Fall 2010: To Your Health

In this Issue:

  • Can Certain Foods Help You Age Gracefully?
  • A New Option to Ease the Transition to Whole Grains
  • Four Ways to Lower Your Risk of Breast Cancer
  • Managing the Halloween Candy…and Your Diabetes!
  • Diet and Other Lifestyle Factors Linked to the Prevention of Dementia
  • Food of the Month: Pomegranate
  • Recipe of the Month: Pomegranate-Orange Glazed Turkey

Can Certain Foods Help You Age Gracefully?

Celebrate Healthy Aging Month this September!

It’s probably safe to say that many women today (and some men, too!) would love to have a quick fix for all the changes that occur physically and mentally as the body ages.  There are plenty of pills, creams, and potions that promise results, but as most people know, they’re all a waste of time and money!  Luckily, research shows that certain foods actually promote healthy aging to keep you feeling and looking your best at every age!

  • To keep your brain sharp, fill your plate with plenty of greens.  A 2006 study found that those who ate at least 2 servings of vegetables every day-particularly leafy greens- had the same mental focus as those 5 years younger.
  • To stave off wrinkles, get your antioxidants!Antioxidants are substances that prevent free radicals from causing damage to the body’s cells. Researchers who looked at the patterns of skin wrinkling and diets of 177 people found that those who consumed the most antioxidants from foods like vegetables, legumes, and olive oil had the least wrinkles.  On the other hand, those who ate the most full-fat dairy and red meat had the most wrinkles.  This study did not definitively show cause-and-effect, but it’s certainly a good reason to eat more antioxidant-rich foods!
  • Make your heart happy by skipping the butter. Butter is loaded with artery-clogging, cholesterol-raising saturated fat.  Instead, replace it with healthy oils like olive, canola, or walnut oil that are rich in unsaturated fatty acids.  Keep in mind that oils are high in calories and must be used in moderation.
  • Keep your digestive system running smoothly by getting plenty of fiber. Choosing a variety of fruits is a perfect way to boost your fiber intake.  Pears, raspberries, and apples each supply more than 3 grams of fiber per serving.
  • Enhance your daily dose of purple!Research shows that people who eat plenty of blue and purple fruits and vegetables are at a reduced risk for high blood pressure and low HDL (good) cholesterol.  Compounds called anthocyanins cause the dark blue and purple hues and are believed to be responsible for these cardiovascular effects. Stock up on plums, purple grapes, blueberries, black currants, purple cabbage and eggplant!
  • Fight inflammation with almonds.A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that an ounce of almonds (about 24 nuts) had just as many flavonoids as ½ cup of broccoli or 1 cup of green tea.  Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant that fight free-radicals and reduce inflammation.

Besides eating the right foods, keeping your body physically fit is important for overall health.  Just 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise on most days of the week will keep you in tip-top shape when combined with a healthy eating plan.  Any activity that gets your heart rate elevated counts, like doing yard work or gardening, walking the dog, and even cleaning the house. What are you waiting for? Get moving! You can’t stay young forever, but you sure can feel like it!

A New Option to Ease the Transition to Whole Grains

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve probably heard it a hundred times…”make at least half your grains whole.”  Switching from refined grain products to whole grain varieties has a laundry list of benefits including better weight maintenance, reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, improved blood glucose control, increased satiety, and so on.  For many dedicated white bread lovers, making the transition to incorporate more whole grains can be difficult due to their denser, coarse texture and nutty flavor.

In honor of Whole Grains Month this September, give whole white wheat a try! This variety of wheat has the same nutritional profile as traditional “red” wheat, but a milder flavor and lighter color.  White wheat, not to be confused with refined white flour, contains the bran, germ, and endosperm…all components of the grain kernel! Unlike traditional “red” wheat, white wheat does not have the genes that express bran color (what makes whole wheat brown).  Think of it like albino wheat! Whole white wheat is milder in flavor because it does not contain the more intense phenolic compounds of red wheat, making it more appealing to those who are accustomed to the taste of refined white flour.

  • Identifying whole grains on a product’s ingredient list can be tricky. Click here for a handy chart to help clear up the confusion!

For help with incorporating more healthy whole grains into your meal plan and for further nutrition education contact
Bonnie R. Giller, MS RD CDN CDE at 516-486-4569
orbonnie@brghealth.comtoday!

Click here to see all of the services offered at
BRG Dietetics & Nutrition, P.C.

Four Ways to Lower Your Risk of Breast Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women aside from skin cancer.  In 2006, nearly 200,000 American women were diagnosed with the disease, and almost 50,000 lost their battle.  An abundance of research now supports various ways women can take action and lower their risk of developing breast cancer.

Manage Your Weight
In postmenopausal women who are not taking hormones, being overweight increases breast cancer risk two- to three-fold.  This increased risk was seen at a body mass index of 27, even before the person would be considered obese.   Researchers suggest that excess weight harms the breasts because of higher levels of circulating estrogen and insulin.  In past research, it has been demonstrated that women with higher levels of estrogen have a greater risk of breast cancer.  Following menopause, the ovaries stop producing the hormone, and fat cells become the primary source of estrogen.  A woman with more fat cells will, in turn, produce more estrogen and be at a higher risk for the disease.   Additionally, obesity is associated with high insulin levels.  In the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study, women who were not taking hormones and had high fasting insulin levels were nearly 2 ½ times more likely to develop breast cancer than those whose insulin levels were normal.

Avoid Hormone Replacement Therapy
In 2002, researchers at the National Institute of Health abruptly stopped the Women’s Health Initiative trial early when it was discovered that women taking hormones after menopause had more breast cancer (a 26% increase) than women taking a placebo.  As a result, the sale of hormones plummeted almost 40%. By 2004, breast cancer rates in postmenopausal women dropped nearly 11%, and tumors fell by 15%.

Exercise
Research studies that span multiple populations in multiple countries all come to the same conclusion: active women have a lower risk of breast cancer.  A study by the American Cancer Society that tracked over 72,000 post menopausal women found that those who answered a questionnaire about leisure time activities with answers such as walking, biking, swimming, tennis, dancing, and aerobics had a 29% lower risk of breast cancer after 5 years. How does exercise protect the breast?  Lowered estrogen may be the answer.  Because exercise decreases body weight and body fat, there are lower levels of circulation estrogen.  Some evidence suggests that being physically active throughout life, and not just after menopause, is even more protective against breast cancer.

Limit Alcohol
A modest, but significant, increase in breast cancer risk is associated with the consumption of just one drink per day.  A British study that tracked 1,280,000 women for seven years found that each daily alcoholic drink raised breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women by 12 percent.  Besides breast cancer, drinking alcohol daily also raises the risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, rectum, and liver.  When it comes to cancer risk, experts feel that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption.

  • Weight gain, hormone therapy, physical activity, and alcohol intake are four important risk factors for breast cancer that you have the power to control. Click here to learn about other risk factors that may predispose you or someone you care about to breast cancer.

Managing the Halloween Candy…and Your Diabetes!

Halloween can certainly be a spooky time…especially for those living with diabetes.  With so many candy bars and other sweet treats readily available at home, school or at the office, it can be difficult for anyone to resist a nibble every so often.  For those with diabetes, it is important to monitor and maintain blood sugar levels to avoid hazardous symptoms and serious complications, and so they must be savvy when navigating the trick-or-treat bowl. By following a few simple guidelines, it shouldn’t be too hard to manage Halloween and diabetes all at once.

One of the best treats during Halloween that anyone who is conscious about what they eat can enjoy is the “fun-size” and miniature candy options.  Practicing portion control can prevent one from overindulging while still enjoying a small taste of a special sweet treat.  It is especially helpful to check the nutrition facts panel and ingredient list on your favorite Halloween candy for the fat and carbohydrate content.  If a piece of candy contains nuts, keep in mind that it will, therefore, have a higher fat content. Beware of anything that has partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient list, as they are a source of harmful trans-fats, and are best left behind in the candy bowl.

Many probably find it surprising that sugar-free candy may not necessarily be the best route for satisfying your sweet tooth.  Although these products do not contain sugar, they do contain other carbohydrate sources that have an effect on blood glucose levels.  Just seeing the phrase “sugar-free” may make one think its okay to eat a lot of that candy, not realizing it can significantly increase blood sugar.  These sugarless options are also often sweetened with artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols, causing them to taste much different than the “real thing”.  Sugar-free chocolates and sweets are also often high in fat…something else to watch out for.  By keeping portion sizes in check, it may be best to enjoy a small piece of the real candy so you can feel completely satisfied.  Be sure to check the nutrition labels so you know how much carbohydrate you are eating.

  • Halloween doesn’t have to be a “scary” time of year for anyone following a healthy meal plan, not even those with diabetes! By reading nutrition labels, limiting portion sizes, and being aware of the best candy options, navigating the candy bowl can be a breeze.  Visit our special section on enjoying a healthy Halloween with kids.

Diet and Other Lifestyle Factors Linked to the Prevention of Dementia

November is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

Dementia is a condition characterized by the loss of or decline in memory and other cognitive abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life.  There are several different types of dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease accounting for nearly 60-80% of all cases.  It is estimated that 5.3 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.  Two recent studies investigating dementia have uncovered some interesting findings about modifiable risk factors that can most effectively reduce one’s risk of developing this progressive condition.

The exact cause of dementia is still unknown.  Research has identified a history of depression, alcohol use, diet, and the ApoE gene as risk factors for the development of dementia.  Vascular risk factors such as stroke, heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity and type 2 diabetes also play a role in dementia because they affect blood supply to the brain.  Researchers in the UK and France sought to find the impact of eliminating these risk factors and the effect it may have on reducing dementia rates.

In the above study, data retrieved between 1999 and 2001 on nearly 1,500 healthy people aged 65 years and older were analyzed.  Each subject underwent cognitive testing at the beginning of the study, and then two, four, and seven years later.  The participants also took a reading test to measure lifetime intelligence, as well as a test to determine genetic risk.  Based on their analysis, the researchers concluded that eliminating depression and diabetes, plus better education and increased consumption of fruits and vegetables would likely have the most significant impact on reducing the incidence of dementia in the future.  They estimate that new cases of dementia can be reduced by 21% through eliminating depression and diabetes, and eating more fruits and vegetables.  In contrast, they estimate that eliminating the genetic risk factor would only decrease new cases by 7 percent.

These findings are preliminary and further testing will need to be conducted, however, they do make an important statement about the priorities of public health.  The researchers of the study suggest there should be more focus placed on increasing literacy, early diagnosis, treating depression, and continuous screening for signs of diabetes in order to begin seeing a decline in dementia cases.

  • Vascular risk factors, diet, alcohol use, and obesity not only increase one’s risk of dementia, but a host of other diseases and conditions.  If you’re interested in taking control of any or all of these factors in your life, call Bonnie R. Giller, MS, RD, CDN, CDE at 516-486-4569 today to get started on a journey to better health.

NOVEMBER IS AMERICAN DIABETES MONTH

Prevalence:

Nearly 24 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes.

Another 57 million Americans have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

One out of every 3 children (and 1 in 2 minority children) born in the United States today will face a future with diabetes if current trends continue.

Do you have diabetes? Pre-diabetes? Are you at risk?

Contact Bonnie R. Giller, MS, RD, CDN, CDE, a certified diabetes educator, to cut your risk of developing diabetes, and prevent complications from occurring.  Call 516-486-4569 or email for information at bonnie@brghealth.com.

Feature Food of the Month: Pomegranate

History
Pomegranates are noted as one of the earliest cultivated fruits, dating back as far as 3,000 B.C. They are native to Persia and India, and have been cultivated in both the Middle East and Mediterranean region for centuries.  Spanish settlers brought pomegranates to Latin America and California in 1769.  California is now the leading state to grow the fruit in America.

Selection
Pomegranates are in season beginning early fall.  They are about the size of an orange and range in color from red to deep reddish-purple.  Choose one that is plump, round, and heavy for its size.  It should have rich color and smooth skin without cuts or blemishes.  When cut, a pomegranate contains compartments of seeds held in a sac of sweet and tart juice.  The thin white membranes are bitter and generally not eaten.

Storage
Pomegranates can be stored in a cool, dry place or refrigerated for up to one or two months, respectively.  The seeds from the fruit can be stored in an airtight container and frozen for up to one year.

Nutrition
Low in calories, high in vitamin C and potassium, plus a good source of fiber, pomegranates are a great fruit choice.  They are rich in three types of antioxidants- tannins, anthocyanins and ellagic acid- that may help in preventing disease! There are just 80 calories and a whopping 5 grams of fiber per ½ cup of seeds!

Healthy Recipe:  Pomegranate-Orange Glazed Turkey

Ingredients:

Turkey

3 ½ pound turkey breast

¼ tsp. black pepper

Glaze:

1 tbsp. cornstarch

½ cup pomegranate juice

2 tbsp. honey

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

¼ cup low sodium fat free chicken broth

¼ cup orange juice

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of pomegranate juice in a small saucepan.  Stir in remaining pomegranate juice, honey, balsamic vinegar, broth and orange juice. Bring to a boil and cook 1-2 minutes, until thickened.
  3. Sprinkle both sides of turkey breast with black pepper and place on rack in shallow roasting pan.  Cover and bake for 1 – 1¼ hours.
  4. Brush ½ of the glaze over the turkey breast; continue baking, uncovered, for 10 minutes.  Repeat with remaining glaze and bake an addition 10 minutes.

Yield: 16 servings
Serving Size: 3 oz.
Exchanges: 3 Meats, ¼ Fruit

Nutrition Facts
Calories: 115
Total Fat:  0.5 grams
Saturated Fat: 0 gram
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0 grams
Monounsaturated Fat: 0 grams
Cholesterol:  53 milligrams
Protein:  21 grams
Carbohydrate:  4 grams
Sodium:  34 milligrams
Fiber:  0 grams

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