The ketogenic, or keto, diet is a very low carb, high fat eating plan on which carb intake is often restricted to less than 20–50 grams per day.
As such, many high carb foods are considered off-limits on this diet, including certain types of grains, starchy vegetables, legumes, and fruits.
However, some fruits are low in carbs and can fit into a well-rounded keto diet.
Some are also high in fiber, an indigestible type of carb that doesn't count toward your total daily carb count. That means they contain fewer net, or digestible, carbs. This is calculated by subtracting the grams of fiber from the total grams of carbs.
Here are 9 nutritious, tasty, and keto-friendly fruits.
Though avocados are often referred to and used as a vegetable, they're biologically considered a fruit.
Thanks to their high content of heart-healthy fats, avocados make a great addition to a ketogenic diet.
They're also low in net carbs, with around 8.5 grams of carbs and nearly 7 grams of fiber in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving (1Trusted Source).
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of avocado contains around 1.5 grams of net carbs. They're also high in vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, and potassium.
Watermelon is a flavorful and hydrating fruit that's easy to add to a ketogenic diet.
Compared with other fruits, watermelon is relatively low in net carbs, with around 11.5 grams of carbs and 0.5 grams of fiber in a 1-cup (152-gram) serving (2Trusted Source).
That said, depending on your daily carb allotment, you may need to adjust your portion sizes to fit watermelon into your diet.
Watermelon is likewise rich in a variety of other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, and copper (2Trusted Source).
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of avocado contains around 1.5 grams of net carbs. They're also high in vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, and potassium.
Strawberries are nutritious, delicious, and brimming with health benefits.
Low in carbs and high in fiber, strawberries can fit seamlessly into a low carb or ketogenic diet.
In fact, a 1-cup (152-gram) serving of strawberries provides just 11.7 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber (4Trusted Source).
Plus, like other types of berries, strawberries are loaded with antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and procyanidins (5Trusted Source).
Each cup (152 grams) of strawberries provides 8.7 grams of net carbs. They also contain a host of antioxidants, as well as vitamin C, manganese, and folate.
Lemons are a popular citrus fruit used to flavor drinks, meals, and desserts.
Lemons can be a great addition to the ketogenic diet, with approximately 5.5 grams of carbs and 1.5 grams of dietary fiber in each fruit (6Trusted Source).
Lemons are also high in several other nutrients, including vitamin C, potassium, and vitamin B6 (6Trusted Source).
Lemons can be a great addition to a ketogenic diet, with 4 grams of net carbs in each fruit. They also contain pectin, a type of fiber associated with several health benefits.
Despite being used as a vegetable in many meals and recipes, tomatoes are botanically classified as a fruit.
With a significantly lower carb count than many other fruits, tomatoes are easy to fit into a balanced ketogenic diet.
One cup (180 grams) of raw tomatoes contains about 7 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fiber (8Trusted Source).
Tomatoes provide only 5 grams of net carbs per 1-cup (180-gram) serving. They also contain antioxidants like lycopene, beta carotene, and naringenin.
In addition to being one of the healthiest berries, raspberries are a great addition to a low carb or ketogenic diet.
In fact, 1 cup (123 grams) of raspberries provides only 7 grams of net carbs, as this serving size has around 15 grams of carbs and 8 grams of fiber (12Trusted Source).
Each serving also offers a good amount of vitamin C, manganese, vitamin K, and copper (12Trusted Source).
What's more, raspberries are high in antioxidants that can decrease inflammation and reduce your risk of chronic disease (13Trusted Source).
A 1-cup (123-gram) serving of raspberries contains only 7 grams of net carbs. These berries are rich in vitamin C, manganese, vitamin K, copper, and antioxidants.
Peaches are a type of stone fruit known for their fuzzy skin and sweet, juicy flesh.
They're relatively low in net carbs, with 14.7 grams of carbs and 2.5 grams of fiber per cup (154 grams) (14Trusted Source).
By moderating your portion size and pairing peaches with other low carb foods, you can fit this tasty fruit into a healthy keto diet.
According to a study in 1,393 people, regularly eating peaches along with other fruits and vegetables high in flavonoids and stilbene may even be linked to improved triglyceride and cholesterol levels, both of which are risk factors for heart disease (15Trusted Source).
One cup (154 grams) of peaches provides 12.2 grams of net carbs. This stone fruit also offers a wealth of other nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and niacin.
The cantaloupe is a type of muskmelon closely related to other varieties of melon, such as watermelon and honeydew.
Each serving of cantaloupe is relatively low in net carbs, with just 12.7 grams of carbs and 1.5 grams of fiber per cup (156 grams) (16Trusted Source).
Plus, just a single serving provides a hearty dose of folate, potassium, and vitamin K (16Trusted Source).
It's also one of the best sources of beta carotene, a type of plant pigment that plays a central role in immune function and eye health (17Trusted Source).
Still, depending on your daily carb allowance, you may want to opt for a smaller portion size to fit cantaloupe into your diet.
With 11.2 grams of net carbs in each cup (156 grams), cantaloupe can be incorporated into a well-planned ketogenic diet. Cantaloupe also contains folate, potassium, vitamin K, and beta carotene.
9. Star Fruit
Also known as carambola, star fruit is a vibrant, star-shaped tropical fruit native to Southeast Asia.
Although star fruit is not as common as many other types of fruit, it's a popular choice for those on a ketogenic diet due to its low carb content.
In fact, a 1-cup (108-gram) serving of star fruit contains just 7.3 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber (18Trusted Source).
Star fruit is also packed with vitamin C, copper, potassium, and pantothenic acid (18Trusted Source).
A 1-cup (108-gram) serving of star fruit contains just 4.3 grams of net carbs. Star fruit is also a good source of vitamin C, copper, potassium, and pantothenic acid.
The Bottom Line
Although fruits are often considered off-limits on the ketogenic diet, plenty of low carb fruits can be incorporated into the diet.
In addition to being low in net carbs and high in fiber, many of these fruits offer a wealth of other important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support overall health.
Enjoy these fruits in moderation alongside a variety of other low carb foods as part of a well-rounded ketogenic diet.
By Sharon O'Brien
Dietary fiber is the carbohydrate in plants that your body cannot digest.
Though it's essential to your gut and overall health, most people don't reach the recommended daily amounts (RDA) of 25 and 38 grams for women and men, respectively.
Both soluble and insoluble fiber help bulk up your stools and can be used as a food source for good bacteria in your large intestine.
Soluble fiber draws water into your gut, which softens your stools and supports regular bowel movements.
It not only helps you feel fuller and reduces constipation but may also lower your cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Here are 20 healthy foods that are high in soluble fiber.
1. Black Beans
Black beans are not only a great way to give your dishes a meaty texture but also an amazing source of fiber.
One cup (172 grams) packs 15 grams, which is about what an average person consumes per day, or 40–60% of the RDA for adults.
Black beans contain pectin, a form of soluble fiber that becomes gummy-like in water. This can delay stomach emptying and make you feel fuller longer, giving your body more time to absorb nutrients.
Soluble fiber content: 5.4 grams per three-quarter cup (129 grams) of cooked black beans.
2. Lima Beans
Lima beans, also known as butter beans, are large, flat, greenish-white beans.
They mainly contain carbs and protein, as well as a little fat.
They're lower in total dietary fiber than black beans, but their soluble fiber content is almost identical. Lima beans also contain the soluble fiber pectin, which is associated with reduced blood sugar spikes after meals.
Soluble fiber content: 5.3 grams per three-quarter cup (128 grams) of lima beans.
3. Brussels Sprouts
The world may be divided into Brussels sprout lovers and haters, but whatever side you're on, it's undeniable that this vegetable is packed with vitamins and minerals, along with various cancer-fighting agents.
What's more, Brussels sprouts are a great source of fiber, with 4 grams per cup (156 grams).
The soluble fiber in Brussels sprouts can be used to feed beneficial gut bacteria. These produce vitamin K and B vitamins, along with short-chain fatty acids that support your gut lining.
Soluble fiber content: 2 grams per one-half cup (78 grams) of Brussels sprouts.
Avocados originate from Mexico but have gained popularity worldwide.
Haas avocados are the most common type. They're an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, potassium, vitamin E, and dietary fiber.
One avocado packs 13.5 grams of dietary fiber. However, one serving — or one-third of the fruit — provides about 4.5 grams, 1.4 of which are soluble.
Rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber, avocados really stand out in this regard.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are high in potassium, beta carotene, B vitamins, and fiber. Just one medium-sized sweet potato packs over 400% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) of vitamin A.
Therefore, sweet potatoes can contribute significantly to your total soluble fiber intake.
Soluble fiber content: 1.8 grams per one-half cup (150 grams) of cooked sweet potato.
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that grows well in cool seasons. It's usually dark green, but you can also find purple varieties.
The high amount of soluble fiber in broccoli can support your gut health by feeding the good bacteria in your large intestine. These bacteria produce beneficial short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate and acetate.
Turnips are root vegetables. Larger varieties are usually fed to livestock, but the smaller types are a great addition to your diet.
Soluble fiber content: 1.7 grams per one-half cup (82 grams) of cooked turnips.
Pears are crisp and refreshing and serve as a decent source of vitamin C, potassium, and various antioxidants.
Due to their high fructose and sorbitol contents, pears can sometimes have a laxative effect. If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you may need to moderate your intake.
Soluble fiber content: 1.5 grams per medium-sized pear.
9. Kidney Beans
Their characteristic shape gave kidney beans their name.
Kidney beans are a good source of soluble fiber, particularly pectin.
However, some people find beans hard to digest. If that's the case for you, start increasing your kidney bean intake slowly to avoid bloating.
Figs were one of the first cultivated plants in human history.
They're highly nutritious, containing calcium, magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, and other nutrients.
Both dried and fresh figs are great sources of soluble fiber, which slows the movement of food through your intestines, allowing more time for nutrient absorption.
Based on anecdotal evidence, dried figs have been used as a home remedy to relieve constipation for years. While one study found that fig paste improved bowel movements in constipated dogs, human-based research is lacking.
Soluble fiber content: 1.9 grams per one-fourth cup (37 grams) of dried figs.
Nectarines are stone fruits that grow in warm, temperate regions. They're similar to peaches, but don't have the same characteristic fuzzy skin.
Apricots are small, sweet fruits that range in color from yellow to orange, with the occasional red tinge.
Carrots are one of the most popular and tasty vegetables on Earth.
Boiled or steamed, carrots are a key ingredient in many recipes, but they can also be grated into salads or used to make desserts like carrot cake.
With good reason, you may have been told as a child to eat carrots to help you see in the dark.
Carrots are packed with beta carotene, some of which is converted into vitamin A. This vitamin supports your eyes and is particularly important for night vision.
One cup (128 grams) of chopped carrots contains 4.6 grams of dietary fiber, 2.4 of which are soluble.
Since many people enjoy this vegetable daily, it can be a key source of soluble fiber.
Apples are one of the most commonly eaten fruits in the world. Most varieties are quite sweet, but others like Granny Smith can be very sour.
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is an old proverb that may have some truth, as eating this fruit is associated with a lower risk of many chronic diseases.
Apples pack various vitamins and minerals and are a good source of the soluble fiber pectin. Apple pectin may have many health benefits, such as a reduced risk of heart disease and improved gut function.
Guavas are a tropical fruit native to Mexico and Central and South America. Their skin is typically green, while the pulp can range from off-white to deep-pink.
This fruit has been shown to reduce blood sugar, as well as total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in healthy people. In part, this may be due to the soluble fiber pectin, which can delay the absorption of sugar.
16. Flax Seeds
Flax seeds, also known as linseeds, are tiny brown, yellow, or golden seeds.
They pack a nutritious punch and can be a great way to improve the nutrient content of your smoothies, breads, or cereals.
Sprinkling 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds over your porridge can add an extra 3.5 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein to your breakfast. They're also one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fats.
If possible, soak ground flax seeds overnight, as this allows their soluble fiber to combine with water to form a gel, which may aid digestion.
Soluble fiber content: 0.6–1.2 grams per tablespoon (14 grams) of whole flax seeds.
17. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a great nutritious snack and often purchased already shelled to reveal the tasty sunflower heart.
They contain about 3 grams of dietary fiber per one-fourth cup, 1 gram of which is soluble. What's more, they're rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, protein, magnesium, selenium, and iron.
Hazelnuts are a delicious type of nut that can be eaten raw or roasted for a stronger flavor. They're also often used as an ingredient in chocolate bars and spreads.
Partly due to their soluble fiber content, hazelnuts may help reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Oats are one of the most versatile and healthy grains around. You can use them to make breakfast cereals, breads, scones, flapjacks, or fruit crumbles.
They contain beta glucan, a form of soluble fiber that's associated with reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol and improved blood sugar control. It's estimated that 3 grams of oat beta glucan per day can reduce your risk of heart disease.
About 1.25 cups (100 grams) of dry oats contain 10 grams of total dietary fiber. This is divided into 5.8 grams of insoluble and 4.2 grams of soluble fiber, 3.6 of which are beta glucan.
Beta glucan is also what gives porridge its characteristic creamy texture.
Some people may associate barley with the brewing industry, but this nutritious ancient grain is also often used to thicken soups, stews, or risottos.
Like oats, it contains about 3.5–5.9% of the soluble fiber beta glucan, which has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Other forms of soluble fiber in barley are psyllium, pectin, and guar gum.
The Bottom Line
Soluble fiber is great for your gut and overall health, reducing your risk of heart disease by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and helping you balance your blood sugar levels.
If you want to increase your soluble fiber intake, it's often best to start slowly and build it up gradually.
It's also a good idea to drink plenty of water. This will help the soluble fiber form a gel, which aids digestion and prevents constipation.
All fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes contain some soluble fiber, but certain foods like Brussels sprouts, avocados, flax seeds, and black beans are the cream of the crop.
- 6 Reasons to Eat an Avocado - EcoWatch ›
- 6 Surprising Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes - EcoWatch ›
Throughout Texas, there are a number of solar power companies that can install solar panels on your roof to take advantage of the abundant sunlight. But which solar power provider should you choose? In this article, we'll provide a list of the best solar companies in the Lone Star State.
Our Picks for the Best Texas Solar Companies
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Sunpro Solar
- Longhorn Solar, Inc.
- Solartime USA
- Kosmos Solar
- Sunshine Renewable Solutions
- Alba Energy
- Circle L Solar
- South Texas Solar Systems
- Good Faith Energy
How We Chose the Best Solar Energy Companies in Texas
There are a number of factors to keep in mind when comparing and contrasting different solar providers. These are some of the considerations we used to evaluate Texas solar energy companies.
Different solar companies may provide varying services. Always take the time to understand the full range of what's being offered in terms of solar panel consultation, design, installation, etc. Also consider add-ons, like EV charging stations, whenever applicable.
When meeting with a representative from one of Texas' solar power companies, we would always encourage you to ask what the installation process involves. What kind of customization can you expect? Will your solar provider use salaried installers, or outsourced contractors? These are all important questions to raise during the due diligence process.
Texas is a big place, and as you look for a good solar power provider, you want to ensure that their services are available where you live. If you live in Austin, it doesn't do you much good to have a solar company that's active only in Houston.
Pricing and Financing
Keep in mind that the initial cost of solar panel installation can be sizable. Some solar companies are certainly more affordable than others, and you can also ask about the flexible financing options that are available to you.
To guarantee that the renewable energy providers you select are reputable, and that they have both the integrity and the expertise needed, we would recommend assessing their status in the industry. The simplest way to do this is to check to see whether they are North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certified or belong to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) or other industry groups.
Types of Panels
As you research different companies, it certainly doesn't hurt to get to know the specific products they offer. Inquire about their tech portfolio, and see if they are certified to install leading brands like Tesla or Panasonic.
Rebates and Tax Credits
There are a lot of opportunities to claim clean energy rebates or federal tax credits which can help with your initial solar purchase. Ask your solar provider for guidance navigating these different savings opportunities.
Going solar is a big investment, but a warranty can help you trust that your system will work for decades. A lot of solar providers provide warranties on their technology and workmanship for 25 years or more, but you'll definitely want to ask about this on the front end.
The 10 Best Solar Energy Companies in Texas
With these criteria in mind, consider our picks for the 10 best solar energy companies in TX.
SunPower is a solar energy company that makes it easy to make an informed and totally customized decision about your solar power setup. SunPower has an online design studio where you can learn more about the different options available for your home, and even a form where you can get a free online estimate. Set up a virtual consultation to speak directly with a qualified solar installer from the comfort of your own home. It's no wonder SunPower is a top solar installation company in Texas. They make the entire process easy and expedient.
Sunpro Solar is another solar power company with a solid reputation across the country. Their services are widely available to Texas homeowners, and they make the switch to solar effortless. We recommend them for their outstanding customer service, for the ease of their consultation and design process, and for their assistance to homeowners looking to claim tax credits and other incentives.
Looking for a solar contractor with true Texas roots? Longhorn Solar is an award-winning company that's frequently touted as one of the best solar providers in the state. Their services are available in Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio, and since 2009 they have helped more than 2,000 Texans make the switch to energy efficiency with solar. We recommend them for their technical expertise, proven track record, and solar product selection.
Solartime USA is another company based in Texas. In fact, this family-owned business is located in Richardson, which is just outside of Dallas. They have ample expertise with customized solar energy solutions in residential settings, and their portfolio of online reviews attests to their first-rate customer service. We love this company for the simplicity of their process, and for all the guidance they offer customers seeking to go solar.
Next on our list is Kosmos Solar, another Texas-based solar company. They're based in the northern part of the state, and highly recommended for homeowners in the area. They supply free estimates, high-quality products, custom solar designs, and award-winning personal service. Plus, their website has a lot of great information that may help guide you while you determine whether going solar is right for you.
Sunshine Renewable Solutions is based out of Houston, and they've developed a sterling reputation for dependable service and high-quality products. They have a lot of helpful financing options, and can show you how you can make the switch to solar in a really cost-effective way. We also like that they give free estimates, so there's certainly no harm in learning more about this great local company.
"Powered by the Texas sun." That's the official tagline of Alba Energy, a solar energy provider that's based out of Katy, TX. They have lots of great information about solar panel systems and solar solutions, including solar calculators to help you tabulate your potential energy savings. Additionally, we recommend Alba Energy because all of their work is done by a trusted, in-house team of solar professionals. They maintain an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and they have rave reviews from satisfied customers.
Circle L Solar has a praiseworthy mission of helping homeowners slash their energy costs while participating in the green energy revolution. This is another company that provides a lot of great information, including energy savings calculators. Also note that, in addition to solar panels, Circle L Solar also showcases a number of other assets that can help you make your home more energy efficient, including windows, weatherization services, LED lighting, and more.
You can tell by the name that South Texas Solar Systems focuses its service area on the southernmost part of the Lone Star State. Their products include a wide range of commercial and residential solar panels, as well as "off the grid" panels for homeowners who want to detach from public utilities altogether. Since 2007, this company has been a trusted solar energy provider in San Antonio and beyond.
Good Faith Energy is a certified installer of Tesla solar technology for homeowners throughout Texas. This company is really committed to ecological stewardship, and they have amassed a lot of goodwill thanks to their friendly customer service and the depth of their solar expertise. In addition to Tesla solar panels, they can also install EV charging stations and storage batteries.
What are Your Solar Financing Options in Texas?
We've mentioned already that going solar requires a significant investment on the front-end. It's worth emphasizing that some of the best solar companies provide a range of financing options, allowing you to choose whether you buy your system outright, lease it, or pay for it in monthly installments.
Also keep in mind that there are a lot of rebates and state and federal tax credits available to help offset starting costs. Find a Texas solar provider who can walk you through some of the different options.
How Much Does a Solar Energy System Cost in Texas?
How much is it going to cost you to make that initial investment into solar power? It varies by customer and by home, but the median cost of solar paneling may be somewhere in the ballpark of $13,000. Note that, when you take into account federal tax incentives, this number can fall by several thousand dollars.
And of course, once you go solar, your monthly utility bills are going to shrink dramatically… so while solar systems won't pay for themselves in the first month or even the first year, they will ultimately prove more than cost-effective.
Finding the Right Solar Energy Companies in TX
Texas is a great place to pursue solar energy companies, thanks to all the natural sunlight, and there are plenty of companies out there to help you make the transition. Do your homework, compare a few options, and seek the solar provider that's right for you. We hope this guide is a helpful jumping-off point as you try to get as much information as possible about the best solar companies in Texas.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. He covers natural health, nutrition, supplements, and clean energy. His writing has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
But what you eat also impacts another organ — your skin.
As scientists learn more about diet and the body, it's increasingly clear that what you eat can significantly affect the health and aging of your skin.
This article takes a look at 12 of the best foods for keeping your skin healthy.
1. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and herring, are excellent foods for healthy skin. They're rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for maintaining skin health.
Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary to help keep skin thick, supple, and moisturized. In fact, an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency can cause dry skin.
The omega-3 fats in fish reduce inflammation, which can cause redness and acne. They can even make your skin less sensitive to the sun's harmful UV rays.
Getting enough vitamin E is essential for helping to protect your skin against damage from free radicals and inflammation.
This type of seafood is also a source of high-quality protein, which is needed for maintaining the strength and integrity of your skin.
Lastly, fish provides zinc — a mineral vital for regulating:
- overall skin health
- the production of new skin cells
Zinc deficiency can lead to skin inflammation, lesions, and delayed wound healing.
Fatty types of fish, such as salmon, contain omega-3 fatty acids that can reduce inflammation and keep skin moisturized. They're also a good source of high-quality protein, vitamin E, and zinc.
Avocados are high in healthy fats. These fats benefit many functions in your body, including the health of your skin.
Getting enough of these fats is essential to help keep skin flexible and moisturized.
One study involving over 700 women found that a high intake of total fat — specifically the types of healthy fats found in avocados — was associated with more supple, springy skin.
Preliminary evidence also shows that avocados contain compounds that may help protect your skin from sun damage. UV damage to your skin can cause wrinkles and other signs of aging.
Avocados are also a good source of vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant that helps to protect your skin from oxidative damage. Most Americans don't get enough vitamin E through their diet.
Interestingly, vitamin E seems to be more effective when combined with vitamin C.
Vitamin C is also essential for healthy skin. Your skin needs it to create collagen, which is the main structural protein that keeps your skin strong and healthy.
Vitamin C deficiency is rare these days, but common symptoms include dry, rough, and scaly skin that tends to bruise easily.
Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that helps to protect your skin from oxidative damage — caused by the sun and the environment — which can lead to signs of aging.
A 100-gram serving, or about 1/2 an avocado, provides 14% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin E and 11% of the DV for vitamin C.
Avocados are high in beneficial fats and contain vitamins E and C, which are important for healthy skin. They also pack compounds that may protect your skin from sun damage.
Walnuts have many characteristics that make them an excellent food for healthy skin.
They're a good source of essential fatty acids, which are fats that your body cannot make itself.
In fact, they're richer than most other nuts in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
A diet too high in omega-6 fats may promote inflammation, including inflammatory conditions of your skin like psoriasis.
On the other hand, omega-3 fats reduce inflammation in your body — including in your skin.
While omega-6 fatty acids are plentiful in the Western diet, sources of omega-3 fatty acids are rare.
Because walnuts contain a good ratio of these fatty acids, they may help fight the potential inflammatory response to excessive omega-6.
What's more, walnuts contain other nutrients that your skin needs to function properly and stay healthy.
One ounce (28 grams) of walnuts contains 8% of the DV for zinc.
Zinc is essential for your skin to function properly as a barrier. It's also necessary for wound healing and combating both bacteria and inflammation.
Walnuts also provide small amounts of the antioxidants vitamin E and selenium, in addition to 4–5 grams of protein per ounce (28 grams).
Walnuts are a good source of essential fats, zinc, vitamin E, selenium and protein — all of which are nutrients your skin needs to stay healthy.
4. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are an excellent example.
One ounce (28 grams) of sunflower seeds packs 49% of the DV for vitamin E, 41% of the DV for selenium, 14% of the DV for zinc, and 5.5 grams of protein.
Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of nutrients, including vitamin E, which is an important antioxidant for the skin.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Beta-carotene is a nutrient found in plants.
It functions as provitamin A, which means it can be converted into vitamin A in your body.
Beta-carotene is found in oranges and vegetables such as carrots, spinach, and sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source — one 1/2-cup serving (100 grams) of baked sweet potato contains enough beta-carotene to provide more than six times the DV of vitamin A.
Carotenoids like beta-carotene help keep your skin healthy by acting as a natural sunblock.
When consumed, this antioxidant is incorporated into your skin and helps to protect your skin cells from sun exposure. This may help prevent sunburn, cell death, and dry, wrinkled skin.
Interestingly, high amounts of beta-carotene may also add a warm, orange color to your skin, contributing to an overall healthier appearance.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of beta-carotene, which acts as a natural sunblock and may protect your skin from sun damage.
6. Red or Yellow Bell Peppers
Like sweet potatoes, bell peppers are an excellent source of beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A.
One cup (149 grams) of chopped red bell pepper contains the equivalent of 156% of the DV for vitamin A.
A single cup (149 grams) of bell pepper provides an impressive 211% of the DV for vitamin C.
A large observational study involving women linked eating plenty of vitamin C to a reduced risk of wrinkled and dry skin with age.
Bell peppers contain plenty of beta-carotene and vitamin C — both of which are important antioxidants for your skin. Vitamin C is also necessary to create collagen, the structural protein that keeps your skin strong.
Broccoli is full of many vitamins and minerals important for skin health, including zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin C.
It also contains lutein, a carotenoid that works like beta-carotene. Lutein helps protect your skin from oxidative damage, which can cause your skin to become dry and wrinkled.
Sulforaphane is also a powerful protective agent against sun damage. It works in two ways: neutralizing harmful free radicals and switching on other protective systems in your body.
In laboratory tests, sulforaphane reduced the number of skin cells UV light killed by as much as 29%, with protection lasting up to 48 hours.
Evidence suggests sulforaphane may also help maintain collagen levels in your skin.
Broccoli is a good source of vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids that are important for skin health. It also contains sulforaphane, which may help prevent skin cancer and protect your skin from sunburn.
Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C and contain all of the major carotenoids, including lycopene.
Beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene have been shown to protect your skin against damage from the sun. They may also help prevent wrinkling.
Because tomatoes are rich in carotenoids, they're an excellent food for maintaining healthy skin.
Consider pairing carotenoid-rich foods like tomatoes with a source of fat, such as cheese or olive oil. Fat increases your absorption of carotenoids.
Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C and all of the major carotenoids, especially lycopene. These carotenoids protect your skin from sun damage and may help prevent wrinkling.
Soy contains isoflavones, a category of plant compounds that can either mimic or block estrogen in your body.
Isoflavones may benefit several parts of your body, including your skin.
One small study involving middle-aged women found that eating soy isoflavones every day for 8–12 weeks reduced fine wrinkles and improved skin elasticity.
In postmenopausal women, soy may also improve skin dryness and increase collagen, which helps keep your skin smooth and strong.
These isoflavones not only help to protect the cells inside your body from damage but also your skin from UV radiation — which may reduce the risk of some skin cancers.
Soy contains isoflavones, which have been shown to improve wrinkles, collagen, skin elasticity, and skin dryness, as well as protect your skin from UV damage.
10. Dark Chocolate
If you need one more reason to eat chocolate, here it is: The effects of cocoa on your skin are pretty phenomenal.
After 6–12 weeks of consuming a cocoa powder high in antioxidants each day, participants in one study experienced thicker, more hydrated skin.
Their skin was also less rough and scaly, less sensitive to sunburn and had better blood flow — which brings more nutrients to your skin.
Another study found that eating 20 grams of high-antioxidant dark chocolate per day could allow your skin to withstand over twice as much UV radiation before burning versus eating low-antioxidant chocolate.
Several other studies have produced similar results, including improvements in the appearance of wrinkles. However, keep in mind that at least one study didn't find significant effects.
Make sure to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa in order to maximize the benefits and keep added sugar to a minimum.
Cocoa contains antioxidants that may protect your skin against sunburn. These antioxidants may also improve wrinkles, skin thickness, hydration, blood flow, and skin texture.
11. Green Tea
Green tea may help to protect your skin from damage and aging.
The powerful compounds found in green tea are called catechins and work to improve the health of your skin in several ways.
Like several other antioxidant-containing foods, green tea can help protect your skin against sun damage.
One 12-week study involving 60 women found that drinking green tea daily could reduce redness from sun exposure by up to 25%.
Green tea also improved the moisture, roughness, thickness, and elasticity of their skin.
While green tea is a great choice for healthy skin, you may want to avoid drinking your tea with milk. There's evidence that milk could reduce the effect of green tea's antioxidants.
The catechins found in green tea are powerful antioxidants that can protect your skin against sun damage and reduce redness as well as improve its hydration, thickness and elasticity.
12. Red Grapes
Red grapes are famous for containing resveratrol, a compound that comes from the skin of red grapes.
Resveratrol is credited with a wide range of health benefits, among them is reducing the effects of aging.
Test-tube studies suggest it may also help to slow the production of harmful free radicals, which damage skin cells and cause signs of aging.
This beneficial compound is also found in red wine. Unfortunately, there's not much evidence that the amount of resveratrol you get from a glass of red wine is enough to impact your skin.
And since red wine is an alcoholic beverage, there are negative effects to drinking it in excess.
It's not recommended to start drinking red wine just because of its potential health benefits. Instead, you should increase your intake of red grapes and berries.
Resveratrol, the famous antioxidant found in red grapes, may slow your skin's aging process by impairing harmful free radicals that damage your skin.
The Bottom Line
What you eat can have a big impact on your skin health.
Make sure you're getting enough essential nutrients to protect your skin. The foods on this list are great options to keep your skin healthy, strong, and attractive.
However, finding healthy snacks in gas stations, convenience stores, and rest stops along your route is often challenging.
Plus, eating irregularly and sitting for hours on end while driving can lead to digestive issues like constipation and bloating, making healthy snacking all the more important.
As such, you should keep an eye out for nutritious snacks to pack with you or purchase along the way. Note that many portable and shelf-stable snack options are calorie-dense, so keep that in mind when traveling and your activity level is likely lower than normal.
Here are 14 healthy snacks that are perfect for road trips.
1. Fresh Fruit and Nut Butter
Fresh fruit is not only highly nutritious but also easily portable.
During road trips, munching on hydrating, high-fiber foods like fruit may keep your bowel movements regular and help prevent constipation caused by inactivity.
Apples, strawberries, and bananas are great paired with high protein nut butters like almond or peanut butter for a filling snack.
Nut butters are even sold in single-serve pouches, which can come in handy when you need a quick bite while driving. Brands like Artisana and Once Again offer unsweetened, organic nut butter squeeze packs.
2. Trail Mix
Trail mix is a go-to snack for road trips — and for good reason. It doesn't require refrigeration, is easy to eat, and provides ample protein, healthy fats, and fiber to fuel you on those extra long road trips.
What's more, you can buy nutritious, low sugar versions at most rest stops and gas stations. Look for a variety with nuts, seeds, and unsweetened dried fruit — and steer clear of those that contain candies, candied nuts, and sugared fruits.
You can also make your own at home.
Start with raw or roasted nuts and seeds, then add your favorite unsweetened dried fruits. Toss in unsweetened dried coconut, cacao nibs, dark chocolate chips, or spices for extra flavor and crunch.
Note that even without added candy, trail mix is high in calories and best meant for — you guessed it — the trail. Keep this in mind if you are sitting for hours on end.
That said, trail mix also works as a meal replacement when other food choices are limited. Pairing trail mix with lower calorie fresh fruits or vegetables is one way to balance its calorie density.
3. Protein and Granola Bars
Protein and granola bars are convenient, and most don't require refrigeration, making them a good choice for road trips.
Yet, many bars are loaded with added sugars and other unhealthy additives, which is why it's important to choose products made from whole, nutritious ingredients like nuts, oats, chia seeds, egg whites, and dried fruit.
4. Energy Bites
Energy bites, also called energy balls, are bite-sized morsels made from healthy ingredients like nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. Though small, they pack a punch of nutrition and calories.
You can easily make them at home and pack them in a cooler to take on the road. Check out this recipe for energy bites that include dates, nuts, cocoa powder, and almond butter.
5. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are delectable on their own and pair well with many other road trip snacks, including dried or fresh fruit.
Both nuts and seeds are high in protein, healthy fats, and fiber. In fact, eating more of these foods may decrease your risk of heart disease and lower your blood sugar levels.
Walnuts, almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds can supply a needed energy boost during your road trip.
6. Fruit and Veggie Chips
Many road trippers turn to highly processed snacks like potato chips to satisfy their cravings. However, these chips are typically high in calories, sodium, and unhealthy additives.
If you long for a salty snack with a bit of crunch, try healthy chips made from dried fruits and vegetables instead. For example, baked apple chips, plantain chips, and kale chips make excellent stand-ins for their highly processed counterparts.
Choose products that don't contain added sugar or preservatives, or make your own fruit and veggie chips at home. Follow this recipe for crunchy kale chips that are ideal for travel.
7. Unsweetened Yogurt
You can expand your snacking options during your road trip if you take a cooler.
Unsweetened yogurt is a great snack food that doubles as a quick breakfast when your choices are limited, but it needs to be kept cool to prevent spoilage, so be sure to fill your cooler with ice or ice packs.
Many flavored yogurts are high in added sugar, which you should limit. It's best to choose unsweetened, plain varieties, then add your own toppings, such as berries, nuts, seeds, chia seeds, and dried coconut.
Unsweetened Greek yogurt is especially beneficial because it's packed with protein, which helps keep you full.
8. Roasted Chickpeas
Chickpeas are highly nutritious, providing protein, fiber, magnesium, folate, and zinc.
While taking a can of chickpeas on the road is doable but a little more cumbersome, dried chickpeas are portable and easy to eat while driving or navigating.
It's easy to make your own using this recipe.
Alternatively, you can purchase dried chickpeas in various flavors at your local health food store, as well as online.
9. Fresh Veggies and Nutritious Dip
If you bring a cooler, fresh vegetables like celery, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, and peppers make scrumptious, low calorie road trip snacks.
Eating veggies can not only satisfy your crunch cravings but also reduce your risk of various illnesses, including obesity, certain cancers, and mental decline.
To boost the protein content and flavor of this snack option, pair fresh vegetables with nutrient-dense dips like hummus or Greek yogurt dip.
10. Hard-Boiled Eggs
Hard-boiled eggs are another option to power you through long car trips.
Just be sure to keep them in a cooler with ice packs and eat them within 1 week.
11. Drinkable Soups
Although soup may seem like an odd choice for a road trip, shelf-stable, drinkable soups are a healthy and convenient choice when driving. Plus, veggie-based soups can help you meet your nutrient needs when fresh produce is scarce.
Many companies make drinkable soups in portable containers that don't require refrigeration.
Whole avocados are a high fiber, high fat snack that's especially suitable if you're following a low carb diet.
Plus, they're full of nutrients like potassium, folate, and vitamins C and E.
These buttery fruits can be salted and eaten with a spoon, or mashed and served with crackers or veggies during a break from driving. Bring a mix of ripe and unripe avocados to ensure that you always have one that's ready to eat.
13. Cheese and Crackers
Cheese and crackers make a classic snack for anyone looking for a quick bite on the road.
Top your crackers with cheddar, brie, or your cheese of choice for a satisfying, filling treat. You can also add fresh fruit for a hint of sweetness.
14. Dark Chocolate and Almonds
When you're craving something sweet during a long road trip, don't cave into the endless candies, baked goods, and sugary beverages available at rest stops and gas stations.
Instead, pack your car with healthy options like dark chocolate.
This treat is loaded with powerful polyphenol antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory and heart-protective properties. What's more, eating chocolate in moderation may safeguard against conditions like stroke and diabetes.
Add a handful of almonds for a crunchy, fiber- and protein-rich snack.
The Bottom Line
Although eating healthy on the road may seem difficult, planning ahead and bringing nutritious snacks can keep your body fueled and your hunger at bay.
If you take a cooler, fresh veggies, unsweetened yogurt, and hard-boiled eggs are great options. Other foods that don't necessarily need to be kept cool and are easy to store and eat on the road include fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, nut butter, drinkable soups, and protein bars.
Keep these snacks in mind when you're looking for portable, nutritious options for your next adventure.
By Lindsay Campbell
If you're a sucker for a good avocado, an even better one could be on the way.
Scientists from Mexico's National Laboratory of Genomics for Biodiversity, Texas Tech University and the University at Buffalo have cracked the genetic code of the popular Hass avocado.
They say this DNA discovery provides foundational information to improve the future of farming and possibly create a new version of the fruit with many more sought after qualities.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America this month, concludes that the Hass avocado is a cross between 61 percent of Mexican avocado genes and 39 percent of Guatemalan ones.
The Hass's considerable fatty acid content and ability to resist some diseases are derived from the Mexican avocado says Luis Herrera-Estrella, a leading scientist of the study.
Its larger size and harder exterior comes from the Guatemalan breed, he added.
The Hass avocado, curated in the 1920's by California horticulturalist Rudolph Hass, makes up 95 percent of all avocados eaten in the U.S.
To get to this genetic finding, scientists carefully collected Hass avocado leaves from a farm 100km away from their lab, extracted the DNA from the leaves and then used specialized technology and procedures to sequence the genome.
Herrera-Estrella said specific genes that stick out in the Hass variety will allow for more precise breeding programs.
"You can isolate a specific gene with fungal resistance or fatty acid content or fatty acid quality and then you can select what value in these genes are the good traits for the one you want," he said. "In that way you can selectively breed all the characteristics you want, without doing it in a blind way as it was done before."
He adds, that it will be particularly helpful to breed because of the avocados long life cycle.
The fruit takes anywhere from six to eight years to get from seed to seed, which makes its difficult to cultivate new varieties in a traditional sense.
Knowing and being able to tag the specific genes, which allows for picking characteristics for a new breed, speeds up the process instead of having to wait until the plant is fully mature to determine what genes are there.
Potential farming improvements, such as genetically manufacturing a smaller tree than current 30-40 meter ones, could be made after now knowing the avocado's genome, Herrera-Estrella added.
"Having smaller trees that can be planted in a higher density in a farm would help make the harvesting more effective and less dangerous for the people who are working in the farms," he said.
Victor Albert, another scientist and author of the study who worked alongside Herrera-Estrella notes that knowing the genome of the Hass will be more helpful in curating a fruit that adapts to climate change.
While the Hass does have some genes that promote disease resistance, it's not as strong as it could be, he said.
"Very little has been done with the avocado to improve its growth properties or disease resistance," Albert said. " Our genome sequences will aid breeders in identifying and using genetic knowledge of drought resistance that will be very useful as growing conditions become hotter and dryer."
Although both scientists maintain study findings are significant, it's only a building block for more important research discoveries to come.
Herrera-Estrella says that the next step for scientific study will be to study 800 types of avocados and attempt to sequence their genetic material.
"That's a huge project so we can know what the genetic difference is between all the different types … and provide information to build off of the breeding processes," he said.
He adds that while Mexico is currently a top breeder of the avocado, it would be beneficial for the country to take the information in this paper and use it to maintain that status.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.
By Peyton Fleming
Gerison Ndwiga, a small rural farmer in Kenya, felt the economic sting of COVID-19 just days after the government announced a curfew and travel restrictions in late March.
For Ndwiga, who grows vine ripe tomatoes and exotic French beans 75 miles north of the nation's capital, the pain was double: He couldn't transport his tomatoes to Nairobi and traders stopped exporting his beans to Europe.
Within days, he made a tough choice: he left more than 16,000 pounds of ripe beans in the ground unpicked – a loss he estimated at more than US$4,000. "I didn't pick anything because there were no flights in and out of Nairobi," Ndwiga said, noting that most Kenyans have no interest in buying his long skinny beans known as haricot verts.
COVID-19 is eating away at most sectors of the world's economy. But in Kenya, which has enjoyed a booming trade relationship with Europe in recent years, the global lockdown has hit small and large commercial farmers especially hard. Europeans are noticing this as favorite roses and passion fruits are hard to find in stores. Meanwhile, Kenyan producers are pivoting at jet speed to develop new markets closer to home, creating new revenue streams and new outlets for small farmers like Ndwiga trying to sell their crops.
"After decades of high dependency on exports, the opportunities for tapping local and regional markets are becoming clearer, especially as African economies and income levels grow," said Jane Ambuko, associate professor and Head of Horticulture at the University of Nairobi. "Exports aren't going away, but growing domestic markets opens new frontiers for trade while supporting our local populations, many of whom are small farmers."
Kenya's horticulture industry is a much-heralded success story. Fresh produce and flower exports that totaled $68 million in 1991 sprouted 20-fold to $1.37 billion by 2019, much of it from roses, avocados and French beans. Every day, dozens of airplanes filled with cut flowers, fresh fruits and vegetables take off from Nairobi, most of them heading to Europe. Three million Kenyans were directly involved in growing and processing those crops.
When Europe closed its borders and economy in March, the flights – and exporters' lifeline – snapped shut.
"The last two months have been really tough," said Frank Obure, general manager packhouses at AAA Growers Ltd., Kenya's third largest exporter which provides premium roses, fruits and vegetables all across Europe. Obure has wrestled with worker layoffs, cancelled deliveries, rotting crops, safety protocols and devastating rains. "I've never been through an experience like this before."
How bad has it been? Before the pandemic, AAA Growers was exporting 1.4 million flowers every week. When Holland's vast flower markets were shuttered, shipments dropped to virtually zero. Millions of roses that should have been adorning homes across Europe on Easter Sunday were wilting instead at two flower farms near Mount Kenya.
"We're harvesting and throwing, harvesting and throwing. Upwards of 250,000 stems a day are going into the bin," Obure said, estimating overall flower losses at 70 to 80 percent.
Fruit and vegetable exports have also been hurt, although not as badly since some fresh produce can be redirected to local markets – at substantially marked down prices.
All told, with produce exports down by 70 to 75 percent, Kenya's horticulture industry is losing about EU $3 million a day, according to Industry trade group COLEACP. But that figure does not account for thousands of small growers like Ndwiga who have been largely cut off from export markets and Nairobi's informal urban markets due to travel bans.
Due to paperwork limitations, Ndwiga, who owns 10 acres, says he can only get into Nairobi once every two weeks to sell his tomatoes in informal markets. "I'm selling many of my tomatoes locally at village prices because they're getting overripe." he said, noting that prices are half what he'd fetch in Nairobi.
Ndwiga's predicament is common, say local industry experts. "For bigger companies whose trucks are registered, they don't have problems moving produce into Nairobi, but the small farmers who don't have the necessary paperwork, they're the ones who are suffering the most," said Emmanuel Oriedo, a food and farming system consultant who works with small farmers.
Uncertainty and Hope
To be sure, the situation has improved the past few weeks, particularly as flight restrictions to Europe are loosening a bit and more passenger planes are being converted to carry cargo. But major obstacles remain, including in-country transport bottlenecks and prohibitively high air freight costs. Shipping costs to Europe are averaging $2.80 to $4 per kilogram, more than double previous rates.
Companies are not sitting and waiting. AAA Growers is scrambling to sell more produce locally through popular Nairobi retailers like Carrefour, Quick Mart and KFC. The company's 'sell-local' efforts began last year, and it gained urgency when COVID-19 hit. Local sales now total 12 to 15 tons a week.
TwigaFoods, which sells all of its fresh produce within Kenya, responded to COVID-19 with a new e-commerce push. In late April, it launched a partnership with e-commerce company Jumia to deliver bundles of fruits and vegetables directly to people's homes. The effort is aimed at affluent Nairobi customers who want to avoid buying at more expensive supermarkets.
"We'd been thinking about the idea and we were starting to see more home deliveries (due to COVID-19)," said TwigaFoods CEO Peter Njongo. "For now, it's something we'll do in Kenya. We'll see how it works."
Reposted with permission from Food Tank.
Research has shown that they're particularly effective at reducing hunger and aiding weight loss.
They've also been associated with decreased blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, as well as increased HDL (good) cholesterol.
What's more, low carb diets have been found to improve blood sugar control in those with type 2 diabetes.
Low carb diets typically provide less than 130 grams of carbs per day, while very low carb diets typically provide 20–50 grams of carbs per day.
However, some very low carb diets can be low in fiber, a nutrient that's important for digestive, heart, and gut health.
In fact, studies estimate that only 5% of American adults — independent of whether they eat low carb or not — meet the recommended 25–38 grams of fiber per day.
Fortunately, if you follow a low carb diet and are worried about your fiber intake, several tasty foods are both low in carbs and high in fiber.
Here are 14 healthy high fiber, low carb foods.
1. Flax Seeds
Flax seeds are small oil seeds that are packed with nutrients.
In particular, they're good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidants. They're also low in digestible net carbs — the total grams of carbs minus the grams of fiber.
Notably, flax seeds have a lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 than most other oil seeds. This is important, as a lower omega-6 to omega-3 ratio has been associated with a reduced risk of several chronic diseases.
Two tablespoons (14 grams) of ground flax seeds provide 4 grams of fiber and 0 grams of net carbs.
2. Chia Seeds
hough small in size, chia seeds are rich in several nutrients.
In addition to being high in fiber, protein, and several vitamins and minerals, chia seeds are one of the best-known plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Chia seeds can be sprinkled atop salads and yogurt or added to smoothies.
They also absorb liquids well, turning into a gel that can be used as a vegan egg replacement or thickener for sauces and jellies.
Two tablespoons (30 grams) of chia seeds provide 11 grams of fiber and 2 grams of net carbs.
High in healthy fats, avocados have a unique buttery texture.
Technically a fruit, avocados are typically consumed as a vegetable and can be added to a variety of dishes.
One small (136 grams) avocado provides 9 grams of fiber and 3 grams of net carbs.
Almonds are among the world's most popular tree nuts.
As they're also a good source of fiber and protein, almonds may help increase feelings of fullness and aid weight loss.
One ounce (28 grams) of raw almonds provides 4 grams of fiber and 3 grams of net carbs.
5. Unsweetened Coconut Meat
Coconut meat is the white flesh inside a coconut.
It's often sold shredded and can be added to desserts, granola bars, and breakfast foods for added texture.
Coconut meat is high in healthy fats and fiber, while being moderate in carbs and protein.
One ounce (28 grams) of shredded, unsweetened coconut meat provides 5 grams of fiber and 2 grams of net carbs.
Sweet and tart, blackberries are a delicious summer fruit.
They're also incredibly nutritious, with just 1 cup (140 grams) boasting more than 30% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin C.
Berries are among the most antioxidant-rich fruits. Regular intake has been associated with a reduced risk of chronic inflammation, heart disease, and certain forms of cancer.
Additionally, a 1-week study in 27 men with excess weight or obesity on a high fat diet found that eating blackberries daily increased fat burning and insulin sensitivity.
One cup (140 grams) of blackberries provides 7 grams of fiber and 6 grams of net carbs.
Another sweet yet tart summer fruit, raspberries are best enjoyed shortly after purchasing.
Low in calories, they're also surprisingly high in several essential vitamins and minerals. In fact, just 1 cup (140 grams) provides more than 50% of the DV for vitamin C and 41% of the DV for manganese.
One cup (140 grams) of raspberries provides 9 grams of fiber and 8 grams of net carbs.
Humans have been eating pistachios since 6000 BC.
While technically a fruit, pistachios are culinarily used as a nut.
With their vibrant green color and distinctive flavor, pistachios are popular in many dishes, including desserts, such as ice creams and cakes.
Nutritionally, they're high in healthy fats and vitamin B6, an essential vitamin that aids blood sugar regulation and the formation of hemoglobin.
One ounce (28 grams) of shelled pistachios provides 3 grams of fiber and 5 grams of net carbs.
9. Wheat Bran
Wheat bran is the hard outer coating of the wheat kernel.
While it's found naturally in whole grains, it can also be purchased on its own to add texture and a nutty flavor to foods like baked goods, smoothies, yogurt, soups, and casseroles.
Although, perhaps what it's best known for is its impressive amount of insoluble fiber, a nutrient that can help treat constipation and promote regular bowel movements.
A 1/4-cup (15-gram) serving of wheat bran provides 6 grams of fiber and 4 grams of net carbs.
Cauliflower is a popular item on low carb diets, as it can be riced for a grain substitute or even made into a low carb pizza crust.
It's also a good source of choline, which is important for brain and liver health, as well as metabolism and DNA synthesis.
One cup (85 grams) of chopped cauliflower provides 2 grams of fiber and 2 grams of net carbs.
Broccoli is a popular cruciferous vegetable that's high in several important nutrients.
It also boasts more protein than many other vegetables.
While it can be enjoyed cooked or raw, research shows that steaming it provides the greatest health benefits.
One cup (71 grams) of raw broccoli florets provides 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of net carbs.
A popular springtime vegetable, asparagus comes in several colors, including green, purple, and white.
It's low in calories yet high in vitamin K, providing 46% of the DV in 1 cup (134 grams). The same serving also packs 17% of the DV for folate, which is vital during pregnancy and helps with cell growth and DNA formation.
While it's usually cooked, raw asparagus can add a pleasant crunch to salads and veggie platters.
One cup (134 grams) of raw asparagus provides 3 grams of fiber and 2 grams of net carbs.
Also known as aubergines, eggplants are used in many dishes around the world.
They add a unique texture to dishes and contain very few calories.
One cup (82 grams) of raw, cubed eggplant provides 3 grams of fiber and 2 grams of net carbs.
14. Purple Cabbage
Also referred to as red cabbage, purple cabbage is a nutritious way to add a pop of color to your dishes.
While it tastes similar to green cabbage, the purple variety is higher in plant compounds that have been linked to health benefits, such as improved heart and bone health, reduced inflammation, and protection against certain forms of cancer.
One cup (89 grams) of chopped red cabbage provides 2 grams of fiber and 5 grams of net carbs.
The Bottom Line
Whether you're interested in weight loss or lowering your blood sugar levels, eating fewer carbs can have numerous health benefits.
And despite what you might think, you can reduce your carb intake while getting enough fiber.
In fact, many low carb, high fiber foods are healthy and incredibly delicious.
- Purple Power: 7 Benefits of Purple Potatoes - EcoWatch ›
- 6 Benefits and Uses of Omega-3s for Skin and Hair - EcoWatch ›
With many schools now closed due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, you may be looking for activities to keep your children active, engaged, and entertained.
Although numerous activities can keep kids busy, cooking is one of the best choices, as it's both fun and educational.
Cooking may help develop their problem-solving and hand-eye coordination skills, increase confidence, and even improve diet quality by encouraging fruit and veggie intake.
Yet, it's important to choose age-appropriate recipes and assign kitchen tasks that are safe for your child to tackle.
For example, very young children can help by washing vegetables, stirring ingredients, and cutting out shapes with cookie cutters while older children can take on more complex tasks, such as chopping and peeling.
Here are 15 healthy recipes that you can make with your kids.
1. Overnight Oats
Overnight oats are an oatmeal dish that you prepare ahead and refrigerate overnight — with no cooking required.
Not only can pre-making nutritious breakfast options save you time, but choosing dishes that children can make themselves may also help your kids get excited about preparing healthy food.
Overnight oats are simple and appropriate for all ages. Plus, they're easy to individualize, allowing kids to be creative and try out different nutrient-dense toppings like berries, nuts, coconut, and seeds.
Try out these easy, kid-approved recipes with your children. They can participate by measuring, pouring, and chopping ingredients, depending on their age. Let your kids jazz up their oats by choosing toppings of their own.
2. Strawberry and Cantaloupe Yogurt Pops
Most kids love fruit, which is why strawberry and cantaloupe yogurt pops make a perfect snack.
Strawberries and cantaloupe are both loaded with fiber, vitamin C, and folate, a B vitamin that's important for growth and development.
Dipping fruit in protein-packed yogurt ups its nutrient content and boosts feelings of fullness.
This easy recipe is appropriate for children of all ages. Kids can cut the fruit, dip it in the yogurt, and slide the fruit onto popsicle sticks, depending on their age.
3. One Bowl Banana Bread
Many banana bread recipes require multiple steps that can leave your kitchen a mess.
Notably, this healthy recipe requires just one bowl and is kid-friendly.
It's high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats thanks to its almond flour, eggs, and flax meal. As such, it's sure to keep your little ones satisfied between meals.
Plus, the dark chocolate chips and banana give this bread a hint of sweetness.
Have your children mash the bananas, measure ingredients, and fold the chocolate chips into the batter. Once it's out of the oven, they can top their slices with nut butter for a boost of protein.
4. Ants on a Log
Ants on a log, which combines crunchy celery, smooth or chunky nut butter, and sweet, chewy raisins, is a classic snack for many kids.
All you need are those three basic ingredients, though you can also spice things up. Let your kids get involved by spreading their favorite nut butter onto the celery and sprinkling fun toppings, such as chocolate chips, granola, and fresh or dried fruit, onto the "logs."
If your child has a nut allergy, you can fill the celery with cottage cheese, cream cheese, or even mashed avocado for a more savory twist.
This recipe offers many variations of ants on a log sure to please even the pickiest of eaters.
Avocados are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. They're an excellent source of healthy fats, fiber, and micronutrients like potassium, folate, and vitamins C and E.
Plus, their smooth, creamy texture can be a hit with kids, especially when made into guacamole and paired with tortilla chips or veggie sticks.
Guacamole is a breeze to make and can be modified depending on your child's tastes. For example, you can add veggies like onions and tomatoes to the mix, as well as fresh herbs like cilantro.
Kids can have a blast mashing the avocados with a handheld masher or old-fashioned mortar and pestle.
Here's a kid-friendly guacamole recipe that your whole family will love.
6. Mini Eggplant Pizzas
This mini eggplant pizza recipe is ideal for kids and parents alike.
It uses eggplant instead of pizza dough for the base, which can help increase your child's vegetable intake.
Kids of all ages can participate by spreading tomato sauce on the eggplant rounds and topping them with cheese. More adventurous eaters can experiment with different toppings like olives or anchovies.
7. Kid-Friendly Green Smoothie
Smoothies are an excellent way to introduce more fruits, veggies, and other healthy ingredients into your child's diet.
This green smoothie recipe is naturally sweetened with frozen fruit and contains a healthy dose of fat and protein from nutritious additions like Greek yogurt and avocado.
Plus, the fresh greens give this smoothie an enticing hue.
Your kids can help by washing and chopping the ingredients and adding them to the blender.
8. Rainbow Spring Rolls
Though many kids dislike vegetables, offering veggies to your children in fun, exciting ways may make them more willing to try new foods.
The translucent rice paper used to prepare spring rolls allows the colorful ingredients inside to shine through, providing a visually appealing meal or snack for kids. Plus, spring rolls are easy to make and highly versatile.
Your kids can help by using a spiralizer to create long, thin strands of veggies, layering ingredients in the rice paper shells, and mixing tasty dipping sauces.
Carrots, zucchini, and cucumbers make good choices for spiralizing. If you desire, you can add protein sources like chicken or shrimp to make the rolls more filling.
Here's a kid-friendly spring roll recipe.
9. No-Bake Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites
If you're looking for a sweet treat for your kids that isn't packed with added sugar and artificial ingredients, try this chocolate chip cookie dough bite recipe.
It's loaded with healthy ingredients like almond butter, coconut milk, and raisins and sweetened with honey and dark chocolate chips.
Moreover, it doesn't require any baking, uses only one bowl, and takes just 10 minutes to prep. Children can help by stirring ingredients and forming the balls of dough.
10. Apple Pie in a Jar
This scrumptious recipe uses ingredients like almond flour, eggs, honey, apples, and coconut oil to create a sweet yet nutrient-dense, snack-size treat.
While most desserts rely on refined ingredients, such as white flour and vegetable oil, these mini apple pies are much more wholesome.
Kids can pitch in by rolling the dough into individual balls, stirring the ingredients, and assembling the pie jars.
11. Veggie Omelets
Kids can learn a lot about cooking by making omelets. Plus, they're customizable and packed with nutrients that are essential for growth.
For example, eggs are often considered nature's multivitamin because they boast numerous vitamins and minerals, including choline, iron, and vitamins A, B12, and E, all of which are essential for children's health.
Adding colorful vegetables like peppers and greens further boosts omelets' nutritional value.
What's more, kids are likely to enjoy cracking the eggs, whisking the ingredients, and frying their creation on the stove. Older children can even be tasked with making their own omelets from start to finish.
Check out this veggie omelet recipe to get some ideas.
12. Healthy Cheesy Crackers
Some popular snacks marketed to kids, such as cheesy crackers, are loaded with additives like unhealthy oils, preservatives, and artificial flavors and colors.
Nonetheless, you and your kids can make healthy snack alternatives at home using simple, nutritious ingredients.
This recipe for cheesy crackers uses just four ingredients, including real Cheddar cheese and whole grain flour. Your kids can cut the dough into fun shapes before you bake them.
13. Colorful Salad Jars
Making colorful salad jars with your kids is an excellent way to motivate children to eat more veggies.
If your child is a picky eater, making vegetables more visually appealing and giving your kid frequent chances to try them may promote their veggie intake.
Furthermore, research shows that kids prefer sweet veggies over bitter ones, so mixing both sweet and bitter types into one dish may diversify your child's diet.
Have your little ones help you layer veggies and other healthy ingredients like beans, seeds, chicken, and eggs in Mason jars. Let your child pick which veggies they prefer, but encourage a combination of both bitter and sweet veggies.
Bitter veggies include kale, arugula, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli, while sweet varieties include carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, peas, and corn.
Check out this fun recipe for colorful salad jars.
14. Frozen Yogurt Pops
Many ice cream and yogurt pops are packed with added sugar and artificial colorings and sweeteners. Since these ingredients should be limited in children's diets, consider ditching the store-bought ones and have your kids help make nutrient-dense, homemade yogurt pops.
This recipe for frozen yogurt pops uses protein-packed yogurt and is naturally sweetened with frozen fruit and a bit of honey.
Kids can help by gathering the ingredients, pouring the fruit and yogurt purée into paper cupcake liners, and slotting the tray into your freezer.
15. Sweet Potato Nachos
Sweet potatoes are a favorite veggie of many kids because of their pleasant taste and bright color. They're also highly nutritious, offering ample beta carotene, fiber, and vitamin C.
To make nutrient-dense nachos, replace the regular corn chips with sweet potatoes.
Kids can layer on healthy toppings of their choice, such as salsa, cheese, black beans, and peppers.
Here's a child-friendly recipe for sweet potato nachos.
The Bottom Line
Cooking with your kids not only keeps them busy but also teaches them cooking skills and even encourages them to try new, healthy foods.
Try involving your kids in some of the recipes above to get them inspired in the kitchen and making delicious snacks and meals.
- 8 Healthy Swaps for Everyday Food and Drinks - EcoWatch ›
- 25 Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Kids - EcoWatch ›
- Magnetic Induction Cooking Can Cut Your Kitchen’s Carbon Footprint - EcoWatch ›
Inflammation can be both good and bad.
On one hand, it helps your body defend itself from infection and injury. On the other hand, chronic inflammation can lead to weight gain and disease.
Stress, inflammatory foods, and low activity levels can make this risk even greater.
However, studies demonstrate that some foods can fight inflammation.
Here are 13 anti-inflammatory foods.
Berries are small fruits that are packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Although dozens of varieties exist, some of the most common include:
Berries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins. These compounds have anti-inflammatory effects that may reduce your risk of disease.
Your body produces natural killer cells (NK cells), which help keep your immune system functioning properly.
In one study, men who consumed blueberries every day produced significantly more NK cells than men who did not.
In another study, adults with excess weight who ate strawberries had lower levels of certain inflammatory markers associated with heart disease.
Berries provide antioxidants known as anthocyanins. These compounds may reduce inflammation, boost immunity, and reduce your risk of heart disease.
2. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish are a great source of protein and the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.
Although all types of fish contain some omega-3 fatty acids, these fatty fish are among the best sources:
EPA and DHA reduce inflammation that can lead to metabolic syndrome, heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease.
Your body metabolizes these fatty acids into compounds called resolvins and protectins, which have anti-inflammatory effects.
In clinical studies, people consuming salmon or EPA and DHA supplements experienced reductions in the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP).
However, in another study, people with an irregular heartbeat who took EPA and DHA daily experienced no difference in inflammatory markers, compared with those who received a placebo.
Fatty fish boast high amounts of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which have anti-inflammatory effects.
Broccoli is extremely nutritious.
It's a cruciferous vegetable, along with cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale.
Research has shown that eating a lot of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and cancer.
This may be related to the anti-inflammatory effects of the antioxidants they contain.
Broccoli is rich in sulforaphane, an antioxidant that fights inflammation by reducing your levels of cytokines and NF-kB, which drive inflammation.
Broccoli is one of the best sources of sulforaphane, an antioxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
Avocados may be one of the few supposed superfoods worthy of the title.
They're packed with potassium, magnesium, fiber, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
They also contain carotenoids and tocopherols, which are linked to reduced cancer risk.
In addition, one compound in avocados may reduce inflammation in young skin cells.
In one study, when people consumed a slice of avocado with a hamburger, they had lower levels of the inflammatory markers NF-kB and IL-6 than participants who ate the hamburger alone.
Avocados offer various beneficial compounds that protect against inflammation and may reduce your cancer risk.
5. Green Tea
You've probably heard that green tea is one of the healthiest beverages you can drink.
It reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, and other conditions.
Many of its benefits are due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, especially a substance called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).
EGCG inhibits inflammation by reducing pro-inflammatory cytokine production and damage to the fatty acids in your cells.
You can buy green tea in most stores or online.
Green tea's high EGCG content reduces inflammation and safeguards your cells from damage that can lead to disease.
Bell peppers and chili peppers are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants that have powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
Bell peppers provide the antioxidant quercetin, which may reduce one marker of oxidative damage in people with sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease.
Chili peppers contain sinapic acid and ferulic acid, which may reduce inflammation and lead to healthier aging.
Chili peppers and bell peppers are rich in quercetin, sinapic acid, ferulic acid, and other antioxidants with strong anti-inflammatory effects.
While thousands of varieties of mushrooms exist worldwide, only a few are edible and grown commercially.
These include truffles, portobello mushrooms, and shiitake.
Mushrooms are very low in calories and rich in selenium, copper, and all of the B vitamins.
They also contain phenols and other antioxidants that provide anti-inflammatory protection.
A special type of mushroom called lion's mane may potentially reduce low-grade, obesity-related inflammation.
Some edible mushrooms boast compounds that may decrease inflammation. Eating them raw or lightly cooked may help you reap their full anti-inflammatory potential.
Grapes contain anthocyanins, which reduce inflammation.
In addition, they may decrease the risk of several diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer's, and eye disorders.
Grapes are also one of the best sources of resveratrol, another compound that has many health benefits.
In one study, people with heart disease who consumed grape extract daily experienced a decrease in inflammatory gene markers, including NF-kB.
Several plant compounds in grapes, such as resveratrol, can reduce inflammation. They may also reduce your risk of several diseases.
Turmeric is a spice with a strong, earthy flavor that's often used in curries and other Indian dishes.
It has received a lot of attention for its content of curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory nutrient.
Turmeric reduces inflammation related to arthritis, diabetes, and other diseases.
In fact, consuming 1 gram of curcumin daily combined with piperine from black pepper caused a significant decrease in the inflammatory marker CRP in people with metabolic syndrome.
However, it may be hard to get enough curcumin to experience a noticeable effect from turmeric alone.
If you're interested in using turmeric in cooking, you can find it in most grocery stores or online.
Turmeric contains a powerful anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin. Eating black pepper with turmeric can significantly enhance the absorption of curcumin.
10. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest fats you can eat.
It's rich in monounsaturated fats and a staple in the Mediterranean diet, which provides numerous health benefits.
Studies link extra virgin olive oil to a reduced risk of heart disease, brain cancer, and other serious health conditions.
It's easy to find extra virgin olive oil in your local grocery store, but you can also buy it online.
Extra virgin olive oil provides powerful anti-inflammatory benefits, which may reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, and other serious health conditions.
11. Dark Chocolate and Cocoa
Dark chocolate is delicious, rich, and satisfying.
It's also packed with antioxidants that reduce inflammation. These may reduce your risk of disease and lead to healthier aging.
Flavanols are responsible for chocolate's anti-inflammatory effects and keep the endothelial cells that line your arteries healthy.
However, make sure to choose dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa — a greater percentage is even better — to reap the anti-inflammatory benefits.
If you forgot to grab this treat on your last run to the store, you can always buy it online.
Flavanols in dark chocolate and cocoa can reduce inflammation. They may also reduce your risk of several diseases.
The tomato is a nutritional powerhouse.
Tomatoes are high in vitamin C, potassium, and lycopene, an antioxidant with impressive anti-inflammatory properties.
Lycopene may be particularly beneficial for reducing pro-inflammatory compounds related to several types of cancer.
One study determined that drinking tomato juice significantly decreased inflammatory markers in women with excess weight — but not those with obesity.
Note that cooking tomatoes in olive oil can maximize the amount of lycopene you absorb.
That's because lycopene is a carotenoid, a nutrient that's better absorbed with a source of fat.
Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, which may reduce inflammation and protect against cancer.
Cherries are delicious and rich in antioxidants, such as anthocyanins and catechins, which fight inflammation.
Although the health-promoting properties of tart cherries have been studied more than other varieties, sweet cherries also provide benefits.
In one study, when people consumed 280 grams of cherries per day for 1 month, their levels of the inflammatory marker CRP decreased and stayed low for 28 days after they stopped eating cherries.
Sweet and tart cherries contain antioxidants that reduce inflammation and your risk of disease.
The Bottom Line
Even low levels of inflammation on a chronic basis can lead to disease.
Do your best to keep inflammation in check by choosing a wide variety of delicious, antioxidant-rich foods.
Peppers, dark chocolate, fish, and extra virgin olive oil are just a few foods that can help you combat inflammation and reduce your risk of illness.
Reposted with permission from Healthline.
- Anti-Inflammatory Diet 101: How to Reduce Inflammation Naturally ›
- 6 Foods That Cause Inflammation - EcoWatch ›
- All You Need to Know About Turnips - EcoWatch ›
By Arlene Semeco, MS, RD
Avocados can be added to many recipes to give your meals a nutritional boost.
Just 1 ounce (28 grams) provides good amounts of healthy fats, fiber, and protein.
Here are 23 interesting ways to add avocados to your diet.
The simplest way to enjoy avocados is by sprinkling them with a pinch of salt and pepper.
You can also try other seasonings like paprika, cayenne pepper, balsamic vinegar, or lemon juice.
A quick way to season an avocado is to cut it into chunks and drizzle it with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pepper, and salt.
If you're looking for more nutritious morning meals, try incorporating avocados into your breakfast.
One way to do this is to fill half an avocado with one egg and bake for 15–20 at 425℉ (220℃) until the egg white has fully set.
You can also top the avocado with crumbled, cooked bacon and season it with fresh herbs and spices like parsley, cayenne pepper, salt, and regular pepper.
Furthermore, you can replace the eggs with other ingredients, such as tuna, chicken, vegetables, and fruits.
A simple online search will give you plenty of stuffed avocado recipes to choose from.
3. In Scrambled Eggs
If you want to give a regular morning dish a twist, incorporate some avocado into your scrambled eggs.
Simply add diced avocado to your eggs while they're cooking in a pan. Make sure to do this when the eggs are halfway cooked to avoid burning the avocado and continue cooking them until the avocado is warm.
If you prefer cooler avocado, add it after the eggs are cooked and off the stove.
Finish the dish by topping it with some shredded cheese and season it with salt and pepper to taste.
4. On Toast
It's possible to substitute regular spreads like butter and margarine with avocados.
Using puréed avocado as a spread on toast and sandwiches also adds extra vitamins and minerals to your meal.
5. In Guacamole
Guacamole might be among the most famous Mexican dishes.
You can make it using only avocados, herbs, and seasonings, or you can combine it with other great ingredients like corn, pineapple, broccoli, and quinoa.
6. As a Substitute for Mayo
Avocados can be an ideal substitute in dishes that use mayonnaise as a binder ingredient.
For example, you can use avocado to make tuna, chicken, or egg salads.
7. In Salads
Since salads can be light in calories, adding avocados can make them a more filling meal.
8. In Soups
Another excellent way to enjoy avocados is in soups.
Avocados can be used as the main ingredient to make avocado soup, or you can add chunks of this green fruit to other soups.
You can find many nutritious soup recipes that incorporate avocados online. These soups can often be enjoyed chilled or hot.
9. As a Substitute for Sour Cream
Avocados can be perfect for dishes that are usually made with sour cream.
For instance, you can make baked potatoes topped with mashed avocados and shredded cheese.
Another option is to make a dairy-free sour cream substitute by blending:
- 2 avocados
- the juice of 2 limes
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of water
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of olive or avocado oil
- a pinch of salt
- a pinch of pepper
10. In Sushi Rolls
Sushi is a staple in Japanese cuisine. It's usually made using rice, seaweed, and fish or shellfish.
However, avocados are widely used in sushi rolls as well. They have a creamy mouthfeel and can be used to fill or top sushi rolls.
Avocados can also be grilled, making them a great side dish, especially for barbecued meats.
Simply cut an avocado in half and remove the seed. Drizzle the halves with lemon juice and brush them with olive oil. Place the cut side down on the grill and cook for 2–3 minutes.
Finally, season them with salt and pepper or any other seasoning of your choice.
Avocado pickles are delicious and can be used in any dish in which you would typically use avocados, such as salads and sandwiches.
To make them, place 1 cup (240 ml) of white vinegar, 1 cup (240 ml) of water, and 1 tablespoon of salt in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil.
Then, pour the mix into a jar and add three diced, unripe avocados. Finally, cover them with a lid and let them marinate for a couple of days before eating.
The pickling solution can be flavored with different ingredients like garlic, fresh herbs, mustard seeds, peppercorns, or chilies.
13. As Fries
Avocado fries can make a scrumptious side dish, appetizer, or substitute for regular potato fries.
They can either be deep fried or, better yet, baked for a healthier version.
You can enjoy your avocado fries with different dipping sauces, such as ketchup, mustard, aioli, or ranch.
14. As a Topping
Avocados are a great addition to many recipes. For example, avocado slices are perfect to top sandwiches, burgers, and even pizza.
They're also great for sprinkling on typical Mexican dishes like tacos and nachos.
15. In Smoothies
Smoothies can be a perfect meal or snack substitute.
For a quick smoothie, blend the following:
- 1 ripe avocado, halved and pitted
- 1/2 banana
- 1 cup (240 ml) of milk
- 1/2 cup (125 grams) of vanilla Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup (15 grams) of spinach
- ice to taste
The options are endless when it comes to smoothies, and you can find countless recipes online or in specialized books.
16. As an Ice Cream
Avocado ice cream can be a healthier and more nutritious option than regular ice cream.
It can be made by combining avocado, lime juice, milk, cream, and sugar.
For a lighter option, you can substitute milk and cream for almond or coconut milk and sugar for honey.
Plus, avocado ice pops are a delicious and refreshing way to keep you cool on hot days.
17. In Salad Dressing
Store-bought creamy dressings can add a ton of sugar and unhealthy vegetable oils to your salad. Making your own dressing is always recommended to keep your salad nutritious and low in calories.
Salad dressing made with avocado not only has a smooth consistency, it's also delicious and full of nutrients.
Just blend together the following ingredients and add more water as needed to adjust the consistency:
- 1/2 avocado
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) of water
- 3/4 cup (12 grams) of chopped cilantro
- the juice of 1 lime
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1/4 cup (60 grams) of Greek yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
18. In Desserts
Avocado can be used as a vegan substitute for shortening, butter, eggs, and oils in baking.
Plus, swapping in avocado is easy, as 1 cup (230 grams) of oil or butter equals 1 cup (230 grams) of mashed avocado. Additionally, 1 egg equals 2–4 tablespoons (30–60 grams) of mashed avocado.
Avocado is often used to make chocolate cakes, brownies, mousse, and pudding, as its green color will be hidden in the dark chocolate color.
19. In Bread
Avocado is a great ingredient to make bread.
Switch it up by making your favorite banana bread recipe with avocado instead of bananas.
Alternatively, keep the bananas, add cocoa powder, and replace butter or oil with avocado for a scrumptious chocolate-avocado-banana bread.
20. In Hummus
Hummus is a nutrient-rich dish usually made with chickpeas, olive oil, and tahini.
Adding avocado to this mixture can increase the fiber and healthy fat contents of the dish. Furthermore, the avocado contributes to the creaminess of the hummus.
21. In Pasta Sauces
Avocados can be used to make a delicious and creamy avocado sauce for pasta dishes.
Vegetables that go well with this sauce include tomatoes and corn.
Moreover, you can add a spin to your mac and cheese by incorporating avocado into the recipe.
22. In Pancakes
Pancakes are high in carbs, but adding avocado can provide extra nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
These pancakes also have an attractive green color and creamy, thick consistency.
Additionally, you can add fruit like blueberries to increase the nutrient content of the pancakes.
23. In Drinks
Avocados can be used to make incredible cocktails like margaritas, daiquiris, or martinis.
Even though they're all made differently, they have a similar creamy consistency.
Non-alcoholic versions of these drinks can be made by simply omitting the alcohol.
The Bottom Line
Eating avocados has been shown to benefit your health in various ways.
They're surprisingly easy to incorporate into recipes, contributing to both the texture and nutrient content of many meals.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
Two men connected to a famous monarch butterfly reserve in Mexico have been found dead within a week of each other, raising concerns for the safety of environmental activists in the country.
Homero Gómez González, 50, who managed a butterfly reserve in Mexico's Michoacán state and campaigned against illegal logging in the butterflies' winter habitat, was found dead in a well on Jan. 29, BBC News reported. Three days later, part-time reserve tour guide Raúl Hernández Romero, 44, was also found dead on top of a hill in the El Campanario monarch butterfly sanctuary.
"How can you protect the butterflies if Homero Gómez or other people are not protected?" poet and environmental activist Homero Aridjis asked NPR.
Gómez González managed the El Rosario sanctuary, which is part of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The site, located in forested mountains around 100 kilometers (approximately 62 miles) northwest of Mexico City, is where more than half of eastern monarch butterfly colonies spend their winters. The butterflies travel all the way to Canada each spring and then back again in the fall. Because four generations of butterflies are born and die during this time, it is unclear how they know to find their way back, but they do.
"Every autumn, millions, perhaps a billion, butterflies from wide areas of North America return to the site and cluster on small areas of the forest reserve, coloring its trees orange and literally bending their branches under their collective weight," UNESCO described.
En el Santuario El Rosario Ocampo Michoacan “ El más grande del mundo “ https://t.co/WlCJuOcG4Q— Homero gomez g. (@Homero gomez g.)1578862606.0
But the butterflies' winter home is threatened by logging and the planting of avocado farms, according to NPR. Between 2005 and 2006, loggers felled 461 hectares in the area, The Washington Post reported.
Gómez González, a former logger himself, campaigned to protect the reserve and argued that tourism from the butterfly migration was worth more to the region than illegal logging. The El Rosario sanctuary he managed opened in November to help prevent logging, BBC News reported, and his family said he received threats before he disappeared Jan. 13.
His funeral on Friday was widely attended.
"I offer my condolences to Mr. Gómez González's family, his colleagues and all of those who, in Mexico and elsewhere, sometimes at the risk of their lives, work every day to protect this natural heritage which is shared by all of humanity," Director of the World Heritage Centre Mechtild Rössler said in a statement.
Gómez González was found to have received a blow to the head before drowning in a well, BBC News reported. His death was apparently not a robbery, since he was found with the equivalent of more than $500 in pesos, according to NPR.
Hernández Romero worked showing tourists around the El Rosario sanctuary, according to The Washington Post.
He was last seen Jan. 27 leaving his home, and then found dead Saturday after having been badly beaten with a sharp object.
Authorities are unclear if the deaths are connected to each other or to both men's work protecting the butterflies. However, The Guardian pointed out that there is a trend of environmental defenders being murdered in Mexico in conflicts with developers or criminal groups. Mexico's murder rate is also generally on the rise, BBC News reported. In 2019, the country saw its highest murder rate ever with 34,582 reported killed.
- Environmental Defender Murdered in Mexico Days Before Vote on ... ›
- Illegal Loggers Murder Amazon Forest Guardian - EcoWatch ›
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- Homero Gómez González, Mexico's monarch butterfly defender ... ›
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- The Monarch Butterfly Crime: Who Murdered Homer Gomez and Why? ›
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- Mexico's butterfly defender found dead - YouTube ›
Candy is popular worldwide but mostly made from sugar, artificial flavors, and food dyes, which provide calories but very little nutrition.
In fact, eating it may increase your risk of cavities, obesity, and type 2 diabetes (1Trusted Source).
If you're craving sweets but want to stick to a balanced diet, there are plenty of treats you can indulge in instead of processed candy bars.
Here are 17 healthy and delicious alternatives to candy.
1. Fresh Fruit
For example, 1 cup (144 grams) of strawberries provides only 46 calories but 3 grams of fiber and 94% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin C (4).
2. Dried Fruit
Because it's dehydrated, dried fruit is highly concentrated in nutrients and sugar, making it even sweeter and calorie-denser than fresh fruit — so be mindful of your portions.
You can find almost any fruit dried, but make sure your product doesn't contain added sugars.
3. Homemade Popsicles
Homemade popsicles give you all the benefits of fruit without the extra sugar and artificial ingredients of packaged varieties.
To prepare them, simply blend your choice of fruit with water, juice, or milk. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds or plastic cups, place a popsicle stick in the center of each, and freeze overnight.
If you prefer a creamy texture, blend with yogurt instead — or simply insert a popsicle stick straight into a yogurt cup and freeze for a quick dessert.
4. ‘Nice Cream’
"Nice cream" refers to fruit-based ice cream, which you can make by blending frozen fruit with optional add-ins — like peanut butter, honey, or coconut milk — and freezing the mix.
Here's an easy recipe to get you started:
Strawberry-Banana 'Nice Cream'
- 1 large, peeled, frozen banana
- 1 cup (144 grams) of frozen strawberries
Cut the banana into slices and the strawberries into halves. Pulse in a food processor until smooth, scraping the sides when necessary.
5. Frozen Fruit
At home, you can freeze fruit with yogurt for a quick, simple snack.
- 1/2 cup (148 grams) of blueberries
- 1/2 cup (200 grams) of low-fat Greek yogurt
- Cover a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Stab a blueberry with a toothpick and dip it into the yogurt, making sure it gets fully coated.
- Place the yogurt-covered blueberry on the baking sheet.
- Repeat with the rest of the berries and freeze overnight.
6. Fruit and Veggie Chips
Fruit and veggie chips are cut into thin slices before being baked, which gives them their characteristic crunchy texture.
Instead of choosing store-bought options that may harbor added sugar and preservatives, make your own fruit and veggie chips by following one of these recipes.
7. Homemade Fruit Leather
Homemade fruit leather is a sweet and chewy treat loaded with nutrients.
You can use any fruit you want — but choosing high-sugar options, such as mangoes, means you won't have to add too much sweetener.
Mango Fruit Leather
- 2–3 cups (330–495 grams) of mangoes
- 2–3 tablespoons (15–30 ml) of honey
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of lemon juice
- Blend the mangoes in a blender or food processor until smooth.
- Add honey and lemon juice and blend a little more.
- Pour the mixture into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spread to 1/8–1/4-inch (0.3–0.6-cm) thickness.
- Bake at 140–170°F (60–77°C) or the lowest temperature on your oven for 4–6 hours.
- Allow to cool, then remove from the tray.
- Cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) strips and wrap with parchment paper before rolling them up.
8. Energy Balls
Oats, nut butter, flax seeds, and dried fruits are the most common ingredients. However, you can mix in almost anything you want, from protein powder to chocolate chips.
Nevertheless, they pack a lot of calories, so try to limit yourself to one or two at a time.
Coconut-Dusted Energy Balls
- 1/2 cup (72 grams) of raw almonds
- 1/2 cup (58 grams) of raw walnuts
- 1 cup (73 grams) of raisins
- 3 pitted dates
- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 cup (93 grams) of shredded coconut
Finely chop the almonds and walnuts in a food processor, then add the rest of the ingredients — except the coconut — and pulse until you get a sticky mixture.
Form 1-inch (2.5-cm) balls with your hands, then roll them in shredded coconut until fully coated.
9. Homemade Honey-Roasted Nuts
Nuts are packed with unsaturated fatty acids, which may promote heart health by reducing heart disease risk factors. In fact, research suggests that eating nuts may lower LDL (bad) cholesterol by 3–19% (11Trusted Source).
They're also high in fiber, high-quality protein, and beneficial plant compounds (12Trusted Source).
Roasting nuts with honey makes a perfect sweet-and-salty treat. Try this recipe for your next candy replacement.
10. Dark-Chocolate Coconut Chips
Dark chocolate is known for its high levels of antioxidants, which may improve heart health, brain function, and insulin sensitivity (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).
The sweetness of coconut chips masks the slight bitterness of dark chocolate, making a crunchy treat that can be eaten alone or used as a topping for yogurt.
You can make dark-chocolate-covered coconut chips at home by following this recipe, or you can purchase them pre-made — in which case you should check the ingredient list to avoid added sugars.
11. Dark-Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
Dark-chocolate-covered strawberries are another way to reap dark chocolate's benefits.
To prepare them, dip these berries in melted dark chocolate. Place on wax paper and freeze for 15–20 minutes.
12. Trail Mix
Trail mix typically combines nuts, seeds, grains, dried fruit, and chocolate, providing you with fiber, protein, and many beneficial plant compounds.
However, store-bought options may be loaded with added sugar, so it's best to make your own.
For a healthy, homemade version, mix cashews, cranberries, pretzels, pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate chips.
13. Sugar-Baked Chickpeas
Chickpeas, which are also called garbanzo beans, are rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Moreover, they may boost heart health and reduce your risk of certain conditions, including type 2 diabetes (22Trusted Source).
For a chickpea-based treat, try this simple recipe.
- 1 cup (164 grams) of cooked chickpeas
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) of brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon (8 grams) of ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of salt
Preheat your oven to 400°F (204°C) and bake the chickpeas for 15 minutes. In a bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
Remove chickpeas from the oven, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with the cinnamon topping. Stir until fully coated and bake for another 15 minutes.
14. Healthy Cookie Dough
Edible cookie dough is an egg-free batter that makes a scrumptious snack.
For a healthy version, use chickpeas instead of flour to increase the fiber and protein content (23Trusted Source).
Chickpea-Based Edible Cookie Dough
- 1 cup (164 grams) of cooked chickpeas
- 3 tablespoons (45 grams) of brown sugar
- 1/4 cup (65 grams) of natural peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons (45 grams) of oats
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of skim milk
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
- a pinch of salt
- a handful of chocolate chips
In a food processor, blend all the ingredients except the chocolate chips. When smooth, place the dough in a bowl and mix in the chocolate chips.
15. Avocado-Chocolate Pudding
You can make a creamy pudding by blending this fruit with just a few simple ingredients, such as cocoa powder and a sweetener of your choice. For example, this recipe uses maple syrup for a delectable treat.
16. Baked Apples
Apples are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other plant compounds.
One medium-sized apple (182 grams) packs 17% of the DV for fiber, 9% of the DV for vitamin C, and powerful plant compounds, including polyphenols that may protect against chronic disease (30).
To make baked apples, cut them into chunks, add a bit of melted coconut oil and cinnamon, and bake for 20–30 minutes at 350°F (176°C).
17. Homemade Gummies
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. Its main purpose is to help tissues resist stretching (33Trusted Source).
It offers multiple health benefits, especially for your joints and skin, and is present in some animal parts, such as pork or chicken skin and beef or chicken bones (34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source).
This ingredient is often used to make gummies. Though store-bought versions usually contain added sugar, you can make your own at home using just fruit juice and honey.
Check out this recipe for tart cherry gummies if you want to give them a try.
The Bottom Line
Plenty of delicious, healthy treats can replace candy in your diet.
Candy is often loaded with sugar and additives, so you should avoid it whenever possible.
The next time you crave something sweet, try making yourself a nutritious treat from ingredients you have on hand.
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