Fruits: Apples (fresh, juice), apricots, avocado, bananas, berries (in general), blackberries, blueberries, cherries, coconut, currants, grapes, lemon, lime, mangoes, nectarines, orange (fresh, juice, liqueur, zest), papaya, passion fruit, pineapple, plums, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries

Grains and Grain Products: Grains (in general), oatmeal, oats, quinoa, wheat berries

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, buttermilk, cheese (esp. blue, burrata, cream, goat, mozzarella, ricotta), cream, crème fraiche, mascarpone, sour cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Caramel, chocolate, honey, lavender, maple syrup, molasses, oil (olive), rum, sherry, spirits (i.e., bourbon, brandy, cognac, Cointreau, Kirsch), sugar, vinegar (i.e., apple cider, balsamic, champagne, rice, wine), whiskey, wine (i.e., red or white, fruity, sparkling, and/or sweet)

Peaches have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e., pies, scones), chutneys, compotes, desserts (i.e., cobblers, crisps, crumbles, Melba, pies), ice cream, salads (i.e., fruit, grain, green), salsas, smoothies, sorbets, soups (i.e., cold and/or fruit), Southern (U.S.) cuisine

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Peaches
Add peaches to any of the following combinations…

Almonds + Cinnamon + Yogurt
Almonds + Lemon + Olive Oil + Saffron
Balsamic Vinegar + Lettuce + Spinach + Maple syrup + Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar + Mint + Ricotta
Basil + Mozzarella Cheese
Berries + Lemon
Blueberries + Lemon + Maple Syrup
Blue Cheese + Hazelnuts
Cashew Cream + Balsamic Vinegar
Cherries + Balsamic Vinegar
Cilantro + Ginger + Lime
Cinnamon + Honey + Lemon + Yogurt
Fennel + Lemon
Ginger + Honey + Lemon + Lemongrass
Ginger + Lemon
Honey + Nuts + Oats/Oatmeal
Mangoes + Raspberries
Maple Syrup + Nuts + Orange Juice + Ricotta
Maple Syrup + Orange + Vanilla
Mascarpone + Strawberries + Vanilla
Pistachios + Vanilla

Recipe Links
34 Peach Recipes to Make This Summer https://www.foodandwine.com/fruits/peach/peaches

13 Most Delicious Ways to Eat Peaches https://www.self.com/gallery/peach-recipes

Baked Peaches https://www.wellplated.com/baked-peaches/#wprm-recipe-container-39548

Peaches and Berries with Lemon-Mint Syrup https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/peaches-berries-with-lemon-mint-syrup.html

39 Perfect Peach Desserts https://www.epicurious.com/recipes-menus/fresh-peach-desserts-gallery

Peach Pie Smoothie https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ellie-krieger/peach-pie-smoothie-recipe-1940422

Savory Peach Chicken https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ellie-krieger/savory-peach-chicken-recipe-1951238

Grilled Chicken Breasts with Spicy Peach Glaze https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/grilled-chicken-breasts-with-spicy-peach-glaze-recipe-1922684

15 Savory Peach Recipes https://www.delish.com/cooking/g1292/savory-peach-recipes/?slide=16

Fresh Peaches with Blueberries and Yogurt http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=146

43 Peach Recipes That Make the Most of Summer’s Juiciest Fruit https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/peach-recipes-gallery

55 Juicy Peach Recipes for (an Endless) Summer https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/g1499/peach-recipes/

70+ Fresh Peach Recipes to Savor This Summer https://www.southernliving.com/food/holidays-occasions/summer-peach-recipes

60 Ways to Use a Farmers’ Market Haul of Fresh Peaches https://www.cookinglight.com/food/in-season/peach-recipes

 

Resources
https://producemadesimple.ca/what-goes-well-with-peaches/

https://www.hgofarms.com/peach-pairings-to-try/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/varieties-of-peaches-4057064

https://thebakersalmanac.com/fruit-flavor-pairing-chart/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/peach-fruit-benefits#TOC_TITLE_HDR_5

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/274620#benefits

https://www.verywellhealth.com/antioxidants-for-skin-health-4587778

https://www.health.com/nutrition/health-benefits-peaches

https://www.britannica.com/plant/peach

https://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-between-freestone-and-clingstone-peaches-246304

Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.


About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Apricots

Apricots 101 – The Basics


Apricots 101 – The Basics

About Apricots
Apricots are small, golden orange fruits with smooth, sweet flesh. Their flavor is barely musky with a faint tartness. The tartness is more pronounced in dried apricots than in fresh. Their flavor has been described as being in between that of a peach and plum.

Apricots appear to have originated in China and were first cultivated there before 2,000 B.C. (some resources say as early as 4,000 B.C). They were transported through Armenia and into Europe. In the 1700’s, Spanish explorers carried apricots to America. They were then carried to California, where the climate is well-suited for their culture. Today, apricots that are grown in the United States are found primarily in orchards of California.

Apricots are enjoyed fresh, dried, simmered into jams and preserves, and added to both sweet and savory dishes.  Apricots are also distilled into brandy and liqueur, and used for the essential oil extracted from their pits, which is sold as bitter almond oil. Today, the leading producers of apricots are Turkey, Italy, Russia, Spain, Greece, the United States, and France. Since fresh apricots do not travel well, most are dried, making them available year-round.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Apricots are known for being rich in Vitamin A (in the form of various carotenoids, including lycopene). They are also high in Vitamin C, copper, fiber, potassium, manganese, all of the B-Vitamins, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, and iron. Two fresh apricots provide all of 34 calories, so they are certainly a low-calorie food.

Antioxidant Protection. Apricots are rich in a variety of antioxidants including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, quercetin, a variety of flavonoids and polyphenols, and others that have been linked to many health benefits ranging from protection against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune conditions, and skin and eye diseases, among others.

Protection from Heart Disease.  Since apricots are a rich source of antioxidants, fiber and potassium, they are known to help ward off heart disease. Antioxidants are known for fighting harmful free radical molecules in the body that damage cells leading to disease. The fiber in apricots helps to keep cholesterol levels in check. The ample potassium in apricots helps to balance the electrolyte system, keeping fluids balanced and the heart working (along with other muscles) as it should. Also, the potassium in apricots helps to keep our blood pressure reduced by relaxing blood vessels. Apricots are small, but mighty fruits when it comes to disease prevention!

Anti-Inflammatory Properties. Apricots are an excellent source of catechins, a family of flavonoids that is often prized as being found in green tea. According to The World’s Healthiest Foods (www.whfoods.com) one apricot provides as much as 4 to 5 grams of catechins. These compounds are strong anti-inflammatory agents and have been the subject of many research projects. Researchers have found that catechins can inhibit the activity of the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme, which controls one of the critical steps in the inflammation process. Diets rich in catechins have been found to provide significant protection from blood vessel inflammation-related damage. This protection leads to better blood pressure control, which in turn, helps to lower the risk of heart disease.

Eyesight Protection. Apricots are rich in carotenoids and xanthophylls that have been found to help protect eyesight from age-related damage. One of those compounds, lutein, appears to help protect the retina from damage caused by blue light. Apricots are known to help reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.

Researchers have found that people who eat at least three servings of fruit each day have less risk of vision loss as they age. This includes not only apricots, but other fruits such as berries, cantaloupe, kiwi, grapes, oranges, peaches, and others.

Skin Health. Antioxidants are known for helping to protect the health of our skin, guarding us from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation, reducing wrinkles, and improving the skin’s elasticity. Also, fresh apricots contain a lot of water, helping to hydrate the skin.

With all things considered, it’s worth including apricots in your diet whenever you can, in any form available to you…fresh, frozen, dried, or canned.

How to Select Apricots
Fresh Apricots. Fresh ripe apricots are very perishable and do not travel well. So, whenever they are found fresh in your local market, consider it to be a “gold mine” and grab some while you can. Fresh apricots in the United States are in season from June through August. Fresh apricots found during other times of year are imported from South America.

When shopping for fresh apricots, choose those with a rich orange color. They should be slightly soft, which means they are ripe. Those that are very firm have not been allowed to ripen long enough on the tree, and will not taste as good as those that were allowed to further ripen on the tree. Harvested apricots will ripen and age, but their flavor and sweetness will stay at the level it was when picked from the tree.

Avoid fresh apricots that are rock hard, pale yellow or have any tinge of green, which indicates that they were picked extremely early. Also avoid any that are shriveled, or very soft, since they will be old and past their prime.

Dried Apricots. Dried apricots were a major commodity during ancient times and were very important along the “Silk Road.” Today, drying apricots allows them to be transported around the world with year-round availability.

Larger apricots are dried in halves, whereas smaller apricots are dried whole. All should have had their pits removed. Dried apricots usually do not have added sugars, but are most often treated with sulfur dioxide, a type of sulfite, to preserve color, texture, and extend shelf life. This presents problems for people who are sensitive to added sulfite ingredients. Such individuals should be very careful and always read labels for any foods they buy, especially dried fruits.

Dried apricots may be found that were not treated with sulfur dioxide. They are only rarely found in grocery stores, but may be purchased through the internet. These will be darker in color and coarser in texture. The flavor may also change over time. So, if you prefer to eat unsulfured dried apricots, be sure to use them relatively quickly for the best quality. Researchers have found that they will keep for up to 6 months, but their quality and nutritional value may decline through time.

Canned Apricots. Apricots to be canned are usually left on the trees to fully ripen before being harvested. Because of that, they will often have a richer flavor than those sold fresh in markets. The loss of nutrients is relatively small during the canning process, so consider canned apricots to be a good choice in that respect. Optimally, choose ones that were packed in water or juice, without added sugars or artificial sweeteners.

How to Store Apricots
Fresh Apricots. Apricots will continue to ripen after being harvested. If your apricots are not slightly soft with a sweet aroma, store them at room temperature, away from sunlight and heat. This will allow them time to further ripen. Unripe apricots will usually ripen within 5 days. To speed up the process, they can be placed in a paper bag (on the counter, away from sunlight and heat) for 2 or 3 days. Check apricots often, as they can ripen quickly.

Once they ripen, refrigerate the unwashed apricots to help prolong their life. It is notable that some authorities caution that cold temperatures may change their texture and flavor. So, once they are fully ripe it is best to eat your fresh apricots as soon as possible. Ripe apricots may keep in the refrigerator for up to one week, but ideally should be used within a few days.

Dried Apricots. For optimal nutritional value and shelf life, dried apricots should be stored in the refrigerator and used within 6 months. To extend the shelf life of dried apricots, they may be stored in an airtight bag or container in the freezer. There is usually a “Best by” date on the original packaging of dried apricots. For best flavor, enjoy them by that date. However, when kept in the refrigerator or freezer, their quality will likely extend beyond that original date.

Canned Apricots. Store unopened canned apricots in a cool, dry place, such as your pantry. Once opened, store any leftovers in a covered, nonmetallic container in the refrigerator. Use within 4 days.

How to Prepare a Fresh Apricot
First wash your apricot under cold water, and pat it dry. Then run a knife around the entire fruit at the natural indentation. Then grasp each half in your hands and gently twist the halves in opposite directions, separating the halves (like you would an avocado). Remove the pit, and enjoy!

Fresh vs Dried vs Canned Apricots
Fresh. When considering fruits and vegetables, fresh is always best with regard to nutrition. However, since fresh apricots have a short season, and don’t travel nor store well, dried and canned are our only options most of the time. Nevertheless, if you can get some fresh apricots when they are in season, consider them a good “find” and take advantage of the moment. Their nutritional value will be at its peak in the fresh state and they make a wonderful treat that we don’t get very often.

Dried. Dried apricots are usually found year-round in most stores and online. They may be found sulfured or unsulfured. The sulfured options maintain their beautiful orange color and flexible texture. The sulfur flavor may be objectional to some people with more discriminating taste buds. Also, some people react to sulfites that have been added to foods, so these would not be good options for them. The nutritional value of dried apricots is similar to their fresh counterparts, although the Vitamin C content will be reduced. Also, since water has been removed from the fruit when dried, their calorie and sugar contents will be more concentrated. It’s very easy to overeat dried fruit, so if you’re monitoring your calorie and sugar intake, it may be helpful to remove your “allotment” of dried apricots from the container and put the rest away before eating your treat. It’s far too easy to overeat them when eating “from bag to mouth,” so beware! Note that one-fourth to one-third cup of dried apricots is roughly equivalent to one cup of fresh. Bear that in mind when snacking on dried apricots to help keep you from overeating them.

Canned. Canned apricots are handy to keep in your pantry for whenever the need or desire for apricots comes up. When shopping for canned apricots, it’s important to read the label before making your purchase. Many are packed in syrup with added sweetener. If that is no issue for you, then that’s your choice. Many people cannot or choose not to indulge in added sweeteners. In that case, look for apricots canned in water or unsweetened fruit juice. The natural sugars in the fruit and juices will provide plenty of sweetness to the apricots, and will give you the option of adding more sweetness if needed in the dish you make with them.

When compared with fresh apricots, canned apricots are similar in nutritional content, with some nutrients actually increasing, while others decrease somewhat during the canning process. As reported in 2018 in the Journal of Food Science, researchers compared the nutritional content of fresh, canned, and frozen apricots from the same source. The canned apricots had increased in antioxidants such as beta-carotene and phenols, with a decrease in Vitamin C content. The frozen apricots exhibited increased antioxidant levels in all compounds tested, and remained higher than those found in fresh apricots, even after 3 months of being frozen.

One can conclude that apricots are healthful treats in whatever form they can be found—fresh, frozen, canned, or dried. It’s just important to be mindful of how many dried apricots you eat at one time, with regard to calorie and natural sugar content.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Apricots
* Add sliced apricots to hot or cold cereal.

* Add chopped apricots to pancake batter.

* Add diced apricots to chicken dishes or vegetable stews.

* Add diced apricots to a green salad.

* Apricots can be used in most recipes that call for peaches or nectarines.

* Apricots work well in many savory dishes, including those with lamb or poultry.

* Fresh apricots will turn dark after being cut. To help keep their color, dip the pieces in a solution with water and citrus or pineapple juice.

* Most recipes using fresh apricots don’t call for peeling them. But if you need to remove the skins, dip them in boiling water for 20 seconds, then quickly transfer them to a bowl of ice water. The skins should easily peel off.

* If your dried apricots have gotten too dry and hard, they can be revived either in the microwave or on the stove. For the microwave, place the dried apricots on a microwave-safe dish. Sprinkle a little water on them and cover them. Microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes. Check often for pliability so they are not overcooked. On the stove, dried apricots may be steamed until they soften. Check them often and remove them when they are the desired texture. Also, dried apricots can be softened by placing them in a bowl and covering them with hot water. Remove them when they are the desired texture.

* When chopping dried apricots in a food processor, add a little flour of choice with the apricots. The added flour will keep the small pieces from sticking together.

* When chopping dried apricots with a knife, oil the blade of the knife or dip it in flour to help keep the small pieces from sticking to the knife.

* If you enjoy salads but are trying to do without added oil, try pureeing canned apricots to use as an oil substitute. Ideally, opt for those packed in water or fruit juice, without added sweeteners of any type.

* If you use canned apricots, freeze the drained juice in ice cube trays and use them in smoothies or cold beverages, like iced tea. They will add extra flavor and sweetness to your beverage.

* A fruit sauce can be made from the drained juice of canned apricots. Simply thicken it with a little flour of choice or cornstarch. Use it over ice cream, desserts, or even pancakes.

* Canned apricots are an excellent choice to be used in baking, cobblers, and crisps.

* Try adding some chopped dried apricots to a cooked grain such as rice, quinoa, couscous, millet, or wild rice.

* If a recipe calls for dried apricots and you don’t have enough, you can substitute dried peaches, dried nectarines, or dried apples.

* Add chopped dried apricots to homemade granola.

* Make a pie with canned or fresh apricots.

* Try a parfait by layering yogurt with chopped apricots (canned, fresh, or dried), and granola. Add in some chopped nuts, if desired. Top with a little shredded coconut.

* Try apricot shortcake in place of strawberry shortcake.

* Top cottage cheese with sliced or chopped apricots (canned, fresh, or dried).

* For a healthful apricot jam, cook dried apricots in apple juice until they are very tender. No added sweetener is needed. Then puree them and serve. Store leftovers in a closed container in the refrigerator.

* For an easy apricot salsa, combine chopped fresh or canned apricots with chili peppers, lime juice, chopped onion, and a little ground cumin. Serve with chicken or fish.

* For something different, use sliced fresh apricots on a sandwich in place of sliced tomatoes.

* One pound of fresh apricots contains about 8 to 12 whole apricots, and about 2-1/2 cups of sliced apricots.

* One pound of dried apricots is about 2-3/4 cups, and about 5 cups when cooked.

* 2-1/2 pounds of fresh apricots is about 2 to 3 pints of frozen apricots, or 1 quart when canned.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Apricots
Allspice, anise, basil, bay leaf, cardamom, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder, curry spices, fennel seeds, lemongrass, lemon thyme, mint, nutmeg, parsley, pepper, rosemary, saffron, star anise, tarragon, thyme, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Apricots
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, bacon, cashews, chestnuts, chicken, ham, hazelnuts, lamb, nuts (in general), pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, pork, poultry, prosciutto, pumpkin seeds, salmon, sesame seeds, turkey, walnuts

Vegetables: Arugula, beets, cabbage, carrots, chiles, fennel, garlic, ginger, jicama, kale, lettuce, onions, spinach, sweet potatoes, zucchini

Fruits: Apples, bananas, berries (in general), blueberries, cherries, coconut, cranberries, dried fruits (in general), figs, fruit juices (in general), grapefruit, lemon, lime, mangoes, nectarines, oranges (fresh, juice, liqueur, zest), peaches, pears, pineapple, plums (dried, fresh), raisins, raspberries, strawberries

Grains and Grain Products: Barley, bulgur, cereals (hot and cold), couscous, grains (in general), granola, oats, quinoa, rice, wheat berries, wild rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Buttermilk, cheese (i.e., Brie, cottage, cream, goat, ricotta, soft white), cream, ice cream, mascarpone, sour cream, whipped cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Brandy, caramel, chocolate, Cognac, crème fraiche, honey, maple syrup, sugar, (i.e., brown, powdered), vinegar (i.e., balsamic, champagne, rice), white chocolate, wine (i.e., sweet, white)

Apricots have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e., breads, cakes, cookies, muffins, pies), cereals (hot and cold), chutneys, compotes, desserts (i.e., crisps, crumbles, custards), French toast, granola, ice cream, jams, juices, Middle Eastern cuisines, Moroccan cuisine, pancakes and crepes, pilafs, porridges, preserves, puddings (i.e., rice), salads (i.e., fruit, rice), salsas, sauces, smoothies, sorbets, soups (i.e., fruit), stews, stuffings, tagines (i.e., Moroccan stews), tarts

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Apricots
Add apricots (any type) to any of the following combinations…

Almonds + Cinnamon + Oats
Almonds +Raisins + Orange + Yogurt
Brown Sugar + Sweet Potatoes + Vanilla
Chiles + Ginger + Honey + Lime + Vinegar
Chocolate + Walnuts
Citrus (orange, lemon, lime) + Ginger
Dried Cherries + Walnuts + Oats + Yogurt
Grains (i.e., couscous, wild rice) + Nuts

Recipe Links
Raw Refrigerator Apricot Jam with Chia Seeds https://producemadesimple.ca/raw-refrigerator-apricot-jam/

Pear Apricot Chutney https://www.canadianliving.com/food/recipe/pear-apricot-chutney

Apricot Scones https://producemadesimple.ca/apricot-scones/

Grilled Apricot Caprese Salad https://www.jessfuel.com/2015/06/03/grilled-apricot-caprese-salad/

Apricot Chicken with Ginger and Cayenne Pepper https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/recipes/apricot-chicken-ginger-and-cayenne-pepper

Grilled Apricot Salad https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/recipes/grilled-apricot-salad

Apricot Rice Pilaf https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/recipes/apricot-rice-pilaf

Apricot Almond Bites https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/recipes/apricot-almond-bites

Apricot Ice Cream https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/recipes/apricot-ice-cream

42 Apricot Recipes That Show Off This Fuzzy Little Fruit https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/apricot-recipes/

Our 21 Best Apricot Dessert Recipes https://www.epicurious.com/recipes-menus/apricot-desserts-for-summer-cake-compote-tart-recipes-gallery

23 Sweet and Savory Apricot Recipes https://www.thespruceeats.com/fresh-and-dried-apricot-recipes-4687078

Slow Cooker Apricot Preserves https://www.thespruceeats.com/slow-cooker-apricot-preserves-1327823

Stewed Dried Apricots https://www.food.com/recipe/stewed-dried-apricots-226005

Stewed Apricots and Dried Plums https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/4915-stewed-apricots-and-dried-plums

 

Resources
https://www.thespruceeats.com/fruit-flavor-combinations-for-cocktails-760298

https://producemadesimple.ca/what-goes-well-with-apricots/

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=3#descr

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705341/

https://bjo.bmj.com/content/82/8/907

https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/fruits-lutein-zeaxanthin-6933.html

https://fruitguys.com/2012/07/fresh-fruit-storage-and-ripening-tips/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dried_apricot

https://www.eatbydate.com/fruits/dried-fruit-shelf-life-expiration-date/

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10942910701279945

https://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/perfect_prod_detail.asp?ppid=3

https://www.thespruceeats.com/apricot-selection-and-storage-1807928

https://tools.myfooddata.com/nutrition-comparison/171698-173941-171697/wt1-wt9-wt1/1-1-1

https://www.thespruceeats.com/apricot-cooking-tips-1807834

http://www.foodreference.com/html/tapricots.html

https://blog.hhs1.com/living-well/the-many-benefits-of-apricots

https://www.myfoodandfamily.com/article/000001620/purchasing-and-preparing-apricots

https://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/food/article/apricots-golden-and-fragrant

https://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/general-nutrition/q-are-dried-fruits-as-nutritious-as-fresh-canned-or-frozen/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/apricot-measures-substitutions-and-equivalents-1807457

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29786843/

https://food.ndtv.com/opinions/8-apricot-benefits-the-nutritional-heavyweight-among-fruits-1248312

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/apricots-benefits#TOC_TITLE_HDR_6

https://www.nutfruit.org/files/multimedia/Dried-Fruit-Equivalency-Brochure.pdf

https://foodcombo.com/find-recipes-by-ingredients/apricots-dried

https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-apricots#1

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/apricots.html

https://tools.myfooddata.com/nutrition-comparison/171697/wt3/3

Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

 

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.