Wednesday, July 31, 2013


i am sometimes asked about various sweeteners that seem to be in some of the various diets making the rounds.  I figured the best way to answer questions about coconut syrup/sugar was to go to one of my best sources on such matters, GI NEWS.  The following is taken directly from a newletter I received from them:

Coconut syrup/sugar, a traditional sweetener from South-East Asia comes from the nectar of coconut palm flower buds (which means those buds won’t grow into coconuts). It is about 75% sucrose and the rest is glucose and fructose which could make it a useful substitute for cane sugar if you are looking for one and cost doesn’t count. These days it’s widely promoted as a ‘great tasting, mineral rich, low GI (35) cane sugar alternative’. Dr Oz recommends it as a replacement for table sugar saying that: ‘Switching from regular sugar to coconut palm sugar could prevent the blood sugar crashes that make you hungry and then cause you to gain weight.

We asked SUGiRS Manager Fiona Atkinson about the GI35 for coconut sugar that Dr Oz quoted, as this figure is all over the internet but failed the peer review process to make it into the official international GI database. ‘That’s an old value from the Philippines and it was not tested according to the ISO method,’ she said. ‘We have recently tested coconut sugar for a company, but the results must remain confidential until they give us permission to publish them. I can say that although the GI was certainly not 35, it was low for what is essentially a sucrose-based sugar.’ Because of the high sucrose content, we are guessing it is more likely to be similar to CSR LoGiCane, the low GI sugar which has a GI of 50. Coconut syrup is ‘fab’ on pancakes or drizzled over coconut cake according to food writer Kate McGhie who also uses coconut sugar in Thai cooking and general baking such as muffins and has coconut vinegar in her pantry.  

Note: What is sucrose?  Here is a brief of the definition from Wikipedia: 
Sucrose is the organic compound commonly known as table sugar and sometimes called saccharose. Did you notice above that coconut syrup is about 75% sucrose?  Diabetics beware if you switch to this.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Vitamin C is a known powerful antioxidant and it is one of the most potent in warding off clogged and stiffened arteries known as atherosclerosis.  But you may not know that oranges are way down the list of foods high in vitamin C.  Would you believe the first on the list, bell peppers, have 128 mg of vitamin C per 3.5-ounces while oranges have only 50 mg? Remember what your mother told you, "Eat your vegetables!" The following is a list in order of some of the foods that are the highest in this potent antioxidant.

  • Bell peppers, green and red
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Oranges
  • Cabbage
  • Grapefruit 
  • Cantaloupe

Monday, July 29, 2013


Would you believe researchers at a West Virginia university a couple of years ago said the scent of mint is an appetite suppressant?  In their research they found that people who chewed a piece of minty gum or applied a mint-scented lotion when they had an urge to snack throughout the day, consumed around 3,000 calories less per week.  So if you are struggling with weight or urges to snack, why not try this.  What have you got to lose?  Up to 3,000 calories a week is almost a pound of weight loss a week!

Thursday, July 25, 2013


For many years there were reports that coffee caused pancreatic cancer and other maladies.  But studies have proved coffee is not bad for you.  In fact in 2010 or 2011 Harvard's Walter Willet said extensive studies have shown, "It's turned out to be remarkably safe.  The evidence is very clear that coffee doesn't increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, and it probably reduces the risk of liver cancer."  A 2007 Swedish study estimated that people who drank two cups of coffee a day had about a 30% lower risk of liver cancer than those who drank none.  These tests did not include decaffinated coffee so no results on that.

Harvard's Willet also stated, "Coffee almost for sure reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.  When researchers combined nine studies on a total of nearly 200,000 people, they found that those who drank four to six cups of regular or decaffeinated coffee a day had about a 30% lower risk of diabetes than those who drank up to two cups a day.  It looks like coffee reduces insulin resistance."

Those who drank either decaf or regular coffee also appeared to have less gout and heart disease.  However, Willet also said, "Only caffeinated coffee may lower the risk of Parkinson's disease and gallstones.  The mechanism is not clear, but the evidence is quite strong for Parkinson's."

Willett went on to say that bottom line, "Coffee has turned out to be a health-promoting beverage rather than a carcinogen."

Personal note:  As a type-2 diabetic, I have increased my consumption of coffee to 3 or 4 cups a day.  My diabetes is totally under control, whether or not coffee plays a role, I can't say.  I do however, plan to continue consuming it.  Also, my father had Parkinson's disease and my parents and only sibling had gallstones.  I will continue my coffee consumption, just in case!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


When taking medicine and especially when giving it to your children, it is important to use the correct measurements.  When spoons in the average kitchen drawer were checked they measured anywhere from 1.5 to 9 millileters of liquid.  That is quite a difference.  To be sure you are giving the right dosage it is important to always use a labeled measuring spoon or the little plastic cup that comes with the medicine. Spoons from your kitchen silverware drawer are probably not going to give you the right dosage!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Yes, I am a diabetic but that is not what this post is about.  We Americans just eat too much sugar.  I am not someone who lives by what Dr. Oz says as I think a lot of what he says just scares people and is a minor problem for the average person.  I did however notice something he said about sugar and I believe it is worth passing along.  Dr. Oz stated that sugar hurts us in two ways.  "First", he says, the sugar molecule itself is like a jagged piece of glass that scrapes up the arteries as it travels through your bloodstream.  That scarring catches plaque, allowing it to build up and narrow the arteries.  Second, because sugar is stored as fat, it leads to weight gain, particularly around the belly."  He has a rule he suggests we all live by.  His rule is, "If high fructose corn syrup is one of the first five ingredients in a product or there's more than 4 grams of sugar per serving (that is 1 teaspoon), skip it."

Most Americans eat about 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, much of it from sodas and fruit drinks.  The American Heart Association recommends that women (good idea for men, too) limit their consumption of added sugars to about 6 teaspoons a day!  Would you believe that is less than half a 12-ounce can of regular soda a day!


Monday, July 22, 2013


According to studies, people who keep a food diary are more likely to lose weight and to keep it off.  Not only is it important to see what you have eaten, it may be just as helpful to see what you didn't eat! According to Kent Sasse, M.D., a weight-loss expert at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, knowing how many calories you almost consumed but avoided can provide much-needed motivation.  So if you are struggling with weight-loss, try keeping a food diary at least for a few weeks.  You will soon learn what causes you to gain and what helps you control your weight.  I also recommend a food diary for anyone who has just been diagnosed with diabetes.  I did that and very quickly learned what would cause a blood sugar spike and what I could eat without raising my blood sugar levels.

Your food diary can be as simple or as complicated as you like.  Personally, I kept mine in a spiral notebook one page per day.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


If you follow this blog you know I am a diabetic.  As a diabetic, even though my diabetes is under very good control, I strive to eat only foods that will heal and not hinder my body.  As all diabetics know, we have to take good care of our kidneys.  Diabetes can be hard on the kidneys and that is a problem we don't need.  I do a lot of research on health and one thing I have found repeatedly is that onions are very good for the kidneys.  Thankfully I like onions and use them in some way everyday.  But if you are a diabetic and onions are not currently a part of your diet, perhaps it is time to add them.  From raw onion slices on burgers to creamed pearl onions, to chopped or diced onions in soups, stews, etc, they are easy to work onto the diet.

Onions are abundant with flavanoids, including a powerful antioxidant that helps fight the free radicals associated with kidney disease.  Better to add onions to your diet today than to be battling kidney disease later!

Friday, July 19, 2013


Once again I am warning you to read labels on your foods.  Today it is about Greek yogurt.  Most of us know Greek yogurt is very popular right now and is considered a healthy food.  But those nasty marketers are always out to make a buck from unsuspecting consumers.  In order to cash in on the popularity of "Greek Yogurt" many companies now market some yogurt as "Greek Style".  Be aware that Greek Style is not Greek Yogurt!  Greek Style yogurt is nothing more than regular yogurt that contains additives such as gelatin and milk solids to make it thicker and thus able to make consumers think they are eating Greek Yogurt.  To be sure you are getting Greek Yogurt read the ingredients list.  There should be only two - milk and cultures.

Please note there is nothing illegal about marketing yogurt as Greek Style.  Once again it is up to the consumer to read labels and be aware of what they are purchasing.

 Please note: These pictures are not endorsements or non-endorsements of these brands of products.  These pictures are used only to show you the different in the wording on the product, Greek Yogurt vs Greek Style Yogurt.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Eat to Stay Hydrated This Summer!

I have written about this previously on this blog.  Hopefully this picture will get your attention.  It is so important to stay hydrated!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


I had my annual extreme physical today and they asked a lot of questions about my heart then did an echocardiogram.  A little over an hour later, I received a call giving me a time for an appointment with my cardiologist.  Now I don't know exactly what this means at this point but it did get me noticing some things about diabetes and heart disease, such as the fact that if you are a diabetic you 2 to 4 times more likely to die of heart disease than the nondiabetic.  In fact 65% percent of diabetics who die, die from heart disease.  Wow, I didn't know that.  Too much glucose in the blood can damage the heart and blood vessels leading to heart disease and stroke.  Since my dad died of a ruptured aorta and my mom died after having a massive stroke, these facts got my attention.

Diet plays a major role in controlling diabetes and avoiding the problems it can cause.  Eat right by eating lots of fresh (or frozen) fruits and vegetables.  Use only whole grain rice, pasta, cereals, lean meats, fish, poultry.
Avoid foods high in trans fats, saturated fats, fat meats, butter, sugar, and commercially baked goods.

You can have a lot of control over your disease by the way you eat.  After all it is your life you are protecting!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


If you are a diabetic you have no doubt been told to avoid refined flours and sugars as they will raise your blood sugar levels.  Here is a little information I came across on that subject.  Thought this might be helpful to someone out there to know you don't have to take my word for it.  This is from the professionals!

Mark Hyman, author of the book The Blood Sugar Solution, states that refined flours and sugar cause huge spikes in insulin and get absorbed quickly, which causes problems.  This causes a roller-coaster effect which then causes blood sugar to become unstable and insulin rushes to keep up.  This is not a good thing!

Jackie Mills, MS, RD, suggests looking at the whole meal instead of just individual ingredients. She suggests pairing carbohydrates with protein, fat, or fiber to help slow down the absorption process.  If you follow my blog, you know this is something I always recommend.  Sometimes it is not so much what you eat as how you combine the foods you eat.

 Avoid white bread, eat whole-grain breads, pastas, etc.

Monday, July 15, 2013


According to nutritionist Joy Bauer, doctors in England have discovered that protein stimulates cells in the brain that promote wakefulness.  If you always seem to have mid afternoon fatigue, think about what you are eating for lunch and/or snacks.  Try adding more protein and see if that won't help you fight that dreaded afternoon fatigue.  Too often we eat a carb-heavy lunch or afternoon snack and then wonder why we are fighting fatigue.  Try adding some peanut butter, nuts, etc for more protein.  Having a salad for lunch?  Be sure to add a chopped boiled egg, bacon bits, sliced chicken breast, etc to give it that protein boost.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


The following information is mostly from Jill Weisenberger, M.S.,R.D., C.D.E.

There is so much advertising regarding "Heart Healthy" that it can be hard to muddle your way through to the facts.  After reading an article by Ms. Weisenberger, I thought her advice was worth sharing.  Here are a few bullets that separate fact from fiction (regarding 'heart healthy" only!):

  • Fatty Fish - The real deal.  This fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, rainbow trout, etc are loaded with heart-protecting Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Beans - The real deal.  Studies have shown that eating at least 4 servings of beans a week will lower your risk of coronary heart disease by 22%!
  • Nuts - The real deal. Eating 4 servings of nuts a week can lower your risk of coronary heart disease by 37%.
  • Oatmeal - The real deal. Oatmeal is heart healthy and should be a part of your diet.  But don't load it down with unhealthy add-ins.
  • Granola and Cereal Bars - Good and/or Bad.  You must read the label as not all granola and/or bars are healthy no matter how they are labeled.  Many of these bars are loaded with sugar and trans fats which are bad for the heart.  Be aware of what the actual ingredients are in your bars.
  • Turkey Hot Dogs and Sausages - Beware! Okay occasionally but these products are processed meats and are loaded with sodium which is bad for one's blood pressure thus the heart.
  • Banana Chips - Bad.  Don't confuse banana chips with a banana.  While a banana is heart healthy and loaded with potassium which lowers blood pressure, chips are fried and therefore have added oils and sugars.
  • Cholesterol-Free Stick Margarine - To be a solid, this margarine contains saturated and/or trans fats and both cause your liver to make more cholesterol which is not good for the heart.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Yes I know I am weird to a lot of you!  Kale is one of my favorite foods and has been as long as I can remember.  I remember going to the grocery store with my daddy as a child and grabbing kale in the produce section and slipping it into his cart.  Little did I know then how good kale was for my body, I just knew I liked it and I still do.  If kale isn't a part of your diet consider adding it.  Some of the reasons you should eat kale are:

  • Kale is high in nutrient density.
  • Kale contains  powerful phytonutrients like sulfurophane, kaempferol, and carotenoids that can help your body detox, turn on genes that promote longer life, and fight cancer. 
  • Kale boasts more than 100 percent of your daily needs of each vitamin A, C, and K, which serves as an important antioxidant to promote blood clotting, improve bone health, and protect the fat cells that comprise more than 60 percent of the brain. 
If you aren't fond of kale, you can easily slip it into your diet by putting it in soups, salads, casseroles, etc.  Do yourself a favor and make kale a regular part of your diet.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Why Do You Need Protein?

I am appalled at some of the goofy diets I see people bragging about on facebook!  Early on anyone can lose a lot of weight on any kind of crazy diet.  But always beware of any type of diet.  I got the following quote from a dietician who went over some weekly food diaries of her clients.  Everyone thought they were eating healthy and on the surface, to the untrained eye, most would agree that they were.  However, most of them were lacking in one major component needed for a healthy diet.  That component was protein.

Here is what Lara Rondinelli, RD, LDN, CDE, had to say about the importance of protein, "Proteins function as building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood, as well as for hormones and vitamins. Protein is the structural component of all cells in the body. During digestion, proteins in food are broken down into amino acids, which the body uses in all those ways. Nine of the amino acids must be supplied by our diet (they're not made in the body); these are called essential amino acids. All nine essential amino acids are found together in animal products. Protein is important for people with diabetes for another reason: They don't raise blood glucose levels like carbohydrates do."  She went on to say, "When people don't eat enough protein, it's easy to overeat carbs in an effort to feel satisfied."

The best thing you can do for your body is to eat a well-balanced diet with portion control daily.  Beware that you are getting all the components you need.  If you aren't, you probably won't notice it for awhile but eventually your body will cease to function properly.

Friday, July 5, 2013


If you would like to get your kids to eat more whole-grain breads but they don't like them, here are a couple of suggestions.

  • Buy Whole-Grain White Bread.  This bread is made from white wheat instead of red but it is still a whole grain.
  • Do the squeeze test.  Pinch the various options of whole-grain breads and pick the one that is the softest since kids prefer soft breads.
It is important to get your children away from refined grains as early as possible for their long term health.

Note: These pictures are not an endorsement of these brands.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Are You Eating Flaxseed?

If you aren't currently eating flaxseed, you probably should be!  There are other posts on this blog regarding flaxseed and its healthy benefits.  As I added some to my oatmeal this morning, I thought it might be a good idea to put out another reminder to be sure you are adding it to yours.  It is so simple to add some ground flaxseed to oatmeal, baked goods, smoothies, etc and it doesn't even affect the taste.  Reminder; among the many healthy benefits of flaxseeds are their omega 3 fatty acids that are heart-healthy, lignans that serve as antioxidants, and don't forget they are high fiber which is very helpful to maintaining a healthy digestive tract.

Here is a good tip for you: You can make your baked goods healthier by substituting half the fat (butter, margarine, oil, etc) called for with ground flaxseed!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


We know that fresh fruit is recommended for diabetics.  But that does not apply to fruit juice!  It is best for diabetics to avoid fruit juices, even those that are 100% juice.  Fruit juice has concentrated amounts of the fruit's sugars and can cause a spike in blood sugar levels.  Thirsty?  Have a nice glass of water and keep those blood sugar levels down!

Monday, July 1, 2013


Yogurt can be a vital part of a healthy diet.  Having said that, here is a warning.  Is your yogurt a "fat trap"?  Once again, I urge you to read the nutritional labels on all your food products.  Did you know that the full-fat version of Greek yogurt contains up to 20 grams of fat?  Would you believe that is about the same amount of fat you would get in two McDonald's cheeseburgers?

You can still enjoy your Greek Yogurt but watch what you buy!  The low-fat version has even more protein than the full-fat one and is just as thick and creamy as the fat-laden one!