Monthly Archives: October 2016
Go ahead and have a slice of (turkey) bacon with your eggs at breakfast in exchange for higher-fat items later in the day. This simple switch, as part of a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may actually help support heart health. In a new study published in the International Journal of Obesity, mice that ate a high-fat breakfast weighed less and had lower body fat than mice that ate similarly high-fat meals later in the day. Plus, the mice that nibbled high-fat meals close to bedtime had abnormal blood-sugar levels and high triglycerides, both of which work against maintaining heart health. Yes they’re mice, and what works in mice doesn’t always apply to humans, but this study provides food for thought.
“The enzymes your body needs to break down fat are most active after you wake up,” says Molly Bray, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health and author of the study. “And the ones needed to store fat are most active at the end of the day.” So take advantage of your body’s natural fat-burning cycle: Front load your day with higher healthy-fat foods and shift to lower-fat foods as the hours wear on.
Here is a sample healthy meal plan to help you eat healthier all day long—and using Smart Balance® products can make it even easier:
Breakfast: Two Omega-3 Grade A Natural Large Eggs; 1 slice of whole-wheat toast with a tablespoon Rich Roast Peanut Butter; half-cup of orange juice.
Lunch: Turkey and cheese sub with a tablespoon Light Mayonnaise Dressing, lettuce and tomato; 1 package of light potato chips; apple slices (3 ounces); 1 can diet soda.
Snack: try vegetables with yogurt dip (half-cup each of celery, cucumber, broccoli and cherry tomatoes, plus half-cup low-fat yogurt).
Dinner: Roasted skinless chicken breast (3 ounces); mixed salad with low-fat dressing; 1-cup broccoli; 1 orange. Skinless light-meat chicken or turkey; many species of fish are ideal for lunch or dinner, since they’re typically low in fat.
If you think genetics have your heart-health doomed, there’s hope. New and emerging research published in the July 2010 issue of The American Heart Association’s Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes found that among middle-aged male twins, those who consumed a diet that most closely resembled a Mediterranean-style way of eating had a higher heart-rate variability. That’s an indication that the heart is more flexible in keeping up with all of life’s everyday physical trials. Conversely, low heart-rate variability is associated with an elevated risk for coronary-artery disease.
Need a refresher on what, exactly, makes up a Mediterranean diet? Here’s the gist: You fill your day with whole grains, fresh produce, nuts, seeds and fish, and add in small amounts of dairy and red wine (keeping an eye on portion sizes, as with any healthy eating plan). Generally, you have red meat only a few times a month. The Mediterranean diet is also marked by using unsaturated fats like olive oil instead of using animal fats, such as butter. If you’re used to buttering your pasta, vegetables or bread, try instead using a dash of olive oil. Or to replace some of the saturated fat in your diet, experiment with going meatless one day of the week. Relying on Smart Balance® Rich Roast Chunky or Creamy Peanut Butter or other meatless protein-packed staples like beans can help you feel full and satisfied.
Some people can’t get over that the Mediterranean diet encourages using fats like olive oil instead of skimping like other diets suggest. But olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, which of all the fats has the least negative impact on your cholesterol levels. The truth is, fats—the right combination of fats, that is—are important to your overall health. They provide the second-highest level of satiety after protein.
It turns out that Popeye was right all along…it can really pay to load up on B vitamin- rich spinach. New and emerging research based on a recent Japanese study published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association found that Japanese women who ate the most dietary folate and B6 were less likely to die from stroke, heart disease or heart failure. And the Japanese men who ate the most were significantly less likely to die from heart failure. The evidence for an association between dietary intakes of folate and B vitamins and the risk of cardiovascular disease in Asian populations remains limited and further studies are needed. That being said, my take-home from this study? Instead of thinking only about the foods we shouldn’t eat for our heart, let’s starting focusing on all the great foods we should.
Since folate and vitamin B6 are found in a variety of foods, the best way to add them to your day is to simply consume a well-rounded diet brimming with a few healthy specifics. Leafy-green vegetables, broccoli, beans and lentils, orange juice and avocados are great ways to get more natural sources of folate in your diet. And meats, fish, nuts, legumes, whole grains and some fruits and vegetables (such as bananas, spinach, potatoes and avocados) are great sources of vitamin B6.
Luckily, those aren’t obscure foods, and you can easily find them in just about any grocery store year-round. But why not add a little fun to your quest to improve the nutrition quality of your diet? This time of year, local farm markets are bursting with vitamin-rich greens and veggies; and often local suppliers are also there peddling freshly caught fish, just-baked whole-grain breads, and other meats to help you get your B6 fix. And since local produce has more vitamins (the nutritional integrity begins to deteriorate the moment food is harvested), it’s a perfect way to stock up your diet with the healthiest possible picks.
If there’s no time to go to the market, do a little research to see if your community has a local-produce delivery. This summer, for the first time, I’ve signed up to have my veggies dropped right at my door, and it’s always fresh, seasonal produce that comes from a collection of farms no more than a 100-mile radius from my city. No kidding, I anticipate the box on delivery day as much as I do a birthday gift—and it’s not because I’m a dietitian, either. What’s not to love about a big crate loaded with beautifully green superstars? So far it’s been packed with the most tender broccoli I’ve ever eaten, an unusual variety of leafy green kale and mild baby spinach, just to name a few. Even my mustard-greens-wary husband happily is enjoying the bounty, and last night, my veggie-discriminating toddler ate Napa cabbage! There’s no question that we’re eating more veggies—and definitely trying (and enjoying) new things. But best of all, if you’re eating local produce, you’re not only helping your ticker, you’re also gaining the satisfaction of supporting proud community farmers. So, what’s good for the heart can be good for the soul!
Rich in bone-strengthening calcium and containing potassium, dairy helps maintain healthy blood pressure levels already within normal limits. Combined with a low-sodium diet and muscle-building protein, dairy products are important to a balanced diet. The USDA, in fact, recommends children get at least two cups’ worth each day; adults need three cups. But not all types of dairy are created equal: Some are laden with fats and calories. So when to indulge and when to go fat-free? We’ve got the answers. Just use our stress-free guide to navigating the dairy aisle:
It does a body good, yes—it’s even fortified with Vitamin D—but an 8-ounce cup of whole milk has 149 calories and 8 grams of fat, 5 grams of which are saturated. That’s roughly a quarter of your daily saturated fat requirement. 2% milk doesn’t fare that much better: One cup has 3 grams of saturated fat, which is about 15 percent of your daily total. That’s probably more than you thought, right? So as much as you can, pour fat-free varieties. For those who miss the creaminess of whole or 2% milk, Smart Balance® milks are infused with dry milk solids so they taste like their fuller-bodied counterpart. Plus, they contain essential Omega-3s. If you really can’t live without your full-fat milk, try the Smart Balance® Low Fat Milk and Omega-3s, which tastes like whole milk, or just try to use your fuller-fat milks sparingly, counsels Smart Balance dietitian Tammi Hancock, R.D. Add a splash in your coffee, or in healthy recipes that call for a tablespoon or two of milk.
A little goes a long way toward your USDA recommended daily dairy requirements: A tablespoon of regular hard cheese—parmesan, for instance—equals a quarter-cup serving of dairy, while a half-cup of cottage cheese amounts to about a quarter-cup serving. Delicious as it is, cheese does tend to be higher in fat and calories than many other dairy products, so do keep an eye on your portions overall.
With so many options, experts often recommend going the nonfat or lower-fat route when it comes to yogurt. It’s important to make sure your preferred brand’s not excessively sweetened; if the ingredients include fructose, sucrose or corn syrup, that means extra sugar has been added, which may be great for the taste buds but not for the waistline. Another tip: Greek yogurt’s higher in protein than traditional yogurts, which makes it more satisfying.
You can take some nutritional pressure off by skipping old-fashioned (fat-laden) butter and choosing butter alternatives such as Smart Balance® Buttery Spreads, which have a patented blend of vegetable oils that provide a rich, buttery taste with less fat and fewer calories. Or Smart Balance® Spreadable Butters and Smart Balance® Blended Butter Sticks, both made with naturally sourced plant sterols which helps to block the absorption of the cholesterol in the butter.
They’re not exactly dairy, but they do live in the dairy aisle. Eggs are high in dietary cholesterol, but eating up to 1 egg per day is unlikely to have a substantial overall impact on heart health among healthy men and women, according to a landmark study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Want a bigger serving? Scramble a batch of egg whites with one whole egg.
Freezer aisle detour: Ice cream, frozen yogurt and other treats
No question: There’s nothing like a scoop of these cold, sweet treats on a hot day. Frozen yogurts tend to be lower in fat, but sometimes, nothing else but the real deal will do. If so, go for single-serving cups and popsicles that will limit portions, suggests New Orleans sports and lifestyle nutritionist Molly Kimball, R.D. Puddings and other similar milk-based desserts are better in low- or nonfat incarnations, but they’re often chock-full of sugar, so let the nutrition labels be your guide.