Wednesday, August 9, 2017

It’s Greek to Me


They might come in similar white tubs, but all yogurt is not created equal, and consumers are catching on. Greek yogurt sales have skyrocketed, and for good reason. The straining  process removes whey, sugar, salt, and lactose from the yogurt which makes it more thick and creamy. For about the same amount of calories, Greek yogurt has less sugar and twice as much protein as regular varieties which makes it very nutrient dense. For people who are lactose intolerant Greek varieties might be better tolerated as well.

6 ounces of Greek yogurt has 15-20 grams of protein which is similar to 2-3 ounces of meat. Protein keeps you feeling full longer which can help keep your appetite controlled. Greek   yogurt is also very appealing to vegetarians and people seeking more protein in their diets. In comparison 6 ounces of regular yogurt has around 9 grams of protein.

Going Greek reduces carbohydrates, but only if you are cautions about the added sugar. Plain Greek yogurt is best for you (try sweetening it with fresh fruit). Many sweetened Greek yogurts can be very high in added sugar with total carbohydrates of 15-30 grams. Read the food label and select plain as often as you can.

Be cautious of Greek yogurt’s fat content, which can be much higher in saturated fat than regular yogurt varieties. Evidence-based research continues to encourage low saturated fat intake to reduce heart disease and diabetes risk. Eating healthier unsaturated fats in moderation is better for you. Select nonfat or 1% dairy products and pair them with healthy fats such as chopped nuts, flaxseeds, or chia seeds.

Whether you select Greek yogurt or regular varieties, both contain probiotics which promote a healthy digestive tract and a healthy immune system. It is encouraged to eat probiotics   regularly, making Greek yogurt a wonderful addition to your daily routine.



Greek Yogurt Tuna Salad Recipe
Serves: 2
90 calories per serving

Ingredients:
1 5-ounce can chunk light tuna in water, drained
¼ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1 stalk celery, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
Mix all ingredients together until well combined. Refrigerate at least one hour until chilled. Pairs well with salad, whole grain bread, or with whole grain crackers.




Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Wine vs. Liquor vs. Beer


Is drinking alcohol good for you? Studies are mixed with some showing moderate amounts of alcohol decreasing inflammation, increasing good cholesterol, and lowering risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Other studies encourage reducing intake of alcohol even for light to moderate drinkers for improved cardiovascular health. 

While it is uncertain whether no drinking or moderate drinking is better, the general consensus is that too much alcohol is bad for anyone's health.

Imbibing more than 2 drinks per day for men and more than 1 drink per day for women can increase blood pressure and triglycerides as well as increase the risk of heart disease, obesity, cancer, and liver disease.

What counts as 1 drink?
5 ounces of Wine
12 ounces of Beer
1.5 ounces of 80 proof Spirit

What alcohol is best for your health and for your waistline? Red wine likely offers the best health benefits because it contains the highest amount of antioxidants and natural plant chemicals, such as resveratrol, which might help lower disease risk. One glass has around 125 calories.

Beer and liquor have been shown to help lower disease risk too, but the calories can range greatly. Light beer such as Budweiser Select has only 55 calories per bottle, while craft beer such as Sierra Nevada’s Stout has 225 calories.

1.5 ounces of vodka has only 96 calories but use caution with sugary mixers like soda and juice which can make the calories soar. A cosmo has around 200 calories, a captain and coke has around 290 calories, and a strawberry daiquiri can be well over 600 calories. Mix with club soda and a fresh lemon or order on the rocks to cut down on calories.

Alcohol stimulates appetite too so watch what you are eating, especially bar food and late night snacks that often accompany libations.

Steamed Mussels Recipe
Serves: 4


Ingredients:   
4lbs mussels                            
2 tbs olive oil                              
1 shallot, minced                    
2 garlic cloves, minced             
4 sprigs fresh thyme                     
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 lemon, juiced
1c low sodium chicken broth
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tomato, diced
1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley

Directions: Scrub mussels under cold water, discard any with broken shells. Heat oil in a 6qt pot and sauté shallots, garlic, and thyme. Add mussels, wine, lemon juice, broth, and red pepper flakes. Cover pot and steam over medium-high heat for 5 minutes until mussels open. Toss in tomato and parsley, cover, and steam 1 minute more until soft. Enjoy!




Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Do You Have To Wash Produce?



From farm to table, estimates show about 20 people will touch your produce before you bring it home. That is a lot of opportunities for germs and microorganisms to spread. In fact the CDC estimates each year 1 in 6 people in the U.S. gets sick from food borne illness, 128,000 people are hospitalized, and 3,000 people die.

One study on 4,600 different food borne illness outbreaks found 46% of cases were linked to produce, in particular leafy greens such as kale and spinach. Contaminated water from fecal matter resulted in norovirus being the responsible contaminant for the majority of illnesses.

A different study analyzing produce from countries around the world found 97 different bacteria, many of which are known   opportunistic pathogens. The most abundant pathogens were E. coli which was found on 22% of vegetables and enterobacteriaceae which was found on 60% of fruits and 91% of vegetables.

To remove germs researches at Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station found rinsing produce under tap water for one minute reduced pesticides and microorganisms by 90%. Water temperature did not change results but rubbing produce by hand was most beneficial.

Another study at the University of Florida found mixing vinegar with water removed E. coli and other bacteria and viruses by 95% on strawberries tested.

Experts and the FDA recommend washing produce to remove pesticides and microorganisms that could be harmful when consumed. It appears washing and rubbing produce under tap water is just as effective if not more effective than soap and vegetable washes. Diluted vinegar solutions are beneficial for removing additional bacteria and viruses.   


Grilled Fruit Kabobs
Serves: 8
150 calories per serving

Ingredients:         
8 wood or metal skewers (soak wood skewers at least 1 hour in water)
Assorted fruit cut into 1” cubes (pineapple, strawberries, banana, mango, etc.)
1 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
1/3 cup creamy natural peanut butter

Directions:
Skewer the assorted fruit and place on a medium heat grill about 2-3 minutes each side until slightly brown.

Meanwhile in a small bowl whisk together yogurt and peanut butter until smooth. Serve as a dip with fruit kabobs for dessert. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Is The Charcoal Food Trend Safe?



Black is in when it comes to food. Activated charcoal from burnt coconut shells, wood, or other plants is being used to color ice cream, juices, hot dogs, biscuits, and even cheese. 

Where can you find such foods? Health food stores nationwide are showcasing charcoal juices and waters, Morgenstern’s in NYC broke headlines featuring coconut ash ice cream, and to celebrate 10 years in Japan IKEA featured black hot dogs for $2.95.

 Activated charcoal has been used for centuries and continues to be used today in emergency rooms around the world. It binds easily to substances and has been lifesaving if someone ingests poison or overdoses. The charcoal will bind to the drug or chemical and prevent it from being absorbed by the body. 

While small amounts used in food is unlikely to cause harm, the safety of long-term use has not been studied. Researchers are concerned regular charcoal use could bind to vitamins and minerals in food and drinks, depriving the body of nutrients it needs.

Claims that it cures a hangover are also unlikely; it would take twice the typical dose used for poisoning to bind alcohol from one beer.

Despite numerous health claims, activated charcoal is unlikely to do a lot of good unless you’re been poisoned. We don’t recommend jumping on the charcoal juice or water craze, but small amounts in food or drinks is likely safe.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Minimize Vacation Weight Gain


Most summer vacations center around food and indulging, which can have major consequences once you come back home. Studies show 61% of American adults gained weight while on vacation. Some gained as much as 7 pounds due to higher calorie intake, especially from alcohol. The average weight gain was 0.7 pounds, which is not too shocking, however the weight tended to stay on after they returned home.
Weight creep is when people gain small amounts of weight over a long period of time. What might not seem like too much weight gain over vacation can add up after several years. Unless you weigh yourself regularly people don’t realize subtle weight gain is happening. Follow these tips to minimize vacation weight gain this summer:

Weigh yourself before and after vacation

Go hiking, swim, plan physical activities, and exercise during your trip

Pack healthy snacks and sandwiches in a cooler for road trips

Don’t load up at breakfast, instead set the tone for the rest of the day by practicing portion control

Pick healthy menu items at restaurants such as baked poultry, fish, salads, and vegetable based dishes

Treat yourself in moderation, but not every day

Enjoy small portions and eat slowly

Order wisely from the bar, fruity drinks can have over 500 calories. Stick with wine, light beer, white wine spritzers, vodka soda, and champagne.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Watch out! Fried Potatoes Could Be Deadly



A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found people eating fried potatoes, in the form of French fries, potato chips, or hash browns, two-three times per week doubled their risk of dying early compared to people who never ate fried potatoes.

Potato chips and French fries were found to contain higher levels of acrylamide, which the World Health Organization and FDA state is a major health concern due to its neurotoxicity in humans and carcinogenic properties.

Frying foods also oxidizes cholesterol more readily, which can produce more atherosclerotic plaque compared to nonoxidized cholesterol in the body.

Fried foods are high in calories, which could lead to weight gain and high in saturated fat, which could raise cholesterol. A side of French fries typically has 500 calories, 24g fat, 3.5g saturated fat, 66g carbs, and 350mg sodium. Add a few squirts of ketchup and the sodium increases to 670mg.

The American Heart Association Recommends reducing saturated fat to no more than 5-6% of total daily calories. For a 2000 calorie diet that is 11-13g per day.

The study was observational and cannot conclude fried potatoes cause early death, however researchers believe fried potato consumption is associated with a less healthy Western diet associated with higher mortality rates.

The study found no raise in mortality rates from people eating non-fried potatoes. A small potato with the skin is rich in fiber, has more potassium than a banana, provides half your daily needs of vitamin C, and contains protein. If you love potatoes consider roasting them in the oven with olive oil and rosemary or steaming them for a few minutes in the microwave for a healthier side dish to a meal. 




Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Reducing Risk of Alzheimer’s


Researchers at Temple University recently published a study in Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology indicating extra virgin olive oil (evoo) protects memory and reduces  classic markers of Alzheimer’s disease such as  amyloid-beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain.

Studying the relationship of evoo on Alzheimer’s, researchers fed one group of mice a diet rich in olive oil and a second group of mice regular chow. Mice fed the evoo diet for 3 months and 6 months performed better on working memory, spatial memory, and learning abilities tests than the group fed regular chow. There was also a dramatic difference in nerve cell appearance and function of brain tissue between the two groups.

Mice fed the evoo diet had less brain  inflammation. They had better synaptic integrity, which is the connection between neurons. They also had a dramatic increase in nerve cell autophagy activation; a cellular process that clears out toxins and debris, such as amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.

Neurofibrillary tangles are believed to contribute to nerve cell dysfunction in the brain, resulting in Alzheimer’s memory problems.

Researchers concluded “Thanks to the autophagy activation, memory and synaptic integrity were preserved, and the pathological effects in animals otherwise destined to develop Alzheimer’s disease were significantly reduced.”

Researchers plan to continue their study on the same mice who have developed plaques and tangles to determine if a diet rich in evoo could stop or reverse Alzheimer’s once present. 

Olive oil has a medium-high smoking point and can withstand cooking temperatures to up 375-400F making it a good oil for salads, baking, oven cooking, and stir-frying. 1 tbs has 120 calories so watch the amount you use if you are also watching your waistline.