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

Claims’ Dissection


ct-icons-enBy: Nikki Nies

We’re bombarded by food labels and health claims in grocery stores, food advertisements and in our own kitchens! Yet, can you confidently differentiate between “light” foods and “fat free?” Do you gravitate to “fat free” labeled foods because you can’t reists the word FREE?

  • “Light”: calorie content; a product that advertises “light”, must contain 1/3 fewer calories than comparison food. In regards to fat in food, “light” must refer to 50% or less of fat than in comparison food.
  • “Calorie Free”: fewer than 5 calories per serving
  • “Low Fat”: 3 grams or less of fat than regular
  • “Fat Free”: product contains less than 0.5 g fat; no added fat or oil
  • “Cholesterol Free”: only animal products contain cholesterol, with no more than 2 mg of cholesterol present per serving; 2 g or less of saturated fat per serving may be present
  • “Calorie Free”: fewer than 5 calories per serving

Have an other health terms you find on food products that you find confusing? What health claims have you come across that were skeptical?

Photo Credit: Pixgood

Sources: http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm111447.htm

http://www.nutraingredients.com/Trends/Health-claims

http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm2006877.htm

http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm073992.htm

It’s an Egg-cellent Idea!


93935ddc76ee03c515d43e550bd86e02By: Nikki Nies

The topic of breakfast being the most important meal of the day has been driven into the ground quite nicely.  In addition, it’s a well known fact Santa Clause lives at the North Pole. Yet, the best breakfast options and how to make them are still up for discussion.  It’s not a coincidence that when impending storms are on hand people run to the grocery store for milk, bread and eggs.  With that said, 9/10 homes have eggs on hand in their fridge, but can be hesitant to use due to the controversy its affect on cholesterol levels and inconsistent recommendations of egg intake.

While the yolks of eggs contain the cholesterol, that doesn’t mean you have to shy away from eggs.  In moderation, which means no more than seven eggs per week, having eggs can be advantageous and without concern of increased risk of heart disease*.  Furthermore, in comparison to sodium, trans fat and saturated fat found in the accompaniments of eggs, sausage, ham, hash browns and the oil used to deep fry the foods, the cholesterol content found in chicken eggs is minimal. Also, using cholesterol free eggs or egg whites, which doesn’t contain the yolk part of the egg is recommended.

It’s unfortunate eggs receive such a bad wrap! If one’s mindful of the quantity of eggs consumed, more positive attention can be directed to eggs beneficial nutrient content

So, whether you’re already at the recommended seven eggs a day, there’s no harm in mixing up how you make your eggs! While I’m a sunny side up kind of gal, I vow to try a different use of eggs!

Fun Ways to Eat Eggs:

Original Image by Jodimichelle via Flickr
Original Image by Jodimichelle via Flickr
  • Omelettes, frittatas and quiches: Great way to get your daily recommended intake of vegetables,fruits and healthy oils
  • Hard Boiled: keeping a few hard boiled eggs on hand at all times is a great snack to take on the go; additionally can help cook eggs in advance in case of concerns of consumption prior to expiration date
  • Eggs Benedict
  • Mayo free egg salad. Can be eaten between two slices of bread, English muffin or as is!
  • Breakfast, lunch and/or dinner burrito: By adding eggs in a burrito filled with lean turkey, tomatoes and cheese, you’ll have your family asking for more! Also,make sure to add a spoonful of guacamole for extra flavor and texture!
  • Poached: by cooking in only water, it’s one of the healthiest ways to make eggs. You can’t beat the presentation either!
  • Deviled: many people put their own spin on deviled eggs.  Mix up the traditional recipe with curry powder, chopped celery and mayo!
  • Steamed (Chawan Mush): much easier than one would think, especially in clean up!
  • Egg Soup
  • Eggnog: doesn’t have to be designated to only December! Swap out the whip cream for a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg
  • Rolled Omelet (Tamagoyaki): A traditional Japanese way of frying eggs
  • Tea Eggs: A traditional Chinese snack, soak hard boiled eggs in a mixture of soy sauce and tea

What egg-cellent ways do you make eggs? What ways do you plan to incorporate eggs into your meals?

*Seven eggs may be too much for those with diabetes, with 186 mg of cholesterol per one large egg, this may significantly increase risk of heart disease.  It’s recommended that those with diabetes, heart disease and/or high cholesterol, cholesterol intake should not exceed 200 mg per day.  To translate, that means no more than 4-6 eggs per week!

Photo Credit: Pinterest 

Sources: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/expert-answers/cholesterol/faq-20058468

http://www.eggnutritioncenter.org/health-professionals/patientclient-education/

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/eggs/

Should I Stop Eating Eggs to Control Cholesterol? (Diet Myth 4)

http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/cooking-ideas/20-quick-and-easy-ways-cook-eggs

http://www.rd.com/slideshows/leftover-egg-yolks-clever-uses/

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/good-eggs-for-nutrition-theyre-hard-to-beat

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/11/14/ask-well-how-many-eggs-can-i-eat/?_r=0

http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/eggs-and-cholesterol

Black Bean Brownies


IMG_8358By: Nikki Nies

What would you say if I told you that to make brownies I need chocolate AND black beans?! Shocked? Surprised? Agreeable?

I admit, the first time I heard about this combination, I scrunched my face. Like many, I head to the dessert section of the restaurant menu to satisfy my sweet tooth, not for BEANS! Yet, during my latest rotation at Illinois’ Will County Women, Infants and Children Clinic, I had the opportunity to not only do a food demo, but to show women and children how they can use their dried beans that they may receive with their coupons in a guilt free, delicious manner!

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Preparing: place black beans in a colander, sort thoroughly and remove any tiny pebbles; rinse under cold water

How to soak: the larger the bean, the longer they need to soak. The longer you soak the beans, the faster they cook.  Soaking beans allows dried beans to absorb water, which begins to dissolve the starches that causes intestinal discomfort. Soak beans in 3x their volume of cold water for 6 hours before cooking.

  • 1/3 cup dry beans=1 cup cooked beans
  • 1/2 cup dry beans=1 1/2 cup cooked beans
  • 2/3 cup dry beans=2 cups cooked beans
  • 1 cup dry beans=3 cups cooked beans
  • 2 cups/1 lb. dry beans=6 cups cooked beans

Black Bean Brownies

Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Servings: 12 Serving: 1/12 of recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

1. Mash  beans, 1/4 cup chocolate chips and oil with a fork

2. Add eggs, brown sugar, cocoa, vanilla, baking powder and salt; cover and process until smooth.

2. Transfer to a 9-in. square baking pan coated with cooking spray.

3. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips. 3. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

Adapted from TasteofHome

Nutrition Facts per serving: 115 calories; 2.6 g of fat; 15 g carbohydrates; 2.9 g of protein

Black Bean Brownies with Mix

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes Servings: 12 Serving: 1/12 of recipe

Ingredients:

  • ½ 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ package brownie mix
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup chocolate chips, divided
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish
  2. Mash black beans and water together until smooth.  Pour into a bowl.
  3. Stir brownie mix into black bean mixture until batter is smooth; fold in ¼ cup chocolate chips.
  4. Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup chocolate chips over batter.
  5. Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted two inches from side of pan comes out clean, 25-27 minutes. Cool brownies completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares.

Adapted from AllRecipes

Nutrition Facts per serving: 150 calories; 5.6 g of fat; 25 g of carbohydrates; 2.3 g of protein

Nutrition Benefits of black beans:

  • ½ cup serving contains 113 calories
  • 1 cup serving of black beans ~15 grams of fiber and 15 grams of protein
  • Boost iron intake: 3.6 mg iron per cup
  • Folic acid, magnesium and potassium rich
  • 0 saturated fat

While the black bean brownies with mix recipe is great to have to have on hand with a time crunch, do you see a difference in nutrients between the black bean brownie recipe made from scratch and from the box? Have you tried black bean brownies before? What other ways have you added black beans into your dishes?

Photo Credit: Health and Happy Herbivore

Sources:http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/eating-black-beans-good-you-3605.html

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/beans-protein-rich-superfoods

http://www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/6-health-benefits-of-black-beans.html

http://www.healwithfood.org/health-benefits/black-beans.php

“Lighter Take” is Not So Light!


Original Image by m01229 via Flickr
Original Image by m01229 via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Unlike a typical restaurant review, which includes the evaluation of wait staff service, ambiance, and/or décor, we’re reviewing restaurants a little bit differently! Sensational Sustenance is redirecting one’s attention to the nutrient content on specific menu items! We aim to not only evaluate the flavors in the entrees given, but how nutrient rich they are in relation to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans using our own proprietary score sheet:  Healthy Food Critic’s Ultimate Review Form for Restaurant Entrees.  I recently visited Maggiano’s,  ready for my senses to be wowed.

For those not familiar with Maggiano’s, it is an Italian chain restaurant that offers simple, authentic Italian dishes. While Maggiano’s originated in Oak Brook, Illinois, with consumer favor, it has expanded nationally, with locations everywhere from California to Georgia to Massachusetts.  Recently, Maggiano’s has advertised their “Lighter Take” menu options, promising that while portion sizes haven’t been compromised, the chefs have utilized new cooking techniques to satisfy the “toughest critics.” With only a handful of these “Lighter Take” options, I opted for the Lighter Take Fettuccine Alfredo (850 calories), which was described as encompassing “hand cut fettuccine grilled chicken, asparagus and asiago cream sauce.”

When the dish came, it was hard to smell anything specific, with the food lukewarm to taste.  That is not to say that there was a particularly unpleasant odor, but if I were to have to describe the dish by how it smelled it would have been challenging. Being able to appreciate  the aroma of asiago cheese and/or asparagus would have started the dish on a great note and would have elevated my opinion of the dish.  Yet, I was glad the asparagus and parsley were present to give the dish a more visually appealing look with  added textures and colors.

The entrée appeared quickly put together, with the food arranged disproportionately to the right hand side of the bowl.  In addition, the serving bowl itself was larger than needed.  While, the size of the bowl did not hinder my ability to eat the pasta, I would have preferred a smaller size plate to eat from as research shows that eating from a smaller plate increases perceived satiety.

Maggiano’s offers the “choose one Classic Pasta for today and another for tomorrow” option, allowing customers to order one dish to eat at the restaurant and another, potentially different dish, to take home!  Therefore, receiving two dishes for the price of one, at $12.50 of the entree was adequate–I chose to take the “Lighter Take” Baked Ziti home as my complimentary dish. In comparison to the evaluations’ healthy option measures, the fettuccini alfredo did not meet any of the standards below.  Let’s break it down:

Healthy Option Parameters1 Fettuccini Alfredo Nutrient Content
600 calories or less 850 calories
At least 50% is fruit or non-starchy vegetables More than 80% was noodles; sparse amount of asparagus
Grain based item are at least 50% whole grains No indication of whole grain noodles used
Total fat is less than 30% of total calories Total fat was 36% of calories–850 calories had 34 g of fat
Sodium is less than 750 mg 1530 mg
Low in added sugars N/A
Less than 10% of calories from saturated fat 18 g of fat=18(9)=162 g of fat162/850=19% of calories from saturated fat

1Healthy Option Parameters are in conjunction with the Dietary Guidelines’ measures for a balanced, healthy meal.

As you can see, none of the healthy option parameters  were met, which does not provide any convincing evidence that this dish is healthy.  I consider myself an alfredo “aficionado” and I found the sauce to be on the blander side. The bland sauce did not add too much to the entree’s flavor.  Thankfully, the parts of the entree that I found worked best” were the amount of salty tasted and portion size! As an asparagus fanatic, I would have loved to have seen more on the plate, but I was still content with the amount provided.

Overall, I rated my entree as ‘liking slightly” as  I was underwhelmed with this generic entree that didn’t pique my taste buds’  nor did I walk away convinced this entree belonged under the “Lighter Take” section, with many of the healthy option parameters not met.  After the underwhelming combination of flavors and overall experience, Maggiano’s lighter take on the alfredo wasn’t “light” enough in nutrients for me to be included on the “Lighter Take” menu.  With the “regular” fettuccini alfredo listed as 1570 calories on Maggiano’s website, I don’t want to think about what the fat, sodium and/or nutrient content of that dish is!

Low Cholesterol Diet


By: Nikki Niesshutterstock_57921664

While it’s been pounded into our heads the notion of “good” vs. “bad” fats, we shouldn’t overlook such labels as they’re for valid measure.  Yes, fats can be used as a type of energy source for the body, but it’s the primary source of the energy and like any subject matter, too much is harmful.  In regards to our bodies, too much fat has a direct correlation with one’s risk for heart disease and/or stroke. Old news, right?

Fat intake’s contribution to cardiovascular disease(s) may be old news, but why does our society struggle with that news? peppers-betaPerhaps, you need a fresh thought on the concepts.  Not keen on the guidelines for a low cholesterol diet? Limit cholesterol, duh! Yet, there’s more to it than that.  Actually, there’s two tiers of the cholesterol diet, which was created by the National Cholesterol education Program (NCeP).  The two low cholesterol guidelines continue to emphasize: low sodium, decreased total fat and saturated fat, decreased dietary cholesterol, increased fiber and complex carbs and decreased energy intake to obtain and/or maintain a healthy body weight.

I’m not a fan of the word “diet”, but that’s how dietary guidelines are phrased.  Therefore, Step 1 is composed of dietary changes to reduce cholesterol levels for those over the age of 2.  Step 2 of the cholesterol diet consists of more stringent limitations and is more appropriate for those with a current and/or past heart attack, stroke, high cholesterol or evidence of atherosclerosis–clog in arteries.

Photo Credit:Disease Proof and Women’s Fitness UK

Sources: http://www.gatewayhealth.com/images/uploads/general/36_-_Low_Cholesterol_Diet.pdf

Kids LiveWell


KLW_homepage_spot_ad_webBy: Nikki Nies

Dining out is meant to be filled with fun, however, a little planning ahead of time can make it healthy too! Thanks to the National Restaurant Association’s partnership with the Healthy Dining Finder on the Kids LiveWell Program, parents have more access to list of healthier restaurants options.

Restaurants that participate in the Kids LiveWell program promise to offer menu options that focus on increased fruit and vegetable intake, lean protein, whole grains and low fat dairy.  These provisions are on top of the limitation of unhealthy fats, sugars and sodium.  Do these menu options sound familiar? Perhaps, it reminds you of the Dietary Guidelines?

Criteria to be considered Kids LiveWell full meal including entree, side and drink

  • 600 calories or less
  • ≤ 35% of calories from total fat
  • ≤ 10% of calories from saturated fat
  • < 0.5 grams trans fat
  • ≤ 35% of calories from total sugars (added and naturally occurring)
  • ≤ 770 mg of sodium
  • 2 or more food groups

Criteria to be considered a nutritious side item:

  • 200 calories or less
  • ≤ 35% of calories from total fat
  • ≤ 10% of calories from saturated fat
  • < 0.5 grams trans fat
  • ≤ 35% of calories from total sugars (added and naturally occurring)
  • ≤ 250 mg of sodium
  • 1 food group

With more than 42,000 restaurants participating in this health initiative, your family should not have too much trouble finding healthy options that meet your taste preference. Restaurant  establishments include: Au Bon Pain, Bonefish Grill, Burger King, Burgerville, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Chevys Fresh Mex, Chili’s Grill & Bar, Corner Bakery Cafe, Cracker Barrel, Denny’s, El Pollo Loco, Friendly’s, IHOP, Joe’s Crab Shack, Outback Steakhouse, Silver Diner, Sizzler, T-Bones Great American Eatery and zpizza.

Due to Kids LiveWell three year anniversary, make sure to check out promotional offers that can be used as supported restaurants!  With all these great offers, you can dine out guilt free! What menu option are you going to try next?

Photo Credit:National Restaurant Association

Sources: http://www.restaurant.org/Industry-Impact/Food-Healthy-Living/Kids-LiveWell-Program

Chocoholics Celebrate!


By: Nikki Nies

Chocolate has been tooted as a “healthy” indulgence.  Guys and gals clamor to their feet to celebrate such announcements! Before we get chokladahead of ourselves, I hate to burst your bubble, but I want to make sure every one knows why chocolate is healthy in moderation!

Chocolate derives from the cacao plant, which is flavanol rich phytochemical. Flavanols are a type of antioxidant rich flavonoids.  It’s important to note that not all types of chocolate have an equal distribution of flavonoids, with dark chocolate found to be the most antioxidant rich. Second best is unsweetened baking chocolate, which has the second most amount of flavanol content per serving.  Moreover, the more nonfat cocoa solids chocolate contains, the more antioxidants it has.

Nutrient Content of Chocolate: Cacao contains saturated fat, mostly in the form of stearic acid, which has been noted not to contribute to elevating cholesterol levels. Monounsaturated fat and palmitic fatty acid are also present.

The issue that comes up with chocolate is when “milk fat”,”coconut butter”, “coconut oil”, “palm oil” and/or “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils” are added.

Potential benefits of chocolate in moderation:

  • Reduce risk of heart attack, blood pressure, LDL oxidation, platelet clumping
  • May contain anti inflammatory properties
  • Increase insulin sensitivity
  • Improve arterial blood flow and/or chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Help resist cell damage

CocoaVia_Stickpacks_unsweetened_vertWith news of chocolate’s potential health benefits, companies have made efforts to provide more flavanol rich products.  Hershey’s has its own Cacao Reserve and CocoaVia by Mars has come out with its own line of flavanol rich dark chocolate!

Limit chocolate to no more than 15-30 grams of chocolate per day! Two Hershey kisses may not sound like much, but you don’t really need more than that to “taste” the goodness of chocolate!

Sources: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/health-by-chocolate

http://www.dietdoctor.com/will-more-sugar-make-chocolate-healthier

http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/prevention/nutrition/food-choices/benefits-of-chocolate.aspx

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270272.php

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/03/18/290922850/chocolate-turns-into-heart-helpers-by-gut-bacteria

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140318154725.htm

http://www.med.umich.edu/umim/food-pyramid/dark_chocolate.htm

http://www.cocoavia.com/about-cocoavia/press

‘Smart’ Frozen Meals


By: Nikki Nies

I’m a self-proclaimed realist.  I recognize that TV dinners aka frozen meals are a mainstay in grocery aisles and family households.  Instead of stating one should avoid such meals, I’ll join in on the fun and try to provide some healthier alternatives and guidance on what to parts of the food label one should discern when opting between two choices.

Prepackaged frozen meals take up more shelf space than any other type of food in the frozen aisle!  There’s no way to bypass reading the nutrition fact label to ensure you’re choosing the healthiest option! In other words, please give yourself a few extra minutes to compare meals and perhaps bring a pair of gloves down that aisle if you’re like me and get cold easily!

There are two types of frozen meals one should stick to: esq-iNWyfh-frozen-large

  1. Light Frozen Meals: Less than 300 calories and no more than 8 g of fat
  2. Regular Frozen Meals: 360-400 calories per meal and a maximum of 25 g of fat

Additional Tips:

  • When possible, go for the light frozen meal.
    Make sure to note the frozen meal portion size and grab the meal with veggies, as they tend to be lower in calories and contain more fiber and vitamins and minerals
  • Choose entrees that contain brown rice
  • Opt for lean meats–chicken, poultry and/or pork
  • Stick with lighter brand versions: Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, Weight Watchers, and/or Amy’s
  • Hungry Man, Marie Callendar’s and Stouffer’s brand tend to be very rich in calories and fat and less nutrient dense than the lighter brands!
  • If you’re watching your sodium intake, it’s recommended to limit intake to less than 600-800 mg per meal, which is 1/3 of recommended sodium intake for average American
  • Don’t get wrapped up in the health claims the packages toot, this includes “natural” and “organic.”
  • Select meals with at least 3-5 g of fiber
  • Limit fat intake to less than 3 g of saturated fat or less per serving

I recognize these tips may seem overwhelming.  If needed, slowly start incorporating these suggested tips into your daily frozen meal choices one at a time.  Grocery shopping is one of my favorite past times and I hope it becomes and/or stays one of yours as well!

Sources: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/top-12-healthy-frozen-dinners

http://www.thedailymeal.com/15-healthiest-frozen-dinners

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/food-for-men/microwave-meals-lyfe-kitchen-1013

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/best-frozen-dinners

http://www.diabetes.org/mfa-recipes/tips/2012-04/on.html

Coco-what?!


By: Nikki Nies nutrition_cocomon_curry

In the last couple of years, there’s been hype around the use of coconut oil over other types of oil, due to its cholesterol lowering effects. There are two major types: virgin and refined.  Virgin coconut oi’s extracted from the fruit of mature coconuts without using high temperatures or chemicals.  Refined coconut oil is created using dried coconut meat that’s often bleached and/or deodorized.

I have to admit, I got sucked into the advertisements that coconut oil is an equivalent to olive oil.  I even bought a ___ container of coconut oil from Costco, that’s how committed I was.

A study let by Kai et al., 2011, looked into the efficacy of virgin coconut oil (VCO) in regards to weight reduction and overall safety of use in 13 female and 7  obese male Malay volunteers.  Weight, associated anthropometric parameters and lipid profile one week before and one week after VCO intake was documented. Organ function tests were used to assess the safety of VCO one week before and after use. The results showed only waist circumference was different from the initial visit, with a 2.86 cm reduction or a 0.97% change in measurement.  There was no change in lipid profile, but there was a small decrease in creatinine and alanine transferase levels. The study found no changes in women’s waist circumference or lipid profile, yet this product was seemed as safe to use on humans.

o-BENEFITS-OF-COCONUT-OIL-facebookUse of coconut oil is in conclusive.  Due to its high saturated fat content and more concrete evidence on the impact of fish oil, it’s recommended to use coconut oil sparingly.  Studies have shown that those using fish oil have a slight increase in their HDL levels, but also have a slight increase in their LDL levels.  There is strong evidence that the use of fish oil has a positive impact on one’s triglycerides, another type of fat that can increase one’s risk for heart disease.

With the limited research on the impact on hypercholesterolemia,Alzheimer’s disease, chronic fatigue, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome,thyroid problems and/or weight loss, if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t have bought coconut oil.l  Like other types of tropical oils, such as palm oil and palm kernel oil, coconut oil’s high in saturated fat–specifically myristic acid and lauric acid.  Together, myristic and lauric acid have a greater total cholesterol raising impact than the palmitic acid found in meat and dairy products. Lauric acid decreases the Total:HDL cholesterol ratio due to the increase in HDL cholesterol levels.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic’s Nutrition Care Manual current recommendations for disorders of lipid metabolism:

  • Limit intake of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.
  • Consume adequate energy to maintain or achieve appropriate weight.
  • Replace saturated fat with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat (MUFA and PUFA)
  • Increase intake of n-3 fatty acids, fiber (especially soluble fiber), vegetables, and fruits

Since I did buy the coconut oil, I’ll use it sparingly, but I now recognize the difference between the hype and see the lack of scientific evidence to back up the mass market claims of coconut oil. If you do end up using coconut oil, when sauteeing or baking up to 350F,  opt for the virgin coconut oil as it’ll provide items with that “tropical” taste.  As unrefined coconut oil’s tasteless, in up to 425F it can be used in stir frying or high heat sauteeing.

Bottom Line: While high in saturated fat, coconut oil doesn’t contain trans fat, like shortening.  The types of fat in oils is important to consider than the numerical quantity of fat in the diet.

Sources:

1. Cunningham E. Is There Science to Support Claims for Coconut Oil?. Journal Of The American Dietetic Association [serial online]. May 2011;111(5):786. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed June 23, 2014.

2. Kai Ming L, Yeong Yeh L, Chee Keong C, Rasool A. An Open-Label Pilot Study to Assess the Efficacy and Safety of Virgin Coconut Oil in Reducing Visceral Adiposity. ISRN Pharmacology [serial online]. January 2011;:1-7. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed June 23, 2014.

3. Q: Does coconut oil improve cholesterol by raising good cholesterol, or should I use fish oil?. Mayo Clinic Health Letter [serial online]. August 2012;30(8):8. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed June 23, 2014

4.Coconut oil: Supervillain or superfood?. Harvard Heart Letter [serial online]. January 2014;24(5):7. Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed July 5, 2014

5. Lawrence G. Dietary fats and health: Dietary recommendations in the context of scientific evidence. Adv Nutr. 2013;4:294-302.