Browsing Category

Research

Nutrition Research

Beef: It’s what should be for dinner

September 20, 2017
Lean beef stuffed bell peppers

Before I begin, this is not a plug for beef.  Nor is this an attack on vegans or vegetarians.  This here lil post is in beef’s defense.  I am not associated with the beef council; I am just a dietitian from Texas who wants you to stop feeling guilty when you serve lean beef to your family.

I believe that beef is “guilty by association”.   “Oh I never serve my family beef.”  “We only eat fish and chicken.”  “I always substitute ground turkey for ground beef.”  Honestly, if you don’t want to eat beef, that is ok.  (This is a loving and respecting blog).  However, I don’t want you to be avoiding lean beef because you think it’s bad for you.  Spoiler alert:  lean beef is good for you.

Here the 411 on the research.  There are numerous studies associating red & processed meat with an increased risk of cancer.  First and foremost, association and is not causation.  And second, you cannot pinpoint nor demonize one particular food in these observational studies.  It’s a combination y’all!  Being overweight, not exercising, boozing too much, skimping on your fruit and veggie intake, smoking, oh and let us not forget about genetics (thanks Mom and Dad) all play apart in your cancer and heart disease risk.  Lastly, “red meat” is way more than beef.  Red meat is meat from deer, boars, quail, pheasant, cattle, duck, and goose.  Processed meat is meat that is preserved by smoking, curing or salting (bacon, salami, sausage, hot dogs, and processed deli meat).

Now, now, don’t get me wrong!  I do not recommend over consuming any particular food.  I am a big advocate for variety.  But, did you know, recent research shows that consuming lean beef as a part of a heart healthy diet is an effective way to decrease your LDL?  I shit you not.  Not only does lean beef taste SO DAMN GOOD, it can IMPROVE those cholesterol levels.  The research had participants consume 5.4 ounces of lean beef daily.  So here in Texas, that is like a kiddie portion, but a portion nonetheless!  Look for the word ROUND or LOIN in the name.  Lean = 10 gram total fat, 4.5 gram saturated fat and 95 mg of cholesterol.  A 3 ounce serving of lean beef is about 150 calories and contains 10 essential nutrients.

Protein like lean beef has been shown to assist weight management.  Protein helps keeps you full and satisfied!  Current research shows that spreading your protein throughout your day helps decrease cravings, preserve muscle mass and balance your blood sugar.

So, take home message.  Look for “round” or “loin”, mind your portion (about the size your iPhone) and DO NOT feel guilty enjoying lean beef.

Now excuse me, I’m off to grill my steak.

Caroline

 

Nutrition Research

Pulse Check on Pulses

July 25, 2017
Pulse Check on Pulses

For my non dietitian friends, you might be asking yourself, “What the f are pulses?!”  So glad you asked dear friends!  Pulses are beans, lentils and peas….and they are AWESOME.  Banished by the fools that follow paleo (if you know me at all, you know I am not a fan of paleo nor the pseudoscience it promotes), these nutrition power houses have numerous health benefits.  Pulses are a huge part of the MIND diet and Mediterranean diet, both which have been shown to prevent cognitive decline.

Why you should be getting your PULSE on:

Fiber, folate, manganese, protein, iron, potassium, magnesium and copper are all found in pulses.  Oh and if thats not enough, these guys are also packed with phytochemicals like flavonoids.  Research shows that daily consumption can yield improved glycemic control (better blood sugar ranges), improvement in blood lipids (LDL, I’m looking at you), blood pressure and weight.  So with a lower body weight, better blood pressure and improved lipid panel, consuming pulses might prevent you from having a heart attack.  Even better news, you don’t have to eat a ton of pulses to reap the benefits!  You can cash in on the health benefits of pulses by simply consuming just 1/2 cup a day.

How you incorporate pulses into your world:

There are tons of way to cook these guys.  Overnight soaking, quick soaking, pressure cooking or just screw it and buy canned!  Look for the canned products that are just the pulse and water.  I like to add chickpeas to salads or add beans to soups and stews.  I also love adding black beans to my Tex Mex dishes.  How about peas with dinner?  Hummus anyone?  How about black bean dip?  See how easy this is?!

Concerned about incorporating this musical fruit?  One way to prevent gas (and gastric distress) is to increase your consumption of pulses slowly while also increasing your water intake.  Ease on down the pulse road!

Check your pulse on pulses!

 

 

Nutrition Research

Fat is back!

July 11, 2017
Fat is back!

Guess who’s back?  Back again?  Fat is back!  Tell a friend!!  Ok, sorry…that just never gets old!

Let’s chat fat.  Anyone that dieted in the 90s is reluctant to bring this macronutrient back into their world.  Remember those green Snackwell boxes?  That company took out all of the fat in their products and then filled them with sugar.  (Although I am not going to lie, the vanilla sandwiches were actually delicious.)  Fat has been demonized and celebrated all at the same time.  Saturated fat will clog your arteries, but wait, trans fats are worse!  And apparently to those who LOVE pseudoscience, coconut oil will fix everything in your life.  (BTW, it won’t.)

Here’s the 411 on fat:

Naughty fats:  Saturated and trans fats.  Saturated fats are found in animal fats, coconut & palm oils, and good old butter.  Trans fats are unsaturated fats found in partially hydrogenated veggie oils and foods containing these oils (such as any glorious pastry or other baked goods).  *Trans fats are structurally different from other unsaturated fats (found in plant foods).

Celebrated fats:  Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.  Poly: corn & soybean oils, nuts (walnuts), and seeds (pumpkin & flax).  Omega 3 (EPA and DHA) are both PUFAs and are found in salmon, tuna, mackerel and trout.  Mono: peanut butter, avocados, olive & canola oil.

Ok, but what about fat and weight loss?  So glad you asked!  Actually, low fat diets do not yield long lasting results in regard to weight management.  In fact the smarties over at Harvard recently reviewed a ton of studies and didn’t find low fat diets to be any more effective than higher fat diets for weight loss.

So what do you do?  Focus on the type of fat instead of the amount.  I tell my friends and family to focus on foods!  Be sure you incorporate healthy high fat foods into your day.  Have avocados, peanut butter, nuts and seeds daily.  Don’t be scared!  The fat will help keep you fuller, longer.  When you aren’t hungry, you are way more pleasant to be around!

Questions about fat?  Let me know!

 

 

Nutrition Research

High Quality H2O

June 20, 2017
Hydrating foods!

Water.  Totes important.  Majority of our bodies are water.  Needless to say, hydration is very important.  “They” say 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water a day.  But, actually, fluid needs are quite individualized.  Fluid needs vary greatly from person to person due to age, height, weight, gender, sweat rates, climate, and activity levels.   The best way to check your hydration status is to take a look at your pee (yep, I went there).  If your urine is dark and concentrated, it’s time to step it up and push fluids.  Signs of dehydration include thirst, fatigued, headaches and muscle cramps.   Dehydration can be dangerous as it raises your body temperature and increases your heart rate.  Electrolytes help keep water in the right balance both inside and outside your cells.  Sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium, all electrolytes, play a role in regulating your fluid stats.  Great news!  Certain foods contain both water and electrolytes!  In fact, the average person takes in 20% of their fluid needs from food.

As a dietitian, when I discuss high water content foods, celery, which is 96% water, usually is top of mind.  But there are so many more options!  Besides good, old H2O, try incorporating some of these foods throughout your day:

Cantaloupe, honeydew melon, papaya
These fruits are high in potassium.  Perfect to nibble on during a hot summer afternoon!

Watermelon, citrus, kiwis and bell peppers
They are also a great source of vitamin C! 

Yogurt and Kefir
These foods (or drinks!) are good for your probiotics, which helps keep your gut bacteria happy and you healthy. 

Heirloom Tomatoes
95% water and phytochemicals like lycopene!  Lycopene has been shown to lower your risk of chronic diseases and some form of cancers. 

Broccoli
Did you know broccoli is 90% water? True story. One cup has a day’s worth of vitamin C.

Grapes
Water + antioxidant resveratrol, which has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease.

Raspberries
At 8 grams of fiber per cup, these berries can help hydrate you and help get things moving.

It’s hot y’all.  Stay hydrated out there.

xoxo,

Caroline

Nutrition Research

Alcohol and the Big C

April 3, 2017

Let’s talk booze.  Anytime I am presenting, the topic of alcohol ALWAYS comes up.  I am a quarter Italian (a strong quarter) so I get it.  I enjoy a glass of wine on days that end in “Y”.

Wine brings people together!  Sunday night family dinner = wine.  Celebrating good news = wine.  Drama with a friend = wine.  Issues with your significant other = wine.  Rose` all day.  Red wine and red soles.  Wine is officially part of our culture.  Heck!  The Fat Jewish even has his own line of rose`!  Has anyone tried that yet?  Super curious.

We love to know about wine – where it’s from, what characteristics it possesses, how many cases were produced, etc.  We also love to tout the study that indicates it is good for our heart!  Oh and let us not forget our favorite diet of all….the Mediterranean diet, which embraces wine with meals.  (Can I get an amen for resveratrol?  And now, is anyone else having a RHOC moment?!)  Well, I am here today to get real about booze.  WAIT, don’t stop reading.  I promise I am drinking wine as I am writing this.  But, it is important to know what the literature says about alcohol.

First, let me begin by being Debbie Downer.  Let’s chat serving sizes.

Wine = 5 ounces

Beer = 12 ounces

Liquor = 1.5 ounces

These are comical and depressing all at the same time.

Alcohol itself has been identified as a carcinogen. Moreover, as alcohol is broken down in the body, it forms a compound called acetaldehyde, another human carcinogen.  According to the American Institute on Cancer Research, alcohol increases the risk of at least 6 cancers.  Booze causes about 27% of esophageal cancers, 11% breast cancers and it’s associated with colorectal and liver cancers.  In the British Million Women Study, one drink a day increased women’s risk of breast cancer by 12 %, with even three to six drinks weekly posing some risk. Emerging evidence suggests that alcohol may pose a risk for other cancers, too.

Now before you go emptying your bottles, it’s important to know that there are some other key players.  Obesity, sedentary lifestyle, low fiber diet and high intake of processed meat all increase your risk.  Yes, it’s also true that more is not better.  The more you drink the more you are increasing your risk for the big C.  For people who drink 4+ drinks daily, risk of various cancers increases from 50 to 500 percent compared to nondrinkers.  Keeping alcohol to less than one or two drinks a day poses much less risk, but does not remove it.

Are you still here?  Ok, good.  Whew!  Let’s turn this train around, what do you say?  Red wine contains resveratrol and other polyphenol plant compounds, which studies can reduce cancer development. Yassss!  However, human studies have mixed results. Some studies link lower cancer risk with a Mediterranean-style diet, which traditionally includes low to moderate amounts of wine with meals. But this diet is super high in some important cancer fighting compound like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fiber just to name a few.

For the lowest cancer risk, it might be a good idea to eliminate booze.  Womp womp.  Look, you get one chance to enjoy life!  Quality of life is SO important and red wine definitely increases my quality of life.  Take home message:  try to be cognizant of your portions and weekly intake.

A Mindful Cheers,

Caroline

 

 

Nutrition Research

Chin Up, Buttercup – Mood Boosting Foods

February 16, 2017

Winter…am I right?  Short days.  Cold weather.  This season can leave you in a funk!  What can you do to re-energize and boost your mood?  Eat!  Look, I am ALL for pharmacological intervention, but for this lil diddy today, I am talking all things food and mood.

Did you know hormone imbalance and micronutrient deficiency can lead to you feeling a bit blue?  I know, right?!  So much can affect your ‘tude.

Here’s what we know:

  • Exercise can boost your mood
  • Vitamin D can help reduce depression
  • carbs can help promote serotonin production
  • protein can help with neurotransmitter production
  • consuming fruits and vegetables can boost your mood
  • omega 3s can help reduce depression

What not to do:  sleep a shit ton, netflix and chill (skip spin class), eat garbage (cokes, fried foods, pastries, margarine, too much red meat-hey, this list is from Harvard so it’s legit).

What to eat:  shellfish, eggs, green leafy veggies, salmon, tuna, mackerel, walnuts, almonds, berries, dark chocolate, kefir, milk, yogurt, and whole grains.  What else can you do?  Exercise, meditate, practice deep breathing, keep a gratitude journal, volunteer and spend time with your fam & friends!

New research links inflammation to depression so be sure you are pushing your anti-inflammatory foods!  Incorporate green leafy veggies, olive oil, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, oranges, turmeric and fish.

Look, if you are in a serious funk, call your therapist!  But if find your normally happy self a bit down, take a look at your diet.

Chin up, buttercup.  Spring is just around the corner!

-Caroline

 

Nutrition Research

Metabolism Boosters….Do They or Don’t They

January 12, 2017

Myth or Fact?!  Do the following trends actually boost your metabolism and help you lose weight?

Hot Lemon Water 

You have seen this on social media.  Gorgeous yogis sipping their mugs of hot lemon water boosting all sorts of health claims like weight loss, detoxifying and more.  You must drink it first thing in the morning they say!  Well, here’s the truth: hot lemon water does not speed up your metabolism.  The water will help you meet you hydration needs and the lemon is loaded with vitamin C which we knows boots immunity.  That is about it.  Sorry yoga girls.

Bottom line: helps meet hydration needs.  No effect on weight loss.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Touted for weight loss and detox, this drink apparently does it all.  But when you dig into the research, there isn’t any proof in the pudding.  There was one notable study in 2004 that showed apple cider vinegar increased insulin sensitivity.  Vinegar might affect the way you digest starch.  This means lower blood sugar levels!  One note here, this study was done on folks consuming high carb meals.  So if you are already watching your starch intake and or eating foods high in fiber, the vinegar doesn’t really have an effect.  Remember, this is an acid, so never drink it straight!  Because it is so acidic, there are some lovely side effects like tooth erosion, aspiration, tenderness to esophagus and more.  Awesome.  Let us not forget, too much acid can technically poison you….

Bottom line:  minimal effect on blood sugar.  No effect on weight loss.

Turmeric combined with a milk alternative – “Golden Milk”

Sorry whole 30 folks.  But, good news, this one isn’t a total loss!  While turmeric does nothing for your metabolism, it does have an anti-inflammatory effect.  When the body experiences illness, injury, stress, irritation or infection, an acute inflammatory response occurs to heal the affected tissue.  When the acute response is not affective, the body goes to plan b: chronic inflammation.  Acute inflammation is therapeutic, but chronic inflammation even at a low level is problematic.  Inflammation is associated with obesity, diabetes, IBS and cardiovascular disease.  Researchers have found that phytochemicals from NATURAL foods, including herbs and spices, can help reduce inflammation.

There are only a handful of studies on weight loss and turmeric resulting in minimal results.

One fact: in India, the average consumption is 2-2.5 grams per day.

Bottom line: curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric that has the health benefits.  Evidence continues to support its role in the anti-inflammatory process but the jury is still out on turmeric’s effect on weight loss, cancer prevention, Alzheimer’s disease prevention and more.

Low Carb Diet

While this diet doesn’t not boost your metabolism, it will result in weight loss.  The current guidelines recommend that 45-55% of total calories come from carbohydrates.  The American Diabetes Association recommends 45-60 grams carbohydrates per meal.  A low carb diet is technically defined as less than 45% total calories per day (30-100 grams carbs per day) with 15-30% protein per day.  The meal usually looks like an animal protein, non-starchy vegetable and some sort of fat.   We have multiple studies that show a low carb diet can be an effective means of weight loss, but this diet is not recommend long term.

Bottom line:  you will lose weight when you restrict anything…let’s be honest.  A 2014 meta-analysis showed that the benefits of a low carb diets are not very large and only offer a slight advantage in terms of weight loss and fat mass compared to a normal protein diet.  However, cutting back on simple carbs is a great idea for all of us!   Don’t cut back too much of you will have some fun side effects like headache, bad breathe, weakness, fatigue, constipation, diarrhea…lovely.  Many experts agree that eating large amount of fat and protein from animals increases your risk of heart disease and cancer.

Want to boost your metabolism?

  • strength train to build lean body mass
  • move constantly throughout your day
  • eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • watch your waistline

Remember friends, follow science, not trends!

Nutrition Research

It’s GO time! How to Eat for Energy

December 14, 2016

We live in a culture of busy….in fact we claim business as a badge!  In a world of saying yes to everything, no wonder everyone is so damn tired.  Of course we’d all love to sleep 8 hours a night, but hey, let’s be honest, 8 hours is a DREAM for most folks.  So, what is our plan b to get through the day?  Insert caffeine!  Lattes, tea, energy drinks galore help us push through.  But is that the best way?

Energy drinks are technically sold as a dietary supplement, which means they can forgo nutrition labels. No label means we have absolutely NO idea what is in them.  Scary.  In fact, energy drinks aren’t even required to disclose how much caffeine is actually in the drink.  Even scarier. Technically it is safe for most adults to consume 400 mg of caffeine a day.  (For reference, 1 cup of coffee has about 80 mg.)  But instead of turning to a mystery energy drink or another high calorie, high sugar fancy coffee drink, why not try a new concept: eating for energy!

Nutritionally speaking, here are three things to focus on to help you stay energized all day long:

Complex Carbs – The brain and central nervous system’s preferred energy source is glucose. Glucose is found in carbohydrates like fruit, whole grain pastas, cereal, bread beans, potatoes, and rice. The dietary guidelines recommend that 45-65% of you total calorie intake come from carbohydrate. Carbohydrates can be simple or complex. Simple carbs are things like candy, cake, donuts, white bread, white rice, and baked goods. Complex carbs have more nutrition and fiber. Think fruits, vegetables, beans, potatoes, whole-wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, milk and yogurt. Always choose complex carbs over simple and be sure to spread your carb intake evenly throughout the day.

Magnesium – Did you know magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in the body? In fact, magnesium is needed for over 300 chemical and enzymatic processes. This mineral helps you take energy from food and make it into new proteins. It also helps keep your bones, muscle and nerves healthy. Deficiency can lead to fatigue, headaches, anxiety and more.  The best sources of magnesium are green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, fish, and whole grains.   Aim for 3 servings of dark greens a week and a serving (1/4 cup) of raw nuts daily.

Water – want more energy? Be sure you are drinking your water! Not enough fluid can lead to fatigue and headaches. Drinking a cup of water can easily reverse these symptoms. Aim for ½ to 1 cup every hour. Added bonus, you have to get up and go to the bathroom. Cheers to extra steps!

 

Energizing snacks:

  • ¼ cup almonds with ¼ cup dried fruit
  • ½ banana with 1 Tbsp of peanut butter
  • small apple with 1 ounce low fat cheese
  • 5 whole grain crackers with 1 ounce low fat cheese or hummus
  • ½ sandwich on whole grain bread
  • 3 cups light, microwaved popcorn
  • ½ cup berries with ¼ cup walnuts

xoxo

Caroline

Nutrition Research

Bone Broth – The New Coconut Oil?

October 31, 2016

Last week I was flipping through gram and there it was….a blogger (not a dietitian, not a physician, not a nurse, not a nurse practitioner, nor a physician’s assistant) posted a picture of herself sipping a cup of hot bone broth. This lifestyle blogger told her following of 32,500 that bone broth was going to prevent you from getting a cold and or flu this winter. 106 likes and 6 comments. It took great restraint NOT to comment.  Y’all, she has been so misinformed.

So here is the 411 on bone broth.   Let’s back up for a hot sec.  Broth is made from vegetables, meat and bones (sometimes roasted before), water, herbs, spices (salt, pepper, etc) and is simmered on low heat for  1-2 hours. The solids are removed and the liquid is strained and all that remains is the broth.  Stock is water simmered with vegetables and bones and is cooked for 4-6 hours.  Bone broth is roasted bones (with sometimes meat and vegetables) cooked for 24 hours then strained and seasoned.  Nutrient breakdown varies from homemade and packaged broths.

There are many benefits to bone broths. It can warm you up when you are cold. It can help you replace your sodium loss if you were exercising in the cold. (Check out the next cold weather NFL game…you will see some players sipping broth!) But, after warming you up and replacing any sodium that was lost, that is about all of the health benefits.  There are no peer reviewed, respected studies to date that bone broth provides any significant health benefits.

So sorry, sweet Paleo devotees.  Bone broth is just another trend.

Follow science, not trends.

Cheers,

Caroline

 

Nutrition Research

Whole Grains for the WIN

October 26, 2016

If you know me at all, you know I LOVE GLUTEN.  Nothing frosts my gluten filled cookies more than seeing girls on gram in their workout gear posting pics of their gluten free meal making you feel guilty for enjoying your bread.  There’s nothing wrong with that bread sister!  (Great time to check out my gluten and lower BMI post….just sayin’.)  Gluten is found in whole grains.  And whole grain are so hot right now.

Listen, if you are the 1% of Americans diagnosed with Celiac Disease, you go on with your gluten free self!  This post is for the peeps thinking they are being healthier by consuming gluten free products (which, fun fact, are 9 times out of 10 higher in calories and fat).

Gluten lovers, rejoice.  Last week, ANOTHER study came out letting us know that gluten is “a ok”.  Gluten is a protein found in wheat and whole grains, and whole grains are a thing of beauty.  Whole grains are fabulous for you.  Folks at the Cleveland Clinic found that incorporating whole grains into your diet improved diastolic blood pressure.  (Elevated diastolic number is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.)  In fact, in this particular study, incorporating whole grains reduced risk of a heart attack by 1/3 and risk of death by stroke by 2/5.  Can I get an amen?

To recap:  whole grains contribute to a multitude of health benefits including lowering your risk for stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and colorectal cancer.   So why, my dear, are you not eating your whole grains?  Leave those zoodles and lettuce wraps for the birds and enjoy some gluten.  Please note, I am totes referring to whole grains and not white, refined garbage.  White bread, buns, pasta, rice might taste divine but they are no bueno in the health department.  The average American consumes 16 grams of whole grains a day.  The current recommendation for whole grains is 50 grams per day….so we have a lil work to do.

What to look for: 100% whole wheat.  Whole wheat is whole grain.  Proceed with caution on “wheat” or “multigrain”.

Cheers my dears!