Eat More, Weigh Less

11/21/2011

from the Diet and Fitness Health Center

Do you always feel as if you should lose a few pounds? Many of us think of ourselves as being overweight—even fat—when we’re not close to that mark. Yet we watch the numbers on the scale and worry if our weight registers a pound or two (or kilogram) above what we’ve decided the right number ought to be.

That’s because depriving ourselves of food seems an inevitable part of losing weight. When we look at our dinner plate while dieting, we often see more plate than dinner.

No wonder losing weight feels like a battle against ourselves. We’re fighting our natural biological and psychological needs to have our appetites satisfied. Yet it’s possible to eat ample meals, feel full, control hunger, have a nutritious diet and still lose weight or maintain weight loss.

Less is more

Scientists who study the body’s feeling of fullness, called satiety, have shown that foods with high concentrations of calories in each portion increase our body weight and the overall amount of food we eat. The high energy density of foods such as fried onion rings or homemade chocolate chip cookies makes them taste appealing, but they don’t create feelings of fullness until you’ve overeaten.

By contrast, foods with low energy density (vegetables and fruits, nonfat milk, cooked grains, soups, stews, lean protein), have fewer calories, but make us feel more full. They also promote weight loss.

Since most of us eat about the same weight of food every day, it makes a difference whether that food has a high or low energy density. If you combine big portions with high energy density—such as happens in many fast-food selections—you’re cramming your daily food intake with too many calories.

Why water works

The key to keeping energy density low is water—not the stuff you drink from those cute little bottles, but the water content of foods. According to researcher Barbara J. Rolls, Ph.D., professor of nutritional sciences at The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, PA, and author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan (Harper Collins, 2005) and The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan (Quill, 2000, HarperTorch, 2003) foods with low energy density are loaded with water. When you eat them, you can increase the volume of food you consume for the same, or fewer, calories.

To understand the influence of water on food volume—and its ability to dilute calories—consider that for a 100-calorie snack, you could eat either two cups of water-rich grapes or one-quarter cup of raisins (dried grapes). The volume of grapes you can eat for 100 calories is a more satisfying portion.

The most energy dense component of food is fat, at nine calories per gram. Water has zero calories per gram. So if you cut fat a bit and add more water (with vegetables, fruit or broth) in your cooking, you reduce energy density significantly.

Eating more fiber is also important for lowering energy density. High-fiber foods, such as whole-grain cereals and breads, help you feel full longer.

Calculating energy density

Understanding the energy density of foods and using it to guide eating choices, Rolls says, “can help people eat the way the research suggests they should be eating—not only for weight management, but for optimal health.”

Here’s a simple method she offers for determining the energy density (calories per gram) of foods you buy in the supermarket:

  • Look at the Nutrition Facts label on the food package.
  • Find the serving-size weight in grams and the calories per serving.
  • If the calories are a smaller number than the grams, the food has low energy density. Feel free to enjoy satisfying amounts of that food.
  • If the calories are equal to, or twice as much, as the grams, eat moderately and watch your portion size.
  • If the calories are more than twice the grams, limit your portions.

You’ll discover that dry foods, like crackers, have high energy density (calories more than twice the grams). Surprisingly, fat-free pretzels have the same energy density as cheese. Munching on these without controlling your portions can quickly add weight.

“Do a little pre-planning,” says Jo-Anne Rizzotto, M.Ed., R.D., L.D.N., C.D.E., a registered and licensed dietitian at Joslin Diabetes Center, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School, Boston. “Fill snack baggies with cut-up vegetables or cut-up melon, strawberries or any fruit and line them up in the refrigerator so you can just grab them to go for lunch or snacking on the run.”

To add fiber and lower energy density, Rizzotto recommends looking for breads with at least three grams of fiber per serving and cereals or starches with at least five grams of fiber per serving. In recipes, she suggests using smaller amount of potatoes and using more vegetables like green beans, spinach, cauliflower, peppers, mushrooms and zucchini.

Add another course

It may seem hard to believe, but when you add an additional course to your meal—increasing food volume—you can reduce the overall number of calories you consume.

Rolls and her colleagues conducted a study in which women were given a first course of a large portion (three cups) of low-energy-dense salad. The salad was made with greens, vegetables, nonfat Italian dressing and reduced-fat cheese. Following that, the participants ate a main course of pasta.

Eating the salad boosted the women’s feelings of fullness and reduced their total meal calorie intake. In other studies, having a first-course soup instead of the salad produced similar results.

Why does this work? “You get an awful lot of food without many calories,” Rolls explains, “which then helps to displace the calories in the next course of higher energy dense foods.” Simply drinking more water doesn’t have the same effect.

Tips for low-energy-density eating

  • Want to add a starter salad to your lunch or dinner? Remember to keep the energy density low. That means you can fill your bowl to the brim with greens, veggies, and low-fat dressing, but use only a very small amount—if any—of full-fat cheese or dressings, croutons or bacon bits.
  • When choosing soup as a first course or snack, make it broth-based, such as chicken with rice or vegetable soup. Creamed soups, chowders and hearty bean soups have more calories and higher energy density. They’re better as main dishes.
  • Double the vegetables in your favorite recipes, from chili and beef stew to pasta or chicken salad.
  • Watch what you drink. Each regular soda adds 150 unneeded calories to your daily total. Instead, choose water, tea, coffee (not the fat-laden specialty drinks!), diet soda, or add a splash of fruit juice to seltzer. Alcohol has a high energy density, so limit your daily consumption to one glass or less.

Full-plate menus

In The Volumetrics Eating Plan, Rolls provides satisfying, 1,400-calorie-a-day menus (and recipes), with choices based on the principles of energy density—foods that are rich in water, high in fiber, low fat, or lean protein, with low-calorie beverages and portion control for high-energy-dense selections.

Here are her suggested menus for two days:

MENU #1:  
   
Breakfast: 1 cup wheat bran flakes
1/2 cup blueberries
1 banana
1 cup 1% milk
   
Lunch: Roasted portobello mushroom sandwich on a Kaiser roll
1/2 cup tabbouleh
1 pear
   
Dinner: Sautéed skinless chicken breast with vegetables and Canadian
bacon
2/3 cup brown rice
1-3/4 cups mixed greens and fennel salad
1 cup strawberries tossed with a bit of sugar and balsamic vinegar
   
MENU #2:  
   
Breakfast: 1 packet instant oatmeal
1/4 cup oat bran
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup 1% milk
   
Lunch: One wedge of vegetable pizza, made with nonfat mozzarella
1-2/3 cups chilled gazpacho
1 snack cup, nonfat chocolate pudding
   
Dinner: Baked fish fillets with sautéed vegetables
2/3 cup oven-roasted potatoes
3/4 cup roasted asparagus
fresh fruit dipped in chocolate fondue

 

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit

the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

 

 

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

 

Diet and Fitness Health Center: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/diet-and-fitness
 

Nutrition: www.healthywomen.org/condition/nutrition

 

Weight Management: www.healthywomen.org/condition/weight-management

 

 

© 2011 HealthyWomen.  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.

 

 

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Simple Tips for Lowering Your Cholesterol

09/12/2011

from the Heart Health Center

 For many Americans working toward better heart health, an important first step is getting cholesterol to a healthy level. Diet and exercise are important steps to reduce high cholesterol. However, many people may find that with diet and exercise alone, cholesterol numbers are not where they should be. More than one hundred million Americans have high cholesterol, an important risk factor for heart disease. Though diet is very important, many people don’t realize that cholesterol is also produced in the body based upon heredity. Learning about your family health history is important—we recommend talking to your family about their health and creating a family health tree.

 Bringing this information to your next doctor visit will help you discuss your family history regarding cholesterol and other hereditary health concerns. Understanding Cholesterol What you eat affects your health, by raising or lowering the blood fats (cholesterol, triglycerides) that circulate through your body. Some foods increase your levels of total cholesterol, LDL or “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides. Over the years, excess cholesterol and fat are deposited in the inner walls of the arteries that supply blood to your heart. Eventually, these deposits can make your arteries narrower and less flexible, a condition known as atherosclerosis. Left unchecked, this buildup can lead to heart attack, stroke and death. Additionally, because of your family health history, your body may be genetically predisposed to make more cholesterol than you may need, in addition to the cholesterol from your food intake.

 Know your numbers!

Each one of us has a cholesterol goal level, based upon our individual risk factors and our risk for heart disease. The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) recommends that everyone age 20 and over have a blood cholesterol test every five years to check their cholesterol levels.

 To learn more about your goal, visit http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/chd for the National Cholesterol Education Program’s Live Healthier, Live Longer Web site.

 If your cholesterol levels are mildly to moderately higher than your goal, making a few dietary changes may be all you need to get back on track. According to current NCEP recommendations, people with coronary heart disease or others considered to be at high risk for coronary heart disease generally have an LDL cholesterol goal of less than 100 mg/dL. An LDL cholesterol goal of less than 70 mg/dL is a therapeutic option for people considered to be at very high risk. Work with your doctor to develop a plan to help reduce your LDL cholesterol number to goal. Here are guidelines for your cholesterol and triglyceride levels according to NCEP guidelines (new guidelines will be released in 2010): Total blood cholesterol levels less than 200 mg/dL Desirable 200 to 239 mg/dL Borderline high 240 mg/dL or above High LDL blood cholesterol levels less than 100 mg/dL Optimal 100 to 129 mg/dL Near optimal/above optimal 130 to 159 mg/dL Borderline high 160 to 189 mg/dL High 190 mg/dL and above Very High HDL blood cholesterol levels above 60 mg/dL. Levels above 60 mg/dL are considered especially beneficial and can offset risk factors for heart disease, according to NHLBI. The higher the level, the healthier it is. Optimal 50 to 60 mg/dL for women; 40 to 50 mg/dL for men Average less than 50 mg/dL for women; less than 40 mg/dL for men. Below these levels is considered a major risk factor for heart disease. Low Triglyceride levels less than 150 mg/dL Normal 150 to 199 mg/dL Borderline High 200 to 499 mg/dL High 500 mg/dL or higher Very high It is important to remember that these recommendations are for healthy individuals, not for women with existing risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, kidney disease, being overweight, smoking or having a family history of heart disease. If you are at risk for heart disease, your target goals likely will be lower.

Fighting Back:  There are things that you can do now to help you gain a better understanding of your risk factors and perhaps lower your chances of high cholesterol and heart disease. For starters, it’s important that you eat right, get plenty of exercise, as recommended by your physician, and begin to understand your family health history. A healthy diet may help reduce total cholesterol. In general, you want to get “good” cholesterol higher and “bad” cholesterol lower. You can still enjoy a wide variety of foods by making healthful dietary choices and changes. If elevated cholesterol is part of your family genetics, or you have other conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, you may need medication in addition to eating a heart-healthy diet. But whether you have normal cholesterol, high levels, or are currently taking a cholesterol-lowering drug, eating a healthy diet is important for everyone. Good fats/bad fats Fats can be good for you and your heart, when they’re the right kind and consumed in limited amounts; but even good fat is packed with calories. Those include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which decrease “bad” cholesterol, and omega-3 fatty acids, which lower triglycerides. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Monounsaturated fats include olive oil, canola oil and peanut oil. Polyunsaturated fats include corn oil, safflower oil and soybean oil. Saturated fats are the bad guys that may endanger your heart. They increase LDL or “bad” cholesterol more than anything else in your diet. Saturated fats, found mostly in animal products, are hard at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Think butter, shortening, fat on and in meat and poultry skin. Whole milk or two-percent milk products, half-and-half and cream all have a lot of saturated fat. Tropical oils—coconut, palm and palm kernel oils—also contain a lot of saturated fats. These oils are used in commercially baked crackers, cookies and non-dairy creamers. Foods containing saturated fats often also contain high amounts of cholesterol, which is only found in animal products. Trans fats are another culprit to watch out for. Trans fats raise “bad” cholesterol. Trans fats are found in foods made with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils—stick margarine and some store-bought cookies and cakes, fast-food French fries, potato chips and other snacks. Read your food labels before purchasing. If there are .5 grams or less of trans fats in an item, the company can claim 0 trans fats on the label, so check the ingredient list for hydrogenated oils.

Heart-Healthy Choices

1. Switch your dairy Make the change from whole or two-percent milk to one-percent and then to skim, for drinking and in recipes. Or try almond milk or rice milk for a nondairy alternative. Use low-fat or nonfat sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese and ice cream. 2. Choose lean cuts Beef tenderloin, sirloin, eye of round, ground beef with 10 percent or less fat and pork tenderloin are good choices. Other alternatives include white meat chicken or turkey. Remove the skin before cooking any poultry. 3. Cook with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated Oils These include olive, canola, peanut, safflower, sunflower, sesame and soybean oils. 4. Use more plant-based proteins instead of animal products These include beans and peas—black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, lentils—and tofu or soy. Try veggie burgers (soy-based or grain-based) for an alternative to beef. 5. Boost your intake of foods that are high in soluble fiber This type of fiber binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract and helps remove it from your body. Good sources include oatmeal, oatmeal bread, oat bran cereal, beans and peas, apples, bananas and citrus fruits. 6. Increase whole grains in your diet Choose bread with at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per slice, whole-grain pastas and brown rice. 7. Use products containing plant sterol and stanol esters These components help keep your body from absorbing cholesterol. Consuming two to three grams a day decreases LDL cholesterol by 6 percent to 15 percent. Food products that have added cholesterol-lowering sterols and stanols include margarines, orange juice and yogurt. 8. Eat fatty fish twice a week Choose wild salmon over farm-raised to reduce possible toxin exposure. Pregnant or nursing women and children should limit tuna intake to 6 ounces a week and avoid swordfish, due to concerns about methyl mercury levels. 9. Increase the amounts of fruits and vegetables you eat Most women should have 1-1/2 cups of fruit and 2 to 2-1/2 cups of vegetables (without cheese sauce!) every day, according to new guidelines. Adding more of these to your diet fills you up, adds fiber and important nutrients and helps replace foods with saturated fats. For details on the new dietary recommendations, visit http://www.mypyramid.gov . 10. Keep an eye on dietary cholesterol Dietary cholesterol, such as is found in eggs, dairy products and some other foods, may raise cholesterol in the blood slightly, but newer studies find that consumption of dietary cholesterol is unlikely to substantially increase risk of coronary heart disease or stroke among healthy men and women. If you have other existing health conditions or risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, kidney disease, being overweight, smoking or having a family history of heart disease, you may need to monitor dietary cholesterol more closely. Egg yolks are filled with dietary cholesterol—213 milligrams in each. If you have elevated cholesterol, the National Cholesterol Education Program recommends you keep your consumption under 200 milligrams per day. Egg whites are cholesterol-free, so use two for each whole egg in recipes, or use cholesterol-free egg substitute, which works well in baking and omelettes.

Heart-Healthy Tips for Eating Away from Home

 Here’s how to eat out and have a terrific meal without taking in too much fat and cholesterol: Preparation counts. Order your food fresh, sautéed, grilled/broiled, or poached. If sautéed or broiled, ask for it to be cooked with olive oil or without fat. Have sauces served on the side, so you add only what you need. Divide and conquer. Resist the pitfalls of inflated portions by eating only half of what you order. Take the rest home for an easy lunch or dinner the next day. Ask if you and your dining partner can share an entrée, with each of you ordering individual salads. Balance. Have the nachos if you really want them, but order a healthy entrée. Dessert isn’t a no-no—pick fresh fruit or sorbet. Enjoy the bread or rolls, just skip the butter and drizzle on olive oil. Sip slowly. Wine may raise HDL “good” cholesterol a bit, but there’s also evidence it can boost your triglyceride levels. Fast food stops are OK. Most fast-food restaurants now offer healthier items than a bacon double cheeseburger. Depending upon which chain you visit, you may find salads (ask for nonfat or olive oil dressings), grilled chicken, yogurt, baked potatoes and fresh fruit cups. Look for a heart-healthy symbol. Some restaurants put a heart or other sign next to healthful menu items. Choose from those.

 For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit the HealthyWomen.org areas below. Heart Health Center: http://www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/heart-health Weight Management: http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/weight-management Heart Disease: http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/heart-disease Atherosclerosis: http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/atherosclerosis Metabolic Syndrome: http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/metabolic-syndrome Healthy Living: http://www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/diet-and-nutrition © 2011 HealthyWomen All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (tollfree). On the Web at: http://www.HealthyWomen.org.


Water Wisdom

08/14/2011

from the Healthy Living area

You’ve heard all the advice: Drink eight glasses of water a day. Stay properly hydrated while exercising. Sports drinks aren’t just for professional athletes.

Yet you’re still unsure whether you’re drinking the right amount for good health.
How much fluid should you really be taking in daily? Do you need to add extra when you’re physically active? And is too much water dangerous?

Everyone’s body needs water. We lose it by sweating, excretion, or simply not taking in enough through foods—like fruits and vegetables—and drinks. Mild dehydration (losing less than two percent of your body weight due to inadequate fluids) can cause health problems, including dizziness and headache.

To keep your body supplied with the fluid it needs, especially when exercising, follow these tips:

  • Get the basics. Most women need eight to nine cups of total fluids a day, including all beverages and the water in foods.
  • Increase according to the weather. High temperatures or humidity outside, heated indoor air and high altitudes all cause you to need more fluids.
  • Add when exercising. Drink one cup of fluids every 15 minutes during physical activity, advises Werner W.K. Hoeger, Ed.D., FACSM, professor of kinesiology and director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Boise State University. He recommends sports drinks over water when exercising because they contain electrolytes—important to provide the minerals necessary for proper cellular metabolism—which is disrupted during physical exertion. Electrolyte replacement also helps maintain proper muscle contraction and cardiac function.
  • Add more for big events. If you’re going to be in a race or charity walk, make sure you drink enough to be well-hydrated the day before, Hoeger adds. Also, drink a glass of fluids an hour before the event.
  • Drinking for two? Pregnant and nursing women need additional fluids. Talk with your health care professional about what’s best for you.
  • Still thirsty? If drinking fluids doesn’t relieve your thirst, you may have a health condition such as diabetes. See your health care professional right away.
  • Too much of a good thing. In very rare cases—chiefly among marathon runners—drinking too much fluid leads to a life-threatening illness, hyponatremia. This occurs when sodium levels in the blood fall too low. It happens chiefly to athletes who have run for more than four hours and gained a lot of weight during the race from drinking.

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit

the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

Fitness: www.healthywomen.org/condition/fitness

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

Diet and FitnessHealthCenter: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/diet-and-fitness

© 2011 HealthyWomen. All rights reserved. Reprinted withpermission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll free). On the Web at:http://www.HealthyWomen.org.


Color Code Your Vegetables

08/01/2011

Color Code Your Vegetables

What a Painter’s Palette of Vegetables Can Do for You

by Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN

 

Fresh, colorful vegetables: dark green and leafy; red, ripe, and juicy; or bright orange and crunchy. This exquisite rainbow-colored cornucopia is truly the class of foods that keeps our arteries healthy and clean. Head for your green grocer and harness the phenomenal medicinal power of natural plant compounds. Buy them fresh, buy them often, and fill your body with a spectrum of healthy colors, nature’s medicine chest.

Studies show that heart disease death rate drops with each added vegetable serving!
That is why phytochemical-rich vegetables, such as spinach, are part of a plan I developed to reverse heart disease, and/or to build good heart health to hopefully avoid heart troubles. The other key food groups are olive oil, figs and other fruits, lentils and other legumes, salmon and other seafood, walnuts and flaxseeds, oatmeal and other whole grains, and red wine. Dark chocolate is a bonus food in this plan. Yeah!

 

I like to paint the colors of health by classifying and color coding vegetables into six colors, divided depending on their individual high concentration of phytochemicals (plant warriors against free radical destruction).

Here are the 6 categories:

 

1. Dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables such as spinach & broccoli
2. Red/purple vegetables such as tomatoes, beets and eggplant
3. Yellow/orange vegetables such as carrots and pumpkin
4. Green herbs such as basil and rosemary
5. Allium vegetables such as garlic and shallots
6. Other vegetables such as artichokes and zucchini

Vegetables are chock full of myriad polyphenols (the major disease-battling phytochemical), so be sure to tap into the miraculous healing power of plants. Consuming greens and other colorful vegetables throughout the day will boost your heart disease defense system by:

  • Increasing your body’s antioxidant level
  • Fighting inflammation
  • And, helping to prevent and treat diabetes

 

One additional advantage of frequent consumption of vegetables is that they are the perfect diet food — loaded with nutrients but very low in calories. Hence, eating your daily vegetable prescription will also help you control your weight, and being overweight is another major risk factor that ups your odds of a heart attack.

Here are a few ideas for getting colorful vegetables into your daily eating plan:

  • Routinely eat a dark green salad at lunch and dinner when eating in or out, and remember to dress simply with extra virgin olive oil and wine vinegar and/or fresh lemon juice.
  • For quick and healthy, try purchasing prewashed, bagged, and prechopped vegetables, toss them on a sheet of tin foil, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and roast (425°F for at least 30 minutes). Keep in a container in the refrigerator for easy access.
  • Purchase frozen vegetables (with a short ingredients list). Frozen vegetables, picked and frozen immediately after harvest, are a nutritionally sound choice. (In fact, frozen spinach has been shown to retain its carotenoid power longer than fresh because of the lower temperatures at which it is stored.)
  • When time doesn’t allow for prepping fresh veggies, grab a bottle of jarred veggies, such as corn or roasted red peppers. Just watch out for added sodium, and if the veggies are packed in oil, check to ensure that it’s olive oil.
  • If the weather’s nice, fire up the grill and roast vegetables coated in extra virgin olive oil.
  • Infuse fresh herbs into your olive oil or mix into your salad dressing (olive oil vinaigrette) to add extra flavor and antioxidant power.
  • You can always get an array of colorful vegetables at a salad bar (some supermarkets even have them). Avoid the mayonnaise or oil-added veggie selections. Pile on the plain colorful vegetables instead and dress with olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
  • Remember, no lunch or dinner without that rainbow of vegetables!

 

You may be surprised at how some dishes truly come alive with the addition of this painter’s palette of health. A few of the recipes I include in Prevent a Second Heart Attack that feature greens and other vegetables are Chef Mario Spina’s Braised Broccoli Rabe, Chef Julie Korhumel’s Linguine with Fresh Garden Vegetables, Dr. Janet’s Spinach with Pine Nuts and Raisins and Dr. Janet’s Roasted Red Pepper Strips. All are sure to please the palate — and your heart health.

___________________________________

 

Janet Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN, is a leading diet, nutrition, and fitness expert. She is the author of Prevent a Second Heart Attack and Cholesterol Down. Learn more at www.drjanet.com.

_________________________________________          

 

Dr. Janet’s Roasted Red Pepper Strips

Serves 4

A quick and easy method for roasting red peppers. These are delicious in Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, Tuna Romesco, and Whole-grain Pasta with Roasted Eggplant, Olives, and Tomatoes found in Prevent a Second Heart Attack.

4 large red peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch thick strips
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F. Toss red pepper strips with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 50 minutes or until peppers are softened and starting to turn dark around the edges. Store refrigerated.

NUTRITION per 1/2 cup serving:
Calories: 133

Fat: 11 g (0 g EPA, 0 g DHA, <1 gALA)

Saturated Fat: 1 g

Cholesterol: 0 mg

Sodium: 294 mg

Carbohydrate: 10 g

Dietary Fiber: 3 g

Sugars: 7 g

Protein: 2 g

 

Excerpted with permission from Prevent a Second Heart Attack

by Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN ©2/2011.


Depression Defenses that Can Help

01/10/2011

 Misery doesn’t love company. It also doesn’t love sleeping well, or enjoying activities, or eating healthfully, or making hopeful plans. Misery is, well, miserable. And when sad, empty feelings continue for two weeks or more, you’re not just feeling miserably—you may be depressed. For many women, depression is an all-too-familiar visitor. Women are twice as likely as men to have depressive episodes. While the condition responds to many treatments, it often can recur. Your important first step in dealing with depression is to see your primary healthcare provider. What happens next depends upon the severity of your symptoms (mild, moderate, or major), medical advice, and your choices for treatment. Antidepressants and talk therapy are the most common approaches used to fight depression. Yet recent scientific evidence shows you may be able to use natural approaches when: (a) traditional therapies aren’t working well for you, or side effects and risks pose problems; (b) you choose not to use standard treatments; or, (c) you’d like to lessen or prevent depressive episodes. “Individuals who are suffering from mood disorders really want choices,” says Marlene Freeman, MD, director of the Women’s Mental Health Center at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and a professor of psychiatry and obstetrics-gynecology. “It will serve our patients and the field the best if we really have an integrative approach, where we’re willing to use all possible treatment options and able to use safe and effective combinations.”

Feel better with fish oil

Dr. Freeman was part of a team that reviewed studies of patients who were on antidepressant medication but had not responded well. When the subjects were given omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in addition to the antidepressants, “there was a positive effect for mood,” she says. Omega-3s, best known as the components in fish oil, are essential natural substances our bodies need for good health. We get omega-3s only through foods we eat or by taking them as dietary supplements, usually in capsule form. You may know about the cardiovascular benefits of omega-3s, but researchers have also been evaluating their effect on depression and other mood disorders. Those studies are built on previous findings that people with depression often have low levels of omega-3s and that depressive disorders occur less in populations that consume high quantities of omega-3-rich fish. The omega-3 fatty acids believed to improve mood are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Good results in the studies Dr. Freeman looked at occurred at doses of 1 to 3 grams of fish oil per day, with very few risks. Although some studies used much higher doses of omega-3s, those amounts didn’t bring better results. “With a nutritional supplement, there is an optimal dose that the body and brain need for optimal function,” says Dr. Freeman. “Providing in excess of that may not increase benefit.” It is still unclear whether omega-3 fatty acids would be effective on their own, not in combination with medication. But the protective effect of fish oil has been fairly well established, with studies showing it may decrease the risk of depression, including premenstrual and postpartum depression. Taking omega-3s could also avoid increasing antidepressant dosages for some patients, Dr. Freeman says. Omega-3s have other good health effects: they are vital for fetal development and may help prevent certain cancers, Alzheimer’s and dementia diseases, hypertension, diabetes, and other conditions. Vegans who do not want to consume fish oil might get some benefit from ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), the omega-3 found in flaxseed oil. ALA is somewhat different than EPA and DHA, the omega-3s in fish oil, and has not been studied for use in depression. Food sources of EPA and DHA include fish, seafood, and omega-3-enriched eggs. In addition to flax oil, ALA is found in canola oil, walnuts, and enriched eggs. “I think it would be fair to say that individuals with major depressive disorders should be taking an omega-3 fatty acid supplement, unless there’s a particular medical reason why they shouldn’t—of which there are very few,” says Dr. Freeman.

Moving depression out of your life

You probably know about “runner’s high”—the great feeling people get when they exercise vigorously. But, you’re thinking, you aren’t a gym rat or one of those well-toned runners you see burning up the roads. And putting out such effort may seem impossible, especially when you feel depressed. You can achieve the same positive mood effects from far-less-strenuous physical activities. Adding mild movement to a sedentary life can reduce your depressive symptoms even if your fitness level remains unchanged. What’s more, physical activity lessens depression regardless of your pre-existing health conditions, and may insulate you against future depressive symptoms. “Exercise has been shown to give us a boost of energy that helps us feel motivated and do things we might not want to do if we’re feeling down and depressed,” says Teresa M. Edenfield, PhD, a researcher and clinical associate in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC. That effect works for people with various levels of depression, from mild to major. “For people with very severe symptoms, exercise might not be enough. They might need something like medication or therapy,” Dr. Edenfield says, noting that medical care, psychological assessment, and safety monitoring are imperative. “We always caution people to seek professional help…to think about this as a combination approach.” Researchers are currently studying how, why, and for whom exercise works its antidepressant charm. Dr. Edenfield helped review a number of studies that supported using exercise to alleviate depression—either as an alternative to other types of treatment or in addition to them. One notable recent study took 153 women and 49 men, all diagnosed with major depression, and assigned them to either supervised group exercise, home-based exercise, a common antidepressant medication, or a placebo (“sugar”) pill. After four months, patients in the exercise-only groups showed just about the same relief from depression (40% to 45% remission) as did those taking medication.

Folate makes a difference

Depressed people often have low levels of folate, a B vitamin important for cell growth. Adult women should take in 400 micrograms (mcg) of folate daily, with pregnant women needing 600 mcg and nursing mothers, 500 mcg. Yet even if these amounts are consumed, some of our bodies don’t absorb or use folate well, resulting in deficiencies. Adding more folate to your diet—through foods or supplements—can reduce symptoms of depression, improve response to antidepressants, and may also help in recovery from depressive episodes. The U.S. government requires folate (as folic acid) to be added to some foods, such as fortified cereals and breads. Natural sources include liver, spinach, and black-eyed peas. “It’s pretty sound advice for women who are experiencing mood problems to take a multivitamin with folate,” says Dr. Freeman. “Most of us should be doing it anyway.” Other possibilities to consider There’s evidence that vitamin D influences depression. Vitamin D deficiency, which often occurs in older adults, has been shown to be related to low mood and cognitive difficulties. Many experts believe the current recommended daily dose of 400 IU of vitamin D is too low and have been pushing for that level to be raised to 800 IU or 1,000 IU daily. The herb St. John’s wort “has been demonstrated effective compared with placebo for more mild to moderate depression,” says Dr. Freeman, who chairs the American Psychiatric Association’s Task Force on Complementary and Alternative Medicine. She cautions that you not use St. John’s wort without a doctor’s supervision, due to various interactions the herb has with other drugs. St. John’s wort acts like an antidepressant, so should not be taken with other antidepressants. It also interferes with the proper functioning of oral contraceptives, immunosuppressants, HIV medications, and oral anticoagulants, among others. Light therapy—originally used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression linked to the dark days of winter—is now showing year-round benefits for general depression. “It looks effective for major depressive disorder, even if it’s not seasonally related,” Dr. Freeman says. The light boxes studied in research provide 10,000 lux of bright light. You sit in front of the light (it’s angled above eye level) for about 20 to 30 minutes each day, in the morning. For more information on the health topics me ntioned in this article visit the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

 Depression: www.healthywomen.org/condition/depression

Anxiety and Depression Center : www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/anxiety-and-depression

Mental Health Center : www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/mental-health

© 2010 HealthyWomen All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (tollfree). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.


Healthy Holiday Tips

12/07/2010

With more parties, productions, baking, and shopping going on during the holiday season than any other, it’s hard to not get caught up in all the festivities. Before you know it you are feeling more stressed than relaxed and grouchy than cheerful, as the hustle and bustle begins to take its toll on your body. But before you go out and buy those last minute gifts, take a moment to think about how you can give yourself the gift of health during the holidays.

Eat Wisely
With the cold weather come layers of clothing which make it harder to catch those extra few pounds sneaking up on your waistline. But you don’t have to deprive yourself of the holiday dishes you’ve been looking forward to all year, just don’t overindulge in them. Think portion control and remember that it’s better to try a little of everything than eat too much of one thing. It’s also important to be aware of mindless snacking at parties, by choosing your foods wisely and limiting your grazing time. If you make selections from the veggie plate rather than the chip bowl at the appetizers table, it is not only better for your waistline, but your overall health. And while one or two Christmas cookies won’t kill you, too many treats can cause sugar overload not only affecting your energy levels but quickly packing on the pounds.

Keep Your (Workout) Routine
With more to do and less time to do it in, it’s easy to let trips to the gym slip to the end of your to do list. Still, you should make exercise a priority during the holiday season, and I’m not just talking about mall walking. Engaging in physical activity for at least 30 minutes on three days out of the week or more will keep your energy levels up, mood stable, stress reduced, and of course, weight controlled. This doesn’t mean picking an aerobics class over your best friend’s Christmas party, you should enjoy the festivities of the season, but just try to keep up your regular exercise routine in the process. Trust me, come New Year’s Day you’ll be glad you did.

Limit Alcohol
While spiked eggnog might be one of your favorite things about holiday gatherings, overindulging can not only get you in trouble at this year’s company party but leave you unable to go to work the next day. When celebrating at an event, limit your alcohol intake to only one or two drinks and choose beverages with low alcohol content. Remember that alcoholic drinks are full of empty calories, meaning that they contain no nutrients that are beneficial to your health. Excessive drinking can significantly increase your calorie intake and take a toll on your body leaving you feeling drained and dehydrated. It can also increase health risks associated with high blood pressure, liver damage, and digestive problems. 

Pace Yourself
Even though you may love being involved in holiday cheer, you don’t have to plan your kid’s school Christmas party, organize the gift exchange at work, and help direct your church’s live nativity. Pace yourself when it comes to responsibilities and realize that if you don’t do it someone else will. If you are too busy running around everywhere making sure that every event goes exactly as planned, you’ll be too stressed out and exhausted to actually enjoy them.

By-line:
Alvina Lopez regularly writes on the topic of accredited online schools <http://www.accreditedonlinecolleges.com/>. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: alvina.lopez @gmail.com. http://www.accreditedonlinecolleges.com/


Keeping the pounds off (after weight loss)

10/24/2010

 

Once a person loses excess weight, the next great battle is keeping those pounds off!

A recent study from the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research found that people who consistently logged in to an interactive Internet version of a personal coach were able to keep the weight off.  The key word is “consistently.”

For 6 months before the trial, men and women reduced their caloric intake and exercised in an effort to shed pounds. Those who lost at least 19 pounds were randomly assigned to 3 groups for weight maintenance. One group was self-directed, another contacted a health counselor once a month, and a third group relied on an interactive website.  All of the participants were obese or overweight, and were taking medications for hypertension or high cholesterol.

Those men and women assigned to a personal coach regained the least amount of weight overall, but the ongoing expense sometimes does not make this an option.

At the end of 30 months, the people assigned to a personal coach regained on average 10 pounds, while the web site group regained 12.5 pounds and the self-directed group regained 14 pounds.

The men and women assigned to the weight-management website who visited the site once a month maintained more of their weight loss than patients who checked in sporadically.  On the Web site, participants could record their weight, caloric intake, and minutes of exercise and compare that information with the goals they had set for themselves. A bulletin board allowed them to read other peoples’ success stories and share their own, as well as get advice from experts on exercise and behavior change.

A weight-management web site appears to be a good alternative to a personal coach for those who may not be able to afford personal coaching fees.  You should look for a site where you can enter data on weight, caloric consumption, and exercise, and receive reminders if you forget to supply this information.

This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in J Med Internet Res. online July 27, 2010.