Vitamins Shmitamins – Scientists Confirm Common Sense

Citrus and beet saladAchieving great health isn’t as easy as popping a pill – so say five physicians from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Warwick Medical School in a recent journal editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The story has been making headlines this month because the news is shocking to many self-described “health nuts.”

For me, this news couldn’t be more exciting. I’ve been telling people for years that whole foods – WHOLE FOODS! – are what your body needs to process just the right amounts of nutrition. Whole foods are almost always naturally balanced so their healing, healthful properties work together, boosting each other and catalyzing each other. When you separate out and condense one good property from its support system, the result isn’t nearly as beneficial – in fact, it can even be harmful.

That vitamins can be harmful may be the real shocker in this revelation. The authors specify Beta-carotene, vitamin E, and high doses of vitamin A supplements as being particularly bad, and the physicians were not at all impressed with folic acid, B vitamins, mineral supplements and multivitamins either.

Their conclusion?

A balanced diet is the best approach.

No kidding! Antioxidants, vitamins and other nutrients aren’t meant to be solo acts – they’re ensemble players. They need their supporting casts to do their work. In fact, the only vitamin not yet on the “Naughty List” is folic acid for pregnant women (and I’d still recommend a whole foods approach of leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli and citrus). Oh, and that vitamin D3? Get it from sunlight (you can overdose by pill, but your skin absorbs only what you need from the sun).

The journal article is titled “Enough is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements” and I recommend everyone read it. Then come in to Intelligent Gourmet and drink some nutrition-packed juice. It’s better than any vitamin!

Four Fabulous Fall Recipes

Pumpkin Recipes

Autumn is the time for harvest, which means some of the most delicious fruits, vegetables, and gourds are in season right now! So, even though the temperatures insist it’s still summer, let’s celebrate Fall in hopes that it will come in soon. Pumpkin Popsicles anyone? Just kidding.

Party-Sized Pumpkin Hummus 

For a healthy pumpkin dip perfect for Fall get-togethers, try this pumpkin hummus recipe. Just put everything in a food processor, except for the pumpkin seed and crispy sage garnishes. Serve with pita chips or your favorite vegetable chip!

  • 1 15oz can of garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 Cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tbs Tahini
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 Tbs Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish
  • Crispy sage for garnish (just heat olive oil in a pan and sautee the sage leaves until crispy)

Butternut Squash & Apple Salad

Instead of attempting to re-create the genius of this recipe by Balanced Platter, I’m just going to link to the original. It’s as easy as roasting butternut squash with onions and olive oil, then combining it with crisp fresh chopped apples, herbs, and apple cider vinegar.

Pop-Corn

Have you tried sprinkling plain popcorn with melted coconut oil, cinnamon and sugar? If you haven’t – this is a must-try for your next home movie night.

Sweet Potato Ginger Coconut Casserole

This is what happens when you put everything good about Fall in Florida in the oven and bake it. This mouth-watering recipe comes from Eating Richly: Combine 3 Lbs cooked, mashed sweet potatoes with 1 tsp grated ginger, 1/4 cup coconut milk, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp orange zest, and 1/4 cup orange juice and put into a casserole dish. Top with chopped pecans and crystallized ginger and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Need more Fall inspiration? We’ve got a Pinterest Board for that!

Seasonal Recipes for Fall

What’s in Season: Springtime in Florida

Organic Strawberries

The first new buds of Spring are finally ripening here in Florida. According to the harvest calendar, it’s time for asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, avocado, peas and strawberries to hit the Farmers Markets.

While you’ll notice that in-season asparagus is more crisp and tender, and Spring strawberries picked at their ripest red are sweeter, you might be thinking, “but I can get broccoli and cabbage at the grocery store any time!” Here’s why eating even these easy-to-find-year-round veggies seasonally is great for you:

  1. Studies show that fruits and vegetables grown and harvested in season have up to 3 times more nutrients than those grown out of season or shipped in.
  2. Eating seasonally is easier on your wallet – the food doesn’t have to arrive via plane, train and automobile, which means you’re not paying for its gas! There are also specials on seasonal produce since it’s abundant and needs to be eaten.
  3. Out-of-season produce is more likely to undergo chemical washes and wax coatings to protect them on the long trek to your table. We don’t like wax and chemicals around here!
  4. They just taste better.

Let’s look at what Spring’s harvest can do for you health-wise:

  • Avocado is packed with fiber and vitamins and aids in detoxing the liver.
  • Peas are high in protein and fiber, promote colon health and strengthen blood vessels.
  • Asparagus contains folate and zinc, is anti-inflammatory and contains antioxidants – which make it one of the best natural artery-cleansing foods.
  • Broccoli and Cabbage are actually in the same family, and both contain powerful anti-carcinogens that fight cancer.
  • Strawberries are low in calorie and delicious, and they also contain lots of dietary fiber (lowers blood pressure, keeps digestion regular) and antioxidants. The combination of anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants is a one-two cancer-fighting punch.

Sweetening the Pot, Safely!

Last time, we looked at some of the undesirable effects of eating high-glycemic diets – that is, those that are high in sugars and white flours. We basically agreed that, while sweet things will always hold a special place in our hearts, there are tons of reasons to switch to a low-glycemic diet and make sugary confections a “sometimes food”.

Here’s a quick tip: Don’t click on that link if you don’t want a super-groovy song featuring a bebopin’ owl and some psychedelic dancing fruit stuck in your head all day. But if that’s your thing, click away!

One thing we didn’t talk about was other types of sweeteners – what should we do about those? Artificial sweeteners are generally bad news. They’re in almost every diner in America, but that doesn’t mean they’re safe to eat. Your body doesn’t recognize artificial sweeteners as food, so it doesn’t know what to do with them. They either sit in your digestive system or they permeate your intestinal walls and run around in your blood stream, causing trouble. Studies have linked artificial sweeteners to headaches and nausea, and other research suggests that they can kill off good bacteria in your digestive tract and lower your immune system. And they have that weird aftertaste – am I right?

It’s definitely best to avoid the five FDA-approved artificial sweeteners: Aspartame (brand names NutraSweet® and Equal®), Saccharin (brand name Sweet’N Low®), Sucralose (brand name Splenda®), Acesulfame K (or acesulfame potassium), and Neotame (produced by the NutraSweet Company).

Now the Great News – there are zero-calorie sweeteners that are great for you, and natural!

Stevia, a natural, no-calorie sweetener that comes from the stevia plant, is 100 times sweeter than sugar, so a bottle will last you months, and you won’t have the anxiety that comes with filling your body with chemical-laden artificial sweeteners. Because really, that’s nobody’s thing.

Food for Thought: Mother (Nature) Knows Best

Mama Nature’s natural tendency come summer is to pull all the animals out of hibernation – and that includes you. As sunbathing becomes part of your daily routine, you’ll notice a natural aversion to dense and heavy foods, like stews, pot roasts, and casseroles. Trade in those winter-reminders with lots of the easily accessible fruits and veggies. Those bright berries and lush greens expedite our bodies ability to detoxify, naturally making us feel cool in the heat.

Curious as to what summer fruits and vegetables you’ll find to fill your plate? Apricots, avocados, basil, beets, blueberries, mango, peaches, plums, squash and tomatoes are just a few natural treats that will be plentiful. Imagine a simple lunch each day of fresh basil leaves and heirloom tomatoes drizzled in olive oil. Perfection. Add a sprinkle of goat cheese for a more fanciful fare.
photo by aeiowu