Thursday, February 25, 2010

Are Your Kids Falling Short?

Three daily servings of whole grains are recommended for prevention of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and excess weight gain. Yet few adolescents or young adults follow these guidelines, according to national survey data. In a study published in the February 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers from the School of Public Health, University of Minnesota report that young people are consuming less than 1 serving of whole grains per day. This could be due to the ever growing consumption of fast food and the lack of whole grain products used in restaurants, as well as in the home.
The fast food generation has a tough habit to break, and many convenience foods do not provide adequate whole grains, regardless of the label claims. Many foods that now claim to provide fiber are adding psyllium, an ingredient used in laxatives.
How to look for whole grains: One key to whole grain bread is by the weight of the loaf itself - the heavier, the better. Watch the wording on the labels of cereals and breads; many companies aim to deceive. A claim of "whole grain" can be as little as 10% of the total flour used. To get more bang-for-your-buck, go for items that contain 100% whole grain. If the label doesn't say "100% Whole Grain," it probably isn't.

Monday, February 22, 2010

What's In A Name?

Sugar, by any name, is - sugar. The simple carbohydrates are monosaccharides - glucose and fructose. Disaccharides are chemical pairs of the monosaccharides, such as sucrose. Sucrose, or common table sugar consists of half glucose and half fructose. Glucose is the basic energy form of carbohydrate that fuels every cell of the body, and is the fuel of choice in the brain. All carbohydrates break down into glucose (blood sugar); some take longer, depending on how complex. One gram of sugar or any carbohydrate, provides 4 calories. 50% of your daily calorie intake should be in the form of carbohydrates. Is one form of dietary sugar any better or "healthier" than an other? No. Here is the chemical breakdown on sugar:
Agave syrup 84% fructose, 8% glucose, 8% sucrose.
Apple juice concentrate 60% fructose, 27% glucose, 13% sucrose.
Brown sugar 97% sucrose, 1% fructose, 1% glucose.
Corn syrup 8% to 96% glucose, 0% fructose, 0% sucrose.
Fructose 100% fructose (comes from fruit).
Glucose or Dextrose 100% glucose (found mostly in fruits and starchy vegetables).
Grape juice concentrate 52% fructose, 48% glucose.
High fructose corn syrup 55% fructose, 45% glucose.
Honey 50% fructose, 44% glucose, 1% sucrose.
Maple syrup 95% sucrose, 4% glucose, 1% fructose.
Molasses 53% sucrose, 23% fructose, 21% glucose.
Orange juice concentrate 46% sucrose, 28% fructose, 26% glucose.
Raw sugar 100% sucrose.
Table sugar, confectioners sugar, powdered sugar, bakers sugar 100% sucrose.
~USDA Nutrient Database

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Think Outside The Grove

Tart and tangy grapefruits are available year round, but are at their best from winter through early spring. The juiciest grapefruits are shiny, heavy for their size with a thin, fine texture, and stored at room temperature. They will keep longer however, (2 weeks) in the refrigerator crisper.
This tropical fruit heralds some impressive health benefits. One half of a large grapefruit has only 50 calories but is packed with more than half a day's supply of vitamin C and some fiber, potassium, folate, and pantothenic acid. The pink and red varieties also contain vitamin A. The red colors of grapefruit are due to the carotenoid lycopene, which is just one of the more than 150 phytonutrients found in grapefruit. The soluble fiber-rich pectin in grapefruit may help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The juice is also loaded with antioxidants, but lacks the fiber. Grapefruit's powerful antioxidant activity has been linked to protecting against colon and lung cancer, preventing cardiovascular disease, improving lung function in people with asthma, boosting liver enzymes that clear out carcinogens, and repairing damaged DNA in prostate cancer cells. Although the grapefruit diet has been debunked as a magical fat burner, the low glycemic index, fiber rich, low-calorie nature of grapefruit may reduce insulin levels and help dieters feel full and eat fewer calories. Beyond that, there is no evidence that grapefruit contains fat burning enzymes. Research has however, linked drinking large amounts of grapefruit juice to a possible increase in the risk of breast cancer. In addition, compounds in grapefruit can interfere with enzymes that metabolize certain drugs, increasing the potency of several prescription drugs including statins, antiarrhythmic agents, immunosuppressive agents, and calcium channel blockers.
Grapefruit's flavor works well with salad greens, avocado, fish, ginger, honey, walnuts, mint, basil, and cilantro. Add grapefruit segments to salads and salsas, or mix grapefruit juice with club soda and add mint leaves for a fruit spritzer. It's tangy juice also brightens sauces and dressings. For dessert, add grapefruit segments to your cheesecake mix or cobbler recipe. Substitute the liquid in muffin and cornbread mixes with grapefruit juice. Not only does it remind us of summer, but the flavor of fresh citrus when combined with other ingredients has tremendous appeal.

Grapefruit Teriyaki Glaze

1 cup grapefruit juice
1/4 red onion, sliced
1 & 1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
Zest and juice of half an orange
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/8 cup canola oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste

Heat lightly oiled saucepan over high heat. Add onions and ginger and saute until soft. Add orange zest, juice, grapefruit juice, soy sauce, and sugar and bring to a simmer. Turn heat to low and allow liquid to reduce. Add salt and pepper. Transfer glaze to a blender and drizzle in oil - blend until smooth. Use on chicken, salmon, and pork. Makes about 1 cup (8 servings).
*Calories: 70, Total fat: 3.5 G, Sat. fat: 0 G, Trans fat: 0 G, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 650mg, Carbohydrates: 9 G, Fiber: 0 G, Sugar: 5 G, Protein: 1 G.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Nothing Says Love....

When the sweet aroma of cinnamon wafts through the house, you know something tasty is in the oven. In times past, cinnamon was considered an expensive luxury and has even been used as an aphrodisiac. Today, it is a common spice in everyday cooking which adds minimal calories and much flavor to foods. One teaspoon contains just 6 calories and 1.4 grams of fiber. You will also find manganese and calcium in it's nutrient mix, and a myriad of flavinoids such as proanthocyanidins, which exhibit antioxidant effects. Cinnamon also contains the essential oils cinnamaldehyde and eugenol, which inhibit bacterial growth that play a role in food preservation. The jury is still out however, on it's health benefits in lowering fasting blood glucose, hemoglobin A1C and lipid levels in people with diabetes. Doses of ground cinnamon used in the studies were 2 to 3 teaspoons - much more than what you would sprinkle on your morning latte.
As with other spices, cinnamon should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place in a tightly closed container to prevent clumping. Exposure to heat will denature the aromatic essential oils and diminish the flavor. Shelf life is about 2-3 years for ground cinnamon; 4 years for sticks.

Cinnamon and Raisin Bread Pudding

6 slices (1/2 inch) Hawaiian Sweet Bread or buttermilk bread, cut into small squares
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1 & 1/4 cup nonfat (skim) milk
1/4 cup Half-and-Half
Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place 6 - 4oz. ramekins or custard bowls on a baking sheet and lightly coat with nonstick spray. In a bowl, toss bread with cinnamon and raisins. In another medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugars, vanilla, salt, milk and Half & Half. Add cubes, gently fold to evenly soak bread and spoon into ramekins. Bake about 40 minutes.
*Calories: 240, Total fat: 5 G. Cholesterol: 80 mg. Sodium: 340 mg. Carbohydrates: 39 G. Fiber: 1 G. Sugar: 23 G. Protein: 8 G.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Bisphenol A

BPA is a chemical used to make plastics and resins. Some cans used in food production have a plastic lining to prevent corrosion, particularly foods of high acidity such as tomatoes. Consumer Reports and Prevention published articles concerning the safety of several food items tested for BPA. The FDA agrees there is concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate glands of fetuses, infants, and children. How harmful is BPA and just how much is considered a "safe" level? It seems the controversy lies in the research. Studies on lab animals have been at very high levels of BPA, where humans are generally exposed to one-millionth of the amount. The FDA is currently funding a $30 million research program for toxicity studies.
In the meantime, there are the options of fresh and frozen tomato products, and canned vegetables processed in glass containers. Home canning is also an option. Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, A and lycopene, which is more easily absorbed in the body after they have been processed. There's no need to exclude canned tomato products from a healthful diet.
~ ADA Times

Monday, February 1, 2010

Chocolate Lover's, Rejoice!

Chocolate really can be good for you, but not all chocolate is created equally. If you're after health benefits, forget the chewy, caramel, marshmallow or cream-covered chocolates and look for solid dark chocolate. Research has shown that when dark chocolate is part of a healthy lifestyle, it can improve heart health, blood pressure, reduce LDL (bad cholesterol), and increase blood flow to the brain. It may also improve blood sugar and insulin sensitivity, reducing diabetes risk.
The health benefits of chocolate come from flavonoids, a type of phytochemical found in the cacao bean. Dark chocolate contains a higher percentage of cocoa than white or milk chocolate. And the more cocoa a chocolate product contains, the richer its health-promoting content. The greater the percentage of cocoa, the higher the concentration of flavonoids. Look for dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa for the finest dark chocolate rich in healthy flavonoids.
Limit the portion size because even though dark chocolate contains good-for-you flavonoids, it also has not-so-good-for-you fat, sugar, and calories. Overindulging in chocolate can undo any health benefits and lead to weight gain and related health problems. About an ounce will provide chocolate's health benefits without widening your waistline. A standard-sized bar of Hershey's Dark Chocolate has 531 calories, compared with 150 calories from an ounce of dark chocolate or about six Hershey's Kisses.
~ Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD