Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Craze about Coconut Sugar

A popular sugar product currently in the spotlight is coconut palm sugar. The taste of the coconut sugar is similar to brown sugar, and is actually made from coconut tree sap. There have been claims from these producers that coconut palm sugar has a low glycemic index, meaning that it raises your blood sugar levels less quickly.

Coconut sugar can be used as a sugar alternative, but should not be recognized as differently from regular sugar. It still contains 15 calories per teaspoon and 4 grams of carbohydrate per serving. There is not strong evidence to support that it is a low glycemic index food, especially because coconut sugar may be premixed with other carbohydrates or regular cane sugar.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Sea Salt or Table Salt: Which is Better?

Recently there has been a big push for consumers to buy sea salt instead of table salt. The argument is that sea salt is less refined and rumor has it, contains less sodium. Being aware of the following characteristics will help you decide which type of salt to buy next time you are at the store.
  • Sea salt is obtained by evaporating seawater, which leaves salt crystals behind, and does not typically undergo any other type of refinement process. Table salt on the other hand, is mined from salt deposits and goes through a process to make it finer and easier to use in cooking.
  • Table salt has iodine, a mineral needed for healthy thyroid function, added to it while sea salt does not have iodine present.  
  • Sea salt and table salt have the SAME amount of sodium, approximately 40% by weight.

Next time, when trying to decide what type of salt to buy, just remember that all salt has the same amount of sodium. Be mindful of how much salt you consume in your daily diet, as a high sodium diet can lead to high blood pressure, and increase your risk of heart disease.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Got Milk?

1%, 2% skim, whole, shelf-stable… What does this all mean?  Is dairy really all that important for us? It’s time to learn all about cow’s milk! The array of choices for milk is constantly increasing. Now you might ask yourself, what’s the difference? Isn’t milk, milk? There is actually a significant difference. Eight ounces of 2% milk has 122 calories and 5 grams of fat, 3 of them being saturated. 1% milk has 102 calories and 2 grams of fat, mostly saturated. Nonfat or skim milk has 83 calories and almost zero grams of fat. Whole milk contains 4.5 grams of saturated fat in an 8oz. glass. Only 13g of saturated fat should be consumed daily for individuals based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Dairy, such as milk, is used as a main source for calcium. Milk has about 300mg of calcium per cup, just a little less than a third of the amount needed daily (1,000mg). If you have problems with milk, such as being lactose-intolerant or just do not like dairy, do not worry! There are still several ways you can receive your daily calcium. If you are lactose-intolerant, try sipping lactose-free milk. It is treated with lactase; the enzyme that breaks down lactose (milk sugar), so that it does not cause gas or stomach issues. Yogurt is also another great option that has very little lactose, is usually well tolerated, and contains calcium! If you just do not like dairy, foods that you can eat that include good sources of calcium include leafy green vegetables (such as spinach or kale), white beans, almonds, broccoli, figs, and soybeans.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Whole Grains for a Wholesome Life

Whole grains are a great source of nutrients and fiber. Whole grains are important to have in your diet because their high fiber content helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and many other health complications.   When shopping for groceries, you should be aware that there are two types of grain, refined grain and whole grain. Whole grain contains the entire kernel with the endosperm, bran, and wheat germ, while refined just contains the endosperm. Adding whole grains to your diet can be harder than it seems. Not everything brown is whole wheat. Make sure you read the packaging closely. If a package reads “whole wheat,” that means the product must be made with 100% whole wheat flour. If a product says “multi-grain” or “seven grain,” it does not always mean that it is a whole grain product.

                There are many ways to add whole grains into your diet! A good start is with breakfast. You can have a whole-grain cereal or oatmeal for an easy and quick meal to start your day off right! Another strategy is to switch out white rice with brown rice. There is even whole grain pasta to replace refined pasta! Look at the packaging of breads, bagels, tortillas, and buns and make sure you are choosing whole grain! Did you know that there is whole grain popcorn? It makes a great snack and an easy way of adding fiber and whole grains into your diet! 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Fabulous Fiber

We’re constantly being told that fiber is good for us, but the question is, why?  But, first of all, what exactly is fiber?  Fiber comes from plants like whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables, and interestingly enough, our body can’t digest it.  This is important because it passes right on through our digestive tract, which keeps our bodies functioning at their best.  There are two kinds of fiber, soluble and insoluble.  Soluble fiber dissolves in water and is what helps to lower cholesterol and glucose levels.  It is commonly found in foods such as oats, beans, carrots, and apples.  Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water; rather, it is what provides the roughage our body needs.  Wheat flour, bran, beans, and vegetables are some foods that contain insoluble fiber.  For the most benefit, try and eat a combination of foods that contain soluble and insoluble fiber.  You’ll find that many foods have both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Fiber has tons of benefits, including helping to prevent several types of diseases.  It helps to lower cholesterol and control blood sugar levels, thus helping to prevent heart disease and diabetes.  Without a doubt, fiber helps with digestive problems.  Fiber actually helps with weight gain because it helps you to feel full faster.
The recommended daily amount of fiber is 25g for women, and 38g for men.  If you’re thinking about taking a fiber supplement, know that they have their place, but many of the benefits are best obtained when fiber is consumed from whole foods.  To increase your fiber intake, consume more WHOLE foods like whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.  The more refined a product is, the less fiber it has.  Think brown vs. white rice, or whole wheat vs. white pasta.  When increasing your fiber intake, please do so slowly. Make it a gradual transition and be sure to increase your water intake.

Foods high in fiber:
o   3 cups air-popped popcorn (3.6g)
o   1 ounce almonds (3.5g)
o   1 cup raspberries (8g)
o   ½ cup cooked black beans (7.5g)
o   1 large pair with skin (7g)

Friday, February 20, 2015

What’s In Season?

It’s bitter cold, snow is coming down in blankets, and the ground is almost completely frozen.  These are surefire signs that winter has arrived.  While summer may be the peak season for most fruits and veggies, winter still brings quite the bounty of produce.  Purchasing what’s in season tastes better because it’s fresh, simple as that.  This is something I’m sure you’ve experienced at least once in your life.  Nothing beats a big, juicy tomato in the summertime.  If you were to purchase that same tomato now, the flavor and texture would probably remind you of cardboard.  Shopping in season not only tastes better, it is also less expensive!  This is a fantastic way to try something new and interesting.  Be on the lookout for these items next time you go grocery shopping.

Winter Produce:
·         Potatoes
·         Sweet potatoes
·         Turnips
·         Squash (butternut, buttercup, delicata, sweet dumpling)
·         Leafy greens (kale, collard greens)
·         Brussels sprouts
·         Broccoli
·         Citrus (oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, clementines)
·         Kiwi
·         Leeks
·         Jicama
·         Dates
·         Pears

·         Persimmons

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Metabolism Myths and Facts

If you have been on social websites, you may have seen some tips on improving your metabolism. Some of these are true, others, not so much. A popular suggestion is that consuming certain foods and drinks, like green tea, can help boost your metabolism. As nice as it would be to just drink a cup of green tea to improve your metabolism, this tip is not true. There is no “magic” food to help you boost your metabolism. Another myth is that eating late at night slows metabolism. It’s not that eating late at night changes your metabolism, it’s the extra calories you are consuming. Late night snacking also leads to mindless eating, where the calories could really add up. Some people say that very low calorie diets and skipping meals can also help a person lose weight, but in reality this freezes your metabolism. Low calorie diets makes your body think that it needs to preserve the calories you do consume, so the body uses less calories, when you want it to use more.  When finding out that some of these tips are false, it may seem like there is no way to speed up your metabolism, but there is! Building muscle will help speed up metabolism because muscle uses more calories per hour than fat does. Lifting those weights will lift your metabolism!