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Happy Friday!

I just finished reading a research study that stated that women with diabetes have a 40% to 50% higher risk of developing coronary artery disease than their male counterparts.  This information is significant, and validates the need for women to work closely with their healthcare providers to reduce risk.  The study mentioned that men and women are both struggling with heart disease, but women are not getting their diabetes treated early enough, and are being seen by physicians later in the process, and therefore, farther along with the risk of heart disease.

I see a few takeaways from this study that are important to mention here

1) Cardiovascular disease is still the #1 killer of women in America (breast cancer is #2). Women need to take care of themselves throughout their lifetime, and that includes reducing their risk of chronic disease.

2) Healthy weight--- women tend to be diagnosed with diabetes at a heavier weight, and are having more complications from this fact.  Ladies--- weight loss CAN be achieved gradually and can be done with the help of a registered dietitian

3) Physical activity-- we know that exercise reduces insulin resistance, which can improve blood glucose levels significantly.  Start by walking just a few steps each day, and GRADUALLY.. and I mean GRADUALLY.. work your way up to 10,000 steps, or  5 miles per day.  Your heart, waistline and blood sugar, will thank you.

4) Stress--- I know, I know... trying to ask women to manage stress is like trying to hold back a waterfall with a teacup.. but... stress really plays havoc on your body..... in SOOO many ways.... Try deep breathing, meditating, and relaxing music... all of these can help...

5) Sleep--Research has shown a negative relationship with sleep deprivation in women and diabetes... Researchers at Case Western Reserve University found that women that sleep less than 5 hours per night have a 60% greater chance of developing diabetes...... Sleep deprivation messes with cortisol, leptin and ghrelin levels, all of which impact blood sugar levels as well.

 

Ladies... this holiday weekend... provide some good old self care that I mentioned above, and give your heart a break:)

 

Happy Memorial Day, and God bless all of those who serve, and have served our country for our freedom... Amy

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Runners look at the world through a different lens... We plan our work and family schedules around group runs, hill work, and cross training.  This weekend Cleveland will be hosting the annual Cleveland marathon in town.  The weather should be good, and all that hard work and training will finally pay off.

 

Being a runner myself, I understand the "runner" mentality, and have completed a marathon myself in Chicago.... it was an AMAZING experience, and recommend it to anyone that is interested in achieving a really awesome accomplishment.

 

This morning I was invited to speak at one of our local TV stations on the best foods for our runners this weekend.. Here is my top 5 list

1) 100% Whole Grain Bread-- this is an awesome food 3-4 hours pre event, because it is a low glycemic index food (won't cause spikes and drops in the blood sugar) as well as offering a long, continuous supply of energy to the muscles

2) Peanut butter-- another PRE event food that will offer healthy monounsaturated fats, as well as protein to get you through the race

3) Banana-- most races will supply these during or POST event to help supply carbohydrates and much needed potassium to muscles that have been worked for up to 26.2 miles... Anyone who has experienced cramping KNOWS how painful this can be

4) Extra Virgin Olive Oil-- POST event salads, dipping sauce.. There is an component in EVOO called oleocanthal, that has as much anti-inflammatory effect as ibuprofen, and let me tell you... Your muscles will need it :)

5)  Nuts-- POST event.. Nuts have heart healthy fats, as well as protein and fiber.. In fact, a research study showed that 1/4 oz of nuts per day reduces C Reactive Protein (CRP)-- a marker of inflammation in the cells., as well as helping keep body weight down.

 

There you have it... Good luck to all the races this weekend.... You can do it!!

 

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Yesterday was Mom's Day, and I can't think of a better way to celebrate the best job I ever had than with family.

 

Here are my top 5 things to do on Mother's Day (and other days when I have time.. which is NOT that often, right moms?)

 

1) Sleep in:  Ok.. this NEVER happens, but was great yesterday.. an extra hour of shut eye was much needed this week.. Research from Case Western Reserve University shown that women that sleep less than 5 hours per night increase their risk of Type II Diabetes by 60%

2) Eat a healthy breakfast:  Having extra time to prepare a healthy breakfast is another great thing to help you stay well.  We enjoyed a breakfast of whole grain pancakes,  soy-based sausage, fruit and unsweetened almond milk. This meal provides B Vitamins and Complex Crabs for lasting energy, calcium, protein, and dietary fiber.  This should help keep us satiated until our special Mother's Day Dinner out

3) Drink water-- As it the weather gets warmer, the need to stay hydrated increases... Keep in mind that many foods and beverages count, including water, coffee, tea, and the water in fruits and veggies.

4) Get some sunshine-- for those of us above the 37th Latitude, we just don't get enough Vitamin D, so spending a few minutes with the family getting some sun will help.... I also take 1,000 IU of Vitamin D3 as well.. Have you had your D3 checked????  70% of people are deficient.

5) Play with my family... We went out and enjoyed a roaring game of T-Ball in the backyard... Anything to get moving is good..... activity is critical for longevity and wellness.

 

There you have it... 5 Great things to Do on Mother's Day... Happy Mother's Day to all moms... by far the BEST job I ever had :)

 

 

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Posted by on in Blog of the Day

I watched an interesting story on TV last night... They interviewed a number of healthy 90+ year olds and wanted to know what they do to live as long as they do.  They have been following these folks since the early 1980's and the results are fascinating!

 

1) Nutrition--- Did these folks watched what they ate for most of their lives?  Well, as much as it dismays me to say it... NO... they ate what they wanted,  and enjoyed the they ate.  It did help if they were at a healthy weight for most of their life

2) Alcohol-- Most of the 90+ lived well by consuming moderate amounts of alcohol.  What is moderate you ask?  Approximately 2 drinks per day, which could be 2 (4-5 0z) glasses of wine, 2 beers, or 2 mixed drinks

3) Activity-- These folks keep moving and grooving!  They are all physically active in one way or another.. They walk, hike, ride bikes and dance their healthy buns off :)

4) Memory-- Most of them are doing well on memory tests, and new research may shine new light on the role of age and dementia-- It was thought that Alzheimers Disease could only be diagnosed post mortem.  Today-- there is a new PET scan machine that can look at brain activity while still alive.. How cool is THAT??? It appears that they story is more in depth than just amyloid plaques and tangles... STAY tuned

5) Romance-- Yes, sex after 90 is still cooking... Healthy living includes being active in the bedroom..... Not a bad way to stay healthy:)

 

There you have it.. 5 ways to live well after 90 years old....... Let me know what your healthy living secrets are.

 

 

 

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The question came up a family dinner recently---- will I lose weight if I eat more slowly? 

Since I am a Registered Dietitian, I get bombarded with questions daily (and most times.. multiple times a day-- thanks mom)

 

The research on the topic of eating slowly is interesting.  The most recent article in the Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics examined the role of timing on 35 normal weight and overweight or obese men and women.  They were provided, with a large portion of pasta , tomatoes, olive oil, cheese, garlic and herbs and spices on two different occasions. 

 

The two groups were told to eat as fast as they could on the first day, not putting their forks down at all, and to eat as slowly as they desired on the second occasion, putting their forks down between each bite.

 

The group that ate quickly finished their meal in 9 minutes, and the slow diners completed their meals in 22 minutes... Now let's look at the caloric intake of the two groups.

 

The normal weight group that ate  slowly cut their calories from 890 to 800 calories by taking extra time to eat their meal.  The overweight or obese group changed their calorie intake from 720 to 670 -- which was not statistically significant.

Both groups felt more full when they consumed their meal slowly.

Morale of the story-- listen to mom--- chew your food slowing, it takes time for the satiety hormones to kick in and tell your body your full.

 

Enjoy your meals slowly today, and you might just do one more thing to shrink your waist :)

 

 

 

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Happy Friday!


Us

For most of us, we are beginning to wind down our workweek.  But wellness never ends, right?


 

Here are 5 things you and your family can do for wellness this weekend:


 

1) Go for a walk--- Yes!!!  The snow has finally melted, and I mean FINALLY!  Dust off the walking shoes, and get some fresh air.  There are LOTS of reasons for this-- first of all, breathing in fresh air helps manage day to day activities better, as well as get us some much needed exercise.  Research shows that walking 10,000 steps per day( 5 miles) will significantly reduce your waistline, as well as risk for heart disease, and diabetes

2) Get some more fruits and veggies--- This is a NO BRAINER!  Make a smoothie  with spinach, kale, or fresh fruit.  Bake muffins with carrots or raisins.  Know what I did this week?  Made 2 pans of veggie lasagna... want some?


3). Get some ZZZZ-- rest is critical for wellness,  and many of us deprive ourselves of this much needed time to rest and rejuvenate our mind and body.  Want research?  Sleeping less than 5 hours per night for women increases your risk of diabetes by 60%!  YIKES!

4) Get back to nature-- I mentioned taking a walk, but this is more about connecting with a larger, and more balanced place.  Nature has a way of helping us see that when life gets full, busy, and sometimes overwhelming, nature helps us put things back in perspective.  We have amazing parks here, and it is truly one of my favorite places to be

5) Be grateful-- This might be a new one to some people, but I have found this to be extremely helpful for my wellness.  I have been writing in a gratitude journal each night.  Just a few things that I am grateful for each day, and it really makes me see how wonderful my life can be (especially on the days that my toddler is less than perfect:)


 

There you have it..... 5 easy things to do this weekend... Go out, eat fruits and veggies, breathe, get rest, and be thankful.


 

All is well :)  

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I love making fun and healthy food for my family:)

 

 


 

The only thing that makes it better is gadgets that make it easier!  Here is my top  5 list

1) Immersion Blender-- you can use this powerful  little guy for soups, sauces and smoothies-- Soo much easier than hauling out the large equipment for this job

2) Palm Grater-- Super cute, and super convenient!  Use this hand-held tool for hard cheeses to make a super healthy sprinkling on your pasta

3) Food thermometer-- Well, this ain't sexy, -- but either is food borne illness!  Use this to make sure your turkey, and chicken are at 165 degrees-- My dear friend Bobbie told me Pork can be 145 degrees for medium rare chops, and 155 for beef... Keep the bugs away:)

4) Coffee Grinders--- use this tool to grind fresh beans, or your flax seeds-- We can all use more omega 3 fatty acids, right?

5) A high quality chef or Sudoku knife-- You won't cut fruits and veggies with a dull knife, so make this investment in your health now to get more produce into your diet today and tomorrow.


 

There you have it... 5 kitchen gadgets I love.. Happy Cooking !

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Posted by on in Blog of the Day

Even though I look out my window and see snow, I am hopeful that Spring will be here soon:-- Would someone PLEASE tell the weather folks that it ‘s actually Spring?   Spring is a time of rebirth, renewal, and a fresh start after a LONG, ok.. VERY LONG, winter J  This is the perfect opportunity to swap out the old, and put the best stuff in the pantry for a healthy, and happy, spring and summer

 

 

 

Here’s my Spring Cleaning  Top 5 Pantry Swap List

 

 

 

  1. Low Sodium Broth for High Sodium Versions—Hypertension is known as the “silent killer” because people do not know that they have the condition. Excess sodium can significantly improve blood pressure levels, and by swapping out high sodium broth, you can help keep blood pressure in check, and you won’t be able to tell the difference in taste. Here is a startling statistic: by the age of 70, --- 90% of us will have hypertension… will you be the 10% without it?

     

  2. Black Rice for White Rice—Black rice is high in a pigment called anthocyanins, and is much higher in fiber and nutrients than its white counterpart.  In fact, a healthy serving of black rice has as much anti-oxidants as blueberries (with much less sugar)

     

  3. Panko Bread Crumbs for Regular Bread Crumbs—They have ½ the calories as the Italian kind, but because they are lighter and coarser, they absorb less oil and fat.  They also tend to stay crisper after cooking, which makes them great for breading for fish and chicken.  One final note—panko crumbs have much less sodium than regular bread crumbs

     

  4. Salsa Verde for The High Fat Laden Ranch—One- half cup of this green wonder offers a serving of vegetables, that is high in Vitamin B3, or niacin, which may help control blood cholesterol levels.  The best part—only 60 calories.. whoo hoo!

     

  5.  Artichoke Hearts for Green Olives—Down just a few olives (8) and you have eaten 4 grams of fat.. YIKES!  Artichoke hearts give you the salty taste with zero fat.  They are bursting with antioxidant values, and can be put on salads, stews and pizzas.. My favorite—making a sandwich with them and a bunch of veggies and some melted mozzarella cheese and mushrooms..YUMBO!

     

 

 

 

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Posted by on in Blog of the Day

Happy Monday!

 

Isn't it great to get back to work after a nice relaxing weekend?  Well, if you are not quite as excited as me, keep this in mind... There are foods that can help make today, and this week--- better for your brain?

 

Forget where you left your car keys?  Where did your kids leave their shoes THIS time?  Foods can help boost brain power and memory.. read on..

Here's a list of a things you could try to help increase your memory.

    1) Salmon. This fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduces inflammation and helps brain cells work properly. Albacore tuna and sardines can also provide omega-3's.


  2)  Almonds. These nuts contain an amino acid that helps neurotransmitters process more efficiently. They also have riboflavin (B2), which will also help boost your memory.
   

3) Blueberries. These fruits contain phytochemical anthocyanin, which will help preserves a healthy brain, and clarity.
    Pumpkin Seeds. These contain zinc, vitamins A and E, omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. They also help benefit memory and thinking skills.

4) Virgin olive oil, tomatoes, yogurt-- all contain components that will reduce inflammation

5) Dark chocolate--- at least 70% or higher cacao will help improve blood flow..

 

Here's to a happy Monday, and an even better workweek :)

 

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You may, or may not know this, but today is one of my FAVORITE days of the year!  Today is National Registered Dietitian Day, and this is a GREAT day to highlight and celebrate the great things that RDs and RDNs, can do for you if you are looking at improving your healthy lifestyle

 

Here is my Top 5 list of WHY you should be happy that RDs are here to help you, and others, improve their health

 

1) They are credible-- RDs go through extensive training and clinical experience to learn the science, and practical application of nutrition to help meet your needs.  RDs are required to have at least a bachelor's degree (many have a Master's Degree) and have undergone experience in a number of areas of health, including rotations in hospitals, nursing homes, supermarkets, wellness centers, and other agencies

 

2) They are available!  Go to www.eatright.org to find an RD near you!  Just put in your zip code, and you can find one in your backyard

 

3) They have a number of areas of expertise!  RDs have advanced practice credentials if they have extensive training in specific areas-- just like doctors, nurses, and other professionals!  Have kidney disease?  There is an RD for you!  Need specialized nutrition?  There are RDs for this.. Want someone to help with weight loss?  Got that too?

Want to work with someone with expertise with nutrition and sports?  That would be a CSSD, such as myself, that can help you meet your goals!

 

4) They are real people-- They realize that life is worth living, and will help you set goals that WORK for you!

 

5) They are FUN folks!!!  (Present company included:).  Life is worth living, and making a difference!  We love changing lives, and having fun doing it as well.. RDs are able to make healthy eating FUN and enjoyable!

 

For all those reasons, I am happy to wish everyone a HAPPY REGISTERED DIETITIAN Day! 

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Well, the Fish fries are in full swing here in Cleveland, and folks tend to flock to the churches, halls, and schools for the best fish fries in the city.


Can you make a fish fry healthy?  Well, yes and no... Here are a top of my favorite ways to enjoy your fish fry without guilt


 

1)  Bake or broiled is best-- baked or broiled fish will save you fat, saturated fat and calories.  You can make fish taste fabulous with lemons, herbs and spices

2) Cool your slaw-- try to get your coleslaw made with oil and vinegar as opposed to mayonnaise.  The heart healthy oil will be better for your heart, and reduce inflammation throughout your body

3) Veggie up!-- Seek out fresh, or frozen veggies with your meal--- Can you say.. extra anti-oxidants? 

4) Drink lightly-- go easy on the alcohol.. It adds an extra 30 minutes of cardio to your workout

5) Sweet endings--- Go for fruit or plain cookies for a desert.  The fruit will offer anti-inflammatory compounds and help promote healthy blood flow while helping lower blood pressure.  Plain cookies will reduce total calories and help promote healthy weight


Ok-- there you have it.. My top 5 list for how to survive your Lenten Fish Fries... Go fish~!

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I live in Cleveland, where it feels like winter lasts.. oh.. say.. 9 months out of the year.  Right now, the temperature is below 0, and if we’re lucky.. it will get to 20.. WHOOP it upJ

Nothing makes me feel better than sitting by a crackling fire with a warm beverage or some soothing foods to get through these chilly, chilly days.  These foods will make your taste buds sing, and help you forget that you need to put 27 layers on to go outside.

 

1)       Hot, hot herbal tea—My favorite kind is peppermint… I love the calm, soothing feel of the mint, and research has shown that peppermint can help soothe a sour stomach as well

 

2)      Feelin hot, hot hot… Add some red pepper flakes to your pasta, veggie pizza or soups and stews.  The capsacin in peppers tends to increase energy expenditure for several hours after eating them, and may also help bind to nerve receptors in the brain that help you burn up to 100 additional calories per day!

 

3)      Whole, hearty, and healthy grains—100% whole grain cereal, rice or pasta (think a hearty, old fashioned oatmeal) that fills you up, and takes more time to chew to really warm your inside and out. Numerous studies have cited the benefits of whole grains on health, prevention of cardiovascular disease and weight loss, specifically, belly fat.  Whole grains tend to reduce the amount of inflammatory proteins in the body, which helps reduce additional fat around the mid-section

 

4)      Go green—Green tea contains antioxidants called catechins that can boost your metabolism by up to 4%, or 80 calories a day by sipping on this warming wonder.

 

5)      Make it with mustard! Yellow mustard contains a component called turmeric, which really turns up the burn in the brain and warm you all day long!

 

These foods should really help warm your heart and body all day long.. Until then, I can visualize that my toes are in the sand at a warm, sunny beach J

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by on in Blog of the Day

 

The Must have Mineral for Women

 

 

 

Most of my female clients know that calcium, folate and iron are important to their health, but many are not aware of the mineral that is just as important for wellness:  magnesium.  The list of benefits is long, from cardiovascular health, bone health, to migraine relief, and elimination of PMS symptoms.

 

 

 

Let’s take a look at the benefits of this marvelous mineral

 

  1. Blood pressure:  CHECK!--- When levels of magnesium levels are low, it puts a strain on the cardiovascular system to pump blood to cells. This tends to lead to fluid retention, and can result in elevated blood pressure.  A very well known, and competent cardiologist that I have worked with shared with me an interesting statistic:  by age 70, approximately 90% of us will have hypertension..scary, right? 

     

  2. Down with Diabetes:  Almost one fourth of all people with diabetes are deficient in magnesium.  Inadequate intake leads to insulin resistance, a condition in which glucose can not get into the cells for energy, and excess amounts remain in the bloodstream.  All metabolic processes that use sugar are dependent on magnesium.  And by the way.. the ONLY fuel that your brain and eye can use for normal function are glucose, or blood sugar. 

     

  3. Prevent migraines:  Almost 50% of people who have migraines are low in magnesium.  Three research studies have shown that 400- 600 milligrams of magnesium reduce the intensity and severity of migraines within a few weeks. But make sure to take this supplement with food to reduce gastrointestinal distress

     

  4. Bone up on magnesium—Everyone knows the role of calcium in the prevention of osteoporosis, but many do not realize that if you do not have enough magnesium, calcium cannot work at optimal levels. Research done at Tufts University over a 4 year period revealed women that took a magnesium supplement along with calcium lost less bone than those who did not.

     

  5. Pound out PMS—A study in Italy found women that took 360 milligrams of magnesium three times a day from mid-cycle until they got their period were less moody and irritable than those who were given a placebo.  Magnesium also helps reduces cramps as well.

     

  6. Fatigue fighter – ( I really need this oneJ) Magnesium is critical to every metabolic process, including exercise because it plays a role in the production of ATP, the energy currency of the cells… Think of it this way.. no ATP.. NO Energy!

 

 

 

So where can you get your magnesium from?  Here is a list of foods, the amount and how much magnesium is in it. Getting these magnesium rich foods will help you feel better, and for years to come!

 

   

 

Food

Amount

Milligrams

Spinach, cooked

1 cup

157

White beans, canned, no salt

1 cup

134

Brown rice, cooked

1 cup

84

Raisin Bran

1 cup

83

Shredded Wheat+ bran

1 and ¼ cups                      

80

Almonds

1 ounce (small handful)

78

Artichoke

1 medium

72

Potato with skin, baked

1 medium

57

Oatmeal

1 cup

56

Tomato Sauce

1 cup

47

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by on in Reduce Chronic Disease

One of the biggest concerns that my clients have is how to control food cravings cravings.  These cravings are, according to researchers, found in approximately 60% of people (I think that number is higher J ) And what is the most craved food for women?  Yes.. you guessed it.. chocolate. For men it happens to be pizza.

A recent study in the Journal of Eating Behaviors looked at the role of smell and temptation of healthy vs. unhealthy foods.  Researcher Nicola Buckland from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom  wanted to know if certain smells could stop people from eating tempting foods, such as chocolate.  

The study consisted of 13 women that were currently trying to lose weight, and 21 women that were eating with no caloric limitations.  She asked the women to smell fresh oranges and chocolate.  Later, the participants were told to have a snack, and eat as much as they wanted of the oranges or chocolate treats. 

The results were very interesting..  The group that was trying to lose weight ate 60 percent less chocolate after smelling the oranges (compared with how much they ate after smelling the chocolate). One potential mechanism of action is that the smell of fresh oranges reminded female dieters to limit their intake of tempting and high calorie, diet forbidden snacks.  But the results may not be long term. 

 

Approximately 65% of people are either overweight or struggling with obesity, and this might be an interesting method to help people control food cravings in the future…. So the next time you reach for that extra- large chocolate bar, consider smelling a fresh orange first.. It may just be good for your waistline. 

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Posted by on in Seasonal Eating

 

With the warm weather come summer activities, such as swimming, outdoor games, and lots of sunshine. .. .With a very fair toddler at home, sunscreen is a staple for all   of our events...  As always, it’s important to put on at least SPF 30 or higher 15 minutes before going outside..  But did you know that there are a few foods that offer sun  protection as well?    Here is my top 5 list of sun protection foods….

 1)      Strawberries--- Start by making a family activity to go pick your own.. they will be so wonderfully sweet and juicy!  Strawberries contain a pigment anthocyanins that help protect against sun damage. 

2)      Tomatoes—These super summer foods are loaded with lycopene.  Since lycopene sits in the wall of the tomato, the highest amounts are found in cooked forms, such as tomato paste and sauce.  In one research study, participants that consumed 5 tablespoons of tomato products per day for 12 weeks had significantly less sunburn than the control group that did not eat tomato products. 

3)      Chocolate—Yes, one more reason to love the sweet treat!  Researchers found that participants that drank a cocoa beverage that had at least 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate had less skin damage than those who did not.  The antioxidants in chocolate called flavanols are what appears to offer the sun protection. 

4)      Fish—We always talk about the benefits of fish high in omega 3 fatty acids, such as salmon as part of a healthy diet, and here is one more reason to consume the protein packed food.  In another research study, subjects that ate the equivalent of 1.5 (3 oz) portions of fatty fish per day for 3 months had double the Ultraviolet protection as the group that did not consume fatty fish. 

 5)      Leafy greens--- Greens are a good source of beta carotene, an antioxidant that may help reduce sunburn. Want to take your sunburn protection up a notch?  Cook the greens quickly and toss them with extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil which will improve absorption of the nutrients.

 Enjoy these foods, and get a little extra sun protection at no added charge!  Here’s to   

a happy nutrient rich and super sensational summer! 

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Ever heard the song... rainy days and Mondays always get me down?  The popular song can really resonate at the beginning of a workweek.   Let's be honest.. Mondays are hard enough, but when you add dark, dreary, and rainy to the mix.. it really gets tough!

But never fear.. Mondays are no excuse for unhealthy eating!  I have just the solution for a somewhat blah day.. BRIGHT, BOLD and super fabulous fruits and veggies!  

Want the freshest and easiest recipe for fabulous summer lemonade?  Ok.. here it is.

2 cups of green grapes, washed 

1 lemon-- peeled 

1 cup ice

(sweetener as needed)  

Blend all together and enjoy! 

 

This drink will really perk up your taste buds and make you forget it's Monday.. OK.. maybe not.. but it sure is GOOD!

Try it and let me know what you think :) 

 

 

But never fear.. Good nutrition is here!  What's the BEST way to liven up your dreary day?  Bright, bold  

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Are you normally a healthy eater avoiding foods high in sugars, fat and empty calories?  Do you get derailed during the holidays, especially Easter and all the candy? Well here’s a couple easy ways you can make your Easter baskets healthy and fun this year. 

 

Make the switch from milk chocolate to dark chocolate.  According to the current research, dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa is packed full of flavonoids.  Flavonoids lower blood pressure, increases blood flow to the heart and brain, and enhances clotting of the blood.   Antioxidants, which help the body’s cells fight against damage caused by free radicals, can also be found in dark chocolate.  But, moderation is still key when it comes to consuming chocolate.

 

Instead of caramel or cream filled chocolate eggs, which are very high in sugar and fat, consider air-popped popcorn with a sprinkle of dark chocolate.  Air popped popcorn is lower in calories and fat then microwavable options.  Don’t forget popcorn is a whole grain too! 

 

Do you love marshmallow chicks or bunnies?  Consider mixing a batch of Rice Krispy Treats and shaping them into eggs or bunnies with a cookie cutter.  This could be a fun activity to do with the kids. If your kids love sweet foods you could also consider sweet fruits like bananas, oranges or clementines  instead of mounds of chocolate.  Fruits are packed full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals our bodies need.

 

The tradition has always been to fill the Easter basket with mounds of candy but another great way we could steer clear of the candy would be too add other fun things to the Easter baskets.  Depending on the age range of your children you could give a small gift card to their favorite store, a stuffed animal, scarf, nail polish, any one of their favorite toys, or any game.  You could also consider outside games like chalk, sandbox toys or a jump rope to encourage outside activity.

 

Happy Easter and may it be a healthy one! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by on in Seasonal Eating

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 Budget-Friendly Superfoods

(interview with Amy at clevelandclinicwellness.com )

Think you can’t afford to eat healthfully? It may be easier and less expensive than you imagine. According to Amy Jamieson-Petonic, MEd, RD, director of wellness coaching at the Cleveland Clinic, it’s a myth that kale costs more than cookies. A 2012 USDA study found that junk foods cost more per portion than the good guys like legumes, whole grains and vegetables. The secret to getting the most nutritional bang for your buck: embracing a back-to-basics eating style, says Environmental Working Group (EWG) nutritionist Dawn Undurraga, MS, RD. To help you navigate the aisles, EWG crunched some numbers to determine which foods offer the most nutrition for your dollar and the least exposure to environmental toxins like BPA, pesticides and mercury. Here, your guide to the best buys in the supermarket, and how to add them to your diet.

Go Bananas!

What it costs: 24 cents per small banana (1 cup)

 

Why it’s good for you: Though they may be the cheapest fruit in the produce section, bananas are no nutritional slouch. Among their greatest benefits are their fiber and potassium content, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, wellness manager for the Cleveland Clinic’s Lifestyle 180 program. Potassium blunts the effects of a high-sodium diet and can even help lower blood pressure. Eat bananas between meals to curb afternoon munchies. “As with anything that’s high in fiber, bananas will help you feel full for longer,” says Kirkpatrick.

 

How to use it: Buy bananas when they’re still slightly green, so they’ll last you the entire week. If you don’t eat them in time and they start to turn brown, peel them and store them in the freezer to use later in smoothies, muffins or bread, like our Nutty Banana Muffins recipe. One of Kirkpatrick’s favorite ways to eat bananas: dark-chocolate-dipped frozen banana pops. Or try this easy banana “gelato”recipe for a sweet, creamy treat.

A Pear to Remember

What it costs: 33 cents per medium-size pear (1 cup)

 

Why it’s good for you: Research shows that apples and pears may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. Another study found that eating plenty of white-fleshed fruits and vegetables could protect against stroke. Plus, just one pear packs in 20 percent of your daily fiber needs. Think of fiber as your stay-slim secret weapon: The more fiber in your food, the less you’ll need to eat to feel full.

 

How to use it: If you’re not in love with the pear’s grainy texture, bake it with a sprinkle of cinnamon, walnuts, no-sugar-added apple juice and cloves for a wonderful treat. Or try our recipe for Roasted Pears With Maple Crunch. You can also use roasted pears in a salad with dried cranberries and blue cheese or shaved Parmesan.

Get Sweet on Watermelon

What it costs: 26 cents per 1 cup

 

Why it’s good for you: You might think of this sweet summer treat as a luxury, but watermelon is an excellent source of lycopene, says Jamieson-Petonic. Lycopene is a type of carotenoid (a pigment that gives fruits and veggies their orange, red or yellow hue) found in red produce that may guard against some cancers, as well as help improve the skin’s natural defenses against the sun. Plus, it’s one of the few foods that contain citrulline, a chemical that helps relax your arteries and lower blood pressure.

 

How to use it: Though watermelon is high in sugar, eating it with other foods helps keep it from wreaking havoc on your blood sugar levels, notes Jamieson-Petonic. Watermelon’s nutrients are best absorbed with a little fat or oil. Instead of saving it for dessert, turn watermelon into an entree. Toss cubed watermelon into a salad bowl with diced avocado, cucumber, chopped mint and feta. Drizzle lightly with lime juice and olive oil.

A Prune by Any Other Name

What it costs: 19 cents per serving (1/4 cup)

 

Why it’s good for you: Though we may think of prunes as nature’s little movers and shakers, that isn’t their only claim to fame. A daily dose of dried plums may help reverse bone loss and prevent osteoporosis, but wait, there’s even more. Prunes have a phytonutrient content rivaling that of blueberries, and at just half the cost.

 

How to use it: Dress up brown rice or couscous with chopped prunes, lemon zest, sauteed onions, garlic and rosemary. Or try this delicious recipe: Arugula, Radicchio, Orange, and Dried Plum Salad. Then try this when you’re baking brownies: Replace ¼ cup butter with 1/4 cup pureed prunes. The chocolate’s deep color and rich flavor will mask both the color and taste of the prunes. You’ll get extra fiber and nutrients instead of all of the cholesterol and saturated fat from butter.

Bulk Up on Broccoli

What it costs: 36 cents per serving (1 cup, raw)

 

Why it’s good for you: It’s hard to beat the health benefits of broccoli. One serving of these tree-like veggies delivers more than a day’s worth of vitamins C and K. Vitamin C helps the body repair wounds and maintain healthy cartilage and bone. It also wards off free radicals that cause aging inside your cells. Vitamin K strengthens bones and fights inflammation. Plus, eating several servings of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli each week may help reduce your risk of cancer.

 

How to use it: Reap the benefits of broccoli with a dip made from Greek yogurt and fresh dill (try our Turkish Cucumber Yogurt Dip). According to Undurraga, getting kids to eat broccoli may be as easy as roasting it, which adds a sweet taste dimension through the process of caramelization. Simply toss bite-size florets of broccoli with olive oil, salt and pepper (and fresh garlic if desired) and roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice or grated Parmesan before serving.

Give Collard Greens the Green Light

What it costs: 27 cents per serving (1 cup raw)

 

Why it’s good for you: “Leafy greens have the biggest association with cancer prevention. The darker the green, the better it’s going to be for you,” says Kirkpatrick. Collard greens are high in calcium and folate, which helps prevent DNA changes that can lead to cancer. Plus, leafy greens have been linked to fewer vision problems with age, as well as a lower risk of diabetes.

 

How to use it: One of the easiest ways to get your greens? Toss them into a morning smoothie. Try collards instead of kale in our Lifestyle 180 Green Smoothie. Another option: Finely chop up a few leaves of collards (minus the ribs if you’re in a hurry; they take longer to cook), saute until tender, and stir in an egg or combine with pasta sauce. For a stellar soup, cook your collards in boiling

Spruce Up Your Salad With Romaine Lettuce

What it costs: 27 cents per serving (1 cup)

 

Why it’s good for you: Fancy salad greens can be pretty pricey if you don’t find them on sale. But that doesn’t mean your salad’s foundation has to be lacking in nutrients. Swap out iceberg lettuce for romaine, which is loaded with almost a day’s worth of vitamin A, in the form of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene may help protect against breast cancer, vision problems and sun damage to the skin.

 

How to use it: You can meet your daily leafy green quota with just ¼ cup of romaine per day. Double up on lettuce when making sandwiches or salmon burgers. Use the inner portions of the romaine head as crudités when putting out veggies and dip. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, try grilling the romaine hearts. Remove the outer leaves, slice the head lengthwise into quarters, and brush with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill until slightly charred. Sprinkle with vinaigrette.

Care for Some Carrots

What it costs: 29 cents per serving (1 cup, raw)

 

Why it’s good for you: Besides beta-carotene, carrots are also brimming with a relatively unknown but highly potent plant chemical called alpha-carotene. Research suggests that regularly consuming large amounts of this carotenoid, by way of orange and dark green vegetables, may reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.

 

How to use it: Keep peeled carrot sticks and hummus ready to go in your fridge for impromptu appetizers or snacks. Incorporate root vegetables like carrots into your meals by making a big batch of soup that you can freeze and reheat. Or pair our Butternut Squash, Carrot and Ginger Soup recipe with a rotisserie chicken and side salad for a quick weekday meal.

This Spud’s for You

What it costs: 11 cents per serving (baked with skin, 1 cup)

 

Why it’s good for you: Poor potatoes sometimes get a bad rap when it comes to nutrition, but the real villain isn’t the potato itself but how it’s usually prepared (as french fries or baked with butter, bacon and sour cream). Per serving, potatoes are the cheapest source of potassium in the produce aisle. This mineral is crucial for heart health and muscle function. Plus, it can help keep blood pressure down.

 

How to use it: Don’t discard the most nutritious part of the spud: the skin. Boil Yukon Golds or other thin-skinned taters and make smashed potatoes. You don’t need butter to get that creamy, rich taste. Instead, use vegetable or chicken broth and milk, along with minced garlic, salt, pepper and your favorite chopped herbs.

Add Flavor With Onions

What it costs: 18 cents per serving (1 cup, raw)

 

Why it’s good for you: Adding white-fleshed fruits and veggies like onions to your daily diet can lower your risk of stroke. It may also help keep colon and liver cancer at bay. Some research even suggests that onions and their relatives (scallions, garlic, shallots) may reduce rates of arthritis.

 

How to use it: Onions are a cheap way to add a lot of flavor. Saute chopped onions in olive oil and garlic and add to any savory dish, from scrambled eggs to vegetable or chicken stir-fry. For a warming meal, try our decadent Simple, Delicious Onion Soup.Or make chicken fajitas with grilled onions and peppers. The secret to superb Mexican: lots of cumin, chili powder, black pepper and garlic. Garnish with plain Greek yogurt, salsa, cilantro and avocado slices.

Pass the Parsley, Please

What it costs: 11 cents per serving (1 cup, raw)

 

Why it’s good for you: Go ahead and munch on that sprig of parsley garnishing your plate. One ounce of this unsung herb (about half a cup) supplies nearly 50 percent of your daily vitamin A (as beta-carotene) and more than 60 percent of your vitamin C needs. A recent study found that the beta-carotene and vitamin C combo may help protect against dementia. It’s also loaded with vitamin K, which helps your blood clot when you have a wound but keeps it from getting too sticky and clotting the rest of the time.

 

How to use it: Who says pesto can only be made with basil? Try our Spinach Parsley Basil Walnut Pecan Pesto With Green Beans.

Head Off Health Issues With Cabbage

What it costs: 8 cents per serving (1 cup, raw)

 

Why it’s good for you: Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage may help prevent prostate and colon cancer, as well as increase survival rates in women with breast cancer. Cabbage is also a good source of folate, fiber, and vitamins C and K.

 

How to use it: Try this recipe for Crunchy Peanut Slaw, adapted from the Environmental Working Group.

Do Your Body Good With Barley

What it costs: 7 cents per serving (1/2 cup, cooked)

 

Why it’s good for you: Chewy and nutty, barley is rich in both protein and fiber — the ultimate combination for knocking out hunger. And because barley is digested slowly, it keeps your blood sugar — and appetite — stable for hours. “This grain is high in soluble fiber, which tends to bind with bile acids and take cholesterol out of the body,” explains Jamieson-Petonic. Translation: It helps brings your LDL (lousy cholesterol) levels down.

 

How to use it: Barley lends itself well to risotto recipes — just go easy on the cheese. Toss the grain into a slow cooker with low-sodium broth and your favorite spices. Stir in 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese just before serving, and season with pepper or fresh chopped herbs like basil and chives. The grain also makes a great oatmeal alternative, says Jamieson-Petonic, who likes to dress hers up with cinnamon, almonds, dried cranberries and milk.


 

 

 

Bone Up on Salmon

What it costs: 72 cents per serving (3 ounces)

 

Why it’s good for you: Canned salmon is an inexpensive and convenient way to load up on fish oil, vitamin D and calcium all at once. Omega-3 fatty acids help protect the brain from shrinking as we age, and they reduce the inflammation that contributes to heart disease, arthritis and Alzheimer’s. Omega-3s may even keep your vision sharp. The salmon bones, which are edible and can be mashed with a fork, provide more than 160 percent of your daily vitamin D needs. Low levels of D have been linked to heart disease. Another great thing about canned salmon: Much of it comes from wild Alaskan sources, and it’s much cheaper than wild-caught salmon fillets.

 

How to use it: Use canned salmon in sandwiches, the way you would tuna, or in place of deli meat. Canned salmon also works well for salmon burgers and fish tacos. Or try our Grilled Salmon with Pineapple Pecan Salsa.   .

Turkey Breast Is Best

What it costs: 36 cents per serving (3 ounces, cooked)

 

Why it’s good for you: Because most people associate turkey with Thanksgiving, buying it year-round can be a cheaper alternative to chicken. “Even though it may be more expensive, we recommend white meat over dark, which can have as much saturated fat as certain cuts of red meat,” says Kirkpatrick. One serving of white turkey meat provides 25 grams of protein and virtually no saturated fat. Turkey is a valuable source of selenium, which helps neutralize damaging free radicals in the body and may guard against age-related diseases. This poultry pick also provides vitamins B6 and B3 (niacin), needed for healthy skin, hair, eyes and nerves.

 

How to use it: Use ground turkey in your turkey burger, chili, meatloaf and meat sauce recipes. Mix in a package of defrosted and well-drained chopped frozen spinach for a simple way to get your greens. For a cheaper and healthier alternative to cold cuts, roast a turkey breast in the oven and refrigerate to use on sandwiches during the week.

Get to Know Beans

What it costs: Black beans and chickpeas, 6 cents per serving; pinto beans, 4 cents per serving; red kidney beans and black-eyed peas, 14 cents per serving (1/2 cup, cooked)

 

Why it’s good for you: “Protein, when you’re buying beef, turkey or even chicken, can be really, really expensive,” says Jamieson-Petonic. “But if you buy beans and lentils, you’re getting a lot more for your money,” she says. Undurraga agrees. “When you’re trying to eat healthfully on a budget, there shouldn’t be a lot of meat in your diet,” she explains. The average woman needs about 46 grams of protein per day, and most Americans have no trouble meeting that number. One cup of beans will supply one-third of your daily protein requirement. Eating beans in place of protein sources like red meat and full-fat dairy can improve your blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

 

How to use it: While beans’ high fiber content is a nutritional boon, people who aren’t used to that much roughage may not see it that way. The secret, says Jamieson-Petonic, is to start slowly and gradually increase your fiber intake so your body can adjust. And, because fiber absorbs liquids in your digestive tract, always drink plenty of water to avoid getting bound up. Grill up a batch of ourBlack Bean Oatmeal Burgers, or, for a healthy sandwich spread, try this recipe for pinto bean hummus.

Pack in Protein With Lentils

What it costs: 6 cents per serving (1/2 cup, cooked)

 

Why it’s good for you: A good source of protein and B vitamins, lentils can help people steer clear of diabetes and heart disease. “They’re an anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-free substitute for meat, so they help reduce cardiovascular risk. They’re also high in fiber and a low-glycemic way to stretch your dollar while controlling cholesterol and blood sugar,” explains Jamieson-Petonic. They’re also loaded with essential nutrients like folate and iron.

 

How to use it: Unlike other dried legumes, lentils cook quickly without any pre-soaking. Brown lentils, the least expensive variety, break down during cooking and are best used in soups. These three soup recipes offer a tasty introduction to lentils and make the perfect cool-weather meal: Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup With Shiitake Mushrooms, Pumpkin Lentil Soup, and Collard and Lentil Soup.

Make Sunflowers Your Top Seeds

What it costs: 16 cents per serving (1/4 cup)

 

Why it’s good for you: “Sunflower seeds are really a good snack for a lot of reasons: They give you vitamins and minerals you won’t be getting from other foods,” says Jamieson-Petonic. Those nutrients include vitamin E, which helps safeguard cells from damage and may protect against heart disease and cancer; magnesium, which may help stave off depression, migraines and hearing loss; and selenium, which may help lower cholesterol and prevent hardening of the arteries.

 

How to use it: Avoid going overboard; eat sunflower seeds sparingly. A quarter-cup serving makes a 200-calorie snack. To keep from overindulging, use sunflower seeds in a trail mix with dried fruit and nuts, suggests Petonic. Or use them in place of more expensive pine nuts in pesto or sprinkled over salads or vegetables. Or buy them in the shell.

Get Cooking With Canola Oil

What it costs: 2 cents per serving (1 tablespoon)

 

Why it’s good for you: Canola oil has the least saturated fat of all vegetable oils. Saturated fat contributes to disease-causing inflammation. The good fats, like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, can help reduce your heart disease risk by lowering cholesterol and inflammation.

 

How to use it: Whereas extra-virgin olive oil is great for drizzling over food before serving, canola oil, whose smoke point is 470 degrees, can withstand high-heat cooking and works well for pan-frying, grilling and sauteing. Because of its mild flavor, canola oil can also be used in any baking recipe.

Build Bones With Yogurt

What it costs: 62 cents per serving (1 cup)

 

Why it’s good for you: Skip the sweet stuff and go with nonfat plain yogurt. Fruit-on-the-bottom varieties aren’t just more expensive; ounce for ounce, they contain more sugar than most soda. While almost half of that is naturally occurring lactose, more than half isn’t. Sweetened yogurt tacks more than 14 grams of added sugar onto your diet. That’s nearly the recommended daily limit of 20 grams. One cup of nonfat plain yogurt, on the other hand, provides nearly one-quarter of your daily protein needs, as well as half of your day’s calcium.

 

How to use it: While we love Greek yogurt for being lower in sugar and higher in protein than conventional kinds, it is more expensive. When making dips or looking for a sour cream alternative, splurge on Greek, which has a much thicker consistency. Use conventional plain, nonfat yogurt in smoothies or mixed with fruit and honey for a snack. Here are a few of our favorite yogurt recipes:Mediterranean Breakfast, Berry Smoothie, and Turkish Cucumber Yogurt Dip.


 

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A new study has revealed that women who eat two or more servings of walnuts a week are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes .


Walnuts have higher antioxidant levels than any other nut and are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which in various studies have been associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes .

To investigate the association between walnut intake and incident type 2 diabetes, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health examined two large, 10-year cohort studies involving nearly 140,000 healthy women aged between 35 and 77 years. None of the women had diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer at the outset.

After assessing consumption of walnuts and other nuts and new cases of type 2 diabetes, they found that two or more 29g servings of walnuts per week was associated with a 21% and 15% lower risk of incident type 2 diabetes before and after adjusting for body mass index (BMI), respectively.

Commenting on the findings, US diabetes and obesity expert David Katz, said: "Observational studies can't prove cause and effect, but when associations are seen in large populations, and occur in a well established context- cause and effect may reliably be inferred.

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Here is an interview that Amy did with go plow magazine on eating healthy for snow truck drivers. 

  • Healthy snack options for plow truck drivers
 

By Cheryl Higley

Snowstorms often add up to long hours and sleepless nights for plow truck drivers. Stopping for meals may not be an option so they grab fast food and an energy drink and keep going.

Amy Jamieson-Petonic, program manager for the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Enterprise, says the nature of the job is inherently risky but those who don’t take care of their health and wellness can compound the problem.

“A lack of activity and a lack of sleep can increase your risk of chronic disease such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer,” she says, noting that research has shown an increased risk of diabetes with even one night of sleep deprivation. Why add poor nutrition to the mix?

“Fast food tends to offer high-fat, high-sugar choices, which negatively impact the body,” she says, adding that reliance on energy drinks to stay awake is also a concern.

The US Food and Drug Administration reported in January that hospitalizations due to energy drink consumption have doubled since 2007, with 20,000 reported incidents in 2011.
 
“I know they are a quick fix, but we’ve seen people experiencing cardiac issues, irritability and even deaths linked to these drinks. We don’t know everything they’re putting into these beverages, and what we don’t know could hurt us,” she says.

Understanding that stopping, stretching and grabbing a more nutritious meal isn’t always possible in the midst of a storm, Jamieson-Petonic says it is still possible to make better choices. All it takes is advance preparation.

“There are foods and snacks that can give the drivers the nutrients, vitamins and minerals they need to keep them energized.”

If possible, she encourages drivers to pack a cooler or lunchbox with the following to help stave off hunger and energy depletion:

  • Fruit: Fresh or dried fruits offer vitamins, fiber and energy. Dr. Jamieson-Petonic cautions against yogurt-covered raisins because they’re usually coated in palm oil. “If you’re going to eat those, you may as well go eat a bacon double cheeseburger.”
  • Nuts: Appropriate portion sizes of unsalted almonds, cashews, walnuts and peanuts all offer heart-healthy fats that provide good energy, fiber and protein.
  • Trans fat-free peanut butter: Eat with celery or whole grain crackers and pretzels. Some brands offer single-serve cups that make it more portable. Like nuts, peanut butter offers the healthy fat that can get you through the long hours.
  • Trail mix: Whether homemade or store-bought, trail mix can provide a long-lasting energy boost. Steer clear of those containing high-sugar items.
  • Fresh veggies: Baby carrots, celery and peppers are easy snacks and provide vitamins and nutrients.
  • Protein bars: Choose those that are low in sugar and feature all-natural ingredients. “Some of these bars you need a biochemistry degree to pronounce the ingredients,” she says.
  • Cheese/yogurt: If you can pack perishables, string cheese is a great option as is low-fat yogurt. Avoid fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts, which often are high in sugar.
  • Sandwiches/wraps: Whole-grain breads and heart-healthy meats can provide good energy. More convenience stores and gas stations are starting to provide healthy options, Dr. Jamieson-Petonic says. “It’s just a matter of whether you have time to go looking for them. If you can pack a cooler at home you have more control.”

HealthySnackList

Dehydration is also a concern. While green tea, 100% fruit juice and smoothies all can be beneficial, water is your best defense against dehydration. Need a warm drink? If it’s coffee—make it black, she says. A better option may be to stir instant breakfast mix into hot cocoa for added vitamins and minerals.

Whatever you decide, she says, don’t use “I don’t have time” as an excuse: “If you have to, set an alarm on your smartphone for every three to four hours. Don’t forget to eat. You will feel better, work better, and work smarter and more efficiently. Good nutrition will allow you to bring your ‘A’ game.”

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Posted by on in Seasonal Eating

 

 
Daily Dose
Wintertime calls for a responsive and resilient immune system to fight off colds and flu. To boost your resistance to seasonal illnesses, look to the foods you eat for help. Vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and probiotics all work to boost both innate and acquired immunity.

Choose Kale for Vitamins
Kale packs a punch of Vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps reduce inflammation inside the cells and makes them less prone to immune-system busting bacteria. Enhancing your meals with kale gets you that much closer to five cups of fruits and vegetables per day, the recommended minimum. If the crunch of raw kale (in a lemony salad, for example) doesn’t excite you, it’s okay to “hide” it in your favorite dinner dishes, such as casseroles, soups and stews, or even macaroni and cheese. Try our recipe for Kale Chips.

Choose Turkey for Minerals
Certain minerals prevent the breakdown of essential fats in cells, which in turn reduces oxidative damage, which can lead to the development of disease. Iron assists in this process by regulating white blood cells and keeping your counts adequate for a strong immune response. If your iron stores become low, your red blood cells carry less oxygen, which results in fatigue and makes you more prone to illness. To get sufficient iron, look to the heme-iron form. Heme-iron, found in animal protein sources, is more easily absorbed than non-heme iron, which is found in plant foods. The dark meat from turkey is an excellent source of heme iron. Plus, it’s easy to prepare and just plain delicious.

 
Choose Legumes for Amino Acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. All cells, including white blood cells, which fight infection, are made of substantial amounts of protein. Legumes, such as lentils, black, garbanzo, or cannellini beans, pack a lot of protein. They are high in fiber and promote satiety and weight loss. So go meatless occasionally, and give legumes center stage. Trying mashing cooked lentils with an egg, form patties, coat them lightly with whole-grain corn meal, and then grill to make lentil burgers. Or combine baked acorn squash with lentils, carrots, and cumin. For the perfect cold-weather meal, try our heartylentil soup recipe.
 
Choose Salmon for Fatty Acids
Heart-healthy fats reduce inflammation in the body and prevent harmful bacteria from causing illness. Salmon, a type of fish that is in season all year long, provides heart-healthy nutrition in the form of omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to boosting immunity and cardiovascular health, omega-3 fatty acids protect against symptoms of depression, dementia, cancer, and arthritis. Here’s a trick: Bake it on a square of brown paper cut from a shopping bag, and then placed on a foil-lined cookie sheet. The paper will absorb the juices, and make it easier to handle.
 
Choose Yogurt for Probiotics
Your intestines are filled with bacteria that are essential to the body’s healthy function. Probiotics, a type of healthy bacteria, augment that population of important bacteria, and strengthen the immune system’s ability to fight infection. The probiotic, “Lactobacillus,” commonly found in yogurt, has been shown to do just that. Look for yogurts that say "live and active cultures" on the label to reap the greatest benefit. Enjoy yogurt in a meal or as a snack — top it with whole grains or choose plain yogurt and add your own choice of fruit to reduce your intake of sugar. Sugar increases inflammation in the body, thus decreasing immunity.
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Posted by on in Blog of the Day
Meatless Mondays are Good for Your Gut   from ClevelandClinicWellness.com 
 
Here’s a great way to start the week off right: Add more veggies to your diet. Vegetables provide a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that are great for helping to reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancers. That’s why I love the concept of Meatless Mondays. It’s an easy way to add more veggies to your diet — simply eat tasty, vegetarian meals at least one day per week. As I mentioned, a vegetarian diet has long been shown to be beneficial in a number of health conditions, and now a new study just released adds “improving gastrointestinal health” to the list of benefits. 
 
The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition published results that show that a fiber-rich, vegetarian diet leads to better gastrointestinal bacteria in the gut. A diet rich in high fiber content — 100% whole grains, fruits and vegetables — prevents harmful bacteria, such as E. Coli and Enterobacteriacea, from growing and causing health problems such as blockages and intestinal infections.
 
The researchers compared the diets of vegetarians and vegans with people consuming a normal diet. They looked at cultures of bacteria from both groups and found no differences in total bacterial count. However, the cultures from the vegetarians had much lower counts of some of the more harmful bacteria. Vegetarian diets tend to be more acidic than diets higher in meats and cheeses, which are more basic, and bacteria do not grow well in acidic environments.  Eating a diet high in vegetables makes it difficult for those bad bacteria to stick around the intestinal tract and cause damage.
 
So the next time you think about eating that supersized burger or steak, you might want to consider switching to a veggie or black bean burger. Your tummy will thank you
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Dieters: Don’t Ditch These 5 Foods

Are fruits and veggies the only food groups on your diet shopping list? If so, you’re missing out on the opportunity to get important vitamins and minerals, burn some fat and stay full longer. Amy Jamieson-Petonic, MEd, RD, suggests keeping the following foods in your diet — even when you’re on a diet.

1. Low-fat cheese

“People think that cheese is too high in fat and calories,” says Jamieson-Petonic. “It can be — if you do not watch the amount.” For a healthier portion, try eating 1 ounce of low-fat mozzarella string cheese with 100 percent whole-grain crackers for calcium, protein and a sense of fullness.

2. Pistachios

Don’t throw these out because of concerns about fat — these nuts actually have been found to help promote fat burning. In one study, for example, obese patients  on a low-calorie diet who ate controlled portions of pistachios had lower triglycerides and body weight than similar patients snacking on pretzels.  

3. Peanut butter

Peanut butter not only helps keep you full and satisfied but also offers heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, protein and dietary fiber. Remember that portion size is important. Jamieson-Petonic suggests 1 tablespoon of trans-fat-free peanut butter per serving. Look for peanut butter that has only one ingredient: peanuts!

4. Whole grains

Jamieson-Petonic says not all dieters need to cut out carbs, as long as they’re eating the right carbs. “Research has shown us that when people consume 100-percent whole grains, they are able to reduce inflammation and significantly reduce belly fat,” she says. Whole grains—in cereals, brown rice, pasta and legumes—also provide B vitamins, antioxidants, protein and dietary fiber.

5. Extra virgin olive oil

“Perception is that fat will make you fat,” she says. But 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil offers healthy monounsaturated fats and anti-inflammatory compounds. Use it as a dip for whole-grain bread, o

 

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Posted by on in Blog of the Day

 

 

Food

Nutritional Benefits

Blueberries

Very concentrated source of anti-oxidants: USDA outranked  BB over 40 other f&v High in anthocyanins, which help prevent urinary tract infections

Good source of Vitamin C and potassium, which helps control blood pressure

Orange Juice

Good source of Vitamin C, potassium and folic acid. Citrus reduces the risk of heart disease, and   birth defects

High in phytochemical hesperidin, which has inhibited growth of cancer cells in test tubes

Cranberries

Compound in cranberry, called proanthocyanidin prevents certain bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract, If bacteria can’t stick, they cannot cause infection. This anti-stick mechanism of cranberry is key to its urinary tract health benefits.

Flax

High in Omega 3 Fatty acids, which reduces heart disease risk

Anti-inflammatory properties

Also high in lignans, that helps stop cells from becoming cancerous– research being done on breast cancer reduction with flax

Green Tea

Contains antioxidants called flavonoids  Average cup of brewed green or black tea has 150-200 mg of flavonoids   Possible reduced risk for coronary heart disease, as well as gastric, esophageal and skin cancers.  Also been shown to help strengthen the body’s immune system. In addition, protect teeth by inhibiting plaque bacteria potentially fight free radicals produced during strenuous exercise and possibly increase calories burned during everyday activities

Nuts

High in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats to reduce risk of heart disease.  Lower in trans fatty acids May improve HDL levels

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is high in soluble fiber, helps reduce cholesterol levels and help

regulate blood sugar levels  (10gms/day) Oatmeal has beta- glucan, which

reduces the risk of coronary artery disease

Raisins

Excellent source of iron, which can help prevent iron deficiency anemia.  Also a good source of dietary fiber

Soy Protein

Soy is the only complete plant protein, and when substituted for animal protein, can reduce heart disease and blood pressure

Study showed that diet of soy fiber, protein from oats and barley, almonds and margarine from plant sterols lowered cholesterol as much as statin medications

Helps stabilize hormone levels in women May help limit and/or reduce hot flashes and menopausal symptoms (not proven)

Also high in iron, which many women are lacking Soy protein can stop the making of blood vessels that feed cancer cells, reducing risk

Yogurt

Excellent source of calcium to help prevent osteoporosis

Calcium also essential for muscle contraction  (including the heart muscle)

Choose yogurt with “live and active cultures” to maintain good intestinal bacteria and reduce incidence of contracting the flu

 

 

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Posted by on in Seasonal Eating

With winter approaching, having a responsive and resilient immune system is important to fight off a cold, or even the flu! The immune system is divided into two types – the innate (natural)  and the (developed,) or acquired. Ingesting certain foods with immune benefits is an efficient way to boost both innate and acquired immune systems during the winter. Specifically, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids can help regulate acquired immunity, and probiotics can help regulate innate immunity.

 

For Vitamins, Choose Kale

Kale packs a wealth of Vitamin E, an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effects, which stabilizes immune cells’ membranes, or outer layers. Enhancing your meals with kale adds color, variety, taste, and assists in achieving your (minimum of) 5 cups of fruits and vegetables per day.  Not high on greens? Add kale to your favorite dinner dishes such as casseroles, crock-pot stews, or even to comfort dishes like macaroni and cheese!

 

For Minerals, Choose Chicken

Certain minerals prevent the breakdown of essential fat in cells. which in turn reduces oxidative damage to immune cells.  Iron assists in the process by regulating white blood cells  needed for immunity. Iron itself consists of two forms, “heme-iron” and “non-heme iron.” Heme-iron, found in animal protein sources, can be absorbed at a higher rate than non-heme iron, found in plant foods.   Chicken, an excellent source of heme iron, is the heart of a perfect winter meal. Roast, broil, or cook on the stove top with canola or olive oil to warm your house and ignite you immune system!

 

For Amino Acids, Choose Legumes

Amino acids, or the building blocks of protein, prevent oxidative damage and enhance white blood cells. Legumes, such as lentils, black , garbanzo and cannellini beans, and pack  a lot of protein .  They are fat free, high in fiber, and promote fullness  and weight loss. Sound too good to be true? Try going meatless occasionally and give lentils center stage.  Mash lentils with an egg, lightly coat with corn meal and grill to make lentil burgers.  Other ideas include baked acorn squash with lentils, carrots, and cumin for a special occasion, or brew hearty lentil stew to warm you up on a cold night!   Or try our super fabulous lentil soup recipe for a yummy treat!

 

http://www.clevelandclinicwellness.com/DailyDose/archive/2011/10/04/pumpkin-lentil-soup.aspx

 

For Fatty Acids, Choose Salmon

Heart healthy fats fatty acids can reduce inflammation in the body, promoting immunity. There are 2 types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-6 fats and omega-3 fats. Salmon, a type of fish that is in season all year long, provides omega-3 fatty acids that benefit immunity as well as lower the risk of heart disease.  In addition, they protect against symptoms of depression, dementia, cancer, and arthritis. Here’s a trick with cooking oily salmon: bake it on a rack on top of a cookie sheet so it’s not sitting in its juices.  

 

For Probiotics , Choose Yogurt

Healthy intestinal bacteria are key to immunity because they help distinguish good bacteria from harmful  bacteria, leading to a healthy immune system. Specific probiotics found in yogurt called “Lactobacillus” have been shown to improve innate immune responses. Look for yogurts that say "live and active cultures" on the label to reap the most benefits! Enjoy yogurt in a meal or as a snack – top it with whole grain cereal or choose plain yogurt and add your own fruit.

 

So what’s the take away message? The best nutritional strategy to build your immune system is to choose a wide variety of nutrient dense foods. More research needs to be done to discover the way nutrients in foods interact with each other.  Choose complete foods instead of supplements when possible, and cheers to a happy and healthy winter season!

 

References:

 

http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/

 

http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/fat/unsaturatedfat.html

 

SCAN Article: Immunity & Foods

 

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Posted by on in Blog of the Day

Let’s face it — we live in a non-stop society. In our rush, we too often put sleep on the back burner. As a busy mom myself, I can understand why people forgo sleep to get things done. 

 

But it’s the wrong approach. Sleep has a huge effect on how you feel throughout the day, and nutrition plays a role in how well you sleep. Food relates directly to serotonin, a key hormone that — along with Vitamin B6, B12, and folic acid — helps promote healthy sleep. Try to consume foods that calm the body, increase serotonin levels and get you ready for restful sleep.

 

Here are a few foods to get you started on the path to slumber.

   

1. Complex carbohydrates

Embrace whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta, crackers and brown rice. Avoid simple carbohydrates, including breads, pasta, rice and sweets such as cookies, cakes, pastries and other sugary foods. These tend to reduce serotonin levels and do not promote sleep

 

2. Lean proteins

Lean proteins include low-fat cheese, chicken, turkey and fish. These foods are high in the amino acid tryptophan, which tends to increase serotonin levels. On the flipside, avoid high-fat cheeses, chicken wings or deep fried fish. These longer to digest and can keep you awake.

 

3. Heart-healthy fats

Unsaturated fats will not only boost your heart health but also improve your serotonin levels. Examples include peanut butter (read the label to make sure peanuts are the only ingredient) and nuts such as walnuts, almonds, cashews and pistachios. Avoid foods with saturated and trans fats, such as french fries, potato chips or other high-fat snack foods. These bring your serotonin levels down.    

 

4. Beverages

Certain drinks can promote or prevent sleep. A good, soothing beverage to drink before bedtime would be warm milk (your mother was right) or herbal tea such as chamomile or peppermint. As for caffeinated drinks, I recommend to my clients who are having difficulty sleeping to consume that last cup by 2 p.m. Caffeine affects people differently, and even the smallest amount of stimulant can keep you awake. 

 

5. Fresh herbs

Fresh herbs can have a calming effect on the body. For example, sage and basil contain chemicals that reduce tension and promote sleep. Trymaking your own homemade pasta sauce with sage and basil. It’s easy to do, and homemade sauces tend to be lower in sugar than store-bough versions. However, avoid herbs such as red pepper or black pepper at night, as they have a stimulatory effect.

 

Sleep-inducing snack tips

  • Try a banana with low-fat yogurt
  • Eat low- fat cottage cheese with a few 100 percent whole grain pita chips
  • Smear peanut butter on 100 percent whole grain crackers
  • Enjoy an apple with mozzarella string cheese.

 

Try all these foods to reduce your tossing and turning when you hit the pillow. Sweet dreams!

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Info provided by Amy Jamieson-Petonic,  RD, ADA Spokesperson,

and Wellness Manager at Cleveland Clinic

 

 

Jennifer Starkey from the American Dietetic Association's media department suggested I contact you. I'd like to interview you for an expert Q&A on holiday eating for our consumer health enewsletter, RemedyLife.com. Below, see my preliminary list of questions.

 

1. I have a special diet, but I¹d still like to enjoy the holiday feast.

What are effective ways to avoid getting sick?

 

I feel that being proactive with the menu is the best way to go to a holiday feast if you need to follow a specific nutritional program.  The best thing to do would be to find out ahead of time what the menu will be to determine which foods you are able to eat.  For example, if you have an allergy to milk, you might want to see which products are milk based, or if anything was cooked with milk or dairy products. 

 

2. What are some specific tips for people with diabetes?  I would suggest trying to consume small meals with whole grains and a good selection of high fiber foods to help control blood sugar levels.  Good choices would be a small whole grain roll, as well as fresh vegetables with a small amount of dip.  Also, a plain chicken breast without breading can also be a good choice for people with diabetes at a party.  For dessert, a small dish of yogurt or fruit would be fine, or a small serving of any dessert can be part of a diabetes meal plan.  For folks with diabetes, carbohydrates such as bread, fruit, pasta, rice and milk are controlled.

 

3. Food Intolerances and Allergies?  Food intolerances, such as lactose or allergies to nuts, wheat, or milk can also be managed well with a bit of planning ahead for the party.  My suggestion would be to determine the menu ahead of time if possible, and ask how items are prepared.  For example, a person with lactose intolerance may not be able to consume a milk based dish, but may be able to eat a small amount of cheese or yogurt because the milk sugar, lactose, is broken down more.  If a person is not able to determine the menu prior to the event, try to stick to foods that are not made with gravies, or sauces, but are closest to their natural state, such as fresh fruits and vegetables or meats without marinades

 

4. Lactose Intolerance?  See above .  Lactose intolerance is very individualized.  Some folks can tolerate one glass of milk per day, while others may not.  Most people with lactose intolerance can handle a small amount of aged cheese or yogurt without any symptoms.  I always tell my clients that they know their body best, and they can make the best decisions about these products when they are at the party. 

 

5. Gluten allergies/Celiac disease? 

This is more challenging because so many foods contain gluten.  Definitely check the menu before attending the party… If there are not any foods that a person with celiac or any other condition they can eat, there are a few suggestions

 

a)    Have a small meal at home and try to mingle socially without eating too much. I always tell  my clients that this is a wonderful time to catch up with friends and family, and the food served should only be an adjunct to a wonderful social occasion. 

b)    Ask the host if they would mind if you bring something with you. This way you can have something that you know you can eat, and the host is not put out by not being completely sure what to buy or how to prepare it.   

c)    Most hosts are very hospitable to helping all guests feel welcomed to their party.

 

Would you be available for a half-hour interview within the next two weeks?

Many thanks.

 

 

Best regards,

 

Natasha Persaud |  Online Producer

 

MediZine‹The Leader in Consumer Health Education 500 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1900 |  New York, NY 10110

P: 212-994-9344 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

 

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Posted by on in Seasonal Eating


Experts say portion control is key when the temptations are endless.
By Susan G. Rabin, MA
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
It's that time of year when extra calories lurk around every corner -- frosted cookies at the office, eggnog at your neighbor's, jelly doughnuts for Hanukkah or chocolates in your stocking. All these extras add up, and if you're like most Americans, you'll put on a pound or two by New Year's Day.
So what's the harm in a little holiday weight gain, especially if it's just a pound? According to researchers at the National Institutes of Health, most Americans never lose the weight they gain during the winter holidays. The pounds add up year after year, making holiday weight gain an important factor in adult obesity.
But you don't have to fall into this trap. It is possible to enjoy holiday goodies without putting on a single pound. "Portion control is the key," says Susan Finn, PhD, RD. Finn serves as chairwoman of the American Council for Fitness and Nutrition. "I don't believe you can't eat food that you like -- even indulgences -- but it is the amount you eat," she tells WebMD.
Of course, it's not easy to go on portion patrol when the temptations are endless. That's why WebMD compiled these tips to help you avoid overindulging.
1. Never Arrive Hungry
New York psychologist Carol Goldberg, PhD, says planning ahead can help you maintain discipline in the face of temptation. "Don't go to a party when you're starving," she warns. Try to have a nutritious snack beforehand. If you do arrive hungry, drink some water to fill up before filling your plate.
2. Divert Your Attention
Many people forget that there's more to a holiday party than food, Goldberg tells WebMD. "Don't look at the party as just a food event," she says. "Enjoy your friends' company or dancing. Focus on something other than food."
Finn agrees. She says chatting is a great diversion, whether you're at a small family dinner or a large party. "Take your mind off of food and focus on the conversation."
3. Pace Yourself
Have you ever tried telling yourself you'll only eat during the first half hour of a party? Goldberg says this strategy is a mistake. "If you cram in as much as you can in half an hour, you chew faster. Chewing more slowly will fill you up with less food."
To munch at a leisurely pace, Finn recommends putting your fork down between every bite. "This puts you in control."
4. Count Your Canapés
When there are canaps, it's easy to lose count of how many you eat. Keep track by stashing a toothpick in your pocket for each one. Set a limit and stick to it.
5. Outsmart the Buffet
When dinner is served buffet-style, use the smallest plate available and don't stack your food; limit your helpings to a single story. "Go for the simplest foods on the buffet," Finn says. "Fresh fruits and vegetables and shrimp cocktail are good choices. Watch out for sauces and dips."
6. Limit Alcohol
Avoid drinking too much alcohol at holiday parties. "It's not just about calories but about control," Finn explains. "If you drink a lot you, won't have as much control over what you eat."
If you feel out of place without a drink, Goldberg suggests sipping water or club soda, "so you have something to carry like everyone else."
7. Be Choosy About Sweets
When it comes to dessert, be very selective. "Limit your indulgences to small portions and only what is very sensual to you," Goldberg says. Her personal rule on sweets: "If it's going to have calories, it has to be chocolate."
What about sampling several desserts, if you only take a tiny bite of each one? "You have to know yourself," Goldberg says. "Some people can eat one bite of something and stop. I don't think most people can do that. "If you know you're the type who can't stop at one bite, you're better off taking a small portion of a single dessert than piling your plate with several treats you plan to "try."
8. Bring Your Own Treats
Whether you're going to a friend's party or an office potluck, consider bringing a low-calorie treat that you know you'll enjoy. Bringing your own dessert will make the more fattening alternatives less tempting.
And don't feel your dessert has to be typical holiday fare. "Get away from rigid thinking about what holiday food has to be," Goldberg says. "People love fruit."
9. Limit 'Tastes' While Cooking
If you do a lot of cooking during the holidays, crack down on all those "tastes." "People lose their appetites when they've been cooking because they've been eating the whole time," Finn tells WebMD. Instead of tasting mindlessly every few minutes, limit yourself to two small bites of each item pre- and post-seasoning. "Just put the spoon in and taste a little bit," Finn says. "It's not grounds for a big scoop."
For tried-and-true recipes, dare yourself not to taste the dish at all until it is served.
10. Walk It Off
Make a new holiday tradition: the family walk. Besides burning some extra calories, this will get everyone away from the food for awhile.
"Get people off the couch and move," Finn says. "Go out for a walk as a family before or after the meal." She says walking not only benefits you physically but also puts you in a mindset to be more careful about what you eat. "There's something about activity that puts you in control."


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Food for Thought


Amy Jamieson-Petonic, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic, http://my.clevelandclinic.org/default.aspx
enjoys introducing her clients to “super foods” that benefit the body in numerous ways. Some are particularly good for the brain as well. Here are a dozen that she recommends.
1. Salmon. This cold-water fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation and help brain cells work properly. Albacore tuna and sardines also provide omega-3s, but to a lesser degree.
2. Walnuts. Another source of omega-3s, walnuts also contain linoleic and linolenic fatty acids, which preserve the health of brain cells by allowing nutrients to pass back and forth. If you’re allergic to nuts, ground flaxseed also is a good source of essential fatty acids.

3. Almonds. These contain an amino acid that helps neurotransmitters process more efficiently. In addition, they have riboflavin (B2), known to boost memory.

4. Blueberries. These have the phytochemical anthocyanin, which “preserves a healthy brain, strengthens the brain and also increases cells in the hippocampus, which helps with clarity,” Ms. Jamieson-Petonic says. They’re good for the memory as well. “Blueberries are amazing,” she says.

5. Sunflower seeds. These nutrient-packed seeds are high in tryptophan, which not only helps you sleep better but also elevates your mood.

6. Pumpkin seeds. Also known as pepitas, these contain zinc, vitamins A and E, omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. They benefit memory and thinking skills.

7. Green tea. This contains catechins, naturally occurring antioxidants that enhance memory and boost clarity. “Green tea is good for keeping your wits about you,” Ms. Jamieson-Petonic says.

8. Eggs. These contain choline, which boosts the memory center in the brain. “Choline increases the size of neurons, which helps them fire electrical signals more strongly and rebound faster between firing,” she says.

9. Extra-virgin olive oil. Ms. Jamieson-Petonic recommends the cold-pressed variety. Olive oil contains hydroxyl tyrosol, which protects the brain cells from oxidative stress, also known as free radicals. Free radicals are implicated in many degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s. “Certain foods can either reduce oxidative stress or increase it,” she says. “I like how empowering that is for my clients. They know they have the power to reduce or prevent disease.”

10. Tomatoes. A great source of lycopene, which Ms. Jamieson-Petonic calls “an amazing antioxidant,” tomatoes also protect against free radicals. They have to be cooked to release the lycopene.

11. Yogurt. A source of calcium, yogurt also has tyrosine, which is responsible for making the neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenaline. They improve alertness and memory. “We’re not talking fruit or flavored yogurt, just plain, nonfat Greek, soy or regular yogurt,” she says.

12. Dark chocolate. “Finish off the list with chocolate, but make it 70 percent dark chocolate,” Ms. Jamieson-Petonic says. Dark chocolate is high in flavonols, a type of antioxidant that improves the blood supply to the brain and enhances cognitive skills.

There’s no need to obsess over eating every one of these foods on a daily basis. “No one food is perfect,” says Ms. Jamieson-Petonic, who is Director of Wellness Coaching for the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Enterprise. “It’s not always feasible to have almonds, salmon and blueberries every day. Just make sure to include them when you go grocery shopping so that you have them on hand.”

To make a gift supporting the Wellness Institute or any area of Cleveland Clinic, visit our secure giving site http://giving.ccf.org/enews or call Institutional Relations and Development at 216.444.1245 or toll-free at 800.223.2273, ext. 41245.


Related Links

Wellness Institute
http://my.clevelandclinic.org/wellness/default.aspx

360-5 wellness site
http://www.360-5.com/Pages/default.aspx

Cleveland Clinic
http://my.clevelandclinic.org/default.aspx


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Posted by on in Blog of the Day

We have all heard the term emotional eating, and perhaps.. just perhaps.. some of us have been there, done that.. (present company included)  What is emotional eating?  It is a tendency to choose foods based on how we are feeling, vs. physiological hunger.  Since we live in a rush-rush, microwave society, it is understandable how we get pulled into this strange habit.    Let's look a bit closer at the topic of emotional eating. 

1) Why do we emotionally overeat? 

First and foremost, out of habit. When we have had a bad day, there is nothing like a chocolate sundae to make ourselves feel better. It’s a mindset we have created.  

When we eat our serotonin levels and dopamine levels are affected thus affecting our mood. When we eat, we feel a sense of relief due to the release of these chemicals. Especially, once we start to associate the “feel good” sensation with a certain type of comfort food such as ice cream.  The actual act of eating the food is where most people find the positive sensation not from the actual ingredients within the foods. Habit is the culprit of most emotional eating habits.

Sugar however, has a dramatic effect on both the serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain. Sugar increases serotonin levels to the same height as drugs such as Prozac which are used by individuals as an anti-depressant.

2) How can we stop ourselves from emotionally overeating?

First, figure out what triggers these emotional eating episodes. It might be helpful to record what you eat and your emotions at the time so you can pin point the problem. Then, a great way to avoid the over consumption of “comfort foods” is when you feel an episode coming on, get yourself out of the house. Go on a walk or go for a bike ride. Most likely, in the time that it takes to complete these activities the episode will have passed. Also try not to keep comfort food in easy reach. The more visible they are the more likely you are to eat them without even realizing you are doing so.

 3) Is emotional over-eating an eating disorder?

It can be, yes. Depending on the severity and the duration of the food consumption patter but, don’t jump to conclusions. We all have our days where chocolate sounds like the perfect medicine and this does not mean that we have a disorder. The trick is to find balance between eating and your emotions. The duration and the consistency of your eating patterns will define if you have a disorder.  

 ·        Here are some signs and symptoms that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics use to diagnose what they refer to as “compulsive overeating”.

 ·        The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics defines an Eating Disorder as: is a medical illness that involves extreme emotions and attitudes and behaviors focusing on weight and food issues.

 ·        Compulsive overeating is defined by the Academy as: eating large amounts of food to cope with feelings. Food, in this case, is often eaten without attention to hunger

 Some Symptoms are: Chronic dieting, hiding food in strange places, blaming hardships in life on weight, excessive sweating and shortness of breath, high blood pressure, leg and joint pain. 

4) How does emotional overeating prevent us from staying on a healthy diet?

 When you emotionally overeat you are eating when you are tired, bored, and anxious or dealing with intense emotion instead of when you are hungry.  Due to the fact that the reason we are eating is not because of hunger; the calories that are being consumed are most likely excess calories. Excess calories usually lead to unwanted weight gain.  The foods that we are most likely gravitating to while we are in this “emotional state” are normally not fruits and veggies but, comfort foods that are normally high in saturated fat and calories.   

5) Can you name several not-bad-for-you foods that are best to have on hand for emotionally weak moments?

Complex Carbohydrates: Eat 100% whole grain products that will provide you with lasting energy to keep your mood upbeat.  Such as: 100% whole wheat bread, Brown rice,  whole wheat pasta, oatmeal, black beans and even fruit!

Why: Stay away from refined (packaged), carbohydrates. They are digested quickly and lead to a dip in energy and a rebound in hunger a few hours later. 

Consume Protein regularly: Healthy lean protein such as seafood, tofu, quinoa, and low fat dairy.

Why: The addition of protein to your meal can help slow the absorption of the carbohydrates.  Dopamine and norepinephrine are released after eating protein too. These chemicals in the brain leave you body feeling happy and alert!

Vitamin B12 foods: Whole grain Breakfast Cereals (enriched), Lean beef, Low fat dairy, eggs, shellfish and Lentils!

Why: Studies have shown that B12 may play a significant role in serotonin production. Studies have also shown that low B12 levels can be associated with depression so make sure to eat your enriched grains! 

Stay Hydrated: Water, infused water with lemon, limes, strawberries and even lavender can be a nice change of pace. Green Tea and decaffeinated coffee are also a great choice. Stay away from sugary liquids that will only provide you with a short boost.  They will be followed by an unwanted crash.

 Why: When you are dehydrated you are more likely to feel fatigued and therefore in a bad mood.

 Emotional eating can be managed with a healthy diet, physical activity, adequate sleep and stress management techniques. 

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Posted by on in Seasonal Eating
(From my blog on clevelandclinicwellness.com -- enjoy!)
I work with a lot of people who are looking for ways to boost their wellness. They all want the latest and greatest nutrition information to help ramp up their wellness program. That’s when I tell them about my secret wellness weapon – herbs and spices. Adding herbs and spices to your meals can really take your program to the next level. Here’s how:

Like fruits and vegetables, different herbs and spices offer different phytonutrients, so I always recommend mixing them up to get a wide variety. Keep polyphenol-rich herbs like basil, mint and rosemary on hand and toss them into salads, vegetable dishes and sauces. And use herbs and spices liberally in grill marinades.

A recent study by the Department of Agriculture found that, ounce for ounce, some herbs and spices have more antioxidant activity than many fruits and vegetables. Foods high in antioxidants often have beneficial polyphenols that can turn on healthy genes or turn off disease promoting genes. More research needs to be done on humans, but the preliminary research on animals has been very promising.

Here are a few of my favorite herbs and spices. Try to add these to your meals.

Ginger: Two small studies showed that when combined with other herbs, ginger lowered inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Ginger is also loaded with polyphenols and it may help prevent E. coli infection and is a famously good stomach soother.

Turmeric: Turmeric contains the polyphenol, curcumin, which is what is believed to provide the health benefits that reduce inflammation and the incidence of disease. Researchers are looking at it for possible Alzheimer’s disease prevention too, based on the fact that elderly people in India, who’ve consumed a lot of turmeric, have low rates of the disease. Additionally, turmeric has been shown to be beneficial in some people who have inflammatory conditions of the colon. Like other spices, it’s a potent antibacterial too. Turmeric is part of most curry blends and makes a great addition to soups.

Cinnamon: This sweet-hot spice may prove to be a secret weapon against diabetes and other conditions. A small study showed that a quarter to half a teaspoon daily — about what you’d put on oatmeal — lowered blood sugar by 20 percent and improved cholesterol levels. So far, other studies haven’t been as promising, but it’s easy and delicious enough to add to your repertoire, so why not?

So the next time you’re shopping for the latest and greatest gadget, don’t forget to pick up some powerfully healthy ingredients that have been around for thousands of years – herbs and spices.

Add them to your dishes and add some spice to your life. Enjoy!
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Today is Valentines Day.. the day for lovers.  The day is usually celebrated with cards, flowers and other tokens of appreciation.  I propose that you give your loved one the gift of good health this year.  Give them a the gift that keeps on giving:  at least 70% dark chocolate.

My clients love that I love dark chocolate!  Being a scientist, I am continually reviewing the research to find the latest and greatest info on health and wellness, and the research on dark chocolate is compelling

A number of studies have shown a positive association between at least 70% or higher dark chocolate and heart health. The flavonols, or antioxidants in dark chocolate appear to have what is called a vasodilatory effect, and make the blood vessels widen and improve blood flow.  How does this effect heart health, you ask?  When blood vessels are able to stay open, or diliated, for a longer period of time, it allows  more blood flow, and improved blood pressure.  Elevated blood pressure, or Hypertension, is called the silent killer, because so many people are walking around each day with the condition and do not even know it.  

One our my colleagues, a brilliant cardiac surgeon, shared a very interesting statistic with me about high blood pressure.  Approximately 76 million people have high blood pressure, and if you reach the age of 70, there is a 90% likelihood that you will develop this condition as well.  Untreated high blood pressure can lead to a stroke or heart attack, which is very serious.

 

So do your part to help yourself and your sweetie's heart and provide them with some 70% dark chocolate this Valentines Day.. Your heart, and your loved one, will thank you! 

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