Tuesday, July 31, 2012

HAPPINESS AND FOOD

What you eat does affect your happiness!  Food is what fuels everything about your body and what you eat controls your body from head to toe!  Food is directly linked to three areas of brain function that create our ability to be happy!  The first is the capacity to think, focus, plan, and remember - what we will call "foods for thought."  The second is emotional regulation - foods for good mood.  The third is the ability to control anxiety and the power to push through to a deadline, etc - foods for brain energy.  Yes, what you eat does control all these parts of your life.  Here are some ways you can control these areas.
  • Cut back on eating processed foods.  Most processed foods are loaded with sugar.  Too much sugar contributes to shrinkage of key brain areas involved in mood regulation.
  • Eat more whole-grains, vegetables, and fruits.  Plant foods contain minerals and phytonutrients that are scientifically known as the "Essential Elements of Happiness."  These consist of vitamins A, B12, D, E, Folate, iodine, magnesium, calcium, iron, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids.  These are substances the brain needs to function optimally.
  • When possible, opt for grass-fed meat.  Grass fed meat typically has more omega-3s.  Omega-3s promote formation of new brain connections.
  • Eat a variety of whole foods.  Branch out and eat healthy foods you may not particularly enjoy or are not used to.  Keep variety in your diet so you don't "burn out" on the healthy foods you eat.  Remember this; the greater range of whole foods you eat, the broader the range of brain-boosting nutrients your diet will contain to help your brain keep you happy!
More on this topic to follow in the coming days.

Monday, July 30, 2012

MAYONNAISE VS BUTTER

Sometimes I am asked if it is better to use mayonnaise or butter in recipes for salads, pastas, baking, etc.  The answer is that it depends on the recipe but here is a bit of saturated fat information for you.
As far as saturated fat, here is the comparison per tablespoon:
Mayonnaise = 1.5 grams saturated fat
Butter          =  7.3 grams saturated fat

Personally, when baking, I like to substitute unsweetened applesauce and/or canola oil for all or part of the butter called for.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

"MADE WITH REAL CANE SUGAR" ON THE LABEL?

Have you noticed how many products now proudly display the words, "Made with Real Cane Sugar" on the packaging?  Don't let this tricky sugar labeling fool you into thinking it means something it doesn't.  This new labeling is in response to the negative publicity given to corn syrup lately.  Yes, this is just another trick to fool the public.  When it comes to obesity, hunger, or metabolic syndrome, all factors affecting weight, there is no difference in corn syrup and real cane sugar according to Christine Gerbstadt of the American Dietetic Association.

Friday, July 27, 2012

YOGURT DIET SABOTEURS

Are you dieting and eating yogurt?  While research points to yogurt as one of the best foods for weight loss, there are some real pitfalls-the diet industry calls them diet saboteurs-to avoid.  You will lose most of the weight-loss benefits of yogurt unless you watch for the following:
  • Fat - Are you aware that regular Greek yogurt (the full fat one) hhas about 20 grams of fat per serving?  That is almost as much as two McDonald's cheeseburgers!  Always go for the low-fat version which has more protein and is just as thick as the regular.
  • Watch the sugar content - Some versions of yogurt, especially fruit-in-the-bottom, have more sugar than a candy bar!
  • Caloric Add-Ins - Be careful what you add to the yogurt.  A small amount of fresh fruit or berries are okay.  A few chopped walnuts are okay and will add important Omega-3s.
  • Beware of Yogurt Smoothies - Yogurt smoothies are often no more than a milkshake in disguise.  Many have as many calories as an ice cream sundae!  If you want a yogurt smoothie, mix your own and use only low-fat, low-sugar ingredients.  Ask to see the nutritional information before ording a yogurt smoothie commercially.
  • Frozen Yogurt - One of the great health benefits of yogurt is the live active cultures it contains.  That is often lost in frozen yogurt.  Check the label to see if it says the probiotic cultures are "live and active."
Yogurt is like everything else.  It can be very good for you but you need to be aware of exactly what you are getting.

Please note the brand has nothing to do with this article.  Just wanted to show a couple of different kinds.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

SHOULD YOU GO GLUTEIN FREE?

According to research reports, you should not go gluten free unless it is recommended by your doctor.  There are people who should but your doctor not your friend is the one who should recommend this. I am going to quote Dee Sandquist, RD of the American Dietetic Association who said, "Not unless you have celiac disease or bona fide gluten sensitivities."  Going gluten free can actually carry risks.  You miss out on nutrients such as folic acid and fiber, etc.  This is why you should only go gluten free in consultation with your health care provider.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

WHAT YOU EAT AND YOUR HAIR

Yes, your diet does affect your hair!  Eating fish, lean meat, nuts, and dairy will help your hair grow strong strands.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

LEAN MEAT

As with everything, the buyer needs to pay attention to what they are buying.  For instance when purchasing meat, especially beef, just because you are buying a "lean cut" does not mean you aren't buying fat.  While the marbling (fat) through the meat will be a lot less than a regular cut, pay attention to the trim.  There may still be a thick ribbon of fat around the meat.  Cut the fat ribbon away before cooking and/or eating to get the full benefit of eating "lean".

Sunday, July 22, 2012

EAT MORE BEEF?

I know many of you are going, "WHAT?"  Just hang on and finish reading this post!  Often what I write about on this blog is from research I do for my own health.  A little background on me for those of you who don't already know.  I was born with severe allergies and a very rare blood.  Oh my type is 0-Negative but there is something about my blood (I don't understand this enough to explain it) that puts it in an elite class worldwide.  I have had health problems all my life but with God's grace I have lived a normal life.  I have a list of health problems a mile long, so to speak.  Some of those are leukocytoclastic vasculitis, lupus, arthritis, fibromyalgia, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, heart problems, etc.  I have had breast and colon cancer.  I merely state this to let you know that if you are battling an illness, I understand.  And please remember when reading my posts, I have no medical training.  But research into my health has saved my life and that is what I share with you.  You will notice that any real medical advice I post also shows the medical resource so you can check it out on your own, if you so desire.

Back to my original couple of sentences here.  At my recent check-up I had a lot of blood work done.  This past Friday I met with the doctor to discuss results.  I was floored to discover I am extremely low on vitamin-D and B vitamins.  I am so low on vitamin-D that I have to take prescription pills for it for the next 2 months then have it checked again.  (The doctor told me over the counter pills would not help my situation, at this point.)  Actually I only have about a 5th of the needed amount.  And I have to have a vitamin-B shot monthly.  The doctor and I discussed this and as always I came home and started my research.  No wonder the doctor asked if I eat beef! 

Many stay away from beef thinking it is a bad thing.  Well, hello, think again.  According to the California Beef Council and some nutritionists with a large chain of health food type grocery stores, there are 29 cuts of beef that meet government guidelines for lean.  That is too many to list but here are some of the more popular ones; tenderloin, sirloin, and 95% lean ground beef.  These have less than 10 grams of total fat, less than 5 grams of saturated fat, and less than 95 mg of cholesterol per a 3-oz (USDA recommended serving size of meat) serving. Here is an important part, beef has 8 times more vitamin B12, 6 times more zinc, and 2 1/2 times more iron than a skinless chicken breast.

This is just for your information, not a recommendation to change your diet.  I will be adding an additional meal or two of beef a week to my diet even though I don't particularly like meat.



Saturday, July 21, 2012

REFRIGERATING FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

Are you aware that some fresh fruits emit ethylene, an odorless, colorless gas?  This gas speeds ripening and can lead to the premature decay of ethylene-sensitive vegetables.  How you store your fruits and vegetables can determine their time to decay and thus whether or not you wasted your money by purchasing and storing them.  As an example, spinach or kale in the same vegetable bin as peaches or apples will turn yellow and limp in only a couple of days because they are sensitive to the gas released by the fruit. 

The following is a list of gas-releasing fruits, some should be refrigerated and some should not.  (R) indicates they should be refrigerated.  If there is no (R), do not store in the refrigerator.
  • apples (R)
  • apricots (R)
  • avocados*
  • bananas that are unripe*
  • cantaloupes (R)
  • figs (R)
  • honeydew melons (R)
  • nectarines
  • peaches
  • pears
  • plums
  • tomatoes*
*Note avocados and tomatoes should be stored at room temperature until fully ripe.  Afterwards they may be stored in the refrigerator. Very ripe bananas may be stored in the refrigerator.

Never store the following fruits and veggies with the above listed ones as this will cause them to deteriorate too quickly:
  • bananas
  • broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cabbages
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • cucumbers
  • eggplants
  • lettuce
  • other leafy greens
  • parsley
  • peas
  • peppers
  • squashes
  • sweet potatoes
  • watermelons
Perhaps this information will help you to preserve the freshness of your fruits and vegetables just a little longer.

Friday, July 20, 2012

BREAKFAST CEREAL

Eating breakfast is essential for good health.  But not just any breakfast will do.  If you are always in a rush and rely on grabbing a box of cereal for yourself and/or your family here are a few tips:
  • Stay away from sugary coated cereals.  Be very careful about this and always read the label.  It is best to stay completely away from sugary cereals.  If, however, you are tempted to give in, compare labels and buy the one with the least amount of sugar!
  • Again, read the label.  Buy a cereal that has a whole-grain as the first item listed in the ingredients.
  • Buy cereals that list 4 to 5 grams of fiber per serving, especially for adults.
  • Buy cereals that have at least 5 grams of protein per serving.
And remember this, you are the adult in your house.  Don't say, "But my kids won't eat that."  First of all, given the choice, kids will almost always choose the sugary cereal they see advertised everywhere.  You are the adult and you are in charge of taking good care of your children.  Buy only healthy choices and them give them a choice between two.  They are still getting a choice and you are giving them a healthy cereal.  Start your children out with healthy choices and those will become their favorites.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

POPCORN IS A WHOLE GRAIN

That's right, popcorn is a whole-grain.  If you have problems getting enough whole-grains into your diet, you can add popcorn to your list of foods.  And would you believe it, one serving is 3 cups popped!  Now to keep that healthy, it should be 3 cups of air-popped corn.  Loading down popcorn with butter, unhealthy oils, etc takes away the healthy reason for eating popcorn.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

FLUIDS AND HEART FAILURE

Unfortunately many people are having to deal with heart failure.  While it is a serious situation, there are a few things one can do to make their life a little better.  Of course it is essential to follow your doctor's orders above all else!  One of the big problems with heart failure is the body's inability to handle fluids.  While drinking lots of fluids is important to most of us, in heart failure pateints the fluids tend to build up causing difficulty in breathing and having to have fluids drained.  For the average heart failure patient, liquids should limited to 1.5 to 2 liters a day and following your doctor's recommendation is vital.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

FRESH GREENS AND NUTRITIONAL VALUE

It is best to eat fresh greens as close to the day they are picked as possible.  While the fiber and mineral content of fresh greens stay potent, the vitamin C, folate, and antioxidants leak out due to heat, light, and oxygen.  Once harvested, greens begin to loose moisture causing the above mentioned nutrients to break down.

Remember that on average the time from the farm to your produce section is around 6 to 7 days.  So take them home and use them in a day or two, if possible.


Penn State University did a study a few years ago on fresh spinach.  The study found almost a 50% reduction in folate and in vitamin A after 8 days of refrigeration.  Just a little something to keep in mind when you purchase and eat fresh greens.

Monday, July 16, 2012

STORING FRESH HERBS

To keep herbs fresh and nutritious, store them in the refrigerator with a damp paper towel around the stems and in a plastic bag with a couple poke holes.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

CALORIES FROM WHOLE-GRAINS VS PROCESSED GRAINS

Okay, a calorie is a calorie is a calorie.  That is a long established fact and must be considered when watching one's weight.  However, there was a small study done a couple of years ago by a group of scientists from Pomona College in California that showed it is how the body processes the different calories that can make a small difference.  These scientists divided people into two groups, A and B.  They fed these groups cheese sandwiches but group A had sandwiches made with real cheese on whole-grain bread while group B had sandwiches made with processed cheese on white bread which is fiber stripped.  They made sure the sandwiches in both groups had the same number of calories.  The journal Food and Nutrition Research published the study findings.  The study found that group B (processed sandwiches) had the rate of diet-induced thermogenesis - the number of calories you burn eating and digesting - reduced by about 50% over group A.  It was estimated that just that one sandwich could create a rise in metabolism (thermic effect) to account for about 10% of a typical person's daily calorie expenditure.

The take-away from this study is that not only are whole-grains better for you nutritionally, they may essentially be lower-calorie even though not in numbers.


If you are trying to lose weight, maybe you should throw out any products that aren't whole-grain and replace them with those that are.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

WHAT IS A WHOLE GRAIN?

People are often confused about what "whole-grain" actually means.  It is important when reading nutritional labels that the word "whole-grain" is used, without that your bread, etc does not contain a whole grain!

Simply put a whole-grain is in its initial form of three parts.  A grain, simply stated, is a seed!  Seeds have three parts:
  • The Germ (the part that sprouts) which is vitamin and oil rich.
  • A Starchy Coating that feeds the germ.
  • A Layer of  Bran (protects the nutritious package) that is high in fiber and antioxidant rich.
Whole-grains are not refined and still contain all three parts.

Refined grains usually consist of only one part of the seed.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Whole Wheat White Bread

For those who are wondering about the whole wheat white bread, it is a good choice.  It is made from an albino variety of wheat that contains all the nutritional value of the darker wheat.  If you can't get your youngsters (or adults) to eat the darker version, go for the white version.  This is a good alternative and an easy way to "trick" your picky eaters into eating something that is actually good for them!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

SALMON AND OMEGA-3 FATS TO PROTECT YOUR HEART

Omega-3s are the good fats (yes, there are good fats!).  These fats protect against cardiovascular disease; they lower blood pressure, reduce arterial inflammation, and help the heart beat at a steady rhythm.  If you are wondering how to get more Omega-3s in your diet, consider salmon.  A 3.5-ounce fillet of wild-caught Alaskan salmon has 1400 mg of omega-3s.  That is 560% of your daily need!

Note:  If you don't like salmon (I have raised my hand here!) try striped bass (800 mg) or rainbow trout (600 mg).  If you don't like fish (I don't), try nuts.  There are many nuts high in omega-3s.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

SILENT STROKES

A recent study published in the journal Neurology finds that a quarter of older adults may suffer from so-called silent strokes, small areas of damaged brain cells that may contribute to memory loss, a symptom of Alzheimer's and dementia.  This information shows how important it is that we take measures to prevent strokes therefore keeping our brains healthy and hopefully ward off memory problems as we age.

This study consisted of 658 men and women all age 65 or older.  None of the subjects had been diagnosed with dementia or serious memory problems.  174 of these men and women showed evidence of silent strokes.  Silent strokes do not cause any obvious symptoms.

To take care of your brain and hopefully lower the risk of stroke, work on the following steps:
  • If you are a smoker, stop!  If you don't smoke, don't start!  Smokers definitely have an increased risk of stroke and Alzheimer's.
  • Get regular exercise and do your best to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Keep your blood pressure under control.  This is where diet comes in.  Avoid or reduce the amount of salt in your diet and follow any instructions from your doctor if you currently have high blood pressure.
  • Lower your cholesterol levels.  High levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol are associated with stroke risk.  Again, your diet is key here.  Follow doctor's orders and make necessary dietary changes!
It is your life.  You are responsible for your own diet and exercise!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

TIME TESTED WEIGHT LOSS TIPS III

Here are a few more of the time tested weight loss tips.

  • From a 2010 publication: Don't skip meals!  When you get too hungry you are less likely to make good choices.
  • From 1958: Eat slowly and savor each bite.  You will be satisfied with less food.
  • From 1991: If you must have goodies around for your family or guests, don't make or buy your favorites!
  • From 2003:  Eat what you are craving in its healthiest form.  For example go for a baked potato rather than French fries.  And watch what you put on that potato!
  • From 1987:  In restaurants, always order your dressing on the side.  Dip into it rather than pour it overall.  You will be surprised how little dressing you actually use.
Note:  These are not just weight loss tips.  This are tips for improving your health overall.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

QUOTE FROM DR. MARK HYMAN

I totally believe this statement from Dr. Mark Hyman to be true:

"What you put at the end of your fork is more powerful than what you find in a pill bottle."

Good advice; remember it the next time you sit down to a meal!

Friday, July 6, 2012

TIME TESTED WEIGHT LOSS TIPS II

More of the time tested weight loss tips as an add-on to a previous post.  It is always interesting to look back and see what the old tips were and how many have stood the test of time!
  • This tip is from a 1974 publication:  To lose weight for good, know that you can't go back to your old eating habits.  You'll need to change your lifestyle.  (How often do we still hear this one today!)
  • This tip is from a 1966 (The year I got married!) publication:  Pump up your protein intake early in the day. (Think breakfast!)  Protein is digested at a slower rate than simple carbs, so you'll feel full for longer.
  • And this tip from 2007:  Switch to mustard.  It has no fat, versus the 11 grams in 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

ZUCCHINI

Did you know a single zucchini plant can produce more than a bushel of zucchini?  I found that out when I planted my first zucchini in my garden in Indiana.  I soon learned lots of uses for zucchini and so did my friends and neighbors!

Zucchini are about 95% water which makes them low in calories and an excellent choice when you need to eat water.  (See an earlier post on this site if that statement confused you!)  A cup of sliced zucchini has only around 20 calories but is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate, and potassium.

Zucchini can grow to quite large but are best when eaten small.  The ideal zucchini is only 6 to 9 inches long.

Zucchini should be washed very well and used unpeeled.  If you peel the zucchini you lose some of the nutritional value.

When purchasing zucchini, look for ones that feel firm and heavy.  The brighter the color the more nutritional value.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

TIME TESTED WEIGHT LOSS TIPS

  • This weight loss tip is from a 1974 publication but it is good advice still today:  Never go on a diet when you're under a lot of stress.  And isn't that the truth?  Talk about setting oneself up for failure!  This was good advice in 1974 and it is still good advice today.
  • This tip is from a 2006 publication: Eating too little can backfire.  Never have less than 1200 calories a day--or you may slow your metabolism down.  Good advice, however, let me add you should follow your doctor's guidelines.  If he/she puts you on 1,000 calories a day, there must be a reason why.
  • This timeless tip is from a 1966 publication and is still very good advice today:  Cut down, not out: Trim portions of food instead of removing entire categories of food ie carbs, fats, etc.  Never cut out an entire catagory of food without consulting with your physician!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

EAT A VARIETY OF FOODS

If you want to stay healthy and keep your body operating optimally, you need to eat a variety of foods.  The experts say it takes more than 40 different nutrients for good health!  Obviously you aren't going to get all those healthy nutrients without eating a large variety of foods.  Don't let yourself fall into a food rut.  Eat a wide variety of foods and include lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.