A Pear of Hearts

Not only is today Valentine’s Day, but February is American Heart Month. Unfortunately, heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women, despite being preventable (CDC). Today, some of my culinary nutrition students presented current research on cardiovascular disease prevention with a focus on increasing antioxidants in the diet. Antioxidants, such as flavonoids and carotenoids, are naturally occurring nutrients in plant foods that prevent damage to the body’s cells; this damage, called oxidation, is a primary cause of most chronic illnesses, including heart disease. To protect your heart and the hearts of those you love, the recipe for success is simple: Eat more fruits and vegetables! Brightly colored fruits and vegetables offer the strongest oxidation fighters, and also contain heart-healthy vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Want to make your valentine’s day and still indulge? Pair dark chocolate (flavonoids) and Continue reading

Meet Your Needs with Pears

I’m working in a coffee shop today for a change of scenery and am astounded at the sheer number of coffee and tea beverages available, many bursting with excessive caffeine, sugar, and fat. According to the American Chemical Society, coffee is the primary source of antioxidants in the American diet.¹ This is not because coffee supplies so many antioxidants, but rather, because Americans drink so much of this caffeinated beverage. Although coffee does have nutritional benefits, this information suggests to me that Americans simply don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables! MyPyramid, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) food guidance system² recommends most adults consume 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 to 3 cups of vegetables each day to achieve optimal health; however, in 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that only 32.6% of U.S. adults consume fruit 2 Continue reading