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Facts About Food That Can Influence Your Diet

fruits and vegetablesDid you know that a green (unripe) banana confers its own unique health benefits?

Green bananas are a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and contain resistant starch which cannot be broken down by enzymes in your digestive system and, therefore, acts more like fiber. Including foods high in resistant starch in your diet may reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease by aiding in blood sugar control and lowering blood cholesterol levels.

Bananas have higher levels of antioxidants as they ripen. Fully ripened bananas produce a substance called Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF). TNF regulates immune cells and imparts anti-cancer qualities.  As bananas ripen and form dark patches, the banana has a higher immunity-enhancing quality.

As important as what we eat is how we eat it. Many health advocates claim that a raw diet offers the most nutritional value compared to cooked foods.  Does eating your food raw give you the best nutritional bang for the buck? Maybe not.

Cooked or raw?

When you cook your veggies, you lose some nutrients, but others become more available for your body to use. In some veggies, heating releases bound calcium, making more of the mineral available for the body to absorb. Cooked spinach, for example, has 245 mg per cup of calcium, while raw spinach only has 30 mg per cup. That’s a significant difference!  Other foods that may be more nutritious cooked include mushrooms, carrots, potatoes and asparagus.

Tomatoes are very high in an antioxidant called lycopene.  Cooked tomatoes have as much as 164% more lycopene than raw tomatoes.  The vitamin C content of tomatoes decreases when they are cooked by as much as 50%.  For men, eating cooked tomatoes may be preferable as lycopene has been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Foods that have water-soluble vitamins like B and C, may be better eaten raw, at least sometimes.  Bell peppers, for example, lose 75% of their antioxidants when cooked. Other foods to consider eating raw are broccoli, carrots, onions and garlic. The consensus among most nutrition experts is that you need both raw and cooked veggies to get the most vitamins and minerals.

The best way to eat fruits and veggies is the way that will get you to eat the most of them.  Listen to your body and do what works for you.

Andrea Groth Wellbeing Detective

Andrea wants to live in a world where the neighborhoods are walkable, bike lanes are plentiful, and the food is fresh, delicious and readily available.

A 20-year veteran of the health and wellness industry, she started her career in the fitness industry while earning a master’s degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion, and then on to the burgeoning field of worksite wellness. Andrea has competed in collegiate level soccer, worked as a personal trainer, fitness instructor, wellness coach, and master trainer, climbed 14ers, and completed cycling centuries and metric centuries. All of these experiences give her the opportunity to view well-being from many different perspectives.
When she’s not helping others to be their healthiest self, you can find her at a farm to table restaurant, down dogging at the yoga studio, or experiencing the Colorado landscape on a bicycle, snowshoes, cross country skis or on foot.