Fit Minute | Why Pumpkin Promotes Anti-Aging

pumpkin_adobestock_117487967‘Tis the season for pumpkin! Here are the nutrition bullet points that make them well worth eating:

  • Pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene (an important antioxidant).
  • Beta-carotene (a bright orange plant pigment) is converted to vitamin A in your body.

Vitamin A is for Anti-Aging

Foods rich in beta-carotene:

  • May reduce your risk of developing certain cancers.
  • Offer protection against heart disease and some degenerative aspects of aging, including cataracts and macular degeneration.
  • Keep your skin soft and smooth. Vitamin A rebuilds body tissues and helps control the production of sebum (oil) that lubricates your skin.  If you’re deficient in this vitamin, you’ll end up with dry, scaly skin.
  • Destroy free radicals, that is, the by-products of oxidation from normal metabolic processing. These little scavengers cause cellular damage and are responsible for aging skin.
  • Attack the free radicals that break down your skin’s elastin and collagen – the vital components of youthful, firm and resilient skin.

pumpkin-seeds_adobestock_24256286Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) are a good souce of fiber and healthy fats and an excellent source of iron — especially for vegans. A handful of pepitas (about 85 little seeds) contain about 1 mg. of iron. That’s about 4% of the recommended amount of iron you need each day.

Iron is essential due to its oxygen-carrying capacity. An iron deficiency can impair muscle function, normal function of the nervous and immune systems, and can limit your work capacity during exercise.

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Fit Tip: Roast and season pumpkin seeds and kernels for a bone-building high-fiber snack. To spice them up, sprinkle them with garlic powder, cayenne and smoked paprika. Also, try some Super Moist Pumpkin Bars for a boost of vitamin A!

Aid for Age-Related Blindness | The Health Reporter Minute

There’s new hope for people with impaired vision from age-related macular degeneration. Karen Owoc, The Health Reporter, hosts a compact segment of health news in The Health Reporter Minute. Writer/Producer: Karen Owoc. [Segment #0009H

Are Carrots Good for Cataracts?

Q:  Do carrots really help your eyesight?  Both my wife and I have had cataract surgery.  Is there anything that we can eat to help protect our vision? ~ V.O., Bath, OH

Carrots contain eye-healthy compoundsA: Carrots contain lutein (LOO-teen) and zeaxanthin (zee-uh-ZAN-thin)which are nutrients that may protect the eyes. Lutein and zeaxanthin are xanthophylls that belong to the carotenoid family of organic pigments. Xanthophylls are found naturally in plants and give fruits and vegetables their pretty colors. They are found in the flesh of the fruit and vegetable as well as in the leaves.

Cataracts and ARMD

Lutein and zeaxanthin are yellow-orange-red pigments that accumulate in the lens of the human eye and the central part of the retina (macula) and filter harmful components of sunlight. In ongoing research studies, both lutein and zeaxanthin have been found to help protect against eye diseases, such as cataracts (caused by oxidative stress and solar damage to the lens of the eye). Some studies have shown these nutrients actually lowered the need for cataract surgery by up to 20% with up to a 40% reduction in the risk for age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). ARMD is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly.   Continue reading “Are Carrots Good for Cataracts?”

Broccoli Almond Salad with Avocado

AvocadoLooking for a quick side dish that’s different and delicious?  When you’re in the mood for a new twist on the usual steamed broccoli, give this salad a try.  The rough crunchy texture of the broccoli and almonds combined with the smooth creaminess of the avocado create a tasty contrast per forkful.

Avocados are a good source of both heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (known to lower blood cholesterol) and vitamin E, a powerful anti-aging antioxidant.

Both avocados and broccoli contain lutein – a nutrient from the carotenoid family of chemicals that contain pigments.  Lutein is one of the primary yellow pigments found in the central part of the retina (macula) that absorbs harmful components of sunlight.  Both lutein and zeaxanthin have been found to help protect against eye diseases, such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), ARMD is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly.

One serving (1 1/4 cup) of this salad contains a whopping 4.5 mg of lutein which nearly meets the 6 mg that is recommended per day by leading physicians.   Continue reading “Broccoli Almond Salad with Avocado”