Sunday, July 23, 2017

Eat to Live Longer

Can you eat to increase your chances of  living longer?  Are there foods you can eat more or less of that will decrease your chances of  getting type 2 diabetes, stroke or heart disease?  Yes, there are foods to increase in your diet and foods to decrease.   Have you ever seen the movie, Lost Horizon?  The actors find themselves in a fictional location called Shangri-La.  In Shangri-La people live a long time, up to 200 years old.  And they age ever so slowly.  Well, they haven’t found a real Shangri-La yet, but researchers are finding foods linked to major diseases and foods linked to living a longer life.  So, what are the eating habits that could shorten your life and what are the eating habits that decrease your risk of disease and hopefully lead to a longer life?  An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association  notes there are 10 food categories that we either eat too much of or too little of. 

What are the foods we need to eat more of?
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Seafood and other foods rich in Omega-3 fats – a heart healthy fat
  • Whole grains- whole grain cereal, oats, brown rice, quinoa 
  • PUFA’s – what are PUFA’s?  Polyunsaturated fats like corn oil
  • Nuts and seeds:  as Dr. Oz recommends, a handful of nuts a day is a healthy habit.  Flaxseeds are very popular and a good choice to add to your smoothie or cereal.
What foods should we eat less of?  

  • Foods high in sodium
  • Processed meats like bacon, sausage
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, sweetened ice tea
Suggestions:  So, what can you do to make improvements in your risk factors?  Start small.  Think about one change you could make.  If you aren’t eating fruit at breakfast, find a fruit you can add to your breakfast every day.  A simple glass of orange juice, a banana are easy choices.  Buy a large bag or can of nuts – any kind of nuts.  Put a handful in a baggie and take to work as a snack or pack it in your lunch.  Read labels for sodium content of foods.  You will be amazed how much sodium is added to the foods we eat.  If you don’t have any whole grains in your day, find a way to add some.  Eat a General Mills cereal for breakfast or as a snack. Cheerios - always a good choice. Buy some popcorn or Sun Chips which are both whole grain.  Buy some Triscuits or other whole grain crackers.  One doesn’t have to eliminate foods from your diet but to eat more of the foods that are healthier for you and less of the foods that we should cut back on.  Cut back on the white bread but add the whole wheat bread.  Cut back on the white rice and try brown rice or quinoa.  Costco and Target sell a great whole grain quinoa and brown rice mix that cooks in 90 seconds.  Minute Rice makes a great multi-grain medley that is easy to prepare.   So set a goal to add more of some foods and eat less others.  No Shangri-La but a chance at a healthier and longer life. 

Sources:  Journal of the American Medical Association,  Food Habits, Washington Wellness Center, Seeds of Change, Image Source:  Multi-grain, Quinoa, Cheerios


Sunday, July 16, 2017

How to Stay Hydrated in Summer

Summer and hot weather are here.  What are you doing to be sure you are staying hydrated?  Everyday Health recommends Simple Ways to Stay Hydrated This Summer.  The Henry Ford Health System also offers tips on How to Stay Hydrated.  Since hot weather is here, it is time to think about easy ways you can keep your body hydrated in the heat.  If you have kids, think of how you can ensure they keep hydrated as kids may need a reminder to drink water or other fluids in the hot weather.
  1.  Water – a great way to stay hydrated is to ensure you bring water with you.  Carry a water bottle in your car.  Have a water bottle at your desk and refill it often.  Fill a glass with ice water and add a slice of lemon.  Water is a great choice for hydration but you can also hydrate with juice, milk, coffee, tea, fruit juice.
  2. Feeling thirsty, frazzled?  Thirst is the first sign your body is becoming dehydrated, so quench that thirst.  In fact, try to drink enough water and fluids so you don’t get thirsty.  Your brain is affected by dehydration so drinking some water can help you feel more alert.
  3. Physically Active – before you engage in any activity, drink about 8 ounces of water an hour before.  Then while you are active drink about 7-10 ounces every 20 – 30 minutes.  I bring a water bottle filled with ice water when biking outside to stay hydrated on our long bike rides.
  4. Electrolytes – when you sweat you lose water and electrolytes like sodium, chloride and potassium.  If you are working out or exercising for an hour or more then consider a sports drink with electrolytes.  Or add some pretzels or eat a banana to refill your electrolytes.  Dilute some orange juice with ice water for a refreshing drink.  OJ provides potassium.  Some people refuel with coconut water and that is also a good choice after a mild workout.   Coconut water does offer potassium and some sodium.  For more strenuous workouts with a lot of sweating, you’ll need a drink with more sodium to replenish the salt (sodium chloride) lost.
  5. Hydrate with veggies/fruit – fruit such as watermelon can help with hydration as watermelon is 90% water.  Citrus fruits, berries, cantaloupe, honeydew are good ways to help your body hydrate.  You are adding water and nutrients to your day.  Veggies that help with hydration are celery, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes.
  6. Treat Yourself:  I keep some lemon slices in a baggie in the fridge.  When I get a glass of ice water, I add a slice of lemon, very refreshing.  When we stayed at the Bar Harbor Grand Hotel in June, each day they provided complimentary infused fruit water.  One day it was infused with cucumbers, another day with watermelon and of course one day was lemon slices.  So tasty.  A neighbor offered me some ice tea.  She served Crystal Light Peach with a slice of a fresh peach.  Delicious.   Make some Crystal Light Lemonade or other lemonade and add some fresh lemon slices.  For some ideas on making some infused fruit water go to:  http://dailyburn.com/life/recipes/fruit-infused-water-recipes/.   Replace your soda with some flavored seltzer water.  

How much water do adults need each day?   The Institute of Medicine recommends:
           Women:  about 11 cups of water a day from all sources which includes foods and beverages
           Men:  about 15-16 cups of water a day from all sources which includes foods and beverage
           Physically Active Adults and those of us who live in hot climates need even more hydration. 

      How much water do kids need each day?  A general rule is 6-8 cups of water a day.  Kids that are physically active should add half a cup to 2 cups of water every 15-20 minutes when physically active and exercising like playing soccer.  The Institute of Medicine and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends kids water and beverage requirements.  Note, this amount includes all beverages, the milk at meals, the glass of juice at breakfast.  The water in fruits and vegetables also adds “water” to your child’s day. 

Age
Gender
Water/beverages (cups per day)
4 to 8 years
Girls and Boys
5
9-13 years
Girls
7

Boys
8
14-18
Girls
8

Boys
11

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes about 43% of us are not drinking enough water each day.  So, this week, grab that water bottle, add some ice and a slice of lemon and stay hydrated.
      sliced oranges
      blueberries
      ice water
     

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Is Your Olive Oil Real or Fake?

Olive Oil – hopefully you have a bottle in your pantry.  Why?  Because it is a heart healthy oil and an oil with many health benefits.  But to get those health benefits, it needs to be REAL Olive Oil.  So, you go to the store, or find some bargain Olive Oil on sale.  Good idea?  Bad idea?  If it is REAL Olive Oil, then you got a bargain.  But if it is FAKE or partially fake, you got cheated.  So how does one know if their Olive Oil is REAL or FAKE?  Is the Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) you purchased, really EVOO?  Turns out many people and organizations have studied this.  Southern Living just listed top food brands to buy and recommended an olive oil to purchase.  Even a money magazine, Kiplinger, has recommended which Olive Oil to buy at Costco. 

Why is there “FAKE” Olive Oil?
PopSugar has a great article, You May Be Buying "Fake" Extra-Virgin Olive Oil.   One country interested in cracking down on “fake” olive oil is Italy.   They found 7,000 tons of EVOO that was labeled 100% Italian, was not really 100%.  Apparently, it had oil from other countries such as from Turkey, Syria, Tunisia.  And a lot of this EVOO that wasn’t 100% was on its way to America.  Even 60 Minutes has covered the “fake” or imitation olive oil. 
It may not be real, 100% EVOO because a cheaper oil has been added, it may be made from olives that were damaged or overripe or not processed properly.  Or it may be packaged in a clear glass bottle and exposure to light affects the freshness of the oil
What is so good about EVOO?  It is manually pressed, no chemicals added and really is olive oil in a pure form.  UC Davis has studied olive oil and found a very high percentage of EVOO was not labeled correctly and did not meet the high standards of EVOO.  UC Davis actually has the UC Davis Olive Center that focuses on California olive growers and processors and they even sell EVOO. 

Why is “real” olive oil important to your health?
Popsugar has a great quote from the Director of the UC Davis Olive Center, Dan Flynn:  The health benefits from quality extra-virgin olive oil come from two things:  antioxidants and high monounsaturated fat.  Studies indicate that these elements are associated with benefits for reducing blood pressure, inflammation, diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, some cancers, and obesity.  Are you convinced yet about EVOO?  To get the most health benefits, buy the real thing.  How much?  Many sources recommend from 1-2 tablespoons a day.   Olive Oil Times noted about 2 T. a day is needed to get the health benefits of olive oil. 

How do you know if the olive oil or EVOO you are buying is real or fake?
PopSugar, UC Davis and the North American Olive Oil Association have suggestions as to what to look for:

      1.  Look for a Seal of Certification:

UC Davis promotes California olive oil and recommends looking for the California Olive Oil Council seal:

The North American Olive Oil Association lists types and varieties of olive oil and has a long list of oil brands they certify with their Certified Quality Seal Program. 
2.       Avoid bottles or packages with dust on them, with broken seals, any evidence of leaking or bottles with oil that has an orange tint to it.  That would mean the bottle has been exposed to too much fluorescent light or too much heat.  33.       Avoid clear bottles – buy olive oil in opaque or dark bottles that prevent light damage. 
4.       Look for oil from one place, one country, not oil that has been blended.
5.       Cheap isn’t the best option.  
6.       Buy olive oil in small bottles so you can use it up while it is still at its peak of freshness.


How should you store olive oil?

Keep it olive oil in a cool, dark area like a cupboard or pantry.  Exposing Olive Oil to heat or light will shorten the shelf life.  And buy in smaller containers so you can use it up.  UC Davis recommends using it up in 6 weeks or so as the freshness will decrease over time. The North American Olive Oil Association recommends using up your bottle of olive oil within 8-10 weeks of opening it.

Where is a list of quality olive oils?
  •  Southern Living recently published its Food Awards from their test kitchen.  They recommend California Olive Ranch.  “Their Everyday California Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a buttery-smooth blend, has unmatched versatility.”   We just bought some at Walmart so it is easy to find. 
  • Interesting that Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine highlighted olive oil and noted that Costco’s Kirkland brand of olive oil met national and international standards for EVOO.  So, if you are a Costco shopper, you can buy the Kirkland EVOO.  But it may come in a size too large for you to use up in just a few weeks.
  • Go to the UC Davis Olive Center for a list of certified California brands of EVVO.  Or buy some from UC Davis as they offer a number of EVOO products.   
  • The North American Olive Oil Association lists many certified brands on its website.  They certify many popular brands including Bertolli, Pompeian, Sprouts, Star and Whole foods. 

So, if you don’t have any olive oil in your pantry, stop by Walmart, Costco, Whole Foods or some other store this week to pick up some real EVOO.



Friday, July 7, 2017

Eat to Live Longer

Can you eat to increase your chances of living longer?   Yes, there are foods to increase in your diet and foods to decrease.   Have you ever seen the movie, Lost Horizon?  The actors find themselves in a fictional location called Shangri-La.  People live a long time, up to 200 years old.  And they age ever so slowly.  Well, they haven’t found a real Shangri-La yet, but researchers are finding foods linked to major diseases and foods linked   So, what are the eating habits that could shorten your life and what are the eating habits that decrease your risk of disease and hopefully lead to a longer life?  An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association  notes there are 10 food categories that we either eat too much of or too little of. 
to living a longer life.

What are the foods we need to eat more of?
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Seafood and other foods rich in Omega-3 fats – a heart health fat
  • Whole grains- whole grain cereal, oats, brown rice, quinoa 
  • PUFA’s – what are PUFA’s?  Polyunsaturated fats like corn oil
  • Nuts and seeds:  as Dr. Oz recommends, a handful of nuts a day is a healthy habit.  Flaxseeds are very popular and a good choice to add to your smoothie or cereal.
What foods should we eat less of?                                              
  • Foods high in sodium
  • Processed meats like bacon, sausage
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, sweetened ice tea
Suggestions:  So, what can you do to make improvements in your risk factors?  Start small.  Think about one change you could make.  If you aren’t eating fruit at breakfast, find a fruit you can add to your breakfast every day.  A simple glass of Orange Juice, a banana.  Buy a large bag or can of nuts – any kind of nuts.  Put a handful in a baggie and take to work as a snack or pack it in your lunch.  Read labels for sodium content of foods.  You will be amazed how much sodium is added to the foods we eat.  If you don’t have any whole grains in your day, find a way to add some.  Eat a General Mills cereal for breakfast or as a snack. Cheerios is always a good choice. Buy some popcorn or Sun Chips which are both whole grain.  Buy some Triscuits or other whole grain crackers.  One doesn’t have to eliminate foods from your diet but to eat more of the foods that are healthier for you and less of the foods that we should cut back on.  Cut back on the white bread but add the whole wheat bread.  Cut back on the white rice and try brown rice or quinoa.  Costco and Target sell  a great whole grain quinoa and brown rice mix that cooks in 90 seconds.  Minute Rice makes a great multi-grain medley that is easy to prepare.   So set a goal to add more of some foods and eat less others.  No Shangri-La but a chance at a healthier and longer life. 

Sources:  Journal of the American Medical Association,  Food Habits, Washington Wellness Center, Seeds of Change, Image Source:  Multi-grainQuinoa







Sunday, July 2, 2017

Yogurt and health benefits

Are you eating some yogurt every day?  You should be.  Researchers are finding more and more health benefits to eating yogurt.  When teaching nutrition, I give the students nutrition “homework” focused on healthier eating habits.  One big piece of dietary advice is to add yogurt to their day.  My husband has added yogurt to his breakfast meal as he finds his breakfast seems to last longer and stave off those morning hunger pains.  I like yogurt at lunch.  Even on vacation, we bring our yogurt or find a store to buy some so we don’t miss our “daily dose” of yogurt.

Should you buy low fat or regular yogurt?
Consumer Reports has an interesting article, Is Whole-Milk Yogurt a Whole Lot Better? 
  1. Taste – some people prefer the taste of whole-milk yogurt and for many it has a richer, creamier taste.  I am so used to low-fat yogurt that whole-milk yogurt seems too rich for me. 
  2.  Is Whole-Milk yogurt healthier?  Most nutritionists and the American Heart Association recommend cutting back on saturated fat.  Whole Milk would have more saturated fat than low-fat or non-fat yogurt.  But Consumer Reports notes some of the latest research shows some health advantages to whole-milk yogurt.  The article noted those that ate whole-fat yogurt had similar triglyceride levels to those eating low-fat yogurt. 
Why is yogurt such a great health food?
Yogurt has many health benefits and is loaded with healthy nutrients, as noted in The Benefits of Yogurt
  1. Protein – Eggs are the “gold standard” for protein but milk is a close second.  The protein in milk and in yogurt is a very high-quality protein.  And a 6 ounce serving of yogurt provides about 9 grams of high-quality protein.  And the protein in yogurt can help you feel full longer.
  2. Calcium – so many people aren’t drinking milk so adding yogurt to your day is a good way to add some calcium to your day.
  3. Vitamin D – most yogurt is fortified with vitamin D, which many Americans aren’t getting enough of.
  4. Other nutrients – potassium, B-2, B-12, and magnesium
  5. Probiotics – one of the great things about yogurt is the probiotics. So much research is being done on how these “friendly bacteria” have health benefits.  These “friendly bacteria” may enhance your immune systems and help you have a healthy digestive tract.
  6. Lowering blood pressure – maybe it’s the potassium or maybe other components of yogurt. But studies have found that eating 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy a day can reduce one’s risk of developing high blood pressure.
  7. Consumer Reports noted that eating yogurt is linked to lower risk of many health conditions, including lower risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity even a lower risk of weight gain.
What to look for when buying yogurt?

Package size:  Look at package size and choose yogurts that are 8 ounces or at least 6 ounces.  Many yogurt manufacturers are cutting their package size and cutting the size means cutting the nutrients.  The brand I used to buy was 6 ounces and then the manufacturer cut the package to 5.3 ounces so I stopped buying it and now choose another brand that is still 6 ounces.  Why?  Because I want the protein, calcium and other nutrients a 6-ounce serving provides. 

Sugars – all yogurt will have “sugar” as the milk it is made from has lactose, a naturally occurring sugar in milk.  But many manufacturers add a lot of sugar.  It is the “added sugar” we need to be aware of.  Read the ingredients to see if sugar is added.  Consumer Reports found that the Brown Cow strawberry yogurt had the highest sugar content and ingredients included 3 types of “added sugars”:  cane sugar, honey and maple syrup.  Some people try to avoid artificial sweeteners but if you don’t, then Nutrasweet can lead to a pretty good tasting light yogurt.

Probiotics – look for “active” cultures to get the best benefits of probiotics.  Look on the package for the words, “live and active cultures”. 

Adding things to your yogurt can give it a bigger nutritional boost.  WebMD recommends adding a “tablespoon of ground flaxseed” to your yogurt to add fiber and some healthy omega-3 fats.  Add some fresh fruit, like blueberries or raspberries, to add some antioxidants to your yogurt.  Add some mandarin orange slices to boost the vitamin C.  Make a smoothie using yogurt.  Bring some yogurt with you to work.  My 10 AM snack at work was some yogurt.  A great morning or afternoon pick me up.






Saturday, June 24, 2017

Coconut oil and health myths

Is coconut oil healthy?  So many people think so.  So many students in my class have told me they use coconut oil as someone recommended it to them as being good for their health.  Not surprising since the NY Times reported that 72% of Americans think coconut oil is healthy.   Even more surprising is that 37% of nutritionists thought coconut oil was healthy.  A recent article in USA Today highlighted on MSN probably says it best as the title of their article is:  Coconut oil is about as healthy as beef fat or butter .

What does the American Heart Association say about coconut oil?
The go to place for information on heart health is the American Heart Association, at heart.org.  There are so many misconceptions about coconut oil, the American Heart Association has released a report advising against coconut oil.   

Why is coconut oil bad for you?
Coconut oil raises your bad, LDL cholesterol.  Why?  Probably because it is high in saturated fats like butter and the fat in beef or bacon.  So, saturated, that 82% of the fat in coconut oil is saturated fat.  A highly concentrated source of saturated fat.   One tablespoon of coconut oil provides 11 grams of saturated fat.  How much saturated fat should you have in a day?  You should limit saturated fat to 13 grams a day according to the American Heart Association.  So, it is easy to go over the limit of saturated fat with coconut oil.  Coconut oil is even more saturated than butter (63%), beef fat (50%) or pork lard (39%) fat.  Since coconut oil raises your bad cholesterol, which is a cause of heart disease, and has no good benefits, the American Heart Association advises against coconut oil.   

Why do some people think coconut oil is healthy?
So many people have been duped into thinking coconut oil is healthy.  If someone recommends coconut oil to you, don’t listen.  The lead author of the American Heart Association report, Frank Sacks, told USA Today, he has no idea why so many people think coconut is healthy.  Some people might think coconut oil promotes weight loss.  There are studies that show medium chain triglycerides rev up the metabolism and thus might promote weight loss.  But the study that found this out didn’t use coconut  oil but an oil specially designed for the research study. 
Is there a healthy use for coconut oil?
My daughter has a great use for coconut oil.  She uses it on her dog, as it makes his coat smoother and silkier.  Some people use coconut oil as a skin moisturizer and it can be found in hair conditioners.
“You can put in on your body, but don’t put in in your body,” Sacks said.    

What other oils should one avoid?
I tell my students to avoid tropical oils, coconut oil and palm oil. Like coconut oil, palm oil is high in saturated fat.

What oils are better for your health and your heart?
Olive oil is a good, heart healthy choice.  Or choose from a number of polyunsaturated oils like corn oil, safflower oil, canola oil, peanut oil.  Read about healthy cooking oils and watch a Healthy Cooking Oils 101 Video  at heart.org.  The video describes which oils are heart healthy and which oils, like coconut oil, will help clog your arteries.

So, if you have some coconut oil in your home, use it as a lotion on your body or use it on your dog for softer skin and softer hair.  If someone recommends you use coconut oil in smoothies or in cooking, refer them to this blog or to heart.org so they can learn why coconut oil is not a heart healthy choice.