Superfood 2: The Kiwi

Well, it looks like my experiment to see how often a medicine resident has time to blog is yielding less than ideal results… but like the blog’s namesake, I’ll keep practicing!  My excuse for the hiatus is that I worked a 28 hour shift, went straight to Mr.B’s parents’ place in northern Indiana, then right back to work for another 28 hour shift.  Needless to say, I took a 6 hour nap yesterday!

We spent Labor Day in Upland, IN, where Mr. B’s grandparents are from.  There is a festival there each year, complete with a parade and a children’s tractor pull (our nephews won, no big deal).  Mr. B has gone to 30 of these in a row, never missed a year!  We had a delicious cookout – my favorite was a fruit salad that had been frozen and was like a delicious smoothie.  It was perfect for the hot weather!

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My neices and a nephew… aren’t they cute!  (the middle one wasn’t allowed to have candy, hence the pout face).

Today is my day off, which always lets me focus more on healthy eating and gave me a chance to take a trip to Whole Foods (only my second time ever… more like Whole Paycheck!).   I started off the day with a protein shake made with almond milk, peanut butter, banana, and vanilla whey protein… with a couple of kiwis on the side.

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I decided to make kiwi the second SUPERFOOD I would investigate.  The first was the avocado.  There must be something about those foods of the green variety!  I found out that the kiwi used to be called Chinese gooseberries, but was renamed by New Zealanders after the kiwi, their national bird.

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How cute is that?   It’s like a procupine mixed with a duck?

I read a few review articles on the kiwi, the most informative being this paper in Food Research International.  Apparently, kiwis have been shown to have an anti-platelet aggregation effect.  Platelet aggregation happens in response to damage to the walls of blood vessels, which is how plaque build up causes heart attacks and strokes, and it is why it is recommended that older people take an aspirin each day.   They are also super-rich in Vitamin C and polyphenols, which are free radical scavengers.   Too many free radicals can interact with DNA and cause mutations that can lead to cancer, and the damage they cause has also been linked to stroke, heart attack, and even Alzheimer’s.   The free radicals in cigarette smoke are what causes lung damage.   I picture the kiwi inside me, chasing down and enveloping all the free radicals, probably wearing a cape (like any SUPERFOOD would!)

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Lunch today was a salad from Whole Foods.  Look at all the nutrients!  I also snacked on some of the delicious tortilla chips from their salad bar.

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Check out some of my haul below!  Now it’s time for a snack of apples and almond butter before meeting some friends for Barry’s Bootcamp.  I wonder what celebrity I will encounter this time…..

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Superfood 1: The Avocado

We hear the term “superfood” all the time…. it is not really a term that means anything and basically anyone can say it about any food.  It has come to mean a food that has a high nutrient density and is supposed to impact health in a positive way.   But I also think Graeters black raspberry chip ice cream is pretty super… it’s rich in calcium and it makes me feel happy, so shouldn’t that count?  (Never mind the insane saturated fat content.  Seriously, click the link and order some.)   I have decided to actually look into some of these foods and see how super they really are.

I’m starting with avocados – part of my dinner tonight in a Buffalo Chicken Salad  with spinach, broccoli slaw, red onion, tomato, 1/2 avocado, and one can of chunk chicken mixed with buffalo sauce.  I topped it with light chunky bleu cheese dressing (just a little!).  So good.

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Sooooo what can the mighty avocado get you? One regular avocado has about 4.6 g fiber, only 0.2 g sugar, 345 mg potassium, and 6.7 g monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA – the good kind.  Dosen’t MUFA sound like a bad*ss?).  Plus magnesium, Vit A, C E K, B6, folate, niacin, leutin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid… the list goes on.  And if you’re wondering why we need that last one, basically it is essential for life, but it also helps improve your cholesterol profile.

In addition to being nutrient dense, the avocado is 80% water and has a lot of fiber; so even though there is fat, it is comparable to other “diet” foods and will help you feel fuller.   Analysis of the NHANES data showed that avocado consumers had better cholesterol, less risk of metabolic syndrome, and small waist circumference.  Plus proven benefits of preventing arthritis and protecting your skin!  If you’re interested, you can read a good and accurate review of avocados here, complete with a full nutrition facts panel.

If you are worried about the fat, even though it’s the awesome MUFA kind, there has actually been a study comparing people eating the same low fat diet, but half of the people had avocados – there was no impairment of their weight loss!  (Peiterse et al, 2005).

Ole!  Guacamole! 

Avocados are no Clark Kent… they are a super food for sure.  I plan to experiment next with adding them to a smoothie for some creaminess.

And speaking of MUFAs…. I just had a spoonful of peanut butter.  Oh. Yes.

PB