Monday, February 28, 2011

Phytonutriends are My Friend

Phytonutrients are My Friend…
This is a great article on phytonutrients and their health benefits from World’s Healthiest Foods.

Phytonutrients are plants' home security services--think of them as the Plant Police, Fire Department and Coast Guard. As defenders, phytonutrients protect their plant from free radical attack from excess ultraviolet radiation and from predator pests. And phytonutrients do their job with style, providing plants with their sensory characteristics such as their color, flavor and smell.
Unlike us, plants can't move, put on a fan or air conditioning when it gets too hot, or put on sunscreen or sunglasses. But, even more than we, plants are exposed to damaging radiation, toxins, and pollution, and this toxic exposure results in the generation of free radicals within their cells. Free radicals are reactive molecules that can bind and damage proteins, cell membranes and DNA. Since plants can't move away from these insults, nature has provided them with a means of protection: they can make a variety of types of protective compounds--the phytonutrients. Like plants, we're exposed to ultraviolet radiation or pollution, we also generate reactive, free radicals, and although we cannot produce our own phytonutrients, when we consume plants, their phytonutrients also protect us against damage from these free radicals.
Most plants use sunlight as an energy source. Although to the eye sunlight appears as a single, clear, bright force, it is actually made up of many different wavelengths, some of which the plant captures for the generation of energy. Others, however, are wavelengths from which the plant needs protection. Each plant contains literally thousands of different phytonutrients that can act as antioxidants, providing protection from potentially damaging free radicals. Many of these compounds also provide the plants with color, their different colors each reflecting a different variety of protection they provide.

Plants Contain Thousands of Phytonutrients
If a plant was only one color, with no shades or variations in that color, it would only be able to receive and protect against one specific wavelength of light. A plant with several different colors is like a television set with an antenna, and a plant with many different colors is like a television with a satellite dish. Most plants have a satellite dish's worth of colors - even ones that look very green to us when we eat them. Like the primer used beneath a coat of paint, these other colors are simply overshadowed by the primary color that we see.
Some researchers estimate up to 40,000 phytonutrients will someday be fully catalogued and understood. In just the last 30 years, many hundreds of these compounds have been identified and are currently being investigated for their health-promoting qualities. At research organizations like the National Institute of Cancer, and at many universities around the world, different individual phytonutrients are being studied to identify their specific health benefits.

With over two thousand known plant pigments presently identified, the chemicals that give foods their colors may also translate into vibrant health. Notable among these phytochemical pigments are the bioflavonoids known as anthocyanidins. These are the purple-blue pigments that give fruits such as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, black currants, and red and purple grapes their unique coloration, and which protect them from the damaging effects of oxidation.
As researchers confirm that metabolites of oxidation, known as free radicals, are at the root of the progression of both chronic diseases (such as arthritis, atherosclerosis, diabetes and cancer) and other signs of aging, such as the loss of skin elasticity and cognitive function, antioxidants are gaining an ever more important place in health promotion. Among the antioxidants, anthocyanidins have been found to have some unique features. They are able to protect cells and tissues from free radical damage in both water-soluble and fat-soluble environments. And, their free radical scavenging capabilities are thought to be more potent than many of the currently well-known vitamin antioxidants; anthocyanidins are estimated to have fifty times the antioxidant activity of both vitamin C and vitamin E.

Just like our mothers told us, the foods we loved to hate as kids have turned out to be especially healthy for us. Members of the brassica family of vegetables, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and bok choy appear to have significant cancer-preventive properties. Studies have shown that people who consume these vegetables frequently have a lower risk of developing a variety of cancers, including cancers of the colon, stomach and lung.

Diets that feature significant amounts of whole grains have been shown to offer protection against the development of cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. While whole grains provide an array of important constituents such as fiber, resistant starches, vitamins and minerals, the whole story of whole grains can't be told without appreciating the important health contribution of the phytochemicals that they contain.
The germ and bran of whole grains such as rice, barley and oats contain a concentrated amount of important phytochemicals that belong to the organic acid family. Included among this family of compounds are caffeic acid, ellagic acid as well as ferulic acid, a phytochemical at the crux of recent research efforts. While whole grains are significant sources of ferulic acid, certain fruits and vegetables such as spinach, parsley, grapes and rhubarb are also known to contain this important compound.

While drinking tea is a cultural ritual of community in Asia, it is now becoming a cultural ritual of wellness in the West. This is because green tea consumption has been shown to have many health benefits that researchers believe are related to the phytochemicals that it contains. Of these phytochemicals, the ones receiving the most attention are called the catechins, and include individual compounds called epicatechin, epicatechin gallate, and epigallocatechin gallate. In addition to being an important feature of green tea, catechins are also featured in other plant-based foods such as apples, grapes, raspberries and avocadoes.
In one very large scale study, the catechins in tea have been show to lower risk of stroke by approximately 20% when consumed in plentiful but still customary amounts. One cup of green or black tea in the morning, another in the afternoon, and a third in the evening were shown to provide the 30-50mg amount associated with risk reduction for stroke.

What amount of food phytochemicals is healthy?
Although research is supporting their significant health benefits, phytochemicals are presently considered "non-essential" nutrients. Unlike vitamins and minerals, there are no RDAs or DRIs for them. One reason for the difficulty in setting a level is that there are so many of these phytonutrients that appears to provide health benefits; hundreds are presently being researched for their health-promoting effects. Another reason for the difficulty in setting standards for consumption is that many of these phytonutrients have similar activities. Instead of a lot of one specific compound, it may be more important to have a certain level of a family of compounds, but you can have different amounts of the individual compounds and still get the health-benefit.
Finally, new research is uncovering that many of these phytonutrients act synergistically; that is, they help each other and provide more benefit when taken with other phytonturients than alone. This is a major reason for eating whole foods over taking an individual supplement of beta-carotene or vitamin C. The whole food can contain not only the beta-carotene or vitamin C, but also other phytonutrients that act synergistically to support even more benefit to your health.

The major classes of phytonutrients include:

Organo-sulfurs:  example, the glucobrassins found in crucifers and the allyl sulfur compounds in garlic.

Terpenoids: These include the basic terpenoids like limonene found in citrus foods and menthol, as well as the carotenoids (vitamin A precursors), coenzyme Q10, the phytosterols, and the tocopherols and tocotrienols.

Flavonoids: Flavonoids are the plant pigments that give plants their colors, like the deep blue of blueberries, the purple of grapes, the orange of pumpkins, or the red of tomatoes. Flavonoids include the anthocyanidins in blueberries and quercetin found in onions.

Isoflavonoids and lignans: For example, genistein and diadzein found in soy foods, and the lignans in flaxseed and rye.

Organic acids: example, ferulic acid, which is found in whole grains, and the coumarins, which are found in parsely, licorice and citrus fruits.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

FUEL Better: Nutty about Nuts!

Exploring the Wonderful World of Nuts…

Nuts are usually minimally processed foods high in antioxidants, fiber, and many other nutrients. They effectively help stabilize blood sugars when eaten with carbohydrates, promote satiety in-between meals, decrease triglycerides, increase HDL, and reduce inflammation. Countless clinical trails suggest that by consistently eating 1oz of nuts daily can improve cardiovascular health.

Everyone knows that almonds are high in Vitamin E and walnuts in Omega 3s, these two nuts have become a staple in the “Healthy” American diet. However, many of us over look all the other tree nuts and their fantastic nutritional offerings.

Brazil Nuts
The most energy dense nut, however, its spectacular nutritional benefits make it worth eating in moderation.

Brazil nuts contain exceptionally high levels of selenium. 100 g nuts provide about 1917 mcg of selenium and 3485% of recommended daily intake making them as highest natural source of this mineral.  Adequate selenium foods in the diet help prevent coronary artery disease, liver cirrhosis and cancers.

In addition to selenium, they contain very good levels of other minerals such as copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus and zinc. Copper helps prevent anemia and bone weakness (osteoporosis).

They are packed with soluble dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals and numerous health promoting phyto-chemicals; that help to protect against diseases and cancers.

Very rich source of minerals like manganese, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. Eat just a handful of cashew nuts every day to avoid minerals deficiencies.

Cashews are also rich in many essential vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that our body requires them from external sources to replenish and essential for metabolism of protein, fat and carbohydrates in the body.

The nuts are also containing good amount of Zea-xanthin, an important flavonoid antioxidant, which selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea in the eyes. It is thought to provide antioxidant and protective light-filtering functions, help prevent age related macular degeneration.

Contain 310 mg of potassium and 61 mg plant sterols per 30 g serving (about 1 ounce); this is significantly more than any other tree nut.

Are the only nuts that provide lutein and zeaxanthin. A recent study showed that consuming pistachios (68 g/d) resulted in a 50 percent increase in serum levels of these antioxidants—an important finding because lutein may be protective against the development of atherosclerosis.

May aid with weight management because they are generally eaten in-shell. Preliminary studies have found that the shell helps provide a visual cue to help reduce calorie consumption by 50 percent, compared to eating shelled pistachios.

Help reduce oxidative stress by over 7%  when a diet contains 20% of energy from pecans.

Have the highest antioxidant capacity of popular tree nuts, with 17940 Trolox Equivalents/100 grams serving, according to the USDA ORAC database.

Hazel Nuts
Have been shown in a clinical study to lower LDL and VLDL, while increasing HDL by 12 percent.

Contain more folate than any other nut, providing 8% of the Daily Value.

Rich source of energy and contain many health benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins.

Just about 25 g per day provides 90% of RDI of omega-3 fatty acids. Research studies have suggested that n-3 fatty acids by their virtue of anti-inflammatory action helps to lower the risk of blood pressure, coronary artery disease, strokes and breast, colon and prostate cancers.

They are an excellent source of vitamin E, especially rich in gamma-tocopherol; contain about 21g per100 g. vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen free radicals.

These nuts are packed with many important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates.

Go nutty over nuts and add them anywhere…

Enjoy the raw. (1/4 cup or 1 handful at a time).

Add whole nuts to:
Yogurts, cereals, parfaits, salads, dried fruits etc.

Add slivered or broken nuts to:
All of the above, baked goods (muffins, cakes etc.), top of meats, steamed vegetables, grains (rice, barely, quinoa etc.) etc.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Power of the Pen

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 2/3rd of all American adults are on a diet.  Americans spend 40 billion dollars annually on diet related products.  Yet, only 5% will be successful at keeping the weight off over a year.  In 2008 the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, focused on the efficacy of various behavioral weight loss interventions in more than 1,500 subjects. Researchers found that those who used a food diary > 5 days a week lost twice as much weight as those who did not.
You May Ask: Why does keeping a food dairy work?
Food diaries create a foundation of personal accountability.  Accountability is the most important ingredient behind any successful lifestyle change.  Food diaries force an increased awareness of habits and eating patterns. The visual diary can highlight pitfalls that may have gone unnoticed such as portion distortion and mindless eating.  
The incidence of obesity has increased in parallel with increasing portion sizes of individually packaged and ready-to-eat prepared foods as well as foods served at restaurants. Portion distortion (perceiving large portion sizes as appropriate amounts to eat at a single eating occasion) may contribute to increasing energy intakes and expanding waistlines. Between 1970 and 2000 supermarket portion sizes have increased by 10 times (Young, 2003).  Restaurants’ jumbo-sized portions are up to 250% larger than the appropriate size (Schwartz & Byrd-Bredbenner, 2006).  
American’s typically under estimate their daily intake by 25%. Under sounds good right? Not really, under estimating by 25% could add up to an extra 250-700 calories daily! One way we are tricked is by the size of our dinner plate. In 1960 a dinner plate was 9 inch in diameter and today the average dinner plate is 12 inches which is a 36% increase in surface area. The problem is our daily intake requirements have not increased 36% but our waistlines have!
Mindless eating can also be a weight loss pitfall. It is easy to overlook the bites, licks, and tastes (BLTs). We are all guilty; candy jar on the desk, nibble on goodies in the break room, handful of chips before dinner, or that last swig of milk or juice right out of the frig.  Small bites can equal Big pounds!! It only takes 100 extra calories a day = 10lb gain a year!
Did you know?
1 peppermint          = 10 calories
1 Hershey Kiss        = 25 calories
1 handful chips       = 90 calories
1 swig of skim milk = 45 calories
Total                         = 170 calories
You would have to walk or run an extra 2 miles to burn your mindless calories!!

How to make the most out of your food dairy:
Step 1- Find a system that works best for you.
There is a food diary to fit every budget and lifestyle. You can use good ole pen and paper, a website database or smart phone app. whichever you choose just make sure it is easily assessable and user friendly.
Step 2- Log what you eat.
You should approach logging your food consumption in two phases so you are not overwhelmed. Phase one (1), just simply jot down every meal, snack, and beverage that you consume. This will get you familiar with what you are eating. Next, start noticing the portion size and the amount you are eating and record food portions in ounces for meat and cups of fruits and vegetables. Ex: 4 ounce piece of chicken, ½ cup rice, 2 tablespoons salad dressing etc.  Do not leave out additives and flavorings, count the oil or butter you sauté vegetables or add to a pot during cooking, condiments, sauces and gravies. Don’t forget the mindless stuff… it counts and adds up!
Once you have become comfortable with base food journaling move into phase two (2) and take it a step further. Start to track the time and place you consume food and examine your thoughts and feelings before, during and after eating. By tracking the time and place you begin to figure out where you eat most and at what time of day you are most likely to splurge. Record taste details about your snacking habits and where you were ate and what time it was and if you were alone or with friends. Also mention what you were doing at the time, like working or watching TV. This helps determine patterns in your eating habits and figure out ways to stop bad habits.
Examining your thoughts may take some time and energy. Consider how you felt and what you were thinking about when you were eating, and record a word or short phrase describing your mood and thoughts. This will help you notice if you tend to eat when you feel lonely, anxious, or depressed. By identifying what triggers eating, you can start to look at healthier ways of coping with those emotions and spare the calories and pounds.
Step 3- Evaluate your food dairy.
You can have the world’s best food dairy with all kinds of details but if you do not evaluate your meals it does not do you any good.
First, spot the obvious mishaps such as portion distortion and mindless eating pitfalls.  Just identifying and making these small changes can show quick results.
Second, check for balance and combination of foods. Look for a protein, carbohydrate, heart healthy fat, fruit/vegetable in every meal.
Goal per meal: One (1) of each but never more than one!
Correct Breakfast example: Scrambled Eggs (protein), Wheat Toast (carbohydrate), fruit cup (fruit), yolk of the egg (fat)
Incorrect Breakfast example: Scrambled Eggs (protein), Bacon (protein), Grits (Carbohydrate) with toast (carbohydrate) and orange juice (fruit), yolk of egg (fat)
Then check for variety throughout your day.  You want a minimum of two (2) of each food group but maximum of three (3) food choices from each group per day.
Step 4 - Set Goals 
Once you have taken the time to evaluate your food diary you need to set goals to improve. With no goal for improvement you are no better off than when you started. Short and long term goals will help you reach your weight loss goals.
Short Term Goals can be achieved in 7 days and they are small steps. NEVER EVER set goals that are measured in pounds. All goals should be behavior changes that will lead to weight loss not weight loss its self.  Examples: Allow one soda a day. Eat one (1) fruit every day.  Walk one (1) mile a day five (5) days a week.
Long Term Goals can be achieved in 30 days. Why not 3 months, 6 months or a year? Because we live in an instant gratification society and we get bored easily. Setting goals to far away we will forget about them, change our minds, or give up. So 30 day long term goals are short enough to be tangible but long enough way to make real changes, plus you get the chance to reach goals and change them more often. Again never ever measured in pounds! Examples: Try one new “healthy” recipe a week. Use, remove and replace 10 unhealthy items from my pantry. Complete my first 5K.
Food for thought:
 A food diary can be tailored for different accountability goals:  calorie counting, diet quality, or overall assessment of eating habits. A food diary can be used in the short and long term. It can be a simple self-assessment to evaluate your current diet or a long time weight management tool. You can begin and end a food diary whenever the individual desires and they can be as simple or as complex as desired.  
A food diary brings awareness… an individual brings change. 
Friendly Warning: Do NOT become obsessive! Food dairies are not meant to make you feel trapped, under pressure, or bring about anxiety. The truth is sooner or later recording every single thing you eat will get old and obnoxious. The idea is to use it truthfully while it is still fun and new and LEARN from it! Through goal setting and changing behavior learn how to balance your meals, apply portion control, and stop mindless eating. This will lead to a great relationship with food and freedom from dairies and diets!
Think of it as a weight loss tool not a crutch!     When we know better we do better.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

FUEL Better: Spice Up Your Life

Spice Up Your Life

Along with fresh vegetables, spices are one of the best examples we have of nutrient-rich foods. These foods provide us with a negligible amount of calories, while providing us with a surprising variety of nutrients. While traditional cuisines around the world depend on spices for their unique flavors and aromas, the nutritional value of these foods is often overlooked.

Among the vitamins contributed to the U.S. food supply by spices, carotenoids ranked highest.

Vitamin C and vitamin B6 were also worthy of special mention here. Among minerals, the contribution of spices ranked highest for iron.

Calcium, magnesium, copper, and potassium were also included as minerals provided more frequently by spices in the U.S. food supply.

Since spices are typically consumed in small amounts, they may not always make a large contribution to our nutrient needs. But it would be very wrong to think about spices as nutritionally irrelevant.

You’ll get 38% of the Daily Value (DV) for manganese from 2 tsp of ground cinnamon.

2 tsp of oregano will give you 23% of your daily vitamin K.

2 tbsp of parsley can provide you with 12% of the DV for vitamin C.

Try to incorporate these common spices into your weekly menus:

     Boost your weight loss. Scientists from the Agricultural Research Service found that a component in the Indian spice may stall the spread of fat tissue by inhibiting blood vessel growth in fatty tissue.
     Add it to: eggs, rice, curries, paellas, and stews, chicken

     3 grams a day of this pale brown powder may help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, cinnamon aids in balancing your blood sugar levels and decreasing insulin demands.
     Add it to: coffee, oatmeal, low fat plain yogurt, baked goods  

 Cayenne Pepper:
     Curb your cravings with this fiery pepper. A recent study showed that capsaicin (the compound that adds heat and pungency to peppers) can help suppress hunger and sustain satiety, especially when combined with green tea. 
     Add it to: chili, dips, eggs, potatoes, pizza, sauces, and soups

     Use it to pep up your peepers. Italian scientists say that the exotic spice may help protect ocular cells from damage and death, therefore also helping to reduce the risk of certain eye diseases and vision loss.
     Add it to: soups, salad, sauces, stews, eggs, couscous, and dips

Monday, February 14, 2011

Heart Disease and the Trans-Fat Trap

Happy Valentine’s Day!
Valentine's Day is traditionally a day in which people express their love to one another. It can be between spouses, significant others, close friends or family. One thing that is common on this day is candy is a favorite.  American manufacturers crank out $12.2 billion worth of chocolate and cocoa products in a year and $7.1 billion worth of other kinds of candy. That averages out to 188 Snickers bars per person each year!
An obvious question among the health-conscious is whether the sweetie receiving sweets for Valentine's Day feels loved or is left to wonder whether the giver forgot they just saw a news broadcast reminding them that 63 percent of Americans are overweight. So this Valentine’s give the true gift of life by taking care of you and your loved one’s heart!
Since 1900, heart disease has been the leading cause of death in the United States and the annual death total continues to rise. Heart disease is a silent killer; it lies dormant for many years and offers vague and subtle warning signs- if any.  Its host goes about life making poor dietary choices and skipping on the exercise with the hopes they will cheat death or in denial that it “won’t happen to me.”  Unfortunately, heart disease has no conscious and does not discriminate against gender, race, or social status. When heart disease is ready to strike it will change the course of a family’s life in an instant… All too often leaving a family crippled with grief over a loved one taken too soon by a very preventable death.    
Every 20 seconds, a person in the United States has a heart attack which results in in more than 2,500 American deaths daily. Annually, 250,000 Americans lose their life to heart disease before reaching a hospital. Another 6 million Americans are hospitalized each year due to heart disease. Men suffer heart attacks about 10 years earlier in life than women.  Women’s symptoms are more subtle than a man’s and tend to go undiagnosed until it is too late.  
For years, cholesterol has been the escape goat and took the blame for heart disease. Americans were advised to consume little or no cholesterol.  Overnight our grocery stores selves were stocked with “cholesterol free” everything!  However, it is a bet more complicated than blaming it on one nutrient. There are two main causes of heart disease; genetics and lifestyle, or a combination of both.
Genetics play an important role in heart disease, but it is as individualized as the color of your hair or the size of your shoe. Cholesterol is found in everything animal. If it is an animal, comes from an animal, or made with animal byproduct then it contains cholesterol! The amount varies dramatically depending on the food or product. 
Sometimes we as humans tend to forget that we too belong to the animal kingdom.   Every single day the human body makes cholesterol naturally. The liver and other cells in our bodies make about 75 percent of blood cholesterol.  Here is where genetics come into play because not everyone makes the same amount. If you are genetically engineered to make MORE cholesterol than normal you obviously need to “eat” less cholesterol daily. These people should avoid foods higher in cholesterol (i.e. egg yolks, red meat, whole dairy etc.). However, if you are one of the lucky ones who naturally produce less cholesterol daily then you have no need to be afraid of an egg yolk or two.  The complicated part is figuring out if you overproduce or under produce? Take a look at your family tree… if you have a family history of heart attacks, heart disease, or hyperlipidemia (high LDLs) then it is safe to say you should consume foods high in cholesterol with caution. You should also have a lipid profile once a year to be screened for early signs of heart disease or high cholesterol. 
The other 25 percent comes from our diet in the form of saturated fat, trans-fats and dietary cholesterol.  The most come cause of heart disease is lifestyle. This is exciting because it can be controlled and changed to reverse the harmful effects.  Poor diet and lack of exercise is a dangerous cocktail for heart disease. Dietary causes of heart disease are primarily linked to the type of fats we consume.  Not all fats are the devil but I will blog in detail about different fats on a later date but today I want to highlight the most important.  Good heart healthy fats include: monounsaturated fats.  Bad heart clogging fats include: saturated fats and Trans Fats.  
The Trans Fat Trap
If you have not been living under a rock you have heard of trans-fats by now and seen your local grocery store shelves lined with “trans-fat” free foods. Now more than ever you as a consumer need to be educated on how to avoid these DEADLY fats all together. Yes, Deadly!!!!
Research faults trans-fats for at least 30,000 premature deaths a year or 82 every single day!
Decades of research shows consumption of trans-fat alone promotes:
Heart Disease
Immune dysfunction
Reproductive problems

What are trans-fats?  Partial hydrogenation is an industrial process used to make perfectly good oil, such as soybean oil, into perfectly bad oil. The process is used to make oil more solid; provide longer shelf-life in baked products; provide longer fry-life for cooking oils, and provide a certain kind of texture or "mouthfeel." The big problem is that partially hydrogenated oil is laden with lethal trans-fat.
So if it makes food s taste better and cheaper what is the big deal?
Trans-fats increase bad LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and insulin levels and reduce beneficial HDL cholesterol, promoting heart attacks. The special villain is margarine. It accounts for about 20 to 25% of all trans-fat consumed. In fact, trans- fat rich margarine is twice as bad as butter. Butter's saturated fat raises bad LDL, but margarine's trans-fat boost LDL and depresses good HDL cholesterol, doubling the damage.  Substituting very low trans-fat margarine or butter reduces bad LDL cholesterol 11%.  In diabetics, trans-fats appear to reduce the ability of the body to handle blood sugar by lowering responses to the hormone insulin; this is particularly dangerous to diabetics.
There has been enough scientific evidence to persuade New York City and California law makers to ban this deadly food additive. In 2006, three big British supermarket chains banned hydrogenated oils from their own brand products! When will other manufactures and law makers wake up and smell the lethal food additive?
How a little goes a long way:
Just removing trans-fat from all margarine's (70% are high in trans-fats) would prevent 6,300 heart attacks a year.  Eliminating trans-fats in just 3% of breads and cakes and 15% of cookies and crackers would save up to 59-billion dollars in health care costs in the next 20 years, predicts the FDA.
The best diet strategy is consuming ZERO grams of trans-fat daily. It only takes 2-4 grams of trans-fat daily to Increase your chance of having a heart attack by 40-50%! Some Americans eat 30-40 grams of trans-fat Daily! Children who start to consume trans-fat at a young age are being set up for a premature death or struggle with heart disease. No parent should have to watch their 20 or 30 year old struggle with heart disease or die of a heart attack due to the “kid friendly” foods they were fed as a child.
The explosion of the fast food industry happened during the 1950s and 1960s. As the request for fast food increased the food industry looked for more efficient ways to supply product to meet the demand.  Welcome the birth of trans-fats. The problem is most Americans did not start consuming trans-fats until it hit the mainstream in the 1970’s and 80’s. Most adults had a trans-fat free childhood prolonging the bad effects of this deadly food additive until their late 50’s or older. Well now children are getting their first dose of artery clogging venom as early as 2 or 3 years old. The sooner the venom is started the sooner the deadly killer will strike!! Hence the reason people are dropping like flies of heart attacks earlier and earlier in life. It is only going to get worse as we watch how this mass produced poison takes a toll on the next generations.
 As a consumer you can take the responsibility of what you purchase and what you feed your family. Once you know better you can do better… I am fixing to teach you the “know better” part and expect you to take personal responsibility to do the “do better” part.
Where Trans Fats Lurk: - Here's where artificial trans-fats are found, based on FDA data:
51% in baked goods (breads, cakes, cookies, crackers, pies)
22% in margarines
10% in fried potatoes
6% in potato chips, corn chips
5% in shortening
4% in salad dressing
1% in breakfast cereals

How we are tricked by the big Manufactures! Consumers are bold face lied to on a daily bases!
Manufactures can legally place zero trans-fats on their label as long as there is .5 grams of trans-fat or less per serving!!  This means if you eat more than one serving a few times a day of foods labeled trans-fat free you could be getting multiple grams a day and not even knows it! Scary!!
How the consumer can fight back:
Take a look at the ingredient list of all foods before purchasing.
If the words: HYDROGENATED or PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED are anywhere in the ingredient list it has trans-fat!!  Regardless of what the label says. The term "hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated" mean that hydrogen gas has been bubbled up into an oil to increase its degree of saturation and shelf life. The process of hydrogenation causes several chemical changes to occur in the oil. One of these changes (only one, but an important one) is the creation of trans-fat.
This is not a weight issue it is a heart issue and public health issue. This is not a matter of spending more for an item or promoting “organics” (although I am pro organic). For every food you purchase that has hydrogenated oils in the ingredient list there is a product on the same shelf that does not. It takes time to read your labels and become familiar with the products that are safe to eat. It is not always the name brand items that are safe either sometimes generic brand is the better choice. Often different products under the same name brand will vary. Fiber one of instance, some of their bars have hydrogenated oils some don’t.  It is all a matter of turning the label of and reading skimming the ingredient list before putting if your buggy.
Quick tip: Fresh whole foods that don’t have an ingredients list (i.e. fruits, veggies and wholesome grains) 100% trans-fat free J and make shopping a no brainer. Just saying…
So take control of your heart and make your house a trans-fat free zone!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Fuel Better: Potato

This Spud is for You

You may be wondering why I am listing a Potato as a new food. Especially since, in 2007 total world production of potatoes was more than 320 million tons, and about 2/3 were consumed by people as food. The other 1/3 was used as animal feed, and as potato starch in pharmaceuticals, textiles, adhesives, and in the wood and paper industries, etc.  Currently, potatoes rank as the number “vegetable” consumed in American. However, they are usually deep fried or loaded with cheese, bacon and sour cream or more simply put a $0.99 heart attack. Most health enthusiastic dismisses the lowly potato as little more than a fattening carbohydrate source or ban it from their diets because it is stereotyped as a “white” no, no.
The truth is take away the extra fat and deep frying, and a baked potato is an exceptionally healthful low calorie, high fiber food that offers significant protection against cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The potato belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family whose other members include tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and tomatillos. They are the swollen portion of the underground stem which is called a tuber and is designed to provide food for the green leafy portion of the plant. If allowed to flower and fruit, the potato plant will bear an inedible fruit resembling a tomato.

Potatoes are a very good source of vitamin C, a good source of vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese, and dietary fiber.

Potatoes also contain a variety of phytonutrients that have antioxidant activity. Among these important health-promoting compounds are carotenoids, flavonoids, and caffeic acid, as well as unique tuber storage proteins, such as patatin, which exhibit activity against free radicals.

Other Health Benefits:

Potatoes' Phytochemicals Rival Those in Broccoli

                 Blood-Pressure Lowering Potential
o   UK scientists at the Institute for Food Research have identified blood pressure-lowering compounds called kukoamines in potatoes. Previously only found in Lycium chinense, an exotic herbal plant whose bark is used to make an infusion in Chinese herbal medicine, kukoamines were found in potatoes using a new type of research called metabolomics.

Vitamin B6-Building Your Cells
o   A cup of baked potato contains 21.0% of the daily value  
o   Vitamin B6 is involved in more than 100 enzymatic reactions.
o   Enzymes are proteins that help chemical reactions take place, so vitamin B6 is active virtually everywhere in the body. Many of the building blocks of protein, amino acids, require B6 for their synthesis, as do the nucleic acids used in the creation of our DNA. Because amino and nucleic acids are such critical parts of new cell formation, vitamin B6 is essential for the formation of virtually all new cells in the body. Heme (the protein center of our red blood cells) and phospholipids (cell membrane components that enable messaging between cells) also depend on vitamin B6 for their creation.

Vitamin B6-Brain Cell and Nervous System Activity

Vitamin B6-Cardiovascular Protection

Vitamin B6-Athletic Performance
o   Vitamin B6 is also necessary for the breakdown of glycogen, the form in which sugar is stored in our muscle cells and liver, so this vitamin is a key player in athletic performance and endurance.

How to Select and Store

While potatoes are often conveniently packaged in a plastic bag, it is usually better to buy them individually from a bulk display. Not only will this allow you to better inspect the potatoes for signs of decay or damage, but many times, the plastic bags are not perforated and cause a buildup of moisture that can negatively affect the potatoes.

Potatoes should be firm, well-shaped and relatively smooth, and should be free of decay that often manifests as wet or dry rot. In addition, they should not be sprouting or have green coloration.

The ideal way to store potatoes is in a dark, dry place between 45°F to 50°F between 7-10°C) as higher temperatures, even room temperature, will cause the potatoes to sprout and dehydrate prematurely.

Potatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator, as their starch content will turn to sugar giving them an undesirable taste. In addition, do not store potatoes near onions, as the gases that they each emit will cause the degradation of one another. Wherever you store them, they should be kept in a burlap or paper bag.

Mature potatoes stored properly can keep up to two months. Check on the potatoes frequently, removing any that have sprouted or shriveled as spoiled ones can quickly affect the quality of the others. New potatoes are much more perishable and will only keep for one week.
Cooked potatoes will keep fresh in the refrigerator for several days. Potatoes do not freeze well.

Tips for Preparing Potatoes:

The potato skin is a concentrated source of dietary fiber, so to get the most nutritional value from this vegetable, don't peel it and consume both the flesh and the skin. Just scrub the potato under cold running water right before cooking and then remove any deep eyes or bruises with a paring knife. If you must peel it, do so carefully with a vegetable peeler, only removing a thin layer of the skin and therefore retaining the nutrients that lie just below the skin.

Potatoes should be cleaned and cut right before cooking in order to avoid the discoloration that occurs with exposure to air. If you cannot cook them immediately after cutting, place them in a bowl of cold water to which you have added a little bit of lemon juice, as this will prevent their flesh from darkening and will also help to maintain their shape during cooking.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Purée roasted garlic, cooked potatoes and olive oil together to make delicious garlic mashed potatoes. Season to taste.

Toss steamed diced potato with olive oil and fresh herbs of your choice. 

Bake homemade French fries at 450 for 30-45 minutes.

Good Ole Baked potato with spray butter and light sour cream or Greek Yogurt can complement any lean meat after an intense workout to replenish glycogen stores.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Hello from Washington, DC

I am writing you from my lovely hotel room here in our Nation's Capital. With approximately 23,000 paid lobbyists working in DC during the session, it is a town focused on the latest public policy initiative and up to date on what's new on Capitol Hill.
It is fascinating to ease drop on the conversations at Starbucks or out at dinner. You would have to be living under a rock here not to be aware of all the buzz on Capitol Hill about the new 2010 Dietary Guidelines. This is very exciting for a self-proclaimed health nut and food police! 
You may think what is so important about these Guidelines and you’re not alone. Astonishingly, 60% of Americans do not know what the Guidelines are or their importance!! So why are they important?? Basically, a bunch of super natural smart people in all different areas of the medical, nutrition and public health community come together to make these recommendations every five years on what is considered the most "healthy and disease preventing" way of life. This translates to our legislators as the "gold standard" in prevention to reduce health care cost. Many bills will be drafted using its language and many important government decisions will be made based on the 121 pages of The Dietary Guidelines. The Guidelines impact your daily life more than you could ever imagine!
I figured none of you want to take the time to read 121 pages of nutrition jargon (like I am totally excited about doing!) So I decided I would give you a good summary.
January, 31st marked the release of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the federal government's evidence-based nutritional guidance to promote health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity through improved nutrition and physical activity.

Because more than one-third of children and more than two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, the 7th edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans places stronger emphasis on reducing calorie consumption and increasing physical activity.

The new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans focus on balancing calories with physical activity, and encourage Americans to consume more healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood, and to consume less sodium, saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and refined grains.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans include 23 Key Recommendations for the general population and six additional Key Recommendations for specific population groups, such as women who are pregnant. Key Recommendations are the most important messages within the Guidelines in terms of their implications for improving public health.
This edition of the Dietary Guidelines comes at a critical juncture for America’s health and prosperity. By adopting the recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines, Americans can live healthier lives and contribute to a lowering of health-care costs, helping to strengthen America’s long-term economic competitiveness and overall productivity.

USDA and HHS have conducted this latest review of the scientific literature, and have developed and issued the 7th edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in a joint effort that is mandated by Congress. The Guidelines form the basis of nutrition education programs, Federal nutrition assistance programs such as school meals programs and Meals on Wheels programs for seniors, and dietary advice provided by health professionals.

The Dietary Guidelines, based on the most sound scientific information, provide authoritative advice for people 2 years and older about how proper dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases.
The Dietary Guidelines aid policymakers in designing and implementing nutrition-related programs. They also provide education and health professionals, such as nutritionists, dietitians, and health educators with a compilation of the latest science-based recommendations.

The newly released 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans offer a practical roadmap to help people make changes in their eating plans to improve their health, according to the American Dietetic Association.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend shifts in food consumption patterns, encouraging people to eat more of some foods and nutrients and less of others.

The Dietary Guidelines encourage Americans to eat more:

· Whole grains

· Vegetables

· Fruits

· Low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese or fortified soy beverages

· Vegetable oils such as canola, corn, olive, peanut and soybean.

· Seafood

And the 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend eating less:

· Added sugars

· Solid fats, including trans fats

· Refined grains

· Sodium

Recommendations of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines on consumption of sodium and fats are of particular concern because of their links to serious health conditions such as heart disease and hypertension.


The Guidelines maintain their previous recommendation of no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium – about 1 teaspoon of salt – for most people, but now recommend reducing daily consumption of sodium to 1,500 milligrams – about 2/3 of a teaspoon of salt – for people over age 51, African-Americans and those with a history of high blood pressure, kidney problems or diabetes.

Simple ways to reduce sodium:

Prepare food using little salt or fewer high-sodium ingredients. For example, skip using salt in cooking pasta, rice, cereals and vegetables.

Taste food before salting it. Lightly salt food only as needed, not as a habit.

Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, which are naturally low in sodium.

Use herbs, spice rubs and fruit juices in cooking in place of salt.

Check food labels comparing like items and choose lower sodium foods.

Also watch for terms like “low sodium,” “sodium-free” and “no added salt.”

Eat fresh, lean meats, poultry, fish, dry and fresh beans and peas, unsalted nuts and eggs, all of which contain less sodium.

     Dietary Fat

The Guidelines recommend people consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids by replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

For optimal health, most people should reduce their consumption of solid fats, which are high in trans fats and saturated fats and low in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Solid fats are found in fatty animal-based foods such as well-marbled meat, poultry skin, bacon, sausage, butter and whole milk products or foods made with vegetable oils that have been partially hydrogenated, such as cookies, donuts, pastries and crackers.

In place of solid fats, most fats in the diet should be polyunsaturated or monounsaturated, such as liquid vegetable oils like canola, olive, peanut and soybean and high-fat plant-based foods like nuts, seeds, olives and avocados.

Eating plans should also include foods containing omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Omega-3s are found in seafood, especially cold-water fish like Atlantic or Pacific mackerel, albacore tuna, salmon, sardines and lake trout. The new Guidelines encourage Americans to consume at least 8 ounces of seafood each week.
The recommendations are intended as an integrated set of advice to achieve an overall healthy eating pattern. To get the full benefit, all Americans should carry out the Dietary Guidelines recommendations in their entirety.
More consumer-friendly advice and tools, including a next generation Food Pyramid, will be released by USDA and HHS in the coming months.
For more information and to read the 2010 Dietary Guidelines go to

RUN Healthy...