Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Top Fiber-Rich Foods

In recognition of fiber's many benefits, the magazine Today's Dietician looks at some of the best ways to boost fiber intake-from whole to fortified foods, using data from the USDA National Nutrient Data-base for Standard Reference.

1. Hop on the Bran Wagon! Bran from many grains is very rich in dietary fiber. Oat bran is high in soluble fiber, which has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels. Wheat, corn and rice bran are high in insoluble fiber, which helps prevent constipation. Bran can be sprinkled into your favorite foods-from hot cereal to pancakes, cookies and muffins. Many high fiber cereals such as All-Bran and Fiber One are also packed with bran.

2. Going to Bean Town- Beans are one of the most naturally rich sources of fiber, as well as protein, lysine, vitamins and minerals. Some people experience intestinal gas and discomfort associated with bean intake, so they may be better off slowly introducing beans into their diet. Encourage a variety of beans. Some of these high fiber options include lima beans, adzuki beans, black beans, garbanzo benas, kidney beans and lentils.

3. Go Berry Picking- Since berries are packed with tiny seeds, their fiber content is typically higher than that of many fruits. You can enjoy berries year round by making the most of local berries in the summer, and eating frozen, preservedand dried berries during the other seasons. Berries make great toppings for cereals, yogurt, salads and desserts. Elderberries boast the highest fiber content at 10 grams per cup, followed closely by blackberries, loganberries, raspberries and boysenberries.

4. Wholesome Whole Grains- A grain in nature is essentially the entire seed of the plant made up of the bran, germ and the endosperm. Refining the grain removes the germ and the bran, thus fiber and other key nutrients are lost. Te Whole Grains council recognizes a variety of grains and defines whole grains or foods made from them as containing "all the essential parts and naturally occuring nutrients of the entire grain seed." Some different whole grains to incorporate into your diet include amaranth (6 g of fiber per 1/4 cup), barley, rye flour and buckwheat. Oats and Popcorn are some of the more familiar sounding grains that are included in this list.

5. Sweet Peas! Peas are naturally chock full of fiber, Split peas pack an amazing 16 grams of fiber per cup when cooked. Frozen peads are not far behind with 14 grams per 1 cup serving. Some other are black eyed peas and pigeon peas.

6. Green, the Color of Fiber- There are more than 1,000 species of plants with edible leaves, many with similar nutritional attributes, including high-fiber content. Cooked turnip greens, mustard greens and collard greens contain 5 grams of fiber per cup.

7. Squirrel Away Nuts and Seeds- One ounce of nuts and seeds can provide a hearty contribution to the day's fiber recommendation, alng with the bonus of healthy fats, protein and phytochemicals, Some great picks to go nuts over-almonds, pistachios, cashews and peanuts.

8. Play Squash! These nutritious gems are part of the gourd family and contribute a variety of flavors, textures and colors, as well as fiber, vitamins, minerals and carotenoids, to the dinner plate. Brush squash with olive oil and grill it in the summertime for a healthy, flavorful accompaniment to grilled meats.

9. Brassica or Bust! Brassy beauties, including broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage and brussel sprouts, are also full of fiber. Brassica vegetables have also been studied for their cancer protective effects associated with their high levels or glucosinolates.

10. Hot Potatoes- The top vegetable crop in the world is plump with fiber. There are numerous potatoes that can provide a rainbow of colors, nutrients and flavors-and remind you to eat the skins to reap the greatest fiber rewards. ome favorites are the russet, the red potato or the sweet potato, packing 4 grams of fiber in one medium potato.

Some other top fiber rich foods include every day fruits such as pears, apples, bananas and dried fruits such as prunes and figs. Exotic foods such as avocado, edamame and jicama also pack a whopping 6 grams of fiber per cup serving. There are also many foods fortified with fiber-Silk Soy Milk is fortified with 5 grams of fiber per cup and high fiber bars such as Gnu High Fiber bar has 12 grams of fiber per bar! So you can see there is no excuse to not get your fiber going!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Often overshadowed by the brighter colored veggies that boldly showcase their phytonutrients, the mushroom seems to pale in comparison. However, the mushroom's reputation as a nutritional lightweight is beginning to change.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released nutrient data for the seven most commonly eaten mushrooms-cremini, enoki, maitake, oyster, portabella, shiitake and white button. The data reveals that mushrooms contain surprising levels of nutrients including fiber, B vitamins and the minerals selenium, potassium and copper. Providing about 4 percent of the daily value per serving, mushrooms also are one of the only plant sources of vitamin D. A single serving of white button mushrooms could contain almost nine times the daily value of vitamin D after exposure to only five minutes of UV light. This would make it a richer source than two tablespoons of cod liver oil, one of the best current sources of the vitamin.
Scientists are unearthing more potential health benefits linked to mushrooms. There are a number of mushrooms that appear to help the body fight cancer and build the immune system - Shiitake, maitake, reishi, Agaricus blazei Murill, and Coriolus Versicolor. These mushrooms contain polysaccharides, especially Lentinan, powerful compounds that help in building immunity. They are a source of Beta Glucan. They also have a protein called lectin, which attacks cancerous cells and prevents them from multiplying. They also contain Thioproline. These mushrooms can stimulate the production of interferon in the body.
Mushrooms can also aid in weight loss. They are about 90 percent water, making them low in calories (about 20 kcal per serving)and virtually fat free. One study found that participants saved 350-400 kcal a day using mushrooms in place of meat in lasagna, chili and other entrees.
So how can you incorporate more mushrooms into your kitchen? Add crunchy raw enokis to salads or soup. Stir-fry almost any fresh mushroom or saute with garlic and toss with pasta. op steaks, chicken and omelets with sauteed mushrooms. Creminis, which resemble brown button mushrooms, may be eaten oven roasted with a drizzle of olive oil and eaten hot or allowed to cool and toss into a salad. Portabellas are perfect for brushing with sesame oil and soy sauce and grilling. Dried mushrooms, such as porcini and shiitake, add flavor to stocks, sauces and risotto. Just cover the mushrooms with hot(not boiling) water and soak them for 15 minutes before using...then eat up!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Grapes...Good things DO come in small packages!!

If you are craving something sweet, a handful of grapes just may do the trick, and a little bit more. California grapes of all colors-green, red and blue-black-are packed with phytonutrients that are beneficial for good health. Phytonutrients are compounds found in plants that enhance health and protect against chronic disease. Grapes contain a unique combination of antioxidant phytonutrients, including resveratrol, which is found in the skin of all grapes and a variety of flavonoids. Grapes are also a good source of vitamin C and they contain potassium, which has been shown to help reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.
Grapes are a portable,convenient snack and rank with apples and bananas as the top three most frequently purchased fruits. A 3/4 cup serving of grapes contains only 86 calories, so eat up!!
Some quick tips on increasing your consumption of grapes include adding grapes and Mandarin oranges to salad greens or spinach leaves for sweet flavor, packing grapes in plastic containers for a healthy on-the-go snack or make a breakfast smoothie by blending grapes, bananas, orange juice, soymilk and ice cubes...Delicious!
Check out for more information on this fabulous little fruit!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Livit instead of Diet!

UCLA researchers report in the journal of the American Psychological Association: "You can initially lose 5 to 10 percent of your weight on any number of diets, but then the weight comes back," said Traci Mann, UCLA associate professor of Psychology and lead author of the study.  "We found that the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more.  Sustained weight loss was found only in a small minority of participants, while complete weight regain was found in the majority.  Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people."  Mann and her co-authors conducted the most comprehensive analysis of diet studies, analyzing 31 long-term studies of people who were on diets for two to five years.  They concluded that "most of them would have been better off not going on the diet at all."  Their weight would be pretty much the same, and their bodies would not suffer the wear and tear from losing weight and gaining it all back." At least one-third to two-thirds of people on diets regain more weight than they lost within four or five years, and the true number may well be significantly higher (since many participants self-reported their initial weight).  "Several studies indicate that dieting is actually a consistent predictor of future weight gain," said Janet Tomiyama, a UCLA co-author of the study. One study found that both men and women who participated in formal weight-loss programs gained significantly more weight over a two-year period than those who had not participated in a weight-loss program. People in control groups who did not diet were not that much worse off and in many cases were better off than those who did not diet.
So if diets do not work what does? A "Livit" coined by Deborah A. Klein, MS, RD, the one and only Livitician(tm)describes as a way of doing lifestyle changes that are livable, practical and satisfying. Deborah Klein, says the definition of a successful weight loss program is one that a person can follow for life, the way that a person loses the weight needs to be the way that a person can live with for life. Diets are depriving, which is the main psychological reason that diets don't work. A "livit" is eating what you enjoy with a balance. Eat every 4 hours to keep your metabolism up and aim for exercising 4 to 6 times per week. Think of moving rather than exercise. Enjoy being able to MOVE!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Five Fabulous Anti-Aging Foods!

Do you have a friend looks 21, but is well over 35? Or a 70 year old grandmother with the spunk of a 15 year old? You could chalk it up to good genes or even plastic surgery. But, SURPRISE!! Slowing down the aging process is something YOU have control over. It all boils down to...SURPRISE again...your diet.The foods you eat make a huge difference in how your body responds to all aspects of aging, including your strength and stamina. Not to mention consuming the right foods can also fend off ills such as cancer and heart disease. Here are five foods you should have in your refrigerator that are guaranteed to help you turn back the clock.1. Spinach- Not only does spinach provide your body with calcium,but one cup of this fresh leafy green provides more than one and a half times your daily vitamin K requirement. Adequate intake of vitamin K can keep your bones strong and prevent fractures. Eating more spinach will also keep your eyes sparkling and clear because spinach is also a number one source of lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that make up part of the retina. 2. Curry Powder- Curry helps maintain your mental muscle because it is packed with tumeric, a spice that is rich in curcumin. Researchers believe that curcumin wards off Alzheimers by preventing the growth of amyloid plaques, sticky proteins that are toxic to brain cells. Curcumin also shields us from free radicals (formed when we metabolize oxygen).3. Tomatoes- Filling up on tomatoes may help protect your skin due to their main component, lycopene, which protects skin from oxidation that results from sun damage and leads to wrinkles. Eating tomatoes with olive oil can also aid in lycopene absorption.4. Almonds- Almonds are packed with hard to get vitamin E. One small handful delivers half of your daily dose! This nutrient keeps you graceful and agile. Some good ideas to incorporate almonds into your diet include spreading almond butter on a whole wheat English muffin along with a sliced banana and honey, sprinkling slivered almonds into low fat yogurt, or making your own trail mix with equal parts chopped almond and dried, chopped fruit.5. Chocolate- The flavonols in dark chocolate lower blood pressure, encouraging blood vessels to relax, keeping them youthful, supple and pliable. This is heart healthy news considering blood pressure typically rises as you get older. However, you don't need much chocolate to benefit from blood pressure lowering effects. Researchers recently found that just a quarter of an ounce of dark chocolate per day trimmed two to three points off hypertensive patients' blood pressure. Look for dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa content.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Kelp Can Help!!

Have you ever consumed alginate, carrageenan or beta carotene? If you have ever eaten store- bought ice cream or salad dressing, you have! These ingredients are derivatives of kelp, which has ben used for thousands of years in locations such as Japan, Greece and China as a food source, medicine and fertilizer. Since the 1980s, Americans are using kelp as a supplement to promote lower cholesterol, burn fat, manage thyroid problems and prevent cancer.

Kelp is a type of seaweed that is part of the algae family. It is one of the most common and largest types of seaweed. There are many species of kelp, including kombu, bladderfucus, wakame, cutweed and bladderwrack. Kelp is rich in various minerals such as magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and iodine. It also contains vitamins B12, C and E, protein, and healthy, indigestible carbohydrates/ lignans.

So what can Kelp do for you? There are various reported benefits to kelp supplementation. There are antibacterial and antifungal benefits. Researchers believe that the halogens, iodine and bromine found in kelp are effective antiseptics and disinfectants. It is also alleged that kelp has anticoagulant effects due to the fucans or fucoidans, which are sulfated polysaccharides found in brown seaweed. The fucoidans in kelp are also thought to provide antioxidant activity, although no human clinical studies have been completed to validate whether kelp provides sufficient antioxidant activity.

Kelp may play a role in cancer prevention. This claim stems from epidemiological studies showing a relationship between sea vegetable consumption and a decreased incidence of breast cancer in Japanese women. Some researchers are now investigating kelp and other sea vegetable consumption.

Supplement makers claim that bladderwrack can lower blood insulin levels and therefore may be an alternative or complementary treatment for diabetes. Kelp has also been used to treat goiter for hundreds of years. However, kelp contains a significant amount (500-8,000 micrograms per gram!) of iodine, and too much iodine can cause thyroid and skin problems and research does not indicate that kelp supplements are any more effective at preventing goiter than iodized salt.

Kelp has also been said to help with weight loss, cholesterol reduction and cardiovascular disease prevention. This is due to fucoxanthin, a pigment found in brown seaweed that appears to stimulate a protein that causes oxidation and conversion of energy to heat. This protein happens to be found in white adipose tissue in the abdominal area. Fucoxanthin also has been found to stimulate animals liver to produce docosahexaenoic acid which in turn reduced low-density lipoprotein cholesterol ("bad cholesterol") levels. Researchers hope to find similar reactions in human clinical trials.

While kelp supplements are a good source of iodine, the variability of iodine content makes regular kelp supplementation potentially harmful. Potential adverse effects are related to iodine content and heavy metals, Overdosing on iodine may trigger, as mentioned above, abnormal thyroid problems and acnelike skin lesions.

At this time, including edible kelp and other sea vegetables as part of a healthy dietary regimen is fine, but solely using kelp supplements for thyroid management, as a cancer preventative or to lose weight is not recommended.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sensible Snacking for Your Busy Lifestyle!

So, you wake up and have a healthy breakfast at 8am. You get to work and things at the office start to get busy, before you know it, the clock is ticking down to 1pm and you havent even had lunch....the vending machine is calling for you to sabotage your healthy habits with sugary candy and salt laden chips...what should you do? Here are some sensible snacking tips knowledgeable RDs have found to help you through your day...
1. Plan ahead! Preparation is key to healthy work snacking and making proper food choices. Store your staple foods in the refrigerator and use a toaster oven to heat your leftovers (please forego the microwave) and bring foods from home to snack on, for lunch and even dinner, depending on how long you think you may be at the office. What you don't end up eating can be saved for the next day's snack! Some good options are fruits such as apples, pears, or bagging fresh pineapple or melon chunks, whole wheat crackers, sprouted grain tortillas for some carbs and some low fat cheese, cottage cheese, nuts, edamame (soybeans) for your protein source).

2. Brake for breakfast! If you have not eaten breakfast in the morning before racing off to work, start keeping some healthy items at the office in case you find yourself stopping off for a doughnut. Oatmeal and walnuts, peanut butter and whole wheat toast, or low fat yogurt and fruit are easy to store and prepare!

3. Packing Tips! For packing your snacks-sandwich baggies, plastic wrap and foil work the best. Reusable glass containers save money and waste and can be used safely to reheat foods. A good tip is to prepare snacks at home while you are preapring dinner. You are already in the kitchen anyway, so why not get things together beforehand? Also if you buy dried fruits, nuts, or trail mix in general, it is a good idea to portion these items out when you bring them home, especially if you buy them in bulk. This will also help prevent overeating when snacking.

4. Portion Sizes! Moderation is the key to healthy living. With chips and crackers, preportion the amount rather than sitting down with the entire bag. Portion out foods into small bags or containers. Another option is to buy preportioned products, such as the 100 calorie packs, and then go on to portioning your own food choices once you have become in tune with your appropriate portion sizes.

5. Out of the Ordinary Options-Unusual options such as sundried tomatoes or pomegranate seeds can be a real treat. Or even eggplant or squash dipped in some hummus. An artichoke is a balanced snack dipped with a little Italian Dressing or organic mayonnaise. This can be a trick to healthier eating, because it varies up your selections, eating some atypical tasty foods.

6. Junk Food Fixins- If you absolutely must have chips, look for the ones that are baked, not fried. Try to find whole grain chips with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving and less than 30% of calories from fat. Try to avoid flavored foods. This just adds a lot of unnecesary artificial ingredients. Also, chips made with heart healthier oils such as sunflower and corn oil are higher in the good monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

7. Brewin Beverages-Coffee is not necesarily bad news if you are looking for a lighter snack, but make sure you pay attention to when you drink it as well as what you put in it. Drinking coffee anytime after 11am or 12pm may cause sleep disruptions later in the evening. For those who want to steer clear of the coffee bar, there are other drink options such as herbal tea or flavored water. You can even make your own by putting raspberries or cucumber in refrigerated water for flavored "spa water."

Overall, the Livitician says, "make every eating time count, make the most of your snack time with an optimal balance of high fiber carbohydrates and low fat protein, e.g, fruit and a handful of nuts, or Stony field farms low fat yogurt (has fiber in it)". Snacks help prevent over eating at meals and to keep the metabolism working out along with us during the day. If snacks are good, wholesome foods, then no worries about spoiling your appetite. In fact, appropriate and strategic snacking
can help bridge the hunger gap between meals and help keep you better focused and more productive, and help achieve your health and weight goals!!