Monday, September 11, 2017
If you travel to Southeast Asia, or to your local Asian market, you might find a very large and very smelly durian fruit. Banned from many hotels, airports, and the Singapore Mass Transit-if you’ve smelled it once you won’t forget.
The durian is regarded as the “king of fruits” due to its large size. It can weigh between 2-7 pounds and grow up to 12 inches long and 6 inches wide. A thorny greenish-brownish colored skin covers its yellow flesh.
The smell has been described as a combination of rotten onions, raw sewage, and turpentine which can linger for several days. Despite the dreadful smell the flesh has a pleasant sweet taste of almonds and custard. People either love it or hate it.
While not native to Thailand, the country is a major producer and hosts the World Durian Festival annually. Southern Thai people often eat the fruit young when the flesh is still crisp and mild in flavor. Northern Thia people often wait for the fruit to fully ripen and become soft and aromatic making the flesh very rich and slightly alcoholic.
Strong demand for high quality durian can drive prices high, costing about $8-15 USD per fruit. Some markets will sell the flesh only, and people in Singapore have spent as much as $50 USD for six pieces of the flesh.
The flesh can be eaten raw or cooked to flavor traditional Asian dishes, added to sweet sticky rice, made into ice cream, served in cappuccino, and turned into candy. In traditional medicine it has been used to reduce fevers and as an aphrodisiac. The skin is not edible, and while raw seeds are toxic they can be boiled or roasted making them safe for consumption.
Half a cup of durian flesh has 179 calories. The fruit is a good source of fiber, potassium, vitamin C, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, and B6.
Durian contains compounds that may prevent alcohol from being broken down in the body, resulting in increased blood alcohol levels, nausea, vomiting, and heart palpitations. It is advised not to consume durian and alcohol together.
This exotic fruit isn’t for everyone but the next time you find yourself in Southern Asia or an Asian market give it a try; if they are nearby you can’t miss the smell.
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
A New Jersey man named Brian Northrup claims he lost 5.9 lbs and improved his athletic performance after eating a full Domino’s pizza every day for a year.
Using social media Northrup tracked his starting weight at 167.1lbs and ending weight 367 days later at 161.2lbs where he celebrated with three Domino’s pizzas filled high with feta, sausage, bacon, and pineapple.
While this was not a scientific experiment Northrup claims “I eat more in order to work out more” which helped give him energy to lift weights 3-4 time per week and do 20-30 minutes of cardio daily. Northrup claims his routine increased his strength, speed, and cardiovascular endurance while getting him in great shape.
Active men like Northrup, aged 25-29 years, can require over 2800 calories per day to sustain themselves. One medium Domino’s pizza has 1680 calories which could explain why he was able to lose weight despite eating an entire pizza daily.
Health professions question the long term safety of his daily consumption since one entire pizza has 64g total fat, 28g saturated fat, and 3600mg sodium. Strong evidence-based research shows high intake of saturated fat increases chronic disease risk and high sodium intake has been linked to hypertension risk and stomach cancer.
Food is fuel and plays an important role in energy production, especially when it comes to athletic performance. Obtaining sufficient calories, clean burning fuel, and the right amount of carbohydrates, fat, and protein is encouraged to promote optimal athletic performance.
Domino’s states they did not sponsor the social media stunt and hope Northrup is a member of their Loyalty Program to earn free pizzas overtime.
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
There is more support for marijuana legalization which may significantly increase usage. While it provides benefit for some, little research on its impact to cardiovascular health has been done.
A new study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found 21% of their 1,213 participants smoked only marijuana, 20% smoked marijuana and cigarettes, and 4% only smoked cigarettes. The average use of marijuana was 11.5 years.
From the data collected researchers found marijuana use to be associated with a 3.42 times higher risk of death from hypertension with an increase of 1.04 times higher risk for each year of use. It was found that cardiovascular risk was higher in marijuana smokers than cigarette smokers which was cause for concern. One researcher stated “the detrimental effects of marijuana on brain function far exceed that of cigarette smoking.”
Marijuana impacts the cardiovascular system by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system. This can lead to an increase in oxygen demand, heart rate, and blood pressure. Cases of heart attacks after marijuana use have been reported.
Researchers discourage believing in claims that marijuana is not harmful to health. As use becomes more popular they encourage caution to assess whether health benefits outweigh the risks. More studies to identify a correlation between marijuana use and cardiovascular health are encouraged.
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
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
90 calories per serving
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
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
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.
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
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
150 calories per serving
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
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
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.