Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Public Transportation and Body Weight

Do you ever debate whether or not to ride your bike to work? Or maybe walk to work? Using public transportation, biking, and walking to work may actually benefit you in ways you never imagined. In a recent study a relationship between people who ride their bikes to work, walk to work, or use public transportation and body weight was discovered. The study suggests that those who drive their cars to work actually weigh more and have a higher percentage of body fat. The study showed that women who drove cars to work were on average 5.5 pounds heavier than those women who rode bikes, walked, or used public transportation to get to work. Men who drove were 6.6 pounds heavier. While this study does not show a cause and effect relationship, it does show a strong relationship between modes of transportation and weight. So next time you're trying to decide how to get to work, walk, ride your bike, or use public transportation and add a little extra movement to your day.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

“Diet-friendly” Foolers

Many products can mislead the everyday consumer to thinking they have a healthy product.  Here are some snacks that have successfully disguised themselves as “diet-friendly” foods, but don’t let them fool you!

Granola-Granola is often considered a healthy whole-grain snack. While many variations contain rolled oats, nuts and seeds, many are high in calories and loaded with sugar.
Solution: Watch your portion sizes and go for the mixes that do not contain candied nuts or chocolate.

“Fat Free” Products- Fat provides flavor and texture to foods. By reducing or removing the fat from these products, the overall product is altered. In order to make up for this loss of taste, many products replace the fat with carbohydrates and salt. 
Solution: Stick with simple homemade dressings, like oil and vinegar, and, if you’re out, ask for them on the side to control how much you’re using.

Pretzels- These low-fat snacks are a high carbohydrate source that does not provide our bodies with many nutrients and are often very high in sodium. For instance, you’ll get an entire day’s worth of sodium in one cup of Rold Gold pretzels.
Solution: Stick to nutrient-dense snacks like almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds. Just keep an eye on the serving size if you’re watching your weight.

Spinach wraps and pastas: The amount of spinach in these wraps and noodles is trivial to what you would get if you added spinach to your wrap or pasta. Although the color may look nice, try going for a whole grain option instead.

Solution: Use spinach as a topping to add color and nutrition to your dish. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Consuming Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help Reduce Risk for ALS

ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, motor neuron disease or Lou Gehrig’s) awareness has been blowing up the internet the past few weeks with the “Ice Bucket Challenge.” This challenge has been used to imitate the sensation of those with the disease due to the conscious feeling of ice water being dumped on the body and numbness felt by the individual completing the challenge. Though the brain still has cognitive functions, those with the disease experience limited mobility due to the inability for the brain to send messages to the limbs.

Recent research has suggested that consuming omega-3 fatty acids reduces the risk for developing ALS. By observing the diets of over 1 million participants, researchers found a decreased risk of ALS when dietary intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA)  and ALA (alpha linolenic acid) was higher. Further research should be carried out in order to support these findings.

Foods high in omega-3 PUFA include: flax seeds, walnuts, sardines, salmon, soybeans, tofu, shrimp and brussel sprouts.

Good sources of ALA include: canola oil, green vegetables including kale and spinach, as well as flax seeds and walnuts. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Is it Okay to Drink Milk Past the Expiration Date?

When you check out the milk in the fridge and see that it is just a day past the expiration date, do you pitch it right away or keep it around? If it looks and smells fine, it is perfectly safe, right?

Expiration and/or sell by dates are listed on the milk container. It is important to identify which is listed on the milk you typically by. If the expiration date is listed, and you see that your milk is still in the fridge past this date, the milk might be fine, but there is no way to be sure. A food or beverage may contain harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illness, even if it doesn't look or smell rancid.

How can you help deal with this issue? If you have excess milk approaching the expiration date, freeze some in single serving containers that you can then use as needed. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How do Almonds Grow?

Did you know that almonds grow inside an inedible fruit from the almond tree? Pinkish purple flowers blossom around the fruit found on the tree. This fruit is very similar to that of a peach or a plum that contains a pit. The outer covering of the almond isn't fleshy like other fruits, but instead actually has a thick, grayish green coat called the hull. Inside the hull is a hard and woody shell, similar to a pit, called the endocarp. Inside this shell is the actual edible seed, called the nut. Bitter and sweet almond trees are able to grow, but the fruit stemming from a bitter almond tree does not produce edible almonds because of the compound cyanide it contains (cyanide can be removed in order to be eaten). Almond trees grow in areas with hot summers and cool winters. California is actually one of the only states with the proper climate capable of producing these nuts.  

Check out the link to learn more about the almond growing process!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Type 2 Diabetes Risk may be Reduced by Drinking Coffee

Research has found that chemicals found in coffee including phenolic compounds and lignans may improve glucose metabolism, therefore reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Coffee is also rich in magnesium which has been linked with lowering type 2 diabetes risk. Previous studies found that just increasing your coffee intake by 1 cup per day decreased your risk by 11%.

But it is important to remember that the type of coffee matters. Lattes and other sugary coffee drinks were not studied. The type of coffee used in the experiments included an 8 oz cup of black coffee with minimal amounts of milk and sugar. So stick to the fresh brewed coffee with moderate amounts of sugar and milk in order to reap the benefits. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Coconut Oil: Good of Bad?

Coconut Oil has recently being marketed as a “health” food. Is this plant based oil really “healthy”?  There are two types of coconut oil; Virgin and Refined. “Virgin”-This term means the oil is unrefined and not extracted from the coconut using high temperatures or chemicals. “Refined”- This term means the oil comes from dried coconut meat. Refined coconut oil is often bleached and/or chemically bleached.  Both “Virgin” and “Refined” Coconut Oil are high in saturated fat. In fact, there more saturated fat is found in Coconut Oil than in butter! Many Processed foods contain coconut oil that is processed that is called Partially Hydrogenated Coconut Oil. Processing of coconut oil transforms some of the unsaturated fats into trans fats. Trans fats are associated with increased total cholesterol (LDL) “bad” cholesterol. These fats are also associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease. Coconut oil is a plant based oil and therefore contains no cholesterol. It also has some antioxidant properties from its phenolic compounds. Coconut Oil may be beneficial with helping your cholesterol levels, however, more research is needed.

What’s the take home message?    
When choosing coconut oil it is recommended to pick “Virgin” coconut oil and consume it in moderation.
Virgin coconut oil is high in lauric acid which is a saturated fat that can help raise “good”(HDL) cholesterol but it can also raise “bad” cholesterol as well.