Monthly Archives: September 2012

Fresh Foods that Fight Inflammation

If you’ve paid much attention to health news lately, you’ve probably seen magazine articles or news reports talking about the dangers of inflammation.  What is inflammation, why is it so bad, and what can you do about it?

In a nutshell, inflammation is the body’s natural response to fighting injury or irritants.  Redness, pain, and swelling are signs of your body’s natural defense system at work as immune cells rush to the area to fight disease or push out foreign matter.  When everything is working as it should, your body fights off the infection and the inflammation goes away.  The problem comes in, however, when chronic inflammation develops as a response to irritants that don’t go away—the kind of irritants that come from high-fat diets or unhealthy habits such as smoking.  Over time, chronic inflammation can lead to a host of problems including arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s disease.  The good news is that a diet rich in fresh foods can help you reduce inflammation and improve your overall health.  Here’s a list of some fresh foods with powerful inflammation fighting properties:

cherriesOats and Whole Grains.  Most of us know that oats and other whole grains are rich in heart-healthy fiber. Fiber helps your digestive system function properly, but it also helps stabilize blood sugar.  That stabilizing action helps reduce inflammation. Oats are also rich in the inflammation-fighting nutrient selenium.  A healthy diet should include 3-6 servings of whole grains daily.  Our supercharged Triple-Berry Oat Smoothie is a great way to get more whole grain oats into your diet, and whole grain oats can also be added as a supplement to any of our delicious smoothies.

Pomegranates and cherries have also been found to reduce inflammation.  As a bonus, these superfoods may also help reduce muscle soreness after a tough workout. After you hit the gym, swing by Tropical Smoothie Café on the way home and grab a Pomegranate Plunge smoothie to ward of inflammation and reduce those next-day aches.

salmonSalmon. A diet rich in the omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon may reduce inflammation just as much as taking a daily aspirin. If fish isn’t your thing, omega-3s are also found in walnuts, flaxseed, and eggs.  Get your day off to a healthy start with one of our delicious breakfast wraps or add ground flaxseed to your favorite smoothie for an inflammation fighting omega-3 boost.

Dairy. Nutrients found in dairy foods also help to reduce inflammation.  One study found that patients who ate 3 ½ servings of low-fat dairy foods each day showed both a reduction in inflammation and lower blood pressure readings in just a 12 week period.  Low-fat dairy sources like skim milk and yogurt are the best options for a healthy diet.  Try our Kiwi Quencher or Mango Magic smoothies for a dairy serving with a tropical punch.

It’s hard to eat a diet rich in fresh foods when you’re on the go, but Tropical Smoothie Café is here to help.  Our great variety of inflammation fighting foods can help you eat better and feel better.  Come enjoy one of our made-fresh, real-fruit smoothies today!

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Tropical Smoothie Cafe Celebrates National Chicken Month

National Chicken Month LogoDid you know that September is National Chicken Month?  (Who thinks these things up?) If you don’t believe us, we’ve included the logo just so you know we didn’t make it up.

On average, Americans eat about 60 pounds of chicken each year. Why is that? Perhaps it’s because chicken is so versatile and can used in so many ways, in every meal period. Or, it may be that chicken can be very beneficial for your health and is one of the best white meat sources of protein.

While recent studies have shown that other meats, yes, even beef, can be just as healthy, one thing most people do not think about is how much less of a carbon footprint chicken production leaves behind. Chicken is, by far, the most environmentally friendly meat with turkey close behind. Beef, pork, and lamb all leave a much deeper carbon footprint. This calculation is based on the entire life cycle of the meat from production to consumption.  So, there’s another great reason to enjoy chicken during National Chicken Month.

Click on this link for a tasty recipe you’re sure to enjoy during National Chicken Month (or any month for that matter):

Baja Chicken FlatbreadPerhaps you would rather leave the cooking to us.  The Tropical Smoothie Cafe has a fabulous Baja Chicken Flatbread that would make a great choice for a light and healthy lunch or dinner.  This is a complete and balanced meal in itself with chicken, low-fat mozzarella, green & red peppers, onions, romaine lettuce, and light Southwest ranch on a toasted flatbread.

Looking for other ways to enjoy National Chicken Month? Here’s some of our personal favorites that have nothing to do with eating chicken:

  • Doing the “Chicken Dance
  • Reading Chicken Little to your kids
  • Playing a game of Chicken (but NOT with cars!)
  • Reading any of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books
  • Feeding the chickens at Bonnie Springs or your favorite farm

Let us know how YOU celebrate National Chicken Month! Post on our Facebook page, and the most creative answer will receive a free Combo Meal.

September is Better Breakfast Month – What Makes Breakfast Better?

Triple Berry Oat SmoothieWe all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but what makes one breakfast better than the other? September is Better Breakfast Month so we’re going to answer that question.

You might think you’re good to go because you ate a bowl of cereal at home but you may be doing more harm than good…especially with the most common cereals, which are loaded with sugar. Why would eating a sugary cereal be worse for us than going without breakfast altogether (which is also not recommended)? Because of the glycemic index.

The glycemic index is a measure of glucose (blood sugar level) increase from carbohydrate consumption. Studies show that the glycemic index is what counts when you want sustained brain power, and it is also the secret to why those who add eating breakfast to their lifestyle can lose weight instead of gain it.  Meals with a low glycemic index make you feel fuller longer, so you are less likely to snack on foods later.

Professor of Pediatrics at Duke Universiry, Terrill Bravender, said he’d never serve his children heavily sweetened cereals. “Any sugared cereal really has a high glycemic index.”

“When it comes to sustained brain power,” Bravender explains, “food that is low on the scale — such as whole grains — are preferable. Even though a bowl of sugary cereal and a bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal may have the same number of carbohydrates, they have very different glycemic loads.”

Fortunately we don’t always have to eat oatmeal. When asked what to avoid he said “Any concentrated sweets that are eaten alone. These would include sugared cereals, fruit juice alone or breakfast pastries alone. Breakfast meat is okay if not consumed in excess and if there is a whole-grain carbohydrate source included.”

A varied breakfast is better than one heavy on just one element. Fat, protein and soluble dietary fiber help lower a meal’s glycemic index by slowing down the gastric emptying rate.

So, in honor of a better breakfast month, commit to having a healthier breakfast, order one of the protein rich wraps (ask for our low-carb tortilla) or breakfast sandwiches from our breakfast menu, and if you’re in a real rush, just grab a smoothie and add protein as one of your smoothie supplements.