Diet Detective: A guide to summer fruits

By Charles Platkin
PEACHES
Why: They are sweet, don't raise blood sugar levels and are very low in calories.
Health perks: One peach delivers 10 percent of the vitamin C you need and 2 grams of fiber. And peaches have a low glycemic load.
Nutrition: Serving size: one medium (2 2/3-inch diameter), calories 58, total fat 0.4g, total carbohydrate 14.3g, dietary fiber 2.2g, sugars 12.6g, protein 1.4g.
Seek out: According to one nutrition expert: "Make sure that the stem end is yellow or cream-colored. Also, look for a well-defined crease and a pleasingly sweet fragrance. They should be soft to the touch."
Avoid: Make sure that the peach doesn't have "green shoulders" around the stem, suggesting premature picking. A deep, red-brown color, softening of the fruit or shriveling of the skin at the stem indicates it's over-ripe. Never squeeze peaches: They bruise.
Storage: Don't store in the refrigerator or in sunlight. One of the better ways to ripen peaches is to place them in a brown paper bag, fold the top and leave them for a day or so.
WATERMELON
Why: Low in calories, not too expensive and it's 92 percent water which quenches your thirst and fills you up on a hot summer day.
Health perks: Watermelon has 7.5 to 10 milligrams of the antioxidant lycopene (believed to guard against heart disease and some cancers) per cup. That's about 40 percent more than is found in raw tomatoes (cooked tomatoes have more). Its a good source of vitamins A and C, it and also contains potassium, vitamin B6 and thiamin. Plus, it has citrulline, an amino acid that may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, stimulate the immune system and accelerate the healing of wounds.
Nutrition: Serving size: 1 cup, diced (152g), calories 46, total fat 0.2g, cholesterol 0mg, sodium 2mg, total carbohydrate 11.5g, dietary fiber 0.6g, sugars 9.4g, protein 0.9g.
Seek out: Firm, juicy, red flesh without white streaks and a rind free of cracks, bruises or mold. The seeds should be dark brown or black. According to James Parker, associate global produce coordinator for Whole Foods Market, Look for melons that have a uniform shape (not small on one end and larger on the other). Ripe fruit will have a slight give on the end opposite to the stem and a slight yellowing of the rind on the lightest part of the outside.
Tap the melon in the middle with your palm: If it's ripe, you should hear a hollow sound.
Avoid: Pale flesh, white streaks and whitish seeds (if you can peek inside). The rind should be free of bruises, soft spots or mold. And make sure there are no splits, veins, hollow pockets, dark red streaks or blood-red (as opposed to fire-engine-red) color.
Storage: According to chef Aliza Green, author of "Field Guide to Produce" (Quirk Books), ripe watermelon will keep best (for about five days) if cut up, covered with plastic wrapped and refrigerated.
CANTALOUPE
Why: One-quarter of a melon (about 15 cantaloupe balls) has only 70 calories or so, and there is nothing like a sweet piece of cantaloupe on hot summer day.
Health Perks: It's low in calories and high in the antioxidant beta carotene, vitamins A and C and a good source of vitamins B6 and B3 (niacin), folate and potassium.
Nutrition: Serving size: 1/4 of a large melon (about 6 1/2 inches in diameter), calories 69, total fat 0.4g, cholesterol 0mg, sodium 33mg, total carbohydrate 16.6g, dietary fiber 1.8g, sugars 16g, protein 1.7g.
Seek out: Fragrant, symmetrical melons, heavy for their size, with a yellow or cream undertone and no bruises. Another indicator is the stem: If it still has one and it won't come off easily, chances are it's not ready to eat, says Parker. Additionally, the skin color between the netting should be yellowish-buff, yellowish-gray or pale yellow not green.
Avoid: According to Green, over-ripe cantaloupes have lumps or soft spots. She also suggests avoiding rock-hard or lopsided melons. Also, watch out for mold, which can indicate decay.
Storage: Uncut melons can be stored at room temperature for up to a week. Refrigerate cut melon in an airtight container for up to five days.
CHERRIES
Why: Delicious, sweet and oh-so-low in calories.
Health Perks: Fifteen cherries have only 64 calories and more than 10 percent of the daily value for vitamin C. They are also rich in vitamin E, contain 2 grams of fiber and are a good source of potassium, magnesium, iron and folate.
Cherries contain a pigment called anthocyanin (responsible for their color), an antioxidant linked to a variety of health benefits including reduction of risk for heart disease and cancer. Additionally, cherries are one of the few food sources of melatonin, shown to aid in sleep.
Nutrition: Serving size: 15 cherries (102g), calories 64, total fat 0.2g cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 0mg, total carbohydrate 16.3g, dietary fiber 2.1g, sugars 13.1g, protein 1.1g.
Seek out: High-quality cherries are firm and dark red, with bright, lustrous, plump- looking surfaces and fresh-looking stems.
Avoid: Soft, shriveled or blemished cherries. Green also suggests avoiding dark or brittle stems.
Storage: Remove any that are soft or split, says Green. Then refrigerate. Check the fruit occasionally and remove any that have gone bad. You can freeze cherries (with or without pits) by rinsing and draining them thoroughly, spreading them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and placing them in the freezer.
Charles Platkin, Ph.D., is a nutrition and public health advocate and founder of DietDetective.com, and the director of the New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College. Copyright 2017 by Charles Platkin. All rights reserved. Sign up for the free Diet Detective newsletter at www.DietDetective.com.
 
  • Category: Health

Nutrition Connections: Summertime

Joy GagnonBy Joy Gagnon

Summertime can be relaxing but sometimes when we get too busy having fun we don't want to stop to cook a healthy meal. At the end of the day, how can you enjoy the outdoors and still eat healthy? Here are some tips to get you through the summer.

Use a slow cooker: I love using my slow cooker in the summer, when I get home from work I can go outside and enjoy the last bit of sunshine without having to stop and cook dinner. You can put your meals together in the morning and leave it for the day. When you are ready to eat, your meal is done when you are. Also, slow cookers don't heat up the house in the summer like the oven does so you stay cooler.

Use your grill: Grilling a meal can be a fun way to be outside and still eat healthy. Almost anything can be cooked on a grill so be creative. My favorite summer vegetable is grilled zucchini, but you can grill any of your favorite veggies or fruit. Try grilled watermelon or pineapple they are so sweet and refreshing. Always remember to wash your plates and utensils between putting raw meats on the grill and taking it off to prevent food borne illness, no one wants to ruin the party like that.

Have a picnic: Picnics are so much fun in the summertime. If you have had a stressful day and just need to relax, a picnic dinner can be a great way to enjoy time with your family. Pack some sandwiches and watermelon slices and go to the beach or the park. Some of my favorite summer memories are from picnic dinners at the beach watching my kids play and the sunset. By the time everyone is finished, you have gotten to get outside, play with your friends or family and eat a healthy meal.

Build-your-own salad: On a hot summer day, cold food sounds so refreshing. A delicious and fun cold dinner is a build-your-own salad. This meal takes a little prep work to cut up the various salad toppings, but is so fun for the whole family. Kids are more willing to try new foods if you let them help pick out and chop up the toppings. Once everything is chopped you can put it in separate bowls on the table and everyone gets to add whatever they want to their salad. Be sure to have all the food groups on the table by serving vegetables, fruit, cheese, meat, nuts or beans, and bread or croutons. Using a low fat dressing or vinaigrette can keep the salad healthy and low-calorie.

Summer can be stressful but your summer meals don't have to be. Enjoy the sun, get outside, play and be well.

Joy Gagnon is an extension teacher for University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension's Nutrition Connections Program. If you would like to learn more about being healthy, saving money at the grocery store or feeding picky children, contact Gagnon at 447-3834 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. If you or someone you know receives food stamps (SNAP), WIC, fuel assistance or any other public assistance, Gagnon can help you at no cost.

 

  • Category: Health

Expert reviewer highlights state's progress in Community Mental Health Agreement Report

 

CONCORD — In his sixth report on the state's compliance with the Community Mental Health Agreement, expert reviewer Stephen Day highlights the significant progress the State has made in achieving the objectives of the agreement.

Among the areas of progress are increased supported employment penetration rates, transitions of individuals from the Glencliff Home to integrated community-based settings, increased data reporting on various components of the agreement, and new rules and processes to enhance the availability and quality of community-based mental health services.

"As the expert reviewer has acknowledged, the department has made significant advancements toward compliance with the Community Mental Health Agreement," said Jeffrey A. Meyers, commissioner of the state Department of Health and Human Services. "The department's goal is to ensure that New Hampshire residents experiencing severe mental illness are able to access mental health services across the continuum of needs. As evidenced by our commitment to the implementation of our federal Behavioral Health Transformation Waiver and all of the mental health measures passed this legislative session with the strong support of the governor and legislative leaders, we are building an integrated system of care for all of those persons in need of mental health services, including the measures addressed by the CMHA."

The expert reviewer cites "the very positive results" in the number of people being treated in the community rather than in hospital emergency departments that have been made possible by mobile crisis teams in Concord and Manchester. Mobile crisis services have helped more people access crisis services, delivered more crisis services, and led to "substantial growth" in people accessing crisis apartments.

The report also acknowledges the very significant mental health investments in the state's 2018-19 biennial budget that are designed to meet the same goals of the CMHA.

Investments including additional mobile crisis services and housing services and supports will help reduce the number of individuals in emergency rooms across the state waiting for beds at New Hampshire Hospital. It also calls for the Department to develop a new 10-year plan for mental health.

"Reforming New Hampshire's mental health system has been a key focus of my administration. The expert reviewer's latest report is very encouraging, and I appreciate that it accounts for the positive achievements in mental health that were made this legislative session," said Sununu. "The report represents a great deal of progress since the last report that was released right before I took office. I also commend the leadership of Sens. (Chuck) Morse and (Jeb) Bradley in making these positive steps. While work remains, we look forward to continuing the positive progress we have made."

The department has issued a response to the expert reviewer report that addresses his observations pertaining to compliance with the capacity for Assertive Community Treatment services and some of the transitions from the Glencliff Home.

The CMHA Expert Reviewer Report Number Six and the Department's response are available on the DHHS website at: www.dhhs.nh.gov/dcbcs/bbh/settlement.htm.

 

  • Category: Health

State monitoring after person with measles visited New Hampshire

CONCORD — The state Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services is investigating after an individual that recently visited New Hampshire was subsequently found to be infected with the measles virus.

The person traveled to Hampton Beach while considered infectious from approximately noon until 6 p.m. on July 9, and spent time on the beach as well as at several locations on Ocean Boulevard. There are no additional cases identified related to this situation.

The infectious individual spent almost all the time in the open air, which likely minimizes the risk of further transmission, and New Hampshire is well protected from widespread measles transmission due to a high vaccination rate in school-aged children. However, DHHS is encouraging people who were at Hampton Beach the afternoon of July 9 to monitor themselves for symptoms.

Symptoms of measles infection usually begin with high fever, cough, runny nose and conjunctivitis several days prior to development of a body rash. Anybody who feels sick should call his or her health-care provider before going directly to a healthcare facility.

"Measles is a very contagious disease because it can be transmitted through the air. However, we do not anticipate a large outbreak because of the high vaccination rate of people in the state," said Dr. Benjamin Chan, state epidemiologist. "This situation is a good reminder for people to check their own vaccination status to make sure they are protected against future infection."

DHHS recommends that all people review their vaccination status with their health-care providers to ensure adequate immunity to measles. The measles vaccine (MMR vaccine) is very effective, and more than 99 percent of individuals who receive two doses of the vaccine develop immunity to measles.

Measles is caused by a virus that is passed from person to person through the air when someone with the disease sneezes, coughs or talks. It is very easy for individuals who have not received the measles vaccine to contract it from someone else. The incubation period for measles from the time of exposure is typically 10 to 14 days, but can be as long as 21 days.

For more information about the Measles exposure at Hampton Beach, visit www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/immunization/documents/hampton-beach-measles-faq.pdf.

For more information about measles prevention, download the DHHS Measles Fact Sheet at www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/documents/measles.pdf, visit the DHHS Immunization Program webpage at www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/immunization/, and visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/measles/.

 

  • Category: Health