Sunday, August 26, 2018

Breakfast – good and bad habits

We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  And that’s true.  You are literally “Breaking The Fast” as your body has been without food for as much as 12 hours.  It is important to refuel for the day.  But what you choose to refuel with is important.  My sister recommended the article, 37 Worst Breakfast Habits for Your Waistline by Eat This, Not That!.   We won’t discuss all 37 habits and we will add some good habits to include in your day.
Yogurt, oatmeal and berries
Bad Breakfast Habits for Your Waistline: 
  1. Coffee with Cream – who doesn’t like a morning cup of coffee?  I always start my day with coffee. But adding cream or the fake cream adds calories, fat but few nutrients to your day.  And adding the flavored creamers with lots of added sugar is a double no as that adds even more calories but few nutrients.  But you don’t have to skip the “cream in your coffee”.  Rather than cream add some 2% or other low-fat milk to your coffee.  My daughter adds some low-fat milk to her coffee and by doing so she adds some calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients to her day.
  2. Energy Drinks – yes, you will get the jolt from the caffeine.  But you will also get a big dose of Added Sugar.  It is the added sugar we are trying to cut from our day.  The food journalist, Kelly Choi recommends a tea smoothie or some hot green tea instead of the energy drink.  Or just drink the coffee, black or with some milk added. For some recipes on tea smoothies go to How-To Recipes:  Tea Smoothies.   
  3. Salt – many breakfast items are loaded with salt including bacon, sausage, hash browns.  Eating out and a good chance your breakfast will contain lots of salt.  Many people notice when they eat foods or a meal high in salt they get bloated.  This is because salt helps you retain water.  For protein with your breakfast, go for the yogurt, the eggs, a glass of milk or a glass of instant breakfast like Carnation’s Breakfast Essentials (only 110 mg sodium).  If you are going to order a breakfast item like the McDonald’s Egg McMuffin, ask them to skip the butter and you skipped at least some salt.  Then pair the Egg McMuffin with a glass of orange juice.  The potassium in the orange juice helps counteract the effects of the sodium.
  4. Don’t skip the breakfast to sleep in – Many people don’t realize that fasting slows your metabolism.  So, you fasted all night and by skipping breakfast your body is still in fasting mode.  Fuel up with a healthy breakfast and get your metabolism going for the day.
  5. Add some protein to your breakfast.  As noted in my previous blogs, I always recommend some protein with meals and especially with breakfast.  Protein has the “staying power” so you won’t feel as hungry as fast and protein helps keep your blood sugar stable.  Hayem notes: Compared to a high-carbohydrate meal, a high-protein meal is associated with a level blood sugar for up to three hours post meal consumption.  Yes, enjoy the bagel, the toast, the cereal but add a glass of milk, the yogurt, some hard-boiled eggs for a protein boost.  Registered Dietitian, Jim White, recommends protein at breakfast because protein is key to weight loss because it slows down the absorption of carbohydrates. For some suggestions of how to add more protein to your breakfasts go to:  Best Foods for a High-Protein Breakfast. Some of their suggestions include yogurt, peanut butter (I love peanut butter toast at breakfast), cottage cheese, milk, and eggs. 

This week enjoy breakfast every day.  In a hurry?  Then grab the Carnation Breakfast Essentials.  Or, toast a bagel, add some peanut butter and take it with you.  A student in my class never ate breakfast.  I said it was important to have something for breakfast.  She finally drank some 100% orange juice at the start of the day.  A light breakfast to be sure, but she did “Break the Fast” and added some nourishment to the start of her day.  How can you add a healthy breakfast to your day?

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Superpower Vegetables to Add to Your Diet

Fruits and Veggies – so good for our health.  Last week I highlighted the September 2018 issue of Consumer Reports which contained the article Fruit and Veggie Superpowers.  I discussed the many fruits that are super healthy and especially good ones to add to your diet.  Recently, I was talking to my sister who told me a health professional recommended she add some vegetables to her lunch.  Her lunch was already pretty healthy.  She told the health professional she might eat an apple, yogurt and an egg sandwich for lunch.   Good choices.  The health professional recommended she add some vegetables like steamed broccoli, green beans, yellow beans.  I always go back to the 5 A DAY recommendation as everyone should try to include 5 or more fruits and vegetables a day in their diet.  So, if you are trying to add more vegetables to your day, which vegetables are considered super vegetables by Consumer Reports?  

What are some reason fruits and veggies are so good for your health?  One is the fruit and veggie food groups add unique vitamins and minerals to your day.  Fruits and veggies add vitamin C and vitamin K.   Also, many of the B vitamins like folate which are considered the energy vitamins.  And many people don’t realize how important COLOR is.  Each color in fruits and veggies adds different antioxidants to your day.  As noted last week, other foods, fruits and veggies are also loaded with “phytochemicals”.  Sounds bad to have chemicals in our food. But these “phytochemicals” actually help us prevent disease, reduce cell damage and help fight inflammation.  A win-win for our health.  An interesting fact is that each color of the different fruit and veggies have different phytochemicals.  So, varying the color of the fruits and veggies you eat is also a good healthy habit.  

So, what are some of super healthy vegetables in the article 10 Super-Healthy Sumer Fruits and Vegetables you can add to your day?

Superpower Fruits
  • Bell Peppers – not just green bell peppers but red and yellow too.  Add some chopped green peppers to that frozen pizza you are making.  Add some chopped red bell pepper to the spring salad mix when making a salad for dinner.  Surprisingly, bell peppers are higher in vitamin C than an orange.  One half cup chopped green pepper provides 60 mg of vitamin C which is considered 100% of your Daily Value.  Bell peppers are also a good source of vitamin A (beta carotene), the B vitamin folate and fiber which so many Americans are lacking in their diet.  Shopping recently, I noticed a mother putting in her cart the package of 3 bell peppers containing a red, yellow and green bell pepper.   She said her kids liked the different colors.  I don’t think she realized that each color was adding different antioxidants to her kids’ day.  But varying the colors is a healthy thing to do.   
  • Corn – a summer treat is fresh corn on the cob.  Who doesn’t like it at a summer cook out?  Some people seem to shun corn as they think it is to high in starch.  But corn is considered a veggie with superpowers for being so good for your health.  Why?  First, corn is a good source of fiber.  The yellow color of corn provides those important phytochemicals such as lutein which is good for your eyes.  Corn provides two important minerals – potassium and magnesium.   Potassium is the mineral that helps counteract the effects of sodium as potassium helps lower your blood pressure.  And corn is not high in calories.  One medium ear of corn on the cob has only 100 calories.  (So easy to cook corn on the cob.  I leave the husks on, soak in plain water in the sink for a bit, drain a little and then microwave the ears, husk and all.  The corn in its husk steams nicely in the microwave.)
  • Tomatoes -  I am not a fan of the hard as a rock winter tomato.  But come summer, the fresh tomatoes from the Farmer’s Markets are delicious.  Las night we enjoyed bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches.   A summer treat.  Tomatoes add the red color to your diet along with the healthy phytochemicals lutein, and lycopene.  According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), processed tomatoes account for most of the lycopene we get in our diets.  Think pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, tomato soup.  What is lycopene good for?  NIH says lycopene may reduce our risk of cancer and heart disease.  Tomatoes are very low in calories, a whole medium tomato has only 22 calories.  Tomatoes also provide the minerals potassium and magnesium and the vitamins C and A (beta carotene).
  • Zucchini – Why do so many low-carb diets promote zucchini?  Because zucchini is so low in carbs and low in calories.  A half cup of cooked zucchini provides only 14 calories.  Both zucchini and summer squash provide vitamin A (beta carotene), the energy B vitamins, and vitamin C.
  • Eggplant – Yet another color you can add to your diet – purple.  The purple color provides the anthocyanin phytochemicals.  Eggplant is another veggie that add some potassium to your day.  And another veggie very low in calories as one cup cooked has only 35 calories.   Consumer Reports recommends spritzing the eggplant with olive oil cooking spray before you grill or roast it. 

This week pack some superpower veggies in your lunch.  Try some strips of cut up bell peppers, enjoy that bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich.  Buy some fresh corn at the Farmer’s market and try microwaving it, husk and all.  By adding veggies to your day you not only will be adding those energy-boosting B vitamins but also many phytochemicals that help fight disease and promote good health.  Remember to vary the color to get even more nutritional benefit from the veggies you add to your day.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Superpower Fruits to Add to Your Diet

Fruits and Veggies – so good for our health.  The September 2018 issue of Consumer Reports has great health articles.  Everything from healthy leafy greens to Fruit and Veggie Superpowers.  Most people know that fruits and veggies are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber that we need for good health.  But unlike some other foods, fruits and veggies are also loaded with “phytochemicals”.  Sounds bad to have chemicals in our food. But these “phytochemicals” actually help us prevent disease, reduce cell damage and help fight inflammation.  A win-win for our health.  An interesting fact is that different fruit and veggies have different phytochemicals.  So, eating a variety of fruits and veggies is actually better for your health than just eating an apple or a banana every day.  (But I do eat a banana EVERY DAY, but vary other fruit and veggies I eat.)
So, what are some of fruits in the article 10 Super-Healthy Sumer Fruits and Vegetables you can add to your day?

Superpower Fruits
  • Blueberries – a true superpower fruit.  Blueberries are low in calories but packed with antioxidants that fight inflammation and cell damage.  Blueberries are also “brain food” as they help keep your brain function at peak performance by boosting brain health and improving your memory.
Blueberries - good for your brain
  • Cherries – a summer time favorite of mine.  Also low in calories as 12 fresh Bing cherries have only 51 calories.  Bing cherries provide potassium – a mineral that helps lower your blood pressure.   So many Americans (98% of us) have diets low in potassium so eating more cherries and other fruit is a good way to boost your potassium intake.
  • Peaches – A large peach has only 70 calories and provides vitamins A and C and a good amount of potassium at 285 mg per peach.  (We need about 4700 mg of potassium a day and fruit is a good way to add potassium to your diet.)
  • Raspberries – oh so good fresh.  Farmer’s markets or if you are lucky a family member or friend who grows raspberries so you can get them really fresh.  Full of antioxidants.  They also add a lot of fiber to your day, about 8 grams of fiber in one cup of berries.  Fiber is important to our health as it helps reduce Type 2 diabetes and helps lower your cholesterol.
  • Watermelon – we mentioned watermelon in a recent blog post.  And like its name, watermelon has lots of water in it, about 91% water.  So, a good fruit for hydration.  Watermelon provides many vitamins – A, C and B vitamins and also that important mineral – potassium.  Very low in calories so fill up.  Only 46 calories in a cup of diced watermelon.  A good-sized wedge has about 86 calories and is fat free.   As USDA says, watermelon packs a powerful lycopene punch, as  lycopene provides 40 percent more lycopene than tomatoes do.  Lycopene is a red pigment, an antioxidant that is good for your eyes and may protect against some cancers and heart disease.  USDA notes:  Watermelon “can be a so-called functional food – one that can help prevent certain diseases.”  
Watermelon - low in calories

This week pack some superpower fruits in your lunch.  Have a superpower fruit for a snack.  Serve some superpower watermelon at a picnic.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Are coffee and tea dehydrating?

Most people have heard about drinking 8 glasses of water a day.  Why?  One reason is to stay hydrated.  And it is important to stay hydrated as it helps regulate your body temperature, prevent headaches and muscle fatigue, helps your brain.  But most people also think to stay hydrated you have to drink plain water or drinks like seltzer water or sports drinks like Gatorade.  But what about tea or coffee drinkers?  Are these drinks hydrating or dehydrating you?
A common myth is that coffee or tea dehydrate you.  And to some extent caffeine can be mildly dehydrating.  This means caffeine can act as a mild diuretic flushing out water along with sodium.  

So, does drinking tea or coffee with its caffeine lead to dehydrating you?
According to Dr. Daniel Vigil of the University of California Los Angeles the answer isn’t what you may think.  “When you drink a cup of coffee or you drink a glass of iced tea, you are necessarily taking in a volume of fluid along with that dose of caffeine”.  The caffeine does act as a mild diuretic but you won’t put out more fluid than you take in.  For that reason, the coffee and tea you drink are not really dehydrating your body.  Your body absorbs what it needs and gets rid of the rest of the fluid.  

Should coffee and tea count towards your “8 cups a day”?  Absolutely says Dr. Vigil.  Probably not surprising to those who live in the South.  Southerners are known for hydrating in summer by drinking iced tea.  Right now, I am enjoying a glass of Crystal Light Peach iced tea.  Add some fresh slices of peaches to this iced tea for a great summer beverage.  Tea and coffee not only hydrate but also provide those important antioxidants that are so good for our health. 
Peach iced tea - add fresh peach slices
What about sports drinks?
Sports drinks were designed for athletes involved in sports like football on a hot summer day.  Sports drinks provide electrolytes such as potassium and sodium that are lost in sweat.  They also have calories in the form of carbs to replace the energy used as fuel.  But the weekend warrior really doesn’t need sports drinks.  Consumer Reports notes that a man walking for 30 minutes and burning 150 calories who then drinks 100 calories easily in a sports drink., almost negates the benefit of a brisk walk to burn off some calories.  This guy could easily rehydrate with plain water or at least choose a no-calorie or low-calorie sports drink. 

What about vitamin water?
Sounds healthy doesn’t it.  Water + vitamins.   How could that not be good for you?  Often the vitamins added are ones you already easily get from the food you eat.  And if you are taking a vitamin pill or enjoy some vitamin fortified food like many breakfast cereals, you could be getting too much of some vitamins.  If you do want the vitamin water, look for water without all the added sugar.
WebMD notes that water “is the best way to rehydrate your body”.  However, they also note that “iced tea, coffee, and other drinks that contain caffeine are second best to good old-fashioned water when you’re trying to stay hydrated.”  

What are some other beverages that you may not be counting towards those “8 glasses a day”? 
Milk – milk is mostly water.  You not only hydrate with milk but you also add some important nutrients like calcium and vitamin D to your day.  Ben Desbrow, professor of sports nutrition at Griffith University in Australia says, “Milk is an ideal recovery beverage.”  Interesting research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2016 looked at various beverages including sports drinks, cola, juice, coffee tea and milk to find which beverage was the most hydrating.  Surprisingly, they found that milk was actually more hydrating than plain water or even sports drinks.  They did note that sports drinks are hydrating but milk actually performed better.  This is probably why many guys at the gym bring milk with them to drink post work-out. 
Juice – 100% juice is also mostly water.  Like milk, juice adds other important nutrients to your day like vitamin C and potassium.  Coming in from the heat?  Pour yourself some juice on ice.  Very refreshing. 
Smoothies – many people enjoy a smoothie for breakfast or a snack.  Full of vitamins and minerals and also you are hydrating your body with a smoothie.

How do you know if you are becoming dehydrated? 
Easy. If you are thirsty, you are becoming dehydrated.  Thirst is one of the first signs of dehydration.

When trying to get your “8 glasses a day” include in your count that glass of milk, your smoothie, the cup (or two) of morning coffee, the glass of juice, the iced tea in the afternoon.  All count towards your “8 glasses a day”.  Or make your own infused water.  So easy to do with all the fresh fruit in season right now.  Add some watermelon or peaches to fresh water.  Culinary Hill recommends using infused water about 2-4 hours after you make it. Or they say you can infuse the water overnight in your fridge.  See their 8 Infused Water Recipes  such as:

Strawberry, Basil and Lemon
5 cups water
1 cup ice cubes
½ cup cut up strawberries
5 basil leaves, torn
1 lemon thinly sliced

Sources: hydrated, answer, WebMD, Desbrow, 2016, Thirst  Image sources:  iced tea, milk , coffee