Sunday, April 27, 2014

Secrets of Healthier Skin

In the nutrition class I teach, students ask what they can do to have healthier skin.  Are there any foods that would promote healthier skin?  Yes.  Below is a list of things you can do and eat for healthier skin. In the next two weeks, we will review foods and nutrients that will help you look younger and healthier.  
Water – keeping hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your skin.  By keeping hydrated you can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  No, it won’t remove wrinkles but will give your skin a softer, smoother appearance.  Drinking fluids also helps your blood flow so improves circulation and gives you a glow. 
Selenium – a trace mineral you might not have heard of.  This mineral helps protect your skin cells from damage.  Where can you find it?  

                                Brazil nuts, mushrooms, shrimp, fish, and whole grains (e.g. oatmeal, Cheerios,    whole grain breads)  

CoQ Coenzyme Q – one of Dr. Oz’s favorites.  This is an antioxidant that your body actually makes.  But as we age, our production decreases.  CoQ helps protect our skin cells from damage.  It is also used to produce energy in our bodies.  You can use it topically – in creams you put on your skin.  These are reported to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.  Food Sources:

                Fish (salmon and tuna), chicken, turkey, organ meats, and whole grains (e.g. Oatmeal, Cheerios, whole wheat bread.)

Antioxidants – foods rich in antioxidants help slow damage to your cells by free radicals.  Skin cells damage by free radicals can lead to signs of aging, wrinkles and dry skin.  Great food sources of antioxidants are fresh fruits and vegetables.  Vary the color as each color delivers different antioxidants.  Food sources:

                Fruits:  Berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries), apricots, tangerines

Vegetables:  tomatoes, beets, squash, spinach, sweet potato, peppers, beans

Vitamin A think of this vitamin as the repair tool for your skin.  It helps prevent dry, flaky skin.  The darker the color the more vitamin A in the food.  Lettuce would have little, but spinach a lot.  Food sources:
o   Fruits:  Orange, cantaloupe, apricots

o   Vegetables  - carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach

o   Dairy – choose low fat milk and yogurt
What a great time of year to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables.  Our farmer’s market just opened.  Stop by your local farmer’s marker or farmer’s stand and choose an array of fresh fruits and vegetables.  At your grocer’s choose the whole grains, mushrooms for that salad, and fish or poultry.
Sources:  Foods for Healthy Skin Image source:  Water

Sunday, April 20, 2014

What's the Buzz About Greek Yogurt?

Go to the dairy aisle in grocery stores and more and more space is being allotted to Greek yogurt.  Certainly a popular food item, but is it really healthier?   One healthy habit I discuss in the nutrition course I teach is to eat yogurt.  Daily is good but at least a few times a week.  Yogurt is definitely a healthy food and one that promotes good health in many ways.
What is Greek yogurt?  It really isn’t imported yogurt from Greece.  It is called “Greek yogurt” because it is a thicker yogurt that is preferred in the Mediterranean.  It starts out the same as all yogurts but then they strain it to remove as much liquid (whey and lactose) as possible, which makes it a thicker yogurt.
So what are the pros and cons of Greek yogurt? 
More Protein – yes, Greek yogurt has more protein per serving than other yogurt.  6 ounces of Greek yogurt usually supplies 17 grams of protein compared to 6-8 grams in regular yogurt.  Sounds great but most Americans get more than enough protein in their diet.  But if you are looking for a healthy addition to your lunch that has some protein staying power, this would be a good choice.
Less Carbs – yogurt has naturally occurring lactose in it, or milk sugar.  When making Greek yogurt, when the liquid is removed,  some  of the lactose is removed too.  This lowers the carb content of Greek yogurt.  For those who are lactose intolerant, they may tolerate Greek yogurt better than other yogurts since so much of the lactose has been removed.  But many yogurts are flavored with added sugar so one needs to read the label and choose the lower sugar or no sugar added varieties.
Probiotics – all yogurts have probiotics and Greek yogurt has the same probiotic benefits of other yogurts. As with all yogurts, read the label to look for “live cultures”, “active cultures” as these are the most beneficial.   Dr. Oz recommends 2 yogurts for probiotics:
  • Chobani 2% strawberry banana: Cultures contained include S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus and L. Casei
  • Oikos traditional plain: Cultures contained include L. Bulgaricus and S. Thermophilus
 Less Sodium – Although yogurt is not a high sodium food, Greek yogurt has about half the sodium as other yogurts.   Greek yogurts has 50 mg sodium per 5.3 ounces to 120 mg in a 6 ounce regular yogurt. 
More Saturated fat – when they remove the liquid, not only is protein content increased but saturated fat content as well.  Greek yogurt has 16 grams of saturated fat in 7 ounces which is more fat than in 3 snicker’s bars (Greek Yogurt Vs. Regular Yogurt:  Which is More Healthful?).     Thus, choose lower fat versions of Greek yogurt to cut back on the saturated fat.
Less Calcium – when they removed the liquid whey, they also remove some of the calcium.  Most yogurts supply 300 grams of calcium per 6 ounces while Greek yogurt supplies half this amount or about 150 mg per serving.  So for building strong bones, Greek yogurt is not the best choice.  Women should use regular yogurt to get more calcium or if they prefer Greek yogurt, to plan on adding an extra serving of dairy to ensure they are getting the calcium they need. 
Vitamin D -  Maybe – check the label as some add vitamin D and some don’t.  You want to choose the brand that has vitamin D. 
And if you don’t like Greek yogurt?  Enjoy the many other varieties of yogurt.  Eating yogurt is a good, healthy habit.  If you prefer Greek yogurt, that's great.   If not, enjoy the kind of yogurt you like.  It is eating yogurt that is important. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Energize Your Day

Over the past couple of weeks, I wrote about how you can eat to fight off the afternoon doldrums, how you can energize your day with breakfast.   How can you be more energetic all day?  Are there foods you can eat that promote energy?  Yes, there are and there are many simple ways to eat to energize your day.
1.    Focus on Good Carbs + Protein.   Yes, a donut will give you some quick energy but then you have the slump once the sugar high wears off.   But combining a whole grain carb and low –fat protein can give you energy that lasts.  Whole grain carbs are digested more slowly and then the protein kicks in for even more lasting energy.  Some suggestions:

a.       Peanut butter on whole grain bread or whole grain crackers 
b.      Low fat cheese on whole grain crackers 
c.       Hummus on whole grain crackers 
d.      Low fat yogurt and a 100 calorie whole grain bagel 

2   Magnesium – magnesium is an essential mineral that many Americans aren’t getting enough of.  A study on women found that those low in magnesium had faster heart rates and needed more oxygen to do simple physical tasks.  Meaning it just felt harder to get something done.  Your body uses magnesium for many nerve and muscle functions, for your heart, for energy metabolism, and maintaining your blood sugar levels.  No wonder a lack of magnesium can affect your everyday energy levels. 
a.       Whole grains –w hen they make white bread, white flour, they remove the magnesium and they don’t put it back.  So to ensure you are getting magnesium, choose whole grains, whole wheat bread, whole wheat crackers, brown rice. 
b.      Leafy greens – the darker the better for magnesium, like spinach 
c.       Nuts – a handful of nuts a day is a healthy habit for many reasons and getting magnesium is just another great reason to add nuts tor your day 
d.      Beans/peas – eating hummus is a great way to add magnesium to your diet 

3.  Dr. Oz has a great slideshow on the “Magnesium Grocery List”.    To get more magnesium in your day, he suggests 
a.       Bananas 
b.      Kidney beans, black beans, lentils 
c.       Cereals – Raisin Bran, Oatmeal, Shredded Wheat 
d.      Whole wheat bread 
e.      Quinoa 
f.        Brown rice
It really is easy to add one or more magnesium rich foods to your diet.  And remember to include a good carb and lean protein foods during your day.  

Image Source:  Energize Yourself

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Energize Your Morning

Last week I wrote about how you can eat to fight off the afternoon doldrums.  But how can you start your day strong and full of energy?  What can you eat at breakfast that has “staying power” to get you through until lunch without hunger pains taking over at 10 AM?  Although the morning slump and being tired may have many reasons, one reason could be nutrition and what you are fueling yourself with at breakfast.
  1. Eat Breakfast – eat something.  Your body has been on “starvation” mode all night and now is running on empty.  You need to refuel to fill that empty tank.  Eating breakfast will help you be more alert, improve your concentration and even help you keep the pounds off as you won’t be heading for the snack machine at 10 AM. 
  2.  Carbs – carbs provide the instant, short-term energy.  But not the “bad” carbs, the highly processed white flour and sugar carbs.  Eat the fruit for instant energy, the whole grains for a slower burn of energy.  Fill up on whole grains, a whole grain cereal like Cheerios or oatmeal, whole grain bagel, whole grain toast.  These are the slowing burning carbs, which will fuel you longer.  I love the 100 calorie whole wheat bagel thins.  I can enjoy every bite and know I am only getting 100 calories.  If you aren’t worried about calories, then go for a regular whole wheat bagel
  3.    Protein – you need carbs for the instant and short term energy.  But it is the protein that has the staying power.  It takes longer to digest protein.   So eat the carbs to get you out the door and to start your day, but add the protein to prevent the mid-morning slump and get you to lunch.
“Energy” Breakfasts
  • Whole grain bagel with Cheese – 2% cheese would cut the saturated fat
  • Whole Grain cereal with fruit and low fat milk
  • Whole Grain toast with peanut butter and fruit
  • Whole wheat pita with a hard boiled eggs (eggs are low in calorie and have the highest quality protein)
  • Scrambled eggs with some cheese and whole grain toast or whole grain bagel thin and fruit
  • Oatmeal and raisins, low fat milk – one of my favorite breakfasts
  • Whole grain toast and jam, fruit and yogurt – yogurt is an excellent choice for protein
  • Breakfast bar, yogurt and a banana
  • Granola, yogurt and fruit
So many easy ways to combine “good” carbs and protein at breakfast.  What do the experts say about carbs?  According to Dave Grotto, RD, Director of Nutrition, Block Center,   “Although carbohydrates have gotten a bad reputation, the nutrient is still the body’s preferred source of energy.  Low-carb diets initially boost energy but deplete it in the long run.”

Source: Foods to Fight Fatigue   Image Source:  Sandra's recipes