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HEALTHY MEAL 2

Who doesn’t want to extend years of life as long as possible? Researchers confirm that even after middle age, we can lengthen our life span. In a study of nearly 74,000 health professionals 60 years-of-age or older, those who shifted to better eating habits lived longer. What changes did they make? Those who increased the amount of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains plus other healthy foods in their diets lowered their risk of premature death compared to those whose diets remained the same. Likewise, those who let their eating habits slip to less healthy fares in their older years increased their risks for dying.

Researchers used three scoring systems based on the Alternate Healthy Eating Index, the Alternate Mediterranean diet, and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. While those diets differ somewhat, all promote fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, low-fat dairy, olive oil, and nuts. Some foods may include more of certain vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, or other nutrients, but all of these received higher scores and are good options. In all diets, less healthy choices such as sweets, processed foods, and red meats received low scores. The higher the overall score, the lower the risk of premature death.

Even changing a few items, such as fish or legumes in place of red meat, made a slight difference.  Alice Lichtenstein, spokesperson for the American Heart Association stated, “The key is to make changes that you can stick with for the rest of your life.” She added, “There are no magic-bullet foods or nutrients.” The message isn’t new. However, many believe if they haven’t followed healthy eating rules throughout their lifetimes, change is hopeless. Not so. It’s never too late to improve eating habits.

Choosing healthy foods helps prevent an early death and assures that the years we live will be less hampered by the many diseases resulting from poor diets. Quality of life is a precious commodity for everyone, especially as we age. Making slight diet changes can improve physical well-being and make those extra years’ worth living. It’s a win-win choice.

 

June is National Dairy Month. In past times, the mention of milk referred to dairy or that white liquid produced by mammals. Not so anymore. Controversy continues as to whether drinks from almonds, soybeans, coconut, and other plants constitute milk. While these products may be healthy, they definitely aren’t the same as milk from animals.Glass, Milk, White, Cow'S Milk, Pour A

Test your knowledge about dairy (with 1% fat), unsweetened almond, soy, rice, and coconut milks by taking the quiz below.

  • What milk listed above has the highest amount of protein?
  • Which one is highest in calories?
  • Which milks are fortified with calcium and vitamin D?
  • Which milk is highest in fat, based on the above criteria?
  • Which one(s) is/are lactose-free?

Protein in milk. Cow’s milk by far has the highest content of protein. In doesn’t matter if the product is skim, reduced fat, whole, organic, or inorganic, it contains the same amount of protein, about 1 gram per ounce or 8 grams in 8-ounce servings. Coconut and rice are the lowest with 0 grams of protein while almond has 1 gram, and soy 7 grams.

Calories in milk. Dairy milk (1% fat) also contains the most calories with 110 per serving. The most popular non-dairy milks usually contain added sugar, increasing the calorie count. When served unsweetened, plant milks have a calorie count as follows: almond― 40, soy― 80, rice― 70, and coconut― 45.

Fortified milk. A fortified food indicates that manufacturers have added micronutrients to the product. Federal regulations mandate fortification of cow’s milk with 2000 International Units (IU) per quart of vitamin A and 400 IU of vitamin D. Cow’s milk is naturally high in the mineral calcium, and the vitamin D improves calcium absorption. The federal government does not regulated fortification in plant milks, but many do add vitamins and minerals to simulate cow’s milk.

Fat content. Coconut milk, with 4.5 grams per serving of mostly saturated fat, has the highest content of the milks listed. Controversy continues regarding the pros and cons of the healthfulness of coconut milk. Current research confirms that saturated fat is less healthy than unsaturated types of fat whether from animal sources or plant sources. Soy milk is second highest in fat content with 4 grams per serving. The amount of fat in cow’s milk depends on whether it is skim―with minimal fat, whole―full-fat content, or somewhere in-between for reduced fat milk. Based on the 1 percent criteria, dairy, almond, and rice all have 2.5 grams of fat per 8-ounce serving.

Lactose. Lactose is a sugar found only in milk. Some people who have trouble digesting cow’s milk may be lactose intolerant.

Consumer Reports compared these milks and identified pros and cons.

  • Almond milk. These drinks contain few almonds, sometimes no more than the equivalent of three to four whole almonds. The nuts are ground and added to water. Drinks may contain some vitamin E and are often fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Panelists preferred “Almond Breeze Original” of the eight tasted. This drink has sugar added and possibly other additives.
  • Coconut milk. This drink is not the same as coconut milk found in cans. It is watered down to match the consistency of dairy milk. Added nutrients may include calcium and vitamin D, and some may have B12. Of the five brands tasted, the panel chose “Silk Almond-Coconut Blend Original” as the most flavorful.
  • Soy milk. This product is a good source of protein, but not the quality protein found in cow’s milk. It is made with ground soybeans and water, and is often fortified with B-vitamins, calcium, and vitamin D. Consumer Reports panelists tasted four products and selected “Silk Soymilk Vanilla” as the best. It, too, has added sugar.

With these facts, you can make more informed decisions about the type of milk you choose for you and your family. Dairy is usually the most economical and packs in more nutrients than any of the plant sources. All dairy milk has nine essential nutrients and high-quality (complete) protein. Non-dairy milks have no federal standards and may contain as much as ten different added ingredients including salt and sugar plus stabilizers and emulsifiers like locust bean gum, lecithin, and other gums.

Let me know what you think. Should these non-dairy drinks continue to be labeled as milk?

It’s strawberry season, my childhood favorite time of year. I grew up on a small farm where my dad grew strawberries. Fond memories linger of those days when fresh-from-the-field strawberries were often a part of every meal. I ate all the berries I wanted throughout the growing season plus unending amounts of frozen berries during the year.

It never occurred to me how healthy thImage result for free clipart strawberriesose bright red fruits were or the many nutritious benefits from eating them. Today, researchers assure us that strawberries are a part of a healthy diet and may contribute to well-being in many ways. They are high in vitamin C, folate, potassium, and phytochemicals. Flavonoids, a type of phytochemical, have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antimutagenic properties. Strawberries have been associated with many health conditions and may help or prevent the following:

  • Reduce total cholesterol, LDL oxidation, and cell inflammation: These factors influence risks of heart attacks. A diet high in strawberries significantly lowers cholesterol levels. Researchers found that women who ate three servings per week of strawberries or blueberries reduced their chances of heart attacks by nearly one-third.
  • Prevent weight gain: According to studies in the British Medical Journal, flavonoid-rich foods like strawberries may help manage weight more easily.
  • Improve insulin resistance: Anthocyanins, responsible for berries’ bright red color, may improve insulin sensitivity. Researchers found that women who ate strawberries at least once a month were at a lower risk for diabetes.
  • Improve cognition: Strawberries and blueberries may help prevent age-related cognitive decline. They offset negative effects of cell oxidation and inflammation in the brain and protect women’s memory. Eating strawberries may delay mental aging in older women by as much as 2.5 years. In one study, women who ate more than two servings a week experienced less deterioration than those who ate one or fewer servings.

As a bonus, strawberries also seem to improve motor skills in women. What a delicious way to improve health and keep our brains intact. Make it a point to include ample servings in your diet. During this plentiful strawberry season, remember you are helping your overall health and brain function while enjoying a tasty treat.

Many Americans know something about vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. What do we know about fiber? Health professionals may disagree as to whether fiber is a nutrient, but it is essential to health. A healthy diet includes sufficient fiber, a form of carbohydrate that differs in significant ways from other types of this nutrient. The complexity of the sugar molecules linked together causes fiber to be more difficult to digest.

Fiber comes from plant sources, primarily whole grains which have twice the amount of fiber as refined grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes. Unpeeled fruits and vegetables also provide more fiber as well as other nutrients than those that have been peeled.

Fiber is divided into two types, soluble and insoluble. Dietary sources are basically the same. Soluble fiber is water solvent and aids in digestion by causing carbohydrate and other nutrients to be absorbed more slowly. This helps control blood sugar levels, a positive for those with diabetes. It also plays a significant role in lowering blood levels of LDL cholesterol because it interferes with absorption of fat and cholesterol.

Insoluble fiber provides bulk in the diet which in turn helps stimulate movement through the intestinal tract to regulate waste removal from the body. Because both soluble and insoluble fiber cause a feeling of fullness, they can be beneficial in weight loss. Those who consume higher fiber diets usually eat less and remain free from hunger for longer periods of time.

How much fiber do we need? Requirements may vary, but most women need at least 30 grams and men 38 grams per day. After age fifty, both need less. Women need about 21 grams and men 30 grams of fiber per day.

To avoid abdominal distress, it is best to increase fiber intake slowly. Gradually change from a low-fiber to a high-fiber diet. The following are suggested ways to increase fiber in our diets:

  • Switch from refined foods to those made with whole grains.
  • Add beans to soups, salad and side dishes.
  • Add unsalted nuts and seeds to foods and use as snacks in place of sweets.
  • Add fruits and/or vegetables to cereals, salads, and other foods.
  • Add vegetables (such as zucchini and carrots) into main dishes like lasagna, meatloaf, stews, and more.
  • Keep fresh fruits and vegetables prepared and refrigerated for quick snacks.

When buying foods, check labels of similar products to determine those with higher fiber content. Increasing fiber in the diet isn’t difficult. It will pay dividends in better health and well-being.

 

 

March is National Nutrition Month, and today, March 8, 2017, is National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day. Why is that significant? The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (Academy) is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy represent more than 100,000 credentialed practitioners, primarily registered dietitians nutritionists, who are committed to improving the health of individual patients/clients, families, and the community.
I'm Blogging National Nutrition Month

In 2008, the Academy created a special day for Registered Dietitians Nutritionists. According to their website,  key messages for the public about these leading nutrition and dietetic experts encompass the following:

  • Acquire degrees from Academy-approved programs in colleges and universities in specific fields of nutrition, food service, and dietetics plus additional internship training or plans of study,
  • Translate the science of nutrition into practical application for healthy living,
  • Help individuals achieve positive lifestyle changes,
  • Advocate the advancement of nutritional status of Americans and people around the globe.

The Academy distributes nutrition related educational materials, and for National Nutrition Month has posted a word game for adults. Try it to refresh your memory and challenge your brain.

Celebrate this month with wise food choices. Should you need help with diets or food issues, remember to contact a registered dietitian nutritionist.

cancer-prevention-monthFebruary may be the shortest month, but it’s a busy time for holidays and health. Valentine’s Day blows warm kisses amid cold winters. President’s Day follows close behind reminding us of extraordinary American leaders in past years. While we observe these two holidays, February additionally focuses on health. Heart-related problems are the number one cause of death in our nation. National Heart Month in February encourages Americans to alter lifestyles to slow progression of this disease.

This is also National Cancer Prevention Month. More than a half million Americans will lose their lives to cancer this year. The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) estimates that nearly one-third of cancer cases could be prevented by eating healthy, staying active, and maintaining appropriate weight.

For 2017, AICR provided a 30-day prevention checklist to improve lifestyles. In these few remaining days in February, we can include modified food-related suggestions from their list along with other recommendations to help prevent cancer.

  • If overweight or obese, make every effort to reach your recommended weight. Up to 40 percent of all cancers are associated with excess weight.
  • Distinguish between weight loss myths and facts.
  • Measure portion sizes to avoid overeating.
  • Enjoy meatless dishes. Most American grew up with red meats, from hamburgers to prime rib. While we can periodically enjoy these tasty foods in our diets, to reduce cancer risks limit red meats, especially those that have been cured. Try healthier entrees from vegetables, cheese, or beans.
  • Swap processed meats for better protein sources such as fish or chicken.
  • Substitute water or unsweetened beverages for sugary drinks.
  • Learn the relationship between sugar and cancer.
  • Try new whole grains. Today we have access to familiar grains as well as those unknown to us a decade ago. Common whole grains include amaranth, buckwheat, farro, Kamut, maize, millet, quinoa, rye, sorghum, and teff.
  • Cook cancer fighting recipes.
  • Read labels. Remember, ingredients are listed on the label in order of weight, with the main ingredient first.
  • Take the AICR healthy diet quiz.

The dreaded “C” word affects many lives. Lower your risks by incorporating these suggestions into your routine and adopting permanent changes for a healthier lifestyle.

Heart health took center stage when Lyndon B. Johnson issued Proclamation 3566 in December,1963. He declared February as American Heart Month and Congress passed a joint resolution requesting presidents each year to follow suit. In that era, more than half of deaths in the United States resulted from heart-related conditions.

In the 2017 proclamation, President Donald Trump stated “The death rate from heart disease in the United States has fallen dramatically since the 1960s . . . [yet] heart disease remains a leading cause of death. . . . During American Heart Month, we remember those who have lost their lives to heart disease and resolve to improve its prevention, detection and treatment.”

 Globally, more than 17 million deaths occur annually from heart related conditions with projected increases in future years. What is more appropriate than to think about healthy hearts on Valentine’s Day? As a day of love, it’s befitting to encourage those we love to eat healthy and to express our love to family and friends by practicing a healthy-heart lifestyle.                                     

      Image result for free heart healthy clip art                                                             

 If you plan to treat those you love with any type of food this Valentine’s Day, make it healthy. Increase the availability of fruits and vegetables, avoid offers of high-sugar, high-salt foods, and provide meats low in fat, especially saturated fats.

As we commemorate a day for hearts, remember to protect yours. Helping yourself and others choose healthy-heart foods can reduce the number of people likely to meet untimely deaths due to cardiovascular disease. It’s the way to honor a national treasure―you and those you love. Happy Valentine’s Day.