Health

Fruits are all gems. They’re filling, nutritious, and low in fat.  Most of the time, they tend to be overlooked and sometimes, the popularity of chia seeds and kale has shifted the spotlight. However, there are many benefits in certain fruits that perhaps you were not aware of. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will be able to select the crème de la crème in the fruit department.

1. Blueberries

Like all berries, blueberries serve as a powerful antioxidant. They help fight off cancer and the degeneration of cells. These antioxidants can help to improve better brain function and an increase in memory.  In addition, they contain properties that help protect against UTI’s (urinary tract infections).

2. Oranges

Oranges hold a variety of benefits! Of course, vitamin C is on the list and everyone is very aware that one orange can provide anywhere from 78%-93% of a days’ worth of it. However, they also have a great deal of potassium and the white lining many of us are guilty of peeling off provides hesperidin which can help lower cholesterol. Lastly – according to studies, even their smell can offer a calming effect.

3. Raspberries

Another member in the berry family: raspberries. Raspberries are actually one of the fruits that contain the highest amount of fiber with eight grams per cup. You’ll notice that they are also deceivingly sweet and I say “deceiving” because they are low in sugar (and carbs and calories).  Not surprisingly, they are packed with antioxidants that can help prevent cancer.

4. Apples

I’m sure you’ve heard it: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” And yes, the saying is on point! One apple contains 15% of your daily fiber needs and it contains ample amounts of antioxidants like quercetin, catechin, phloridzin, and chlorogenic acid. They hold both soluble and insoluble fibers which lower cholesterol and keep the digestive tract working properly. The Nutrition Journal has actually claimed that they can help reduce the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and asthma.

5. Grapes

Red or purple, grapes are grapes. They are packed with resveratrol, the mega popular property in wine that is said to be the modernized fountain of youth. One cup of dark grapes could get you as much resveratrol as that of a five ounce glass of merlot.

6. Strawberries

One handful of these could help those that suffer from type 2 diabetes. They also help fight off heart disease and inflammation. They serve as an exceptional dose of vitamin C and antioxidants.

7. Avocados

A personal favorite, avocados are definitely of the richest in nutrients! They have plenty of fiber, vitamin, and healthy fats. Yes, healthy fats. These fats actually assist your body in the absorption of vitamin E, D, and K. If you’ve been worried about inflammation lately, avocadoes inhibit the production of these inflammatory chemicals.

8. Watermelon

Watermelon is the perfect summer fruit! However, this should be your year-round fruit! They are packed with lycopene which is essential for cardiovascular health. It also holds pliantly of citrulline which helps improve blood flow and may reduce the fat in fat cells. And here’s a fun fact: it turns out that the juicy center is not the area with the highest amounts of nutrients – the area beside the skin is! It has the highest concentrations of phenolic antioxidants, flavonoids, lycopene, and vitamin C. In addition, watermelon is incredibly alkaline which calls for numerous health benefits!

When choosing your fruit, try including these in your selections. More importantly, try varying your selection and try fruits you have never had before! You may surprise yourself with a nutritious, tasty delight!

Image: Liz West

EducationSkills

After reading Arianna Huffington’s book ThriveI was inspired to start a gratitude journal. In her book, Arianna writes about how gratitude exercises can have tangible benefits. She writes, “According to a study by researchers from the University of Minnesota and the University of Florida, having participants write down a list of positive events at the close of a day—and why the events made them happy—lowered their self-reported stress levels and gave them a greater sense of calm at night.”  When I read this line, it only seemed natural to start a gratitude journal and document the positive events that had happened in my day or week. Lower stress levels and feeling calmer at night? Yes, please!

Starting and maintaining a journal can be difficult at first because it is another thing to remember to do, but after a while of keeping a gratitude journal, I promise you it’s worth it! Keep doing it every night until it becomes a habit. Luckily, writing in your gratitude journal won’t feel like a chore because it’s a peaceful time to just sit and write about all the things that you are thankful for. The words will flow from you and 15 minutes just might turn into 30. Another great line Arianna notes is, “Gratitude works its magic by serving as an antidote to negative emotions. It’s like white blood cells for the soul, protecting us from cynicism, entitlement, anger, and resignation.” 

The best time to start a gratitude journal is now. These are the incredible benefits associated with journaling, and because maintaining a journal can be challenging, I share the tips that work best for me:

Benefits of a Gratitude Journal

1. Lower stress levels.

2. Feel calm at night.

3. Gain a new perspective of what is important to you and what you truly appreciate in your life.

4. By noting what you are grateful for, you will gain clarity on what you want to have more of in your life, and what you can cut from you life.

5. Helps you focus on what really matters.

6. Keeping a gratitude journal helps you learn more about yourself and become more self-aware.

7. Your gratitude journal is a safe zone for your eyes only, so you can write anything you feel without judgment.

8. On days when you feel blue, read back through your gratitude journal to readjust your attitude and remember that you have great people and things in your life.

Maintaining a Gratitude Journal

1. Plan to write in your gratitude journal every night for 15 minutes before bed. Set an alarm reminder on your phone or schedule it in your calendar. I’ve found that it is easier to write at night so that I can include things that I am grateful for from that day.

2. Keep your gratitude journal by your nightstand so you will see it before going to sleep and remember to jot down what you are thankful for. Your journal may even become a symbol of gratitude so that when you just look at it, you will feel a sense of appreciation.

3. Write as many things as you want in your gratitude journal. Writing down 5-10 things that you are grateful for each day is a good number to aim for.

4. Your gratitude journal doesn’t have to be deep. What you are thankful for can be as simple as “family” or “the new book or movie I recently enjoyed” or “this morning’s breakfast.” What you are grateful for will differ from everyone else.

5. The timing of when you want to write is up to you. While I try to write in my gratitude journal every night, sometimes it becomes every other night. That’s okay. Journal when it feels right for you – the benefits really are worth it.

Are you inspired to start a gratitude journal? Share your tips with us at @carpejuvenis!