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Archive for November, 2012

cranberries

cranberries (Photo credit: Anne Davis)

While turkey and dressing tantalize taste buds, festive tables catch the eyes with a glimmer of cranberries that sparkle like crown jewels. Can you imagine Thanksgiving dinner without their tangy taste?  Choose the jellied form slipped from a can, make whole-berry sauce from fresh berries, or use endless combinations in appetizers to desserts.

Cranberries are one of three fruits native to North America. Native Americans used cranberries long before Pilgrims arrived. We don’t know if the first Thanksgiving menu included cranberries, but it’s a good possibility since they were prolific in the area. When German and Dutch immigrants arrived on our shores, they called this red fruit “crane berries” because the flower resembled the head and bill of a crane.

Although now available all year, Americans consume 20 percent during Thanksgiving week of the 400 million pounds of cranberries used annually.

Cranberries are nutritious and great as part of a healthy diet. They are rich sources of antioxidants and fiber with negligible amounts of fat or sodium. Early sailors ate cranberries to prevent scurvy which we now know was because of its vitamin C content.

Many believe that cranberry juice improves unitary track infection (UTI). Two recent (2012) studies refute the benefits. One study concluded that some cranberry products may help protect against UTI, but they were ineffective in improving the condition. The second study determined that UTI responded better to antibiotics than cranberries.

Regardless, enjoy the tasty, nutritious berries again this holiday season. For a change of pace, try this versatile fruit in new ways. Below is a family favorite. Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.

CRANBERRY ORANGE MOLD

1                      (6 ounce) package orange flavored gelatin

2                      cups hot water

1 1/2                cups pineapple juice/water

1                      (14 ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce

1                      (15 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained

1/2                   cup pecans, chopped

2                      teaspoons orange zest, optional

Dissolve flavored gelatin in hot water. Add cranberries and mix. Drain pineapple. Add cold water to drained juice to make 1 1/2 cups. Add to gelatin mixture. Chill until consistency of egg whites. Add orange zest, pecans, and pineapple. Pour into a ring mold lightly sprayed with cooking spray.

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November 14 is World Diabetes Day. The World Health Organization estimates that diabetes affects more than 346 million people worldwide. In the United States, diabetes afflicts more than eight percent of the population with about seven million of those undiagnosed.

Type 1 diabetes usually develops in childhood. The pancreas is unable to produce enough of the hormone insulin to convert blood glucose into energy. Only about five percent of those with diabetes have this form.

Type II diabetes is often called adult-onset diabetes. It is more prevalent in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and in the aged population. This type more commonly occurs as a result of excessive weight caused by a poor diet and too little exercise.

Diet is key in controlling diabetes. Often people who are overweight and diagnosed with the condition can improve or even eliminate the disease  by losing weight and eating a healthier diet. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) at http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/ provides guidelines to improve eating. These include:

  • Make healthy food choices. Choose from a variety of vegetables, fruits, lean meats, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.
  • Recognize and control intake of foods that raise blood glucose. Carbohydrates raise sugar levels in the blood. The carbohydrate sugar does not cause diabetes, but consuming too much can increase blood glucose levels and result in weight gain. However, not all sugars are bad. Sugars primarily come in the form of natural sources, such as fruits which are healthy for you, and added sugars. It is the latter that can create problems. Starch is another source of carbohydrate. Choose those higher in fiber and from whole grain sources.
  • Consume more diabetes superfoods. The ADA lists the following as superfoods: beans, dark green leafy vegetables, citrus fruit, sweet potatoes, berries, tomatoes, fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, nuts, and fat-free dairy products. Some of these foods are high in calories so enjoy but watch serving size.
  • Choose desserts sparingly and selectively. A diagnosis of diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy an occasional treat. Choose those with fewer calories and savor small portions.
  • Fats. Learn the difference between good fats and bad fats. Those from animal source generally aren’t as healthy while most from plant sources are.

If you are one of those nearly nineteen million in the US already diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, review your lifestyle and keep blood sugar levels under control. If you aren’t, remember these tips to stay healthy and enjoy living without the risk of this disease and its many medical complications. For more information, see the ADA website at http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/.

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