Functional Food Spotlight: Turmeric
When thinking of antioxidants and superfoods, many of us envision beautiful blueberries, kale, or acai smoothie bowls. But herbs and spices can also be a great source of beneficial nutrients as well. One spice in particular that has been in the spotlight for health benefits is turmeric. Turmeric is from the root of the plant Curcuma longa.
The curcumin compound found in turmeric offers a beautiful yellow/orange color and is commonly found in curry dishes, but is also used in mustards, rice dishes, pickles, relish, and chutneys. Beyond the beautiful color and taste, turmeric stands out because of its promising research when it comes to preventing inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and potentially even diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
For example, oxidative stress and inflammatory reactions have been found to play a crucial role in the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Circumin appears to have an impact on the body by inhibiting inflammatory cytokines (the signaling molecules that are secreted from immune cells like that promote inflammation). When it comes to Alzheimer’s, the combination of neuroinflammation and beta-amyloid plaques are thought to decrease neuronal function in
Researchers have found that curcumin may decrease anti-beta-amyloid activity in vitro. More research is needed before turmeric is used to make any stronger health claims, though the spice is generally recognized as safe for consumption by the FDA with little risk of side effects.
Consuming curcumin in combination with meals and not as a standalone supplement increases its absorption, especially with fatty foods such as olive oil, avocado, fish oil, and seeds. If you’d like to try adding some curcumin into your diet, start with adding some to flavor your vegetables or enjoy a delicious warm turmeric chai latte.
Aggarwal BB, Harikumar KB. Potential therapeutic effects of curcumin, the anti-inflammatory agent, against neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, autoimmune and neoplastic diseases. Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2009;41(1):40-59.
Anand P, Kunnumarkkara AB, Newman RA, Aggarwal BB. Bioavailability of curcumin: problems and promises. Mol Pharm. 2007;4(6):807-818.
A large-scale experiment on New Year’s resolutions: Approach-oriented goals are more successful than avoidance-oriented goals
Now that 2021 is upon us you might be working on resolutions. If so you are not alone, in fact studies suggest that at least 50% of adults make a New Year’s resolution each year many of which are linked to fitness, eating habits, or weight loss.
Despite the popularity of New Year’s resolution only about 10% of those who make them actually stick to them for more than a few months. Current understanding about what makes some resolutions or people more successful compared to others is limited. Oscarsson, et al. recently released findings from their study that investigated differing success rates across various resolutions.
Type of resolution, access to information on effective goal setting, education, and support were measured. Interestingly, after 1 year the investigators found that participants with approach-oriented goals, goals in which a person is motivated by positive feedback, were significantly more successful than than those who had avoidance-oriented goals, or goals in which a person is motivated by fear or negative feedback. Additionally, those individuals who received the level of some support, but not extended support, were also more likely to achieve success.
Overall, the findings of this study suggest that New Year’s resolutions can be advantageous for some individuals and have lasting effects, especially if a person creates resolutions that are rooted in positive feedback and approached with goals that are pragmatic.
Oscarsson, M., Carlbring, P., Andersson, G., & Rozental, A. (2020). A large-scale experiment on New Year’s resolutions: Approach-oriented goals are more successful than avoidance-oriented goals. Plos one, 15(12), e0234097.
There is no standard definition by the FDA for the term “natural”, so when you see this labeling on a food, proceed with caution! If a food is labeled as natural, it does not necessarily mean it is a healthy option. While it may be free of added colors or artificial substances, it may still be loaded with unhealthy sugars or lacking nutrients. Being aware of this marketing trick can help you become a smarter consumer.
You’ve Got Questions? We’ve Got Answers!
Q: I’ve been wanting to put my macronutrient recommendations into practice but I’m not sure how to calculate how many grams per day I should be eating. Please help!
A: Your macronutrient ratios or “macros” are percentages of your calories that come from carbohydrates, protein, and fat. If you already have your recommended macronutrient distribution (either from your own GenoPalate report or from a health care provider), all you need is a calculator!
First, start with your total calorie goal for the day. Let’s use 2000 calories/day as an example. Next, multiply your carbohydrate/protein/fat ratios by 2000. For example, if your recommendations suggest 25% of your calories come from protein, multiply 2000 by 0.25 to get 500 calories from protein per day. Do this for each of the three macronutrients. The last step is to divide those numbers by how many calories are in one gram for each nutrient.
There are four calories per gram for carbohydrates and protein, and nine calories per gram for fat. So for your protein recommendation, you could divide 500 by 4 calories per gram to get 125 total grams per day. Now that you know how many grams of each nutrient to consume, you will have an easier time tracking and understanding the grams listed on food labels.
Kale Citrus Salad
January is a great time to enjoy your favorite citrus. Not only are they in season during the winter, but the extra Vitamin C can help keep your immune system strong. While citrus fruits taste delicious on their own, they can also add an awesome flavor to your favorite kale salad such as this Kale Citrus Salad by Minimalist Baker. Make this recipe your own by adding your favorite grain such as quinoa or amaranth, or topping with your favorite nuts and seeds.
Nutrition Analysis for 1 serving:
1 serving is 1 ball (Recipe makes approximately 20)
Calories: 240 kcals
Fiber: 3 g
Carbohydrates: 21 g
Protein: 3 g
Fat: 17 g
Beets are a delicious, nutrient-dense winter vegetable, though many struggle with how to eat them. It can be a little intimidating if you have never cooked with them before, but this beet smoothie recipe by Well Plated is a great way to ease into it! The recipe is complemented with other fruity flavors, so you won’t get overwhelmed by the beets. Beets are a great source of antioxidants and have been studied for their role in decreasing blood pressure because of their nitrate concentrations. Enjoy!
Nutrition Analysis for 1 serving:
Calories: 95 kcals
Fiber: 4 g
Carbohydrates: 19 g
Protein: 4 g
Fat: 1 g
Trends for Foodies
We have finally put 2020 behind us, and we are ready to embrace 2021! A lot happened in 2020 that has influenced the food and nutrition industry as a result of changes in eating and drinking behaviors. Let’s highlight a few of these changes:
- As more people started working from home, at-home coffee brewing surged as well. It’s no surprise that sales of new fancy brewing machines, coffee beans, creamers, and frothers have all increased.
- Foods that support climate change are also more popular than ever. This includes decreasing red meat intake, swapping plastic wrap and bags for reusable food storage, and shopping at local grocery stores and restaurants.
- In order to keep immune systems strong, foods that are considered “superfoods”, probiotics, mushrooms or adaptogens, and Vitamin C foods are more popular than ever.
- Spices and unique condiments have also been having a moment as more people are cooking at home and looking to get out of the regular meal routine rut.
What has been your biggest change in eating habits since last year? Have you tried any of these trends? Let us know!