Sunday, February 22, 2015

Enjoy those Eggs

We all have been told for years to watch our egg consumption and limit our cholesterol to 300 mg a day.  That equates to 1.7 eggs a day.  For those of us who love eggs, this restriction was not met with enthusiasm.   Eggs have a lot to offer, the highest quality protein there is, and many vitamins and minerals.  And very low in calories, one large egg having only 60 calories. 

But this week, nutrition experts have lifted their egg restriction.   The committee is called the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which now says Americans no longer have to avoid high cholesterol foods like eggs and shrimp.  Why?  After a lot of research, they have found dietary cholesterol has little impact on our blood cholesterol.  At least for most people.  (Some, those whose cholesterol levels rise after eating eggs and foods high in cholesterol, will still need to restrict their dietary cholesterol.) 

The committee stated, “Cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern. 
And, “available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and [blood] cholesterol.”

The experts have found that it isn’t eggs or shrimp that raise our blood cholesterol but the type of fat we eat and refined carbs.  The American Heart Association notes that our blood cholesterol levels are more influenced by consumption of foods high in saturated fat. 

Based on these new guidelines, we can once again enjoy our scrambled eggs, omelets, and fried egg sandwiches.  (I fry my eggs in olive oil or Pam which are heart healthy.) 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Magnesium – the power mineral

Very few of us think about magnesium.  A headline in a recent health newsletter was titled, “Extra Magnesium May Boost Your Physical Performance”.   Yet, even those interested in being physically fit often don't think much about meeting their Magnesium nutritional needs.

Magnesium – a mineral we all need.  Men (31 and over) need 420 mg a day and women (31 and over) need 320 mg a day.
Do you get enough magnesium?  Probably not, as 70-80% of Americans fail to take in enough magnesium each day.
What does Magnesium do?
  • Energy – to make energy our bodies need magnesium
  • Protein – magnesium is involved in protein making reactions in our cells. It is also important for muscle contraction.
  • Bone health – magnesium helps our body use calcium
  • Immune system – magnesium helps support a health immune system
How can you be sure you are getting enough of this important mineral?
                Food sources of magnesium
  •  Nuts – especially almonds and cashews are high in magnesium.  A handful of nuts a day, especially mixed nuts is a healthy habit
  • Whole grains – forget the white bread as most of the magnesium is removed in refining.  Focus on whole grain breads and cereals like oatmeal and Cheerios.  Since all General Mills cereals are whole grain – look for the “G”.  Also, look for fiber as fiber rich foods are magnesium rich foods.
  • Legumes – beans and peas are good sources
  • Other foods – peanut butter, sunflower seeds, halibut, dark green vegetables, chocolate and cocoa
So “power up” this week and add some foods with magnesium to your day.

Sources:  Understanding Nutrition by Whitney, Rolfes.  Extra Magnesium May Boost Your Physical Performance, Magnesium,   Image Source:  

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Are your supplements fake or real?

For those who take supplements, this week’s story should be of interest.   The New York Times and others have reported four of our nation’s top retailers have been selling you fake herbal supplements.  A number of the herbal supplements contained NONE of the herbs listed on the label.  Some of the fake ingredients are not harmful but some are.  The New York Attorney General’s office is the one that discovered herbal supplements may not contain what the label claims.

What stores are involved in this scandal?  Target, Walmart, GNC and Walgreens
What herbal supplements are affected and what fake ingredients are in the supplements?  The New York Times provides a detailed list:
Target – Up and Up brand
  •  St.  John’s Wort – no herb but garlic, rice and some dracaena which is a tropical houseplant 
  • Gingko Biloba – none found but garlic, rice, mung
  • Valerian Root –  No root found but allium, bean, asparagus, pea family, rice, wild carrot and saw palmetto
Walgreens, Finest Nutrition Brand
  • St. John’s Wort – none found, contained garlic, rice and dracaena
  • Ginseng – none found, found garlic and rice
  • Echinacea – none found, contained garlic, rice and daisy
GNC, Herbal Plus brand
  • St. John’s Wort – none found.  Allium (garlic), dracaena and rice
  • Ginseng – none found, rice, pine, wheat/grass, citrus and dracaena
Walmart, Spring Valley Brand
  • St. John’s Wort – none found, contained cassava, garlic, and rice
  • Ginseng – none found, wheat/grass, citrus, pine, rice, dracaena
According to an article in WebMD, Walgreens indicated they would remove the products from its stores nationwide.  GNC will cooperate with the investigation but stands behind its products.  Target has no comment.   Times reported it is the first time that large retail and drugstore chains in the US have been threatened with legal action for selling misleading herbal products.  For more details read the sources listed.
Sources:   Retailers Accused of Selling Fake Supplements,  What's in Those Supplements? -,  Image source:  Herbal Supplements

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Fat loss or Weight Loss?

So many people make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight.   Fairfax Hackley, a personal trainer, noted that losing weight is the number one resolution over the past 10 years.  Yet, only 65% of people making those resolutions have lost even one pound after a month into the New Year.  On a local radio show, Fairfax Hackley provided some tips on how to stay on track.  (You can listen to him using the source cited below.)
        Hackley’s Tips to Stay On Track:  

        1.        Focus on FAT LOSS, not WEIGHT LOSS – he notes too many people focus on losing weight, when they need to focus on losing fat.  Focusing on weight loss will lead to more success.
  •  Losing weight can be losing fat, muscle and water. 
  • Losing fat – focus on the unwanted fat, like unwanted belly fat       

         2.    Focus your diet and exercise program on losing body fat” 
  •      The more muscle you have the more fat you can burn
  •      Hackley notes, “Your muscle is your fat burning machinery.” 
  •       Focus on weight lifting to build muscle  
  •      Focus on good nutrition by eating the right foods                                                      
        3.  Focus on cardio for fat loss
        4.  Get enough sleep
Getting help from a health provider or nutritionist is also helpful, especially to find a program that works for you.  He recommends keeping track of what you are doing, diet, and exercise, so your health care provider can provide more guidance
         5.   Patience – he recommends “exercise a little patience” – it will take time
         6.   Exercise with a buddy – go for a walk with a buddy, diet with a buddy.  One of my students who wanted to lose weight, joined a weight loss program with one of his buddies. When food became too tempting, when going off the program became too tempting, he called his buddy. 

Thanks Fairfax Hackley for some great tips to help us stay on track in 2015. 

Sources:  Listen to Fairfax Hackley at The difference between fat loss and weight loss.  Image Source:   weightlifting