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. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Breakfast On the Go

Traveling this holiday season?  Who isn’t up for a fast food breakfast?  My favorite is a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin, orange juice and black coffee.  Are there healthier breakfast choices at fast food establishments?  What are the not so healthy choices? The ones loaded with fat, sugar and calories?
WebMD has a great slide show, Better Best for Fast-Food Breakfast.
Healthier Breakfast Options
Egg McMuffin – only 300 calories, 12 grams of fat and 6 grams of saturated fat.  Yes, there is bacon but it’s lean Canadian bacon so more protein and less fat. 
Egg White Delight McMuffin – if you want less cholesterol – 250 calories, 8 grams fat and 4.5 grams saturated fat

Breakfasts to pass on
Big Breakfast with Hotcakes – a whopping 1050 calories with lots of fat (56 grams) and lots of saturated fat (19 grams) and loaded with sodium, 1960 mg.
Burger King
Healthier Breakfast Options
Egg & Cheese Croissan’wich - like the Egg McMuffin this sandwich has only 300 calories.  Not so much fat at 15 grams and less saturated fat at 7 grams.  A less than half the sodium at 580 mg.  A good thing about this sandwich is the protein, 11 grams of protein. This will give you some “staying power” until lunch time. 

Breakfasts to pass on
King Croissan’wich with Sausage and Bacon – 580 calories and loaded with fat (39 grams) and saturated fat (16 grams).  Plus a whopping 1,370 mg of sodium.  Sounds tasty with a sausage patty, thick bacon, double cheese and eggs on a croissant.
King Croissan’ich with Double Sausage – even more calories at 700 calories, 51 grams of fat and 20 grams of saturated fat along with 1410 mg sodium.  Not a heart healthy choice.
Healthier Breakfast Options
Choose the Spinach & Feta Breakfast Wrap.  Only 290 calories with 10 grams fat and only 3.5 grams saturated fat.  And it will have “staying power” as it provides 19 grams of protein.  Even some fiber (6 grams) which so many Americans are lacking in their diets. 
For a super nutrition boost, choose Classic Whole-Grain Oatmeal – always a heart healthy choice. Very low in calories at 160 calories, before the toppings you add. 
Greek Yogurt Parfait – yogurt is always a healthy choice with the probiotics it provides and a healthy protein.  It has some fresh berries and some honey for 250 calories.

Breakfasts to pass on
Sausage & Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich – has 500 calories, 28 grams of fat and 9 grams of saturated fat.  Does provide some protein, 15 grams but along with it is all that fat and saturated fat.
Healthier Breakfast Options
Choose the 3” Egg and Cheese with only 170 calories, it would fit into anyone’s diet.  It has only 5 grams of fat and only 1.5 grams of saturated fat.  For some, this won’t be enough calories, for others it would fit well into their diet plan.  It also offers a good amount of protein at 9 grams.  To boost the nutrition of this breakfast choice, add tomatoes, green peppers, onions and other low calorie veggies. 

Breakfasts to pass on
Not really too bad a choice, the 6” Bacon, Egg, and Cheese.  It will have “staying power” as it packs a good 25 grams of protein.  Not too high in calories at 440 calories.  It does have 17 grams of fat, and 6 grams of saturated fat.  Because of the bacon and other ingredients it does pack a sodium punch at 1290 mg sodium. But overall, not too bad a choice.

Before going out for breakfast, take some time to look at the nutrition tables online.  Most fast food places have very detailed nutrition information on their website.  Check out the total calories, fat grams, saturated fat grams and sodium of your fast food menu item.  You also should think about the protein in breakfast as protein will have the “staying power” to help you keep off the hunger pains until lunch time.

Sources:  Better Best for Fast-Food Breakfast   Image source: Breakfast

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Diet Chocolate?

Chocolate was in the news this week.  Nestle is planning to reformulate chocolate to make it lower in calories.  Who doesn’t love chocolate?  And more recently they have discovered chocolate actually has many health benefits.   But the downside has been that chocolate is often loaded with sugar and fat which somewhat negates its health benefits.  So, what does Nestle plan to do to make chocolate lower in calories?

Nestle will lower the sugar content in chocolate.
Lowering the sugar content sounds good from a calorie and health perspective but not from a taste perspective. 

How can Nestle lower the sugar content but keep the taste?
Restructure the Sugar Molecule: Nestle has found a way to basically reform the sugar crystal, making it hollow on the inside.  But one still gets the sweet taste from the hollowed-out sugar crystal so they say the reduced sugar chocolate will still taste sweet.  The Nestle technology officer explained it this way, the new sugar crystal is like an empty shoe box.  The sugar is on the outside but no sugar on the inside.  The sugar on the outside dissolves in the mouth and there is less sugar to go into your stomach. 

When will the reduced-calorie chocolate be available?
Nestle has a target date of 2018.  So, no reduced calorie chocolate as gifts this holiday season. 

How much of a calorie reduction will there be?

Nestle estimates as much as a 40% reduction in calories – a lot. 

What products will be made from the reduced calorie chocolate?

Nestle indicated the new sugar crystals will be in Crunch, Butterfinger, and BabyRuth bars beginning in 2018.
Unfortunately, we will have to wait awhile before we can buy and enjoy our reduced calorie chocolate.   Chocolate lovers will welcome this new trend.