News Feed: Nutritional Sins, Bloating Triggers and the Unexpected Good of Pocked Produce

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Whole orange apricots with red blush, from above, space for text. Open apricot with stone and leaves. On rustic white wood.

It’s what’s inside that counts.

When it comes to fruit and vegetables, maybe they should say that the best things come in ugly packages. A growing body of research indicates that produce with signs of stress — pockmarks, scales, dimples, strange shapes — may actually be nutritionally superior and taste better than perfect-looking produce.

The scars on ugly fruits and veggies may be signs they have successfully battled environmental threats such as an insect or an infection and may indicate high antioxidant content, NPR’s The Salt reports. “There is some interesting data that when plants are stressed by insects or disease, they produce metabolites that are good for us,” Clemson University environmental biologist Brian Ward tells the site. Embrace the unsightly!

Close Up Of Overweight Woman Trying To Fasten Trousers

Banish the bloat!

That bloated feeling? No one likes it. But how to avoid it? Time has helpfully published a list of potential triggers, cited by gastroenterologist Robynne Chutkan in her new book, The Bloat Cure.

“Sneaky culprits” include artificial sweeteners (regular sugar isn’t so great either); cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, kale and broccoli (eat small portions and work up to bigger ones, and try eating cruciferous vegetables with lemon to stimulate your digestion); nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or aspirin (they cause fluid retention); soy (Chutkan says coconut milk, rice milk, hemp milk and unsweetened almond milk are good soy milk alternatives); and sports drinks (skip the sugars and sweeteners, and rehydrate with water and a banana instead).

Get the nutritionists’ no-noes.

We hear a lot about the foods nutritionists love: avocados, salmon, kale, quinoa, nuts, extra virgin olive oil and more. But what about the foods they won’t go near?

Health.com recently asked several nutrition experts, and their no-way-not-now-not-ever lists include: no-sugar-added or light ice cream (less satisfying, loaded with artificial sweeteners, potential producers of “a laxative effect”), puffed veggie chips (lots of additives, lots of calories), powdered peanut butter (fewer calories and less fat than the real thing, but also less healthy and satisfying), commercial salad dressings (just make your own), whole-wheat bread (it’s a glycemic index thing) and cold-pressed juices (high in sugar, lower in beneficial fiber than you might think, and your body can’t even absorb all those nutrients at once, so they go to waste). Adjust your shopping lists accordingly.

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for 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.