HEALTHY FATTY FRUITS, MAKE TIME FOR FITNESS #467 07/06/11
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4 Healthy Fats from Fruits

By Andrew Rice

Fat . . . fruit. Fat . . . fruit. Let's say that one more time: fat . . . fruit. Hardly rolls off the tongue, does it? Most fruits and vegetables have very little fat. But there are exceptions; some of the best sources of healthy fats are fruits. Working them into your diet can provide your body with healthy fat that actually lowers your bad cholesterol while raising the good cholesterol to help protect you from heart disease. Not only that, these healthy, fatty fruits provide an array of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, something a slab of bacon just can't do.

But not all fruit and vegetable fats are created equal, so let's take a look at some fatty produce and how to incorporate it into your healthy diet.

Onions, Tomatoes, and Avocados

  1. AvocadoThe avocado. It's hard to believe, really, that something so rich and buttery-tasting is a fruit. To me, an avocado is one of nature's perfect foods, straight from the tree to you. It's simple, packs a lot of energy, and satisfies your hunger.

    Ounce for ounce, an avocado has as many total grams of fat as a Big Mac®, something that led to its being vilified during the "fat free" diet crazes of the past. Seventy-five percent of the calories in an avocado come from fat, whereas most fruits derive their calories from sugars. But ever since nutritionists sorted out the difference between bad and good monounsaturated fats, the avocado has been voted back onto the island.

    Half a California avocado has an excellent overall nutrient profile: 114 calories, 2 grams of protein, 4.5 grams of fiber, and 11 grams of fat, most of which (8 grams) is monounsaturated fat.

    The monounsaturated fat found in avocados is mostly oleic acid, which, according to a 1996 study by researchers at the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social in Mexico, may help lower cholesterol. This study found that after seven days of a diet rich in avocados, subjects saw significant decreases in both total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol, as well as an 11 percent increase in HDL ("good") cholesterol. In other words, it showed that avocados raised good cholesterol levels while lowering the bad, a one-two punch against heart disease.

    But good fats are not the only attractive side of this leathery-skinned green fruit. Avocados also have 60 percent more potassium than bananas, making them a great post-workout recovery food. They're also rich in vitamin E and other antioxidants.

    You'll also find a large amount of omega-3s and omega-6s in avocados, excellent news for vegetarians and vegans who want to incorporate these beneficial fatty acids into their diet without consuming fish oil, poultry, or eggs.

    Really, the only way you can go wrong eating avocados is if you eat so many of them that the excess calories make you overweight. But as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, bring on the avocados.
  2. CoconutCuckoo for coconut. You can argue that a coconut isn't a fruit. People will also argue that a tomato is a vegetable and that a peanut, which is really a legume, is a nut. Whatever. We eat them all. While the avocado is unabashedly awesome for your health, the health benefits of the coconut's flesh, and particularly its milk, are less clear-cut.

    This is because unlike the avocado, with its wonderfully healthy monounsaturated fats, which provide it with its silky flavor, the coconut is rich in saturated fats. However, different kinds of saturated fats have different chemical compositions, depending on the number of carbon atoms they contain. The saturated fat in coconut oil consists mainly of lauric acid and myristic acid, whereas red meat like beef contains mostly palmitic acid. Lauric acid has been shown to increase good cholesterol levels, and, along with myristic acide, may have antimicrobial/anti-acne properties. Consumption of palmitic acid, on the other hand, has been shown to increase risk of heart disease in humans.

    According to researchers, consuming coconut flesh and/or coconut oil can raise your cholesterol levels, but since they raise your good cholesterol more than your bad cholesterol, things would seem to balance out. But here's where the research gets complicated: When studying the nutritional properties of one food, it's important to take into account the other foods it's consumed with, especially in terms of regional dietary habits.

    The Asia Pacific Health and Nutrition Centre at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, studies the eating habits of people in Indonesia and other Pacific island regions who consume diets rich in coconut. Coconut has long been a staple in this region, where there has traditionally been a very low incidence of heart disease. But because the percentage of coconut in the regional diet has been declining for decades as imported foods like red meat have become more available, the incidence of coronary heart disease among these people has increased.

    The reason appears to be that Pacific islanders have traditionally consumed coconut along with large quantities of fresh fruit, vegetables, and fish. (As a side note, the night before I finished this article, I had a traditional Thai dish that combined coconut, fish, and vegetables: squid curry.) So if coconut, coconut milk, and/or coconut oil encourage you to choose to cook a delicious meal of fresh vegetables and seafood, it'll probably do you good. If you just like the taste of fresh coconut meat, it's probably not doing you any harm. But frying your donuts in coconut oil isn't going to turn them into anything resembling a healthy treat.
  3. OlivesOlives. The only fruit that can top the avocado for beneficial fats is the humble olive. Health researchers have been lauding the benefits of the olive and its oil for decades, and the olive rightfully holds a place of honor in the healthful Mediterranean diet.

    The main type of fat found in all kinds of olives and olive oils is monounsaturated fatty acid, which helps to lower your total cholesterol and bad cholesterol levels. According to Mayo Clinic researchers, monounsaturated fatty acids may also help normalize blood clotting, as well as benefitting insulin levels and helping to control blood sugar.

    In my own experience, cured olives are also highly portable, keep well without refrigeration, and satisfy the same type of hunger that might otherwise have me reaching for a piece of cheese or salami, neither of which is going to lower my cholesterol. My primary salad dressing of choice is simply extra virgin olive oil with a dash of balsamic vinegar. Both good things. Trading in your overly processed bottled dressing for some self-mixed olive oil and vinegar is a great way to cut your intake of sugar and unhealthy fats with no loss of taste or enjoyment.
  4. DurianThe weirdest fruit of all? The durian. To be honest, I'm really only writing about the durian for its novelty factor. Unless you grew up in Southeast Asia, it might be hard to feel any love for this giant prickly fruit that, when it's ready to eat, smells like an overripe armpit. (Yes, you read that right: It smells like B.O.)

    But the durian doesn't taste like it smells, and it's a great source of beneficial fats. One 100-gram serving (a little more than a third of a cup of cubed pieces) contains 147 calories and 5 grams (or 8 percent of your daily requirement) of beneficial monounsaturated fat. And unlike olives, the durian is also a source of the amino acid tryptophan, which is known to increase seratonin levels in your brain, which can lift your mood. (Interestingly enough, avocados have fairly high tryptophan levels too.)

    Finally, like many other tropical fruits, the durian is a good overall source of fiber and vitamins. So next time you're in a Thai or Indonesian fruit market and get a whiff of something that smells like it needs to take a bath, consider giving the durian a chance.

    As soon as I learn a recipe for a delicious durian-avocado-coconut-olive shake, you'll be the first to hear. Until then, I'll be putting my money where my mouth is and eating a lot of guacamole and olives to help my cholesterol. And I'll leave the durians for you.

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Steve EdwardsQuestions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Steve Edwards, the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development (who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards), in the Beachbody Chat Room on Monday, July 11th, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT.

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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Confessions of a Former Workaholic: 6 Easy Ways to Find Time for Fitness

By Tara Igoe

Hello. My name is Tara and I'm a recovering overworked corporate executive. I remember lots of late night meetings discussing things I really didn't care about, delivering presentations filled with pie charts I still don't understand, and gulping down cheap processed food at my desk for fear my bosses would think I was actually taking a break. Not exactly peak life moments. Back then, I didn't know about little things like balance, happiness, and doing the work you love—I learned those lessons later.

Man Sitting in an Office

But despite my crazy schedule and job dissatisfaction, I always managed to find time for fitness. I think a part of me intuitively knew that taking care of my body was key to both my physical and emotional health. I always felt better after I exercised—life made more sense, my jobs seemed more bearable, and all those good feelings stacked up and got me hooked on fitness for life.

I'm happy to report I left my crazy corporate career behind, and now I work for myself. And though I enjoy what I do, running a business comes with its own set of challenges, including how to fit fitness into my new schedule.

Through both my own trial and error and observing what works for other people, I've figured out how to fit everything into my schedule. I hope the real-life tips that follow will help you fit fitness into your life, and that you find balance and bliss in the process.

  1. Family HikingMake your workouts fit into your current lifestyle and schedule. My sister Susan is busy as a mom and a part-time consultant. Her husband Jim is a hotel industry executive who works long hours. They both like to keep fit, but when they have free time to spare, they like to spend it together as a family with their two teenage sons, Will and Henry. So for them, keeping fit has become a family affair.

    Sue, Jim, and the boys have done everything from creating fitness challenges using Tony Horton's Power 90® and Shaun T's INSANITY® DVDs to getting out into nature for family hikes. When Will joined the track and crew teams at school, Susan, Jim, and Henry would go on runs with him in their neighborhood to help him train and as a way to connect with one another.

    The bottom line is that Susan and Jim's approach to fitness fits their lifestyle and schedule and helps them stay true to what they value—"together" time with their family. As a result, staying fit feels fun and easy, and that's the key to helping them stay consistent.
  2. Master multitasking. I'm a consultant now, and I work from home most of the time. Sometimes I feel guilty about going to work out in the middle of the day when I have a lot to do. So I figure out ways to multitask. While driving to my workouts, I return calls to clients, pay bills, and conduct other business—all while using a hands-free earpiece, of course. I've even taken clients on walks or hikes with me—they love the literal change of pace from sitting in an office, and we're able to think more creatively out in nature.

    My friend Amy is another master of multitasking. Amy is a teacher and a single mom with a young son, Lucian. To connect with her son and take care of the things on her "to do" list, she does things like take Lucian on a bike ride to the grocery store, bringing along a backpack to hold her groceries. During one bike ride, she's able to accomplish many things—enjoy nature, spend time with her son, and get her shopping done. All with the added benefit of keeping fit.


  3. Woman MeditatingListen to what your body needs. When I was in my 20s and working in very high-pressure office environments, my fitness routine consisted of step aerobics, kickboxing, and running. I realize now I was drawn to high-impact activities as a way to release the pent-up frustration caused by my work—plus I wanted to move vigorously after sitting behind a desk all day. My body knew what it needed, and I listened to its guidance.

    When I was in my late 30s, my father died, I broke up with my long-term boyfriend, and I quit a high-pressure job. It was all a bit too much to handle, and I just wanted to retreat from the world, slow down, and find some peace. So once again, I listened to my body and what it needed—and started going on long walks in nature and doing restorative yoga. Slowly, I came back to a place of balance, found the peace I'd been seeking, and got into great shape along the way. I loved how I felt when I did these activities, so I kept doing them.

    The point is, your moods will change minute by minute, day to day, and throughout the seasons of your life, depending on what you're going through, your job, and your schedule. In terms of movement, pay attention to what feels good to you—your body won't steer you wrong.
  4. Make fitness a "must," not a "should." I live in Los Angeles now, but I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts (population 4,000), where there were no gyms and driving to Dunkin' Donuts® was considered a workout. Yet somehow my mother, Dona, found time to jog or ride her exercise bike in our drafty basement in the midst of raising five kids, working, and running a household.

    My mother made staying fit a must. When we make something a must, we cut off any possibility for excuses like having too many kids, being tired, or living in a small town with no gym. We choose our health instead of a Dunkin' Donut—even if they are delicious.

    My mother's commitment to fitness has continued to have a positive effect on her health. She's 76 now, in great condition, and still likes to mow her own lawn—with a hand mower, not the ride-on kind.
  5. Woman Toweling OffThink about how you feel after you work out BEFORE you work out. My mother gets it: She thinks about how she looks and feels after she exercises, and that keeps her going back for more. The key is to do this before your workout and it'll help you follow through. If I get too caught up in work or other parts of my life, I picture myself post-exercise laughing and feeling good—peaceful, clear-minded, and full of energy. That visual gets me into my workout gear.
  6. Switch from "I have to do this" to "I get to do this." Sometimes in spite of all these previous tips, I just don't feel like exercising; it feels like a chore, something I have to do, and I let work be my excuse to not do it. Then I think of people like my 87-year-old friend, Gert. Gert lives in a nursing home and can't walk well anymore, so she spends most of her days in bed. She dreams of being able to simply stand up on her own and stretch her body.

When I think about Gert, it makes me grateful for my own body and what it's able to do. I get to do this exercise thing. I get to fit it into my schedule. Exercise is a gift, not a burden in my life. When I look at it this way, it's easier to turn my computer off and turn on Tony, Debbie, Shaun, or Chalene and get cracking.

Related Articles
"8 Ways to Avoid Summer Weight Gain"
"How Fitness Changed Tony Horton's Life"
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Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Steve Edwards, the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development (who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards), in the Beachbody Chat Room on Monday, July 11th, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT.

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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Beachbody® Helps RainCatcher® Bring Clean Water to Those in Need

RainCatcher is a remarkable nonprofit organization that dedicates itself to providing clean water for people who desperately need it. Beachbody—and our Coaches—have been working with RainCatcher to help them continue to do their vitally important work.

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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Recipe: Strawberry Cheesecake Shakeology®

Strawberry Cheesecake Shakeology®

At this year's 2011 Beachbody Coach Summit, the Shakeology chefs came out in force with the ultimate recipes they'd developed to shake up their daily Shakeology regimen. In the Greenberry category, the winner was Sharon T. Her yummy recipe marries the deliciousness of cream cheese and strawberries to the health benefits of Greenberry Shakeology—try it today!

  • 1 scoop Greenberry Shakeology
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 Philadelphia 1/3 Less Fat Neufchâtel Cheese Mini (1.25 oz.)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Ice (to taste)

Place ingredients in blender and blend until thoroughly mixed and creamy. Makes 1 serving.

Nutritional Information (per serving)
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
287 20 grams 7 grams 34 grams 8 grams 4 grams

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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"It seems that 1 teaspoon of salt must be an error in this recipe. A teaspoon of salt is quite a bit of salt for any food. Definitely too much sodium for any serving of food."

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