Kale Makes for a Healthy Snack

In addition to being a great source of potassium and copper, kale is also rich in calcium, beta-carotene, and vitamins C and K. Kale is also rich in dietary fiber, which promotes proper digestion. Because it’s so nutritious, adding kale to your diet can lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease, plus it tastes great!*

For a healthy, crispy snack, toss some raw kale with a light coating of olive oil and place it on a baking sheet. Set your oven to 350 degrees and bake for about 15 minutes or until crisp. The slightly salty crunch will make you feel like you’re eating nature’s healthiest potato chip!

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*http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270435.php
Photo | “Kale chips” | © Joy | Used under a Creative Commons Attribution License

Eat the Whole Cucumber

You may not think twice about peeling your cucumbers before you eat them, but maybe you wouldn’t if you realized the health benefits of eating the whole cucumber. A cucumber’s skin is filled with minerals (like magnesium and potassium) and it is also rich in fiber. Cucumbers also provide your body with much needed vitamin A, C and folic acid.*

To make your own hummus for a healthy accompaniment to your cucumber slices, use a 15 oz. can of garbanzo beans, three garlic cloves, two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and a half a teaspoon of cumin. Smooth these ingredients in a food processor or blender, slice a whole cucumber, dip and enjoy!

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Dr. Kim

*http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/natural-benefits-fresh-cucumber-4905.html
Photo | Cucumber Halves | ©Richard North | Used under a Creative Commons Attribution License

Bananas for Stomach Health

932If you suffer from painful indigestion or stomach ulcers, it may be time to reach for a banana. Not only do bananas provide your body with necessary potassium, they also can protect your stomach lining from damaging acids and ulcer formation. Thanks to a prebiotic known as fructooligosaccharide (FOS), bananas provide your gut with healthy bacteria.*

It’s safe to have a banana a day. One way to keep your bananas fresh longer is by separating individual bananas from the bunch. If you want to keep your bunch intact, cover the collective tip with plastic wrap (keeping oxidizing air out).

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Dr. Kim

*http://www.naturalnews.com/031828_bananas_digestion.html
Photo | Bananas(edited) | ©24oranges.nl on Flickr | Used under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license

Health Benefits of Potassium Rich Foods

1417Potassium supports the health of your heart, bones, and digestive system. Unfortunately, only 2% of adults in the U.S. get the recommended 4,700 milligrams of daily potassium. It’s also important to note that potassium naturally balances itself out with sodium in your blood, so if your intake of sodium is high, you may have an increased need for potassium.*

Potassium occurs naturally in bananas, oranges, prunes, broccoli, spinach, watermelon, sweet potatoes, nuts, seeds, and avocados. Blend a breakfast shake of frozen prunes, spinach, bananas, walnuts, and coconut water for a potassium-rich start to the day.

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Dr. Kim

*http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-getting-enough-potassium-2035.html
Photo | 24oranges.nl | Bananas (edited) | Used under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license

Artichokes are Chock-full of Benefits

1374Packed with nutritional benefits, artichokes can boost your immune system, lower your cholesterol, and protect you from diseases such as heart attack and stroke. Artichokes are great detoxifiers and can improve your liver’s health. They aid in digestion too, improving issues such as constipation, indigestion, and diarrhea. Artichokes will provide your body with folate, magnesium, potassium, copper, and vitamins C and K.*

To steam artichokes, fill a saucepan with an inch of water, insert a streamer basket, and bring water to a boil. After trimming the artichokes, reduce the heat to low, place them in your streamer basket, and cover for 20 minutes. When an outer leaf can be pulled off with ease, the artichokes are ready!

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Dr. Kim

*http://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2011/11/The-Amazing-Artichoke/Page-01
Photo | Vegan Feast Catering | Artichokes | Used under a Creative Commons Attribution License

Precious Plantains

1203While plantains are a staple in Latin America, they are not as widely used in the U.S., but they should be! Plantains are rich in potassium, vitamins B6 and C, fiber, and beta carotene. Nutrient dense and delicious, plantains are one of the healthiest starches around.*

For a healthy cooking method, rinse plantains and cut them into 2 inch chunks with the skin on. Boil in salted water for 15 to 20 minutes, drain, and remove the skin. You can also grill or roast plantains in your oven. All of these options are healthier than traditional frying methods.

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Dr. Kim

*http://comfortb.hubpages.com/hub/How-to-cook-Plantain
Photo | Plaintains (Yellow) | wikioticsIan | Creative Commons Attribution License

Cantaloupes Can Help

Imports-CantaloupeCantaloupes are excellent sources of antioxidants, and they also provide your body with magnesium, copper, fiber, and potassium. They have 3,000 micrograms of beta-carotene per 100 grams. That’s 30 times more than fresh oranges! Research has proven the benefits of cantaloupe. Women who eat 12 ounces of the fresh fruit a day have a lower risk of metabolic syndrome.*

Hold off on cutting into your cantaloupe until you are ready to eat it. When you do slice it, be sure to keep the seeds on the remaining cantaloupe sections, as they help to keep the fruit juicy and fresh.

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Dr. Kim

*http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-benefits-cantaloupe-4119.html
News21 – National | Cantaloupe: Problem Fruit | Creative Commons Attribution License

Health Benefits of Basil

basil plantsMore than just a flavorful herb, basil is packed with iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium and Vitamin C. The antioxidants in basil help to protect your cells from free radical damage. This protection of your cell’s lining will help keep cholesterol in your blood from oxidizing, reducing your risk of heart attack or stroke.

Although parsley and cilantro do well in the refrigerator, basil does best when stored at room temperature. To keep your basil fresh, trim the stems and place them in a glass of water, just as you would care for fresh flowers.

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Dr. Kim

*http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=85
Alice Henneman | Basil plants | Creative Commons Attribution License

Health Benefits of Water Chestnuts

chestnutCrunchy water chestnuts are not actually nuts at all, but rather vegetables. Rich in fiber and potassium, water chestnuts add a lot of texture to your meals, yet hardly any fat. You can obtain the same type of healthy flavonoid antioxidants that you find in dark chocolate and red wine from eating low calorie water chestnuts.*

You can find water chestnuts in canned and fresh varieties. Just ½ cup of water chestnuts will provide you with 10% of your recommended vitamin B6 value, as well as copper and riboflavin.

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Dr. Kim

*http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-benefits-water-chestnuts-7382.html
Photo | “Tofu, Water Chestnut, Bamboo Shoot, and Pineapple Stir Fry in Spicy Sauce” | ©Scott Veg | Used under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license

Magical Mangosteens

mantosteenMangosteens are tropical fruit (the size of tangerines) that are both high in fiber and low in calories. Thanks to their high potassium content, mangosteens can lower your risk of heart disease by regulating your blood pressure and helping to control your heart rate. Xanthones, a powerful antioxidant found in mangosteens, can also fight pain, infections, skin disorders, fatigue and even allergies.*

When purchasing mangosteens (found in most Asian markets), look for fresh looking green stems and dark purple skin. Be sure to avoid blotchy looking skin. Gently cut the fruit lengthwise, similar to the way in which you would prepare an avocado. Mangosteens can be enjoyed raw, and because they are so sweet, they are perfect for dessert!

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Dr. Kim

*http://drlindsey.com/superfruit-mangosteen/
Photo | Mangosteens | ©Bob Richman | Used under a Creative Commons Attribution License