Sunday, July 28, 2019

Nutrition in the News

What are some of the latest findings about nutrition?  Interested in following the Paleo Diet?  New research indicates this may not be a heart healthy diet.  Want less belly fat?  To reduce belly fat are there foods should you be eating more of?

Paleo Diet – many personal trainers and others push the Paleo Diet for good health.  Many articles have been written about the Paleo Diet and many outline the health issues related to this diet.  I have never been a fan.  As Dr. Donohue once noted, cave man didn’t live a long life and this diet follows that of cave man.  The European Journal of Nutrition studied 44 on the Paleo Diet and looked at 47 others on a more traditional diet.  They found that people on the Paleo diet had higher levels of a gut-produced compound called TMAO than those not on the Paleo Diet.  Interesting that some people promote the Paleo Diet for gut health. The gut-produced compound that is increased is associated with a higher risk of heart disease.  The lead researcher in the study, Dr. Angela Genoni, is quoted as saying:  “Many Paleo diet proponents claim the diet is beneficial to gut health, but this researcher suggests that when it comes to the production of TMAO in the gut, the Paleo Diet could be having an adverse impact in terms of heart health.”  Not only was the compound TMAO increased but other beneficial type bacteria in the gut were lower.  Further research is needed to determine if this has any other health consequences.  The research suggests that the lower carbohydrate intake on the Paleo Diet affects the type of gut bacteria one has.  One thought from the researchers is that the Paleo Diet is low in whole grains and this may affect the levels of TMAO.
Paleo Diet and Heart Disease - Is it a lack of whole grains?
Belly Fat – who doesn’t want a flat belly?  New research shows that eating more fruits and veggies is linked to less fat around the organs in your abdomen and also less fat in your liver.  Conversely, eating foods high is added sugar like cakes and cookies is linked to more fat in one’s liver.  When people hear of fatty liver they think about alcohol intake but other things affect our liver and the amount of fat in our liver.  Drinking sugared sodas has also been found to increase belly fat.  Drinking sugared sodas, especially every day, is linked to more abdominal fat.  Think:  cut the sugar, less belly fat.  Want to reduce belly fat? Then try exercise which is even more effective than weight loss in reducing belly fat.  Focus on aerobic exercise which seems to a good way to reduce belly fat.  But strength training also helps because it builds muscle.  
Add some fat to your meal -   We all have heard that our diets are too high in fat.  But fat is an essential nutrient and we need some fat in our day.  Each of our meals should include some fat.  Why?  Because some vitamins like vitamin D, A, E and K need fat to be absorbed.  Not a lot of fat but some fat is needed.  Eating a salad, then choose a salad dressing that has some fat in it.  Or include some avocado on your salad as that would promote absorption of the beta-carotene in the carrots and greens in your salad.  The type of fat in your diet also seems to be linked to belly fat.  Some research has shown that saturated fat like palm oil actually promotes belly fat while healthy oils like sunflower oil doesn’t.  

If someone recommends the Paleo Diet to you, you may want to think twice about going on this diet.  A student I had was on the Paleo Diet.  I read to the class how the Paleo Diet was based on what cave men ate, but cave men didn’t live very long and that was enough for him to get off the diet.  Now research is linking the Paleo Diet to an increased risk of heart disease.  Seems odd to me that people choose the Paleo Diet for good health and the diet may actually lead to poorer health. Want to get rid of some belly fat, then cut back on some added sugar, add some aerobic exercise and choose some healthier fats.  

Sunday, July 21, 2019

What are some anti-aging foods?

Who doesn’t want to stop father time?  So many advertisements for products that promise one can slow down the clock.  Are there foods you can eat that may slow the aging process?  Eat This, Not That had an interesting article on anti-aging foods and how some foods can help you look and actually feel younger.  Who doesn’t want that?  What are some foods that can help your hair, skin, nails and even your joints?

 1. What fats promote healthy skin?
a.      Olive oil – yes, we are always being told to cut the fat in our diets.  But some fats are healthy fats and olive oil is one of the healthy fats.  What does olive oil have to do with fighting wrinkles?  Think omega-3 fats and olive oil is rich in omega-3’s.  These healthy fats help fight the so called “free radicals” that harm your skin.  Additionally, olive oil has some healthy antioxidants that may also reduce harmful skin damage that can lead to wrinkles.

b.       Wild salmon – like olive oil, salmon has lots of healthy omega-3 fats.  Some studies have shown that eating foods rich in omega-3 may help protect your skin from the sun’s UV damaging rays.  WebMD notes, “among the must-have foods for healthy skin:  omega-3 fatty acids – the “good fats”. 
c.       Other foods rich in omega-3 fats – tuna fish, walnuts, canola oil and flax seed.  I like to sprinkle some chopped walnuts on my breakfast cereal every morning.  Always a treat when you stay at a hotel with the free breakfast and the breakfast bar has hot oatmeal and chopped walnuts to sprinkle on your oatmeal.  Enjoy that tuna fish salad sandwich for lunch.  Buy bread like Dave’s Killer Bread that has some flax seeds in it. 
d.       How do omega-3 fats help your skin?  Besides helping to prevent sun damage, these healthy fats help your cell membranes and lead to “moister, softer, more subtle, and more wrinkle-free skin”.  

2. Vitamin A and healthy skin – many vitamins are good for your skin and vitamin A is one of them.  One-way vitamin A helps your skin cells is that is promotes cell turnover.  Out with the old skin cells and in with the new skin cells.  Aging slows this cell renewal process but vitamin A can promote cell turnover.  Add some vitamin A rich foods to your day.  The darker the green the more vitamin A.  Thus, spinach would have more vitamin A than iceberg lettuce.  Orange colored foods are also rich in vitamin A.  Foods may have beta-carotene such as carrots but this is a precursor of vitamin A so also good for healthy skin. 
a.       Cantaloupe – so good in summer and the orange color is an indication the food is rich in vitamin A.
b.       Sweet potatoes – not so common in summer.  If you are eating at a restaurant and they have sweet potatoes on the menu, choose them for healthier skin.  We enjoy some sweet potato fries.  Yes, a little more fat but oh so tasty. 
c.       Carrots – dark orange and loaded with vitamin A.  I try to eat a few baby carrots for lunch every day.  So easy to pack some carrots in your lunch bag.  

      3. Lycopene – you may see commercials that say lycopene promotes eye health, but it also promotes healthy skin.  Tomatoes are rich in lycopene.  Enjoy some fresh tomatoes on your salad, on your hamburger or in a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich.   But you don’t have to enjoy fresh tomatoes to get lycopene.  Pizza sauce, red spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, – all have lycopene.  How does lycopene help your skin?  One study found that eating foods rich in lycopene could help prevent sun damage such as sunburn and the aging of your skin from the damaging rays of the sun.  Interesting that heat doesn’t destroy lycopene and may even help your body absorb it. So, the heated spaghetti sauce is as good as fresh tomatoes at least as far as lycopene is concerned.  Some other ways to get some lycopene in your day – tomato juice, tomato soup, salsa.  Salsa is not-only low in calories but very healthy and good for your skin.  Watermelon has lycopene so enjoy some at the cabin, at the beach or at your summer picnic. Pink grapefruit doesn’t have as much lycopene as tomatoes but still a pretty good source.  I often drink grapefruit juice for breakfast.  

4.   Water – some people don’t think of water as a “food” but it is a very important nutrient and hydration is key for healthy skin.  According to WebMD, “when it comes to skin health, experts say hydration is still key”.  So, enjoy some water with lemon, some low-calorie lemonade or low-cal ice tea.  100% juice or herbal teas also count towards proper hydration.  Aim for a quart (4 cups) or more of fluids and stay hydrated for healthy skin. 

This week add some water and other liquids like 100% juice to your day.  Pack a handful of nuts such as walnuts in your lunch or take with you for a healthy snack when running errands.  Go to the Farmer’s Market and get some fresh tomatoes and watermelon.  Eating at a restaurant?  Choose the sweet potato or enjoy the salsa.  At home, cook with olive oil or use an olive oil vinaigrette on your salad.  Pack some baby carrots in your lunch or have a slice of cantaloupe for breakfast or as a snack.  So many ways to eat for healthier skin and slow down father time.

Home Made Salsa:  Ingredients:
1         Can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes with juice
½ cup fresh cilantro chopped
¼ cup chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
1 jalapeno chopped
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
½ lime juiced

Directions:  Add all above ingredients to a food processor.  Adjust juice – less for thicker salsa.  Pulse 4-6 times until desired consistency.  Refrigerate one hour before serving. If you wish, you can use some fresh, diced tomatoes.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Berries for Brain Health

Summertime is a great time for fresh berries.  Go to your local Farmer’s Market and buy some blueberries, strawberries or raspberries.  Growing up my grandfathers grew raspberries so we often had fresh berries to eat.  Later, my father-in-law started a berry farm and grew strawberries and raspberries.  Berries are especially good fresh from the farm.  Not only are berries a tasty summer treat, they are also good for your health.  Berries offer a lot of health benefits, including being good for your brain.  

Which berries promote brain health?
                Strawberries, mulberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, black currants (also grapes)

How do berries promote healthy brains?
          Color – the color of fruit is important as each color contains healthy antioxidants.  The red, blue and purple color of berries such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and cranberries provide anthocyanins.  (Grapes also provide this healthy substance.) This substance can cross into the brain and decrease inflammation, cell damage and may even improve brain-nerve function.  

Can eating berries slow aging of your brain?
                A study of 16,000 women nurses found eating a half-cup of berries 2 or more times a week helped prevent mental decline as shown by testing memory and cognitive function.

Which is better, fresh berries, juice, dried or frozen?
                Most nutritionists and health professionals would recommend fresh berries as there is little fiber in juice.  However, those anthocyanins survive juicing so a glass of juice would also provide health benefits.  And frozen or dried berries are OK as they retain the healthy antioxidants.  So when not in season, still enjoy frozen blueberries, strawberries, raspberries.  These are especially good in smoothies.  My husband likes to put frozen blueberries in pancakes.  

Looking for some ways to add berries to your day?  Check out the US Highbush Blueberry Council as they offer numerous recipes and ideas for incorporating blueberries into your day.   Try the Balanced Blueberry Smoothie, the Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie, or the Blueberry Trail Mix.  The California Strawberry Commission offers a wealth of strawberry recipes including recipes for desserts, smoothies, salads, breakfast and main dishes.  
Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie
This week visit a farmer’s market or buy some fresh berries at your local store.  Enjoy the taste and improve your brain health.
Strawberry Cucumber Salad

2 cups loosely packed baby spinach
1 cup frozen blueberries, rinsed
1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
1 cup pomegranate juice
1 cup ice cubes
2 Tablespoons chia seeds
Blend until smooth.  Makes 2 glasses.