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What Are The Healthiest Holiday Foods?

November 25th, 2015

Making Healthy Holiday Food Choices

It’s estimated that Americans gain at least one pound, and up to five pounds of weight, between Thanksgiving and New Years.  Repeat that for a few years and we look less and less like our high school yearbook photo.

But that doesn’t have to be the case, if we learn what foods to embrace and what foods to avoid.  Here’s a list of both:
Healthy Holiday Foods

Cranberries
The phytochemicals that impart the red color to cranberries are powerful anti-aging antioxidants. They also reduce the ability of bacteria to stick to our cells thereby reducing the risk of urinary infections.

Apples and Applesauce
Contain heart healthy fiber and compounds like quercetin and ellagic acid that are powerful antioxidants and protect against cardiovascular disease and inflammation which is involved in almost all chronic disease.

Dark Chocolate
Seventy percent or more cocoa content contains the most flavonols — helpful plant substances that help protect the heart and arteries.

Green Beans
Naturally low in calories, string beans are loaded with vitamin K, which helps protect your bones. Also, a good source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A. But skip heavy sauces with this vegetable. Try beans lightly tossed with olive oil and lemon.

Nuts
Nuts are chock-full of heart-healthy unsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. 

Pumpkin Pie
This rich orange vegetable contains carotenoids for making Vitamin A in the body and fighting free radicals. Pumpkin is also a good source of potassium and fiber.  Beware: most pies are loaded with sugar – use artificial sweetener instead of sugar for a lower calorie dessert.

Yams & Sweet Potatoes
Yams offer carotenoids, potassium, Vitamin C, and fiber. Candied yams are high in sugar. Bake with a bit of brown sugar, or with artificial sweetener, for the taste without the calories. 

And some additional choices that are health and weight friendlier:

  • Whole grains, such as whole-wheat rolls, wild rice, and quinoa
  • Shrimp, lobster, and other steamed seafood
  • Plain or lightly dressed vegetables
  • Meat and poultry without the gravy
  • Salad greens (lightly dressed)
  • Fresh fruit

Foods to Avoid During the Holidays With Possible Substitutes

Swedish meatballs – instead, try some cold cuts like ham or turkey

EggNog – instead, try a cinnamon or other spiced tea

Stuffed potatoes – instead, eat a regular baked potatoe or red potatoes

Creamed spinach – instead, spinach without the cream or broccoli

Pot Roast – instead, breast of turkey or sliced steak

Fruitcake – instead, a fruit tart

Pecan Pie – instead, a fruit tart

Cheese Cake – instead, a slice of pound cake

Croissant – instead, some whole grain bread

Hot Buttered Rum – just leave out the butter, and then spice with nutmeg

Cinnamon Rolls – instead, a slice of toasted whole grain bread with a bit of jelly

Ice Cream – instead, sorbet

Making sensible diet choices is easier than it seems and there’s no time like the present to start.

Here’s to a fun, tasty holiday.

Making healthy diet choices is easier than it seems and there’s no time like the present to start.

Here’s to a fun, tasty and healthy holiday season!

 

Curt Hendrix M.S. C.C.N. C.N.S.

 

WHY THERE IS ALWAYS ROOM FOR DESSERT, NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU HAVE PREVIOUSLY EATEN!

May 13th, 2012

Many, many, years ago, I asked my little daughter who was 5 or 6 at the time, why she couldn’t finish her vegetables but still very much wanted her dessert.  She told me, “Poppy don’t you know that desserts go into a different stomach?”

Well, as it turns out, she wasn’t far from wrong.  No, we don’t have two different stomachs, but researchers from Italy propose that our brains do react differently to foods that we love.

We have all eaten many meals where we are completely full, maybe even stuffed, and we can’t eat another bite of the main course, but still find room to eat some tempting treat or dessert.

These researchers explored how our bodies react when aroused by irresistible treats. They suggest that regardless of how full we are, our bodies are chemically predisposed to seek gratification from foods that we love.

They studied “hedonic hunger” (hunger that comes about due to the need for gratification as opposed to caloric deficit).

The study which was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism was small only involving 8 people, so therefore is preliminary but still very interesting and suggestive.

In the early history of man, a consistent source of food was not guaranteed and depending upon hunting conditions and weather, one could go for days without eating.  So the need to overload on food when it was available, to protect against those times when it wasn’t, made sense.  This is referred to as “homeostatic” hunger. (hunger that comes about when we need to protect and sustain our basic life functions.)

That is certainly not the case, in modern times, so why do we still overeat despite the fact that we are full and usually don’t have to worry about where our next meal is coming from?  Is it possible that many of us eat “just for fun” (hedonistic hunger) and is this hunger caused by biochemical signals that are hard to resist?

The eight people studied were between the ages of 21-33. They were all healthy, not over-weight and free of any eating or dieting disorders.

The participants were fed healthy breakfasts. After an hour, they were asked how hungry they felt and were then presented with what they had previously told the researchers were their favorite food.  They were not allowed to eat the food, just see and smell it.  Later on, they were allowed to eat it.

The participants were then asked how hungry they were now, after being exposed to their favorite treat.

A month later, they went through the same test. They were fed the same breakfast. After an hour passed, the researchers asked them how hungry they were and then exposed them to a bland food combination that they were only allowed to see and smell. Later on, they were allowed to eat it.

Although the participants felt equally full after eating each of the two breakfasts, their desire, urge to eat and appetites were significantly higher after being exposed to their favorite treat as opposed to the bland food offering.

In addition, after eating their favorite food as compared to eating the bland food choice,  the blood tests of each of these people revealed, that ghrelin, a hormone made in the stomach that is a signal of hunger, jumped significantly and remained high for 2 hours, but decreased after eating the bland food option.

In other words, seeing, smelling and eventually eating the “tempting treat” actually caused significant increases in hunger that continued for 2 hours.

The take-away from this study is:  The mere presence of your favorite treats in your home can lead you to thinking about them and artificially increase your appetite and sense of hunger, even though you have previously eaten and consumed enough calories for your health and homeostatic hunger needs.

The solution is clear.

  • DON’T STOCK YOUR SHELVES WITH YOUR FAVORITE TREATS!  IF THEY ARE EASILY AVAILABLE YOU WILL THINK ABOUT THEM, EAT THEM, RAISE YOUR HUNGER LEVELS AND EAT MORE OF EVERYTHING ELSE…..CHANGE YOUR FOOD SHOPPING HABITS!
  • DON’T USE THE EXCUSE I BUY THEM FOR THE KIDS OR YOUR HUSBAND, BECAUSE YOU ARE OBVIOUSLY NOT DOING THEM ANY FAVORS BY DOING SO!
  • INDULGE IN YOUR FAVORITE TREATS OCCASSIONALLY AT A RESTAURANT NOT AT HOME!

If you want to lose weight, avoid developing type II diabetes, heart disease and possibly even cancer, follow this simple advice.

Curt Hendrix M.S. C.C.N. C.N.S.

MAKE SURE BERRIES ARE A REGULAR PART OF YOUR DIET

April 28th, 2012

Berries are rapidly being established as “super-star” protectors of your over-all health.

A slew of studies over the last 10 years have documented the multiple health benefits of regular consumption of berries. While the evidence is pointing to the fact that most berries are healthy, the preponderance of studies has been done on blueberries.

It is well known that berries in general contain high levels of powerful antioxidants that help to prevent both cellular and DNA damage, which are often root causes of disease. Research has shown that freezing berries does NOT reduce their high levels of antioxidants.

The health benefits that berry consumption can provide are:

Anti-Cancer benefits

Protect against memory and cognitive decline associated with aging

Brain protection benefits

Eye health protection benefits

Skin health protection benefits

Heart and blood vessel protection benefits

Blood sugar regulation benefits

For example, one of the studies on blueberries demonstrated that after 3 months of consumption, older adults (average age of 76) had higher scores on two different tests measuring cognitive function.

Consumption of 1 to 1 ½ cups 3-4 times a week, are sufficient to achieve the benefits listed above. Start your children on this healthy habit as early as possible.

 

Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.

 

References

  • Adams LS, Phung S, Yee N et al. Blueberry Phytochemicals Inhibit Growth and Metastatic Potential of MDA-MB-231 Breast Cancer Cells Through Modulation of the Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase Pathway. Cancer Res. 2010 May 1; 70(9): 3594-3605. Published online 2010 April 13. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-3565. 2010.
  • Ahmet I, Spangler E, Shukitt-Hale B et al. Blueberry-Enriched Diet Protects Rat Heart from Ischemic Damage. PLoS ONE. 2009; 4(6): e5954. Published online 2009 June 18. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005954. 2009.
  • Basu A, Du M, Leyva MJ et al. Blueberries Decrease Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Obese Men and Women with Metabolic Syndrome. . The Journal of Nutrition. Bethesda: Sep 2010. Vol. 140, Iss. 9; p. 1582-1587. 2010.
  • Basu A, Rhone M and Lyons TJ. . Berries: emerging impact on cardiovascular health. Nutr Rev. 2010 Mar;68(3):168-77. Review. 2010.
  • DeFuria J, Bennett G, Strissel KJ et al. Dietary . Dietary Blueberry Attenuates Whole-Body Insulin Resistance in High Fat-Fed Mice by Reducing Adipocyte Death and Its Inflammatory Sequelae. J Nutr. 2009 August; 139(8): 1510-1516. doi: 10.3945/jn.109.105155. 2009.
  • Grace MH, Ribnicky DM, Kuhn P et al. Hypoglycemic activity of a novel Anthocyanin-rich formulation from Lowbush Blueberry, Vaccinium angustifolium. Phytomedicine. 2009 May; 16(5): 406-415. 2009.
  • Hurst RD, Wells RW, Hurst SM et al. Blueberry fruit polyphenolics suppress oxidative stress-induced skeletal muscle cell damage in vitro. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2010 Mar;54(3):353-63. 2010.
  • Jenkins DJA, Ssrichaikul K, Kendall CWC et al. The relation of low glycaemic index fruit consumption to glycaemic control and risk factors for coronary heart disease in type 2 diabetes. Diabetologia. 2011 February; 54(2): 271-279. 2011.
  • Krikorian R, Shidler MD, Nash TA et al. Blueberry Supplementation Improves Memory in Older Adults. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 April 14; 58(7): 3996-4000. 2010.
  • Lohachoompol V, Srzednicki G, and Craske J. The Change of Total Anthocyanins in Blueberries and Their Antioxidant Effect After Drying and Freezing. J Biomed Biotechnol. 2004 December 1; 2004(5): 248-252. 2004.
  • Mannal P, McDonald D and McFadden D. Pterostilbene and tamoxifen show an additive effect against breast cancer in vitro. Am J Surg. 2010 Nov;200(5):577-80. 2010.
  • Mizuno CS and Rimando AM. Blueberries and Metabolic Syndrome. Silpakorn University Science and Technology Journal Year: 2009 Vol: 3 Issue: 2 Pages/record No.: 7-17. 2009.
  • Paul S, DeCastro AJ, Lee HJ et al. Dietary intake of pterostilbene, a constituent of blueberries, inhibits the beta-catenin/p65 downstream signaling pathway and colon carcinogenesis in rats. Carcinogenesis. 2010 Jul;31(7):1272-8. Epub 2010 Jan 8. 2010.
  • Paul S, Rimando AM, Lee HJ et al. Anti-inflammatory action of pterostilbene is mediated through the p38 MAPK pathway in colon cancer cells. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2009 July; 2(7): 650-657. Published online 2009 June 23. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-08-0224. 2009.
  • Sablani SS, Andrews PK, Davies NM et al. Effect of thermal treatments on phytochemicals in conventionally and organically grown berries. J Sci Food Agric. 2010 Apr 15;90(5):769-78. 2010.
  • Scibisz I and Mitek M. The changes of antioxidant properties in highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) during freezing and long-term frozen storage. Acta Scientiarum Polonorum : Technologia Alimentaria Year: 2007 Vol: 6 Issue: 4 Pages/record No.: 75-81. 2007.
  • Simmen FA, Frank JA, Wu X et al. Lack of efficacy of blueberry in nutritional prevention of azoxymethane-initiated cancers of rat small intestine and colon. BMC Gastroenterol. 2009; 9: 67. Published online 2009 September 16. doi: 10.1186/1471-230X-9-67. 2009.
  • Still AJ, Cash KC, Johnson WD et al. Bioactives in Blueberries Improve Insulin Sensitivity in Obese, Insulin-Resistant Men and Women. The Journal of Nutrition. Bethesda: Oct 2010. Vol. 140, Iss. 10; p. 1764-1768. 2010.
  • Stoner GD, Want LS, Seguin C et al. Multiple Berry Types Prevent N-nitrosomethylbenzylamine-Induced Esophageal Cancer in Rats. Pharm Res. 2010 June; 27(6): 1138-1145. 2010.
  • Vuong T, Matar C, Ramassamy C et al. Biotransformed blueberry juice protects neurons from hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress and mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway alterations. Br J Nutr. 2010 Sep;104(5):656-63. Epub 2010 May 12. 2010.
  • Wang SY, Chen CT, Sciarappa W et al. Fruit quality, antioxidant capacity, and flavonoid content of organically and conventionally grown blueberries. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Jul 23;56(14):5788-94. Epub 2008 Jul 1. 2008.
  • Wu X, Kang J, Xie C et al. Dietary Blueberries Attenuate Atherosclerosis in Apolipoprotein E-Deficient Mice by Upregulating Antioxidant Enzyme Expression. J. Nutr. September 1, 2010 vol. 140 no. 9 1628-1632. 2010.

 

HEALTHY CHOCOLATE! The Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

April 20th, 2011

Recent studies, published in well-respected science journals, state that moderate consumption of dark chocolate but not other kinds of chocolates like milk chocolate or white chocolate, can yield some important health benefits.

“Dark chocolate”, also called “plain chocolate” or “black chocolate”, is chocolate produced with either zero or much less milk than milk chocolate, to which sugar and fat are added.

Dark chocolate is synonymous with semisweet and extra-dark (that contains even higher levels of cocoa) is also referred to as bittersweet.

The percentage of cocoa, in dark and extra-dark chocolate, is significantly higher than the cocoa levels in milk chocolate.

This is significant for at least 2 reasons:

1 – Milk is thought to interfere with the absorption, into our bodies, of the healthy and naturally occurring antioxidants, called polyphenols, which are found in the cocoa derived from the cocoa bean. Cocoa levels in dark chocolate can get as high as 90% or more. Levels in milk chocolate can be significantly less than 35%.

2 – The higher % of cocoa in dark chocolate results in higher levels of the antioxidants which are thought to yield some of the health benefits of dark chocolate that will be discussed below.

Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

An article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed that dark chocolate lowers blood pressure.

Another paper, published by Italy’s National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research, showed that the antioxidants in dark chocolate consume destructive free radicals that associated with heart disease and other chronic degenerative diseases. This research also showed that milk either in the chocolate or consumed with the chocolate will interfere with the absorption of the antioxidants in the dark chocolate and reduce or eliminate their potential benefits.

Therefore, do not consume milk at the same time you eat dark chocolate. A reasonable portion of dark chocolate would be about 75- 100 grams or about 2 ½-3 ½ ounces. But remember, this much dark chocolate would contain about 370-530 calories, so try to eliminate another desert, of similar caloric content, if you start consuming dark chocolate.

I know with Easter just around the corner all of those cute milk chocolate Easter bunnies are tempting but try to find ones that are made of dark chocolate, to get these healthy benefits.

Curt Hendrix B.S. M.S. C.C.N.  C.N.S.

Quinoa Help Migraine Sufferers

March 12th, 2011

Spoonful of Quinoa SuperfoodThis amazing low-fat, high protein food could…

* protect against heart disease
* help to prevent Type II diabetes
* help with Migraines
* provide antioxidant protection
* Protect against breast cancer
*Protect against childhood asthma
* Prevent gallstones
* Provide all 9 essential amino acid (protein building blocks)
* Provide healthy levels of dietary fiber and magnesium

Quinoa(pronounced keen-wa) is an ancient whole grain that has been recently rediscovered in the U.S.  The Inca’s once held the crop to be sacred, calling it the ‘mother of all grains’.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain; an average of 16.2  percent, compared with 7.5 percent for rice and 14 percent for wheat.  Unlike rice and potatoes, for which quinoa is an excellent replacement, it is a whole grain food source which results in many of the health benefits listed above.  Quinoa is gluten-free and high in protein content, which also makes it a wonderful choice for vegetarians.  Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA’s long-duration manned spaceflights.

MIGRAINE SUPPORT

It is also a good source of magnesium and riboflavin, which are important ingredients in the natural migraine supplement, MigreLief.  These ingredients have been shown to help relax blood vessels, encourage energy production within cells and reduce headache frequency.
DIET

Both the glycemic index and the glycemic load of quinoa (these are measurements of how various foods can impact your blood sugar levels) are favorable as well, when compared to rice or potatoes.

A half cup of cooked quinoa contains only about 110 calories and with its fiber content, makes it a good choice for those trying to watch their weight, as well

Some Serving Ideas for Quinoa:    Quinoa with nuts and fruits

* Use quinoa as a side-dish replacing rice, potatoes or even pasta

* Many health food stores carry quinoa sourced pasta noodles

* With nuts and fruits, quinoa makes an excellent porridge

* Quinoa can be added to vegetable soups

* Use sprouted quinoa in sandwiches or salads instead of alfalfa sprouts  Quinoa Fried Rice

Try quinoa, not only for its multiple health benefits but for its taste and texture.  I think you will be very pleasantly surprised and pleased to add it to your family’s diet, as a very welcomed addition.
 
To the best of health,
Curt Hendrix, B.S. M.S. C.C.N. C.N.S.

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Eat, Drink, and Shrink!

December 19th, 2010

Foods to Avoid During the Holidays With Possible Substitutes

Swedish meatballs – instead, try some cold cuts like ham or turkey
EggNog – instead, try a cinnamon or other spiced tea
Stuffed potatoes – instead, eat a regular baked potatoe or red potatoes
Creamed spinach – instead, spinach without the cream or broccoli
Pot Roast – instead, breast of turkey or sliced steak
Fruitcake – instead, a fruit tart
Pecan Pie – instead, a fruit tart
Cheese Cake – instead, a slice of pound cake
Croissant – instead, some whole grain bread
Hot Buttered Rum – just leave out the butter, and then spice with nutmeg
Cinnamon Rolls – instead, a slice of toasted whole grain bread with a bit of jelly
Ice Cream – instead, sorbet

Making sensible diet choices is easier than it seems and there’s no time like the present to start.

Here’s to a fun, tasty and skinny holiday.

Curt Hendrix M.S. C.C.N. C.N.S.