Sunday, May 26, 2019

Carb Myths

So much bad information about carbs.  People are always “cutting their carbs”.  There are some carbs you should cut, but other carbs are quite healthy and ones you need in your diet.  Environmental Nutrition has a great article on “Are Carbs the Enemy?  Six Myths about Carbs”.  Ever go out to eat with someone and they take off the bun from the hamburger because they think “bread is fattening” but then they go on to eat the French fries and a large dessert?  My daughter observed some women going past the bread aisle because “bread is fattening” but then loaded their shopping cart with pastries.  One has to wonder why bread is fattening but somehow pastries aren’t?

Myth #1:  Grains are bad for you

Actually, you want grains and carbs in your diet.  About half the calories you take in each day, should be carb calories.  Grains are a great way to get carbs, especially whole grains as whole grains add so many important nutrients to your day and add fiber to your diet.  When manufacturers make white bread, they strip the bread of almost all vitamins and minerals, and they take out the fiber and then only add back a few vitamins, one mineral (iron) and no fiber.  Cutting back on white bread would be a good idea.  But one should be adding whole grain bread, whole grain cereals, whole grain crackers to their day.  A 2018 study in the Journal of Nutrition found those who had higher intakes of whole grains had a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes.  The study looked at intake of whole grain cereals, (wheat, rye and oats) and other whole grain products and found “whole-grain intake was associated with an 11%” lower risk of type 2 diabetes per whole-grain serving in men and an 7% lower risk in women.  Another study in Denmark found that eating whole grain cereals lowered one’s risk of coronary heart disease.  Oats were especially significant in lowering risk of heart diseases.   

Enjoy some heart-healthy oatmeal
What grains are whole grains?  You can choose whole wheat, whole rye, brown rice, oats, whole cornmeal, or barley.  There are many whole grain breads to choose from with Dave’s Killer Bread being one of my favorites.  Looking for whole grain cereals?  All General Mills cereals are whole grain.  Many chips are whole grain such as Sun Chips.  When choosing chips, look for “whole corn” or another whole grain like whole wheat or quinoa.  And oats like plain old oatmeal is one of the healthiest cereals you can eat. 
Dave's Killer Bread
Myth #2:  Carbs are Fattening

We want carbs in our diet.  As noted above, about half are calories each day should be carb calories.  Many studies have found that diets high in whole grain carbs are also higher in fiber and as such not only don’t promote weight gain but weight loss.  Not so true with refined grains like white bread.  White bread may fill you up, but since it is low in fiber, it is digested faster than whole grain bread.  Whole grain bread has more fiber, which slows absorption and helps you feel fuller, longer.  An interesting study in the British Journal of Nutrition followed people on the Mediterranean diet.  One group ate less whole grain bread while another group lowered their intake of white bread.  They found that the group who ate less white bread, lost weight and lost belly fat.  One can enjoy some white bread but half the grains you eat each day should be whole grain.  I aim for whole grains at breakfast and lunch and often enjoy some white bread like a nice Ciabatta bread at dinner. 

What are some ways you can add whole grains to your day?  If not cereal, then try some chips that are whole grain.  At one time Doritos were even whole grain.  My daughter suggests Way Better chips, the Nacho Cheese flavor as they are “as close as healthy chips can get to Doritos”.  Not only made with Stone Ground Whole Corn but also Even the cheese they use in the Way Better chips is organic.  Don’t shun the carbs this week but choose some heart-healthy whole grain carbs.  Next week we will explore some more “carb myths”.  
Enjoy some whole grain chips

(Making some guacamole dip for those chips?  For my friends at Cook’s Cook Community Forum a Heloise tip:  have a ripe avocado that you aren’t ready to use yet?  Pop it in the fridge to keep it from browning for up to several days.)    

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Why Ultra-Processed Foods are Bad for Your Waist Line

What are ultra-processed foods and how might these foods add to your waist line and your weight?  The obesity epidemic in the USA is blamed on many factors:  less exercise, more Fast Food, more and more screen time, more riding in a car instead of walking.  New research is focusing on how ultra-processed foods contributes to more weight on the scale and bigger waist lines.  
What are ultra-processed foods vs minimally processed foods?  Think of the foods we all love to eat that are high in fat, salt and added sugar and usually loaded with additives.  Although these foods taste good, they often are lacking in vitamins, minerals, fiber and the healthy antioxidants.  
White Bread would be an ultra-processed food
Ultra-processed Foods:
A Brazilian nutrition researcher named Carlos Monteiro defined ultra-processed foods to include foods with additives like preservatives, colors, added sweeteners but not whole foods like fruits or vegetables.  According to NIH, Americans consume about 58% of their calories from ultra-processed foods.   
Some examples of Ultra-Processed Foods:            
  • Sodas
  • Chips
  • Chocolate
  • Candy
  • Ice-Cream
  • Sugar sweetened breakfast cereals
  • Packaged soups
  • Chicken nuggets
  • Hotdogs and other processed meats
  • Fries
  • White bread
  • Sugary yogurt
      Chicken Nuggets are an Ultra-Processed Food   
Minimally Processed Foods would include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, meats, seafood, eggs and dairy foods like real milk.  
How do ultra-processed foods lead to weight gain?

New research in the journal of Cell Metabolism found that those who ate more calories on the ultra-processed foods diet, not only gained more weight, they gained it faster.  The researchers studied 20 adults and for two weeks and gave them either ultra-processed foods or unprocessed foods.  Yet, the diets presented were the same number of calories, the same amount of sugar, fat, fiber and the same macronutrients of protein, carbs and fat.  The adults were instructed “to consume as much or as little as” they wished.  
Interesting, those adults fed the ultra-processed diets chose to eat 500 calories more than the adults on the unprocessed diet.  Those on the ultra-processed diet gained about 2 pounds in just 14 days.  Surprisingly, those on the unprocessed diet not only did not gain weight, they lost about 2 pounds in the 14 days.  The increase in weight in the ultra-processed was due to some water retention but also to increases in body fat.  
Why did those eating the ultra-processed foods gain weight?  The authors speculate that the ultra-processed foods are often high in calories, salt, fat and added sugar and seem to stimulate one eating more than they usually would.  One of my relatives used to love eating Pringles – he always has some Pringles in the canister.  One day, I asked him where the Pringles were and he said had had given them up.  Why?  Because he couldn’t stop with just a few and ate all of them, the entire canister at one time.  How often do you see people start with a few chips and then continue to eat the entire bag?  Yet, the researchers note more research needs to be done to demonstrate a link between eating ultra-processed food and weight gain.
The authors note that people wanting to lose weight may wish to focus on cutting back on the ultra-processed food they eat.  Not really a surprise.  A student I had in one of my classes indicated they wanted to lose about 15 pounds.  Hearing in one of my lectures that we all should eat 5 A Day, five fruits and vegetables every day, he started to do so.  Towards the end of the semester he reported he had lost 15 pounds.  Not by really dieting but by eating 5 A Day, he found he had less room for all the junk food he had been eating.
 How can you cut back on ultra-processed foods?
  1. Cook at home more.  Skip the prepared, pop in the microwave meals and eat some real food.
  2. Dine out – but choose real, unprocessed food.  The baked potato instead of fries, order the salad, the sides of veggies, real meat instead of chicken nuggets.
  3. Choose real milk with your meals instead of soda.
  4. Choose real food, the closer to nature the better.  
  • A fresh apple instead of apple juice
  • Whole grain bread instead of white bread
  • Grilled chicken breast instead of chicken nuggets
  • Real milk instead of soda or lemonade or sweetened tea
  • Corn on the cob instead of canned corn
How can you cut back on the processed food you eat?  What real foods can you add to your day?
Apples are a healthy choice

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Fruit is not toxic and is good for your health

So much confusion about fruit.  So many people avoid or cut back on fruit because they say, “fruit is high in sugar”.  What is the truth about fruit and its sugar content?  The Washington Post had a great wellness article, “The sugar in fruit doesn’t make it bad for you, despite some trendy diet claims”.  The article is written by a dietitian who notes more and more dietitians are hearing from their client’s phrases like, “fruit has too much sugar”, “don’t eat bananas, they are too high in sugar”.  One quote in the article is, “fruit is toxic”.  Now that one I haven’t heard.  But there is so much confusion about fruit.  In the class I teach one student said to avoid Naked Juice as it has too much added sugar.  Yet, Naked Juice has NO ADDED SUGAR and is one of the healthier juice choices because they provide juice blends with no added sugar.  Naked Juice now offers juices with half the “sugar” from fructose, called “Half Naked” , but still 100% juice. 
Half-Naked Juice:  No Added Sugar, 50% Less Sugars
Growing up fruit and veggies were considered “good” foods.  Good to eat, good for your health, just plain good. Now, so many people are avoiding or cutting back on fruit because fruit has carbs, the natural sugar, fructose and yes, fruit provides some calories.  The author of the article said she has one client who avoided all fruit except blueberries because only blueberries were “safe” to eat.  What nonsense, but so typical of what we hear these days.

Yes, we should cut back on “added sugar”, the sugar manufacturers add to so many foods.  The Dietary Guidelines notes, “Healthy eating patterns include fruits, especially whole fruits.  The fruits food group includes whole fruits and 100% fruit juice.”  Fruit not only provides the natural sugar, fructose, it also provides fiber, vitamins, minerals and many antioxidants which are so important to our health.  One doesn’t get a “sugar high” from fruit as the fiber in fruit slows the absorption of the fructose.  Eating fruit as part of a meal, slows the absorption of the fructose even more.  

Cut back on fruit and you cut back on many important nutrients like vitamin C and those oh so important antioxidants found in fruit.  Yes, blueberries are healthy and good for your mind. But one doesn’t have to limit their diet to blueberries to enjoy the many health benefits of fruit.  Fruit is low in calories, low in fat, low in sodium and there is no cholesterol in fruit.  Fruit provides vitamin C, fiber, the vitamin folate, and the mineral potassium.  For the most health benefits from fruit, you want to enjoy “eating the rainbow” according to Dr. Katz of Yale University as each color in fruit provides a different array of healthy antioxidants and nutrients.  

Diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, obesity and type 2 diabetes.  Eating foods high in potassium like bananas can help lower your risk of high blood pressure, reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and decrease one’s risk of bone loss as they get older. 

What about juice?  A lot of people now avoid juice.  I drink a glass of 100% juice every day.  Drinking 100% juice also adds important nutrients to your day, especially vitamin C.  You can limit the 100% juice to 8 ounces a day if you wish.  Drinking 100% juice with meals that provide some protein and fat will slow the absorption of the fructose in the juice.  So prediabetics or diabetics may want to drink their 100% juice with a meal.  But be sure it is 100% juice and not “fake” juice.  Avoid juice drinks, fruit punch, lemonade as these are not real, 100% juice.  Be sure there is no sugar added.  Look at the ingredient list and be sure the only ingredient is juice or if reconstituted, juice and water.  If you want to reduce the “sugars” or carbs in juice, even though it is natural fructose, then try one of the Half Naked juices or dilute 100% juice with some sparkling water. 
No Added Sugar, 100% Juice
Enjoy some fruit this week.  At the Farmer’s Market today we got some fresh strawberries.  Soon there will be a wealth of summer fruit to choose from.  I eat a lot of fruit.  My breakfast includes a banana (every day), some raisins and always a glass of 100% juice.  Of course, I eat my cereal, whole wheat bread and other food at breakfast, but I never miss my fruit servings.  My husband likes to put blueberries on his whole grain cereal every morning.  At lunch, add some berries to your yogurt.  Find some way to add some fruit to your day.  And ignore those people who try to tell you fruit is toxic.  Fruit is good for your health.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Try some infused water for a refreshing drink

Now that spring is here and summer is around the corner, time to make some delicious and refreshing infused water.  Isn’t it great when you walk into a hotel lobby and there is a large glass container of infused water, ice cold?  We stayed in a hotel one summer and every day they had a different infused water in the lobby.  Refreshing and without the calories.  You can skip the calories in sweetened ice tea and sodas and refresh yourself with water infused with fruits, veggies and some herbs.  The Food Network Kitchen and other websites have a wealth of infused waters to try out.  Here are some infused waters you may enjoy this spring and summer:

1. Strawberry-Cucumber Water – Stem and thinly slice about 8 ounces (about a 1/2 pint) of strawberries.  Cut ½ of a cucumber into thin slices.  Put these in a 2-quart pitcher and add 2 quarts of water.  Then refrigerate for 2-4 hours.  Stir and serve.  You can remove the infused strawberries and cucumber slices and add fresh slices to each serving along with ice.  You can keep the infused water in your refrigerator for up to 2 days.  
Strawberry + Cucumber Infused Water

2.  Tomato-Basil Water – Coming home from the Farmer’s market with a lot of tomatoes?  Use some for a refreshing infused water drink.  Slice 1 large beefsteak tomato.  Slightly crush 3 sprigs of basil.  Add both to a 2-quart pitcher.  Add 2 quarts of water.  Refrigerate 2-4 hours.  When serving add some fresh, diced tomato and basil sprigs and ice.

3. Tomato-Celery-Bell Pepper – when loading up on those tomatoes at the Farmer’s Market, also stock up on some celery and bell pepper.   Slice one beefsteak tomato, chop 2 stalks of celery, and dice 1 small red bell pepper.  Add to a 2-quart pitcher and add 2 quarts of water.  Refrigerate 2-4 hours to infuse.  Stir, remove the veggies, pour over ice.  Add some tomato, bell pepper and celery as garnish. 

4.  Pineapple-Mint-Ginger Water – ready for a tropical tasting infused water?  Put into a 2-quart pitcher:  4 cups of pineapple sliced thin, 5 sprigs of lightly crushed sprigs of mint, and 8 round slices of ginger, smashed.  Add 2 cups of water.  Refrigerate 2-4 hours, stir and drain.  Before serving add some fresh pineapple, mint and ginger and serve over ice. 
5.  Cantaloupe-Infused Water – it is fun to experiment with different fruits and infused water.  Add 4 cups of cantaloupe cut up into small chunks, add 2 quarts of water.  Infuse in the fridge for 2-4 hours.  Stir, strain and pour over ice.  Add some fresh cut up cantaloupe for garnish.  A Taste of Home suggests mixing cantaloupe, lemon slices and mint for a different blend of infused water. 
Cantaloupe + Lemon + Mint Infused Water
6. Watermelon-Mint Water – one of my favorite infused waters at the hotel in Maine, was watermelon.  They didn’t add mint but that would have made it even better.  Cut 4 cups of watermelon into cubes.  Lightly crush 6 sprigs of mint.  Add both to a 2-quart pitcher and add 2 quarts of water.  Refrigerate 2-4 hours to infuse.  Drain, pour over ice and add some fresh watermelon and mint sprigs to garnish.
Watermelon Infused Water

7.  Apple-Cinnamon Water – sounds so tasty and refreshing.  Thinly slice 2 apples.  Add the sliced apples and 4 cinnamon sticks to a 2-quart pitcher.  Add 2 quarts of water, refrigerate for 2-4 hours.  Stir, strain, pour over ice.  Garnish with some fresh apple slices and a cinnamon stick. 

What mixture of fruit or veggies have you tried for a refreshing infused water drink?  Taste of Home offers 23 different infused water recipes.  Don’t want to wait the 2-4 hours?  My daughter keeps some lemon or lime slices in her fridge.  Add a couple of slices to a glass, add water and ice and you have some instant infused water.  Infused water is so refreshing on hot days or to hydrate after a workout.  Skip the calories and enjoy some infused water as a refreshing drink. 

Sources:  Kitchen, Strawberry-Cucumber Water, Tomato-Basil Water, Tomato-Celery-Bell Pepper, Pineapple-Mint-Ginger Water, Cantaloupe-Infused Water, Watermelon-Mint Water, Apple-Cinnamon Water   Image sources:  Strawberry, Cantaloupe, Watermelon