March 31, 2005
Bottomless Bowls: Why Visual Cues of Portion Size May Influence Intake
Brian Wansink*, James E. Painter and Jill North
* Applied Economics and Marketing, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY;
Family and Consumer Science, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL;
Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois.
Objective: Using self-refilling soup bowls, this study examined whether visual cues related to portion size can influence intake volume without altering either estimated intake or satiation.
Research Methods and Procedures: Fifty-four participants (BMI, 17.3 to 36.0 kg/m2; 18 to 46 years of age) were recruited to participate in a study involving soup. The experiment was a between-subject design with two visibility levels: 1) an accurate visual cue of a food portion (normal bowl) vs. 2) a biased visual cue (self-refilling bowl). The soup apparatus was housed in a modified restaurant-style table in which two of four bowls slowly and imperceptibly refilled as their contents were consumed. Outcomes included intake volume, intake estimation, consumption monitoring, and satiety.
Results: Participants who were unknowingly eating from self-refilling bowls ate more soup [14.7 ± 8.4 vs. 8.5 ± 6.1 oz; F(1,52) = 8.99; p < 0.01] than those eating from normal soup bowls. However, despite consuming 73% more, they did not believe they had consumed more, nor did they perceive themselves as more sated than those eating from normal bowls. This was unaffected by BMI.
Discussion: These findings are consistent with the notion that the amount of food on a plate or bowl increases intake because it influences consumption norms and expectations and it lessens one’s reliance on self-monitoring. It seems that people use their eyes to count calories and not their stomachs. The importance of having salient, accurate visual cues can play an important role in the prevention of unintentional overeating.
March 30, 2005
Butter vs. Margarine
Which is healthier, butter or margarine?
From a fat and calorie standpoint, butter and margarine are the same with about 35 calories and four grams of fat per teaspoon. Both are primarily fat; only the source differs. Butter contains more saturated fats than most margarine. Because margarine is made from vegetable oil, it has no cholesterol. However, margarine contains trans fat which could be just as bad as saturated fat, or even worse.
When it comes to fat, the more liquid, the better. It’s best to use olive, canola or peanut oil whenever possible. Dip hard crusty bread in, season vegetables, make salad dressings, use in baked goods, stir fry or spritz on popcorn.
Some grocery store shelves are beginning to stock margarines that claim to provide cholesterol-lowering benefits.
Research shows margarines that are made from two different phytochemicals can reduce LDL (lousy cholesterol). The plant compounds that interfere with the absorption of cholesterol are plant sterols and stanols. The compounds are used in two different FDA-approved margarines, which lower cholesterol by an average of 10 percent when consumed as directed. While they do help lower the LDL cholesterol, the margarines do not lower HDL (healthy cholesterol).
Most likely you’ll find these margarines on the top shelf of your grocery store shelf with possibly the highest price tag. Adding one of these margarines to your eating plan might be worth the extra calories, but margarine alone can’t lower cholesterol. That starts with an eating plan that is low in total fat, especially saturated fat.
March 29, 2005
Low-carb? High-cal? Check the Label.
The number of low-carbohydrate food products available in supermarkets keeps growing in response to consumer demand. If you’re purchasing low-carb products, keep in mind that low-carb doesn’t necessarily mean low-calorie.
First, remember that the term “low-carb��? has not yet been defined by the Food and Drug Administration, leaving the definitions for now to food manufacturers. And just because a product is labeled low-carb does not mean it contains fewer calories. In fact, some “low-carb��? products contain more fat and calories than products that aren’t marked low-carb.
Your best guide to what’s in your food is the Nutrition Facts Panel on the food label. Be a smart consumer and read the Nutrition Facts Panel before you purchase your foods.
March 28, 2005
Happy Monday Morning!
Along with good nutrition and regular physical activity, adequate rest is a big part of any formula for fitness and health.
When you get a good night’s sleep, you feel better and are maximizing brain function and energy levels. But how well you sleep can depend on what you eat.
Consider these tips for the rest of your life:
Have a small meal or snack no less than three hours before going to bed
Eat heavy, high-fat meals for at least four hours before going to bed
Limit your nighttime intake of caffeine from coffee, soft drinks, water and energy drinks
Limit your alcohol intake at night
Drink a cup of warm milk before bed.
While watching what you eat can help, don’t avoid food entirely at night. If you go to bed hungry, your body may complain by waking you in the middle of the night.
Regular physical activity will also help you sleep well, since exercise helps the body expend energy during the day and recoup at night. However, avoid exercising within three hours of bedtime because that, too, can keep you awake.
March 25, 2005
The National Confectioners Association offers the following bits of information about Easter traditions:
Chocolate eggs were first made in Europe in the early 19th Century and remain among the most popular treats associated with Easter.
According to the Guinness World Records the largest Easter egg ever made was just more than 25 feet high and made of chocolate and marshmallow. The egg weighed 8,968 pounds and was supported by an internal steel frame.
In the United States:
- Seventy-six percent of people eat the ears on chocolate bunnies first.
- Ninety million chocolate Easter bunnies are made for Easter each year.
- Sixteen billion jelly beans are made for Easter.
- Each day, 5 million marshmallow chicks and bunnies are produced in preparation for Easter.
- Easter is the second top-selling confectionery holiday, with Halloween in first place.
- Eighty-eight percent of adults carry on the Easter tradition of making Easter baskets for their kids.
- Red jelly beans are kids' favorite.
March 24, 2005
Spice it Up!
Americans are gluttons for salt. There is salt in processed food, salt used in cooking and salt in the shaker on the table. Many people shake on the salt without even tasting the food placed before them.
Salt is composed of sodium and chloride. Our love affair with salt causes the average American adult to consume 6,000 milligrams of sodium a day. The recommended intake for sodium is 2,400 milligrams per day.
An excessive sodium intake can be a problem, especially for people who have high blood pressure or other medical problems, says the American Dietetic Association. Set aside the salt shaker and learn to use other seasonings instead.
Try using these combinations to spice up your meals without salt:
1. A small amount of Tabasco instead of salt to add flavor to foods. It is especially helpful in flavoring soups, stews, potato dishes, beans and rice.
2. Mix fresh lemon, diced mushrooms and diced tomatoes along with parsley, paprika and cayenne to season fish.
3. Use a very light dust of pepper and Parmesan cheese over steamed broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, squash or spinach.
4. Chinese five-spice blend for chicken, fish or pork: 1/4 cup of ground ginger, 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of ground cloves and 1 tablespoon each of ground allspice and anise seed.
5. Mexican blend for chili, enchiladas, tacos, chicken, pork and beef: 1/4 cup of chili powder, 1 tablespoon each of ground cumin and onion powder, 1 teaspoon each of dried oregano, garlic powder and red pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.
6. Mixed herb blend for salads, steamed vegetables or fish: 1/4 cup of dried parsley, 2 tablespoons of dried tarragon and 1 tablespoon each of dried oregano, dill weed and celery flakes.
March 23, 2005
Walk Your Way to Wellness
The popularity of walking as a fitness activity is growing by leaps and bounds. Low risk and easy to start, walking has proved its health benefits in numerous studies. An eight-year study of 13,000 people found that those who walked 30 minutes a day had a significantly lower risk of premature death than those who rarely exercised.
A regular walking program can help:
Reduce blood cholesterol
Lower blood pressure
Increase cardiovascular endurance
Boost bone strength
Burn calories and keep weight down
A walking program is simple to start. All you need are comfortable clothes and shoes. Layer loose clothing, keeping in mind that exercise elevates the body's temperature. Shoes specifically designed for walking are best.
Every workout should begin with a brief warm-up and a few simple stretches. Walk around the house or in place for a few minutes to get the blood flowing to the muscles before you attempt to stretch them. Although walking primarily works the major muscles of the legs, don't forget to stretch your back, shoulders and arms. This will help to loosen up any tension you may be carrying and make your walk more enjoyable as well as more effective.
Beginning walkers can make their workouts less strenuous by limiting how fast and far they walk. Keep in mind the following:
1. Walk short distances. Begin with a five-minute stroll and gradually increase your distance.
2. Forget about speed. Walk at a comfortable pace. Focus on good posture, keeping your head lifted and shoulders relaxed.
3. Swing your arms naturally, and breathe deeply. If you can't catch your breath, slow down or avoid hills.
4. Be sure you can talk while walking. If you can't converse, you are walking too fast.
Walking is one fitness activity that allows you numerous options. Once you have reached a point where you can walk a few miles with relative ease, you can start to vary the intensity. Walking hills, in addition to increasing your cardiovascular endurance, is a great way to tone the legs. Concentrate on lengthening your stride or increasing your speed. And don't forget to reward yourself after each workout with a few minutes of relaxing stretches to help prevent sore muscles.
Listening to lively music while you walk is also a great way to energize your workout. But if you wear headphones, keep the volume down and watch out for traffic that you may not hear.
Keep track of your progress. Many experts recommend that you walk a minimum of 20 minutes a day. But there are no hard and fast rules. Fit walking into your schedule whenever you can. That may mean two 10-minute walks each day, or even hour-long walks two to three times a week. The best schedule is one that keeps you walking and keeps you fit!
March 22, 2005
Next time you walk into your neighborhood grocery store, stand in the front and scan the store from right to left. What do you notice? Which sections are on the outermost sides of the store? Which sections are in the middle? Most likely the produce, dairy, fresh meats and grains are on the outside. These are the foods which should take up the majority of your shopping cart. The inside aisles are packed with processed foods and junk foods. First off, before going to the store, make a list of the foods you need to buy. It can be helpful to plan out your menus for the week so that you know which foods to buy. As you walk in, make your way around the outside of the store first and then choose the specific inside aisles you need to go down. Also, make sure you’re not hungry when you go to the store. You may find a bunch of foods you think you might want, but don’t particularly need.
March 21, 2005
Vegetarianism and Athletes
In response to increased levels of cholesterol and a greater risk of heart disease, many Americans are making the switch from a diet dominated by hamburgers and hotdogs to one of veggieburgers and tofu. But is this type of diet a wise choice for athletes who need to maintain their strength and stamina?
The answer to that question is a qualified 'yes.' Whether you are an athlete or moderately active, you must be aware of the nutritional implications of vegetarianism, and choose foods that will provide you with enough calories and nutrients to keep you healthy and strong.
Choose Your Type
There are four basic types of vegetarians. The first, lacto-ovo-vegetarians, omit meat, fish and poultry from their diets, but include animal products such as eggs, milk, yogurt and cheese.
The second and third types of vegetarians are lacto-vegetarians and ovo-vegetarians. Lacto-vegetarians, while excluding eggs, do include dairy products. Conversely, ovo-vegetarians do include eggs, but exclude dairy products from their diets. Both types exclude all forms of meat. Finally, the restrictive vegan diet excludes all foods derived from animals in any form.
Regardless of what type of vegetarianism may be your preference, it is essential to have a good understanding of basic nutritional principles in order to choose a balanced diet. Without this knowledge, vegetarians may find themselves deficient in nutrients generally derived from meat, eggs and/or dairy products such as protein, iron, calcium and vitamins B12 and D.
Protein deficiency, though generally a rare occurrence in the western world, is of concern, especially for vegans. Individuals who consume eggs or dairy products need not be worried about a protein deficiency. Vegans, however, should include high-quality proteins such as legumes, nuts and seeds in combination with whole grain breads and cereals. Soy products and other meat substitutes also are good sources of protein. This is particularly important for endurance and strength athletes, who have slightly higher protein requirements than the average adult.
For vegetarians who drink milk or eat dairy products, getting enough calcium and vitamin D should not be a problem. For others, calcium may be found in vitamin D-fortified soy products, tortillas, some nuts, sesame seeds and self-rising flour.
Iron, a nutrient abundant in meat, can be found in eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds and of course spinach. Two or more servings of these each day is recommended for the average vegetarian adult. Getting enough vitamin B12, which is often found only in animal foods and nutritional supplements, can pose a serious problem for vegans, especially those who are pregnant. Because this vitamin can be stored in our bodies for up to four years, a deficiency takes quite some time to develop.
Getting What You Need
The high-fiber, low-calorie nature of most vegetarian foods may pose a problem for athletes. Very often the volume of vegetarian foods required to meet their energy needs is greater than their stomachs' capacity for food. When energy reserves drop too low, the body will convert its own muscle or protein to compensate for the deficiency, leaving little left over for growth. Eating several smaller meals throughout the day or snacking on foods that contain both carbohydrates and some protein may be helpful.
Despite the previously mentioned concerns, studies have shown that individuals on vegetarian diets have lower blood cholesterol levels, better digestive function, and lower occurrence of certain types of cancer. Before making the switch to vegetarianism, however, remember that it takes careful planning and nutritional knowledge to achieve a healthy, well-balanced diet.
March 16, 2005
Parents, Eat Your Words.
Are you pleased with your progress toward healthful nutrition and fitness habits but frustrated with your children's? Do you suspect that the lunches you send to school are traded or thrown away? Do you shudder at the sight of your pantry shelves displaying high-fat snacks and sugary cereals that you vowed you would never buy? Can you really win the battle against advertising, peer pressure and kids' love affairs with sugar and fat?
The Bad News And The Good News
Kids today are fatter and less fit than previous generations. Between the mid-1960s and the late 1970s, obesity increased 54 percent among young children (ages six to 11) and 39 percent among adolescents (ages 12 to 17). Recent studies show that obesity has continued to increase into the '90s.
Food companies spend millions of dollars on television advertising to convince children that high-fat, high-sugar, processed foods are worth eating. Food is consumed because it's cool, fun or comes with a free toy rather than for its impact on health or even for its taste!
So what's a parent to do? Eat your words! The fact is that parents who have adopted a lifestyle that includes healthful foods and regular exercise are living role models for their children. We know that the behaviors children see most often at home are the ones they will be most likely to adopt for themselves and parents' efforts to promote healthy food habits do make a difference.
The first step is to stop battling with your kids about food. You may need to slow the rate of change in your children's food choices and offer reasonable alternatives as you gradually reduce those high-fat, high-sugar foods. Be sure to include some of their favorite foods in daily meals.
Stack The Deck
Much of nutrition is common sense. For instance, stock the kitchen with a majority of healthy items, keeping in mind that kids want some of their favorite foods, which may be sweet and/or salty. Buy pretzels, which are low in fat, instead of greasy chips. Keep cut-up vegetables and ready-to-eat mini-carrots in the refrigerator. Sprinkle air-popped popcorn with grated parmesan cheese instead of butter.
A good way to get kids involved and committed to healthy eating habits is to involve them with the food shopping and preparation. There are lots of children's cookbooks on the market; select one that emphasizes ways to modify many favorite foods rather than eliminate them. Children who feel competent to select and prepare food will make more intelligent food choices.
Balance Is Everything
The key to keeping kids happy and healthy is to strike a balance between foods that are good for you and those that just taste good, between leisure or TV time and physical activity.
Which brings us to the other side of the healthy living equation. The most obvious impact of inactivity on kids is the strong association between the number of hours spent watching TV and the level of obesity among youngsters.
Make physical activity a family affair. Go for walks, fly kites, rollerblade around the neighborhood, play miniature golf or other sports. Anything that gets you moving together will no doubt be good for you, too.
March 15, 2005
Stretch. Flex. Lengthen.
We take part in aerobic activity to improve our cardiovascular endurance and burn fat. We weight-train to maintain lean muscle tissue and build strength. Those are the two most important elements of a fitness program, right?
Actually, there are three important elements. Often neglected is flexibility training. That neglect is regrettable, because flexibility training:
Allows greater freedom of movement and improved posture
Increases physical and mental relaxation
Releases muscle tension and soreness
Reduces risk of injury
Some people are naturally more flexible. Flexibility is primarily due to one's genetics, gender, age and level of physical activity. As we grow older, we tend to lose flexibility, usually as a result of inactivity rather than the aging process itself. The less active we are, the less flexible we are likely to be. As with cardiovascular endurance and muscle strength, flexibility will improve with regular training.
Stretch For Success
Before stretching, take a few minutes to warm up as stretching cold muscles can cause injury. Begin with a simple, low-intensity warm-up, such as easy walking while swinging the arms in a wide circle. Spend at least 5 to 10 minutes warming up prior to stretching.
When performing any stretch:
Start each stretch slowly, exhaling as you gently stretch the muscle.
Try to hold each stretch for at least 10 to 30 seconds.
Avoid these stretching mistakes:
Don't bounce a stretch. Holding a stretch is more effective and there is less risk of injury.
Don't stretch a muscle that is not warmed up.
Don't strain or push a muscle too far. If a stretch hurts, ease up.
Don't hold your breath.
Fitting Stretching Into A Compressed Schedule
Time constraints keep many people from stretching. Some complain they just don't have time to stretch; others hurry out of their fitness classes before the cool-down exercises are completed. Ideally, at least 30 minutes, three times per week, should be spent on flexibility training. But even a mere five minutes of stretching at the end of an exercise session is better than nothing. And all aerobic activity should be followed by at least a few minutes of stretching.
Here are some tips for fitting stretching into an overstuffed schedule:
1. If you don't have time to sufficiently warm up before stretching, try doing a few stretches immediately after a shower or while soaking in a hot tub. The hot water elevates muscle temperature enough to make them more pliable and receptive to stretching.
2. Try a few simple stretches before getting out of bed in the morning. Wake yourself up with a few full-body stretches by pointing the toes and reaching the arms above your head. This can clear your mind and help jump-start your morning.
3. Take a stretching class such as yoga or tai chi. Scheduling a class will help you to stick with a regular stretching program.
March 14, 2005
Nutrition quiz, part 1
March is National Nutrition Month and the American Dietetic Association has put out a quiz to test our nutritional knowledge. Answer these questions to see how much of a nutritional expect you are:
According to consumer research, which factor tops nutrition as the number one reason why consumers buy one food over another?
A - packaging
B - preparation time
C - taste
D - cost
You might be surprised to see that taste is the answer. We tend to eat the foods we like more often and the more we eat them, the more they affect our overall health. To get the best flavor out of food, chew food well.
In addition to walnuts, which of the following is another rich source of omega-3 fatty acids:
A - peanuts
B - flaxseed
C - apple
D - broccoli
The answer is B, flaxseed, which is also known as linseed. Although you can buy it whole or milled, the whole seeds cannot be digested. Add it to salads, cereals, smoothies, juices, yogurt, or even baking.
True or False? With thousands of food items to choose from in the supermarket, most Americans regularly consume a wide variety of foods.
Unbelievably, the answer is false. Most are us are simply in a food rut meaning that we typically plan meals around the same old 10-15 food. Since variety is the key to good nutrition, try to include one new food in your diet each week.
March 11, 2005
The New Dietary Guidelines: One step at a time. Protein.
Choose lean sources of meat. If the work “loin��? is in the name, it’s usually a good choice. Trim the fat off the edges of meats before cooking. Try something new like legumes or meat alternatives. Nuts and nut butters are also in this group, which supply you with protein and healthy fats as well.
Meat and beans:
5 1/2 ounces per day
ounce serving equals:
l 1 ounce cooked lean meat, poultry or fish
l 1 egg
l 1/4 cup cooked dry beans or tofu
l 1 tablespoon peanut butter
l 1/2 ounce nuts or seeds
- Adapted from the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, USDA and Department of Health and Human Services
You might not want to wade through the 80-page document that spells out 41 specific eating recommendations, but a consumer booklet called Finding Your Way to a Healthier You boils down the new guidelines into an easy-to-digest format. You can download both at http:// healthierus.gov/
March 10, 2005
The New Dietary Guidelines: One step at a time. Fats
Choose 'good' fats: The new guidelines reinforce the notion that not all fats are bad. Though we should curtail saturated fat and trans fat, there are some fats that we should make an effort to increase, such as omega-3 fats found in certain fish, nuts and oils. These ''good'' fats may help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
* Use canola or olive oil for sautéing and making salad dressings, but limit them to 6 teaspoons per day.
* Eat more nuts, particularly walnuts, which pack in the most omega-3s. Add to salads, stir-fries, oatmeal or baked goods. Grab a handful of nuts for a snack instead of chips or pretzels.
* Eat fish twice a week (about 8 ounces total). Choose salmon, tuna or other fatty fish that is high in omega-3s. Keep canned, boneless salmon on hand for making salmon patties or flaking on top of a salad.
* Slash the sources of trans fat in your diet to keep intake ''as low as possible.'' Major culprits are partially hydrogenated oils found in some cakes, cookies, crackers, chips, margarine and shortening.
* To help limit saturated fat to less than 10 percent of calories, choose lean cuts of meat and poultry, and opt for more meals built around beans and peas (aim for 3 cups per week).
6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day
1 tsp equivalent equals:
l 1 tbsp low-fat mayonnaise
l 2 tbsp light salad dressing
l 1 teaspoon canola oil
March 9, 2005
The New Dietary Guidelines: One step at a time. Dairy.
Drink your milk: The guidelines upped the ante on dairy, recommending 3 cups of low-fat or fat-free milk per day (or an equivalent amount of yogurt or cheese). Dairy foods supply many of the vitamins and minerals the guidelines said were chronically low in American diets: calcium, vitamin D, potassium, magnesium and vitamin A.
* Start your day with dairy: whole-grain cereal and milk, fruit and yogurt or an omelet with part-skim mozzarella.
* When making a run for coffee, order a large skim latte - but hold the sugar.
* Swap your soda at lunch for a glass of skim milk.
* Whip up a smoothie made with milk, fresh fruit and a few ice cubes. Or try a cut-up frozen banana instead of the ice.
* Stock up on individually wrapped string cheese for snacks.
3 cups per day
1 cup serving equals:
l 1 cup low-fat/fat-free milk or yogurt
l 1 1/2 ounces low-fat or fat-free natural cheese
l 2 ounces low-fat or fat-free processed cheese
March 8, 2005
The New Dietary Guidelines: One step at a time. Grains.
Make half your grains whole: The guidelines recommend 6 daily servings of grains, but three or more should be whole grains, which are important sources of fiber and other nutrients. Replacing refined grains with whole grains (at least 3 ounces per day), can help reduce the risk of several chronic diseases and may help with weight maintenance, the guidelines indicate.
* Breakfast is your best opportunity to get whole grains, but it may mean ditching your usual fare. Bypass the bagel with cream cheese and opt for two slices of whole-grain toast.
* Enjoy a bowl of oatmeal. Whether instant, old-fashioned or steel-cut, all oatmeal is whole grain. One cup is 2 whole-grain servings.
* When choosing ready-to-eat cereal, look for ones that list whole wheat, whole oats or another whole grain as the first ingredient.
* For lunch, make sandwiches with whole-grain breads. Check the label to make sure you see the word ''whole'' on the package or in the first ingredient.
* Skip the white rice and use brown rice, wild rice, bulgur or whole-wheat couscous.
* When making bread, muffins, pancakes or waffles, substitute whole-wheat flour for part or all of the white flour.
6 servings (6 ounces) per day
Whole grains (3 ounces)
Other grains (3 ounces)
1 ounce serving equals:
l 1 slice bread
l 1 cup dry cereal
l 1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta or cooked cereal
March 7, 2005
The New Dietary Guidelines: One step at a time. Fruits and Vegetables.
Focus on fruits and vegetables: Though ''5-a-day'' used to be the battle cry, now we need to aim for 9 servings: 4 servings (2 cups) of fruit and 5 servings (2 1/2 cups) of vegetables each day. Ramping up your intake of fruits and vegetables not only supplies your body with fiber and disease-fighting antioxidants, but it will likely edge out the stuff the guidelines suggest we limit, such as sugary foods and beverages and trans-fat-laden snacks.
* One of the easiest ways to achieve this goal is to make fruits and vegetables half of what you eat at each meal.
* Don't leave home in the morning without some fruit for breakfast: a glass of orange juice, a bowl of mixed berries or a sliced banana on cereal.
* Keep a stash of baby carrots, red pepper strips or other cut-up veggies on hand for easy munching.
* Look for ways to make vegetables a center-of-the-plate star: Fortify pasta dishes with extra vegetables, pump up the vegetables in stir-fries and casseroles, or enjoy a hearty salad as your main entree.
* Vary your veggie selections and lean toward richly hued varieties, such as dark leafy greens (spinach, chard) and bright orange vegetables (think carrots, sweet potatoes and winter squash).
4 servings (2 cups) per day
1/2 cup serving equals:
l 1/2 cup fresh, frozen, or canned fruit
l 1 medium fruit
l 1/4 cup dried fruit
l 1/2 cup fruit juice
5 servings (2 1/2 cups) per day
Dark green vegetables (3 cups/week)
Orange vegetables (2 cups/week)
Legumes (dry beans and peas) (3 cups/week)
Starchy vegetables (3 cups/week)
Other vegetables (6 1/2 cups/week)
1/2 cup serving equals:
l 1/2 cup cut-up raw or cooked vegetables
l 1 cup raw leafy vegetables
l 1/2 cup vegetable juice
March 4, 2005
Carbohydrate Type, Not Amount, Linked to Obesity
When it comes to carbohydrates, it's not how much you eat, but which kind, that makes a difference to your bathroom scale, new research shows.
People who are overweight do not appear to eat more carbohydrates overall than people who weigh less, the researchers report in the American Journal of Epidemiology. However, they found that overweight people tend to eat more refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pasta, which cause a rapid spike in blood sugar.
"Total amount of carbohydrate is not related to body weight," Dr. Yunsheng Ma of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester told Reuters Health. "It's the type of carbohydrate that's important."
These findings suggest that low-carbohydrate diets, which recommend people cut back on all carbohydrates, are missing the mark, Ma added.
"Carbohydrates are not the enemy," he said in an interview. "But you have to watch the kind of enemy."
Ma explained that refined carbohydrates are often found in processed foods that contain a lot of sugar. This type of carbohydrate has what's called a high glycemic index, meaning it causes a rapid increase in blood sugar. The body stores that sugar in muscle, but if it is not used, it becomes fat, he noted.
In contrast, whole grains, fruits and vegetables have carbohydrates that don't have such high glycemic index, Ma said.
In the report, Ma and his colleagues note that in the last 20 years, the rate of obesity has increased, despite the fact that people are eating less fat. To help investigate the role carbohydrates play in obesity, the researchers measured the height and weight of 572 healthy people, and asked them to regularly report what carbohydrates they ate. Ma's team followed study participants for one year.
They found that people with a higher body mass index -- a measure of weight that factors in height -- tended to eat carbohydrates with a higher glycemic index. The amount of carbohydrates people ate had no influence on body mass index.
"Refined carbohydrates are no good, but the total amount of carbohydrates is okay," Ma noted.
He added that some countries now include a food's glycemic index on the labeling, which can be helpful for people trying to lose weight or deal with diabetes.
(SOURCE: By Alison McCook. American Journal of Epidemiology, February 15; 2005)
March 3, 2005
Wine keeps women's hearts beating healthily
Drinking wine, but not beer or spirits, keeps women's hearts beating healthily, finds new research.
Writing in the March issue of Heart (91, pp314-318), Swedish researchers say that they may have found a possible explanation for the drink's benefits.
Much of the research on the potential health benefits of alcohol has been done on men, and it is still not clear exactly why moderate amounts of wine seems to be good for heart health.
The team from the Karolinska institute and other Stockholm-based centres studied 102 women under the age of 75, all of whom had survived a heart attack or heart surgery for blocked arteries. A year later, participants were asked to record their alcohol intake for one week.
After at least a year, a heart tracing (ECG) was taken over 24 hours during routine activities in all the participants, to test heart rate variability (HRV).
HRV measures the changes in time intervals between the beats of the heart. Decreased variability has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease and death.
HRV was highest in women who drank 5 or more grams of alcohol a day, equivalent to more than half a standard unit, and lowest in those who drank no alcohol at all.
But further analysis showed that the type of alcohol consumed was important.
HRV was highest among women who drank wine, even after taking account of other influential factors, such as age, weight, and smoking habit. Beer and spirits had little impact on HRV.
The favourable effects on HRV may be one of the reasons why wine protects heart health, suggest the authors.
March 2, 2005
Healthy Eating & Supplements
Do you eat a variety of foods? If so, you probably get the vitamins and minerals you need. However, some people who consume a variety of foods may find they still need multivitamin supplements.
For some healthy people, under some circumstances, multivitamins do offer benefits. For example:
Women with heavy menstrual bleeding may need an iron supplement.
Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding need more of some nutrients, especially iron, folate and calcium.
Menopausal women might benefit from calcium supplements.
Some vegetarians may need extra calcium, iron, zinc and vitamins B-12 and D.
During childbearing years, women need a folic acid supplement if they are not getting enough folate from foods. Folic acid decreases risk of certain birth defects.
If you have any questions about your own nutrient requirements or whether you need a supplement, contact a dietetics professional.
Content provided by the American Dietetic Association. For more nutrition tips, visit www.eatright.org.