Fresh Produce Knows Best: Myth Debunked!

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True or false: The best produce is fresh produce.

False…..ish.

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If you are able to find fresh produce that is local, in season, and has been picked at its ripest point, then this statement is true. However, if you’re purchasing your produce from a store where fruits and vegetables have been shipped from different parts of the country and all over the world, then frozen and even canned products can be a more nutrient smart decision to make.

Why is this?

When produce has to be shipped, it typically is picked before it is at its ripest state which means it hasn’t had the opportunity to meet its full capacity of vitamins and nutrients. These products can also be placed in extreme heat conditions while traveling, causing a loss in vitamin A and C. Often times this “fresh” produce will go days or even weeks before being placed on the shelf to be purchased, giving it time to lose even more of its nutrient value.

The Faceoff 

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Benefits:

  • Highest nutritional content when consumed immediately at its peak of ripeness
  • Typically no added sugars or other ingredients

Disadvantages:

  • Is often picked before ripe, meaning it hasn’t had the opportunity to obtain the fullest amount of vitamins
  • Loses nutritional content the farther it has to travel and the longer it takes to get on the shelf. Sometimes fresh produce can be sitting out for as long as 2 weeks before it even makes it to the store, according to Suzanne Henson, RD
  • Can be expensive, especially when not in season
  • Short shelf life

Tips:

  • Shop for what is in season
  • Purchase fresh produce at local farmer’s markets
  • Have your own garden and freeze produce when it is at its peak

canned

Benefits:

  • Longer shelf life
  • More affordable

Disadvantages:

  • Can have added ingredients (sweeteners and salt)
  • Loses some of its nutritional value, such as vitamin A and C, due to the cooking and processing involved
  • May not be as flavorful due to the process of canning

Tips:

  • Look at the ingredients and make sure there are no added ingredients
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables to remove excess syrups and sodium
  • Use produce immediately after opening can to fully utilize the nutrients and maintain freshness

frozen

Benefits:

  • Typically not as expensive as fresh produce
  • Lasts longer in the freezer
  • Produce is picked when it’s most nutrient rich, then is flash-frozen to preserve freshness and nutritional content

Disadvantages:

  • Can have added sweeteners and salt
  • May not have the same taste or texture as fresh produce

Tips:

  • Read the label and look to purchase only produce that has itself listed as the ingredient
  • If you have a garden or buy local, freeze berries and other foods that are only good during certain times of the year to enjoy them year round

There you have it! Fresh produce isn’t necessarily the best, most nutrient-rich way to get your daily intake of fruits and vegetables. Shop around and be sure to read the labels when buying canned or frozen goods. If you’re feeling up to the challenge, try having your own garden to ensure you are consuming fruits and vegetables that are at their peak in freshness and nutritional value.

What other myths would you like to see debunked that are related to health and fitness?

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Defining and Obtaining Happiness

What defines happiness? It’s something that everyone strives to obtain, but what exactly is it that we’re trying to seek? A recent article through Huffington Post asked people how they defined happiness and these were a few of the ways people described this difficult to define state of well-being.

   “ Being at peace with everything around you

Liking yourself and not explaining why

                   A slice of pie with no one hassling you

                          Music      

                   Following your bliss

                               Selflessness

A healthy body and peaceful mind ”

 

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One of the biggest attributes to happiness, according to Americans, is success. American Express found through a survey of over 2,000 participants that the top factors relating to the feeling of being successful were good health, a healthy marriage or relationship, managing personal finances, a good balance of work and life, loving their career, and most importantly, having an open-mindset.  They also found only 27 percent of Americans believe that money buys happiness.

A study in Psychological Bulletin also found that happier people are more successful. Meaning these two components, happiness and success, go hand in hand. That being said, here are some ways to not only be happier with who you are and what you are doing, but to also discover success while doing it.

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Do this first:
     
Make an effort to actually be happy. The Atlantic found through a study where participants were forced to smile by the use of chopsticks moving their cheeks into a smile position, that a conscious effort to actually be happy is 40 percent responsible for obtaining happiness.

Now, do this!

  • Have a theme song. Cheesy? Maybe. But by having a song that picks you up when you’re down can drastically improve your mood.
  • Give your body the TLC it needs. Not just by eating right and exercising, but also realizing when your body needs a break and time to relax.
  • Try something new. Exposing yourself to different ideas and activities can boost your creativity and add depth and enjoyment to your life.
  • Keep a picture around that makes you smile as this can serve as a great reminder of what is important in life and how to appreciate what you have. 
  • Go with the flow. If you’re the type who wants to control everything, stop. You can only control so much before you allow the control freak inside of you to take over.
  • Do something nice for someone else. Not only does this make them happy, it ends up making you happier as well knowing you helped someone out.
  • Be positive. For every negative thought you have (about yourself, your job, your life, someone else), turn it around and find a positive side to it. Try waking up every morning and telling yourself “Today is going to be a great day.” Starting out the day with a positive attitude will impact your outlook throughout the rest of the day.
  • Surround yourself with positive, happy, optimistic people. You are who you hang out with, so why would you want to submerge yourself in negativity?

Stop doing these…

  • Blaming others and whining. Realize what you may have done wrong, or what inevitably went wrong. Then analyze it, rather than point fingers and complain about it, and think about what you can do better next time to learn from it rather than dwell on it.
  • Trying to impress others. Do you really need to check in at the gym and tell everyone you’re working out? Or do you really need to buy another designer hand bag? Think about if you’re doing something to make you happy, or if you’re doing it to get a reaction out of others to make you happy.
  • No more grudges. Studies have shown that those who forgive have a reduced stress level and better cardiovascular health.
  • Holding back. Some of the greatest feelings of happiness and success comes from the excitement when we take chances and succeed (or don’t succeed the first time but continue to try and grow from these chances).
  • Rushing and interrupting. Give yourself adequate time to get things done so you aren’t always rushing from one place to the next, increasing your stress level for unnecessary reasons. Take the time to listen to what people have to say and engage in genuine conversations and discussions.
  • Stop procrastinating and be proactive. Putting off things to the last minute may add pressure to get the job done, but it also can increase your stress level and cause unwanted anxiety.
  • Taking yourself so seriously. Laugh, have fun, be goofy! Release those endorphins and try not to make everything such a serious situation

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Most importantly, find what makes you happy and try to incorporate this into your daily schedule. Make time for yourself at the end of a busy day and try to boot out the negative and replace it with the positive. Realize that….happiness-quotes-094

What makes you happy?

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