September 29, 2011
Milk Does a Body Good
Cow's milk is naturally a rich source of calcium and riboflavin, and fortified with vitamin A and D. Fat-free milk, with only 10 calories per ounce and the same nutrient profile as the full-fat version, makes a great recovery drink. Milk is also loaded with potassium (a glass of milk is equivalent to a banana), a mineral essential for maintaining the body's fluid balance, and casein and whey protein, which are staples for muscle recovery. Research shows that whey protein may also aid in weight loss.
Lactaid, with the same nutrients as milk, is a good choice for the lactose intolerant, while goat's milk is gaining popularity.
Organic milk is also higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which boosts metabolic rate and might also increase immunity to some diseases.
Plant-based milks are taking over the dairy case. Most are available in a version that does not have to be refrigerated until opened, which makes them great for travel. The most common are soy, rice and almond, with hemp and oat milk gaining popularity. Label reading is critical when choosing non-dairy milk. Several have excessive amounts of added sugar, others are not fortified with calcium or vitamin D, and most do not have significant protein.
* Soy Milk-On average, soymilk has 6 grams of protein and a good amount of isoflavones that might have a role in reducing risk of heart disease. But the added calcium in soymilk might not be as well absorbed as the naturally occurring calcium in dairy milk.
* Almond Milk-With a slightly nutty flavor and on average only 50 calories a glass, almond milk might be what your cereal is looking for. Only 1 gram of protein per cup means it needs to be paired with a protein rich food, like in a smoothie with whey protein. Buy almond milk from the store or make your own: Combine a ¼ cup of ground almonds with a cup of water and strain to make almond milk that is brimming with vitamin E, magnesium, manganese and copper.
* Hemp Milk- It won't get you high but it will get you healthy. Hemp milk has 5 grams of protein per glass and is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Most are fortified with calcium, vitamins and a hint of sugar.
* Coconut Milk- It's rich in flavor, relatively low in calories (80 calories/cup) and provides good amount calcium. However, it comes up short in protein content (1 gram) and is high in saturated fat (25%). Some studies show that the fat in coconut is what's called medium-chain-triglycerides, which the liver metabolizes differently. This means that they are directed to be used as energy and not to be stored as fats.
* Rice Milk- Rice milk is primarily carbohydrates, and thinner tasting than other plant milks. Some companies add thickeners and sugar and fortify it with calcium and vitamin D. Rice milk is hypoallergenic and lactose free, but contains only 1 gram of protein per glass.
September 26, 2011
Looking for a crunchy snack with a little sugar, a little salt and a little nutrition? Try these ideas great for kids and adults! Feel free to substitute other dried fruit or nuts depending on your likes/dislikes.
Wild Animal Mix: 2 cups animal crackers, 3/4 cup dried blueberries, 3/4 cup roasted pecan halves, 2 1/2 cups air-popped popcorn. 1/2 cup mix = 104 kcal, 2.4g fiber
Cheesy Mix: 2 cups whole-grain cheddar goldfish, 2 1/2 cups cheddar-flavored mini pretzels, 1 cup dried apple rings, 1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts. 1/2 cup mix = 120 kcal, 2g fiber
Extra Crunchy Mix: 1/2 cup dried cherries, 2 cups whole grain Rice Chex, 1/2 cup roasted unsalted pistachios, 3 cups Kashi Go Lean Crunch cereal. 1/2 cup = 119 kcal, 3.3g fiber
Sweet-Tooth Mix: 2 cups pretzel sticks, 2 cups Multigrain Cheerios, 1 cup mini marshmallows, 1/2 cup M&Ms, 1/2 cup raisins. 1/2 cup mix = 106 kcal, 1.1g fiber
Salty-Sweet Mix: 1 1/2 cups Post Honey Nut Shredded Wheat, 1 cup dried mango, 3 cups Triscuit thin crisps, 1/2 cup roasted almonds. 1/2 cup mix = 125 kcal, 2.2g fiber
September 22, 2011
Harvard's Version of MyPlate
Although the United States Department of Agriculture unveiled MyPlate, the replacement for the food pyramid, just a few months ago, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health say MyPlate doesn't offer enough about good nutrition, and they've offered their own version.
Harvard unveiled its modified version of the USDA plate, called the Healthy Eating Plate. Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard, says it addresses the shortcomings of MyPlate.
September 20, 2011
Staying Healthy at Work
Spending an average of 40 hours per week at work can be physically and mentally draining, but the workplace can also be unhealthy in other ways as well.
Sitting or standing for long periods of time can cause pain and other adverse effects, and there can also be nutritional traps, such as vending machines, that could contribute to weight gain.
But experts say there are numerous things people can do to make their workplaces healthier. The following includes simple tips for keeping healthy at work.
Take a Walk in the Park
The idea: we have two forms of attention -- directed and involuntary. In the workplace, employees use directed attention that is finite and depletes leading to mental fatigue. During a nature walk, stimulation and the environment capture our involuntary attention, which research suggests may allow for directed attention, which we use to do our jobs, to recover.
Surf the Web
After you take that stroll, spend some time cruising the web. Experts are now encouraging employers to lighten up when cracking down on workers' Internet access, thanks to a recent study.
Researchers at the National University of Singapore discovered that web browsing rejuvenated exhausted employees and boosted their productivity. The results were shared earlier this month at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management in San Antonio, Texas.
In an experiment that observed 96 students broken into a control group, a "rest-break" group and a Web-surfing group, those who were allowed to use the Internet during 10 minutes of leisure were found to be more productive and effective at their tasks. According to scientists, they also reported less mental exhaustion and boredom.
While sitting at a desk for long periods of time may seem like a good way to stay productive, experts say it's very unhealthy.
You need to take breaks every hour or two to get up and move. A lot of low back conditions happen from just sitting for a long period of time. The muscles get weak.
Email and other office technologies are undoubtedly convenient, but delivering messages the old-fashioned way, while it may be more time-consuming, is a much healthier option.
The workplace is often full of tasty temptations, such as vending machines and celebratory desserts. While responsibilities at work and at home make it difficult to find time to plan meals and snacks for work, experts strongly recommend it.
It's really important to eat at least every four hours. You need to make sure you're setting some time aside to make sure you're getting food in.
It's difficult to avoid hitting the vending machines or indulging in a tasty treat in the office, but it helps to have pre-portioned snacks on hand.
Small bags of nuts or snack mix you make yourself, or a small bag of fruit like apples or grapes. Keeping big bags of snacks can lead to mindless eating.
It's also important to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and to keep muscles healthy.
September 15, 2011
Try this for your kid's next lunch:
Makes 18 taquitos
18 small whole-wheat tortillas
4 apples, red or green, diced
1 jar (24 ounces) applesauce, no sugar added
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Mix diced apples with the applesauce in a bowl; stir in cinnamon.
Heat a griddle to medium high. Lightly coat both sides of the tortillas with oil using a pastry brush. Place 1-2 heaping tablespoons apple mixture in the center of each tortilla. Roll the tortillas to make a flute shape; carefully place them on the griddle, seam-side down.
Cook, turning, until the tortillas become crispy, 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat; allow to cool before wrapping for lunch bags.
Nutrition information: Per serving: 191 calories, 20 percent of calories from fat, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 34 g carbohydrates, 6 g protein, 290 mg sodium, 5 g fiber.
Source: Adapted from "Handstand Kids Mexican Cookbook" (Handstand Kids, $28)
September 12, 2011
More Reasons to Eat Healthy During Pregnancy
Want to instill in your child a love of vegetables? Start early. Very early.
New research by the Monell Chemical Senses Center finds mothers can influence a baby's palate and food memories before it is born. The study finds that what a woman eats during her pregnancy shapes the baby's food preferences later in life.
In the womb, the baby is surrounded and nourished on the amniotic fluid, which is filled with the flavors of what the mom has eaten.
Things like vanilla, carrot, garlic, anise, mint -- these are some of the flavors that have been shown to be transmitted to amniotic fluid or mother's milk.
The babies are feasting on the flavored amniotic fluid, forming memories of these flavors even before birth. These memories result in preferences for these foods or odors for a lifetime.
For example, eating broccoli while pregnant means there's a better chance your baby will like broccoli more than another baby would, whose mother did not eat broccoli.
Very early exposure to flavors, before and after birth, and reinforcement of those flavors make it more likely that children will accept a wide variety of flavors.
Researchers say this helps explain why kids from countries with more adventurous menus enjoy more diverse foods than a child exposed to American peanut butter and jelly and chicken nuggets.
The lesson: If you want your children to eat a healthy diet or more adventurous diet, you should expose them to all the right, healthy flavors early on. Very early on.
September 8, 2011
Have You Lost Your Willpower? Try This.
Examining the way the brain controls eating behavior in response to cues in the environment, known as neurobehavioral processes, can help with weight loss.
There are three neurobehavioral processes tied to weight loss and how much we eat:
Your brain naturally has a strong motivational drive to find and eat tasty food. It also intuitively seeks the experience of pleasure that comes about after eating enjoyable food.
If you experience higher food cravings, especially for sweets and high-fat foods, you may have a stronger biological preference to seek reward.
Your brain also has a varied response to suppressing the urge to eat high-calorie foods.
If you have found it hard to say no to tasty treats and high-fat foods, it may be because your natural biology has more powerful urges to eat than to abstain.
Research shows humans have a tendency toward immediate gratification rather than delayed positive results. When it comes to decision making about food, this means it's natural to prefer the immediate pleasure of eating over the delayed health benefits of weight loss.
If you need to lose weight to improve your health, trying to follow the old rules that rely on willpower to eat less and say no to food cravings likely won't work.
Here are some strategies that specifically tackle your brain's genetic susceptibilities and the challenging environment we live in.
Out of sight, out of mind
Keep your favorite foods such as potato chips and soda out of your house, car and work. Choosing to do this helps prevent the mesolimbic dopamine system in the brain from getting sensitized to seek reward.
If you love vending machine junk food or baked goods at the coffee shop, try leaving your cash at home. Bring only a credit card to work to decrease junk food consumption.
Make a list
Another strategy that helps to avoid sensitizing the brain's reward system is to make a list before going to the grocery store and follow it strictly.
Alternatively, shop online or go with a buddy who can help you stick to your plan.
Minimize eating out
Most people find it hard to leave extra food on a plate or to dish up appropriate servings at an all-you-can-eat buffet. These environments challenge the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is responsible for inhibitory control.
If you're at a restaurant you know serves big portions, ask for half your meal to be served and the other half to be boxed for lunch the next day. The trick here is to be sure you do this when you order rather than hope to leave half to take home.
Go near versus far
To help you manage the challenge of time discounting, try using a nearsighted focus on your nutrition goals; it will serve you better than focusing on long-term goals. For example, focus on how many servings of veggies you ate today, rather than your long-term goal to lose 30 pounds.
September 6, 2011
After School Snacks
Back to school may be here already for you, if not it's soon on its way! What happens when the kids come home from school? They want a snack! And rightfully so, since it's been a few hours since lunch and dinner is a few hours away. Here are a week's worth of snacks to try this school year.
1. Apple slices and warm peanut (or almond) butter: The apple provides fiber and a bit of Vitamin C; the nut butter's a filling protein and adds healthful fat to the mix. Make the nut butter dippable by warming it in the microwave for a few seconds.
2. Popcorn: Full of fiber, low in calories, nice and filling and fun to eat. Cooked on the stove top in olive oil, it's also a source of healthful fat. Go easy on the butter and salt.
3. Smoothie: Blend low-fat vanilla or plain yogurt (or tofu) with whatever fresh or frozen fruits you have on hand. Serve with a few whole-grain crackers.
4. Vegetables and hummus: Red-pepper strips, sliced cucumbers, carrot sticks, celery, baby tomatoes dipped in hummus.
5. Banana and pistachios: Bananas provide heart-healthy potassium. Pistachios offer fiber and healthful fats. Serve them in the shell; they're more entertaining that way and take longer to eat.
September 1, 2011
Protein-Rich Breakfast Ideas
New research shows that you'll feel full longer and may get less hungry throughout the day if your first meal has protein-rich foods, such as eggs, Greek yogurt, low-fat dairy products or lean meat, and fiber-filled fare, such whole-wheat bread, whole-grain cereal, fruit and vegetables.
These foods appear to have more staying power than highly processed foods such as bagels, muffins, doughnuts and sugary cereals.
The findings are especially important for school-aged children who may be ravenous by lunch time if they don't eat a good breakfast.
Start your day out right with these protein-rich breakfast ideas:
One cup of Greek yogurt
Served with: One slice whole-wheat toast with a teaspoon of peanut butter or trans-fat free tub margarine and fruit.
Made with layers of:
•1 cup vanilla yogurt
•1 cup cubed fresh or previously frozen mango (or other fresh fruit)
•½ cup whole-grain cereal
Served with (choose one): One cup reduced-fat milk or one serving of 2% Greek yogurt with fruit
Banana smoothie: Blend 1 cup fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk, a medium banana, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a blender or food processor. Serve with ½ whole-wheat English muffin topped with a teaspoon of peanut butter or trans-fat free tub margarine.
Slice of pizza and 8 ounces 100% orange juice.
Toasted whole-grain waffle sandwich with 2 tablespoons sunflower seed butter, peanut or almond butter with ¼ cup raisins; serve with 1 cup low-fat yogurt or milk.
Breakfast pita: Scramble one or two eggs and place in half a whole wheat pita pocket then top with ¼ cup shredded reduced-fat cheese and salsa; serve with 8 ounces 100% orange juice.
Plain, 1 minute or instant oatmeal microwaved with fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk with small chopped apple stirred in and topped with 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts.
•½ cup of old-fashioned oatmeal
•Scoop of vanilla-flavored whey or egg protein powder
•Handful of almonds
•Serving of fresh fruit
Served with: One cup of 1% milk
Breakfast burritos or sandwiches
•Whole-wheat tortilla, whole-wheat toast or whole-wheat sandwich thin bread
•½ cup egg beaters or egg whites
•Two ounces of either lean ham, turkey or turkey bacon
•One piece of reduced fat cheese
•Topped with veggies and salsa
Three hard boiled egg whites with whole wheat toast and a piece of fruit.