FRESH FRUIT AND VEGETABLE COMBOS FOR HEALTH AND HAPPINESS
*Published in Huatulco Eye, January 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen, start your blenders, but first put away the tequila. After the indulgences of the holiday, it is time to turn a new leaf – a leafy green antioxidant one!
As the New Year begins, it is a perfect time to cleanse and renew our bodies, and to establish healthy habits for the months ahead. Visiting the local Jugo and Licuado stand at least once a day is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to kick-start a new regime.
You will find all of the trendy buzzwords of our popular North American lifestyle propaganda incorporated into the jugo and licuado menus, but this is not “news” to most Mexicans. That nopal can control diabetes or that beets can lower blood pressure are not recent discoveries.
An intrinsic part of Mexican culture that has not been adulterated by North American culture, but perhaps co-opted by it, is that certain plant products have specific properties that help combat disease and contribute to well being.
The benefits of a fresh diet are more appealing and effective here than north of the border where “fresh” fruits and vegetables are chilled and gassed to prevent ripening during days and weeks of shipping. Somehow, eating an anti-flammatory, antioxidant, high fibre diet makes a lot more sense when it starts with fresh-off-the tree papayas, bananas and oranges.
A 2010 joint study on nutrition between the University of Madrid and the University of Queretero produced this statement: “Local fruits and vegetables consumed in the Mexican rural diet are rich in polyphenols with antioxidant properties and are important source of bioactive compounds and dietary fibers.” Good news. The scientists recommended one action: that even rural Mexicans with this great diet could benefit from eating MORE of it. One of the easiest ways to get MORE is to have a polyphenol-rich shake every day, the ultimate “fast food.”
The local fruteria offers extensive Jugo and Licuado menus. What’s the difference? Jugos are mainly fruit and vegetable juice combinations, while licuados typically have milk or yogurt, and often nuts and seeds in addition to juices.
Take Note: When targeting specific conditions and diseases, it is important to consult your physician if you are taking medication for any condition. There are some natural compounds that might interfere with your medication, and indeed be harmful, such as grapefruit and some cholesterol lowering drugs.
I am particularly fascinated by the combinations that are separate from the main menus, ones that I consider the “big guns” of nutrition. Consider cabbage juice – touted as being good for weight loss and gum disease. Cabbage and its fibre-rich sense of fullness have long been in a dieter’s bag of tricks – but, gum disease? Well, it turns out that cabbage is especially effective against anaerobic bacteria that cause gingivitis – it has analgesic as well as antibiotic, antioxidant and detoxifying properties.
I love the recommendations for traveler’s fatigue- feel the miles melt away with a blend of jicama, celery, apples and carrots. Instead of uncomfortable annual parasite treatments, consider a guava licuado. Guava has anti-parasitic properties that not only rid the intestinal tract of pesky amoeba, but actually eliminate their eggs and soothe the whole digestive system.
Perhaps my favourite “trend vs tradition” combo is the Brain Tonic, something we could all use once in a while to improve memory and cognitive thinking. The Brain Tonic ingredients make for a delicious shake, but it is the addition of “pasitas” or raisins that make it a reversatrol cocktail. Reversatrol, considered to be a “longevity molecule” is found in the skin of grapes, and not surprisingly, in plump raisins.
I typically get my daily reversatrol in a glass of red wine, but for the New Year….who knows?