Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Thankgiving

One of the joys of Thanksgiving is the chance to spend time with family and friends. One of the challenges of Thanksgiving is that the occasion usually involves lots of food. There is Good News - you can enjoy the food without overdoing, if you follow a few simple tips.

* Don't starve all day in anticipation of the big meal, you will still end up eating more than you need due to hunger
* Space meals throughout the day about three to four hours apart and enjoy smaller portions each time
* Fill your plate with lots of vegetables, whole grains and lean turkey slices and then add the higher calorie foods.
* Eat slowly. Savor the Flavor and Enjoy the company
* Monitor your alcohol intake since alcohol can cause you to overeat

Finally, remember to enjoy the reason for the day by taking time to really visit with family and friends. In the end this will help you control eating and help you feel better.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Sweets Can Fit Into a Healthful Eating Plan

As you prepare for Halloween take some time to think about how to manage the candy, cookies and pastries that are so much a part of the holiday. Sweets can add enjoyment and variety to a healthful eating plan but if you aren't careful they will also add lots of fat, sugar and calories. The best way to enjoy Halloween is to have a plan that allows for small portions of treats.

Current dietary guidelines recommend keeping sugar intake to less than ten percent of your daily calories so if you are an "average" adult consuming 2000 calories that would mean less than 200 calories from added sweets. One chocolate candy bar can easily provide 200 calories so think about choosing mini or fun size bars to control your intake.

Some tips can make Halloween enjoyable but also healthy.
  • Determine how much candy you can eat per day and portion it out into small bags
  • Consume healthful foods outlined in before eating sweets
  • Slowly chew sweets so that you really savor the flavor
  • Keep activity in your routine to help manage the extra calories

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Annual American Dietetic Meeting

The annual Food and Nutrition Conference of the American Dietetic Association wrapped up today. The meeting was attended by more than 7,000 food and nutrition professionals. During this four day meeting attendees had a chance to learn about vitamin C supplementation, the importance of choosing healthy fats like corn, soy, canola and oil instead of butter and animal fats, how sustainability can, and should, include a component on nutrition and more than 70 other sessions.

In addition to the sessions 350 exhibitors displayed their new products, whether they were food, equipment or educational materials. Items found included many gluten free options, even a bread that really tasted good, organic options, healthy products from Starbucks as well as many other companies.

Monday, October 5, 2009

International Congress of Nutrition

Today in Bangkok the 19th International Congress of Nutrition was kicked off by a welcoming address from Thailand's Royal Highness. The conference is off to a good start with several sessions on the issue of undernutrition. In addition a session on sodium reduction looked at sodium intake worldwide and steps that have been taken by Unilever to reduce sodium in their products. The challenge to the audience was to take an active role in educating consumers about sodium and its role in health and food production.

Another session looked at the role of diet in disease development with a special focus on how diet can impact inflammation in a positive and negative way.

Tomorrow brings session on fats, nutrition in pregnancy and more session on genetic modulation and disease. In the evening tomorrow I will coordinate with others to conduct a workshop and cooking demo on the importance of fats in a healthful eating plan and how to choose healthy fats.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sat and Trans Fat: How do they Compare?

Over the last several years there has been a great deal of attention paid to trans fats with consumers avoiding them like the plaque and food companies searching for options but the question is do you know how trans fats compare to sat fats? Possibly even more important than that question is the question, do you know how much fat is needed to be healthy? Yes it is true some fat is needed for health but the important issue is choosing the right fat so to make it simple let’s start at the beginning.

Fat is important to overall health since it serves as the means of moving fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K throughout the body. Fat is also needed for brain and nervous system health. Two fatty acids cannot be made by the body so they must be supplied by the diet making a minimum intake of at least ten percent of your daily calories an important part of your diet. Linoleic acid and alpha-linoleic acid are both found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds. In addition, omega 3 fatty acids found in fatty fish and fish oils can also help provide the fats we need.

After consuming at least the minimum amount of fat it is important to choose healthier fats. Saturated fats are predominately found in animal foods and they will increase blood cholesterol. Trans fats are found naturally in animal foods but are mainly consumed when choosing partially hydrogenated fats. Trans fats increase blood cholesterol and can lower the good cholesterol but the bottom-line is that saturated and Trans fats should both be kept to a minimum intake.

When it comes to fats focus on the following –
· Choose more oils, soft margarine, nuts, seeds and fatty fish
· Use fat free dairy foods to get your 3 A Day of Dairy
· Focus on lean meat and poultry
· Keep meat and poultry portions moderate

Monday, August 31, 2009

Nutritionist and Dietitian: What is the Difference?

If you are like most people you’ve noticed how sometimes nutrition advice comes from a nutritionist and sometimes it comes from a dietitian or a registered dietitian (RD). And if you are like most people you’ve wondered – What is the difference?

The difference is that the term dietitian, and more significantly the RD, has a clear definition that includes an education based on the science of food and how the body uses that food. The Commission on Accreditation of Dietetic Education clearly outlines the coursework required for someone to call themselves a dietitian. In addition, the Commission of Dietetic Registration outlines the experience needed to take the credentialing exam and the continuing education needed to maintain the RD credential.

On the flip side, the term nutritionist does not have a nationally defined definition so the background of a nutritionist in California could be very different from one in Florida. Some state licensure boards have regulated the use of the title but regulations vary from state to state. All Registered Dietitians are nutritionists but not all nutritionists are Registered Dietitians.

If you want to find a nutrition professional who will provide information based on the science of food and nutrition turn to the RD. When you contact the RD make sure you discuss your personal goals for healthier eating because just as physicians have areas of specialty so to do RD’s. You want to make sure you work with someone who can assess your needs and help you develop an eating plan that is enjoyable, maintainable and based on the science of food and nutrition. You can locate an RD in your area by visiting and clicking on “Find a Nutrition Professional”

Monday, August 3, 2009

Organic versus Conventional - Any Nutritional Difference?

The issue of organic foods versus conventional has been a hot topic of discussion for several years but a new study indicates when it comes to nutrition there is no difference.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, reported on a systematic, scientific review of the literature on the issue of nutrition and photochemically content of organic and conventional foods. A systematic, scientific review of the literature is a methodical review of the literature looking for quality studies in an area and then reporting on the overall conclusions.

This study found that the nutritional content of organic and conventional foods was comparable. The report indicated that for 10 of the 13 nutrients analyzed, there were no significant differences between the organic and conventional. The study goes on to say that the differences that were detected were so small that they were likely due to soil, time of year or other continuous variable. The important message from this study is that you can meet your nutritional needs whether you choose convention or organic foods.

While the study was not designed to assess environmental impacts or pesticide usage the authors did state - "Certified organic regimens specify the production of foodstuffs with the strictly controlled use of chemicals and medicines. The potential for any benefits to public and environmental health of these actions would certainly warrant further systematic review..."

“Nutritional quality of organic foods: a systematic review." Dangour AD, Dodhia SK, Hayter A, Allen E, Lock K, Uauy R. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jul 29.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Yo-Yo Dieting

Most people who have dieted throughout their life are familiar with the statement that yo-yo dieting causes you to gain more weight and to lose more slowly each time. A new study indicates it isn’t the yo-yo dieting, it is the weight gain.

According to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine the risk of increased weight gain, associated with yo-yo dieting, is due to the weight gain itself not the yo-yoing. The study looked at weight cycling in more than 44,000 women and found that those who lost the most, and did this at least three times in their life, had the highest health complications and the greatest risk of death from the weight gain.

If you want to lose, and keep it off, approach the process with patience, perseverance and a plan. It takes time to change behaviors – some say 90 days – so give yourself the time to learn to eat better and workout more. The best way to plan for weight loss, and maintenance of the loss, is to work with a Registered Dietitian. If you can’t do, that is a good place to start. provides a food plan, sample menus, forms to record your intake and tips to make healthy eating and activity easier.

Remember the goal isn’t just to lose the weight – The goal is to achieve and maintain a Healthy Weight.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Choosing Spreads

Commercials for popular bread spreads talk about the type of fat and quantity of fat they contain but when they throw all those numbers out there it can get confusing. How do you choose which spread to use on your bread?

Margarines are made from oil and other than diet or lite margarines most margarines have about the same amount of fat in one teaspoon – 5 grams. The major difference in stick, tub and squeeze margarine is the saturated, trans and unsaturated fat content.

When it comes to reading labels look for margarines that have a low total amount of saturated and trans fats. Don’t let ads mislead you by only talking about trans fat content since BOTH saturated and trans fats will contribute to the risk for heart disease. Here is an example of what to look for.

This is the label from a tub margarine and you can see that the trans and saturated fat together equal 1.5 grams.

This next label shows a stick margarine and you can see that the saturated and trans fat together equal 5.0 grams so even though the tub margarine has trans fats it has Less total, harmful fat.

Next time you head to the market to purchase margarine make sure you refer to the nutrition facts panel to see what you are really buying.

* Values derived from 2002 USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 15

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Enjoying Summer Produce

One of the delights of summer is the availability of fresh produce. Heading to a local market or even the chain supermarkets is a treat when you see all of the brightly colored fruits and vegetables but do you know how to pick the best produce?

Choose produce by how it looks feels and smells. Look for produce that is free of cuts and bruises and at various stages of ripeness to allow for consumption over a period of time. Store produce as soon as possible and clean before using to preserve nutrition.

When it comes to selecting the best produce follow these tips from “The American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide”, 3rd edition, 2006.

Blueberries – plump, firm berries with a light-grayish bloom.

Cantaloupe – Slightly oval fruit, 5 inches or more in diameter, with yellow or golden background color. Signs of sweetness include pronounced netting on the rind and a few tiny cracks near the stem end. Smell the melon; it should be noticeably strong and sweet.

Cherries – plump, bright-colored sweet or sour cherries. Sweet cherries have a reddish-brown skim and are not overly soft or shriveled.

Honeydew melons – look for heavy melons with waxy white rind. The blossom end should give to pressure.

Asparagus – firm, brittle spears that are bright green almost their entire length, with tightly closed tips.

Beets – firm, smooth skinned, small to medium in size with deep green and fresh looking leaves.

Eggplant – firm, heavy for their size, with taut, glassy, deeply colored skin.

Peppers – bright, glossy, firm and well shaped.

Salad greens – crisp, deeply colored leaves.
Summer squash – yellow squash and zucchini are medium size with firm, smooth, glossy, tender skin.

Tomatoes – smooth, well formed, firm but not hard. Smell the tomatoes.

If you’re just starting to expand your produce intake consider adding one new choice a week and experiment with usage until you are consuming the recommended daily amount.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Whole Wheat, Made with Whole Wheat, Whole Grain and Other Confusing Terms

Current guidelines recommend the intake of 48 grams of whole grain per day but since listing whole grain grams on the label is not required how do you know if you are getting that much or even if you are eating whole grains?

The best way to know if you are eating whole grain breads or pasta is to check the ingredient list. When you look at the ingredient list look for the words whole wheat flour, whole grain flour or whole oats.

If the ingredient list indicates the use of wheat or another type of flour the product is not 100% whole grain. A product that lists whole wheat, or another grain, and also the presence of wheat or another type of flour is classified as a product that is made with whole grains.

For more help knowing how to recognize whole grains and how to use them in your daily menus; check out these resources.

In addition to breads and pasta whole grains like quinoa, barley and spelt can be added to your menus as side dishes or the base for beans, stir fry and other entrees. Start boosting your whole grain intake by adding a new whole grain each week until at least half your grain intake is whole grains.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Punch-Up Flavor with More Produce

Do you struggle to meet the recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption? If you answered yes count yourself among the millions of Americans who are consuming less than the recommended intake of fruits and vegetables. The latest information from CDC shows that fewer than 25% of Americans get the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables and in Missouri that number is less than 20%. (1) There is good news, produce is at its peak during the summer and local markets can make trying it more enticing.

If you’d like to work on boosting your intake do three things.
· Develop a plan to boost your intake
· Visit to learn how many servings of fruits and vegetables you need each day
· Head to the store or a local market to try one new option this week

Including produce in your eating plan is important to your overall health since fruits and vegetables are rich sources of fiber, folate, potassium and vitamins A and C. In addition fruits and vegetables contain water which can help you stay hydrated.

1. Accessed May 22, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Gluten Free, What Does it Mean?

The issue of gluten intolerance is not a new one but lately it is one that has attracted lots of attention. Gluten intolerance is a characteristic of the digestive disorder called Celiac Disease. Celiac disease affects about 1 in every 133 Americans and consumption of gluten leads to damage to the intestine. It is an inherited and chronic disorder that is only managed by the complete avoidance of gluten. Gluten is the general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and foods made from or containing these items.

A gluten free diet requires that grains like pasta, cereal and bread be avoided unless they are specially made to be gluten free. In addition to these products people with Celiac disease can use potato, rice, soy, amaranth, quinoa, or buckwheat or any of these grains as flour along with bean flour.

Gluten sensitivity or intolerance differs from Celiac Disease in that people with sensitivity do not suffer from the intestinal damage. Understanding of gluten sensitivity is less clear than Celiac disease but for now the recommendation for management is the same as for Celiac disease, complete avoidance of gluten.

Recently gluten free diets have become an area of popular interest which is a good thing if the information is accurate. Improving on the number of gluten free products will help those who have Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance but implying that going gluten free will improve everyone’s health is not grounded in science.

If you suffer from painful intestinal issues talk with your physician about testing for Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity, don’t self diagnose since that could mean you miss out on important nutrients.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sweet Facts

Are you confused about sweeteners? Do you know whether honey is better than sugar? When it comes to alternative sweeteners do you still worry about safety? And of course the big question is – Is high fructose corn syrup really as bad as they say?

The truths about sweets are just about as simple as the chemical structure of sugar so let’s go through them one by one. Before walking through the facts on all the different sweeteners let’s define the word sugar. Sugar refers to the chemical compounds fructose, glucose, galactose and sucrose.

Sucrose - Chemically table sugar/sucrose is a combination of glucose, about 50%, and fructose, about 50%. Sugar comes from either the sugarcane or from the root of a sugar beet. Table sugar has about 15 calories in one teaspoon.

Fructose – Fructose is a simple sugar and it is found in fruit, honey and root vegetables like carrots and onions. Fructose does not trigger insulin so it is often used as a sweetener in foods designed for people with diabetes.

Galactose – Galactose is a simple sugar found in milk along with glucose making up the compound lactose.

Glucose – Glucose is the main source of energy for the body and it is the end product of carbohydrate digestion.

Honey – Honey is several sugars including fructose, sucrose, glucose and other sugars formed from the nectar by bees. Honey has 21 calories in a teaspoon sine it weighs a bit more than a teaspoon of white sugar. Honey is sweeter than white sugar so you can often use less of it.

Brown sugar – Brown sugar is white sugar that has been flavored with molasses and it has 16 calories in a teaspoon.

High fructose corn syrup – HFCS is a combination of fructose, about 55%, and glucose, about 45% so it is very similar to table or white sugar.

Aspartame – Sugar alternative that is about 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is made from two amino acids - aspartic acid and phenylalanine. It is not stable when heated so it is used mainly in foods that don’t require baking or cooking.

Acesulfame K – AceK is also 200 times sweeter than sugar and is a common ingredient in soft drinks. AceK is heat stable so it can be used for cooking and baking.

Sucralose – Sucralose is made from sugar but it cannot be broken down in the body so it does not contribute calories. It also does not affect blood sugar levels making it a good choice for those with diabetes.

So the bottom-line is all sugars – including high fructose corn syrup – are absorbed and digested in the same way in the body and all end up as glucose. The issue with all sugars is how much you use with current guidelines recommending that added sugars should only account for up to 10% of our daily calorie intake.

Alternative sweeteners like aspartame, acesulfame K and sucralose provide an option for those who want to limit there sugar intake or want to consume fewer calroeis from sugar.


Food and Information Council. Backgrounder: Carbohydrates and Sugars. Accessed on April 16, 2009
The American Dietetic Association. American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, 3rd Edition. Wiley and Co. 2006.
American Dietetic Association. Hot Topic: High Fructose Corn Syrup. Accessed on April 13, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Simple Facts About Sodium

A pinch of salt maybe a boost to life but too much salt can trigger problems. Many people know the negatives of salt but few know why we need salt or how much is needed for health.

Salt is a combination of the minerals sodium and chloride and it is the sodium that is the focus of interest when it comes to how much salt is okay to consume. Salt is forty percent sodium and sixty percent chloride. Sodium, along with potassium, acts to regulate fluid balance in the body. Sodium also aids nerve impulse transmission, regulates blood pressure and acts with other minerals to help muscle relaxation. In addition to its role in the body sodium is important to foods.

Sodium acts to bring out the flavor of foods and also provides flavor itself but it plays several other roles in food. Sodium serves as a preservative in foods protecting them from the growth of bacteria, yeast and mold thus preventing food spoilage or foodborne illness. This usage of salt is the reason processed or packaged foods contain sodium. Sodium or salt is also important to texture in baked goods made with yeast. Sodium also affects fermentation in cheese processing and the development of bread dough. And finally sodium helps hold together processed meats like sausage, salami and pepperoni.

The amount of sodium needed from the diet is much below the amount consumed. While there is no recommended daily intake for sodium the minimum amount considered to be adequate for health is 500 milligrams. Currently the average intake of sodium is 4,000 to 6,000 milligrams per day. This excess is excreted by healthy people but can be a trigger for hypertension or kidney disease in those with a genetic predisposition to those diseases.

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a maximum intake of 2,300 milligrams per day. Processed foods provide about 80 percent of the sodium in food. Table salt and the sodium that occurs naturally in foods provide the remainder of the sodium we consume. Sodium content is a required listing on all food labels so it is possible to monitor your intake by reading labels. In addition you can detect the presence of sodium by learning to look for the words salt, soda, or sodium. The words cured, brine, smoked and pickled can also indicate a higher sodium content so check the label.

Food labels may indicate that the sodium content is reduced if they meet the guidelines set forth by the Food and Drub Administration. Common terms include the following.
· Sodium or salt-free – Less than five milligrams of sodium per serving
· Low sodium – 140 milligrams of sodium or less per serving
· Reduced or less sodium – At least 25% less sodium in a standard serving
Making the switch to lower sodium intake might take a little time since the taste buds need to adjust to the absence of sodium but reducing intake gradually can help.

Tips for the Week
· Check food labels for the amount of sodium
· Read the online menu for sodium content of menu items
· Limit intake of processed or packaged foods
· Taste foods before adding salt
· Season with pepper or other spices
· Enjoy processed meats like pepperoni, bacon, corned beef and salami less often

Friday, March 13, 2009

Enjoy A Bite of Chocolate

If you’re searching for a sweet treat but don’t want to throw off your healthful eating plan too much consider adding a small amount of dark chocolate.

Chocolate, more specifically cocoa, has been a part of medicinally treatment for centuries with early usage going back to use for stomach or intestinal complaints to the current interest related to heart disease. Cocoa, like all other plants, contains a wide variety of phytochemicals but is rich in flavanol which seems to help reduce the risk of heart disease. Flavanol’s help keep blood vessels healthy thus allowing for continuous flow of blood preventing blood clots. Other research studies have looked at cocoa and blood pressure reduction with some positive outcomes.

Studies continue to show that inclusion of cocoa may provide positive health benefits but questions remain in terms of how much, how often and do these benefits translate to chocolate. At the current time studies make it clear that the health benefits are found in the cocoa so chocolate would have to contain a high percentage of cocoa to yield any health benefits. Current evidence points to dark chocolate as a preferable choice for potential health benefits.

While chocolate may contain health benefits it definitely contains calories so using it to promote health is not the right idea. Enjoying some dark chocolate and potentially reaping health benefits is the best way to look at inclusion of chocolate in your eating plan. If chocolate is a part of your routine make sure you choose dark chocolate. Choose small pieces to help control quantity and make sure you enjoy your chocolate as a part of a healthful eating plan.

Tips for the Week
· Choose dark chocolate either plain or with nuts or fruit
· Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables for their phytochemical content
· Keep physical activity in your daily routine to offset the chocolate calories

Monday, March 2, 2009

Fat Facts

If you are like most consumers you know that Trans fats are not a healthful choice but likely you don’t know why that is true or that saturated fats are just as bad.

In order to understand the facts on fats it is best to start at the beginning. Fat is one of the nutrients we need for health and while we refer to fat the real reference is to fats. Fats are a group of compounds made up of fatty acids and glycerol. The fatty acids are the base units of fat and it is there chemical structure that determines if a fat is saturated or unsaturated.

Saturated fats are a type of fatty acid and they are found in animal foods like meat, poultry, whole milk dairy foods and from plant fats including coconut, palm and palm kernel oil. Saturated fats cause the liver to make more of the bad cholesterol, thus increasing the risk for heart disease. In order to reduce heart disease risk it is advised that saturated fats make up less than ten percent of the days calories.

Unsaturated fats are divided into two types; monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated fats, which are found in canola and olive oils, help reduce the bad cholesterol and can boost the good cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fats lower both the good and bad cholesterol and are found in corn, safflower, sunflower and soybean oils.

Trans fats exist naturally in animal foods but are also made when oils are hardened during the process of hydrogenation. Trans fats increase bad cholesterol and lower the good cholesterol so they are a contributor to heart disease risk. Current dietary guidelines recommend keeping Trans fat intake as low as possible.

Keeping fat intake in a healthy range and from healthier sources requires label reading and portion control. When it comes to portion control a good guide is where you can see which foods are part of the Oils group and how much is healthful. Label reading requires not only searching for the healthier fats but also noting how much fat is in one serving. If the grams of fat don’t mean much to you look at the % of Daily Value which makes it easier to put into perspective how a serving will fit into a daily meal pattern.

Another helpful labeling tool is to look for terms that reference fat content such as the following.
· Fat Free – Less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving
· Low-fat – 3 grams or less of fat per serving
· Reduced or less fat – At least 25% less fat per standard serving size
· Light – 1/3 fewer calories or 50% less fat per standard serving
· Trans Fat Free – Less than 0.5 grams per serving

Tips for the Week
· Limit animal sources of protein to 5 to 7 ounces, cooked weight, per day
· Choose olive, canola or soybean oils or margarines made from these oils
· Switch to fat free dairy foods
· Read food labels for fat content of processed foods.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Water, Water Everywhere but How Much do You Need?

Water, water everywhere but how much do you really need? The question of how much water is needed for adequate hydration is one that has more answers than many other nutrition related questions. The answer to the question is very simple.

In two thousand four the Institute of Medicine assessed hydration status by reviewing research studies and food and nutrition surveys. The IOM stated that the vast majority of healthy people adequately meet their hydration needs by letting thirst guide them. The IOM did not set exact requirements but set recommendations for women at about ninety one ounces of fluids per day and for men one hundred and twenty five ounces per day. The recommendations also stated that all fluids count so water, milk, coffee, tea and soft drinks count to body hydration. In addition to fluids, the fluid content of fruits and vegetables also count in the day’s intake. The IOM report stated that about 80% of fluid intake comes from beverages and 20% from foods. So how much fluid do you need?

A good place to start is with about eight cups (8 oz each) of water and other water based beverages. Take note of how you feel, are you thirsty, what is the frequency of urination and is your urine color too yellow? If you answered postively to these questions it maybe time to boost your fluid intake. While guidelines recommend fluid intake levels how much you need depends on your body so assessing your intake is the best place to begin the determination of how much you need.

These new guidelines are for adequate hydration so more fluids are needed during physical activity or with weather extremes. As temperatures deviate from the ideal temperature for body functions the amount of fluid needed increases so the hotter or colder it gets the more fluids needed. In addition to these two examples more fluids are needed during pregnancy and lactation or when sick with a fever, diarrhea or vomiting.

Adequate fluid intake is important to the overall functioning of the body with fluids playing a role in regulation of body temperature, transportation of nutrients and oxygen, elimination of waste products, moisturizing body tissues and serving as the main part of all body fluids.

While all fluids count towards your daily need not all fluids are equal in terms of calories or sometimes in terms of nutrition. Water is the best choice for hydration since it supplies no calories, no caffeine, (a stimulant) and it has no sodium or fat. Juice and milk are next best choices since they offer a wide variety of vitamins and minerals but they do contribute calories so they shouldn’t be the source of all your fluid needs.

Tips for the Week
· Take count of your fluid intake to determine if you need more
· Assess how much water you drink versus other beverages to see if calorie beverages need to be reduced
· Drink water before, during and after a workout
· Limit sports drinks to workouts that last longer than 45 minutes in order to keep calories down

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Protein Points

Most people know all about protein, or so they think, but in fact how much is needed is often a question that causes much confusion. Protein is essential to growth and repair of all tissues and cells within the body but it is also important to fluid balance, immune health and many other functions. As you might expect more protein is needed during periods of growth or times of healing or repair of cells that are damaged due to activity, surgery or other trauma. While protein has many functions the amount needed is much less than many people expect.

The current guidelines for protein intake recommend 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Since most of us don’t think of our weight in kilograms this recommendation translates to a minimum of 45 grams to as much as 115 grams per day for someone who weighs 250 pounds.

Consuming 45 grams of protein per day is a simple task for most people if you follow the guidelines setout in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines, examples of how to meet this are listed here.
· Three ounces of meat, fish or poultry (about the size of a woman’s palm), plus three cups of milk or yogurt equals 45 grams
· One and a half cups of kidney beans plus three cups of milk or yogurt
· Six ounces of tofu and one and half cups of kidney beans

In addition to the health benefits of protein it can help you feel full longer so including some at most meals is a good way to keep control of what foods you choose to eat and how much you eat. Beyond the traditional meat and potatoes or a deli sandwich there are some easy ways to get protein in your meals or snacks including the following.
· A cup of low-fat yogurt with 2 tablespoons nuts
· Two tablespoons peanut or almond nut butter spread on an apple or banana
· One fourth a cup of nuts with one half a cup of dried fruit and one cup of whole grain cereal
· One third a cup of hummus with fresh veggies
· One cup of yogurt combined with frozen fruit for a fast smoothie

If you workout on a regular basis you will need more protein to help repair muscles damaged during activity. If your activity is predominately cardio or aerobic activity your need increases slightly since damage to muscles is less than it is during weight or resistance activity. For regular activity you would benefit from about 0.2 grams per kilogram more protein per day, so about 50 grams minimum per day. Remember that this minimum is based on weight so if you weigh more your minimum would be higher.

For those who lift weights regularly or for competitive athletes the need can go as high as 2.0 grams per kilogram or up to a minimum of 90 grams per day. The best advice for protein intake is to make sure you get enough and to only boost intake if your activity or growth requires it since excess protein ends up as extra body weight.

Tips for the Week
· Choose lean protein like turkey, chicken and fish
· Enjoy plant protein like hummus, beans or tofu in place of animal protein once or twice a week
· Switch to nonfat dairy choices to get your 3 A Day of Dairy

Friday, January 9, 2009

Nutrition Bites

Welcome to the first Nutrition Bites blog entry! Nutrition Bites will appear on a weekly basis and provide insight into the basics of nutrition. Nutrition Bites will sort through the clutter of fallacies about healthful eating and serve-up the facts in an easy to use presentation.

As with any program the best place to begin is at the beginning and the same is true with healthful eating. Healthful eating starts with the right balance of the calorie nutrients – protein, carbohydrates and fat. While the right balance will vary depending on body weight, activity level and growth status the basics are the same for all of us.

The right start for healthful eating is with an intake of carbohydrates of forty five to sixty percent of your overall calories, so carbohydrates are close to or the majority of your calories. The important point in choosing your carbs is to choose those that provide the most nutritional value and those that provide more satiety. The best carbs for health include the following.
· Whole grains – breads, cereals, pasta, rice
· Vegetables – fresh or frozen
· Fruits – fresh, frozen or canned in their own juice
· Beans – dried or canned

A quick look at each category provides a glimpse of the best choices for satiety and nutrition. Whole wheat bread, cereals that list whole grain or oats or whole wheat as their first ingredient, brown and wild rice, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, barley or faro. Vegetables and fruits that are darkly colored or strongly flavored like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, apricots, cantaloupe, berries and melons provide more health promoting benefits. Beans, of all colors, are excellent sources of fiber, protein, carbohydrates and health promoting compounds and they help you feel full longer. While carbs are essential to overall health, quantity is important; learn the proper portions by visiting

Next week’s topic will look at protein and how much you need and what are the best sources for overall health.

Tips for the Week
· Read ingredient lists in order to choose cereals, crackers and other grains that are whole grain
· Learn the proper portion size for pasta, rice, cereals and other grains
· Plan to include at least 2 cups of fruit and 2 cups of vegetables everyday