Tomatoes May Reduce the Risk for Skin Cancer

Nothing beats a sun-ripened tomato picked at the height of the season. It’s basically the taste of summer. Yet there may be more reason to eat a tomato than deliciousness alone. Daily tomato consumption may reduce the risk of developing skin cancer, a new study suggests.

 

Researchers at Ohio State University found that male mice that consumed a daily diet including 10 percent tomato powder for 35 weeks and were subsequently exposed to ultraviolet light developed an average of 50 percent fewer skin cancer tumors compared to mice that did not consume any dehydrated tomato.

 

One theory as to why: Potentially bioactive pigmenting compounds – lycopene, which gives tomatoes their color, or possibly glycoalkaloids, for example — may protect the skin from being damaged by UV light, according to study co-author Jessica Cooperstone, an assistant professor in the departments of Horticulture & Crop Sciences and Food Science & Technology at Ohio State.

 

Results were similar for both tomato varieties tested — red and tangerine tomatoes (named for their color, not for any relation to the citrus) – but not for male and female mice. Interestingly, the researchers found, female mice fed a tomato diet did not show any significant difference in tumor growth, compared to female mice who did not eat tomatoes. Male mice have previously been shown to be more prone to tumor growth following UV exposure than female mice — and human males are more likely than women to develop skin cancer as well.

 

“Men get skin cancers at two to three times higher rates than women, even when you control for unproductive UV exposure,” Cooperstone tells Healthy Eats. “The reason for this is really still not known.”

 

As for whether the link between tomato consumption and skin-cancer reduction may hold true for humans, as well as mice, she says, the data, at minimum, should spur further investigation.

 

As part of a balanced and healthy diet, this study, along with others indicates that eating tomatoes may be beneficial. But, Cooperstone warns, don’t throw away your sunscreen – using it regularly is still the most effective way to reduce your risk for skin cancer.

 

“There is some data in the literature that suggests continued tomato consumption can provide an SPF of about 2, so certainly not a sunscreen replacer,” she says.

 

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. Her work has appeared in publications including The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Glamour and Marie Claire, as well as Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer. In addition to contributing to Healthy Eats, she blogs for Food Network’s FN Dish.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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How to Use Up All Your Height-of-Summer Produce

The garden is exploding, your CSA is at its peak, and you can’t seem to help yourself from stopping at the local farmers market. It’s the best time of year to be a local food junkie! Here are some tips and recipes to help use up your seasonal bounty.

Cucumber

Low-calorie cukes are easy to munch and have an irresistibly fresh aroma. They also have a high water content, which means they will help keep you hydrated.

 

Recipes to try:

Cubed Watermelon, Cucumber and Feta Salad (pictured above)

Cucumber Mint Iced Tea

Cucumber Salad

Make Your Own Pickles

Herbs

Use herbs as an ingredient, not a garnish. Fresh herbs play a starring role in recipes for chimichurri, salad dressing and pesto (which can be frozen and enjoyed for months). Instead of lettuce, use combo of various fresh herbs and arugula in salad.

 

Recipes to try:

Chimichurri Sauce

Pesto 

Herb Salad

Tomatoes

Nothing says summer like a colorful, sweet and juicy tomato. Use copious amounts in recipes like salads and grilled kebabs. Also try cooked recipes like fresh tomato sauce and slow simmered jam. Whole, clean tomatoes can also be frozen. To defrost, blanche in boiling water then peel and use in any cooked tomato recipe.

 

Recipes to try:

Grilled Tomato Kebabs

Cherry Tomato Salad with Buttermilk Basil Dressing

Tomato Jam

Corn

Corn gets a bad reputation for being unhealthy, but it actually has plenty of nutrients to offer, including fiber, magnesium, potassium and the antioxidant lutein. Toss whole cobs on the grill for a charred flavor, or add the kernels to salsa.

 

Recipes to try:

Summer Corn Salad

Corn Salsa

Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob

Melon

It’s the best time of year for watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew. Explore the farmers’ market for unique varieties like sun jewel or casaba melons. Use the flesh and juice in salads, drinks and frozen treats. Don’t forget the rind – it’s wondrous when pickled.

 

Recipes to Try:

Watermelon Chili and Basil Ice Pops

Honeydew and Arugula Salad

Pickled Watermelon Rinds

Stone Fruit

If you’ve ever gone peach picking you know what a challenge it can be to use a peck of ripe peaches before they begin to rot! Get more mileage out of stone fruit by making jam (try an easy freezer recipe) or a batch of fruit leather. Grill and top with frozen yogurt for dessert or chop and add to rice for a spectacular side dish.

 

Recipes to Try

Freezer Jam

Pear and Plum Fruit Leather

Grilled Peaches with Cinnamon Sugar Butter

Spiced Rice with Nectarines

 

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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The Best Foods For Athletes

As a Sports Dietitian, I find myself constantly saying the same things over and over. “Remember to hydrate.” “Don’t forget to fuel.” Sports nutrition is not a topic that is taught in school, so it’s no wonder that knowledge about these topics is lacking. But if there’s one thing I could say to all athletes, it would be to remember this list of foods that help with hydration, ease sore muscles and provide quick-acting fuel before a workout.

 

Hydrating foods

Although most people know that hydration is important, it’s usually the part of the diet that most athletes ignore. Many don’t realize that 80% of water should come from drinks and the other 20% should come from water-rich fruits and veggies. Incorporate these 5 water-rich fruits and veggies into your diet to up your hydration game.

 

Radishes. This spicy root vegetable contains 95% water. Throw them atop a salad for an extra boost of water and Vitamin C.

 

Watermelon. This gorgeous pink fruit is 91% water, and it’s packed with potassium, which helps maintain the body’s fluid balance, and the antioxidant lycopene.

 

Bell Peppers. Everyone’s favorite multi-colored ingredient is 93% water. Add peppers to stir-fries or eat raw with hummus for a hydrating snack that is also rich in immune boosting Vitamin C.

 

Spinach. Not only is spinach 91% water, but it’s rich in plant-based iron. More iron means more oxygen being delivered to working muscles.

 

Celery. This veggie gets a bad rap as a dieter’s food, but it’s actually chock full of potassium and Vitamin A. And it’s obviously hydrating, with 96% water.

 

Foods for muscle soreness

Although the saying “no pain, no gain” may be true, athletes experience sore muscles more frequently than they might like. Incorporating these two foods into workout routines may help alleviate those muscle aches.

 

Tart cherry juice. One study suggests that drinking Montmorency tart cherry juice may actually reduce muscle pain after an intense workout. Another study proposes that drinking tart cherry juice may actually reduce exercise-induced muscle damage, leading to less soreness overall. Whatever the mechanism, the research is clear that drinking tart cherry juice can help alleviate muscle soreness.

 

Watermelon juice. Not only does watermelon help hydrate, but its juice may soothe sore muscles. Researchers suggest that the abundance of the amino acid l-citrulline in watermelon juice may reduce muscle soreness after a workout.

 

Quick-acting fuel

There’s a reason sports nutritionists refer to pre-workout food as “fuel.” Just like a car won’t move without fuel, athletes won’t “go” without food. Quick-acting fuel are foods that an athlete can eat 30 minutes to 1 hour before a workout to provide a quick burst of energy. These foods are rich in carbohydrates, which the body breaks down into glucose to power the muscles. Sports drinks and sport gels provide this type of fuel, but these four foods work just as well.

 

Dates. Rich in natural sugar and fiber, dates slowly release glucose into your blood system to power you through a workout. Plus, they are a good source of potassium to prevent muscle cramps.

 

Bananas. One of my clients calls bananas a “potassium stick”, and she’s right. This naturally sweet fruit pumps your veins full of energy and provides potassium that helps keep you hydrated.

 

Grapes and raisins. This sugary bite-sized fruit provides quick acting energy, and it’s rich in heart-healthy polyphenols. For long bouts of exercise, pack some raisins in a baggie and snack on them while you go.

 

Figs. This Mediterranean fruit not only provides quick-acting fuel, but it’s rich in iron and calcium—both of which are essential to keep athletes strong for life.

 

Natalie Rizzo, M.S., R.D., is a media dietitian, food and nutrition writer, spokesperson and blogger at Nutrition à la Natalie.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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Market Watch: Melons

Sweet, fragrant, and brimming with juice, melons are the original thirst quencher. Since they’ve been cultivated for thousands of years, they come in an amazing range of sizes, colors and shapes. The most popular type sold in the US is the orange-fleshed cantaloupe, which is actually a type of muskmelon, or netted melon. (True cantaloupes are smaller and available mostly in Europe and the Middle East.) Other grocery-store standards include the honeydew, a reliably sweet green-fleshed melon, and of course, numerous varieties of watermelons. But increasingly, more unusual types are found in local farmer’s markets from August through early autumn. Some, such as the Charentais, with its dark orange flesh and musky aroma, don’t ship well and are best bought locally. Other exotically-named varieties you might find include the slightly spicy Crenshaw, the super-sweet white fleshed Canary, or the aptly named Tangerine Dream watermelon.

 

Melon Facts

Choosing the best melon is the subject of much debate among connoisseurs. Some inspect the exterior pattern of netting, while others probe the stem end for softness. Still others weigh melons in their hands, or knock on them as if listening for some mysterious answer. While there is no sure way to determine optimal ripeness besides cutting into the flesh, there are a few helpful tips. All melons should feel heavy for their size and firm (but not rock hard). With honeydew and other winter melons, the blossom end should be slightly soft. When choosing a muskmelon like cantaloupe, your nose might offer the best clue — they should smell fragrant and fruity. Unlike stone fruits, melons don’t continue to ripen after being picked. Though they won’t get any sweeter, storing them at room temperature for a few days will make them juicier. If beginning to soften, transfer a ripe melon to the refrigerator and eat within a day or two. Watermelons are best when served chilled.

 

With a high water content, melon offer a wealth of nutrients including vitamin C and potassium, as well as fiber. Like cousins pumpkins or butternut squash, orange-fleshed varieties of melons contain beta-carotene. Red watermelons contain the highest level of the antioxidant lycopene per serving of any fruit or vegetable. Honeydew melon provides zeaxanthin, a carotenoid that protects eye health.

 

What to Do with Melons

Simply sliced and served without any adornment — think of the pure pleasure of a watermelon wedge on a hot day–melons are also delicious in appetizers, salads, frozen desserts, drinks and even main courses. To use in recipes, first trim the melon flat on both ends and stand upright. Following the curve of the fruit, cut away the peel with a large, sharp knife. Then halve lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. If using watermelon, choose a seedless variety to save yourself the trouble.

 

Floral-smelling orange-fleshed varieties like cantaloupe, Crenshaw, or Charentais melons pair well with salty cured meat. A perennial favorite on the hors d’oeuvres plate (and one that couldn’t be easier to prepare) is melon slices wrapped with prosciutto. You can substitute any type of cured meat with good results: try Serrano ham, or, for the kids, regular old deli ham.

 

Melons also pair well with acidic ingredients, like citrus and wine. For a simple and elegant dessert, use a melon baller to scoop honeydew or any type of orange-fleshed melon into wine glasses. Top with a sparkling white wine such as Prosecco or Moscato and serve sprinkled with thinly sliced basil or mint leaves. To make a refreshing and ridiculously easy sorbet, cut a ripe melon into cubes and freeze until solid, then purée in a food processor until smooth. Re-freeze until solid, and then scoop into bowls. Or, for a simple (and healthy) weeknight dessert or breakfast, serve melon slices drizzled with a mixture of honey, plain yogurt and a squeeze of lime, then top with a handful of chopped pistachios or hazelnuts.

 

Melons are also a natural fit with salads. Combine any type of orange melon or watermelon with cubed seedless cucumber, sliced red onion and lime juice. Season with salt and toss with chopped fresh herbs like cilantro, basil or mint. If you like, serve topped with crumbled feta, queso fresco or shaved ricotta salata.

 

Melons also make the base for refreshing soups. Try pureeing an orange-fleshed melon with hot chili paste, lime juice and salt, then chill and serve with grilled shrimp. Or make watermelon gazpacho — substitute part or all watermelon for tomatoes in your favorite recipe. In fact, melons, particularly red watermelon, can be substituted for tomatoes with good success in many recipes. Swap them for tomatoes in salsa: combine finely chopped watermelon with cilantro, white onion, lime juice and Serrano pepper and spoon over grilled fish or fish tacos.

 

Of course, to quench your thirst on a hot summer day, ice-cold watermelon is the hands down winner. For an upgrade on plain old wedges, sprinkle sliced or cubed chilled watermelon with a pinch of salt–which brings out the sweetness–and a mild chili powder. Then squeeze a fresh-squeezed lime juice over it and enjoy.

Recipes to Try

Honeydew Melon and Cilantro Ice Pops (pictured above)

Melon Smoothies

Cold Melon Soup

Tomato and Watermelon Gazpacho

Watermelon and Cantaloupe Salad with Mint Vinaigrette

Watermelon and Cucumber Salad

Fish Tacos with Watermelon Salsa

Melon with Berries and Sorbet

Watermelon, Lime, and Mint Granita

Watermelon and Cucumber Smoothie

 

Abigail Chipley is a freelance recipe developer, writer and cooking teacher who lives in Portland, Oregon.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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Thank You for Joining Us! Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement Kick Off Meeting

On July 24, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) kicked off a new, inclusive and ongoing effort in support of the trusted exchange framework and common agreement provisions in section 4003 of the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures). On behalf of ONC, thank you to all those who participated in […]

The post Thank You for Joining Us! Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement Kick Off Meeting appeared first on Health IT Buzz.

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What Does “Clean Eating” Mean, Anyway?

While the term “clean eating” is one of the hottest eating-style trends of the past few years, it’s leaving consumers, the media, and dietitians alike confused about what the term really means and the benefits it conveys on health.

 

The core definition of clean eating that most of its advocates agree on is choosing whole foods as they are closest to nature, or in their least-processed state. From there, different interpretations abound, from Paleo to dairy-free, grain- or gluten-free and vegan. But Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, MA, RD, author of Eat Clean Stay Lean defining the term as such: “Clean eating is about taking steps toward real, wholesome, simpler, minimally-processed foods more often (not absolute or always) and away from highly processed foods.” Let’s take a deeper dive into the science behind this healthy food trend.

 

What is considered processed food?

Most foods undergo at least some processing. Clean eating advocates question how exactly was the product altered. Foods that have certain components, and with them nutrients, removed or have undesirable ingredients added is where processing can turn food away from healthfulness.

 

According to Dawn Jackson-Blatner, RD, author of The Superfood Swap, “Clean eating is caring, not obsessing, about ingredient quality and doing your best to cut the C.R.A.P.: chemicals, refined sugar/flour, artificial sweeteners/colors/flavors, and preservatives.”

 

Sometimes foods have nutrients added to them, a type of food processing called fortification, that can help fill disease-threatening nutritional gaps, like folic acid in bread to prevent neural tube defects in embryos, vitamin D in milk to prevent rickets in children, and iodide in salt to prevent goiterism. Vitamin C added to make a sugar-laden fruity beverage have a more Nutrition Facts Panel? That may be another story.

 

But you don’t have to abolish all packaged foods to eat clean. The way I like to best define clean eating is: Eat more whole foods. When you eat packaged foods, choose those made with wholesome ingredients you’d use in your own kitchen.

 

The processed food continuum

Most foods fall on what I like to call a processed food continuum. A whole apple plucked from a tree and soon thereafter eaten is a whole food its truest form. However, ingredients are added to pre-cut, bagged apple slices to prevent browning. Canned apples have the skin removed and usually sugar added to their liquid. Apple juice is free of pulp and skin, resulting in little fiber in the end product. And fruit juice cocktail may contain apple juice, but plenty of added sugar, too.

 

Rather than avoiding all processed foods, I prefer using the term “highly processed foods” to describe a less desirable food stripped of good nutrients and filled with ingredients that aren’t doing you any favors. There are plenty of other compelling reasons why whole foods are better than highly processed foods. Here are some of my favorites.

 

Whole grains are better than refined grains

 

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 promote that at least half of all grains should be whole, meaning containing the bran and germ, not just the endosperm. However, there is not a single age group meeting this recommendation. In fact, the Guidelines recommend limiting refined grains. The bran and germ contains important nutrients like fiber, iron, zinc, and magnesium, while refined grains are associated with increased triglycerides (the fat in your blood), which may increase heart disease risk.

 

Metabolic differences between whole and processed foods   

One small study sought out to find the metabolic difference between processed and whole foods. Researchers compared a whole-food sandwich made with multi-grain bread and Cheddar cheese to a processed version made with white bread and American cheese. Both sandwiches contained comparable amounts of protein, carbohydrate, and fat. The people who ate the whole-food version burned significantly more calories post-meal than those who ate the processed sandwich due to the thermic effect of food, meaning more calories were burned digesting the whole-food sandwich.

 

Another study by Tufts University researchers ran a clinical study and found that people who swapped refined grains with whole-grain versions of the same foods lost 100 more calories per day compared to the control group due to burning more calories and absorbing fewer calories from foods eaten with whole grains.

 

Whole foods contain no added sugar

A key recommendation of the Guidelines advises consuming less than 10% of calories per day from added sugars by particularly avoiding sugar-sweetened foods and drinks. This translates to no more than 200 calories of added sugar for a 2,000-calorie diet, since in order to eat all of the recommended servings from each food group, too much sugar will put a person over their calorie limit, which may lead to weight gain over time.

 

Whole foods are free of added salt

The Guidelines recommend consuming less than 2300 milligrams of sodium per day, or about 1 teaspoon salt. I find that when cooking with whole foods, using a moderate amount of salt like 1/4 teaspoon still keeps the sodium levels reasonable while boosting taste. And the evidence shows its not homemade meals that are catapulting American’s sodium intake to 3,440-milligrams per day. The offender is commercially processed foods. It’s important to note, however, that some whole cuts of meat and poultry have sodium solution added for moisture, so read the label.

 

Whole and expeller-pressed fats versus highly refined oils

Whole foods like nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados offer the good fats monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, plus fiber, potassium, and antioxidants. Even significant protein, in the case of nuts and seeds. When foods are expeller-pressed into oil, many beneficial nutrients still remain — as is the case with extra-virgin olive oil. Oils still remaining in the food go on to be extracted by heat or chemicals and these more refined oils are sold as bottled oil or used in other packaged foods. Sure, they can withstand higher cooking temperatures and endure a longer shelf life, but some nutrients diminish, like fewer polyphenols in “pure” or refined olive oil.

 

Partially hydrogenated oils, a highly processed oil, contains trans fats, which should be kept as low as possible in the diet, according to the Guidelines, since numerous studies have found an association between these fats and increased risk of cardiovascular disease, partly due to increasing the bad blood cholesterol. Watch out for trans fats in highly processed snacks, sweets, shortening, and fast food, though. Many manufacturers are now using palm and palm kernel oils in its place, which are high in saturated fat.

 

The unsaturated fats in liquid plant oils, like olive, are still better for your heart than coconut oil due to coconut’s high saturated fat content.

 

Whole meats and poultry

Whole meats, poultry, and seafood contain more of the nutrients you want, like protein, iron, potassium, and B vitamins — and none of the added stuff you don’t, like salt, sugar, refined flour and refined fats. Saturated fats can be found in whole foods, too, so no matter the level of processing, it’s up to you to choose leaner cuts and trim excess fat.

 

Whole fruits

The two things to watch out for with packaged fruit are added sugar and the removed of fiber. Oftentimes, dried and canned fruits and fruit juices contain added sugar, so being a savvy label reader is important. Canned fruits have the peel removed, reducing the fiber content.

 

As an apple travels down the processed-food continuum, calories, carbohydrates, sugar and potassium go largely unchanged, yet fiber and vitamin C decrease significantly in unfortified juice. Vitamin C is highly unstable, with more processing deteriorating this water-soluble nutrient.

 

Full-fat versus low-fat dairy 

While full-fat dairy is closest to a whole food, the fact remains that low-fat dairy is recommended by the Guidelines versus whole-milk varieties due to the saturated fat content. Other essential nutrients remain unchanged.

 

Whole-milk dairy is surging in popularity, however, and there are a few good reasons to favor higher-fat versions. Full-fat yogurt, for example, may not need as much added sugar as non-fat yogurt to become palatable, which may be favorable to heart health since dairy fat may not pose the same threat as added sugars. Full-fat dairy may slow down lactose absorption and decrease blood sugars due to the fat content slowing the absorption of carbohydrate, which could be helpful to diabetics.

 

It’s important to look at the total context of the diet, though. Dairy fat is considered easier on the arteries compared to the saturated fat in red meat, so choose your foods wisely if you prefer to enjoy the taste of whole-milk dairy while not sacrificing on heart health.

 

Eat your veggies any veggies

Not a single age group in America eats the recommended servings of total vegetables per week. In this case, more is more…as in eat more vegetables, however you can get them.

 

Fresh and plain frozen vegetables are obvious good choices, as well as reduced-sodium canned. Since potatoes (and yes French fries) count as a vegetable, you’re best off with baked, boiled, or oven-roasted at home, versus highly processed versions fried in refined oils.

 

The bottom line: Whenever possible, cook from scratch at home using whole foods so you’ll have more control over the calories, salt, added sugar, and types of fats you’re eating.

 

Michelle Dudash is a registered dietitian nutritionist, Cordon Bleu-certified chef consultant, author of Clean Eating for Busy Families, and the creator of Clean Eating Cooking School: Monthly Meal Plans Made Simple.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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5 Berries You’re Not Putting in Your Basket (But Should Be)

Scientists have found that berries as a whole pack more disease-fighting antioxidants than almost any other fruit. So why do many of us stick to the same ol’ blueberries and strawberries when there are a bunch of other under-the-radar options with big health benefits? Here are five to try this summer.

 

Lingonberries

If you’ve ever been to Ikea, you’ve seen these tart Scandinavian berries in jam and alongside meatballs. A 2014 study from Lund University found that their high polyphenol content may offset the effects of a high-fat diet. Try them in Icelandic Provisions Strawberry & Lingonberry Skyr, technically a fresh cheese with a Greek yogurt-like consistency.

 

Marionberries

This sweet-tart cross between two types of blackberries is too fragile to be shipped fresh outside of Oregon, where they’re grown. But you can buy them frozen from Northwest Wild Foods, and for each 2/3 of a cup you add to your smoothie, you’ll pump up the fiber by 8 grams. For a treat, try a small scoop of McConnell’s Eureka Lemon & Marionberries ice cream, made with cream, milk, and organic egg yolks.

 

Goji berries

A 3-tablespoon serving of dried goji berries from Navitas Naturals has 4 grams apiece of fiber and protein, plus 140 percent of the vision-critical vitamin A you need in a day. According to a small study from 2008, people who drank juice made from the cranberry-esque berries for two weeks reported that it improved their digestion and “general feelings of well-being.” Use the dried berries in place of raisins to cut about 16 grams of sugar per cup, or sprinkle goji berry powder from Carrington Farms into your yogurt or smoothies.

 

Golden raspberries

They may look like under-ripe red raspberries, but golden raspberries are actually a recessive mutation of their ruby-colored cousins. Though they have a slightly more delicate flavor and texture, they still pack a powerful punch: One cup contains 8 grams of fiber and fulfills half your daily vitamin C requirements. Look for them in the farmers’ market or the produce section of your grocery store.

 

Gooseberries

While the Cape kind are more like tomatillos, European gooseberries — which have nearly as much vitamin C per cup as a small orange — are actual berries. Somewhat similar in size and flavor to grapes, they come in green, white, yellow, and shades of red. You may find them canned in light syrup, dried or frozen.

 

Juno DeMelo is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon.

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