Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Unsweetened Truth

By Jeff OConnell
If you're out on Halloween night, you'll see bedraggled parents traipsing after clusters of goblins, princesses, hobos, Biebers, and the cast of "Duck Dynasty." However, those trick-or-treat characters will be trumped in number by this year's most common—and all too real—sighting: the obese child.
Trick or treating is a tradition going back a hundred years or so in the United States, and it probably seemed like a good idea at the time. It turns out that the trick was on us, given the growing threat from type 2 diabetes. As recently as 2000, the proportion of kids ages 12 to 19 with diabetes or prediabetes stood at 9 percent. (Prediabetes is the zone of blood glucose scores sandwiched between normal glucose metabolism and diabetes.) By 2007-2008, that figure had risen to 23 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It's a safe bet that it's been similarly rising since then.
The "why" behind these stats is no mystery, but unfortunately that doesn't mean we've gotten any better at fixing the problem. So let's pull the mask away from these stats and recognize our toxic sugar-crazed lifestyles for what they are.


Type 2 diabetes and obesity have a bit of a chicken-and-egg relationship, and various arguments have been put forth for each as the trigger for the other. In any event, they tend to show up together as partners in crime. The CDC also tells us that obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years.
Sugar isn't solely to blame for these scary stats, but it plays a key role in overwhelming the glucose metabolism of our young people. Compounding matters greatly are the other processed carbs that quickly meet the same fate as sugar, elevating blood glucose just as surely as a Snickers bar does.

Back in 2010, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill determined that 27 percent of the calories for kids between ages 2 and 18 were coming from candy, chips, and other snack foods. Aside from the caloric pile-up, the insulin surges these fast-acting carbs promote the creation and storage of excess body fat.
Sugar helps make kids overweight and obese. That much is clear. But increased sugar in a population's food supply has also been linked to higher diabetes rates even when you set aside the obesity factor.
Along with obesity and too much sugar, lack of physical activity also plays a major role in making our children into metabolic zombies. Kids still like trick-or-treating—they just don't like the walking door-to-door part.


In many ways Halloween has become ground zero for this meltdown. The National Confectioners Association estimates that Americans bought 600 million pounds of candy for Halloween this year, at a cost of $2.4 billion. Roughly 4 percent of the candy consumed in the United States each year is consumed on that one day.

If only the sugar-fest actually only lasted one night. Supermarkets, offices, and homes are filled with the sweet stuff in the days leading up to the holiday, and kids are left with a month's supply of sugary treats in its aftermath. This sets the table for more unrestrained junk food feasting at Thanksgiving and Christmas, followed by some annual resolutions that strive in vain to undo the damage.
Another survey by the National Confectioners Association found that the whole family usually gets into the act, too. "Across America 55 percent of households have a family rule that Halloween candy must be shared by everyone, further demonstrating that sharing is caring," they reported. Caring, indeed.
The financial burden from our collective sugar-binge is staggering. A study in the ADA journal "Diabetes Care" placed the estimated total economic cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2012 at $245 billion, a 41 percent increase from their previous estimate. The price tag decades from now will be mind-boggling, if current trends continue.


Halloween was once a pagan holiday celebrating death, and that association once again seems appropriate, given the toxic effects of excessive sugar inside the human body. Pumpkins can still be carved, costumes can still be worn, parties can still be held, and kids can be rewarded with experiences rather than candy. But trick-or-treating? That should be mothballed like last year's "Jersey Shore" get-ups, before the only types of trick-or-treaters are Type 1 and Type 2.


On my Twitter feed @sugar_nation, some critics have written that I want to rob kids of their childhood. Actually, I just don't to see them robbed of their limbs and organs later in life—and "later" is far sooner than it's ever been before.

"People used to suffer diabetes in their 60s and heart disease in their 70s," says James O. Hill, Ph.D., director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. "Now, with teens developing type-2 diabetes, are they going to have heart disease at 25 and need a transplant in their 30s? We've never gone through this before, but based on what we know about what happens once you have type-2 diabetes, the answer is probably yes."
So who can we count on to deliver the hard truth? You would think the American Diabetes Association would warn against too much sugar at Halloween on their website.
Instead, they offer to help you "plan how you'll handle the extra carbs from your favorite Halloween treats." If our largest national diabetes organization—I won't say leading, because they don't—doesn't have the resolve and clarity of mission to tell millions of fat kids to just put down the freaking candy bars and stop eating sugar already, then who will?
I will. This year, I'm considering dressing up as Carmella Soprano's therapist from the TV show "The Sopranos." He's a minor character memorable only for a single brief rant of tough love. At the end, he tells his patient simply, "[There's] one thing you can never say: That you haven't been told." Now you can't say that, either.

Peach Mango

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Half and Half Available Soon!

Halloween Special

All About Baking Soda

Sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda, is a common baking ingredient you can buy in any grocery store. You can also find a version of it in every person working and shopping in those stores, because bicarbonate is a naturally occurring substance in the human body. Normally produced by the kidneys and in a lesser degree in the intestinal tract, bicarbonate works to eliminate hydrogen ions and reduce acidity in the blood.
Given how blood acidity builds up over the course of strenuous exercise, it should be no surprise that people have looked at sodium bicarbonate as a performance supplement. Sure enough, it's an ingredient in some pre-workout and fat-burner blends, but it may also be one of the longest-lived supplements. Competitive endurance athletes in particular have been including baking soda for decades in their own home-brewed pre-workout blends.
For this reason, it has also been studied rather extensively in the context of various sports including boxing, swimming, cycling, sprinting, and to a far more limited degree, weightlifting. Baking soda training claims have long populated forums and blogs, so if you've ever been curious, here's your introduction to the science behind the soda. Have you been considering raiding the cupboards for a pre-workout bicarbonate fix, either in the place of or alongside another lactic acid buffer such as beta-alanine? If so, read on.


Taking some variety of bicarbonate—either sodium or potassium, the latter usually in the form of a potassium supplement—fairly reliably increases circulating levels of bicarbonate, peaking in around 60-90 minutes. When strenuous exercise is added to the mix, blood lactate levels rise, which is indicative of lower levels of lactic acid; the bicarbonate blocks the conversion of lactate into lactic acid. Due to this buffering ability, sodium bicarbonate is sought after for the same reasons as beta-alanine—to prolong time to exhaustion or promote more work output when the body would normally slow down due to "the burn."
Most studies agree that a dose of 200-300 mg per kg of bodyweight has the ability to enhance performance in exercises that are short in duration, but longer than a single sprint or lift. In most cases these are 2-7 minute workouts that involve repeated sprints, often on a cycle ergometer. Outside of the lab, HIIT cardio and Tabata protocol training would definitely fall under those parameters. The limited research into bicarbonate supplementation for prolonged aerobic training of 45 minutes or longer at race pace indicates the benefit can be felt there as well.
There seem to be limits to its effectiveness, though. Single sprints lasting less than a minute don't appear to derive any benefit from bicarbonate, and studies which measure numerous sprints usually find a failure of sodium bicarbonate to benefit performance on the first few sprints, though it can increase performance in the later sprints.
Oddly, the effectiveness of baking soda also appears to vary sport-by-sport. Studies of elite rowers doing a 2k for time, for example, tend to note no benefit or an insignificant one. Swimming is the opposite; studies using a repeated sprint protocol (either 10 sprints of 50m or 5 sprints of 100-200m) have shown that the decline in performance normally seen with repeated sprints is abolished with sodium bicarbonate.
Unfortunately, limited studies have been conducted in weightlifting, so it's hard to compare bicarbonate alongside beta-alanine in this respect. One study looking at performance on 5 sets of 12-rep leg presses, followed by one set to failure, failed to find a significant benefit with supplementation. However, future studies notwithstanding, it's plausible that the benefits swimmers and cyclists see could extend to weightlifters.


The performance benefit from bicarbonate supplementation is usually measured at around 1-2 percent. That may not sound like much, but for perspective, it's approximately the same benefit seen from taking 4,800-6,400 mg of beta-alanine. However, the limited research looking at the combination of beta-alanine and bicarbonate suggests that mixing them provides no additional benefit. Consider the two highly similar in action—though definitely not in side effects—but not necessarily complementary.
Perhaps unrelated to all the above, sodium bicarbonate has been shown in some studies to promote neuromuscular function in sports requiring a high degree of coordination. For instance, it appeared to help tennis players prevent the gradual decline in swing accuracy and trained boxers to maintain or improve punch accuracy. This suggests that there might be a neural benefit, but the mechanisms underlying these observations are not currently known.
Supplemental bicarbonate has also been shown to benefit people suffering from metabolic acidosis, either due to chronic kidney disease or as a normal part of the aging process. When the kidneys have impaired function they begin to secrete less bicarbonate into the blood, and a mild state of acidosis results. Bicarbonate could help reduce the rate of bone loss over time; during prolonged acidosis the bones are used in the place of bicarbonate to buffer excess acid.


Most of the potential side effects of sodium bicarbonate occur in the digestive tract. Within 30-60 minutes after ingestion, subjects sometimes experience stomach disruptions including nausea, bloating, and reflux. Once past the hour mark, side effects are more intestinal, and the risk of diarrhea and flatulence is increased over the course of 24 hours.
A number of studies have indicated that these side effects can be effectively treated through strategic dosing. The stomach side effects, it appears, can mostly be alleviated by either taking three small daily doses rather than a single pre-workout dose, or by mixing it with a fairly low volume of liquid, perhaps around 500 ml, and sipping it slowly. The intestinal side effects can be alleviated by having a solid food meal, hopefully high in soluble fiber, prior to training.
Finally, and probably most clinically relevant, is the fact that sodium bicarbonate contains quite a bit of dietary sodium. Assuming you follow a 200-300 mg/kg dosing model, it would add between 3,500 and 5,000 mg of salt to your diet, much more than 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance. This implies that baking soda should not be used by persons with salt-sensitive hypertension.


As mentioned earlier, there doesn't appear to be any benefit to taking baking soda alongside beta-alanine. Baking soda and caffeine do show some combined benefit, but at the risk of higher intestinal side effects. As a general rule, pairing sodium bicarbonate with other popular pre-workout supplements that are known to irritate the intestines in high doses, such as L-arginine, or which stimulate defecation inherently, such as caffeine, may exacerbate the diarrhea side effect.
There is currently little evidence to assess whether baking soda works well with creatine. So far only one study looked at a creatine-plus-baking-soda group versus placebo, concluding that the two supplements could be advantageous for athletes performing high-intensity intermittent exercise such as cycle sprints.


Based on the available research, 200-300 mg of baking soda per kg of bodyweight seems to be the optimal dosing range. Due to the sodium load associated with baking soda and the risk for intestinal side effects, the lower dosage of 200 mg/kg might be a more prudent decision.
Some mixed evidence suggests that higher doses such as 500 mg/kg can be more effective, but as you might expect, these doses also tend to be associated with a higher risk of side effects.
The most practical way to supplement bicarbonate is probably on an as-needed basis prior to exercise characterized by lactic acid buildup. Add the baking soda to 500 ml or so of liquid and sip it slowly over a 15-20 minute period 60-90 minutes before activity. Drinking the mixture too fast increases the risk of an upset stomach, because sodium bicarbonate does react with stomach acid.
Potassium bicarbonate might seem on its face to be an effective non-sodium alternative to baking soda, but approach it with care. Although studies have used up to 9 g of potassium bicarbonate daily without apparent side effects, they were not taken in the context of a single pre-workout dose. Potassium in high doses is more problematic when rapidly absorbed, which why vegetables and fruits never cause cardiac arrhythmia, but supplements can.


Sodium bicarbonate seems to work reliably and safely within specific settings: high-intensity training and competition where having legs that last matters. It might also help maintain motor control in a sports setting as fatigue sets in. Its popularity appears to be well-founded, but it's not magic, and the intestinal side effects could theoretically pose a limitation on the exercise and benefits in some people.
In short, use your head and take care. Like other new supplements, the first dose of bicarbonate should be a half-dose to assess tolerance, and perhaps not taken before a workout. Keep an eye on the sodium levels if you're at risk, and be careful mixing significant doses of it with other pre-workouts unless you don't mind sprinting for the bathroom.
Sol and Kurtis, the founders of, have just released The Supplement Goals Reference Guide. This exhaustive volume analyzes more than 300 supplements within the context of over 180 health goals and thousands of human studies—no animals or petri-dishes here.
With the Supplement Goals Reference Guide's easy-to-use tables, all you need to do is search and click on whatever supplement or health goal you're interested in. Instantly, and finally, find supplements that work!

Your Muscles are Thirsty

By Robert Wildman, PhD, RD, FISSN 

When you're watching elite physique competitions like events constituting Olympia Weekend, it can be easy to come to the conclusion that water is something to be "shed" in the quest for a more defined physique. While it's definitely true that dehydration practices are common in contest prep, in any other setting water is quite simply the most important anabolic nutrient you can ingest. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most overlooked.
A few years back, the Gatorade Sports Science Institute collaborated with Bally Total Fitness on a hydration-focused study, and researchers determined that more than 40 percent of participants going into a group exercise class were partially dehydrated.1 How strongly this percentage carries to strength training individuals is unclear, but there's no doubt about the negative impact that dehydration has on performance in weightlifting, as well as on muscular growth and recovery.

You've probably heard that the human body consists of approximately two-thirds water. However, this number barely begins to portray the importance of H20 from a muscular or training perspective. Let's plumb the depths of what water means to you in the gym.


You may recall hearing somewhere—like in one of my previous articles, for instance—that muscle is more than 80 percent protein on a dry weight basis. However, it's equally important to remember that your muscles aren't dry. In a living, moving body, skeletal muscle is more than 70 percent water. All contractions and all of the heavy muscle proteinsynthesis operations take place underwater, so to speak.
During resistance training, water is driven from blood into muscle cells and surrounding areas—known as interstitial space—based on the muscle squeezing during contraction. This creates the "pump" sensation, but on a more fundamental level, it's also just what muscles do when they try to move a heavy load. However, when body water is compromised because of poor fluid consumption, often in combination with excessive sweating, water is drawn out of muscle and back into the blood. This ensures the preservation of circulation and keeps your blood pressure at safe levels.
When you don't have enough water to fill the muscle cells, you're at risk of losing more than your pump. Research studies have shown that when cells lose water, and thus volume, protein production can slow down and protein breakdown can speed up.2-4 While researchers are still working out the details, it seems likely that post-exercise muscleprotein synthesis (MPS) would also be hampered in an dehydrated state.
Greater muscle breakdown, less new muscle growth—if the implications of that don't make sense to you, then you're definitely operating a quart low. Go get a glass—or maybe a jug—of agua before reading any further.


Several studies have indicated that during aerobic performance, such as running or cycling, performance begins to decrease when dehydration progressively exceeds 2-3 percent body weight loss.5 That may sound like a lot, but research has also shown that the thirst sensation doesn't really kick in until you're already dehydrated. So if it helps, think of it this way: If you're thirsty, your performance is being affected.
For intense training, such as multiple sprint sessions and weight training, the window is slightly larger, but the impact can still be dramatic. Power generation is thought to become compromised at 3-4 percent reduction in body weight, but one research study was able to show that upper and lower body power output was reduced after 3 percent dehydration. The researchers concluded this simple amount was enough to increase athletes' risk of injury.6-7

When researchers have looked more closely at how dehydration negatively impacts strength training, they have seen effects on both objective and subjective markers. In one study, participants were dehydrated by three percent before performing three sets to failure of the bench press, lat pull-down, overhead press, barbell curl, triceps press, and leg press, with a two-minute rest period between both sets and exercises. Another group performed the same routine, but properly hydrated. The researchers determined that total repetitions (all sets combined) were significantly lower when the participants were dehydrated, but subjects also perceived the exercises as more difficult, and they needed longer for their heart rates to recover.8
In a different study, researchers determined that measures of back squat performance were significantly decreased in later sets at levels of dehydration as low as 2.5 percent, and even more so at 5 percent.9 When the total work performed during a training session is decreased in such a way, so is the level of stimulus to build muscle and improve strength.10 Put another way, leaving your water bottle at home could mean leaving gains on the table.



When we do the math, it becomes clear that our dietary need for water far exceeds any other essential nutrient. The symptoms of water deficiency begin to show much more rapidly than for any other nutrient, and as such, water should be a top priority throughout the day—especially if you train.
General recommendations for people who train and sweat are 3.5-7 liters per day, or the equivalent of about 7-15 pounds of fluid. Taking in this much water requires dedication, but it's worth the trouble. While many weight trainers and other strength athletes will hydrate before and train with water bottles close by or frequent the water fountain, others ignore hydration opportunities before and during training.
Don't leave your results up to chance. Staying hydrated is the cheapest, easiest way there is to maximize your performance in the gym and afterward, so keep a bottle close at hand and always know where you can get more!
  1. Stover EA, Petrie HJ, Passe D, Horswill CA, Murray B, & Wildman R (2006). Urine specific gravity in exercisers prior to physical training. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab, 31(3), 320-7.
  2. Ritz P, Salle A, Simard G, Dumas JF, Foussard F, & Malthiery Y (2003). Effects of changes in water compartments on physiology and metabolism. Eur J Clin Nutr, 57 (Suppl 2) , S2-5.
  3. Schliess F, & Häussinger D. Cell volume and insulin signaling (2003). Int Rev Cytol, 225, 187-228.
  4. Häussinger D, Roth E, Lang F, & Gerok W. Cellular hydration state: an important determinant of protein catabolism in health and disease (1993). Lancet, 341(8856) , 1330-32.
  5. Bardis CN, Kavouras SA, Arnaoutis G, Panagiotakos DB, & Sidossis LS (2013). Mild Dehydration and Cycling Performance During 5-Kilometer Hill Climbing. J Athl Train, epub ahead of print.
  6. Kraft JA, Green JM, Bishop PA, Richardson MT, Neggers YH, & Leeper JD (2012). The influence of hydration on anaerobic performance: a review. Res Q Exerc Sport, 83(2) , 282-92.
  7. Jones LC, Cleary MA, Lopez RM, Zuri RE, & Lopez R (2008). Active dehydration impairs upper and lower body anaerobic muscular power. J Strength Cond Res, 22(2), 455-63.
  8. Kraft JA, Green JM, Bishop PA, Richardson MT, Neggers YH, & Leeper JD (2010). Impact of dehydration on a full body resistance exercise protocol. Eur J Appl Physiol, 109(2) , 259-67.
  9. Judelson DA, Maresh CM, Farrell MJ, Yamamoto LM, Armstrong LE, Kraemer WJ, Volek JS, Spiering BA, Casa DJ, & Anderson JM (2007). Effect of hydration state on strength, power, and resistance exercise performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 39(10), 1817-24.
  10. Wildman REC, Miller BS, & Wilborn C (2014). Sport & Fitness Nutrition. Kendall Hunt Publishing

Friday, October 25, 2013

Flu Shots Have Cardiovascular Benefits


Getting a flu vaccine is associated with a lower risk of death in people with heart disease, a review of studies has found, and the effect is greatest in those who have had a recent heart attack or chest pain.

The review included five randomized trials that involved more than 6,400 heart patients. In all, there were 246 heart attacks and other major cardiovascular events, and 97 deaths from heart disease.

For patients with stable heart disease, a vaccination decreased the relative risk for a cardiovascular event by 36 percent. For those who had had a heart attack within the last year, the effect was greater: a 55 percent reduction in relative risk. Over all, those who were vaccinated had a 19 percent reduced risk of death.

The authors acknowledge that their conclusions are based on a relatively small number of cardiovascular events and deaths. At the same time, the review, which was published in JAMA, covered all randomized trials done on the subject, and there is no suggestion of inconsistency among them.

“People who don’t like vaccines probably don’t like dying from heart attacks either,” said the lead author, Dr. Jacob A. Udell, a cardiologist at the University of Toronto. “Maybe this is a good enough reason for the skeptics to go and get their flu shots.”


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

8 Healthy Fall Foods

Looking to add some clean mass before shredding to a six-pack next summer? Fall is a great time to add variety to your diet, boost your nutrition, and keep things interesting by chowing down on fresh, seasonal foods.


This year, resist the urge to coat your apples in cinnamon and shove them into a flakey crust. Instead, savor the flavor of this crisp fruit minus the added sugar and fat. While apples are available year round, they're considered a fall fruit. This time of year, you'll find most varieties in abundance. Red Delicious, Granny Smiths, Fujis, and Galas each have a unique taste and tartness all their own.
They're packed with nutrients, including antioxidants. In a 2004 USDA study of 100 foods, Red Delicious and Granny Smith apples ranked 12th and 13th highest in antioxidant concentration per serving size. Apples also boast a high fiber content to help reduce your risk of heart disease—one medium-sized apple with skin contains 4.4 grams, or 17 percent of your daily fiber.1 The fiber found in the apple tends to be especially good for blunting appetite and keeping hunger at bay, and it could also give you that extra push during a strenuous workout. An antioxidant called quercetin found in apples makes oxygen more available to the lungs.2 Hello endurance!

What to look for: Firm, brightly colored apples. A dull finish could mean your fruit's past its prime. Not sure if the apple you selected is fresh or just waxed to a high sheen? Flick it near the stem: a dull sound means it's ripe, and a hollow sound means it is dated.3


Bypass that sugar-filled pumpkin latte and go for the real thing. Pumpkin isn't just a Halloween decoration! It's actually an extremely nutritious gourd. Before you carve your Jack-o'-lantern, set a light inside, and place it on a stoop, consider incorporating it into your recipes. Pumpkin is a lower-calorie source of carbohydrates that serves up a healthy dose of beta carotene, potassium, and vitamin A—more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of the visual aid. When used in baking, a serving of pumpkin can help you reduce the amount of added fats called for in the recipe. Whether you're whipping up some pumpkin pancakes, bars, or muffins—or just spooning out some pumpkin goodness as a side dish—indulge in fall's signature squash. For an added treat, roast the seeds. Their high phytosterol content has been shown to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL).
What to look for: A heavy, dusty rind and a hard skin that doesn't leave an imprint when you press down. Seek out a solid, withered, dry stem. Any signs of moisture could mean the pumpkin is past its prime.4


While kids often toss up their nose at this "B" vegetable—and its alphabetical partner broccoli—this mini cabbage should not be overlooked. Whether roasted, boiled, steamed, or stir-fried, it packs a powerful nutritional punch. Brussels sprouts are a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and calcium, giving them an immunity-boosting punch. They may lessen your risk of depression, cancer, heart disease, and age-related vision and hearing loss. Got a bun in the oven? Eat up. Brussels sprouts are high in folate, which has been shown to limit birth defects when consumed at 600 micrograms daily.
What to look for: Bright green leaves and blemish-free sprouts that feel firm. Aim for sprouts with heads no more than an inch in diameter to avoid that cabbage taste.5


If you haven't already added kale to your diet, now is definitely the time. Kale ranks in as one of the healthiest foods you can plate, so eat up—especially while it's in season.
In addition to being a great anti-inflammatory—with one cup containing 10 percent of the daily recommended amount of omega-3 fatty acids—kale is full of cancer-fighting antioxidants, and is a fantastic source of Vitamin K, which is necessary for bone health and blood clotting. Kale contains more iron than beef. Since it is high in vitamin C and vitamin A, kale may help support your immune system and help you recovery quickly from all-out workout sessions.
What to look for: Dark green, frilly leaves with a fresh look. Avoid kale that's yellowing or wilted from age.6


If you're like most people, your source of healthy fat from nuts largely comes from raw almonds or peanut butter. Before you delve into that tin of mixed nuts, consider reaching for variety and welcoming the chestnut. This nut offers a strong dose of vitamin B6, which helps provide immune system support and may also lessen PMS symptoms in women. It's also rich in dietary fiber and helps keep blood sugar levels stabilized and hunger levels down.
Watching your diet? Compared to other nuts, chestnuts are relatively low in calories. One cup contains only 350 calories (26 from fat), compared to the 854 calories (607 from fat) found in peanuts. Try blending chestnuts in a soup, using them as a topper in a baked squash dish, or adding them to a vegetable side dish.

What to look for: Let your ears do the choosing. When it comes to chestnuts, pick those that don't rattle when shaken. They should appear shiny, hard, and unblemished.7


Sure, they're not an autumn staple, but don't let unfamiliarity with the parsnip scare you off. As their shape might suggest, these woody vegetables are related to carrots, so cook them the same way. Parsnips have a nice, nutty flavor that goes a long way toward enhancing any dish. They can be easily diced and added to rice, quinoa, barley, soups, stews, or even stir-fry.
Parsnips provide 6 grams of dietary fiber per 100 calorie, one cup serving, so, if you're struggling to meet your daily fiber intake, pick parsnips.
What to look for: Shop for parsnips as you would carrots. Aim for small to medium-size, blemish-free, smooth, firm parsnips with white roots.8


Pears offer a sweet and slightly soft texture and are one of the most hypo-allergenic fruits you can consume, so they're well tolerated by just about everyone. There are thousands of varieties of pears grown all over the world, from the rough-skinned Bosc to the bright green or crisp red Barlett. Pears are a fantastic source of vitamin C—with one large pear offering up 16 percent of your daily value of Vitamin C and providing four grams of fiber per serving. They can be eaten by hand, poached, or baked with cinnamon and spices.
What to look for: Matte skin might not sound ideal, but with pears, it's a good indicator of their ripeness. Look for pears that are bruise free and firm.9


While it's not exactly a looker, the waxy rutabaga is one root vegetable you shouldn't miss. This cruciferous vegetable, which peaks in September, is sometimes called "yellow turnip." It's low in calories, coming in at just 53 calories per one cup serving, and provides a decent dose of dietary fiber at 3.2 grams per cup. Rutabagas are also a rich source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, calcium, and magnesium.
If you're looking for a lower-carb, lower-calorie side dish, prepare a rutabaga mash with some chicken broth and grass-fed butter. You'll undoubtedly put potatoes to shame.
What to look for: When it comes to rutabagas, the smaller they are, the sweeter they are. Choose rutabagas 3-5 inches in diameter and that feel firm, smooth, and heavy. Make sure there are no cracks or soft spots.10