Thursday, February 4, 2016

Olive Oil: A New Friend of Fried Food

            If you’re seeking a better alternative for frying, then it’s time for you to familiarize yourself with olive oil, extra virgin in particular. Olive oil, as the name may suggest, is the oil from a pressed olive. Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) differs from regular olive oil in that it is the oil is extracted from cold-pressed olives. There is a distinct color difference between these two, and a slightly less distinct distribution of fatty acids.

            Frying vegetables in extra virgin olive oil was recently found to increase the amount of phenolic compounds in vegetables. The frying reduces water and adds oil into the vegetable. Within the oil are the phenolic compounds, which have an antioxidant effect. Antioxidants are free radicals worst nightmare, and having a greater amount of dietary antioxidants is believed to contribute to a decrease in health risks.

            When vegetables are boiled, water enters the vegetable and nutrients exit. On the other hand, this research displays how frying in EVOO reduces water in the vegetable and adds more antioxidants (phenolic compounds).

            BEWARE: frying foods, regardless of oil type increases the energy density of the food – more calories. However, frying in EVOO is a cooking method that improves the quality of the raw vegetable, enhances the flavor, and adds phenolic compounds that serve as antioxidants.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Can Diet Affect Sleep Quality?

As college students, we are notoriously sleep deprived.  Our busy schedules often force us to sacrifice sleep for a few extra hours of studying, which, in the long run can be detrimental to our learning.  I’m sure you are not surprised to hear that college students are some of the most sleep-deprived people in the country.

A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine looked at the type of food we eat and its affect on our sleep quality.  The researchers concluded that just one day of foods high in fat and sugar disturbed quality of sleep.  For four days, the participants stuck to a controlled diet that was protein-rich and low in saturated fat.  However, on the final day of the study, participants were able to choose their own foods, which were determined to be higher in saturated fat and sugar as well as lower in fiber. 

As a result of the final day, it took the participants longer to fall asleep and they had less slow-wave sleep.  This type of sleep is deep, typically dreamless and restores essential physical and mental energy.  In addition, the researchers concluded that the higher consumption of sugar on the final day was linked to more sleep disruptions.
Much of our health depends on more than one factor.  For example, getting enough good quality sleep, eating a nutritious diet, as well as incorporating physical activity are some of the keys to success.  While this study was eye opening, more research examining the link between a specific diet and sleep is necessary.   

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Overeating on Healthy Foods- It's Real

            The way that we perceive food plays a huge role on the amount that we eat, and the way we feel after consumption. The fallacy that a certain food is “healthy” tends to lead to the individual eating more of it. Researchers from the University of Texas found that “healthy” foods are perceived as less satisfying. This phenomenon may be contributing to the obesity epidemic in that individuals are overeating “healthy” foods. To mend this ironic friction, try viewing “healthy” foods as nourishing rather than less satisfying.
            A second study published in the journal BMC Nutrition found that paying a lower amount while dining out can lead to feelings of guilt and uncomfortable fullness. Essentially, low-paying buffet-goers set a lower expectation level for the amount of food they should consume. What buffet-goers are urged to do is to attend higher-priced establishments and focus on consuming proper portions of nourishing, “healthy,” foods.

See the full articles at:

Saturday, January 23, 2016

I Love You Salt, But You're Breaking My Heart

I love you salt, but you’re breaking my heart.  This is the striking slogan used by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association in hopes of encouraging Americans to sign the online pledge to reduce excess dietary sodium.  The most recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report by the CDC, notes, “over 90% of children and 89% of adults in the US consume more than the recommended limits for sodium, not including salt added to food at the table.”  Yikes! 

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans reveal that those over 14 years of age should consume no more than 2,300mg of sodium per day.  This number sounds pretty decent, right?  If we were to think of this amount in terms of table salt, the guidelines recommend consuming no more than a teaspoon per day.  A teaspoon is about the size of your fingertip; in other words, it’s pretty small.  The American Heart Association actually recommends eating less than 1,500mg of sodium per day.

One of the main reasons we are advised to lower our sodium intake is because, over time, too much sodium can lead to an increase in blood pressure.  High blood pressure is one of the major risk factors for the number 1 killer worldwide—heart disease.  Consuming less sodium can help decrease the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, and headaches.

You may be surprised to learn that most of the sodium we consume actually isn’t from the salt we sprinkle on our food.  The majority of the sodium comes from processed foods, which can have crazy high amounts of sodium.  Seriously!  Take a look at a processed/packaged food’s nutrition label next time you’re in the grocery store.  The American Heart Association includes breads and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry, soup, and sandwiches in their “salty six,” the six popular foods that can add high levels of sodium to your diet. 
It’s always a good idea to be aware of what’s in the food we are eating.  Visit to pledge to reduce the amount of sodium you eat.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Why It May be Sweet... Slow Down on Added Sugars!

            Sugar is a form of carbohydrate that makes many of the foods and drinks we consume taste, well, sweet. Various forms of sugar exist, and in some foods sugars occur naturally. Even various fruits and vegetables contain a sugar! However, there are some products that contain added sugars. The process of adding sugars to foods is done during manufacturing, and serves to enhance the taste of the product. There are many products that contain added sugars, but a few noteworthy products containing it are soda, fruit drinks, and chocolate.
            The potential issues arising from excessive added sugar consumption includes, but is not limited to:

·      High blood pressure – even more so than sodium some studies have found.
·      Cardiovascular (heart) disease – as the 2014 study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has found.
·      Obesity – consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages tends to increase weight gain in children and adults.

            Along the same lines of obesity risk, there is also a growing body of research supporting the notion that sugar-sweetened beverages many increase visceral fat. Visceral fat surrounds the organs within the body, but too much can influence hormonal function and increase the risk for diseases such as type II diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and some cancers. Men with a waist circumference of greater than 35 cm, and women with a waist circumference of greater than 40 cm are at an increased risk for having excessive visceral fat, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
            It would be very difficult to remove sugars from your diet being that fruits, vegetables, dairy products and nuts all have sugars within them. It is important to distinguish between added sugars and just sugars. Sugar is actually your body’s preferred energy source, but if sugars, primarily added sugars, are consumed in vast excess, health concerns may arise.

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