Three Things

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1. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but being unfit may be almost as bad for you as smoking. According to a new study poor physical fitness is a major risk factor for premature death. Smoking had the greatest impact on lifespan and low aerobic capacity came in as a close second. Poor physical fitness had more impact than high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Only men were studied, however this should still encourage everyone to strive for their own physical fitness goals! Get up and go.

2. Red meat continues to get negative attention. Red meat includes beef, lamb and pork and should be consumed in moderation (duh). Consumption of red meat has been linked to increased risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer. A new study suggests that red meat consumption is also linked to kidney failure. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a burger on occasion, but replacing one serving of red meat a week with another protein can reduce your risk of kidney disease by 62%.

3. Sandwiches can be healthy or they can be a sodium and fat bomb. A study found that on days people ate sandwiches they consumed 100 more calories and more sodium, fat and sugar. Packing your own lunch by making your own sandwich can create a healthier sandwich. You get to control what type of bread and fillings you use. Choose whole wheat bread, low sodium deli meats or grilled protein, avoid sauces and condiments and load up on the veggies! A made-at-home sandwich can be just as delicious as getting lunch to go.

Raquel

Keys to the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is heart healthy and based on typical foods and recipes found in Mediterranean cooking. There is research to support that the Mediterranean diet helps to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) which decreases the risk for heart disease. More than 50% of the fat calories in this diet comes from unsaturated fats, specifically monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, fish and nuts. In addition, the Mediterranean diet is also associated with a reduced incidence of cancer and other chronic diseases.

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The Mediterranean Diet

  • Plant based foods – this includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Making these foods the main stay of this diet introduces extra vitamins, minerals and fiber. Try to eat 8-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Eat nuts in small amounts. Legumes include beans and lentils which adds protein and fiber.
  • Healthy fats – olive oil, fish and nuts are all high in unsatruated fats. Use olive oil instead of butter to cook with. Fish is a lean protein to be eaten once or twice a week.
  • Herbs & spices – cooking with fresh herbs and spices in place of salt. This naturally creates a low sodium diet. Dried herbs are also used. Look for salt-free herb and spice mixes. Garlic, onions and citrus can also be used to give food flavor.
  • Lean proteins – this includes chicken, turkey and fish and limits red meat to once or twice a month. Avoid high fat red meats such as sausage, bacon and other high fat cuts. Choose low fat dairy such as 1% milk or skim milk and nonfat or low fat yogurt.
  • Red wine – this is clearly my favorite part of the diet. Drink red wine in moderation. It has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease if consumed in moderation meaning 5 ounces of wine daily.
  • Exercise – lifestyle factors such as exercise and social support also play a role. Savor the time you have with friends and family and making eating a social experience. Make sure to get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise per week.

Raquel

Three Things

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1. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set two and ten year goals for lowering the sodium content in processed and prepared foods. This is awesome news! A diet lower in sodium can help prevent high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. While eating fresh is always the goal, convenience foods may make an appearance on occasion. On average, most Americans intake is 3,400 mg of salt per day while the recommended amount is 2,300 mg per day. The two year goal from the FDA is to reduce the national average to 3,000 mg per day and eventually to 2,300 mg per day. Check out how to limit sodium in your diet and start today!

2. Do you know how to feed a happy, healthy gut? A balanced gut promotes a strong immune system and lower levels of chronic inflammation. Both great things! Fiber from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains helps stabilize the gut microbiome. Probiotics help maintain and grow the population of already there good microbes which you can find in fermented foods. Healthy unsaturated fats encourage diversity of healthy gut microbes.  Do your gut a favor and make sure you’re getting enough fiber, probiotics, and healthy fats to fuel a happy gut!

3. There are five key health behaviors that can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases. About half of American adults had at least one chronic condition (such as stroke, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease) in 2012 – that’s about 117 million people! What! These five behaviors are absolutely attainable and should be goals for everyone. The behaviors are not smoking, exercising regularly, drinking in moderation, maintaining a healthy body weight, and getting enough sleep. I strive to always maintain these behaviors and you should too.

Raquel

Tomato Basil Salad

Tomatoes come in all shapes and sizes. There are cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, plum tomatoes, roma tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes – the list goes on and on! A few weeks ago I used these mini heirloom tomatoes from Trader Joe’s for another recipe and I can’t get enough of them! Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C, potassium, and the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene is part of the carotenoid family which give tomatoes their red color. There is some evidence to suggest lycopene can protect against certain types of cancer and reduce your risk for heart disease by decreasing LDL cholesterol and blood pressure.

This recipe is super simple! But, that doesn’t make this any less tasty. I love putting this on top of store bought or homemade pizza. Especially Trader Joe’s Organic Spinach & Ricotta Pizza. You can double or triple this recipe to serve as a side dish or simple salad.


Tomato Basil Salad

IngredientsDSC_0910

  • 1 cup mini heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

Cut the tomatoes in quarters and add to a small bowl. Chiffonade the fresh basil leaves and combine with the tomatoes. Throw in the garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss to combine. Let marinate for about 15 minutes.

Number of servings: 2 | Serving size: 1/2 cup
Calories: 85, total fat: 7 g, total carbohydrates: 5 g, dietary fiber: 2 g, sugars: 3 g, protein: 1 g

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Tomatoes and basil is one of my favorite combinations. What is your favorite veggie (or fruit) and herb combo? Tell me below!

Raquel

Three Things

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1. The paleo or “cave man” diet is one of the many new(ish) diets that have been talked about a lot lately. This diet is low in carbohydrates, high in fat, and focused on foods eaten by Stone Age people. There are many holes and missing pieces to this diet and as a dietitian I do not support it. This article pointedly discusses genetic evolution and its relationship to food and agriculture. It supports the notion that a shift from hunter-gatherers to agriculture is not the reason for an increase in chronic degenerative diseases. If you are trying to lose weight this may not be the diet for you as it is extremely high in fat. Talk to a Registered Dietitian to find a plan for you.

2. Speaking of chronic diseases, “ultra-processed” foods are contributing to obesity and heart disease. These foods contain manufactured ingredients that aren’t used when cooking from scratch. Think: artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, preservatives, and other additives. Many of these ultra-processed foods are also high in sugar, saturated fat, and sodium. These components add to the risk for obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure, and diabetes. Your best bet to avoid these foods, such as soda, packaged snacks, processed meats, and instant soups, is to eat fresh! Shop on the perimeter of the grocery store and get as many fresh ingredients as possible.

3. In the world of sports nutrition, a new study has looked into a “sleep-low” sports diet. This entails a low carbohydrate dinner so the next day any workouts would force the body to use fat as fuel. The study showed that athletes following the sleep-low diet performed better after training. Examples of a sleep-low diet dinner would be a lean protein (e.g. chicken, fish, turkey, beef, pork) and tons of nonstarchy vegetables. Some smart complex carbohydrates that could be included would be legumes and quinoa.

Raquel

Three Things

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1. The report The State of Obesity 2015 is out. It’s not entirely surprising to find out that the South and Midwest have the highest adult obesity rates. The highest obesity rate was found in Arkansas (35.9%). Colorado had the lowest rate (21.3%). No state had an obesity rate less than 21% compared to reports that in 1991 no states had an obesity rate more than 20%. Almost 78 million people in the United States are at increased risk for a obesity-related health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. This is preventable! Check out the report to see where your state falls. {Trust for America’s Health}

2. Pope weekend is finally upon us in Philadelphia. Here are all the Pope-inspired specials being offered across the city. I would love to try some of these things… if I could only get there! Looks like the “Papal Pleasure” Belgian amber ale from Manayunk Brewing Company is the only one I’ll be able to try, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing! {Visit Philly}

3. I love tacos. They remind me of summer (especially a fresh grilled fish taco), but these tacos are perfect for fall. Yes! Kale, eggplant, and lentils are a few of the ingredients that make me excited for fall flavors. {Food & Wine}

Raquel