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Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

Polyunsaturated fats (or PUFAs) are essential fatty acids, meaning that

the body cannot produce them and therefore they must be obtained
through the diet. PUFAs are important in the body because they can
both promote inflammation, which is necessary to some degree, as
well as reduce inflammation.

 

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

One of the main types of PUFAs are omega-6 fatty acids, which promote inflammation. Inflammation can occur in two forms. The first type is localized inflammation, a defense mechanism used by the body to fight off infections and promote healing after an injury.

Monitoring your omega-6 intake is important to prevent chronic inflammation, which has negative effects on the body. Chronic inflammation is the inflammation that we cannot see, spreading throughout the entire body, such as with autoimmune diseases.

However, one omega-6 that is an anti-inflammatory is GLA (Gamma-linolenic acid). GLA supplements can halt the inflammatory promoters, reducing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, eczema, and psoriasis.

 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Another type of PUFA is omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation in the body and are very beneficial. Various studies have shown that omega-3s can reduce the risk of coronary artery disease, slow the heart rate and improve heart rhythm, improve blood vessel flexibility, and act as a blood thinner. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been linked to the prevention of cancer growths. They lower the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and help with normal brain function. This includes helping with depression, bipolar disorder, impulsive behavior, hostility, and physical aggressiveness. Lastly, omega-3s have proven to help with dry eye syndrome. DHA and EPA are popular Omega 3’s found in fish oils.

 

What Foods Contain PUFAs?

Ways to incorporate omega-6s into your diet are through seeds, nuts, cooking oils (i.e. corn, peanut, safflower, soybean oil), and soybean products.

Sources of omega-3s are leafy green vegetables (i.e. kale, dark lettuces, swiss chard, collard greens, mustard greens), flaxseed, certain oils (i.e. canola, walnut), and coldwater fish (i.e. salmon, herring, tuna).

It is recommended to have an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of approximately 3:1 to help prevent chronic inflammation. Steer clear of processed foods, which generally exceed the ratio guidelines. The typical American diet generally works out to a ratio of 23:1, when fast, processed, restaurant, and snack foods are included.

 

Resources:

  1. Covington MB. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Am Fam Physician. 2004;70(1):133-140.
  2. Furay A. Natural Sources of Omega-3. Live Strong Web site. 2011. Available at: http://www.livestrong.com/article/269247-natural-sources-of-omega-3/
  3. Challem J. Figuring Out Fats: The Key to Boosting Your Body’s Natural Anti-Inflammation.

 

 

The Importance of Breakfast

September is Better Breakfast Month, so there is no better time than the present to discuss the importance of eating breakfast every day. People choose to skip breakfast for a variety of reasons – “they don’t have time”, “they want to lose weight”, “they aren’t hungry in the mornings”. Whatever the excuse is, it is important that this habit changes.

The body uses glucose, a breakdown of carbohydrates, for brain function. Glucose needs to be readily available, meaning it needs to be consumed often because the body uses it as we eat our foods. When you skip breakfast, your body does not receive this glucose and can go into “semi-starvation” mode because it hasn’t received fuel since the night before. Often times 12-15 hours have passed since the last meal. This makes it difficult to concentrate and perform at your best throughout the day.

Breakfast is especially important for children because they need the fuel for their growing and developing bodies. When children skip breakfast, their brain doesn’t have the proper fuel it needs, and therefore they have problems concentrating in school and completing their assignments. This is why it is crucial that children have a fulfilling breakfast every morning.

Skipping breakfast has been linked to the development of obesity. The National Weight Control Registry studied “successful losers” who maintained a 30-pound (or more) weight loss for at least a year. 78% of them ate breakfast daily, and almost 90% ate breakfast at least five days a week, suggesting that beginning the day with a healthy meal plays a role in weight loss and maintenance. Eating breakfast kick-starts the body’s metabolism each morning, helping to metabolize the food eaten throughout the day.

Other studies have shown that those who skip breakfast tend to have a high calorie snack to satisfy their hunger and/or eat more at their next meal. Many people with busy schedules choose to give up breakfast in order to sleep longer in the morning. However, waking up 5-10 minutes earlier can provide the fuel the body needs to have energy throughout the day.

Not only is it important to have breakfast each day, it is important to make this meal nutritious. Eating a breakfast filled with lean protein can keep you full until lunchtime. Besides lean protein, healthy breakfasts can include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low or non-fat dairy. This gives a wide range of options when making your morning meal and will keep you satisfied until lunch, preventing snacking on high-calorie, high-fat foods.

Some ideas for a quick and healthy breakfast are:

  • Hard-boiled egg and banana
  • Low-fat yogurt with fresh berries and nuts
  • Oatmeal with raisins and nuts
  • Whole-wheat English muffin with scrambled egg whites and vegetables
  • Vegetable omelet (mostly egg whites) and whole-wheat toast
  • Low fat cottage cheese with fruit
  • Whole-wheat English muffin spread with peanut butter and side banana
  • High protein leftovers from dinner (sliced meat, fish, or poultry)
  •  Greens Super Smoothie

** For more recipes visit www.eatingwell.com **

 

 

 Resources

  1. Why Breakfast Is the Most Important Meal of the Day. WebMD Web site. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/most-important-meal. Accessed September 7, 2011.
  2. The Many Benefits of Breakfast. WebMD Web site. Available at: http://www. webmd.com/diet/features/many-benefits-breakfast?page=2. Accessed September 7, 2011.
  3. Why Does Eating a Healthy Breakfast Help Control Weight. Mayo Clinic Web site. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/food-and-nutrition/ AN01119. Accessed September 7, 2011.
  4. Better Breakfast Month. Dietitians Online Web site. Available at: http://weighing-success. blogspot.com/2011/09/september-is-better-breakfast-month.html. Accessed September 8, 2011.

Swiss Chard

Swiss chard belongs to the family of beets and spinach and goes

by many different names, such as leaf beet, chard, seakettle beet, and spinach beet. It is one of the less common vegetables and yet has so many wonderful properties!

Chard is an excellent source of Vitamin K, which is essential in protecting against blood clots, as well as potassium, which helps with the body’s fluid and electrolyte balance. Chard is a wonderful source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E – antioxidants that help protect against certain cancers. It is also a great source of fiber, iron, and calcium. Surprisingly, chard is high in sodium, which is rare for fresh vegetables. One cup of chard contains approximately 300 mg of sodium, so it is important to keep this in mind if on a sodium-restricted diet. See the table below for further nutrition information.

 

 

Nutrition Facts

Swiss chard, boiled,

Serving Size 1 cup

 

Amount Per Serving
Calories 35           Calories from Fat 1
Total Fat 0g
         Saturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 313mg
Total Carbohydrate 7g
     Dietary Fiber 4g
     Sugars 2g
Protein 3g
Vitamin A 214%       Vitamin C   53%
Calcium    10%            Iron   22%

 

 

Although further research needs to be completed, lab studies have shown that some of chards nutritional properties can help regulate blood sugar levels – another great reason to eat this leafy green!

There are many easy ways to incorporate chard into your diet. The following list has some examples:

  • Boil it, squeeze some lemon juice on it, and serve as a side dish
  • Use in a salad or sandwich in place of lettuce
  • Boil it and toss it into pasta
  • May always be used in place of spinach, however chard cooks for a longer period of time

** For easy recipe ideas visit www.allrecipes.com **

 

 

Fresh Steamed Swiss Chard Ó

                        *Healthy Directions of Poway Recipe*

 

2 bunches of Swiss chard – any variety, washed & drained

Oil & Vinegar for garnish- I prefer a drizzle of aged Balsamic only.

 

Heat a large stockpot with 2 inches of water in bottom, or use whatever steamer pot you have. Insert steam basket. Tear leaves of chard from the ribs. Chop ribs into very small slices or dice. Place chopped ribs in bottom of steam pan. Chop leaves of chard in large shreds. Place on top of ribs in steam pan. Cover and cook until leaves are wilted and ribs soft, about 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Check to see that there is water remaining in pan, but not above steam basket. Remove basket & drain chard. Serve with oil & vinegar.

 

Servings: 6   Per Serving (without garnish) of ½ cup: 18 calories, 2 gm protein, 3.5 gm carb., 0 fat, 0 cholesterol, 158 mg. sodium, 2 gm fiber and is a good source of vitamins A, C and Iron

 

NOTE: Oil has 130 calories and 14 gm of fat per tablespoon. Vinegar has 0 calories, fat, protein or carbohydrate, or sodium, except for Balsamic which has 8 calories and 2 gm of carbohydrate per tablespoon.

References

  1. Swiss Chard. The Worlds Healthiest Foods Web site. Available at: http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=16. Accessed September 5, 2011.
  2. Chard. University of Illinois Extension Web site. Available at: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/chard.cfm. Accessed September 5, 2011.
  3. The Nutritional Value of Zucchini vs Swiss Chard. Live Strong Web site. Available at: http://www.livestrong.com/article/ 501715-the-nutritional-value-of-zucchini-vs-swiss-chard/. Accessed September 5, 2011.
  4. Swiss chard, boiled. Nutridata Web site. Available at: http://nutritiondata. self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2400/2. Accessed September 7, 2011.

The Importance of a Low-Sodium Diet

Sodium plays an important role in the body and is useful when eaten in small amounts. It helps maintain fluid balance in the body and regulates blood pressure and blood volume. Also, sodium is critical for the function of muscles and nerves by influencing their contraction and relaxation.

However, eating too much salt can be bad for the body. It attracts and holds water, which can cause high blood pressure and eventually lead to heart disease and stroke.

 

HOW MUCH SALT SHOULD I EAT?

For healthy individuals under 51 years of age, it is recommended to consume no more than 2300 milligrams per day. This may sound like a lot, however this is only 1 teaspoon of salt for the entire day!

For individuals who have high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, or are over the age of 51, it is recommended to consume 1500 milligrams or less per day.

 

WHERE IS SALT FOUND?

Salt is found in most of the foods that we consume. Table salt contains 40% sodium. Salt is also added to food in the form of monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium nitrite, sodium saccharin, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), and sodium benzoate. It is important to read food labels to see if these ingredients were added.

 

Some of the more common foods containing salt are:

 

  •       Fast food
  •       Soup
  •       Cheese
  •       Processed foods
  •       Frozen foods
  •       Canned vegetables

The Truth About Avocados

For decades, avocados were known as the “fatty fruit” that people should avoid. However, the more research that was completed, the more people began to realize that avocados are, in fact, good for the body. Avocados are one of the few fruits that provide “good fat”. Most of the fat in an avocado is monounsaturated fat, which has been proven to lower LDL cholesterol levels, decrease blood pressure, and reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke. Also, avocados are a good source of vitamin K, fiber, potassium, folate, and lutein, a carotenoid filled with antioxidant properties.

The table below demonstrates that, although avocados are “fatty”, they are a healthier alternative to the typical spreads used today. Even though they are a “good fat”, they are still high in calories, so remember to enjoy in moderation.

 

  Fresh Avocado Butter, Salted Mayonnaise, with salt
Portion (1-ounce) 2 Tbsp. or 2-3 thin slices 2 Tbsp 2 Tbsp
Calories 50 204 109
Total Fat (g) 4.5 23 9.4
Saturated Fat (g) 0.5 14.6 1.4
Cholesterol (mg) 0 61 7
Sodium (mg) 0 164 199

*adapted from whfoods.org

 

The following list contains just a few examples of the many ways to incorporate avocados in your everyday diet.

  • A sandwich spread in place of butter or mayonnaise
  • Sliced on a sandwich, burger, or salad
  • Use as a dip for vegetables (instead of ranch dressing)
  • Blend into a smoothie for a rich, creamy texture
  • Spread on bagel instead of cream cheese
  • Dice up with tomatoes and onion for a nice salsa
  • Blend it up and use as a pasta sauce

** see avocado.org for many recipe ideas **

 

If the avocado is still firm when you buy it, this means it is NOT ripe. Simply place it in a brown paper bag at room temperature. When the avocado is no longer firm and is darker in color, it is ready to enjoy.

 

Resources

  1. Avocados. Available at: http://www.avocado.org/. Accessed August 29, 2011.
  2. The Avocado Advantage. Web MD web site. Available at: http://www. webmd.com/diet/features/avocado-advantage. Accessed August 30, 2011.
  3. Avocados. The Worlds Healthiest Foods web site. Available at: http://www. whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=5#nutritionalprofile. Accessed August 30, 2011.

Organic Foods

Additives in Your Food

Wholesome food is a necessity and is integral to a healthy lifestyle; however, many foods being consumed are filled with chemicals and preservatives we know are harmful to an individual’s health. Many additives are used to maintain the look of freshness of the food we purchase, for cosmetic appeal, to increase the shelf life of the food, and to enhance the flavor of the food. The term Food Additive in the USA actually covers over 5000 chemicals added to food products for a variety of reasons including: coloring; flavoring; preserving; thickening; emulsifying; and bleaching. Chemicals are poisonous to our bodies, thereby affecting the chemical systems in our bodies, which in turn create food sensitivities. Chronic symptoms of food sensitivity can result in fatigue, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, cough, insomnia, heartburn, Fibromyalgia, Autism, ADD, and arthritis.

How to Avoid These Harmful Chemicals

Eat Organic. Organic foods are legally regulated by the FDA and grown without the use of additives, preservatives, chemicals, and pesticides.  Unlike conventional food and meat products, organic food is not genetically modified or treated with antibiotics. Above all, to label food as organic producers are required to obtain organic certification.

Where to Buy These Foods

Let attending local farmers’ markets awaken your understanding regarding the importance of local, organic produce and traditional farming in addition to living a healthy lifestyle. Become an avid supporter of farmers’ markets, with reason that the locally grown produce are not grown with the use dangerous chemicals, travel as far distance as larger, industrial farmers’ produce, thus saving fuel expenses and lessening the environmental impact.  Produce is picked at peak maturity, which preserves the nutritional content of the fresh product. Farmers’ markets help cultivators stay in business as well as preserve natural resources.

Be Wise Ranch is local, organic CSA farm in Northern San Diego County www.bewiseranch.com

Local Harvest has nation-wide information regarding grocery stores, CSA, Farmers’ Markets, restaurants, farms, etc… www.localharvest.org

 

 

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