Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Five Foods You THINK Are Healthy

So now that I have mentioned the foods you should be eating, I thought I would share the 5 foods you THINK are healthy but aren't. I came across this article a while ago and found it very informative.
What are 5 foods that people think are healthy (but aren’t)? Any healthy alternatives for them?
We all know that in addition to physical activity, a critical component of leading a healthy lifestyle boils down to the food choices we make. But with all the food options out there, and a great deal of conflicting nutrition information circulating around, how do you know what you should consume and what you should avoid?
We decided to take the guess work out of healthy eating! We asked registered dietitians (RD) and nutrition experts to help us identify those foods that appear to be good for us, but aren’t as healthy as we may think. Don’t despair — the RDs and nutrition experts provide alternatives that can help you stay on track.
Low Fat Peanut Butter
Often times, seeing "low-fat" on food labels falsely leads us to believe the item must be a healthier alternative. But when it comes to low-fat peanut butter, RDs agreed – stay away from it.
ACE-certified personal trainer Ruth Frechman, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and author of “The Food is My Friend Diet,” stated that while peanut butter supplies healthy fat to your diet, “choosing low-fat peanut butter reduces the amount of healthy fat [you receive].”
Emily Miller, MPH, RD, Associate Program Officer at The Institute of Medicine, went on to explain that when fat is removed, the food manufacturer has to add something else to compensate for the texture and flavor the fat provided. What does that mean for you? “In the case of reduced-fat peanut butter, about one-fourth of the healthy (unsaturated) fats are removed, and sugar – and sometimes salt – is added; meanwhile the calorie content remains nearly the same, but the nutrient profile is less healthy,” she said.
Healthy Swap: RD Recommends

Love peanut butter? Miller suggested opting for natural peanut butter, which specifies only one ingredient on the label — peanuts. While natural peanut butter often separates, which can make it difficult to stir, she recommended storing the jar upside down for a day or so since it makes the job of stirring much easier. Having trouble adjusting to the taste? “Once you get through a jar of natural peanut butter, your taste buds will adapt and you’ll probably find [conventional] peanut butter too sweet and salty,” said Miller. Are you allergic to peanuts or simply want to test out something new? Consider giving sunflower seed butter or almond butter a try!
Multi-grain Bread
While research has found that consuming more whole grains can help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer while also serving as a great source of vitamin E, iron and fiber, most people incorrectly assume that multigrain and seven-grain breads must do the same. Unfortunately, many of these products are often not 100% whole grain, and in some cases, they contain no whole grain whatsoever, Miller pointed out.
So what are these breads made from? The Nutrition Twins® Lyssie Lakatos, RD, and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, authors of “The Secret to Skinny,” told us that more often than not, seven-grain and multigrain breads are made from refined, white flour with a sprinkling of other grains. “Because these breads are just as processed and refined as white bread, they are usually devoid of fiber and spike blood sugar quickly, only to create the same crash that a sugar high does when it wears off,” said The Nutrition Twins. Miller mentioned that this crash can then leave you feeling hungry shortly after eating these foods.
Healthy Swap: RD Recommends

Reading nutrition labels is key. As The Nutrition Twins® recommended, opt for wholesome whole grain breads that state that they are made from 100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat flour. To avoid picking up an imposter, Miller cautioned shoppers to avoid any products that list the words “enriched” or “refined” anywhere on the package or in the ingredient list.
Sea Salt
To salt or not to salt? That is the question. Sea salt is often an ingredient that generates a great deal of confusion, as many of us are led to believe that because sea salt is more natural than regular table salt, it must be healthier.
However, Gina Crome, MPH, RD who is also an ACE-certified personal trainer, clarified that “sea salt and regular table salt are fairly identical nutritionally,” so essentially they have the same amount of sodium. “Because sea salt crystals are bigger than table salt crystals however, the same volume of sea salt doesn’t take up as much room as the table salt would, and thus, has a little less sodium,” said Miller. But as Crome has seen firsthand, the false belief that sea salt is “healthier” than table salt often leads people to use it more liberally, and thereby consume more total sodium.
Healthy Swap: RD Recommends

The bottom line is, use salt — whether sea salt or table salt — sparingly. As a general recommendation, Crome referred to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which states that people should strive to limit sodium intake to no more than 2300mg/day; or no more than 1500mg/day for those who are either over 51 years of age and those (regardless of age) who are of African-American descent or have hypertension, chronic kidney disease or diabetes. Want to add flavor to your food without the salt? Miller recommended seasoning foods with healthy, flavorful items like citrus juices, herbs, spices and flavored vinegars.
Fruit Juice
When it comes to fruit juice, 100 percent fruit juice may not be as healthy as you think. Michelle Murphy Zive, MS, RD, said “even with ‘only’ fruit juice, there is usually added sugar in the form of fructose (fruit sugar). “For instance, apple and grape juices – which can be the ‘only’ juice or added to 100% fruit punch – have higher amounts of fructose than other fruit,” she said.
Healthy Swap: RD Recommends

Zive recommended stepping away from 100% fruit juice and instead, try making your own juice with a juicer. Or simply reach for a piece of whole fruit!
Protein bars and shakes
Ever taken the time to read the ingredient list on a protein bar or protein shake? If so, you may have noticed a laundry list of words that look like they are more suitable in a chemistry textbook instead of a food label. The bars are usually 200 calories each with around 10-15 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat, 5 grams of fiber and 20+ grams of sugar. Julie Burks, MS, RD, CSSD, Semper Fit Dietitian and ACE Lifestyle and Weight Management Coach, stated that while the average protein bar or shake doesn’t sound so bad at first glance, these products are processed and contain stabilizers, preservatives, and other ingredients that may not support health. (She cautioned that the second and third ingredients are usually some form of sugar).
Healthy Swap: RD Recommends

While these products are certainly OK on occasion, “opt for real, fresh food that not only contains a similar number of calories, protein, fat and fiber, but also disease-fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals; and less sugar,” said Burks. Think you can’t eat healthy on the go? Think again! Burks offered a slew of examples of quick, healthy, ready-to-eat foods (not exhaustive): nuts, trail mix, peanut butter (not low-fat), apples, berries, raw carrots, cherry tomatoes, cottage cheese, hard-boiled eggs and 100% whole grain crackers. She mentioned that these foods can easily be mixed and matched for quick, healthy, on-the-go energy anytime!

Monday, May 21, 2012

5 Healthy Foods You Are Probably Not Eating

We all know that it’s important to eat our fruits and vegetables and consume heart-healthy whole grains. What you may not know is there are a number of options for getting the nutrients you need while adding new variety and flavor to some of your favorite meals, all while keeping your diet on track. Check out these five foods that you may not be eating yet, and learn from our nutrition experts some simple ways you can enjoy these healthy options.
It's not just for Halloween! While fresh pumpkin is typically a classic fall favorite, the canned variety is a great option all year round, as it is a delicious nutrient powerhouse. "At only 40 calories per half cup, canned pumpkin is packed with 4 grams of fiber per serving, has 300% of the daily value for Vitamin A, and also contains Vitamin C, potassium and riboflavin," say registered dietitians and sisters Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, and Lyssie Lakatos, RD, also known as the The Nutrition Twins®.
Ways to Enjoy:

This isn't your average canned food. Being that it's practically sodium-free and extremely tasty you could eat it right out of the can. If that's not your style, The Nutrition Twins®, authors of the book "The Secret to Skinny," suggest adding a dash of cinnamon or brown sugar, or a drop of maple syrup, depending on what your taste buds prefer.
The beauty of pumpkin (besides it's great color) is that it's extremely versatile, which makes it a great option for baking as an alternative for oil in items such as desserts and pancakes. It's also a healthy addition to some of the items you're most likely already enjoying. From smoothies and soups, to pasta dishes and oatmeal, The Nutrition Twins® recommend pumpkin for its great texture and delicious favor. "It even makes for a great parfait when layered with honey, almonds, walnuts or yogurt."
The Nopal Cactus, also known as the prickly pear, may be a plant that is native to Mexico, but it's an option that can be enjoyed on either side of the border and beyond! Gina Crome, MS, MPH, RD, says nopales is a great antioxidant-rich option that's loaded with vitamins A, B and C, as well as fiber.
Ways to Enjoy:

Curious how to enjoy this spikey option? Once the cactus paddles are scraped of their thorns, they are often chopped up in a way that resembles green beans. "It can be used to make items such as jams or jellies, or it can be added to soups and salads," Crome says.
Want to make a healthy south-of-the-border-inspired breakfast? Crome recommends cooking nopales with onions and adding it to your scrambled eggs. Wrap the combo in a whole wheat tortilla, top with salsa, and you've got a great breakfast you can easily take with you on the go.
Hemp Milk:
Looking for an alternative to milk (or opting to skip dairy all together)? Hemp milk is a great dairy-free alternative for vegans and non-vegans alike! With most versions fortified with vitamin D and B12, 1 cup of this unsweetened treat is just 70 calories, with 3g of carbohydrates, 3g of protein, 6g of healthy fat and 0g of sugar. So why has hemp milk become so popular in recent years? Kristen Carlucci, a registered dietician and nutrition expert for Pitney Bowes Inc., shares the facts about this superfood, made from ground hemp seeds. "It contains 10 essential amino acids, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, beta carotene, potassium, B vitamins and the list simply goes on and on," she said.
Ways to Enjoy:

Carlucci suggests incorporating hemp milk into your morning or post-workout smoothie for a rich, creamy texture and a major nutrient boost! Check out her banana-chocolate "milkshake" and replace the skim milk with hemp milk for an added boost to refuel after your next weekend workout.
Chia Seeds:
Its true – big things do come in small packages. Chia seeds are edible seeds rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3s that contain 2.6 g of ALA (alpha-linolenicacid) in only 1/2 a tablespoon. As if that that wasn't enough, Tiffani Bachus, RD, creator of Total Balanced Body, LLC, shares that they're a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps support digestive function and acts as a natural detoxifying agent. Talk about packing a punch!
Ways to Enjoy:

So how can you enjoy these tasty little treats? For a new twist on toast and jam for breakfast, try Bachus' "Banana Jam" recipe.
1/2 tbsp. chia seeds
2 oz water
1/2 banana
1/2 tsp. honey
Cinnamon to taste
Combine chia seeds with water in a bowl. Wisk vigorously for 30 seconds and set aside for 20 minutes until a gel is formed
Mash the bananas with a fork. Add the honey and cinnamon and mix together
Combine gel chia seeds with the mashed bananas
Can be served on top of toast as a "jam"
Refrigerate the remaining chia gel. Use within 2 weeks.
Don't let the name deter you! Pronounced "keen-wah," this whole grain is native to South America and its benefits are quite unique. Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD, of the Washington, D.C. area shares that although quinoa is a plant food, it's actually a complete protein, which means it supplies all nine essential amino acids. "It's also a good source of the minerals manganese and magnesium, and folate, a B vitamin that's especially important for pregnant women and women of child-bearing age," says Miller. Quinoa, like many other whole grains, also helps protect against heart disease.
Ways to Enjoy:

The next time you go to prepare rice or pasta as a side dish, try quinoa instead, as its creamy texture and somewhat nutty flavor are a great compliment to any dish. And it serves as a great base for pilafs! Miller herself opts to cook quinoa in low-sodium chicken broth, and then adds sautéed onions and celery along with dried cherries and toasted walnuts for a tasty twist!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Benefits of Matcha Green Tea

If you know me then you know I love Starbucks. That is a given. However after discovering that they carry matcha green tea, which I used to drink years ago, I switched my drink of choice to green tea for a variety of health reasons. I could go on and on about matcha but here are just a few of its benefits.
A cancer-fighter, a fat-burner, and much more, matcha leaves other green teas far behind

Every day, countless people throw away valuable antioxidants and minerals. While seemingly unimaginable, thats exactly what happens when you brew a cup of green tea because water can only extract a fraction of green teas benefits. The majority actually remains unused, trapped in the tea leaves. In reality, the only way to truly take advantage of green teas full potential is to consume the entire leaf. But that doesnt mean you need to start eating tea leaves. The simplest solution is to just enjoy a bowl of matcha. Because matcha is straight, stoneground tea leaves, matcha provides you with green teas powerful arsenal of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids in a way no other green tea can. In fact, to even begin to match the potency found in a single serving of matcha, you would need to drink at least ten cups of brewed green tea. When it comes to helping you achieve and maintain optimum health, matcha is without equal.

ORAC to the Max: Matcha Is an Antioxidant Powerhouse
One of biggest the buzz words in nutrition, antioxidants are naturally occurring chemical compounds that prevent aging and chronic diseases. Nowadays, a variety of fruits and vegetables are lauded for their antioxidant properties, leading to a host of products with all kinds of claims. But matcha is unparalleled in comparison. Firstly, matcha is packed with exponentially more antioxidants according to the latest innovation in antioxidant research. Using the testing method known as ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity), experts at Tufts University discovered that matcha possesses an amazing twenty times more so than pomegranates or blueberries. Matchas ORAC rating is a mighty 1300 units per gram, compared to pomegranates 105 units per gram or blueberries 91 units.

Energy Booster
One of the most unexpected benefits matcha drinkers experience is a boost of energy through the day. In one study, researchers had thought that this was from the caffeine in matcha, but they found that it was actually the combination of matchas natural properties. Another recent study in particular found that matcha even improved physical endurance by 24%. Even if you arent facing a grueling workout, matcha can help you through the everyday marathon, whether its that project due the next day or getting the kids from school to soccer practice.

Calorie Burner
Already nearly calorie free, matcha is a great addition to a weight loss program by tackling the problem from both sides. It boosts metabolism and burns fat. One recent study even suggested that matcha may help burn calories by four times. At the same time, matcha does not put any stress on the body. It doesnt raise blood pressure or heart rate, making it a safe alternative to questionable quick fixes or pharmaceuticals ridden with side effects.

Detox Deluxe
Green is truly the color of health. Matcha helps to safely cleanse and purge the body of harmful elements. Chlorophyll the element that gives green tea and other plants their signature verdant color is also a powerful detoxifier, helping to eliminate both chemicals and heavy metals from the body. And because matcha is carefully shade-grown, it is substantially richer in chlorophyll than other green teas, making it a superior daily detox.