Food Tips

Enjoy reading the articles below on various Food Tips and Healthy Eating.

  • Healthy Foods You Should Be Eating
  • Holiday Eating Without Regrets
  • Top Potassium-Rich Foods You Should Be Eating
  • 4 Healthy Oils you should be using
  • 5 Worst Foods to Eat

Healthy Fats You Should Be Eating

from HealthyWomen’s Healthy Eating area

By Stacey Feintuch

It’s likely been engrained into your head to choose low-fat foods over high-fat ones. You’ve been told they’re the number-one enemy and to steer clear of them.

So, now, it makes logical sense that you’re quite confused to hear people tout the benefits of healthy fats, encouraging you to integrate them into your meals and snacks. Why? New research has found that healthy fats are necessary and beneficial for good health, according to Harvard’s School of Public Health. You just want to be sure that you focus on eating good-for-you fats instead of harmful bad fats.

Healthy fats, or “good” unsaturated fats, typically refers to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Among their heart-health benefits, these fats help reduce bad LDL cholesterol levels, which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. They also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s cells, says the American Heart Association. Oils rich in these fats also contribute vitamin E to your diet, a vitamin needed more of by most Americans.

Saturated fats (while not as harmful as trans fats, discussed below) occur naturally in many foods. They’re best consumed in moderation since they can negatively impact health. The majority of saturated fats come from animal sources, including meat and dairy products. Large amounts of saturated fats are included in foods like red meat, cheese, butter and ice cream.

Trans fats (listed on nutrition labels as partially hydrogenated oils) are harmful even when eaten in small quantities. The American Heart Association says that trans fats raise your bad LDL cholesterol levels and lower your good HDL cholesterol levels. And eating these fats increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke and is associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Here are some foods brimming with good-for-you fats that you should consider adding to your diet.

Avocados. Avocados primarily contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Plus, they’re loaded with filling fiber, potassium and vitamin C. They’re sodium- and cholesterol-free and a good source of lutein, an antioxidant that may protect your vision. This pilaf pairs avocados and bell peppers with red quinoa and grilled chicken for a satisfying, colorful meal.

Fish. Seafood is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids, which promote cardiovascular and all-around health. Eating just two servings of fatty fish a week can reduce your risk of dying from heart disease by 36 percent. Aim for oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and trout. Spice things up with this Garlic Salmon, or give yourself a dose of omega 3s and healthy spinach by cooking this Baked Salmon With Sauteed Spinach.

Olives and olive oil. Both olives and olive oil are rich in monounsaturated fats. No matter what kind of olive you sample, all are loaded with nutrients and deliver plant sterols, compounds that can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. And olive oil has become the go-to cooking oil in the kitchen thanks to the fact that it’s loaded with monounsaturated fats. (Just don’t overdo it.) Serve this colorful California Fiesta Quinoa Salad at your next barbecue. Or try this Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes, which contains olive oil. It balances the slightly bitter flavor of Brussels sprouts with the sweetness of grapes for a delicious, healthy side dish.

Walnuts. This nut offers an optimal balance of healthy fats, including omega-3s. Plus, walnuts contain antioxidants and phytonutrients that are known to help lower inflammation levels and prevent type 2 diabetes. And they’re rich in melatonin, which promotes a healthy sleep cycle. To reap walnuts’ benefits, you don’t have to eat a tree’s worth. Sprinkle a handful of walnuts on your entrée salad or atop your morning oats. For a snack, mix one cup walnuts with ½ cup dried blueberries and ¼ cup dark chocolate chunks. (Just don’t eat it all in one day.)

Dark chocolate. Chocoholics rejoice! About three fingers’ worth, or one ounce, of dark chocolate gives you a nice dose of healthy fats. Plus, it boasts other nutrients like vitamin A, B and E, calcium, iron, potassium, fiber and magnesium. Consider incorporating dark chocolate chips along with nuts, seeds, whole grain cereal and dried fruit for an easy trail mix to bring with you on the go. For a special indulgence, cook up these chunky chocolate brownies, made with healthy ingredients, including prune puree, which substitutes for added fat.

Nut seeds and nuts. For a plant-based dose of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, try almond or cashew butter or sunflower seed butter. Choose all-natural varieties with as few ingredients as possible. On their own, rice cakes aren’t the most filling snacks, but they offer about as much versatility as bread or crackers with a fraction of the calories and carbohydrates. They’re a crispy canvas for a variety of toppings including nut butter, topped with fresh or dried fruit for extra fiber.

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit the HealthyWomen.org area below.

Healthy Eating: www.healthywomen.org/category/tags/healthy-eating

Healthy Living: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living

Cholesterol: www.healthywomen.org/condition/cholesterol

© 2017 HealthyWomen.  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.

 


Holiday Eating Without Regrets

from HealthyWomen’s Healthy Holidays area

From rich, golden eggnog to densely moist sweet potato pie, tempting food treats seem to be everywhere during the holiday season. No wonder many of us believe that, at this time of year, loading on lots of extra weight is inevitable.

Yet the average person gains only about one pound from November to January (those who are overweight gain more). The real problem: weight you add during the holidays tends to remain with you months later, accounting for more than half of annual gain.

The solution isn’t to diet your way through the festive season. “It’s important not to feel like you’ve deprived yourself. But there’s a fine line between enjoying and overdoing,” says Bethany Thayer, M.S., R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and a dietitian for Health Alliance Plan, the medical insurance arm of Henry Ford Health System, in Detroit.

Make your strategy simply to hold your weight steady. You can achieve that goal with help from your senses of taste, feel and smell.

Fooling your senses

Our senses often work against healthy eating by attracting us to sugary and fat-rich foods. Yet they also can be “fooled” into finding similar pleasure in sugar or fat alternatives that mimic the tastes we like so much, according to Lalita Kaul, Ph.D., R.D., L.D.N., a dietitian and professor of community health and family practice, Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

When you heighten the sensory appeal of foods you prepare, serve and eat, your senses help you sail through the holiday season. You’ll be able to reduce fat and sugar but still enjoy dishes that are as satisfying as traditional calorie-loaded favorites.

Focus on flavor

Is your downfall sweet or salty foods? Or both? “We naturally gravitate toward sweet because we have more sweet taste buds. And salt enhances the flavor of whatever you’re consuming,” says Thayer.

What’s more, we build up an adaptation to both sweet and salty taste, she says, requiring greater amounts to attain satisfaction. Indeed, worldwide, the use of high calorie sweeteners has increased.

You can wean your taste buds gradually from wanting more sweetness or saltiness, but that takes time. To navigate the holiday eating ahead, these tips will help you cut sugar and salt, but still keep flavor appeal high:

  • Vanilla and peppermint extracts bring out sweetness.
  • Use spices such as ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and mint, instead of added sugar, in vegetable dishes, sauces, and baked goods.
  • Savory spices, such as oregano, basil, cilantro, rosemary, garlic and onion, are powerful flavor boosters that lessen the need for adding salt. Use on meats, fish, stuffings, sauces, soups and vegetables.
  • Many stores sell bottled mixtures of spices and herbs for easy flavor enhancement.
  • In order to get the strongest flavor from fresh herbs, the American Dietetic Association recommends adding them at the end of cooking and using more than you would with dried herbs.
  • Highlight the natural taste of sweet potatoes with cinnamon and vanilla. Avoid canned ones that are packed in syrup. There’s no reason to add extra sugar to this favorite holiday dish. If you must have marshmallows on top, use the mini-type, space them apart, and let them bake just briefly before serving (they melt faster than big marshmallows).

Feels like fat—but isn’t

That tempting brownie on the holiday goodie tray has the right texture and taste—moist, rich and chocolatey. Yet the appealing “mouth feel” it has, usually due to calorie- and cholesterol-loaded fats, such as butter or shortening, might come from an unexpected source: beans.

Research shows that puréed cannellini beans (white beans) can be used to replace as much as 50 percent of the fat in brownies and dropped cookies while producing a treat that tastes very similar to the original—plus has added fiber and vitamins.

Fats give many foods the sensory qualities that make us want to eat them. We need some fat in our diet, but all are dense with calories. Saturated fats and trans fats also raise blood cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease. The Institute of Medicine recommends consuming as little saturated fats (found in meat and dairy products) and trans fats (in packaged baked goods) as possible.

You can fool your senses with healthier fat replacements that provide similar eating pleasure:

  • Re-create family recipes with low-fat or nonfat dairy ingredients. Dr. Kaul suggests choosing low-fat yogurt, fat free half-and-half, and evaporated skim milk, instead of whole milk or cream versions of those products.
  • Use healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as olive oil, canola oil and corn oil, for cooking, baking and eating.
  • Puréed fruits such as pumpkin, applesauce, or bananas, are excellent fat substitutes in baking. One fat-replacement product sold in groceries is simply puréed prunes, Thayer notes. She uses a can of pumpkin in a box of cake mix, with no added egg or oil, to make mini-muffins. “They’re very moist,” she says, “and you get the beta-carotene from the pumpkin.”
  • Taking fat out of Christmas cookies is a bit tricky, but possible. Fat helps retain moisture, so low-fat cookies should be eaten quickly or they’ll dry out.
  • To make an easy creamed soup without adding heavy cream or butter, purée an assortment of vegetables, then just add a little broth.

Three other great tips to keep from adding holiday weight:

  • If you drink alcohol, set a one drink limit. When possible, dilute wine or liquor with water or seltzer. Beer, wine, liquor, and alcoholic mixed drinks (punches, coffee drinks, and such) are often packed with calories.
  • StartT with soup. Not only are most soups healthful, but having soup before a meal makes you feel less hungry and more satisfied. As a result, you avoid overeating, take in fewer calories for the whole day, and don’t feel deprived.
  • Buy low-fat or fat free eggnog. Most people won’t notice any taste difference.

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit the HealthyWomen.org area below.

Healthy Holidays: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/healthy-holidays

Healthy Living: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/healthy-holidays

 

© 2016 HealthyWomen.  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.

Top Potassium-Rich Foods You Should Be Eating

from HealthyWomen’s Healthy Living area by Stacey Feintuch

Foods high in potassium are part of a balanced diet. Your body needs this mineral to help build muscle, break down and use carbohydrates, maintain normal body growth, control its acid-base balance and control the heart’s electrical activity, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Now, when you think of potassium-rich foods do you immediately think of a banana? You’re not alone. This isn’t the only food packed with this powerful nutrient. We’ve scouted out some of the top foods to help you load up on potassium.

Avocados – Avocados are versatile enough to be incorporated into any meal. Use it in your omelet, as a salad topper, sandwich filler or as the main ingredient in guacamole. Try our Avocado Breakfast Bruschetta that’s even good for breakfast. At lunch, try this Stuffed Avocado, where you’ll enjoy healthy fats like omega-3s from the shrimp and the avocado’s monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Drink your avocadoes, too; they’re a great mixer in fruits smoothies, offering a creamy consistency. Try our Cran-Raspberry Avocado Smoothie and you’ll get a dose of antioxidants from its cranberry juice and raspberries.

Sweet potatoes – Believe it or not, sweet potatoes top the list of foods that are high in potassium. One baked sweet potato boasts 696 mg of potassium and 131 calories. Plus it offers beta-carotene and vitamin A. Serve it whole as a side dish, a baked fry or mashed. These healthy Sweet Potato Pancakes with Balsamic Maple Mushrooms offer the tastiness of mashed sweet potatoes, balanced by mushrooms infused with maple syrup and balsamic vinegar. Or try this Reset Yourself Curried Sweet Potato Soup, designed to help digestion, aid weight loss, replenish nutrients and recharge your body.

White or kidney beans – Never cooked with heart-healthy and potassium-rich white or kidney beans? Use them in a soup, chili, dip, burrito filler or salad—or as a side dish on their own. Kidney beans may be dark or light red. White beans are especially good in dips and salads. Besides potassium, white beans contain protein, starch, fiber and iron. Tote this tasty White Beans on a Bed of Greens dish to work.

Spinach – The options are endless for ways to integrate spinach into your diet. Make it the main ingredient in your salad, swap lettuce for spinach on your sandwich or burger, or add some to a smoothie. Here, soba noodles, shiitake mushrooms and spinach make for a hearty and earthy-flavored soup—Soba Noodles Soup with Spinach and Mushrooms. Kick plain hummus up a notch with this Artichoke Spinach Hummus. And if you need something new and healthy for breakfast, these Herbed Spinach Quiche Portabella Caps use portabella mushroom caps instead of high-fat pie pastry to make individual quiches.

Sun-dried tomatoes – In addition to boasting potassium, sun-dried tomatoes are high in fiber, protein and vitamin C and low in fat. Just be sure they’re not packed in oil and are drained. Add them to salads or sandwiches or use them as a pizza topping. Serve your family these Chicken Cutlets With Broccoli Rabe & Mozzarella, which contain sun-dried tomato slivers.

Yogurt – Fruits and vegetables aren’t your only sources of potassium. Dairy products like calcium-rich yogurt can add the mineral to your diet, too. Plus, most yogurts contain probiotics, a natural bacteria that keeps your belly healthy and promotes digestion. Reach for a basic container of yogurt or integrate it into your diet in other ways. Serve these Salmon Cakes With Greek Yogurt Sauce as an appetizer, main dish or on top of a salad. You can use leftover cooked or fresh salmon. End the meal with this simple Yogurt Cake, a healthy and quick dessert that you can top with fresh fruit or serve on its own.

Fish – An array of types of fish are loaded with potassium—halibut, tuna, flounder and salmon, to name a few. Clams are also a good seafood option. Plus most are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Look for varieties which contain no or little mercury. And avoid frying or breading fish. When making this Gluten-Free Grilled Fish With Roasted Kale Chips, place lettuce under the fish to help retain moisture and keep the fish from sticking to the grill.

Orange juice – This beverage is known for its high vitamin-C content. But it’s also a great source of potassium. Plus you’ll get many nutrients (especially when it’s fresh-squeezed) like calcium, several B vitamins and folate. Drink a glass of OJ or serve this Orange Millet Cereal, which contains orange juice, one morning.

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit the HealthyWomen.org area below.

Nutrition: www.healthywomen.org/condition/nutrition

Healthy Living: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/diet-and-nutrition

© 2016 HealthyWomen.  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.

 

 


4 Healthy Oils you should be Using 

from HealthyWomen.org’s Diet & Nutrition area by Sheryl Kraft

Many people think all fats are bad, but that’s far from the truth. “Fat has a bad reputation,” says registered dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix, owner of BTD Nutrition in New York City. Because of that, bringing fat back to the plate is a complex issue for our “fat phobic” nation, she says.

Our bodies need dietary fats to function; they supply energy to help our bodies run well. As an example, fats play a role in exercise metabolism: When you exercise, your body uses carbohydrates to keep it going for the first 20 minutes and then switches to getting energy from stored fat.

Your body also needs fat to help it absorb important and valuable nutrients found in vegetables, like lycopene and beta-carotene, as well as vitamins A, D, E and K (sometimes referred to as fat-soluble vitamins). That’s why eating a salad with a little fat—as in an oil-based dressing—makes the salad’s nutrition be all it can be.

But there are fats … and there are fats. And because some can be helpful while others can potentially harm your health, it’s important to know the difference.

According to a recent survey by the International Food Information Council Foundation, 3 in 10 Americans have recently changed their opinions about the healthfulness of saturated fats, with the majority now believing it’s less healthful. That’s progress, but at the same time, many reported limiting or avoiding mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Those are the healthful types we should be consuming more of—not abstaining from.

Confusion still reigns, so it’s time to spill the beans on fat. Consumers are slowly coming around to realize that fat is an important part of their diet—particularly what Taub-Dix calls “fats with benefits.”

Here are some healthy oils you might not know about:

1. Avocado oil

High in monounsaturated fats, this oil is sometimes referred to as “vegetable butter” or “butter pear,” and that’s with good reason. The fruit, which originated in Central America, has a high oil content. The extraction method, similar to olive oil extraction, yields an oil high in oleic acid and healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. Its high smoke point makes it good for frying. It conveys a grassy and butter/mushroom-like flavor. 

2. Grapeseed oil

Pressed from the seed of grapes, this oil has a clean, light taste and is rich in polyunsaturated fats. It also contains a small amount of vitamin E and is great to use in salad dressings, dips and soups.

3. Sesame oil

The strong nutritional profile of the sesame seed transfers into its benefits as an oil (high in both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) because the seed is high in copper, manganese, calcium and magnesium, plus other vitamins and minerals. The oil has a mild, nutty flavor; refined versions can be used for cooking with high heat; unrefined are best for marinades.

4. Walnut oil

Made from nuts that are dried, then cold-pressed, this oil contains polyunsaturated fats and has a rich, nutty flavor and a high level of heart-friendly alpha-linoleic acid (which partially converts to omega-3 fatty acids). A diet rich in walnuts and walnut oil may help your body deal better with stress, researchers find, because it can influence blood pressure both at rest and during stressful times. The oil is also rich in manganese and copper and melatonin, which help regulate your body’s internal clock.

Store your oils away from heat, light, moisture and air, all factors that can change the oil’s quality and accelerate its spoilage. If you store them in a kitchen cabinet, be careful that it’s not located over the stove or refrigerator. If you use oil infrequently, it can be stored in the refrigerator, which will help prolong its freshness.

And don’t forget that even though they’re healthy, oils still contain calories—about 120 per tablespoon for most.

“If you’re going to include healthy fats with your meals, you need to remember they should take the place of less healthy options,” says Taub-Dix. “If not, then adding them could also add unwanted pounds.”

Read More:
15 Heart-Healthy Foods You Should Be Eating

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit the HealthyWomen.org area below.

Diet & Nutrition area: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/diet-and-nutrition

Nutrition: www.healthywomen.org/condition/nutrition

© 2016 HealthyWomen All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (tollfree). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.


5 Worst Foods to Eat

HealthyWomen.org’s Diet & Nutrition area by Elizabeth Battaglino, Co-Founder, Women’s Health Expert, RN

It began as National Nutrition Week in 1973, launched with a presidential proclamation as a way to reach out to the public with healthy nutrition messages. As its popularity grew, in 1980, National Nutrition Week morphed into National Nutrition Month. And since March is the month earmarked to spread the word on healthy eating, it’s a good opportunity to remind ourselves not only of what’s healthy and good but also what foods to avoid. 

A 2011 “Food & Health Survey” from the International Food Information Council Foundation studied Americans’ insights on the importance of food safety, nutrition and health-related topics. It found that, “Americans are evaluating their food choices with a more critical eye, taking into consideration where their food comes from; how it was produced; its safety and reliability; food’s overall healthfulness; and its cost.”

That all sounds promising—until you learn that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than one-third of U.S. adults (78.6 million people) are obese, creating an estimated annual medical cost of $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars.

So, where’s the disconnect? Might be that many of us are making poor food choices. Sure, we all “deserve” or “need” the occasional unhealthy food indulgence—after all, it’s all about moderation—but these unhealthy foods will take a big bite out of your nutrition budget.

1. Soda and Sweet Sips

Plenty of sugar here—and soda is only part of the problem. Sweetened teas and some energy drinks can pack up to 50 grams of sugar in each 16-ounce bottle. You get plenty of refined carbs without any nutrients. The American Heart Association sets the maximum amount of added sugars per day at 37.5 grams (or 9 teaspoons and 150 calories) for men; and 25 grams (or 6 teaspoons and 100 calories) for women.

2. Cakes, Pies, Cupcakes and Cookies

They may taste good, but underneath that taste lies the reason for it: refined flour, added sugars, trans fats and saturated fat. (An interesting note on trans fat:  While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has ordered manufacturers to remove all trans fat from their products, they have three years to comply. In the meantime, you’ll want to avoid foods loaded with trans fats. Trans fats are used to enhance the taste and texture of foods, and make them last longer; but they increase your risk for many chronic diseases. A product can list 0 grams of trans fat on its label if there’s less than 0.5 grams—but even that adds up over time.)

3. Breakfast Sandwiches

If you make your own at home, you can use healthy ingredients, but don’t assume the frozen varieties are similar. Typically they contain at least one gram of trans fat, plus they are packed with sodium, low in fiber and high in fat. Read what Consumer Reports has to say here.

4. Movie Theater Popcorn
There’s nothing wrong with popcorn; in fact, it’s a healthy whole grain that offers fiber and antioxidants, to boot. But, there’s popcorn—and there’s popcorn. If you’re heading out to the movies, beware: A bucket of popcorn can contain as many calories as a hamburger plus a Quarter Pounder AND a Big Mac at McDonald’s, reports the Center for Science in the Public Interest. It adds that the popcorn is “essentially fried in one to three days’ worth of saturated fat,” depending on the size you choose. And what about those buttery toppings? As if you didn’t already get enough, these will add 130 calories to a small popcorn, 200 to a medium and 260 to a large, reports movie chain Regal.

5. Canned Soup

It might come in handy if you’re pressed for time, but unless you find a tasty variety that’s low in salt (and there are some out there), you’re out of luck on the health front. An average cup of a popular-brand soup, for instance, packs over 800 milligrams of sodium. Keep in mind that’s an “average cup.” Most people consume the entire can, which brings the sodium to over 2,000 milligrams—more than you should consume in an entire day.

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit the HealthyWomen.org area below.

Diet & Nutrition area: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/diet-and-nutrition

Nutrition: www.healthywomen.org/condition/nutrition

© 2016 HealthyWomen All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (tollfree). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.

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