Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Genetic Link to “Fault Free Obesity”

Genetic links exist for numerous disease states, obesity being one of them. Researchers from the University of North Carolina Health Care System have identified that a mutation of the gene ankyrin-B may cause people to gain weight regardless of their diets. The research showed that this gene increases the amount of glucose taken in by fat cells. Vann Bennet, MD, PhD describes the effect of this gene as “fault-free obesity.” The study involved either eliminating or mutating ankyrin-B within mice, which caused Glut-4’s (the proteins that help bring glucose into fat cells) to take in glucose more quickly than normal. Another interesting point to note was that the mice with the eliminated or mutated gene still seemed to gain weight without increasing their caloric intake. The hypothesis as to why this gene exists in the first place is that our ancestors needed this gene in times of famine to help maintain energy stores. Now that the food supply is readily available to most, this gene may actually be one of the main contributors to the obesity epidemic. These findings could help identify individuals at risk for obesity in the future, but further research needs to be done before they identify this gene as an actual risk factor for obesity.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Skip the Midnight Snack

A recent study showed the relationship between late night snacking and increased risks of heart disease. When given food at the beginning of their rest period, rats experienced a large spike in blood lipid levels as opposed to when they were given food at the beginning of their active phase. With this research, we can see that getting into the habit of eating late night snacks can lead to an increase in blood lipid levels, which puts us at a greater risk for heart disease. Try putting the snacks away before bed, and getting some rest and eating a well-balanced breakfast instead. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Don't Overlook Your Leftovers

Thanksgiving is just around the corner! After those holiday meals there is always an abundance of leftovers that can either be saved or thrown out. In order to save those leftovers, the foods must be cooked, held, and stored at certain temperatures. 

It is important to cook foods correctly so no one gets a harmful foodborne illness from your cooking. Whole turkeys and turkey pieces should be cooked until the internal temperature has reached 165°F for 15 seconds. Stuffing cooked in the bird or alone needs to reach 165°F for 15 seconds as well. Anything else containing potentially hazardous ingredients should also come to 165°F for 15 seconds.

Many thanksgiving meals are buffet style. After the food is out, there is a two-hour limit. After the two hours, harmful bacteria can multiply rapidly, which puts you and your guests at risk of food poisoning. Ensure safety by promptly refrigerating foods below 40°F. If safe to keep, the leftovers should be put away in air tight, shallow containers and placed in the refrigerator. 

With all those extra leftovers, hearty, diverse meals can be made rather than just eating the plain turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberries, and more. Refrigerated leftovers are only good for three or four days, so reinvent thanksgiving with different options that will stay good for a few more days. The whole family will love these different options instead of the repetitive thanksgiving meals after Thanksgiving Day. Make a hearty harvest stew, a turkey-berry wrap, cranberry smoothies, a crunchy turkey salad, stuffing frittata, or freeze turkey stock to use later on. 

The hearty harvest stew can be made with leftover gravy (skim fat away that is on top) as the base with leftover turkey and veggies added in. The stew can be thickened with mashed potatoes or even sweet potatoes. The turkey-berry wraps are made with whole-wheat tortillas, turkey, and shredded greens with a spread of cranberry sauce. Cranberry smoothies are made with the leftover cranberries along with frozen yogurt and orange juice. Frozen turkey stock can be used to cook in pasta, rice, or soup to make a nice base. To be safe, reheat everything to an internal temperature of 165°F before consuming.

Even after thanksgiving and the holidays are over, fun meals can be made with the family, as long as the leftovers are safe to eat. Have a happy holiday!

Check out the temperatures foods should be cooked to (internal temperature) at: http://www.eatright.org/resource/homefoodsafety/four-steps/cook/complete-list-of-cooking-temperatures

Friday, November 10, 2017

Sugar and Heart Disease

A recent study has shown that a high sugar diet can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Two groups of men, with either low levels of liver fat or with high levels of liver fat diagnosed as Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, were put on either a low or high sugar diet for 12 weeks. The low sugar diet consisted of 140 kcals from sugar (equivalent to 35 grams of sugar) a day and the high sugar diet had 650 kcals from sugar (equivalent to about 160 grams of sugar) each day. In both groups on the high sugar diet, fat metabolism was altered in a way that increased risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke. Keep in mind that a single 12 oz can of coke contains 39 grams of sugar and 8 oz of apple juice contains about 26 grams of sugar!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Pumpkins Are More Than They Seem

It is pumpkin season! Instead of only using pumpkins for fun activities and decorations, try incorporating them into your diet, for they are packed with many nutrients and health benefits. The orange color of a pumpkin comes from beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant. This beta-carotene is turned into a source of vitamin A when ingested and absorbed. The beta-carotene in pumpkin is also shown to help protect against heart disease, reduce the risk of certain cancers (such as prostate and colon cancer), and fight against infection by assisting in the production of white blood cells. Pumpkins also contain potassium which can reduce high blood pressure, hypertension, and risk of stroke. Recent studies have suggested that the pulp and seeds of pumpkins may help control diabetes because of their ability to aid with glucose absorption in the intestines and tissues. Pumpkins are also a great source of fiber. One serving of fresh, cooked pumpkin can supply around 3 grams of fiber. When selecting a pumpkin to buy for a recipe, look for a small pumpkin (there are even special pumpkin pie pumpkins sold) with the stem still intact. When baking, pumpkin puree can be used as a healthier substitute for butter or oil. 

Check out the link below to find some delicious, healthy pumpkin recipes to enjoy during the autumn season!


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Braised Red Cabbage with Sweet Apples and Onion Recipe

This dish can bring color, antioxidants, and flavor to your next meal!  Combine this recipe with chicken, pork, or root vegetables to create a robust taste combination.


1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 small head read cabbage, cored and shredded (about 4 cups)
2 sweet apples (such as Fuji, Gala, or Jonagold), cored and cubed
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/2 cup apple juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons caraway seeds, toasted
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fleshly-ground pepper


1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion; cook, stirring for about 5 minutes until the onion softens and becomes translucent.
2. Stir in cabbage and apples.  Cook just until the cabbage wilts, 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Combine brown sugar, apple juice and red wine vinegar in a small bowl and then stir the mixture into cabbage and apples.  Add caraway seeds and bay leaf.  Stir well.
4.  Bring the cabbage-apple mixture to a boil. Cover; reduce heat to a simmer, cover, cook for 20 to 25 minutes until the cabbage is tender.
5.  Season with salt and pepper.
6. Before serving, remove bay leaf.

Cooking Notes

-To toast the caraway seeds, put seeds in a small heavy dry skillet over medium heat to bring out the aroma, shaking the skillet frequently for 1 to 2 minutes. Allow to cool.
-Substitute 5 whole cloves for caraway, if desired; remove before serving.

Nutrition Information

Serving size: 3/4 cup
Serves 6.

Calories: 120; Calories from fat: 25; Total fat: 3g; Saturated fat: 0; Trans fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 220mg; Total carbohydrate: 25g; Dietary fiber: 5g; Sugars: 17g; Protein: 2g

For this recipe and more, go to: http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/planning-and-prep/recipes/braised-red-cabbage-with-sweet-apples-and-onion-recipe

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Spaghetti Squash in the Spotlight

The fall season not only marks the beginning of cool weather, but it also introduces autumn produce! Pumpkins and apples are popular choices among consumers at farm markets during this time of year, but spaghetti squash is often overlooked. Baking and scraping the inside of the squash reveals spaghetti-like flesh that is lower in calories and more nutrient dense than typical spaghetti. As spaghetti squash starts to take root in American households, it’s important to recognize the origins and development of this unique squash. 
  The traditional ‘Vegetable’ spaghetti squash, which grows on vines, originated in Mexico and Central America, but ‘Orangetti,’ a more commonly seen orange spaghetti squash that grows in a more compact habitat, was developed in Israel during the early 1990s. ‘Orangetti’ was then altered into ‘Hasta la pasta,’ which grows similarly to other summer squashes like zucchini and yellow squash, allowing it to be grown in the U.S.
If you're wondering how these types of squash differ, researchers from the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station compared ‘Vegetable’ and ‘Hasta la pasta’ squashes according to a nutrient analysis and consumer preferences. Nutritionally, the ‘Vegetable’ squash contains slightly more glucose and sucrose than ‘Hasta la pasta,’ which could explain their participants’ taste preferences for ‘Vegetable’ squash. Visually, however, consumers preferred ‘Hasta la pasta’ due to its brighter outer orange coloring. In retail, they found that more ‘Vegetable’ spaghetti squash were sold, but the researchers suggest this may not be solely attributed to taste preference. ‘Vegetable’ spaghetti squash plants produce a greater yield compared to ‘Hasta la pasta,’ so more ‘Vegetable’ spaghetti squash may be sold simply because of the plant’s  efficient production of fruit, causing farmers to harvest larger quantities of ‘Vegetable’ squash. 
Before the seasons change and winter arrives, stop by your local market to try spaghetti squash. Can you spot or taste differences between the squash? Instead of cooking the same old pumpkin recipes, get creative with spaghetti squash this year!