Eating healthy has become so much easier thanks to the abundance of fruit that tastes almost as sweet as candy. First, people went wild over cotton candy grapes, which taste like the spun sugar. Then, everyone was into the moon drop grapes that have a flavor fairly similar to the classic concord, but are shaped like miniature eggplants. Now, there's another fascinating fruit that recently caught our eye: the kiwi berry. The pint-sized produce, which reminds us of the super cute cucamelon, has been seeing a surge in popularity during its current peak season.
What Are Kiwi Berries?
The kiwi berry, or Actinidia arguta, is a perennial vine that's native to several countries in the northern hemisphere, including Korea and China, according to California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc. If you haven't had the pleasure of sinking your teeth into this delicious fruit, it tastes exactly how you might imagine. They're basically a teeny tiny version of a kiwi, but without the fuzzy exterior. So, instead of taking the time to tediously peel each piece of fruit, which would be pretty difficult given their small size, you can just pop them in your mouth. Similarly, to kiwis, the softer they are, the sweeter they taste, so if you like your fruit on the sugary side, make sure your berries are almost squishy.
Kiwi Berry Nutrition
Like all fruit, not only are these berries tasty, but they're also packed with nutrients. They're rich in vitamin C, high in fiber, and also contain potassium, magnesium, and vitamin E, according to Hurst’s Berry Farm International.
Given that it's prime time for these bites, we've been seeing them pop up on social media recently. Lisa Canepa, who owns Carmel Bella Farm in Carmel Valley, California, actually grows kiwi berries on her farm. She recently showed off a handful of juicy berries that she calls one of her favorite fruits. Natalie Wiser-Orozco, a plant-based blogger who features healthy recipes on her website, The Devil Wears Parsley, writes that she often adds kiwi berries to her salads.
Kiwi Berry Season
The only downside about this bite-sized fruit is its extremely short season. In the United States, they're only sold in September and part of October, and because of their short shelf life, some grocery stores don't carry them at all. (However, they have been spotted at some popular grocers, including Trader Joe's.) Hurst’s Berry Farm International notes they only stay on supermarket shelves for about seven to 14 days, and once purchased, they should be eaten within a week. So, if you see them at your local grocer or farmers market, make sure to snag a package or two and eat immediately.
This article originally appeared on bhg.com
Wakes You Up
Caffeine boosts your energy and mood and makes you more alert. That can sometimes be helpful, especially in the morning or when you're trying to work. Though your body doesn't store it, caffeine can affect you for up to 6 hours after you swallow it. But more is not always better. Too much can push you over the line from alert to jittery and anxious.
Interferes with Sleep
Too much caffeine can make it hard to nod off when you go to bed at night. Even moderate amounts can cause insomnia in some people, especially if you have it too close to bedtime. The effects may be worse as you age. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening if you notice it affects your sleep. And remember, it's not just in tea and coffee. It's also in chocolate, energy drinks, and other prepackaged foods and drinks.
Raises Heart Rate
Caffeine is a stimulant and may cause your heart to beat a little faster as it wakes you up. For most folks that's not a problem. But if you have too much caffeine or you're overly sensitive, your pulse may go up too much or stay high too long. It may even feel like your heart beats in a weird rhythm, sometimes called heart palpitations. Some people say it feels as if their ticker skips a beat.
Causes a HeadacheIf you have caffeine every day, whether in a pill, energy bar, or cup of coffee, you build up tolerance. Then, without your daily dose, you might get a "rebound" headache. It may be worse if you quit caffeine completely and all at once. You'll find your head will feel better if you reduce caffeine a little at a time.
Makes You Pee
Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it can make you pee more. Around 300 milligrams of caffeine -- the amount in three cups of coffee -- is enough to do it if you're not used to it. Water loss is minor and is unlikely to cause dehydration as long as you are otherwise healthy. The diuretic effect can fade if you get the same regular daily dose of caffeine because you build up tolerance.
Boosts Sports PerformanceIf you do "endurance" sports, like running, biking, or swimming, caffeine might help you go faster and with less muscle pain. It seems to work best in a non-liquid form, like a pill, taken about an hour before you exercise so that your body can absorb it completely. Around 200 to 400 milligrams (2 to 4 cups of coffee) should do it. More than that doesn't seem to help further.
Helps You Recover from a Workout
Some studies show that caffeine can help your body recover more quickly after hard exercise by making and restocking a stored form of fuel called glycogen. It seems to do this best if you combine it with carbohydrates, like in certain sports gels, sports bars, and drinks. Just take care not to overdo the caffeine, which could have the opposite effect on recovery or performance if it interferes with your sleep.
Raises Blood Pressure
Though the reason isn't clear, caffeine can spike your blood pressure for a short while and sometimes over the long term as well. It could be that it blocks a hormone that keeps your arteries wide and pressure down. Or it might cause your body to release more adrenaline, a hormone that raises blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about how much caffeine you can have if you have high blood pressure or heart problems.
Protects Against Disease
Caffeine seems to help prevent gallstones and inflammation, among other medical problems. Some studies show that regular caffeine might help keep away certain neurological diseases, like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Huntington's, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy. More research is needed.
Women pass through menopause around age 50, a phase that brings an end to their monthly cycle. Caffeine can worsen the sudden body heat and sweats, known as hot flashes, that often happen at this time of life. The symptoms can go on for 10 years or more. Your doctor may be able to help you with hormone therapy if they get in the way of your everyday routine.
How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?
It depends on your weight, diet, medications, and overall health. Up to about 400 milligrams of caffeine a day is OK for most healthy adults. Over 600 milligrams daily is probably too much. But some people are just more sensitive to it. If you notice stomach problems, headaches, muscle twitches, or heart palpitations, it might be time to cut back. Talk to your doctor about how much is safe if you're pregnant or have heart trouble.
“If cauliflower can somehow become pizza, you can do anything” goes the popular quote on social media. It’s funny because it’s a bit absurd--that a vegetable which, not long ago, could’ve been voted “most likely to be left behind on a veggie tray” has suddenly rocketed to foodie fame, being transformed into everything from pizza crust to Buffalo “wings”. This trend is a good thing, right?
First, a misunderstanding to correct: White veggies have a reputation for being nutritionally wimpy, but that’s actually not the case--especially with cauliflower. It’s a cruciferous veggie related to broccoli, and the compounds that produce a strong odor when cooking it are the same ones that give is potential cancer-fighting properties. The veggie is also a surprisingly good source of vitamin C and contains a couple grams of fiber per cup, plus potassium and folate.
Cauliflower: Your Kitchen Chameleon
Plays Well with Others
Thanks to its mild flavor and easy-to-work-with texture, cauliflower goes great with so many dishes. It can shine front and center or take the place of high-calorie starches. There are just 25 calories and 5 grams of carbs in one cup.
Keep the Crunch
As with all veggies, try not to overcook these guys. The more heat, the less nutrition, flavor, and crunch. Try roasting, steaming, or sautéing. Then again, on occasion, a deep-fried floret dipped in ranch dressing is a great comfort food.
Packs a Vitamin Punch
This cousin to broccoli is bursting with health benefits. It has a lot of vitamin C, which can do everything from lower your cholesterol and improve blood flow to help control your blood sugar. It’s also a good source of vitamin K, which strengthens bones and clots your blood. And it’s both high in fiber and folate, a B vitamin with antioxidants.
Veggies such as cauliflower and kale have glucosinolates, which might prevent cancer. Studies on the sulfur-rich chemicals show they may block cancer cells, repair DNA, boost immunity, and stop inflammation. So those filling florets not only go to war with heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, but cancer, too.
Taste the Rainbow
Cauliflower is usually white, which nicely sets off a stir-fry of red peppers and green snow peas. But there are orange and purple hybrids, as well. The orange heads have a sweeter taste and more beta-carotene, which supports healthy eyes and skin. Purple ones have a nutty taste and some of the same disease-fighting antioxidants as blueberries. There's even a green kind called broccoflower, with a slightly sweeter taste than either cauliflower or broccoli.
There are a number of clever, delicious ways to work cauliflower into everyday meals.
A Stand-In for Mashed Potatoes
Before you reach for that bag of spuds, consider how many calories and carbs are in a side of mashed potatoes. Save upward of 100 calories a cup by switching the tater for cooked, puréed cauliflower. Then go easy on the butter and sour cream. Maybe try seasonings such as Dijon mustard or fresh herbs to add flavor.
Flourless Pizza Crust
If you’re allergic to gluten or simply trying to eat healthier, ditch the flour and shred cauliflower to make your pizza crust. Mix this handy veggie with mozzarella and oregano to bake a Mediterranean-style pizza pie with lemon, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes. You can also go traditional with marinara sauce and pepperoni, since this rock star meshes well with most any topping.
Give It a Roast
Celebrity chefs and foodies alike rave about roasted chunks of cauliflower. They have a meaty texture and nutty, caramelized taste. Stir them into any casserole or serve them as a side to steak with an easy-to-whip-up blue cheese dressing.
Stick and Spear
Strips of beef or chicken usually play the starring role in a satay, but florets can shine on a skewer, too. Pair them with scallops or just broccoli for a vegetable medley. Then drizzle with a marinade. Their firm texture can take the heat of your grill, so try it on kebabs, too.
The surge in popularity is likely driven by low-carb and vegan diets, with people seeking out either grain-free or meat- and animal-product-free versions of their favorites. Cauliflower is a relatively bland veggie, and it’s also versatile--you can chop it into “rice”, grill thick slices as “steaks”, bread and bake it into “nuggets”, pulverize and form it into “breadsticks”, or even whirl frozen florets into a smoothie to add volume (seriously--it’s good!).
As a dietitian, I love trends that mean eating more vegetables, since most people are falling short of the daily recommendations. And if cauliflower can help people manage a special diet, I’m all for it.
But there are a few things to keep in mind. Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable and contains a carbohydrate called raffinose that the body can’t entirely digest. For some people, that can cause gas. Plus, the fiber in cauliflower, while good for the body, can also trigger gas and bloating. That’s especially true if you weren’t eating a high-fiber diet and suddenly add in loads of cauliflower. Give your body time to adjust by gradually increasing how much fiber you eat (and drinking plenty of water).
Cauliflower is also a source of vitamin K, which helps with blood clotting. Some people who take blood-thinning medications (like warfarin) are advised to eat a diet low in vitamin K, and the National Institutes of Health cautions that a sudden change in vitamin K intake can lead to bleeding. Cauliflower doesn’t have nearly as much K as veggies like spinach and Brussels sprouts do, so standard servings of cauliflower aren’t likely to pose a problem. But if you start eating lots of it daily and take blood thinners, it’s smart to check in with your doctor just to be safe.
Lastly, a word of caution that just because something is gluten-free or vegan doesn’t automatically make it wholesome, nutritious, or low in calories. There’s no doubt that a bowl of cauliflower “rice” is much lower in calories than the real deal, but that’s not the same for everything. I recently tried a cauliflower crust pizza at a restaurant that was tasty, noticing later that it actually had the same calories and even a bit more fat than the regular crust. And a cauliflower crust feels a little beside the point if it’s loaded down with, say, bacon, sausage, and extra cheese. Oh, and brownies made with cauliflower are, well, still brownies. So go ahead and use cauliflower in all kinds of ways--but use common sense too!