Monthly Health Topic
Each month, our Healthy Ideas Column covers important topics like food safety, health and nutrition, community events and more. Check past columns to the right.
Time to get up and get moving!
The heat is on! And so is the air conditioning. As summer approaches, we begin to regret all those indulgent foods that kept us going through the long winter months. We all want to look good for swimsuit season, but extreme diet plans are not the answer. What is the real secret? Exercise. Regular exercise not only helps you to get in shape, but also may help improve your overall health. Sure it can be challenging at first, but by setting small goals, you will be a pro in no time!
The recommendation is to get at least thirty minutes of exercise five times a week. If you haven't exercised for a long time, start out with light activities in 10 minutes intervals by incorporating movement throughout your daily activities.
- Just like new: All those chores we have around the house can count as exercise. Cleaning, sweeping, vacuuming and even washing dishes are activities that will get your heart rate up.
- Summer fun in the sun: Plan a picnic with your family and friends and bring games to play like Frisbees, volleyballs and water balloons.
- April showers brought May flowers: Time to give your yard a makeover. Start by cutting your grass the old-fashioned way, with a push lawn mower. Pull out all the weeds, shovel the dirt and plant some new flowers.
- Learn how to salsa: Or do any other type of dance. Grab a friend and head to a local gym for dancing lessons!
- Active TV time: Keep a pair of 5 pound dumbbells by your couch for those late night TV sessions. You can also hide the remote, and get up to change the channel.
- Hydrate, exercise and be green: Carry with you two refillable water bottles to use as hand weights. If you drink all the water, just refill!
- Exercise at work: Keep an exercise ball by your desk and use it as a chair in the middle of the day. You can also create a lunchtime walking group with your coworkers.
- Squat while brushing your teeth: While you brush your teeth, do ten squats. Make sure your knees do not pass over your feet.
- For the next friends night out: Rent a workout video and invite your friends over. Ask them to dress up with a fun work-out outfit, and do the entire exercise video together
Step it up
Once you feel more comfortable, it's time to step up your workout!
- Walk, walk, walk: Use a pedometer and set a goal of walking at least 10,000 steps every day.
- Run, run, run: Join a local jogging group. You can head to http://jogging.meetup.com/ to see jogging groups around your area.
- Over the mountains: Grab your bike and go biking through the hills. Just remember to wear a helmet.
- Join your local gym: And that doesn't mean to exercise on your own! Gyms offer group classes such as kickboxing, yoga, aerobics, strength and core training and much more.
And always remember to write your progress and feelings after a good work out to help you stay motivated when the couch looks very cozy. Keep an exercise journal and set weekly goals to keep you going.
Winter is over so don't let it weigh you down. Grab a friend and get out there because this is a good time to get up and get moving!
Replacing Wheat on a Gluten-Free Diet
Are you confused about a gluten-free diet? There is a lot of information out there and it's important to understand the basics so you can build healthy, enjoyable meals!
A gluten-free diet is for celiac disease, a disorder that causes an intolerance to gluten. Gluten is a protein found in grains, such as wheat, rye and barley and gives bread its "stretchiness." When gluten is digested it breaks into two parts, glutenin and gliadin. When you have celiac disease, it is gliadin that's responsible for the toxic response. This leads to inflammation in the small intestine and other uncomfortable symptoms. Because of this, a gluten-free diet is the only way for controlling this disease. Fortunately, it is very successful!
It is incredibly important to eat a well-balanced diet. USDA's MyPlate recommends making half your plate fruits and vegetables, and dividing the other half between grains and protein foods. You can include all of these food groups on a gluten-free diet, but you'll make most of the changes to the section of the plate for grains. If you feel that only mainstream grains, such as whole wheat bread and cereal, can fill up that particular section, don't be discouraged! There are many gluten-free products and snacks that line the shelves of grocery stores; however, this is not the only solution. There are also a number of grain alternatives you can use to achieve a well-balanced diet.
The following table lists the most nutritionally complete and highly recommended wheat substitutes for a gluten-free diet. Most of these are seeds but they provide nutrients similar to grains. All of these alternatives can be used to help you fill that quarter of your plate with healthy and nutritious "grains." Not everyone has the same tastes, so mix and match and pick your favorites to create your perfect grain alternatives. Make sure these products say "gluten-free" on the package.
|Gluten-Free Grains||Description and Uses||Cooking Method|
|Oats are often cross-contaminated with wheat in processing. Gluten-free oats are available. However oats contain a protein called avenin, similar to gliadin, which some people with celiac disease can't tolerate.|
Follow these tips for a successful gluten-free diet:
- Look in your pantry first. You may be surprised at the gluten-free items you already have. Many foods are naturally gluten-free, such as fruits, vegetables and meats without added ingredients.
- Focus on using the grain alternatives. Because many of the problems revolve around grains, this is where the majority of changes will occur. Picking gluten-free grains is key to a successful diet plan.
- When shopping for new items, ALWAYS read the label! "Wheat-free" is not necessarily "gluten-free." Products have to report wheat in the allergen statement, but they do not need to include rye, barley or gluten. Make sure to look for these other grains in the list of ingredients. Your best alternative is to choose products that say "gluten free" on the package, check product websites or call the company at the number listed on the package.
- Try your hand at cooking. Making meals from scratch is the safest way to ensure that you are eating gluten-free.
- Be creative! Each grain alternative has a different taste and texture. Finding your favorite is important for creating a satisfying meal.
- Baking is still possible. You can't always use grain-alternative flours interchangeably with wheat flour. Some recipes will call for addition of products such as xanthan gum, tapioca starch or sorghum so that your baked food has a pleasing texture. These products can be purchased at many stores, although commercial baking mixes are also available that already contain these ingredients.
- Plan meals ahead. This will make shopping and preparing much easier.
- "Gluten-free" does not always equal healthy. Many products lack essential nutrients and are high in fat, sugar, sodium and calories. Make sure you read the label to ensure the product is a healthy choice.
It can be overwhelming in the beginning, but as time goes on, following a gluten-free diet gets easier. Good nutrition is your number one concern, so fill up on fruits and vegetables, eat a variety of lean meats and dairy, and try these naturally gluten-free grain products to maintain a healthy, enjoyable diet.
National Nutrition Month
March is National Nutrition Month and the theme is "Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day." No two people are completely alike in this world and no two people have the same nutritional needs. Each person has their own food preferences, lifestyle, health concerns, cultural and ethnic traditions. It's important to be able to tailor a healthy diet for your lifestyle and make it a success every day.
Over time, your flavor preferences may change because your taste buds can decrease with age. These changes can cause you to enjoy flavors and foods that you once did not. Some flavor preferences are based on culture and the foods that those populations are accustomed to. For example, seaweed is a staple item in the Japanese diet, but for many Americans it is not a flavor or food that they would normally eat and may not even enjoy at first. Be adventurous and try new foods so you can discover new flavors - you may be pleasantly surprised!
- Be creative when cooking, incorporating foods from different cultures or adding a new ingredient to one of your classic recipes for a exciting new flavor.
- Try baking foods you usually fry.
- Roast vegetables instead of boiling or steaming to help add flavor and lock in some of those important nutrients.
Work, family, volunteering, school, sports and so much more are a large part of everyday life. With those busy schedules, nutrition and sleep are two major factors that may be affected. An inadequate amount of sleep can cause your body to process foods inadequately, increasing your appetite and leading to weight gain. It may also affect the quality of your work.
Make sure you are meeting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night and try to establish a routine for bed and keep that consistent even through the weekends. Finish eating about 2-3 hours before going to sleep and avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages close to bedtime. Remember to exercise regularly and be sure to have sleep as a priority in your healthy lifestyle.
A healthy diet can help to make you feel your best every day. Meals can be made quickly and easily at home to fit those busy schedules. Here are some tips to make it "Your Way, Every Day."
- Plan your meals ahead of time for each week.
- Pick one weekend day to prepare some meals for later in the week. Package, label and date; place the extras in the freezer.
- When cooking, make extra portions of a specific food (such as rice) and save it for later in the week. It's already cooked, so you just have to reheat and add to another recipe
Heart disease, diabetes, celiac disease, or just general prevention-whatever your health concern, MyPlate can help anyone eat right when it is customized. The importance of a well-balanced diet is vital when caring for your health and making changes is an important first step. When changing your diet, be sure you take it one step at a time to help you make progress and not be overwhelmed. The five areas of the plate provide options to incorporate whole grains, lean proteins, low fat or fat free dairy, fruits and vegetables. MyPlate can help in carbohydrate counting, managing portions and learning how to properly balance a healthy meal.
Visit http://www.choosemyplate.gov/ for further information on how to tailor MyPlate to your lifestyle.
Cultural and Ethnic Traditions
America is known as a "tossed salad," meaning there are many different cultures and ethnic backgrounds from all over the world that have helped to shape this country. Each individual has their own culture, traditions and way of life. Along with those different cultures and ethnicities comes a variety of foods. No matter what your cultural background, your diet can be healthy and fit your lifestyle. You don't have to give up your traditional foods to follow the Dietary Guidelines. MyPlate is a great guide to make sure you are trying to include all five food groups. If you usually consume a typical American diet, be sure to try some foods from other cultures such as sushi, polenta or rice and beans, and experiment with a variety of spices. Visit http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/DietaryGuidelines/2010/DG2010Brochure.pdf to learn more about the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010.
A Healthy Heart is a Happy Heart
The winter holidays, with their decadent desserts and bountiful feasts, are behind us, and it's time to celebrate National Heart Month with a fresh perspective! One of the best things you can do for your heart is fuel it with nutritious food. There are several tasty foods packed with special nutrients that show amazing promise for the entire body, especially the heart!
Choose Fats Wisely
A heart-healthy diet is not necessarily low in fat. Fats are an essential nutrient, but not all fats are created equally. Choose lean meats, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fruits and lots of vegetables for the low-fat base of your diet. Then add foods that contain heart-healthy fats. Here's how:
Limit trans and saturated fats as they can raise cholesterol.
- Saturated fats are firm at room temperature and found in animal-sources such as beef, butter and whole milk, and plant sources, such as coconut oil.
- Trans fats are found in "partially hydrogenated oils," an ingredient in processed and commercially prepared foods such as French fries, doughnuts, flavored popcorn, cookies and other baked goods and snack foods.
Choose monounsaturated fats (or MUFAs) to help lower total and LDL cholesterol and raise good HDL cholesterol. They are found in olives, olive oil, canola oil, peanuts, peanut oil, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, cashew nuts, macadamia nuts, pistachio nuts, and avocado.
Include polyunsaturated fats (or PUFAs) to lower cholesterol. PUFAs include omega-3 and omega-6 fats. The average American eats about ten times more omega-6 than omega-3, however these fats should be consumed in similar amounts.
- The best omega-3 animal source is oily fish such as salmon, trout, herring, Pacific mackerel, sardines, tuna and cod. Oily fish contain special types of omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA, which may help reduce blood clotting and hardening in the arteries.
- Plant sources of omega-3 in the form of ALA are walnuts, flax and canola oil.
- Omega-6 fats help lower total and LDL cholesterol but they may also lower HDL cholesterol. Omega-6s can be found in leafy vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and sunflower, soy, corn and vegetable oil.
Tips for Shopping Success
Choose a variety of foods, flavors and colors to provide all the necessary vitamins and minerals your body needs. Fill your shopping cart with foods found in the perimeter of the grocery store, as that is where a lot of heart healthy foods are located. When you do venture to the center aisles, look for foods low in saturated fat with recognizable ingredients.
- When shopping for cooking oil, choose canola, olive and peanut because these oils are lower in saturated fat and tend to be high in MUFAs.
- Use low-fat yogurt or applesauce to replace some of the butter in recipes.
- If you do use stick or tub margarines or spreads, choose products low in cholesterol and saturated fat, with no trans fat. A few spreads now have added plant stanols and sterols, which may help lower cholesterol. Keep in mind, plant stanols and sterols are also found in a variety of fruits and vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, legumes, sunflower seeds and almonds.
Nutritious and Delicious
Foods contain a mixture of nutrients, including fat, so it is important to know which foods provide the best combination of helpful fats. Keep this list of heart healthy foods handy for your next trip to the grocery store.
Salmon, Trout, Herring, Tuna, Cod
These fish contain fats that contribute to heart health, so aim to eat two 4-ounce servings of fish every week. Preparing fish is easy: just squeeze a splash of lemon, grind a dash of pepper and bake until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. For easy clean-up and extra moisture, cook fish in aluminum foil pockets. Add fish to a veggie-packed salad, serve over brown rice, or pair with a spicy salsa and a crunchy whole grain tortilla for festive fish tacos.
Walnuts, Almonds, Pistachios, Pecans
These nuts have varying amounts of beneficial fats, including MUFAs and omega-6. Walnuts in particular are one of the best plant sources of omega-3. Combine some nuts with dried fruit for a protein-packed trail mix or sprinkle nuts on your morning oatmeal for an added crunch. Even though nuts are good for you, keep calories in mind. A handful of unsalted nuts goes a long way.
Flaxseed, Sunflower Seeds
Flax and sunflower seeds are packed with omega-3 fats and fiber. Toss a few seeds on a salad, blend into a fruit smoothie or sprinkle onto a beautiful fillet of fish.
Avocados contain MUFAs and PUFAs! Mash a variety of colorful vegetables with avocado to create a guacamole dip, place a few slices on a grilled sandwich, or toss avocado cubes with olive oil and pepper.
Simple Solutions for a Healthy New Year
One in five Americans will make a New Year's Resolution to lose weight in 2013. Unfortunately, will power and motivation often wear off all too soon making it difficult to lose weight effectively. Many people look to fad diets that promise rapid results with minimal amounts of work. A good rule of thumb: if it sounds too good to be true - it probably is! Losing weight and living a healthier life is not easy, but it is certainly achievable. All you need is patience, support and a positive mindset. Read on for some super simple strategies for making those little changes that lead to a healthier lifestyle.
One downfall of dieting is that restriction makes people crave foods that they are told (or they believe) that they can't have. These foods are usually the ones higher in fat, calories and simple carbohydrates - foods that lift our spirits when we're sad, frustrated or angry. In other words, comfort foods. What if these same comfort foods were modified just a little bit to make them better for you? People who are successful in losing weight and keeping it off usually attribute their success to the fact that they made a lifestyle change, not just a change in what specific foods they are or aren't allowed to eat. This is because all foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle, and adopting the little changes below will help you create an all around healthier and more satisfying way of living and eating.
Cut Calories by Bulking Up on Veggies
Everyone knows that eating more vegetables is something to strive for, but if a giant plate of steaming cabbage doesn't get you salivating, you're not alone. However, it is easy (and tasty) to cut the calorie content of some of those favorite comfort foods by adding in extra vegetables. Here are some easy ways to make this solution work for you:
- Next time you make mashed potatoes, use half potatoes and half cauliflower. Boil and mash up cauliflower the same way you do potatoes. Because cauliflower has less starch than potato, this will reduce the amount of calories consumed.
- Try making mashed potatoes like the Irish do - add cooked, shredded cabbage to your mashed potatoes to make Colcannon, a traditional dish from the Emerald Isle.
- Increase the volume and decrease the calorie content of favorite soups by adding in a bag of frozen mixed vegetables or frozen chopped spinach - so easy!
- You can also add pureed vegetables to family favorites. Try pureed winter squash in macaroni and cheese or steamed and pureed broccoli in sauce for spaghetti or lasagna.
Spread Your Calories More Thinly
The amounts of butter or cream cheese used every day can be some of the biggest contributors to calorie and fat content. Use light and lower fat products to cut these numbers in half!
- Instead of the usual heavy butter spread on your toast, try one of the newer light, spreadable butter choices. Look for spreads made from olive oil that will lessen your saturated fat intake.
- Instead of full fat cream cheese try a whipped cream cheese, which has more air, leading to fewer calories per tablespoon. Neufchatel cheese (sold right next to the cream cheese) is another option, which has less fat and fewer calories than cream cheese.
- When making dips and spreads, try non-fat, plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream or cream cheese. Not only will you be cutting out fat and calories, but you will also be getting an added boost of protein!
Baked, Not Fried
It's okay to indulge in your favorite fried foods on occasion, but eating these on a regular basis can really affect your waistline, not to mention your arteries. For everyday occasions, you're better off baking these foods. Not only will you cut out calories from fat, but baking also gives you a chance to really taste the foods you're preparing.
- Create your own onion rings by dipping thick rings of onion in a beaten egg followed by breadcrumbs, and then baking them in the oven. Serve along with some chunky marinara sauce for an extra dose of veggies!
- Bake breaded chicken instead of traditional "fried chicken." Have fun experimenting with the breading and try out different options like crushed cornflakes and even pretzels.
- Make your own French fries by baking them in the oven. Just toss the potato sticks in a little olive oil and pop them in the oven. Be creative and experiment with different spices such as an Italian seasoning mix or a barbecue seasoning.
- Instead of typical, greasy potato chips, bake your own. Just slice a peeled potato super thin, spray with olive oil and bake. Or, lay chip slices out in a single layer on a microwave safe plate and microwave on high for about 6 minutes, or until they start to brown and crisp up.
The following ideas are fast, easy ways to improve the quality of your diet, while also trying new flavors and foods you might not be familiar with. By simply substituting one food for another, you can really cut down on fat and calories and also increase your intake of good-for-you vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
- Substitute sweet potatoes for russet potatoes when making baked potatoes. Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins A and C, which are important antioxidants. Bake the sweet potato in the oven, or poke holes in it with a fork and microwave for 8 minutes -how easy is that?
- Swap low-fat frozen yogurt for a regular, calorie-laden bowl of ice cream.
- Instead of milk chocolate, indulge in a 1oz piece of dark chocolate for more of chocolate's beneficial compounds. Remember, the darker the better - look for at least 60% cocoa.
- Start using whole grain pasta, bread and rice instead of their white counterparts. These whole grain options are higher in fiber, which will help to keep you full longer, and are better for blood sugar.
- Use lean ground turkey (93/7) in place of a higher fat ground beef (85/15) when making family favorites such as spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna and burgers. Ground turkey is lower in saturated fat than ground beef. Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol can reduce the risk for heart disease.
- Instead of making rich dishes with heavy cream, try using evaporated skim milk. It will give you the same rich taste but with a lot less fat.
- Although delectable, deviled eggs are indeed "devilish." The egg white is low in calories and is basically pure protein, but the mixture of egg yolk and mayonnaise that fill those whites adds fat and calories. Try filling your eggs with hummus instead of the traditional yolk mixture. It has a similar texture but with a lot less fat and a great flavor!
There you have it - the simple steps to a healthier you. Use these solutions to cut back on calories and saturated fat while at the same time increasing your intake of vegetables and plant protein. This is the year for you to be successful in your healthy resolutions. Be realistic with your goal setting, and create several small goals for yourself. Remember, you're making lifestyle changes, not going on a restrictive diet. Start shaping your future - right now. There is no time like the present to start making healthy choices!
Maintain Weight During the Holidays
'Tis the season for temptation! There are nearly two months of celebrating special events, holidays and the end of another year. But, you still need to eat this holiday season. Be aware of your challenge and set realistic goals for yourself. Losing weight at any time of the year is a challenge, but during the holidays it can be even more challenging. Aim to maintain your weight instead of losing weight. Here are some tips to help you achieve this goal:
- Watch portion sizes! Make half your plate fruits and vegetables and the other half protein and grains.
- Get moving! Turn family get-togethers into activities such as ice skating or snow tubing.
- Don't fall victim to over-indulging at the snack table. Put it on a plate, then walk away!
- Plan ahead by eating a well-balanced meal before parties or bring a healthier item for the snack table.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Sometimes our bodies confuse the cues for hunger and thirst. By drinking water throughout the day you can avoid the confusion!
- Just say no! Don't feel pressured to eat just because people offer it to you.
The key to avoiding that holiday weight gain is to eat a healthy, well balanced diet. With these tips you will be able to enjoy your favorite meals without the guilt!
Trade In Those Traditional Treats for Lean Eats!
|Course||Traditional Treat||Lean Eat!|
|Appetizer Course||Chips, crackers and bread with assorted creamy dips and cheeses||Fresh fruit and vegetables, shrimp cocktail, and one or two bites of cheese|
|Main Course||Large portions of food with gravy poured over everything, or going back for seconds or thirds||Turkey meat without the skin and gravy on the side for dipping. Try to stick to just one helping of food.|
|Side Dish||Bread stuffing or mashed potatoes loaded with butter and salt, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole||Go easy on the butter in the bread stuffing. Use nonfat milk in mashed potatoes. Skip the marshmallows on the sweet potato casserole. Make green bean casserole without the French fried onions on top. See links to recipes below.|
|Dessert||Pecan pie, apple pie, brownies, and cookies||A small piece of pie minus the crust, strawberries dipped in chocolate, brownies made with applesauce as the oil replacement, or one or two of your favorite holiday cookies. See links to recipes below.|
|Beverages||Regular soda, Alcohol||Brew unsweetened tea, choose diet sodas, seltzer water with a twist of lemon or lime. Keep in mind that beer, wine and mixed drinks have calories.|
Allow yourself to enjoy your time with the ones you love this holiday season. After all, that is what the holidays are all about, enjoying your friends and family, and tasting some delicious food along the way! Try these recipes for your holiday meals:
MyPlate for Diabetes Meal Planning
What is MyPlate?
Healthy meal planning for diabetes can be made simpler if you have the right tools for the job. If you have diabetes, the new MyPlate guide can help you take steps to becoming a more conscious eater. MyPlate is a visual guide to healthy eating that emphasizes balanced meals.
There are five different food groups. These groups include:
Combination foods like sandwiches also have a place on MyPlate. You can think about the different food groups when making these dishes. For example, a turkey sandwich with cheese, lettuce and tomato, with fruit on the side, would include all of the components.
How can MyPlate help me plan meals for diabetes?
MyPlate is designed to help you focus on portion sizes and healthy food choices. When you are making these better choices, you get the nutrients that your body needs while controlling your blood glucose. MyPlate may also be helpful for counting carbohydrate choices if you use proper serving sizes. The way the plate is divided provides four areas to place carbohydrate choices - fruits, grains, dairy and vegetables. You can adjust the number of servings of carbohydrate foods you put on your plate based on your personalized diabetes meal plan.
What food groups should I focus on for better blood sugar control?
Non-starchy Vegetables - Fill at least one-fourth of your plate with non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, leafy greens like spinach, and green beans. These foods have fewer carbohydrates compared to starchy vegetables like peas, corn, beans and potatoes.
Fruits - While fruits are a good source of nutrients like vitamin C, it is important to remember they are mostly carbohydrates in the form of natural sugars. Keep portion sizes in check by having one ½ cup serving with your meal. 100% juice also falls into this category, but limit juice to 4 to 6 ounces per day.
Whole Grains or Starches - Make one-fourth of your plate whole grain foods or a starchy vegetable. Whole grains contain fiber, which can help control your blood sugar better than refined grains. Fiber slows down the digestion of carbohydrates, which helps keep blood sugars more stable.
- Make at least half of the grain products you eat in a day whole grains.
- Look for 100% whole wheat breads and pastas, brown rice, oatmeal, and others. If you're unsure, look for the whole grain stamp on product packages.
- Starchy vegetables - such as potatoes, corn, peas, lima beans - are similar to grains when it comes to the amount of carbohydrates they contain. If you want to have a starchy vegetable, limit the serving to about one-fourth of your plate and have grains at a different meal.
Proteins - Make one-fourth of your plate lean proteins. Choose poultry, seafood, lean beef or pork, or meat substitutes such as beans and tofu. Pay attention to serving sizes to help manage your weight.
Dairy - Dairy foods have a naturally occurring sugar called lactose, so portion control will also be important with this group. Choose low fat milk, cheese and yogurt.
Fats - Choose beneficial fats such as canola oil and olive oil instead of butter or shortening. Oils are a concentrated source of calories, so use them in moderation. Beneficial fats are also found in nuts, seeds, and fish.
What else do I need to know?
You eat with your eyes first, and using a smaller plate makes it look like you are having more. Use a 9-inch plate to help keep those portion sizes in control. It might make a big difference in the amount of food you eat.
Everybody is different, and you may benefit from a personalized meal plan for diabetes. Please talk with your doctor or health care provider if you have any other questions about healthy eating. For more information about MyPlate and meal planning for diabetes, please visit www.choosemyplate.gov and www.diabetes.org.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, affecting about 1 in 8 women. Survival rates have been increasing in the last 2 decades, possibly due to earlier detection, increased awareness and improved treatment. Currently, there are about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.
The causes of breast cancer are not well understood but researchers have identified several nutrition and lifestyle choices which may help lower your risk.
Maintain a healthy weight - Although being overweight is not, by itself, a risk factor avoiding weight gain during adulthood can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer after menopause. Watch calorie intake and maintain a level of physical activity that promotes a healthy weight to help reduce your risk.
Be physically active - Researchers found that women who engaged in strenuous physical activity at least 3 times per week had a statistically significant decreased risk of developing breast cancer. Even though strenuous activity is most beneficial, even moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking, is also protective. It is believed that exercise reduces body fat which reduces levels of hormones that can promote cancer cells.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet - The association between individual foods and breast cancer is not well established. However, higher intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with a decreased risk. The fiber, vitamins and antioxidants may contribute to the protective effect. A diet that limits saturated fat from animal sources is also recommended so choose lean meat and low fat dairy products.
Limit alcohol intake - Increased alcohol consumption is associated with increased risk of breast cancer. Alcohol increases estrogen levels which may increase the risk of breast cancer. Alcohol may also interfere with the metabolism of B-vitamins, especially folate, which can in turn increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Women are urged to limit intake of alcoholic beverages to less than one drink a day and to consume foods that are rich in folate such as oranges, orange juice, green leafy vegetables and fortified breakfast cereals.
Are soy products recommended? - Data is inconclusive about the effects of soy on breast cancer. Populations that consume soy have been associated with a lower risk of developing cancer but other factors may be affecting this observation. The isoflavones in soy, which mimic estrogen, have a weak effect which could possibly stimulate cancer cells in the breast. Soy foods can be eaten in moderation as part of a healthy diet. However, high intake of soy products or isoflavone supplements is not recommended.
Breastfeed your baby - Not only is breastfeeding beneficial for a baby's growth and development but the nursing mother also benefits. There is good evidence that women who breastfeed may be slightly less likely to develop breast cancer before they reach menopause.
Whether you are in your teens or already past menopause, now is a good time to start eating a balanced diet, including physical activity as part of your routine and making healthy lifestyle choices to reduce your risk for breast cancer.
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Cholesterol, Your Diet, and You
You've seen the ads that tell you eating oats can help lower your cholesterol. But can food really help reduce your cholesterol? In short, yes! Even if you are on cholesterol lowering medications, diet can still play a role to help reduce cholesterol. To increase the chances of lowering your cholesterol levels, try making these changes to your diet:
Being overweight raises blood cholesterol, as well as increasing LDL "bad cholesterol" and lowering HDL "good cholesterol." Even a small amount of weight loss may help contribute to improved cholesterol levels. Ways to lose weight include:
- Reducing portion sizes
- Filling up on vegetables
- Limit sugary beverages such as soda and sweet teas
Fill up on Fiber
There are two kinds of fiber, soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber may help lower your cholesterol. Soluble fiber breaks down
inside the GI tract, binding to bile acids that are full of cholesterol. They
then pass through the GI tract, resulting in less cholesterol being absorbed. To
get more soluble fiber into your diet, try these foods:
- Dried beans and peas
- Apples, Oranges
Insoluble fiber doesn't break down. It will hold on to water, adding bulk
to the stool while making it soft. It also increases the pace that stool passes
through the intestines, which reduces the time that harmful substances in the
stool come into contact with the surface of the intestine. For more insoluble
fiber, fill up on these foods:
- Wheat, corn, and oat bran
- Cauliflower, Green Beans, Potatoes
- Soluble fiber may help lower your cholesterol. Soluble fiber breaks down inside the GI tract, binding to bile acids that are full of cholesterol. They then pass through the GI tract, resulting in less cholesterol being absorbed. To get more soluble fiber into your diet, try these foods:
Focus on Fat
There are different kinds of fats, all of which impact your cholesterol levels in a different way. Some of these fats help to lower your cholesterol, while some of them raise your cholesterol levels. All fats have about the same amount of calories, so it's still important to watch how much fat you're eating.
- Saturated fat- Saturated fat is found mostly in animal products and is solid at room temperature. These fats will raise total cholesterol as well as LDL.
- Trans fat- Found mostly in processed foods, trans fat raises your total cholesterol and LDL while lowering your HDL. If a product's ingredient label has the words "partially hydrogenated oil," it contains some trans fat. The nutrition facts panel may state 0g trans fat if the product contains less than 0.5 g of trans fat.
- Monounsaturated fat- Monounsaturated fat is found in liquid form at room temperature, and will lower your total cholesterol and LDL, and increase your HDL. Foods high in these fats include canola, olive and peanut oils.
- Polyunsaturated fat- This fat is also found in liquid form at room temperature. This fat lowers your total cholesterol and LDL, but it may lower your HDL as well. Foods high in this fat include safflower, sunflower, corn and soybean oil.
- Control Dietary Cholesterol
Cholesterol is found in foods that come from animals, such as eggs, meat, fish, dairy and poultry. While dietary cholesterol doesn't turn into blood cholesterol as soon as it hits your digestive system, it is still recommended to consume less than 300mg dietary cholesterol a day.
- Substitute with Stanols
Stanols and sterols are the cholesterol of plants. They can help decrease your LDL cholesterol by competing with dietary cholesterol for absorption sites in your gut, reducing the amount of cholesterol that gets into your body. Experts recommend 2g of plant stanols and sterols a day, which is very difficult to do unless you choose foods that have plant stanols and sterols added to them. Products such as margarine, milk, and even orange juice are now produced with plant stanols and sterols.
Feast on Fish
Why fish? Overall, fish are lower in total and saturated fat than other animal sources of protein. Many fish contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which may help to reduce triglycerides. Aim for eating fatty, cold-water fish twice a week, such as these:
- Albacore Tuna
- Atlantic Herring
- Lake Trout
Everyone can benefit by taking these steps toward better health. Cutting back on saturated fat and trans fat, cutting out cholesterol, and filling up on fish and fiber are small steps in the right direction.
Lunch Box Basics
It's back to school time again and time to think about what to pack for lunch. If peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips and a fruit juice are the routine, how about changing it up? To create a more nutritious, colorful and delicious meal, focus on including foods from each of the food groups. Then trade up to better-for-you options for the usual lunch box ingredients. Add variety and think out of the (lunch) box beyond sandwiches. Plan a weekly lunch menu, just as you would for dinner and get the kids involved in packing their lunches.
Start with MyPlate
You don't really need to use a plate to include all of the food groups. Aim to include ingredients from each of the following:
- Protein - Choose lean deli meats or make a salad using chicken or tuna.
- Whole Grains -Whole grain bread will increase fiber intake, which will help keep kids feeling full longer and less likely to grab for snacks. If your kids have been used to white bread, switch to "light" whole grain bread that is lighter in texture but provides the fiber.
- Fruits -Kids are more likely to eat fruit if it is cut up. Instead of a whole apple, slice and core it, dip in lemon juice and pack in a resealable bag or purchase pre-sliced packages of apples. Individual serving cans of mandarin oranges, peaches or other fruits are also good choices.
- Vegetables - Baby carrots are a favorite with kids. Also try cherry tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflower florets or even a small salad. A small container of dip can make the veggies more fun to eat.
- Dairy - Skim milk or a fortified milk alternative provide the calcium and vitamin D that kids need. Low fat yogurt is also a good choice, as long as it's not loaded with sugars and other add-ins. Try mixing plain vanilla yogurt with fresh fruit. You can also add a slice of cheese to the sandwich or pack cheese cubes.
Make better choices
Reduce the fat and sugar and increase the fiber and nutrients by trading up to better choices. Your kids will have more energy to get through the day and develop good eating habits that will help them maintain a healthy weight.
|Instead of this||Try this!|
|High-fat lunch meats such as salami or bologna||Lean deli meats such as turkey or ham|
|White bread||Whole-grain breads|
|Mayonnaise||Light mayonnaise or mustard|
|Potato chips, tortilla chips||Carrot sticks, celery sticks, broccoli and dip|
|Cookies and Snack Cakes||Fresh, canned or dried fruits|
|Drinks, Punch and Soda||Low-fat milk, water|
|Treats||Notes, stickers or other non-food items|
Different foods provide different vitamins and minerals. Pack a variety of foods in your child's lunch to ensure that they are getting a wide range of nutrients to grow up strong. Try some of these other lunch box ideas:
Sandwiches are convenient but can become routine. Make sandwiches more exciting by varying the basic ingredients:
- Substitute whole grain pitas, naan or tortillas for the bread.
- Plan to have leftover chicken, turkey or beef instead of lunchmeat for the filling.
- Add sliced cucumbers, baby spinach or jicama for crunch.
Whole grains don't have to be the bookends for a sandwich. Try these combinations that combine the food groups in a different way:
- Pack a serving of baked corn chips in a resealable bag. Include containers of black bean dip or hummus, tomato salsa or guacamole and a stick of reduced fat string cheese.
- Use lettuce leaves instead of tortillas for wraps. For the filling, make chicken salad that includes grains such as bulgur, quinoa or crunchy noodles. Add cherry tomatoes or bell pepper strips on the side.
- Serve a pumpkin muffin or slice of zucchini bread with rolled-up slices of lean turkey or ham and cheese cubes.
Create a menu for the week and purchase the ingredients you will need to make lunches. Consider packing lunchboxes the night before to minimize the morning rush. Older children can make sandwiches and cut vegetables and fruits. A younger child can pack the foods into the lunchbox. By being actively involved in packing lunch, children can learn more about healthy eating, be more likely to eat the foods they chose and develop a sense of ownership for their health.
Healthy Ideas Columns
- Time to get up and get moving!
- Replacing Wheat on a Gluten-Free Diet
- National Nutrition Month
- A Healthy Heart is a Happy Heart
- Simple Solutions for a Healthy New Year
- Maintain Weight During the Holidays
- MyPlate for Diabetes Meal Planning
- October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
- Cholesterol, Your Diet, and You
- Lunch Box Basics