Friday, December 30, 2011

Whole Grains are the Whole Package

Whole Grains are the Whole Package

These Natural Grains Pack a Nutritional Punch
Health experts agree that we need to eat more whole grains for optimal health. But most people don’t know what whole grains are. They have been known to reduce the risks of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and obesity, but knowing the health benefits doesn’t help you find them in your local grocery store or learn how to cook with them.

The Definition of Whole Grain
Every grain starts as a whole grain when it grows from the earth. The whole grain (actually the seed or kernel of the plant) has three parts: the bran, the germ and the endosperm.

1. The bran is the outer skin of the seed that contains antioxidants, B vitamins and fiber. (You may have heard of wheat bran or oat bran, which are available in stores and are common ingredients in certain cereals.)

2. The germ is the “baby” of the seed, which grows into a new plant when pollinated. It contains many vitamins, along with protein, minerals and healthy fats. (You may have seen jars of toasted wheat germs in stores, which can be added to a variety of foods to boost nutritional content.)

3. The endosperm is the seed’s food supply that provide that provides the energy needed for the young plant to grow. The largest portion of the seed contains carbohydrates, and smaller amounts of protein, vitamins and minerals.

So the whole grain is one that contains all three parts of the kernel.

Whole grains are processed and refined (the most common practice for making breads, cereals, pastas and flours), the bran and germ are removed, leaving behind the white endosperm. During the process, grains become less nutritious, losing 25% of their original protein content and 17other essential nutrients. While manufactures then enrich” the flour with some vitamins and minerals, a naturally whole grain is still a healthier choice. Compared to refined grains (white bread, white rice, white flour) whole grains pack more protein, fiber, vitamins (B vitamins and vitamin E), and minerals (magnesium and iron, as well as some antioxidants not found in other foods.

Types of whole Grains: Wild rice (which is not actually a seed), brown rice, whole wheat, oatmeal (and whole oats), barley, whole rye, bulgur and popcorn.

Some less common types of whole grains include: amaranth, millet, quinoa, sorghum, and triticale (a hybrid type of rye and wheat).

Adding Whole Grains to Your Diet
New dietary guideline established by the U.S. Government in 2005 recommend that half of your daily grains servings should be whole grains. The easiest way to increase the amount of whole grains you consume is to substitute some processed grains products with their whole grain equivalent. This is as simple as having a slice of whole grain toast, instead of using a slice of white bread in the morning for breakfast or instead of using white flour for pancakes, use whole wheat flour instead. If you’re making homemade soup, toss in a handful of brown rice or barley for added fiber. Make your dessert a healthy one, such as making oatmeal cookies and you won’t feel guilty-you’re adding whole grains!

Reading Food Labels
While at the grocery store, be extra careful reading food labels. Words such as multi grains, stone ground cracked wheat or seven grains don’t necessarily mean the product is made with whole grains. Color doesn’t mean a whole grain either- some brown breads are simply white bread with added caramel color. There is an official whole grain packaging symbol in 2005 created by The Whole Grain Council, called the Whole Grain Stamp that helps consumers find whole grain products. Example: the first ingredient of whole grain bread or cracked should be “whole wheat flour”.

You should next switch to whole wheat pasta and brown rice, to increase your consumption of whole grain. One cup of whole wheat pasta has about 200 calories and 4 grams of fiber.

Brown rice is healthier than white rice and has significantly more nutrients. The refining process that transforms brown rice into polished, white rice strips away most the vitamins and minerals and completely removes all of the fiber and essential fatty acids-basically leaving only the starch behind. Brown rice is a concentrated source for fiber, which speeds up the removal of cancer-casing substances from our bodies. It is also an excellent source of selenium, which has been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Studies Prove the Benefits of Whole Grains
A 2006 study by Tufts University showed that people who consume the most whole grains are 42% less likely to develop diabetes. Research has found that people with a diet high in whole grains showed a lower risk of both diabetes and heart found that people with a diet high in grains showed a lower risk of both diabetes and heart disease. Whether you want to reduce the risk of disease or you simply want to eat fewer processed foods, adding whole grains to your diet makes sense. So the next time you sit down to watch a movie, bring along a bowl of popcorn and snack with a clear conscious. Whole grains couldn’t be tastier!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The formula for recovery: nutrient timing

At any age, athletic performance and recovery from exercise are enhanced by good nutrition. Recovery nutrition goals include: replenishing fluid and electrolytes (sodium and potassium), replacing muscle fuel in the form of carbohydrates (e.g., grains) providing protein to help repair damaged muscle tissue and stimulate development of new tissue, and timing meals and snacks to make the most of the hard work you’ve work just completed. Let’s examine each of these topics in more detail:

• Fluids. As you age you lose sensitivity to thirst. Your cells need fluid to function, making it critical to replenish fluid lost through a workout. Dehydration may lead to increased fatigued, decreased performance, and muscle cramps before, during and after exercise. Drink approximately 8 – 10 ounces of water during a workout, as well as prior to and following exercise, to help prevent dehydration. Sports drinks are necessary ONLY for moderate to high intensity activities lasting more than 60 minutes.

• Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the most important source of energy for higher intensity or longer duration physical activity. It is necessary to replenish the glycogen (stored sugar in your liver and muscles) used to fuel your exercise session. Carbohydrate-rich foods, with the appropriate amount of fluid, transport fuel to your muscles more quickly. To help speed up your recovery after intense exercise, include complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice, oatmeal or oat bran cereal, and whole grain breads, bagel or English muffin.

• Protein. By including protein with at least two meals a day, you are likely taking in enough protein to build, repair and protect your muscles. Adequate protein before exercise may also help to reduce post-exercise muscle soreness. Red meat, poultry, fish and low-fat dairy products are good sources of protein. For vegetarian diets, beans, nuts and soy can be used to increase protein intake.

• Nutrient timing. Ideally, you should be eating anywhere from 15-60 minutes after your workout. You don’t need to refuel your body with a large number of calories. Examples of appropriate snacks, which include sources of protein and carbohydrate mentioned above, are: Greek yogurt topped with blueberries, a sliced apple with peanut butter or finger vegetables with a side of hummus.

• Vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables help to ensure you are meeting your daily nutritional requirements. Including a “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables in your diet supplies your body naturally with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants (think berries, winter squash, broccoli, tomatoes, apples, beets and cauliflower). Although there’s is no harm in taking a multivitamin, a healthy, balanced diet should cover your vitamin and mineral needs without the additional supplements.

Proper nutrition is also important on your “rest” days. Consider this break from exercise as the perfect opportunity to nourish your body with a well-balanced diet. Your body will thank you during your next bout of physical activity with increased strength and endurance.

References: Stacey Frattinger, BA, BS, RD, CHFS

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Choose Your Drink Wisely

Whether you drink sugar-sweetened or diet soda, new research suggests you may want to opt for H2O instead.

Cardiovascular Risk – Daily diet-soda drinker had a significantly higher risk of heart attacks and strokes than nondrinkers over an average 10-year follow up, a Columbia and University of Miami study reports.

Higher-Blood Pressure – for each 12-oz. serving of sugar-sweetened soda or fruit drink, sippers had a bump in blood pressure reported in a multi-university study.

Number 1 Nut

When it comes to antioxidants walnuts outscored eight other types of nuts in a recent analysis. They also have more of the healthy fats that are especially good for your heart. To reap the benefits you need to eat about seven walnuts a day.

What Liquids to Drink in Order to Lose Weight

What to drink is a problem for many people who are on a diet. Many people seem to then to draw a distinction between food calories and liquid calories. This means that someone who dieted fastidiously and worked out could sabotage his/her own efforts simply by drinking a big glass of high-calorie orange juice. Fortunately there are some drinks you can drink that can help, or at least not harm your weight-loss efforts.

Water-Simple water is the best liquid to take in both for weight loss and simple health. It delivers exactly what your body needs: water. It contains no calories, sodium, sugars or bad fats. Water also fills your stomach for free, helping you curb hunger and eat less at meals.
When you consume a cold drinks in your body, you burn about one calorie per ounce to warm the body temperature. Although eight calories per cup doesn’t seem like much, it’s an easy way to get just a little edge on your weight loss with each and every glass your drink. I recommend both ice water and unsweetened iced tea for this method, as neither drink carries any calories.

There a number of diet teas that purport to help you lose weight. Some of teas include stimulants similar to those found in diet pills or even laxatives to help excrete your way to losing weight. Diet spotlight reports that green tea, not specialized diet tea, has undergone a wide clinical study. Some of those studies found that green tea produces a thermogenic response in the body, boosting the metabolic rate by slightly raising body temperature. Your metabolism regulates how fast you burn calories, so green tea can lead to weight loss. Green tea also contains, a stimulant used in many diet pills, but it’s all natural.

Being a Nutritionist, I’ve found that sometimes nutrition can sometimes be difficult when you’re on a diet. Your limited calorie budget can make it hard to eat all the vitamins and minerals you need. Often high in calories, a nutrition or meal replacement shake can deliver the things your body needs quickly and efficiently, often in fewer calories than you would need to get the same benefit by eating food. Finding the right protein can be found with the help of a Nutritionist and/or Professional Personal Trainer.