Top 10 Foods for Better Health

A new study out of Boston suggests that focusing on 10 specific foods in your diet may cut the risk of premature death from diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular disease by almost half.

The author of the study, Renata Micha from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University says that about 45% of US deaths in 2012 could be traced to eating too little or too much of certain foods. Her study draws information from previous research done using National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys from 1999 to 2002 and 2009 to 2012. The researchers used food diaries of participants and found that 318,656 deaths out of 702,308 from stroke, heart disease, or type 2 diabetes were based on people eating too much or too little of the following 10 foods or food elements…

Too Much:

  • Sodium
  • Unprocessed red meat
  • Processed red meat (sausage, bacon, hot dogs)
  • Soybean and corn oil
  • Sugar-sweetened drinks

Too Little:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Seafood with omega-3 fatty acids

For example, consuming too much sodium was linked with 66,508 deaths. Poor nut and seed intake was associated with 59,374 deaths. Processed read meat intake was associated with 57,766 deaths, while 54,626 deaths were linked with inadequate fatty fish intake. Minimal vegetable and fruit intake was linked to 53,410 and 52,547 deaths, respectively. Sugar-sweetened drinks were tied to 51,695 deaths.

Demographics also made a difference. For example, men and women fared differently in the study. Women were less likely than men to die from poor diets and younger people were at higher risk than older individuals. Hispanics and blacks had higher risk than whites, and individuals with less education were at higher risk than more educated people.

Deaths from cardiovascular disease decreased by 25% between the two survey periods because of improvements in dietary habits such as eating more polyunsaturated fats, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and fewer sugar-sweetened drinks.

Consumers can reduce their risk for chronic disease by adopting one dietary habit at a time (such as eating fatty fish twice per week or choosing water over sweetened beverages) and then moving on to another positive habit once they’ve mastered the first. This helps build confidence and motivate people to continue building healthful eating patterns to reduce their risk of chronic disease.

By Lisa Andrews, MED, RD, LD

References:

  1. Micha, Renata, PhD, Penalvo Jose, PhD, Cudhea PhD, et. al. Association Between Dietary Factors and Mortality From Heart Disease, Stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes in the United States. JAMA. 2017;317(9):912-924
  2. Mueller, Noel T., PhD, MPH, Appel, Lawrence J. Attributing Death to Diet Precision Counts. JAMA. 2017;317(9):908-909.

Nutrition Math Quiz

Recently I was asked for STEM nutrition and health materials. Do you ever address STEM topics with your clients?

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math, and these subjects are a priority among many of the educators I know. To add one more resource to your arsenal of STEM topics, I am proud to present this quick nutrition math quiz, which can be used in your next email blast or as an icebreaker for your next presentation (or however else you’d like).

Nutrition Math Quiz:

Question #1: How many ounces of liquid are there in a cup?

A) 4
B) 6
C) 8
D) 1o

Question #2: At what temperature (in degrees Fahrenheit) does water usually boil?

A) 202
B) 212
C) 222
D) 500

Question #3: How many grams of sugar are there in a teaspoon?

A) 4
B) 8
C) 12
D) 16

Question #4: What is the energy density of a pound of flour?

A) 1651
B) 1492
C) 1000
D) 6

Question #5: What is the energy density of a pound of sugar?

A) 1558
B) 1607
C) 1775
D) 2000

BONUS: Compare the energy density of a pound of potatoes with the energy density of a pound of French fries.

Nutrition Math Quiz Answers:

  1. C) 8
  2. B) 212, though altitude affects the boiling point. To calculate the temperature at which water boils in your area, take 1 degree away from 212 for every 500 feet you are above sea level.
  3. A) 4
  4. A) 1651
  5. C) 1775
  6. Bonus: A pound of potatoes has roughly 347 calories, while a pound of French fries has approximately 1,415 calories. The regular potatoes have roughly 1/4 of the energy density of French fries, which makes them the more healthful option because they are lower in calories and empty calories, yet higher in nutrients than their fried counterparts.

Here is a collection of other fabulous STEM resources…

 

Health News: Chronic Disease Risk Factors

A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism suggests that “metabolically healthy obese” people, a subset of obese individuals who were initially thought to not be at high risk of heart and other chronic diseases, still might have elevated health risks.

Study author Kristine Faerch from the Steno Diabetes Center in Copenhagen states that while it was once thought that it was not unhealthy to be overweight or obese if you lived a healthful lifestyle, newer research suggests that this is not the case.1 Overweight and obese individuals face an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. To lower risk, maintaining a healthy weight throughout the lifecycle is vital.

Faerch and her team of researchers evaluated data from over 6,200 men and women that joined a Danish study wherein they were tracked for over 10 years. The subjects’ initial BMIs and risk factors for heart disease (including HDL a.k.a. “healthy” cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, triglycerides, and blood glucose) were all monitored. “Metabolically healthy” subjects had none of these risks, while “metabolically unhealthy” subjects were defined as having at least one risk factor. In the follow up period, 323 subjects developed heart disease. Men who were metabolically healthy but obese had 3 times the risk of heart disease when compared to metabolically healthy men at a normal weight. Women that were metabolically healthy but obese had double the risk of heart disease. Overweight men that were metabolically healthy had equivalent risk as their normal weight counterparts. Overweight women had a slightly higher risk than normal weight subjects. The authors note that only 3% of male and female subjects were obese, but considered metabolically healthy. Over a 5-year period, 40% of those considered metabolically healthy became metabolically unhealthy.

Joshua Bell from the UK’s University of Bristol was not surprised by these results. He and his colleagues published a paper this past February which noted that obesity increases age-related disability and decline, even in metabolically healthy individuals.2 His research found that after 2 decades, physical ability declined two times more while pain increased six times more in obese individuals when compared to normal weight individuals. Bell further stresses that heart disease is not the only risk factor to consider when discussing healthy aging.

Matthias Schulze at the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Potsdam-Rehbruecke believes that other measurements such as waist to hip ratios, waist circumference, and body fat could be explored to determine whether someone is “metabolically healthy” and obese.3 Healthy and obese can change to unhealthy and obese very quickly.

More research is needed to find how to decrease disease risk in both groups.

By Lisa Andrews, MED, RD, LD

References:

  1. Louise Hansen, MSc, Marie K Netterstrøm, MSc, Nanna B Johansen, MD, PhD, Pernille F Rønn, MSc, Dorte Vistisen, MSc, PhD, Lise LN Husemoen, MSc, PhD, Marit E Jørgensen, MD, PhD, Naja H Rod, MSc, PhD, DMSc, Kristine Færch, MSc, PhD. Metabolically healthy obesity and ischemic heart disease: a 10-year follow-up of the Inter99 study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab jc.2016-3346. Published March 7, 2017.
  2. J A Bell, S Sabia, A Singh-Manoux, M Hamer, and M Kivimäki. Healthy obesity and risk of accelerated functional decline and disability. International Journal of Obesity advance online publication 14 March 2017; doi: 10.1038/ijo.2017.51.
  3. Kristin Mühlenbruch, Tonia Ludwig, Charlotte Jeppesen, Hans-Georg Joost, Wolfgang Rathmann
    Christine Meisinger, Annette Peters, Heiner Boeing, Barbara Thorand, Matthias B. Schulze. Update of the German Diabetes Risk Score and external validation in the German MONICA/KORA study. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. June 2014 Volume 104, Issue 3, Pages 459–466.

And here are a few fantastic posters to promote healthy weight management…

Nutrition Presentation Introduction Ideas

We just heard a great new idea for nutrition presentation introductions! Diana Dyer, MS, RD, has developed a wonderful way to frame the idea of dieting. Check out the story, written in her own words…

The root of dietWhen I was on the speaking circuit, I always included a slide early in my talk that pre-empted — i.e. reframed — the word “diet” by showing people the root of the word. The root gives a much wider understanding of the original intent of the word, which is “a day’s journey.”

The way the word “diet” is used in our society today simply means disordered eating.

By contrast, the food I eat is one part of that day’s journey toward health, the ultimate goal. I learned to get that concept in early to give my audience time to reflect and then see the full day’s journey (as I talked about much more than food) and also to head off the very first question I used to get which was always “do you ever cheat on your diet?”

I then learned to talk about how the word “cheat” is not in my vocabulary and not on my radar screen. That’s because I choose to eat with intention, intentionally (i.e. thinking about) feeding either body or soul toward health.

Once that’s established, it’s all about portion size. After all, life without Thin Mints is not worth living. However, with my goal being overall health, I knew I could eat them (feeding my soul) but I also knew that I no longer needed to eat the entire box. Savoring 1 or 2 was plenty. Then I felt fine pitching the rest into my compost pile!

By Diana Dyer, MS, RD
Author: A Dietitian’s Cancer Story – www.dianadyer.com
The Dyer Family Organic Farm – www.dyerfamilyorganicfarm.com

Salad Bar Tabletop Sign

MyPlate Handout Tearpad

Change It Up Poster

Whole Grains for Health Gains

Look at any popular magazine these days and you’ll find at least one diet that bashes grains. Whether it’s Paleo, the Military diet, or the “whole 30”, someone, somewhere is out there trying to get you to eat a bun-less sandwich. But what they may not realize is that anti-carb diets are a thing of the past.

Grains are back, and for good reason.

A recent study from Tufts published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that subjects consuming whole grains over refined grains burned more calories and absorbed fewer calories overall. In addition, glucose tolerance was improved in whole grain consumers.1 Other studies have shown lower rates of obesity and cancer in individuals eating a diet containing whole grains.2

Susan Roberts, a professor of nutrition at Tufts and author of instinctdiet.com believes that Americans eat too many refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, pastries, and desserts, which contribute to overweight and obesity.3 Lauri Wright, an assistant professor in community and family health at the University of South Florida notes that whole grains are higher in antioxidants, which contribute to long-term good health.3

Rather than comparing weight changes in subjects, the Tufts study evaluated resting metabolic rate and energy (calorie) content in stool at the end of a 6-week study. Participants were, on average, 50+ years of age with a BMI of 25.6, which is slightly above normal but not overweight. Participants in both groups consumed about 2550 calories per day, but one group had 830 calories in whole grains while the other had 830 calories from refined grains. The study found that the whole grain eaters burned 40 calories more than their refined grain counterparts and lost ~50 calories in stool, resulting in a 92-calorie deficit. If this deficit is carried over for a year, a 5.5 lb weight loss could be achieved. 1 A previous 2011 Harvard study of over 12,000 subjects and whole grains supported these results. 2

Most Americans miss the mark on fiber intake, consuming a mere 15 grams per day. The subjects in the Tufts study that ate whole grains ate about 39 grams of fiber daily versus 21 grams in the refined carbohydrate group. 1 Researchers believe the feeling of fullness in whole grain consumers affects the brain’s ability to regulate metabolism. Because your brain does not perceive that you are conserving energy, metabolism is not reduced. This is good news for carb lovers.

Making the switch to whole grains can be easy. Swap brown rice or quinoa for white rice, or whole wheat pasta and bread for white bread or pasta. Try bran or wheat-based cereals in place of corn or rice.

Whole grains are the new black.

By Lisa Andrews, MED, RD, LD

References:

  1. Karl, J Philip, Meydani, Mohsen, Barnett, Junaidah, et. al., Substituting whole grains for refined grains in a 6-wk randomized trial favorably affects energy-balance metrics in healthy men and postmenopausal women. American J of Clinical Nutrition, February 8, 2017, doi: 10.3945/?ajcn.116.139683.
  2. Mozaffarian, D, MD, Dr PH, Hao, Tao MPH, Rimm, Eric B, Willett, Walter MD, Dr PH, Hu, Frank MD, PhD. Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and long term weight gain in men and women. N Engl J Med 2011; 364:2392-2404. June 23, 2011.
  3. Burfoot, Amby. Despite the anti-carb diet fads, whole grains are still good for you. The Washington Post: 20 March 2017.

Resources:

Help your audience get more whole grains each day with these accessible and memorable resources…

MyPlate Coloring Page

Today is your lucky day!

To celebrate the release of the brand-new MyPlate Coloring Book, I want to share a page from that book with you, for free!

You see, coloring isn’t just for kids anymore. Emerging studies indicate that coloring could help reduce stress in adults as well as children. Plus, it’s just plain fun!

Of course, I couldn’t leave things there. As soon as I learned about the possible health benefits of coloring, I began to brainstorm ways to sneak a few lessons about wellness and healthy eating patterns into my coloring pages. Before I knew it, the MyPlate Coloring Book was born. With patterns intricate enough to be fun to color, and an added dash of simple and memorable health lessons on each page, this book is sure to be fun for all ages!

And now, without further ado, here is the free page from the MyPlate coloring book! How will you use your copy?

MyPlate Coloring Page

Remember, there’s always more in the Nutrition Education Store! Check out these fantastic MyPlate resources…

My Plate Coloring Book

MyPlate PowerPoint and Handout Set

My Plate Banner and Stand

MyPlate Meal Makeover Handout

Check out this amazing MyPlate meal makeover! I originally kept this handout as an exclusive part of the soon-to-be-released My Plate activity book, but my resolve has crumbled and I can’t wait to share it with you today! If you like what you see, be sure to keep an eye out for the free printable MyPlate handout at the bottom of the post…

Meal Makeover: Use MyPlate to Rearrange This Plate of Fried Chicken

MyPlate Meal MakeoverRevise Fried Chicken:

A typical plate filled with fried chicken and macaroni and cheese weighs in at over 850 calories! That’s way too huge for a single meal. Plus, the plate is full of solid fats and processed grains, with very few nutrients in sight. This is where MyPlate comes in handy. Use MyPlate to rebalance the plate and make the meal more nutritious!

Since filling half the plate with fruits and vegetables is key to MyPlate, start there, replacing half of the chicken and macaroni with steamed corn and green beans. Then keep protein to a quarter of the plate, choosing white meat to cut down on saturated fat. This leaves the dairy and grain groups, which are represented by the macaroni and cheese. Look at the new plate! It’s got only 333 calories, and it looks just as full as the other plate!

Dinner Meal Makeover Details:

Using MyPlate to make over this meal saves you 517 calories!

This new meal is far higher in nutrients, especially fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It’s also lower in empty calories than the first plate.

You could make this meal even better by replacing the refined grain macaroni with a whole grain pasta like whole wheat pasta or quinoa pasta. If you replaced the full-fat cheese with low-fat cheese, you’d take the improvements even further!

The green beans add 30% of your daily value (DV) of vitamin C and 20% of your DV of vitamin K.

The corn adds 17% of your DV of fiber and 21% of your DV of thiamin.

Like what you see? Here’s a free (and printable!) My Plate handout:

MyPlate Meal Makeover

And don’t miss these other engaging MyPlate materials from the Nutrition Education Store!

MyPlate Coloring Book

MyPlate DVD

MyPlate Floor Sticker

12 Little Goals

I’m still thinking about New Year’s resolutions.

The idea in my last post was to approach resolutions like you would a pyramid: start with the basics and build. Instead of making large and broad resolutions, make 12 little changes to your lifestyle. Basically, you can try one new approach per month and then keep adding on to your project for tho entire  year.

And the best part is that it’s not too late for this month!

So, what would you like to do to make your eating pattern a little more healthful? Remember, these small goals don’t always need to be taking something away or stopping doing something; they could be adding things, too.

Only you know what you’re doing now and what you would like to change.

To help get you started, I came up with a list of 20 little goals.

Use this list however you’d like — add to it, choose your favorites, pat yourself on the back for what you’re already doing, etc. Do whatever works for you. Seriously.

  1. Eat one more vegetable every day.
  2. Eat one more fruit every day.
  3. Plan one meatless meal every week.
  4. Buy a refillable water bottle and use it.
  5. Walk an extra 15 minutes each day.
  6. Try a new vegetable this month.
  7. Experiment with an exotic fruit that you’ve never tried before.
  8. Add healthful nuts to your shopping list.
  9. Use more olive oil. Swap out solid fats like butter or margarine for olive oil.
  10. Make your own salad dressings.
  11. Pack your lunch two days a week.
  12. Eat dinner at home at least three nights a week.
  13. Experiment with a “new” whole grain and eat it four different ways.
  14. Wash your hands before eating (even in restaurants).
  15. Experiment with a new spice or herb.
  16. Eat more beans.
  17. Drink less juice.
  18. Eat fish twice a week
  19. Buy old-fashioned oatmeal instead of packaged cereal so that you can eat more oatmeal.
  20. Try one new recipe each month — at the end of the year you will have increased your repertoire of healthy dishes.

I think we all know that eating and being healthful needs to become a lifestyle, not just something you do for a few weeks. Why not try it this year? Small changes at a time. Just think of where you can be 12 months from now.

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

Resolutions for 2017

Early each year every website, television newscast, and magazine at the grocery checkout offers advice on New Year’s resolutions. Most of these involve eating a better diet and getting or staying healthy. It’s almost obligatory that I post about making a new start to a healthier lifestyle in the New Year.

But, do you really want to read more about what you should or shouldn’t do, eat or drink?

Most people already know, or they won’t be making those resolutions. Our local newspaper projected that only 8% of all resolutions are kept.

The real key to resolutions is how to make them stick. If I ask in a month, will you still be “working on them?”

The experts say that in order to turn good intentions into long-term actions, you need to set small goals that you can keep. These small changes can add up. Other suggestions include making the goals specific. Don’t choose vague goals like “eat more fruits and vegetables” but instead choose something that is measurable and concrete, “cook one vegetable each night for dinner.” Another key to keeping resolutions is to write them down.

It may also be useful to change the title.

Instead of “New Year’s resolutions,” make them “Resolutions for the Year.” Think about of doing one new thing each month. Then, at the end of the year you’ll have 12 new habits and a more healthful lifestyle. Develop achievable goals based on the changes you’d like to make for yourself.

Here’s another tip: instead of making one long list, write a goal on the first day of each month on your new calendar or in your phone. That way, you’ll see it at the beginning of each month. Do something new each month, but don’t forget to keep going on the goal from the previous month(s).  You’ll just keep “adding on” each month.

Simple changes and goals can go a long way to making a big difference in your health.

Next year at this time, if someone asks whether you kept your resolutions from last year you’ll be able to say, “yes, 12 of them.”

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

Eat More Vegetables: 3 Activity Ideas

Help your clients improve their eating pattern with these 3 great activity ideas…

Inspire Together! Have participants look up their daily vegetable needs at www.choosemyplate.gov. Divide everyone into groups based on how many vegetables they need each day, then have each member of the group share his or her favorite way to eat vegetables with the rest of the group. Have each group elect a spokesman who can write down the most popular suggestions. Once the groups have finished sharing, come back together as a class and have each spokesman share the most appealing ways to serve vegetables from his/her group.

With this activity, your participants will all get a few fun new ideas about ways to eat more vegetables each day.

Team Transformations! As a class, brainstorm some traditional meals that are generally low in vegetables. Divide your audience into groups of 3-4 people and give each group a different meal to make over. How can vegetables be added to the meal in an appealing way? After their discussions, have each group pick their top three ideas and share them with the rest of the class.

Now a few staple meals can be transformed into vehicles for more veggies.

Get on Board! Have your participants think about their favorite vegetable snacks. Ask each person to find a photo or draw a picture of these snacks at home or on their own, then reconvene as a group to post those images on a blank bulletin board that you’ve set up. Title the board Healthful Vegetable Snacks.

With this activity, you will get an engaging and unique display, made by your own students. Plus, this board will offer fun ways to try new vegetable snacks, which in turn can help your participants improve their eating patterns.

What do you think? What are your favorite activities to promote eating more vegetables?

Don’t miss these top vegetable resources from the store!