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…

 

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

Eat More Oatmeal!

How are you doing with making small changes to your eating pattern that can make a difference in your health? One of the ideas in my New Year’s resolution article was to “eat more oatmeal.” Did you try it? How are you doing?

The concept behind that little goal is to have oatmeal instead of processed cereal. There are several things going on here: saving money by not buying expensive boxes of cereal, knowing exactly what you’re adding to the cereal, and knowing that oatmeal is good for you.

How good? Well, oatmeal is naturally low in fat and sodium and high in fiber. It’s also a good source of iron and provides protein, B vitamins, and other minerals. Oatmeal is an excellent source of whole grains too. Eating oats may even help protect against high blood cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.

There used to only be a couple different types of oatmeal available, but now the choices are many. All this variety can get a little confusing, so let me clear some things up. All types of oatmeal start with oat groats, which are oat grains without the hulls. Choose your oatmeal based on the time you have to prepare it, the texture you prefer, and any added ingredients you may or may not want.

  • Scotch or Irish oats have been cut but not rolled. They have a hearty texture with a nutty flavor. The traditional version can take up to 30 minutes to cook, though there are quicker-cooking options.
  • Steel-cut oats are whole oat groats that have been sliced into pieces. These cook in about 20 minutes with a chewy, coarse texture.
  • Rolled or old-fashioned oats are whole oat groats that are steamed and rolled to flatten them; they cook in about five to ten minutes.
  • Quick oats are rolled oats that have been cut into even smaller pieces. These cook in about one to five minutes.
  • Instant oats are whole oat groats that are rolled thinner and cut finer than the others. Since they’re also pre-cooked, you can just add boiling water or heat them in the microwave for about 90 seconds.

According the USDA Nutrient Database, all plain oatmeal types are about the same when it comes to nutrients. One cup of cooked (with water and no salt) old-fashioned or quick oats has 166 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, no sodium, 4 grams of dietary fiber, and less than a gram of sugar. Watch out for instant oatmeal packets, since most of them have added flavors which usually add calories, sodium, and sugars. To steer clear of these, keep an eye on the ingredients list and Nutrition Facts label.

You can make oatmeal in the microwave as quickly as you can pour a bowl of cereal and milk.

To try it for yourself, don’t miss this edition of one of Chef Judy’s recipes:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. The big key here is to make sure you have a large bowl, so that it won’t overflow! I like to make it in a 1 quart measuring cup and then just eat out of the cup. Voilà! Only one dish to clean.
  2. Add your own skim milk, fruit, nuts, raisins, dried cranberries, and spices to the cooked oatmeal — you are in control. To save even more time in the morning, make your own little “instant oatmeal” packs, adding spices or dried fruits. That way, all you’ll need to do in the morning is add water, microwave, and eat!

And what if you don’t think that you have time to make oatmeal every day? My solution is to make a large batch of oatmeal over the weekend and reheat single servings quickly in the microwave. That way, you’ll have a speedy meal without losing any of its nutritional benefits. Cooked oatmeal will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week and makes a quick and healthful breakfast.

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

Here are a few of the other top breakfast resources, just for you!

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

Nutrition at a Glance

Here’s a fun new way to help your clients learn and remember key nutrition lessons.

A brand-new poster!

Everyone gets so confused about how to eat healthfully. In today’s society, proper nutrition comes from following MyPlate, reading food labels, and eating the best options from each of the food groups. The Nutrition at a Glance poster shows key nutrition lessons in three easy steps. Plus, each step has an exciting visual of food!

  • Step 1: Let macronutrients put their best food forward! Think lean, high fiber, and nutrient dense!
  • Step 2: Get your vitamins and minerals from food! Follow MyPlate and get a varied diet with all of the food groups.
  • Step 3: Learn how to read food labels so you can make the best choices that are lower in added fat, sugar, and salt (sodium).

This poster makes a fun visual for any room or event! It is even perfect for Nutrition Month celebrations!

at a glance

To celebrate this fun new resource, I want to give you the handout that comes with it, for free!

Here you go!

Let’s Talk Nutrients:

There are 3 different types of macronutrients — the nutrients in your eating pattern that make up the bulk of what you consume each day. Those 3 macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and protein.

Protein is important for the creation and maintenance of your bones, skin, and muscles. Carbohydrates are the source of most of your energy. Fat helps your body absorb nutrients and also provides energy.

Choose high-fiber carbohydrates, lean protein, and heart-healthy fats (you can find them in plants and fish). This will help you get the 3 major macronutrients from healthful food sources.

Get Your Vitamins and Minerals from Food:

Balance your meals using MyPlate and its 5 food groups: vegetables, fruit, protein, grains, and dairy.

That way, you will eat a varied diet with adequate nutrients in the calories allotted.

Avoid Extra Processed Food Dangers by Reading Food Labels:

Added sugars, excess sodium, and both trans and saturated fat have been linked to elevated risk of chronic disease.

Minimizing these will help you keep your body in tip-top shape!

Here’s a printable PDF copy of the handout!

nutritionataglance-copy

And here are a few fun nutrition resources from the Nutrition Education Store!

 

Spotlight on Breakfast

My team and I just updated the Breakfast Poster that comes with the 12 Lessons of Wellness and Weight Management program, so today I want to preview the free PDF handout that comes with it!

Take a look!

Breakfast: Start Your Day with a Healthy Meal

Make Healthy Choices!

Eating breakfast is a good way to get the energy you need to face the day, while also making sure that you get some key nutrients that will boost your health and help you feel full until lunchtime.

Many participants in the National Weight Control Registry, a large investigation of long-term successful weight management, begin each day with breakfast.

Make healthy choices, building a breakfast that is nutrient-dense and low in empty calories.

Kids and Breakfast: Fun Facts

Did you know that, according to the Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA, “Children who eat breakfast are more likely to behave better in school and get along with their peers than those who do not.” They continue, “Breakfast helps children pay attention, perform problem-solving tasks, and improves memory.”

Breakfast is also a great opportunity to help kids get the nutrients they need to stay healthy. These include…

  • Calcium
  • Fiber
  • Folate
  • Protein

Multiple studies also indicate that breakfast can help kids manage their weight successfully, reducing their risk of becoming overweight or obese.

Here’s the printable handout — how will you use your copy?

breakfastposterhandout-copy

Want more breakfast resources? Check out these options…

Nutrition Posters for the Workplace

My team and I have created tons of posters over the years, and some of my very favorite ones teach lessons that are important to showcase in the workplace.

We have posters that are designed to bring “better numbers like blood pressure, cholesterol, and BMI” or to motivate in a fun way like the food art posters. There are also ones that teach great nutrition lessons and promote positive reinforcement and education.

Let’s take a tour through some of the best options, shall we?

Top Heart Posters:

Top BMI Poster:

Best Nutrition Lessons:

Favorite Motivational Posters:

And of course there is our entire collection of over 150 posters. Which ones will best brighten up your workspace?

And, as a special bonus because I love ya, here’s a free copy of the printable PDF handout that accompanies the Fabulous Fruits and Vegetables poster.

fruitsandvegetablesposter

Eating Mindfully in 3 Steps

Mindful eating is a great way to build healthy habits and a balanced relationship with food. To help make eating mindfully more appealing and accessible to your clients, I’ve created a brand new poster and handout set: A Guide to Mindful Eating.

Today, I’d like to preview the handout that comes with the poster. Take a look and let me know what you think!

Mindful Eating

People often follow food and diet rules that they believe will help them reach their health goals. These rules might be what to eat based on cave men or avoid a food group like carbohydrates. All of this can become overwhelming. Recently, a new buzzword has entered the diet world: mindful eating.

Mindful eating, also called intuitive eating, happens when people consume food while staying aware of their hunger and without passing judgement on the food or the act of eating. When practicing mindful eating, eaters listen to internal hunger and satiety cues. Sound nutrition information becomes a guideline for food choices, but food is selected based on hunger levels, nutritional needs, and existing illnesses or allergies.

Step 1: Recognize hunger cues and the feeling of satiety. Hunger can have both physical and psychological sensations. One may feel an emptiness or a hollow fee ling in the gut, restlessness, the inability to focus, irritability, or fatigue. Satiety should feel more comfortable than hunger. Satiety is the feeling of being full but it does not mean being stuffed from over eating or  trying to clean your plate.

Step 2: Put your food on a plate and sit down to eat. This will help you balance your meals, avoid over eating, and enjoy the flavor of your food. It helps you feel satiated and keeps you from eating on the run. It also helps you see how much you are eating instead of eating what food manufacturers and restaurants dictate for portions.

Step 3: Savor the flavor of your food. Think about the flavors in your meals and enjoy them. This will help you refocus after a busy day and enjoy your meals.

Mindful eating does take practice, but it’s actually an innate technique. Consider a newborn. When she is hungry, she sends a signal that it is time to eat (crying). When she is satiated, she will stop eating. Over time, we may lose this skill as external factors come into play. The “clean plate club,” eating with family at a set time, or various diet rules can all contribute to a loss of this skill. The good news is that people can return to mindful eating and take the focus away from food and external cues. This offers an opportunity to focus on a more joyful and healthy life. When people begin to listen to their bodies, eating becomes a form of self-care. It can restore food to its original function: a source of nourishment.

It’s time to get back to basics, ditch the rules, use sound nutrition as a guideline, and truly listen to what our bodies need. It’s time for mindful eating.

By Beth Rosen, MS, RD, CDN

Did you like it? Here’s a free copy of the printable mindful eating handout!

Mindful Eating

And here are some other great resources, just for you!

Doggy Bag Safety

I love “doggy bags.”

We don’t have a dog and most of the time those leftovers are for me.

With the size of many restaurant portions these days, it’s only wise to bring part of your food home for another meal… or possibly two. Whether you’re really taking the food home for the dog or yourself, it’s also important to keep it safe.

That’s where the “two hour rule” comes in.

Doggy Bag

Perishable food left at room temperature for more than two hours may become unsafe to eat. Remember, it becomes the “one hour rule” when temperatures are hotter than 90 degrees outside. Think about how hot the inside of a car can get. Bacteria grow very quickly at these temperatures.

If you’re planning on a movie or a little shopping after dinner, then it’s not safe to leave the food to sit in the car for that extra time. Bring a cooler with ice if you know you’re probably going to get a doggy bag… that’s a good thought whether you’re going straight home or not.

Once you get that doggy bag safely home, think about rewrapping those leftovers and putting them in the refrigerator as soon as possible. Those little foam boxes aren’t airtight and don’t do a great job of keeping the food moist and fresh.

The storage temperature of the leftovers is another key thing to think about. Refrigerators should be kept at 41 degrees or below.

I was recently impressed when my container of restaurant leftovers came with food safety instructions. I think this was smart of them, wanting to keep their customers safe. This container was also sealed a little tigher than most.  As well as not spilling in the car on the way home, it helped to keep odors from other foods in the refrigerator from co-mingling with my leftover pasta. Their instructions for keeping the food safe were even a little more strict than I usually go by. But, less can be better in this instance.

Storage Instructions

Refrigerated food doesn’t keep forever. If you dine out a lot, then those little  containers tend to multiply uneaten in the refrigerator. The best recommendation is to plan on eating those leftovers within three to four days of bringing them home. Remember that you can’t always see, taste, or smell the bacteria in food that may make you sick.

For safety’s sake, leftover food should be heated thoroughly before eating.

This means to heat it to 165 degrees F. The only way to make sure you’re doing that is to use a food thermometer. When heating in a microwave, stir during cooking and allow some standing time for the temperatures to unify.

While it may seem wasteful, keep in mind the old saying: “when in doubt… throw it out!” Wasting a little food is not worth the risk of a foodborne illness. If you can’t keep the food safe, then you may as well leave it in the restaurant in the first place.

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

Using a Doggy Bag for Calorie Savings:

Provided that you keep your doggy bag food safe, you can save some serious calories by cutting your restaurant entree in half.

Here are some examples:

  • The Lasagna Classico at Olive Garden weighs in at 930 calories per plate, with 470 of those calories coming from fat. If you split the meal and saved half for a different day, storing the rest in a doggie bag for later, then you would only consume 465 calories in the restaurant, which is a much more reasonable portion than the original.
  • The Ultimate Bacon Burger at Chili’s is another contender for the doggie bag approach. If you split the burger in half and save half for another meal, you’ll save 515 calories! Now if you ate the whole thing, the grand total for this meal (without fries!) would be 1030 calories. Do you see how a doggie bag can make a huge difference in portion control?
  • An All-American Slam breakfast at Denny’s has 990 calories per plate. If you only ate half, you’d bring the portion size down to a much more reasonable 495 calories.

If you were to make all 3 of these changes, you would save 1,475 calories over the course of those meals!

Plus, by putting the rest of a given meal in a doggy bag and following food-safe methods, you will have a whole other meal at your disposal. This in turn makes your restaurant choices stretch farther on a budget.

Here are some additional portion control resources…

And here’s a doggy bag safety handout, just for you!

Food Safety When Taking Restaurant Meals Home: A Handout

DoggieBagFoodSafety