Sunday, January 15, 2017

Best Diets for 2017 for Eating Healthy

What does “eating healthy” mean?  What are healthy diets to follow?  Not for weight loss or weight gain, but just a healthy eating pattern?  I recently heard a person say they were on an “anti-inflammatory” diet.   They had given up fruit and dairy – 2 important food groups for good health so already not a good choice.  Another person said they were eating healthy and following the Whole30 diet.  US News & World Report gives the Whole30 diet a poor rating and a low ranking.  Why?  The diet is quite restrictive and excludes grain (an important food group), dairy (another important food group), legumes, even peanut butter.  Any diet that excludes a food group, excludes nutrients that the food group provides, is not a healthy diet. 

Each year, the US News & World Report evaluates the “Best Diets”.   For 2017, they evaluated 38 popular diets and determined which ones are best for your health and fitness.  What do they look for?  They use health experts to rank diets on a number of parameters including how nutritious the diet is, how safe it is and whether the diet protects against diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Three diets ranked as the “Best Diets” for 2017  
      1.        DASH Diet – this diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, thus the acronym, DASH. Although it was designed to help lower blood pressure, the diet is good for your health. 
a.       Nutrients – the diet emphasizes nutrients that help lower one’s blood pressure like potassium and calcium.  It encourages more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein and dairy – but low fat dairy products. 
b.       Foods to limit are red meats, and foods high in salt. 
Although the diet was designed for lowering high blood pressure, it is a good overall pattern of eating healthy.
    2. Mediterranean Diet – this diet has been written about extensively.  Many nutritionists and health experts recommend this pattern of healthy eating.
a.       Why good for your health?  The Mediterranean diet is a good diet for disease prevention – prevention of cancer and diabetes.  It is diet for healthy hearts and a healthy brain.  Basically, a healthier you.
b.       Foods to enjoy:  fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts, and fish.   
                                                               i.      Choose low-fat dairy – 2%, 1% or non-fat milk.  Choose low-fat yogurt.  Buy cheese that is made with low fat or skim milk like mozzarella cheese.
                                                             ii.      Whole grains – as noted in last week’s blog, so many Americans have few or no whole grains in their day.  Find a way to add whole grains to your daily food intake and to your kid’s diet.
                                                           iii.      Fruit and Vegetables – 5 A Day is a start.  More than 5 A Day is even healthier.
                                                           iv.      Nuts – add a handful of nuts a day
                                                             v.      Olive oil – buy some extra virgin olive oil and use it in cooking.
c.       Foods to cut back on: red meat, foods with added sugar and foods high in saturated fat. 
       3.   MIND Diet – this sounds like it would be a “quack” diet, but it is actually a combination of the DASH and Mediterranean diets.  It emphasizes the foods in these 2 diets that contribute to healthy brains.
a.       What are brain healthy foods emphasized in the MIND diet?
                                                               i.      Vegetables – leafy greens, beans
                                                             ii.      Fruits – berries,
                                                           iii.      Oil – olive oil
                                                           iv.      Protein – emphasis on fish and poultry
b.       Foods to cut back on:  red meat, fried and fast food, butter, stick margarine (choose tub margarine) and foods with added sugar like sweets and pastries.  
So rather than going on some crazy diet plan in an effort to eat healthier in 2017, choose one of the above diets to begin modeling your own eating after.  Healthy eating doesn’t mean giving up all the foods you like to eat, but adding some foods that promote good health like more fruits and vegetables and more whole grains.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

4 Nutrition Habits to Practice in 2017

What are 4 nutrition habits you can adopt in 2017 that are easy and will lead to a healthier you?   So many people make New Year’s Resolutions with broad goals that they never attain.   Goals such as “I will lose weight.”  “I will exercise more.”   No specifics and no real changes in your habits.  What are some nutrition habits you can easily adopt in 2017 that will improve your health, the way you look and the way you feel?  Try adopting one of these habits a month and see how easy it is to eat healthier in 2017.

Nutrition Habit #1:  Eat breakfast
Eat breakfast every day.  So many people skip breakfast, send their kids off to school without any breakfast and then wonder why they feel so tired by 10 AM.  Breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day and the way to fuel up and “break the fast” of not eating all night.
  • Whole grains – breakfast is a great time to add some whole grains to your day.
    • Cereal – choose a whole grain cereal like oatmeal, Cheerios.  In fact, all General Mills cereals are whole grain so choosing a whole grain cereal for you and for your kids is easy.
    • Bagels, English Muffins – no time?  Pop a whole grain bagel thin or whole grain English muffin in the toaster.
  • Fruit – eat a banana, drink 4 ounces of 100% juice, add some raisins to your oatmeal.
  • Protein – add some protein to your breakfast for “staying power”.  Carbs are digested first and protein next.  You won’t be as hungry at 11 AM if you had some protein in your breakfast.  Drink some low-fat milk, eat a low-fat yogurt.  Enjoy some scrambled eggs.
 Nutrition Habit #2:  Eat 5 A Day
Eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day.  So many people are missing the mark on fresh fruits and veggies.  Make it a habit to eat fruit at breakfast every day.  In a rush, grab a banana to eat at work.  Drink 4 ounces of 100% juice.  At lunch, have 2 fruits or one fruit and one vegetable.  Pack an apple and some baby carrots.  At dinner, have 2 vegetables.  My husband’s mother said it wasn’t dinner unless 2 vegetables were served.  If this is too much for you, then start with at least one fruit or vegetable at every meal.  And French Fries don’t count.  Eating at a Fast Food place?  Choose the apple slices and/or the salad to get your 5 A Day.

Nutrition Habit #3:  Whole Grains
Make every day a whole grain day.  So many Americans aren’t eating even one serving of whole grains a day and USDA recommends half of all your grains (breads, cereal, muffins, etc.) should be whole grain.  If you aren’t eating any whole grains, try adding one whole grain a day.  A better habit is to have at least 3 servings of whole grains a day.  MyPlate has a number of tips to help you eat more whole grains every day:
  • Cereal – choose whole grain such as a General Mills cereal or oatmeal.
  • Bagels – choose whole grain like a whole grain bagel thin.  Make a sandwich for lunch on a whole grain bagel.
  • Chips/Popcorn – choose whole grain chips like Sun Chips.  Buy some SkinnyPop popcorn.  It comes in 100 calorie bags, easy to pack for a snack.
  • Crackers – choose Triscuits, Wheat Thins.
  • Rice – choose brown rice.
To read more about how to add whole grains to your day, go to How Much Whole Grain Should You Eat a Day?  

Nutrition Habit #4:  Add Some Fiber to Your Day
Add more fiber to your day.  I have never heard anyone make a New Year’s Resolution that says, “I will eat more fiber every day.” But for so many Americans, that should be a goal.  So many Americans eat refined foods like white bread, pastries, donuts and don’t even think about how much fiber they are getting each day.  If you want to know how many grams of fiber you need each day, go to Kellogg’s Nutrition Fiber Tracker.  This quick fiber calculator will tell you how many grams of fiber you should be getting each day.  Start small with fiber grams.  It takes a while for your body to adjust to adding more fiber to your diet.
  • Cereal – look at the nutrition label and choose a cereal with more fiber.
  • Breads – even whole wheat bread varies in fiber content.  Choose a bread that gives you more fiber per slice.
  • Crackers – choose whole grain crackers to add some fiber.
  • Fruit and Vegetables – fresh fruit and vegetables will add more fiber to your diet than processed.  Choosing the apple instead of applesauce will add more fiber
Choose one of the above nutrition habits and make this your nutrition habit for January 2017.  In February add another nutrition habit.  Add one nutrition habit a month for the first 4 months of 2017 and you will have healthier eating habits, you will feel better, and look better.   

Sources:  MyPlate, How Much Whole Grain Should You Eat a Day?, Kellogg’s Nutrition Fiber Tracker, Image Source:  Quaker Oats

Sunday, January 1, 2017

What is fairlife Milk?

Have you heard of fa!rlife (the brand uses all lower case letters and an exclamation point for the “i”) Milk?  My daughter asked me if I had heard of it and a friend of hers read about it in a Men’s Health magazine.  The friend really liked the taste of it.  So, what is it and how does it differ from regular cow’s milk?  Is it healthier, does it cost more? 

What is Fairlife (intentional cap) milk?
It is cow’s milk that is altered in a number of ways.  One it is it ultra-filtered and two a lactase enzyme is added.  Like regular skim or fat-free milk, it is fortified with vitamins A and D.

How is Fairlife milk different from regular cow’s milk, from Almond milk?
  • Ultra-filtered – you may have seen other milks labeled “ultra-filtered”.  Ultra-filtration creates milk that has a longer shelf life.  Pasteurized milk means it is heated for 15-20 seconds to kill off some of the harmful bacteria.  Ultra-filtered milk is pasteurized at a higher temperature but for less time.  This kills off more bacteria, giving the milk a longer shelf life if it is unopened.  Once you open the ultra-filtered milk, the shelf life is the same. Their cold-filtration process concentrates nutrients like protein and calcium.  And some of the sugar is filtered out.
  • Protein – Fairlife has more protein per serving than regular cow’s milk, almost twice as much as regular milk and much more protein than Almond milk.  (See chart below).
  • Calcium – Fairlife also has more calcium per serving than regular cow’s milk, but not as much calcium as Almond milk. 
  • Lactose – Fairlife provides no lactose. Lactose is the natural sugar present in milk.  Most people have no problem digesting lactose but if you do, this product contains no lactose.  Thus, people who are lactose intolerant can drink this milk.

Is it a good post-workout drink, a good breakfast drink?
Men’s Health nutrition advisor was asked if Fairlife was a better post workout drink.   Mike Roussell, Ph.D. is advising his clients to switch to Fairlife.  In the article, he states, “It takes milk and makes it better.” 

Post-workout – most nutritionists and personal trainers recommend protein post-workout.  Milk has a very high quality protein.  Since Fairlife concentrates the protein, it provides even more of milk’s high quality protein so would make a good post-workout drink.

Breakfast – many people don’t get enough protein at breakfast.  Men’s Health noted that adding Fairlife to your breakfast will add protein to your breakfast.  

Is it real milk?
Yes.   Fairlife milk is cow’s milk. 
Many products today are labeled “milk” but contain no cow’s milk.  Products such as soy milk, Almond milk have no cow’s milk.  Fairlife is made from real cow’s milk.  

Try it.  Some say they like the taste.  Others say it is watery and doesn’t have much taste.  Men’s Health says it is “more creamy than regular dairy”, so try it to see if you like it.

Is it organic?
No, it is not organic.  Fairlife milk is from cows not treated with the growth hormone, rBST.

This extra filtration and processing does add to the cost.  Comparing prices is not easy as Fairlife does not come in a half gallon size.  A half gallon of milk is 64 ounces.  Fairlife is only 52 ounces so not quite a half gallon.  In our area, the 52 ounce size of Fairlife costs from $2.99 to $3.99, about the same as a half gallon (64 ounces) of organic milk. So, because of the reduced size, Fairlife costs more than organic milk in our area.  Regular cow’s milk costs $1.89 to $2.09.  A half gallon of regular or organic milk provides 8, eight ounce glasses of milk.  The 52 ounce size of Fairlife would provide 6.5 eight ounce glasses of milk.
If you want more protein and more calcium per serving, and no lactose, then Fairlife is worth a try.  

How do the milks compare for an 8 ounce serving? (adapted from Fairlife nutrition comparison)
Fairlife fat-free
13 grams
375 mg
6 grams
Regular cow’s Milk – fat free
8 grams
276 mg
12 grams
1 gram
451 mg
7 grams
8 grams
451 mg
6 grams

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Eggs- you can enjoy them again

Eggs, who doesn’t like eggs?  Hard-boiled, egg salad sandwiches, scrambled, so many ways to enjoy eggs for breakfast and lunch.   But for years, eggs have gotten a bad wrap.  Many people avoid eggs or eat them sparingly because of the cholesterol scare.  And for years, the American Heart Association recommended limiting our egg consumption. But newer research says we can enjoy eggs once again.

What about eggs and cholesterol?
New research has not found a link between egg consumption and heart disease, even among men at genetic risk for heart disease.  It seems high blood cholesterol levels are more linked to the saturated fat in meats rather than the cholesterol in eggs.  In one Finnish study, over 1,000 men were followed for 21 years.  They found egg consumption and dietary cholesterol did not significantly increase risk of heart disease.  But they didn’t over consume eggs either, about one egg a day.    

How many eggs?
Some nutrition experts say you can enjoy from 5-7 eggs a week.  Keri Gans, R. D. states,For the average person, two eggs a day is totally fine.”  Another source states, “… recent studies have shown that regular consumption of two eggs per day does not affect a person’s lipid profile and may, in fact, improve it.”

Enjoy the eggs but still limit the saturated fat from some sides
Too often eggs are accompanied with bacon, sausage and hash browns.  Bacon and sausage are high in fat and in saturated fat.  Hash browns are high in fat.  Enjoy the eggs, but limit the sides or enjoy healthier sides, such as whole wheat toast.  Limit bacon to one to two slices and occasionally.

What do the Dietary Guidelines  say?
These government guidelines provide us “rules for eating” and how we can eat healthier.  The old Dietary Guidelines told us to limit our cholesterol to 300 mg a day, or about 2 eggs a day.  The latest round of Dietary Guidelines takes away the limit of 300 mg of cholesterol and even notes that eggs are good sources of protein and are nutrient rich. 

Why eat eggs?
  • Protein – eggs are not only a great protein source (6 grams protein per egg), but egg protein is a very high quality protein.
  • Nutrients – eggs, especially the yolk are rich in many vitamins and minerals and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.
  • Low cost – eggs are low in cost, about 25 cents an egg depending on brand.
  • Calories – eggs are low in calories
What do Nutritionists say?
Ruth Kava, director of nutrition for the American Council on Science and Health told WebMD:  “I am very happy with eggs.  Eggs have a high nutritional value, an excellent quality of protein, are only 70-80 calories each, and are not high in fat.”

So, enjoy some eggs this week.  For scrambled eggs, add some cheese to increase the protein and the calcium level.  Or make some egg frittatas with diced onion, green and red pepper.  Add some fresh cut up spinach leaves to boost vitamin A and folic acid.  An easy egg frittata muffin recipe has some chopped zucchini, red pepper and red onion. As noted in the recipe, you can make them ahead and then microwave in the oven for a quick snack or a quick breakfast.   They offer a lighter version with reduced fat-cheese for those interested in lowering the calories and the fat.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Food Trends in 2017

What new food trends might we see in 2017?  Many food websites are making predictions for trends you will see in 2017.  Here are some of them.
Eat This, Not That is predicting these 2017 Food Trends:
  1. Sour Dough bread – if you like it, great as you will be seeing more sour dough bread in 2017.  Eat This, Not That believes it is because sour dough bread is fine to eat for those who are sensitive to gluten.  (But still not fine for those who are gluten intolerant.)  And some experts say the bacteria in sour dough bread is great for your digestive system, so enjoy every bite.
  2. Spices – what’s so new about spices?  McCormick notes that in 2017 we will be enjoying even more spicy foods like more peppercorn will be spicing up restaurant menus.
  3.  Move over regular pasta and make way for alternative pasta – many of us have already enjoyed zucchini noodles, quinoa-based noodles but more varieties are forthcoming in 2017.
Environmental Nutrition:  Food Trends in 2017
  1. More Healthy Fats – for the longest time we have heard, “Cut the Fat”.  In 2017 we will be hearing, “Add the Healthy Fat”.   We will be told to include more healthy fats in our diets, such as nuts, olive oil, avocados and seeds like flax seed.  You will be seeing more products – snacks, cereals, and snack bars that have healthy fats.
  2. Snacking – how often do people say, “Snacks are Bad for You”.  But snacks can have a very important role to play, especially for kids as they have small stomachs and kids need snacks between meals.  The focus in 2017 will be on healthy snacks – whole grain foods like whole grain crackers, whole grain chips (Sun Chips anyone?), nuts, and vegetables. 
  3. Healthier Convenience Foods – many people are looking for foods easier to prepare and eat on the go.  Already we are seeing grab and go foods like salads, or fruit and cheese.   Expect to see more of these grab-and-go convenience foods but healthier options will be available.
  4. Less sugar – a lot of attention is being placed on cutting back on added sugars – not the sugar in foods naturally like the fructose in an apple, but the added sugars like all the sugar in a soda.  Expect to see more products in 2017 with less added sugar which is a great thing for our health.
Huffington Post – not a peer reviewed journal but the senior editor, Julie R. Thomson has made some food trend predictions for 2017.  Her predictions are based on the Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants predictions for 2017.
  1.  Spice it up – this is a good trend as spices are so healthy and full of antioxidants.   
  2. Lean meats – look for restaurants offering lean meat cuts of elk and venison.
  3. Mediterranean cuisine – this is also a healthy trend as the Mediterranean Diet is a very healthy way of eating.   
Great that 2017 will be focusing on old favorites like sour dough bread and new items like healthier convenience foods.  Let’s see how many of these food predictions come true in 2017.