Isoflavones


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Original Image by Personal Creations via Flickr

 

By: Nikki Nies

The word isoflavones may suggest it is a flavanoid, but in actuality, isoflavones are phytochemicals found in soy and legumes, which block estrogen activity in cells, indirectly reducing risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Some isoflavones are phytoestrogens, which are non-steroidal, weak versions of estrogens.dietary sources of isoflavones include chick pea, alfalfa and peanut.

 

Sources: http://www.sciencedaily.com/articles/i/isoflavone.htm

http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=21778

Traveling with HLD


Original Image by David Goehring via Flickr
Original Image by David Goehring via Flickr

By:Nikki Nies

In today’s world, we’re surrounded by terms such as ‘good fats’ and multisyllable concepts, such as ‘atherosclerosis.’ Yet, for the average American these terms just bring more confusion to the table than help shed light on how to solve the issues at hand. How can those words be applied to daily life? By breaking down what those definitions mean is the first, best step towards understanding how one can travel with hyperlipidemia (HLD) on the go. HLD may sound terrifying, but it’s just the technical term for too many “lipids” or fats in the blood.  HLD is the elevation of cholesterol and/or triglycerides, making it a risk factor for developing atherosclerosis (“hardening of arteries) and heart disease.

While primary hyperlipidemia emerges due to familial history, secondary HLD can develop due to increased dietary intake, medical conditions (i.e. lupus, kidney disease, alcoholism, obesity, diabetics or hypothyroidism) and/or medications. In other words, with modifiable changes added to one’s lifestyle, secondary HLD can be reduced and/or eliminated altogether.

In regards to one’s heart health, there are three major lipoproteins. Low density lipoproteins (LDL) are considered “bad cholesterol.” It’s recommended cholesterol be <200 mg/dL, LDL:<130 mg/dL and HDL be >60 mg/dL. To keep cholesterol levels at optimal levels, it’s recommended to implement a low fat, cholesterol lifestyle, restricting total fat intake to 30% of daily calories, saturated fat to 7% and dietary cholesterol to 300 mg/day.  However, when you’re on the go, it can be hard to discern how much fat is eaten in an entire day. Therefore, identifying  ‘good fats’ and which menu items would be better in the long run can help make traveling more enjoyable and healthier.

Suggestions for how to travel with HLD:

  • Make every effort to make half of grains whole grains, opt for low fat dairy products, fruits and vegetables and poultry, fish and nuts, while cutting back on sugary foods and beverages and red meat
  • Add in ‘healthy fats’ that contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
    • This means swapping out tropical oils (i.e. coconut for liquid) and eating fish and nuts instead of red meat
  • Be aware that foods high in saturated fatcan be equally high in calories
    • Majority of high saturated fat foods derive from animal sources (i.e. beef, lamb, pork, lard, butter, cheese and/or dairy products made from whole or reduced fat milk)
    • Again, limit plant based oils that contain high amounts of saturated fat, even though cholesterol free (i.e. palm kernel oil, coconut oil and/or palm oil)
  • Increase soluble fiber consumed, which can help decrease cholesterol levels by as much as 10%
    Original Image by s58y via Flickr
    Original Image by s58y via Flickr
    • Common sources: oats, barley, nuts, legumes and fruits and vegetables
  • Opt for boneless,skinless cuts of meat instead of fried, breaded or battered (i.e. skinless boneless chicken breast)
    • Trim fat from meat
  • Limiting alcohol can help reduce triglyceride levels, as alcohol consumption can raise triglycerides by 5-10 mg/dL
  • In increasing increments, daily regular activity can help lower LDL, while increasing HDL
    • Even a 30 minute brisk walk can do wonders in reducing risk
    • Walk at an intensity that you’re breathing hard, but can still carry a conversation
    • Build up to target heart rate gradually, which is 50-70% of maximum heart rate
  • Devote a certain amount of time each day to get the recommended 10,000 steps in

The FDA has recently declared trans fat as no longer generally recognized as safe, giving food companies until 2018 to remove trans fat from foods altogether.   This ban will take us one step closer to food companies providing fresher ingredients and allow consumers to choose healthier, heart healthy options. While on the go, what hacks have helped you the most?

Sources:  http://www.nmihi.com/h/hyperlipidemia.htm

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/Hyperlipidemia_UCM_434965_Article.jsp

Cucumbers and Tomatoes with Parmesan Dressing


Ingredients

  • 3 cucumbers
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  1. Whisk together oil, vinegar, cheese and pepper
  2. Peel and slice cucumbers
  3. Peel and wash tomatoes
  4. Pour dressing over cucumbers and tomatoes

Chicken Medallions in Tarragon Sauce


Serves 8

IMG_9275Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 egg plus 1 T water beaten well in bowl
  • Flavored breadcrumbs and flour for coating chicken
  • 1-14 oz. can artichoke hearts drained and quartered (reserve 3 t of liquid)
  • 1 stick sweet butter cup into eight pieces
  • 3 sprigs of fresh Italian parsley chopped-stems removed
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 small jar pimentos
  • 1/3 oil for frying

Combine next three ingredients for Tarragon Sauce: IMG_9276

  • 2 T white vinegar
  • 2 T fresh tarragon (1 tsp dry) crushed between fingers
  • 3 t reserved liquid from artichoke hearts

Wash breasts and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into 1” cubes. Dredge in flour, dip into eggs and then breadcrumbs.

Heat oil in heavy skillet and fry chicken medallions on both sides until golden brown.

Drain on paper towel.

Remove any excess oil and wipe down skillet with paper towel.

At low heat, add butter and garlic, stir until garlic turns lightly golden.

Add tarragon mixture and simmer for one minute.

Add artichoke hearts and incorporate into mixture.

Remove pan from heat, stir in lemon juice, wine and chopped parsley.

Place chicken in oven proof serving dish. Lift artichokes from liquid and place around chicken*

Top with pimentos and cover with foil, slitting foil with knife to allow steam to escape.

Bake in preheated oven at 350F for 15-20 minutes.
Remove foil and bake for 10 minutes more.

*Stop at this point, cover and refridgerate when preparing ahead of time

IMG_9278

How to Travel with IBS


Original Image by fdecomite via Flickr
Original Image by fdecomite via Flickr

This article is based on an original post that first appeared on the Trim Traveler Blog entitled Have No Fear: Traveling Abroad with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. 

By: Nikki Nies

While last minute trips can be fun, there always needs to be some type of planning involved. At minimum, this should include source of transportation. Bus? Driving? Catching the next flight out of the airport? Yes, this level of spontaneity may sound overwhelming for some that like to plan every detail. In reality, once kids are involved, there are other considerations that are factors in traveling, such as counting for a variety of entertainment and the number of diapers needed. In addition, for those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), an intestinal disorder that can cause stomach pains, gas, diarrhea or constipation, it can make multi city traveling more nerve wrecking than appealing.

As a chronic condition, management of IBS is long term and can cause hurdles in traveling. I fondly remember I was in Thailand and one of people on the trip couldn’t leave the bathroom because of intestinal issues. When he wasn’t having diarrhea, he was too scared to leave the hotel in fear of a limited availability and quick access to bathrooms. It is a shame he traveled from the U.S. to Thailand to spend his time in a bathroom. For those of you that have been diagnosed with IBS, by implementing certain planning into your travel plans, you can enjoy your travels, pain free!

Some suggested travel inquiries:

  • Plan a trip that is calm or relaxing, as it may be less difficult to maneuver
  • Plan enough to know there are enough safe places to use the restroom
  • Pack and always keep own toilet paper with you. While most travelers should pack extra clothes in carry on, this can be particularly useful for those with IBS too.
  • Keep in reach fiber supplements, medications, bottled water and snacks (i.e. nuts or yogurt). Also, having doctor’s contact information and medical diagnosis listed can help with access to care.
  • Allow enough time to get places to avoid rushing and/or giving yourself enough time to assess a situation (i.e. limiting the amount of time between connecting flights can be stressful enough, give yourself at least 2 hours in between scheduled flights to get to your destination).
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You might want to ask, “Is there an early check in for hotel?” or “Does the hotel room come with a refrigerator?”
  • Investigate what measures you have to easily access bathrooms. Find out if you will need special coins and if you will have to buy toilet paper for access.
  • When booking flights, opt for the aisle seat for easier access to on flight bathroom.
  • If traveling in a foreign country learn phrases, such as “Where’s the bathroom”, “I can’t eat….” or “Can you make…[dish]…without?” A pocket dictionary or Google translate app can help with language translations too.
  • Be up front with traveling companions. Depending on your comfortability, let tour guides, friends and family know need for easy access to bathrooms. People are often more understanding than we give credit.
  • Traveling doesn’t always have the same schedule as one’s daily schedule, but try to consume the same serving and number of meals you’re used to.
  • If you’re up to trying new foods, experiment in small amounts.

A lot of these tips provide you asking lots of questions, but in the long run it will provide a more stress free trip. Having a few of the above-mentioned essentials can ease travel plans, but resist the temptation of overplanning! By leaving room for spontaneity, you can truly enjoy your travel! Happy travels!

Sources: http://www.everydayhealth.com/ibs/ibs-and-traveling.aspx

http://www.webmd.com/ibs/features/tips-traveling-with-ibs

http://www.aboutibs.org/site/living-with-ibs/travel

http://ibs.about.com/od/livingwithibs/tp/Travel-Tips-for-IBS.htm

http://mylifewithibs.com/travelling-with-ibs/

How Fast Do Burgers Age?


By: Nikki Nies

J. Kenji López-Alt, a restaurant-trained chef and managing director of the blog Serious Eats, performed an experiment that explored why fast food burgers seem immortal presence of some special preservative in the meat or bun, high salt content in the burger, low moisture content, no mold spores ever coming into contact with the burger, or no air where the burger was prepared.

The burger was obviously cooked where there is air and mold spores are fairly omnipresent no matter where you go, but they would have been killed when the burger was cooked. Thus, the latter two hypotheses were quickly thrown out. The ingredient list for a McDonald’s bun isn’t much different from those bought at the store and the patties claim to be 100% beef, so there were no obvious preservatives that would inhibit mold. Still, hedecided to test the burgers from McDonald’s against some that he made in his kitchen.

Nine different burger combinations were made by mixing and matching the buns and patties from McDonald’s and from his kitchen. Some of his patties had added salt, while others did not, and he also varied the types of packaging. His hands never made direct contact with any of the burgers, which were all left in the open air.

More than three weeks later, the McDonald’s food hadn’t rotted, but neither had the homemade patties. The homemade patty with no added salt looked no different than the those with extra salt, indicating it wasn’t the causal factor.

The key appeared to be moisture levels. The burgers had each lost a quarter of their weight within the first week, indicating that they had dried out. Without moisture, the mold can’t grow. Since McDonald’s uses thin patties with a lot of surface area, they quickly dry out before they can start to rot. This is the entire principle behind beef jerky. A McDonald’s burger sealed in a plastic bag will be completely consumed with mold within a week.

As far as the Buzzfeed video goes, it’s possible that different burger joints use different patty thicknesses, or contain varied ingredients that add moisture, such as different types of cheese or condiments. Also, there’s no way to know if the burgers were sealed within the jars at the same time after purchase, or if some had been given more time to dry out than others. There wasn’t enough due diligence in this video to hail Burger King as haute cuisine and condemn McDonald’s as mysterious Frankenfood quite yet.

This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s appropriate to eat fast food several times a week, either. Many drinks from McDonald’s far exceed the WHO’s new recommendation of 25 grams of sugar per day. Heck, a large chocolate shake has 120 grams all on its own. Additionally, most of their sandwiches and wraps make up over half of the recommended daily sodium levels, while medium fries are a quarter of the fat one should consume for the day.

If you want to hate fast food because you find the nutritional content objectionable, go right ahead. But criticize what it is, don’t speculate and fear monger about what it is not.

Sources:http://youtu.be/sygxmYlvr8I

http://devour.com/video/how-fast-do-burgers-age/

http://www.medicaldaily.com/all-american-burger-experiment-what-happens-your-best-fast-food-burger-when-left-jar-30-307363