I Hate Running – But I Found a Fun Way To Run

Monday, September 22, 2008 21:27
Posted in category Fitness and Exercise

I used to run about 2 miles on the city blocks, concrete.  I was so pleased with myself when I got up to that distance. I realize that it’s not that far, but for me, it was amazing.  Well for whatever reason I stopped running and for the last ten years I’ve hated it.  It hurts my legs.  However, I can manage to ride my bike for twenty miles at a decent pace with no problems so it’s not that I’m in poor health.

Well the other day I was taking my dog for a walk in the local arboretum in Ann Arbor, affectionately known as the Arb here and we started running.  They have a strict policy about dogs being on a leash so we wandered off to some barely used trails in the woods and started running down the rails, no leash. Please don’t tell.  It was so much fun!

Then I remembered that I used to run at another state park through the trees on a dirt trail and I really enjoyed it.  I felt like I could keep going and it didn’t hurt (much) or enough to make me stop.  So my dog and I went back to that trail and ran every day for five days in a row. 

A lot of people run there and they are much faster than I am but the point is I found something beyond my current physical comfort  zone and did it for a while.  I felt like I found new muscles in my legs and it was a great feeling.  So why don’t you go out today and see if you can find something a little bit harder, requiring more effort than normal and see if you can make it a habit or at least give it a trial for a week.

Your body will thank you fro it and you might like it too!


American Heart Association Revised Exercise Guidelines

Monday, September 15, 2008 13:30
Posted in category Fitness and Exercise

The American Heart Association (AHA) has updated their recommendations for physical exercise.  The report is packed with a lot of great information.  For instance, a chart (Figure 1) that show that roughly 25% of adults get NO leisure-time physical activity.  That means one out of every four people you know doesn’t do anything besides sit around.

Also, only about half the US population meets the minimum activity requirement defined by the AHA. It appears that men are a bit more active than women. And younger people are more active than older people.

By following the exercise recommendation and engaging in regular physical activity you can promote and maintain health, and reduce your risk of chronic disease and premature mortality.  What are the bare minimums recommended?

Aerobic Activity

Moderate intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 30 minute, five days a week.
-or-
Vigorous intensity activity for at least 20 minutes at least three times a week.

Muscle Strengthening Activity

Minimum requirement – “8–10 exercises be performed on two or more nonconsecutive days each week using the major muscle groups. To maximize strength development, a resistance (weight) should be used that allows 8–12 repetitions of each exercise resulting in volitional fatigue.”

Greater activity provides greater benefits. More is better. More intensity i better too.  Actually more intensity reduces the overall time required to gain the most results so if you need to be time efficient with your routine consider bumping up the intensity levels.

What defines a moderately intense aerobic activity? There is another chart with more details but for example moderate activity is considered walking vacuuming, dancing, golfing if you are pulling your clubs and walking the course.

Vigorous activity includes fast walking at 4.5 mph, walking with a light pack, jogging, bicycling about 12-14 mph and to bump it up cycling 14-16 mph.

So if you wanted the to spend shortest amount of time and getting at least the minimum required doses of exercise you could ride your bike very fast for twenty minutes three times a week, and to a short but intense strength weight training workout two times a week.  Total time spent 2.5 hours which is 1.5% of the time available in a week.

If you’d like to know:  “How can I get the most done in the least amount of time?”  Short intense workouts.  Intense is relative.  Make it hard for you.


Healthy Recipes for Weight Loss

Tuesday, August 12, 2008 9:00
Posted in category Nutrition and Diet, Weight

Sometimes when you are starting a new weight loss program you can be lost about what to eat. No problem! Here are some great foods that are easy to make and are healthy.

Ginger White Tea

White tea is a delicate tasting tea that is complemented by soft flavored herb and spices. This tea has just a touch of ginger to give the drink subtle layers of flavor.

INGREDIENTS:

• 1 bag of Tetley White Tea or another comparable White Tea brand

• Boiling hot water

• ¼ teaspoon ground ginger

• ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

• Sugar substitute (optional)

PREPARATION: Place the ginger and the white tea bag into a mug or teacup and pour the boiling water over the top. Cover and let steep for 2-4 minutes. Add a sugar substitute if desired and stir. Makes one serving with zero calories.

Low Calorie Turkey Ball Soup

This soup is hearty and filling. You can serve it on cold nights as a main dish, or on the side with a sandwich. Turkey ball soup also makes a great lunch. It only has 178 calories per a two cup serving, so fill up!

INGREDIENTS:

• 1 pound ground turkey

• 2 cans mixed vegetables

• 3 teaspoons beef bouillon

• 1 ounce dry pasta

• 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

• salt and pepper to taste

• 1/2 gallon of water

PREPARATION: Fill a large pot with water and add the canned vegetables, bouillon, pasta and seasonings to it. Put the pot on high heat while you prepare the turkey. Prepare the turkey by rolling small pieces into balls the size of jelly beans and then add the turkey balls to the pot. Let the soup cook until it is boiling and the turkey is well cooked.

Healthy Pasta Dinner

Kids love this dinner because of all the textures and tastes. Broccoli is nubby, the pasta is firm, the sauce is smooth, and the chicken is chewy. It is a winning combination.

INGREDIENTS:

• 1 lb. package of frozen broccoli

• 12 oz. package of Smart Taste elbow pasta (or another kind of high fiber pasta) cooked

• 1 tbs. Italian seasoning

• 1 clove of garlic

• Salt

• Butter flavored cooking spray

• 2 cans chopped chicken breast (You can also leave out the canned chicken and serve the pasta with a whole chicken breast or fish.)

PREPARATION: Steam the broccoli, then drain it and toss with pasta and chopped chicken breast.
Chop garlic into small pieces. Spray a small saucepan with cooking spray and add the garlic and Italian seasoning. Pour garlic over the pasta mixture and toss. Add salt to taste.
Serve immediately.

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Food Dos and Don’ts for Losing Weight

Sunday, August 10, 2008 10:00
Posted in category Nutrition and Diet, Weight

There are a number of things you can do to help you lose weight. There are also some things that you should really try to avoid. Use these dos and don’ts, below, to help you shed pounds and avoid weight gain.

Do These Things:

• Trim the fat from all meat products.

• Eat coconut oil or coconut milk daily to lose more. Coconut oil provides healthy fat that nourishes the thyroid and speeds up the metabolism so that people can easily lose weight.
 
• Drink water every day so your urine in light colored. This keeps you hydrated and not craving food as a substitute for fluids.

• Eat three servings of vegetables a day.

• Eat at least two fruits a day.

• Get moving! Add more movement every day.

• Cut your treats in half.

• Eat white meat instead of red or dark meat and save calories and fat.

• Eat a high fiber cereal first thing in the morning to boost your metabolism.

• Eat whole-wheat pasta and bread.

• Avoid sugar. Sugar can dehydrate the body and add unneeded calories.

• Snack, but snack smart. Choose snacks that are low in sugar, but are high in fiber.

• Eat more fish and eggs. They contain healthy protein that is essential to muscle growth.

• Consume 3 servings of dairy daily.

• Do stretches at your desk.

Avoid These Things:
• Fad diets. A recent university study found that dieters are most likely to lose weight on a diet if they haven’t tried that particular diet in the past.

• Eat soy foods and soymilk. “More than 60 years of studies prove that soy adversely affects the thyroid, most often manifesting as hypothyroidism with its symptoms of weight gain, lethargy, malaise and fatigue,” says nutrition expert Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN, “and in Japan soy protein was used traditionally to fatten animals!” Google, Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD and soy, to find out more about the negatives of soy.

• Starve yourself. Cutting out too many calories can make your body go into starvation mode. During this time, your body hoards fat, instead of losing it. The weight loss you see comes mostly from the loss of water and muscle.

• Use diuretics. Your body does the same thing with water. If you flush your system with diuretics, your body will go into survival mode and hoard water, making you bloated.

• Drink lots of caffeine. Caffeine works as a diuretic. Enough said.

• Overeat. Remember, everything in moderation.

• Eat more than one treat a day unless they are really, really tiny.

• Cut carbs and eat tons of meat.

• Drink your calories. Say no to soda and extra sugar in tea and coffee.

• Eat fried foods. Try some healthier choices like making homemade baked fries.

• Go to a restaurant without a plan.

• Eat refined grains like white rice and those used to make white bread and sugary breakfast cereals. They have had most of their fiber and nutrients striped away.

Combining all of these tips can add up to a dramatic weight loss and better health. Start adding them to your life, one by one, until you are consistently using all of the tips above.


These Healthy Snacks Will Help You Lose Weight

Friday, August 8, 2008 10:09
Posted in category Nutrition and Diet, Weight

For so long we’ve heard that snacking is bad; it makes you fat. Not true! Healthy snacking can keep your blood sugar level and boost your metabolism. Here is how to get the most flavor and benefits from snacking.

Milk Snacks

Low fat milk products make fantastic snacks. Research has shown that getting three servings of low fat milk products can help you lose weight faster than skipping them altogether. Milk also provides you with protein and calcium, which is essential for strong muscles and bones.

Here are some great milk snack ideas:

• Low fat yogurt (Many of these come in great flavors like cheesecake and key lime pie!)
• String cheese, lowfat kind
• Sugar-free chocolate milk
• Low fat milk with a teaspoon of vanilla extract

Fruits and Veggies

Sure, everyone knows that fruits and veggies are good for you, but do you know why they are great for losing weight? Fruits and vegetables have fiber, and for every gram of fiber you eat your body blocks seven calories.
Now that you’re looking at fruits and vegetable with new respect, take a look at this recipe for making your fruits and veggies go from plain to yum.

Snack Salad

Ingredients:

• 1 apple
• 1 carrot
• 1 banana
• 1 individual sized pack of raisins
• ¼ cup orange juice

Cut the apple and banana into small slices in a medium sized bowl. Grate the carrot into the bowl. Add the orange juice and raisins and mix well. Serve chilled.

Good Carbs

After the low carb craze, most people probably don’t realize that there are good carbs you can snack on without worrying about gaining ten pounds. These carbs are good for you because they are high in fiber and are more filling. Plus, they digest more slowly, which makes you feel fuller, longer.

Here are some examples of good carb snacks:

• Whole-wheat toast
• High fiber bagel
• Wheat tortilla chips
• Crackers

Don’t trust words like “whole wheat” or “multi-grain” when picking out your snack, though. Many of these labels are misleading. They may sound like they are high in fiber, but in reality only have one gram of fiber. The trick is to look at the Nutrition Facts labels and find carbs that list at least three to five grams of fiber per serving.

Many high fiber breads come in flavors that taste a lot like their white cousins, too, so there’s no reason not to give them a shot. See? Healthy snacking is a possibility, and it doesn’t have to be boring!


Learn How to Avoid Type 2 Diabetes

Wednesday, August 6, 2008 12:55

Type 2 Diabetes, a disease formally found in older adults, is becoming more and more common among children and young adults. It can cause damage to the kidneys, blood vessels, heart, nerves, and eyes. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented. The Diabetes Prevention Program has found that simply making changes in your diet and adding a little extra physical activity to your life can help in preventing this disease.

Get and Stay Fit

The best way to prevent type 2 diabetes is to stay fit and have a body weight that is right for your height. Weigh yourself first thing in the morning with no clothes on. Write this number down and compare it to standard height and weight tables that correspond with your gender.
If you find that you are overweight, it is important to lose the extra weight to lower your risk of getting Type 2 Diabetes. Simple changes to your daily routine, such as taking walks with the family or replacing TV with an activity that gets you moving can help you drop those extra pounds.

Eat Better Food

Another way to prevent type 2 diabetes is to eat better and eat less.  This can seem simple, but many times it becomes quite tricky. Many foods that you may never think of can raise your blood sugar to high levels.
For example, processed foods such as white bread make your blood sugar levels sky rocket. Why? Because they contain simple sugars that are processed by your digestive system very quickly. To combat this, eat foods that are high in fiber, which slows down the digestion process.
Also try to cut back on your fat and calorie intake. Cutting back just a little can make major changes in your health. Here are some ideas:

  • Cut back on the amount of sodas you drink or drink no calorie beverages.
  • Trim the fat from meats and choose leaner cuts of meat.
  • Find out the serving sizes of your foods and stick to the serving size amount.
  • Switch from fried foods to baked foods.
  • Skip sour cream, cheese sauces, butter and gravy on food.

Know Your Cholesterol Level and Manage it With Your Doctor 

High “bad” cholesterol and low “good” cholesterol can also be a major factor to getting Type 2 Diabetes. If your HDL cholesterol is below 35 mg/dL and/or your triglyceride level is above 250 mg/dL you should take measures to get them to good levels to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.  Get a cholesterol test and discuss the results with your doctor.
Some ways to get your cholesterol on an even keel is to eat better, eat less and exercise, like mentioned above.

Combining these strategies will lower your risk of type 2 diabetes dramatically and will help you live a longer, happier life.

Want a great Get Ready for Fitness Course for free? Or a 30 minute exercise plan that gets you strength and cardio benefits at once? Fit, Healthy Self has all you need to get and stay healthy.


Understand Food Labels To Help You Make Healthy Nutrition Choices

Monday, August 4, 2008 10:22
Posted in category Nutrition and Diet

Control Calories and Make the Best Nutrition Choices

Many people get confused as they are reading food labels. There are many tricky terms that can confuse someone who is trying to control calories, carbohydrates, protein, fiber or fat intake. If you are one of these people, don’t worry. These facts will help you make better nutrition choices.

Understanding Food Terms

Here are the meanings of everyday terms used by food manufacturers. It is important to know what they mean so that you can choose your foods wisely.

FDA – FDA is an abbreviation for the Food and Drug Administration. As part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services the Food and Drug Administration is responsible for food safety regulations. They also regulate drugs, vaccines and medical products. Usually, food labels are regulated through the FDA.

Low Calorie – The FDA defines low calorie as a food that is more than two tablespoons and does not provide more than 40 calories. Check those labels, though! Many low calorie foods are high in fat by percentage.

Reduced Calorie and Light – The FDA considers a food reduced calorie or light if the calories have been reduced by one-third over the original. Once again, these products can be high in fat.

Calorie Free – The FDA says that a product can be labeled calorie free as long as it has less than five calories per serving. If you don’t consume a lot of these products it’s a way to control calories.

Low Fat – The FDA considers a food low fat if it has three grams or less of fat. Watch out, though, these foods can be very high in calories and sugar.

Fat Free – Think fat free means fat free? Think again. The FDA says that if there are fewer than 0.5 grams of total fat per serving a product can be called fat free. So, that fat free product may still contain fat.

Reduced Fat – Reduced fat is regulated as a product that contains 50 percent or less fat of the original food version. It may sound good, but make sure to check the label. Even 50% less can still be more fat than you are willing to ingest.

Fiber – For a healthy diet a person needs about 25 grams of dietary fiber per day. If you haven’t been getting that much be sure to increase your daily intake gradually so your body gets used to it otherwise you may suffer from bloating and gas.

Sodium – I hate food with lots of sodium. Why? It tastes bad to me, it’s probably over processed, it makes me thirsty then when I weigh myself the next day I’ve gained about two pounds of water weight; totally de-motivating. The only time a high sodium snack makes any sense is if I am doing a very long and strenuous workout and I need to keep the electrolytes in balance. Gatorade works as well.

How to Choose

Maybe you just want to eat something really tasty like some chocolate Milano’s. In this case disregard all the label info and just go for the tastiest treat you can find but don’t do this on a regular basis. Maybe limit this behavior to once per month or less.

Look at your goals for eating. Fat and calories are not the only things to consider. You need protein and fiber in your diet too. Also, check the quality of the fat in the product. Unsaturated is better than saturated. And remember that your diet should contain about 25% of the calories from fat. If you don’t eat enough fat you will feel hungry and want to eat more.

Carbohydrates come in different forms too. Some are pure sugar or sugar derivatives such as high fructose corn syrup which I tend to avoid. Choose more complex carbohydrates if possible.

When comparing foods I usually pick the ones with highest fiber, high protein, low sodium and good quality fats and carbohydrates in that order. This usually results in a balanced food choice. If I just need a blast of energy in the middle of a long bike ride, then a high sucrose product or a diluted sports drink works fine.

One comment about serving size, the information printed on the label almost always refers to a single serving size. When I look at the package of nuts I think, gee, only 100 calories, nearly all from fat. However, there are eight servings in the bag. What are the chances I’m only going to eat one serving? Probably zero percent. So that means I’ll probably eat at least half the bag, 400 calories from fat. Get it. Think about how much of the food you are going to eat at one time then decide.

What to Do with the Facts

As you can see, just because a food has a snappy food label on it doesn’t mean that it is 100% great for your diet. Always, always check the Nutrition Facts label with an eye towards finding out the true amount of calories, carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber and the serving size. Think about what you want out of the food you choose. You have a lot of nutritional choices within product types. Reading food labels to control calories is one way to look at it but there is much more information provided to help you make the best food choice for your current needs.

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Increase Your Dietary Fiber to Control Diabetes and Help You Lose Weight

Saturday, August 2, 2008 9:21

When most people think of fiber they think of grandma chugging back glasses of Metamucil, but fiber is not just for geriatrics. The fact is that young adults and middle-aged adults need dietary fiber, too. Fiber can be a great addition to a healthy diet. Dietary fiber can control diabetes and help you lose weight if you are currently not getting enough of the substance daily.

The Benefits of Dietary Fiber

Fiber is important for keeping your digestive system healthy, controlling blood sugar, and for controlling weight. Fiber is instrumental in preventing diabetes. A recent study showed that when thirteen people with diabetes ate a moderate fiber diet, which is around 16 grams of insoluble and 8 grams of soluble fiber, it was as if they were taking diabetes medication. That’s right, doubling your dietary fiber intake can be as good as taking diabetes medication to lower insulin levels. What a great way to naturally prevent diabetes.

How does it work? Foods high in fiber take longer to digest which means that insulin is created slowly, preventing blood sugar spikes. Eating more fiber can also help you lose weight. Your body blocks seven calories with every gram of fiber you eat. Fiber also makes you feel full since fiber takes up more space in the stomach than processed foods.

How Much Fiber and How to Get It

The average American eats 10 to 15 grams of dietary fiber per day, but the recommended amount is 20 to 35 grams per day. This amount is easier to get than you may think.

First, eat bread that is high in fiber. Check the package’s label and only buy bread that has at
least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Today, you can buy bagels, hamburger buns, and rolls that have over five grams of fiber and still taste a lot like white bread. So, if you eat two pieces of toast for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch you could easily rack up 20 grams of fiber without even trying! There are many great tasting cereals available with about 7 grams of fiber per serving too.

There are other easy ways to add fiber to your diet. Buy whole-wheat flour for your cooking instead of white flour, too. Also, don’t forget to use whole-wheat pasta. You can also try adding more vegetables, fruits, and nuts to your diet. All three are a great source of fiber. The skin of fruits and vegetable is where the fiber is so don’t peel them.

Here are five ideas to get more dietary fiber in your diet:

  1. When making tacos, add a can of Mexican style chopped tomatoes to the meat.
  2. Add grated vegetables like zucchini, squash, and carrots to spaghetti, goulash, and breads.
  3. Sprinkle All-Bran Buds on desserts like ice cream to add a major boost in fiber.
  4. Try substituting a serving of meat with a vegetable burger. These are surprisingly good and have three grams of fiber in each patty, as opposed to none in a regular meat patty.
  5. Serve corn-on-the-cob instead of potato salad at your next barbeque, and instead of serving chips serve whole grain crackers, peanuts, or sunflower seeds.

Increasing your daily intake of dietary fiber is such an easy thing you can do to better your health, control diabetes and to lose a little weight. The foods you choose with increased fiber will tend to be healthier in general thus boosting your health even more. Begin increasing the fiber in your diet today and start reaping the benefits.

Want a great Get Ready for Fitness Course for free? Or a 30 minute exercise plan that gets you strength and cardio benefits at once? Fit, Healthy Self http://fithealthyself.com has all you need to get and stay healthy.


Rock Climbing is Great to Build Strength

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 17:27
Posted in category Fitness and Exercise

I just returned from the 2008 USA Climbing Nationals held in Sunnyvale, CA at the climbing gym Planet Granite. A climbing gym is a great place to see really strong people that aren’t necessarily the body builder type in action.  At this comp were kids from ages 5 – 19 all competing for a place on the USA climbing team or maybe just for fun. The US Team is competing in Sydney Australia in youth worlds at the end of August.

My daughter had an invitation to this event but broke her leg too close to the comp date so we watched all her friends and team members compete instead. She started on the local climbing team in Michigan at Planet Rock when she was nine years old. The first time she climbed was when she was five.

The reason she started was me.  I took her to the gym for her to try it out and she loved it. I don’t climb anywhere close to the level she does. However, when I climb regularly I’m in better shape than working out with a personal trainer three days per week. 

Climbing has to be one of the easiest and most beneficial sports a person can do. “What if I’m afraid of heights” a person may ask. Well no need to worry. You can climb around the bottom of your gym two feet off the ground. It’s called bouldering. People specialize in bouldering at competitions. However, these serious folks will climb up twenty feet high then jump down on a crash pad.  I don’t recommend this approach.

Try this; you can go alone or with another person. Find your local climbing establishment. Rent a pair of climbing shoes (wear socks with rental shoes). Climb sideways around the bottom of the gym for as long as you can stay on the wall. When your arms are tired take a rest.

When you first start out your may get tired after 3-4 moves but don’t let this discourage you.  Try again 4-5 times then call it a day.  In between climbing shake out your arms or rub them to remove lactic acid. Make sure to go both ways on the wall and try going up a few feet also. Do this three times a week for a month, increasing your duration as you get stronger and I guarantee you will be feeling so much stronger and powerful than before you started.

I’d also recommend going on a top rope.  You’ll need a partner to belay you (hold the rope incase you fall). The gym will set you up with instruction at a low cost, then you’ll be able to climb anytime. If you have an aversion to heights, you can use the top rope to gently gert used to this and overcome or deal with your fear of heights. Just go up to a height you feel comfortable at, come down, then next time go one move farther. You’ll be safe at the gym if you follow the safety guidelines.

Have fun and Cimb-on!

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Using Antioxidants For a Healthier You

Thursday, June 26, 2008 10:18

Antioxidants are the latest craze in healthy eating, and for good reason. Antioxidants can help prevent cancer, boost your immune system, and prevent aging. Here are the facts about antioxidants and how to get more in your diet.

Health Facts

Antioxidants can slow or prevent the oxidation of other molecules. This is important because oxidation reactions can produce free radicals, which can cause cancer. They also can keep cells healthy, which important for many aspects of health in the human body.

Many studies have found that eating berries, fruit, and tea that are rich in antioxidants can make you healthier and can cure some diseases. For example, The University of Florida found, in a cell-culture model, that the tropical berry called açaí (pronounced ahh-sigh-ee) causes leukemia cells kill themselves. The berry worked in up to 86 percent of the tests according to the study by Alexander G. Schauss, Ronald L. Prior, Xianli Wu, Boxin Ou, Dejian Huang,Dinesh Patel, and James P. Kababick in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry,12 Jan 2006, pp 8598 – 8603.

Foods high in antioxidants have also been found to have the ability to keep skin cells healthier, longer. This helps to prevent aging and cancer.

Food High in Antioxidants

There are many foods that you can eat that contain high levels of antioxidants. Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and black berries are all good choices. Pomegranates are also a good choice. Many popular antioxidant drinks contain pomegranate juice.
Most teas contain high levels of antioxidants. Teas that contain the most antioxidants are green and white teas. When making these teas make sure to let them steep for quite a while to get the maximum benefits.
One of the latest foods to be found full of antioxidants is dark chocolate. That’s right, chocolate can be good for you! Choose dark chocolates that have a high level of cocoa for the most antioxidant content. Choose chocolates that have at least 60% cocoa.

Alcohol and Antioxidants

Drinking a little is a great way to boost the power of antioxidants. According to researchers Korakot Chanjirakul, Shiow Y Wang, Chien Y Wang, and Jingtair Siriphanich at the United States Department of Agriculture and the Kasetsart University in Thailand, adding alcohol to antioxidant-rich berries increases their antioxidant capacity. This finding was published in the study Natural Volatile Treatments Increase Free-radical Scavenging Capacity of Strawberries and Blackberries. One way to use this finding is to make cocktails and mixed drinks out of 100% berry juice. How about a Monavie cocktail?