RETURN OF THE SUPER FRUITS! #442 01/12/2011
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Tropic Plunder II: 6 More Super-Healthy Exotic Fruits

By Denis Faye

Just when you thought it was safe to sit back, peel a banana, and put the whole exotic fruit rigmarole behind you, we're back with a new list of six more little bundles of sweet, exotic fruity goodness. Maybe you've heard of them, maybe you haven't. Either way, they're delicious and nutritious, and your friends will think you're, like, totally fancy if you bust them out at your next shindig.

Exotic Fruits

  1. Pomegranates. Although the name is Latin for "seeded apple," pomegranates have about as much in common with apples as they do with liverwurst—except maybe that they both grow on trees and they're both fruit.

    Pomegranates have a hard, inedible red and yellow skin. Inside, you'll find clusters of seeds protected by sweet, pulpy little deep-red pouches called arils. (Does this sound anything like an apple to you? I have no idea what the Romans were thinking.)

    Arils are the part you eat, seed and all. Despite their alien appearance, the chance that they'll sprout in your stomach and take over your consciousness is slim.

    PomegranateHalf an average-sized pomegranate (about 4 inches in diameter) has 117 calories,1-1/2 grams of fat, 2-1/2 grams of protein, 26 grams of carbs, and a respectable 5 grams of fiber. It has 24 percent of the recommended daily value (RDA)* for vitamin C and 13 percent of the RDA for folate. You'll also find vitamin E, K, B6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. For minerals, you get 9 percent of the RDA for potassium and 11 percent of the RDA for copper, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, and selenium.

    There are a host of studies showing that pomegranate consumption can potentially help with everything from heart disease to dental plaque to cancer to the common cold. I'd take these studies with a grain of salt, but at the same time, there sure are a lot of them, and until someone figures out their accuracy, it's not going to hurt you to eat pomegranates.
  2. Kumquats. Despite the questionable name, kumquats are fun for the whole family. These citrus fruits come from south Asia and resemble tiny oranges. Unlike other citrus, you eat them skin and all.

    If you choose to eat a kumquat, prepare yourself for an experience. The outer skin is tasteless, but once you bite into it, the bitter juice explodes in your mouth and your face distorts into a pucker the likes of which no lemon could ever match. At this point, if you spit it out, you'll have that taste in your mouth for a while, so commit to your kumquat. After a couple of seconds, the pulp gives way to the taste of the sweet pulp and skin and you're fine.

    Ready for another?

    Most people settle for getting their kumquats in the form of jams and jellies, but in my opinion, that's the gutless option. Real men and women eat their kumquats whole.

    Surviving an eight-kumquat odyssey will earn you 104 calories, 1 gram of fat, 2 grams of protein, 24 grams of carbs, and 9 grams of fiber. You'll get 112 percent of the RDA for vitamin C, as well as a little riboflavin, vitamin A, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese.
  3. Asian pearsAsian pears. You may know this fruit by many other names, including sand pear, nashi pear, or—if you're feeling all scientific—pyrus pyrifolia. They come from (obviously) Asia, and they basically look like big, firm apples with pear-like skin. Their flesh is crispy, grainy, and juicy. They're pear-like in taste, but not texture. They're very nonconfrontational, a great new fruit to introduce to fussy eaters.

    One medium-sized fruit (about 2-1/2 inches in diameter) has 51 calories, 1 gram of protein, 13 grams of carbohydrates, and 4 grams of fiber. Asian pears aren't exactly micronutrient powerhouses, but they're better than a stick in the eye. That one piece of fruit contains 8 percent of the RDA for vitamin C and 7 percent of vitamin K. You also get some vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, and pantothenic acid. For minerals, there's 4 percent of the RDA for potassium and manganese, as well as some magnesium, phosphorus, and copper.
  4. Kiwifruit. Kiwifruit only became kiwifruit in 1962. Before that, these brown, fuzzy little fruits went by a variety of monikers, two of my favorites being the Chinese gooseberry and the hairy bush fruit. (I have no further comment on those names.)

    A ripe kiwi will be firm with just the slightest give. While the skin doesn't seem all that welcoming, it's actually completely edible and loaded with fiber. That said, it's hairy and chewy, and it's understandable if you decide to skip it. Just cut your fruit across its equator and spoon out the yummy green flesh within, seeds and all.

    KiwifruitOne medium skinless kiwifruit (about 76 grams in weight) has 46 calories, 1 gram of protein, 11 grams of carbohydrates, and 2 grams of fiber. It packs a real vitamin C wallop, with 117 percent of the RDA. It also has 38 percent of the RDA for vitamin K, as well as lesser amounts of vitamin A, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, and pantothenic acid. For minerals, you'll get 7 percent of the RDA for potassium, and lesser amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and manganese.

    I don't have the nutrition facts for a kiwifruit consumed with the skin on, but suffice it to say you'll get everything listed above plus a bunch more fiber.
  5. Figs. While just about everyone has had Fig Newtons® at some point in their life, few people have tried the fresh version of the fruit they come from. Surprising, considering that every year, more than a million tons of this fruit are produced internationally. While dried figs (and Fig Newtons) are available year-round, fresh figs are in season in summer, sometimes into autumn. There are more than 150 varieties of these weird, dangly-looking things, and they're highly perishable, so eat them within a day or two of buying them. Keep them refrigerated. A good fig is plump with a little give, but not mushy. If they smell sweet, that's also a good indication that they're ready to eat.

    One large raw fig has 47 calories,12 grams of carbohydrates, and 2 grams of fiber. You'll also get small amounts of pretty much every vitamin and mineral around, except vitamins E and B12, selenium, and sodium.

    Figs also have a laxative effect, so if you decide they're the fruit for you and you go on a little binge, try to do so close to a restroom.
  6. PersimmonsPersimmons. Another colorful contribution to the fruit rainbow from Asia, persimmons are commercially available in two varieties. The most readily available is the hachiya, which is shaped a little like an acorn. You need to wait until they're super-ripe and soft before they become edible.

    Conversely, fuyu persimmons resemble tomatoes in shape and are slightly orange in color. They're edible (and delicious, I might add) while still firm.

    Both varieties are typically autumn fruit.

    And here's a little fun fact for you: Persimmons, like tomatoes, are technically considered berries. Who knew? They also contain small amounts of lycopene, an essential phytochemical thought to decrease the risk of cancer.

    One hachiya persimmon has about 118 calories, 1 gram of protein, 31 grams of carbohydrates, and 6 grams of fiber. It'll give you a hearty 55 percent of the RDA for vitamin A and 21 percent of the RDA for vitamin C. There's also 8 percent of the RDA for vitamin B6, 6 percent for vitamin E, and smaller amounts of vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate. On the mineral front, there's 30 percent of the RDA for manganese, 9 percent for copper, 8 percent for potassium, and lesser amounts of everything else but sodium.

It may take a little searching, but most of these six exotic fruits are available at your local grocery store. If you're lucky, you might even find a few of them at your local farmers' market. So put down that apple, get your exotic on, and enjoy!

Related Articles
"Tropic Plunder: 6 Super-Healthy Exotic Fruits"
"8 'Diet' Foods That Can Make You Fat"
"4 Smelly Superfoods"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development, who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards, Steve Edwards, on Monday, January 17th, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT. Go to the Beachbody Chat Room.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, recently named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration.

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Bring Home BRING IT!

Tony Horton's "Bring It!"Tony Horton's putting the X in MMXI (that's 2011 to non-Romans)! The Master of Motivation's new book Bring It! hit bookshelves December 21st. You can order yours now at the following online retailers.

Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble.com
Borders.com
Indiebound.org

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Cellulite: Hold the Cottage Cheese, Please

By Stephanie S. Saunders

One of the most hated words in the English language must surely be cellulite. For the 90 percent of women who are plagued by the "cottage cheese" dimples that can run across the backs of arms and the entire lower body, it can seem like the ugliest thing in the world. Sure, you can hide it beneath clothing, but once bikini season hits, it's all over. From a self-consciousness point of view, it's as if you're back in middle school. You might as well make it a trifecta of humiliation by slapping on some braces and a lime-green prom dress. While there's no way yet to completely rid your body of cellulite, there are a few ways to help improve its appearance.

The term cellulite refers to the dimpled appearance of skin that can occur at any point on the body where the skin is thinner. Under the upper layer of skin, there's a layer of connective tissue that holds fat into place. In most women (and some men), this connective tissue has gaps in it, which allow the fat to push through, creating a bumpy appearance. The difference between fat and cellulite is simply where the deposit lies in relation to these gaps in the connective tissue. That, and the fact that even with weight loss and muscle gain, so-called "normal" fat may disappear, while cellulite seems to want to continue keeping your thighs company indefinitely.

Women in Bikinis

Cellulite can occur in the thinnest of women and men (sorry, guys) and doesn't seem to discriminate based on nationality, financial standing, age, or weight. There are believed to be hormonal and hereditary issues that can contribute to causing cellulite. Other causes may include poor circulation, lack of exercise, and even too-tightly fitting undergarments. But no one really knows for sure why 10 percent of the female population is gifted with not having to deal with cellulite, while the rest of us have rear ends that look like a giant golf ball.

So when faced with the appearance of orange peel on your thighs, what should you do? Well, there's good and bad news. The bad news is that there is no actual way, surgical or otherwise, to get rid of cellulite completely at present. No amount of vacuuming, injections, creams, or painful massage will eradicate it permanently. But there are many things that can potentially improve the appearance of cellulite. The following is a list of options, ranked from the least to most invasive and/or expensive.

  1. DietDiet. There are several diets out here that claim to remove cellulite from the body. After a bit of research, you'll find that most of them are just healthy eating plans that tell you to reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption, avoid processed foods, and drink plenty of water. This, of course, doesn't really bring anything specific to the table for cellulite. It might help you lose overall body fat, which will reduce the appearance of the lumpy stuff, but no amount of pineapple consumption will completely remove it.
  2. Exercise. Magazines are full of articles on exercises to ban dimpled thighs. Again, these exercises are designed to promote muscle growth and fat loss. Unfortunately, a lot of them are exercises that only target very specific areas, which will not benefit your overall fitness level and are fairly pointless, considering that you can't spot-reduce fat. Hard cardio and a toned physique will go just as far, if not farther, for reducing the appearance of cellulite. Overall, continuing with your P90X or INSANITY® workout plans will do more for you than will any number of leg lifts alone.
  3. Tanning. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has again come out with studies on how horrible the effects of tanning beds and baking in the sun can be. Tanning has now been compared to cigarettes and arsenic. Which is unfortunate, because a little color on your skin can do more to mask extra bumpy tissue than just about anything else. Luckily, there are an abundance of tanning creams and spray-on tans out there that can give you a similar effect without the risk of skin cancer. Just be careful with application, and if you go the professional route, make sure the folks you choose know what they're doing. I once attended a black tie event with hands the color of a pumpkin. Not pretty.
  4. Creams. There are thousands of topical treatments available that can cost anywhere from 10 dollars to several hundred. Most of them have the common "active" ingredients aminophylline, caffeine, and theophyilline. Sad to say, none of these creams can deliver the needed concentration to the necessary depth to make much of a difference in the connective tissue. They're promoted as increasing circulation, but ultimately, you're just using a very expensive moisturizer.
  5. MassageMassage. Massage is another attempt at breaking down connective tissue and increasing circulation in the area. Unfortunately, cellulite is a tougher problem than can be fixed by a single day at the spa. However, there have been studies that consistent, rather aggressive massage techniques can really assist in the cottage cheese reduction process. Before scheduling a daily visit from your massage therapist, though, try intensely rubbing the affected areas on your own with a moisturizer for a few weeks and see if there's any change in appearance. Thankfully, most cellulite appears on areas of the body you can actually reach.
  6. Wraps. Wraps have been around forever and still have devoted followers all over the world. The idea of the body wrap is to dehydrate the area, removing all excess water, supposedly creating a leaner appearance. Wrestlers and ballet dancers alike are infamous for wrapping themselves in plastic and sitting in a sauna for ridiculous amounts of time to try and drop "weight." These results are temporary and will usually return to normal with any intake of water. Wraps may in fact moisturize the skin, but so will a bit of inexpensive aloe vera cream.
  7. Supplements. Supplements can be extremely effective in helping you achieve fitness goals, but like all things I've mentioned thus far, no combination of herbal remedies has been proven effective in the fight against cellulite. Most contain some sort of ginkgo biloba, sweet clover, grapeseed bioflavinoids, oil of evening primrose, fish oil, and soy lecithin. All might assist your metabolism, and possibly your immunity and brain function, but none will make the dimples disappear.
  8. Injections. Here's a cellulite remedy that can cause actual discomfort. Mesotherapy is a series of injections to the cellulite-affected area. Very similar to Botox® for your back end, it's highly controversial and can require up to 10 visits to see any results. The medication injected has been approved by the FDA for other cosmetic issues, but wasn't designed for use on cellulite, and is so new that all potential side effects haven't been discovered yet. Before you choose to go this route, make sure to discuss it thoroughly with your medical practitioner.
  9. Suction massage. Endermology was created in France about 15 years ago for the temporary reduction of cellulite. The machine creates suction, pulling and squeezing affected areas, which eventually seems to redistribute the fat somewhat, but in truth, it doesn't change the fat's makeup. Sessions last about 45 minutes, require 10 to 12 visits, and are rather expensive. Without regular maintenance visits, the appearance of cellulite will simply return.
  10. LaserLasers. The FDA has approved two different laser options, both used with either a suction device or massage therapy. A low-level laser is radiated on the skin as some type of massage is administered. Both TriActive and VelaSmooth® require as many sessions as Endermology, in addition to continued follow-up maintenance, and can cost thousands of dollars. The effectiveness of laser treatments on cellulite is still unclear, but for individuals with enough cash to spare, this presently seems to be one of the best possible options for cellulite reduction.

Remember, while many of these approaches can improve the appearance of cellulite, none seem to remove cellulite completely or permanently. Until a method is found that will accomplish the total eradication of cellulite, it might be better to spend less money on expensive creams and injections and more on nutritious foods and activities that support a healthy lifestyle. Not only will this help to improve your skin tone, but it'll make you feel better about your whole body, inside and out. And isn't that more important than a few extra dimples?

Related Articles
"Crash Diets vs. Discipline, Motivations, and Lifestyle Change"
"4 Tips on Treating Skin Ailments"
"The Rub on Massage: 8 Great Ways to Relax and Rejuvenate"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development, who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards, Steve Edwards, on Monday, January 17th, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT. Go to the Beachbody Chat Room.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, recently named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration.

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The Truth about Belly Fat

Tired of that gut or "beer belly"? Find out why these unsightly inches are real health hazards, and learn how to eliminate them with extreme prejudice.

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Recipe: Fruit Skewers with Yogurt Dip

From the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Healthy Eating Recipes Web page

Fruit Skewers with Yogurt DipThis is a fun treat for kids and adults alike. You can also substitute other favorite fruits (especially seasonal ones) for the ones featured here.

For skewers:

  • 8 large strawberries, rinsed, stems removed, and cut in half
  • 16 1-1/2" chunks fresh pineapple (or 16 chunks canned pineapple packed in juice, drained)
  • 16 blackberries
  • 1 tangerine or Clementine, peeled and cut into 8 segments
  • 8 6-inch wooden skewers

For dip:

  • 1 cup strawberries, rinsed, stems removed
  • 1/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt
  • 1/8 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. honey

To prepare the dip, puree strawberries in a blender or food processor. Add yogurt, vanilla, and honey and blend briefly, just until mixed. To prepare the skewers, alternately thread two strawberry halves, two pineapple chunks, two blackberries, and one tangerine segment on each skewer. (Note: If you're making this dish with or for children, you might consider removing their fruit from their skewers before serving.) Makes 4 servings (2 skewers and 1-1/2 Tbsp. dip each).

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving)
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
71 1 gram 2 grams 18 grams <1 gram <1 gram

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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