Tag Archives: color

Get in Shape with the Plate!

Take a part in helping America observe March National Nutrition Month today, tomorrow, this month and all year long. Look at the plate shown on the right. It can help you eat better and even lose weight! Portions and colors are the key to healthy eating and weight control. Just look at your plate to simplify both. Divide your plate by fourths, proportion 4 different foods with different colors in each section, and you automatically control calories and maximize nutrient variety.  This means more plant foods, less (and ample) protein, for most folks. And you feel fuller, longer.

Here’s a simple example – from the cover of my book:

The 4 oz. lean beef filet, 1/2 cup steamed red new potatoes, 1/2 cup sugar-snap green beans, and 1/2 cup steamed fresh carrots, for a total of only 350 calories. Spritzed with butter-flavored spray, calories may become 360-370. Add 1 teaspoon of healthy cooking oil (40 calories) to sauté beef,  and 3 teaspoons of reduced-fat spread (50 calories) to flavor veggies and the whole meal is still under 450 calories.

The plate concept makes it is easy to plan healthy meals, lose weight, and keep it off. 

Can you really lose weight and expect to keep it off?  The National Weight Control Registry tracks 3,000 successful weight loss participants whom have kept at least 30 pounds of weight off for at least 10 years. According to the latest research for the Registry, this group has kept off an average 51 pounds of 69 lost. Those stats are very encouraging.

The participant’s maintenance tips include:  

  • Eat breakfast regularly.
  • Walk about an hour a day.
  • Track food intake, calories and fat grams.
  • Limit eating out.  
  • Seldom splurge.
  • Watch TV less than 10 hours a week.
  • Weigh weekly
  • Average about 1,800 calories a day, less than 30% from fat.

Give it a try! Use the plate – when you shape up your eating and exercise, youcan shape up your health for a lifetime!

Looking for more meal ideas, eating tips, or recommendations for organizing your plate?  Check out my book The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution:  Step up to the Plate (2009), or email me at Georgia@GeorgiaKostas.com to schedule a nutrition consult in person, over the phone or online.  You can follow me on Twitter/GeorgiaKostas, Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition or visit my website www.GeorgiaKostas.com.

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Heart Smart Foods for February Heart Month

Healthy heart, healthy body. 

How can you prevent artery and heart disease that a majority of Americans develop over a lifetime? Take action now. Focus on heart smart foods that keep your artery walls strong, elastic, and free of plaque (from cholesterol deposits and oxidation), inflammation and clots. Heart-Smart foods fight for your life every day, by protecting your arteries from:

Cholesterol build-up:  Eat plant foods (fruit, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, oils), foods with soluble fiber such as oats, beans and psyllium seeds; fish, poultry without skin, lean beef and pork and lamb cuts; skim milk, low-fat cheese, and spreads and special foods with stanols or sterols (i.e Smart Balance Heart Right spreads and milk). Avoid saturated, hydrogenated and tran fats in lard and fatty cuts of beef, pork, lamb, hot dogs, sausage; burgers, hardened margarine sticks, commercially prepared desserts, snack foods, icing, fried foods.

Cholesterol oxidation:  Eat anti-oxidant-rich fruit and vegetables of all types, particularly deep red/blue/purple foods such as red grapes, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, grape juice, red wine, dark chocolate, tea, eggplant, raisins, tomatoes and tomato sauce.

Artery stiffness:  Eat olive oil, canola oil, seafood (omega 3’s), nuts, and fresh produce that contain anti-oxidants, phyto-nutrients and potassium.  Skip the salt shaker, packaged and canned foods, and salty foods that stiffen arteries.

Artery inflammation:  Select anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant-rich foods such as fresh produce, whole grains, beans, seafood, omega 3-rich foods. Eat regular meals with reasonable portions        (large meals or large portions inflame artery walls by elevating blood sugar, fats and salt). Avoid excessive sugar, salt, saturated, trans and hydrogenated fats; excess body fat, particularly middle fat; and sitting long hours. Get up and move. Treat and control elevated blood pressure and diabetes. The bottom line: reasonable portions, reasonably sized meals and regular exercise prevent inflammation.

Clot formation:  Eat nature’s natural blood thinners to prevent clots, such as seafood, olive and canola oils, red foods with polyphenols (red grapes, red onions, tea, wine, red apples, garlic, grape juice) and red/orange foods such as tomatoes, red bell pepper, berries, cherries, carrots, oranges, grapefruit, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cantaloupe- all are good for your arteries and blood flow. Omega 3s are found in oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, tuna, herring, bass, trout; walnuts;  canola and olive oil, as well as omega 3- fortified spreads, milk, orange juice, low-fat cheese.

In essence, enjoy 2-3 fruit and 2-3 cups of fresh vegetables daily…especially colorful ones, and a variety, to reap the greatest heart-health benefits. Eat beans 4 times a week; nuts 4 times a week -one shot glass of nuts is a serving; seafood at least twice a week; 3 whole grains daily; healthy oils; non-fat or low-fat dairy and lean protein foods.

Limit alcohol, which raises blood pressure and weight, and can interfere with medications. The American Heart Association guideline: “Limit alcohol to no more than one can of beer, five ounces of wine, or one and a half ounces of 80 proof alcohol per day,” for women; two for men. Exceed these amounts, and the benefits of alcohol are countered by increased heart risk.

Remember to get up and move for at least 30 minutes daily. Schedule a little exercise each day for fun, relaxation, stress release, and recreation. You heart and arteries will sing. Plaque and inflammation and clots lessen, artery elasticity and strength increase, LDL (bad) cholesterol lowers, healthy HDL cholesterol rises, blood sugar, fats, and pressure normalize. A little goes a long way to improving your overall health, heart health and sense of well-being.

Seemingly little decisions daily as to what to eat and how much, when to exercise and how much, make a HUGE impact on your heart, and your life.

Discover more heart healthy tips by visiting my website, www.georgiakostas.com. Order my book, The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009), for recipes, teaching tips, menu planning and more. You can also follow me on Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition or twitter @georgiakostas.

Protein Series, Part 2 of 3: Lean Protein is Good for Heart Health

Introduction:  Recent research indicates that a moderate serving of high-quality protein (3-4 oz) with each meal can make a significant difference in healthy aging, body strength, weight management, and disease prevention. This is especially significant since approximately 20 percent of older adults do not meet the USDA’s recommended dietary allowance of protein. Read my three-part series on Protein to learn how you can achieve optimal health as you get older.

Lean Protein is Good for Heart Health

Eating lean beef daily, as part of a heart-healthy diet, can help lower LDL-cholesterol ( bad cholesterol), lower triglycerides ( blood fats), and raise HDL-cholesterol (good cholesterol) more than excluding beef, according to new research published in the January 2012 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  In this study, 5 oz of lean beef were consumed daily, as part of an overall healthy, plant-based, nutrient-rich diet (DASH), which included a variety of foods from all food groups.

Lean Beef by the Numbers

Americans can feel confident in their decision to eat lean beef daily, in moderate amounts,  as part of a low saturated fat diet which meets the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It’s a complete package! A 3 oz. serving of lean beef contributes less than 10 percent of calories to a 1,500-2,000-calorie intake daily and it supplies more than 10 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for 10 essential nutrients. On average, a 3 oz. serving of lean beef (about the size of a deck of cards) contains about 150 calories and is an excellent source of six nutrients (protein, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, niacin and selenium) and a good source of four nutrients (phosphorous, choline, iron and riboflavin).

Lean Beef by the Cut  –

Did you know 17 of the top 25 most popular fresh meat cuts sold in retail are lean? Some of my favorite choices in cuts are  Tenderloin, Top Sirloin, Flank, T-Bone steak and 95% lean Ground Beef. It’s simple to pair these delicious cuts with nutrient-rich vegetables, grains and dairy foods for an overall healthy diet.

Other Heart-Protective Foods

How can you protect your heart? Eat the right type and amount of wholesome foods! Choose colorful fruit, vegetables, and beans; wholegrains; lean protein foods ( fish, poultry, lean beef, low-fat cheese); non-fat or low-fat dairy; and the right types and amount of fat and oils  to reduce artery inflammation and lessen the development of hardening of the arteries, which underlies most heart attacks.

Lifestyle Factors that Reduce Heart Disease

  • A healthy weight
  • Aerobic exercise, 30+ minutes, 3-5 times weekly
  • Healthy eating
  • Healthy blood pressure (<120/80)
  • Not smoking
  • Treating depression
  • Managing stress
  • More vitamin D3
  • Limiting alcohol
  • Ample sleep

In summary, lean beef protein can be beneficial to your heart as long as it does not exceed saturated fat limits (3-4 oz lean beef contains 4-6 gm sat fat out of 15-22 gm sat fat limit daily). Realize the value in varying protein sources – it’s good for your taste buds, adds nutrient variety, and helps your heart. It takes your total lifestyle to keep your heart running right…combine eating right and regular physical activity for optimal health.

Need more ideas?  Check out my book The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution:  Step up to the Plate (2009), or email me at Georgia@GeorgiaKostas.com to schedule a nutrition consult in person, over the phone or online.  You can follow me on Twitter/GeorgiaKostas, Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition or visit my website http://georgiakostas.com.

Cool Treats to Beat the Heat

What would summer be without ice cream, shakes, lemonade, iced tea, watermelon, and sweet fresh fruit?! 

Cold or frozen treats are part of summer! But who wants to run 12 miles a week or do 2 spin classes just to work off 2 cups of rich, premium ice cream or one shake or an ice cream sundae?  Two cups of ice cream (1 pint) translates to 4 scoops (1/2 cup each) weekly- the amount most Americans average all year long. If it’s rich, premium ice cream (Ben and Jerry’s, Haagen Dazs, Baskins Robbins ), that’s 270 calories per ½ cup scoop. BlueBell and Cold Stone  are closer to 250 calories per scoop. Less rich ice creams (10% fat) and milk-based gelatos average 150 calories per scoop. Frozen treats can add up quickly and so can the pounds!   Especially if you enjoy 2-3 cups per dish! 

Fortunately, we have delicious, lower-fat options to enjoy without adding pounds! That’s double enjoyment!  Apply these calories per ½ cup to your typical serving! 

Lighter Options (½ cup or 1 bar)

  • Dreyers’/Edy’s Slow Churned Light/ Breyer’s Double Churn Light (100 calories; 0-3 g fat)              
  • Blue Bunny frozen yogurt or fat-free, no-sugar-added ice cream (100 calories; 0-3 g fat)
  • Blue Bell light/ low-fat / reduced fat/ fat-free and no-sugar ice cream (100 calories; 0-3 g fat)      
  • TCBY nonfat frozen yogurt (100 calories; 0-3 g fat)           
  • Sorbet, sherbet, fruit Ice, Italian ice, water-based gelato (about 100 calories; 0-2 g fat)
  • Skinny Cow Fudge bar, Truffle Bar, or Dipper/ Fudgesicle / Popsicle/ Juice bar (about 100 calories; 0-2 g fat)
  • Sugar-free Fudgesicle / Popsicle (15-40 calories; 0 g fat)
  • Watermelon, cantaloupe or strawberries  ( 2 cups of any) or 1 frozen banana (100 calories; 0 g fat)                                                              

Don’t forget about summer’s fresh, sweet, juicy fruit – nutrient-rich and delicious!

Homemade Options:

Smoothie (150 calories, no fat)       

  • Blend:  ½ cup fresh or frozen berries or fruit of choice ,  ½ banana,   5-6 ice cubes , and ½ cup orange juice or favorite juice (or ¼ cup juice + ¼ cup nonfat  yogurt )     

Popsicles (25 calorie, 0 fat)

  • Freeze ¼ cup 100% juice in individual ice cube or popsicle containers.

For more resources and tips, visit http://www.georgiakostas.com. Follow me on Twitter @georgiakostas or like my professional Facebook page, Georgia Kostas Nutrition.  Check out my book, The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate!, where you’ll find balanced no-fuss meals, quick recipes, snack ideas and more.

Celebrating National Nutrition Month (Part 2 of 3)

Color Your Plate like an Artist’s Palette

It’s March and color is on your mind! You may be relishing in tabloid analysis of what color of dresses celebrities wore on the red carpet for the Oscars last week. You may be starting to think about what colors of flowers or produce you want to plant in your garden this spring. Or, if you are like me, you’re celebrating National Nutrition Month by discovering the different array of foods you can use to color your plate.

Here are a few examples of foods you can use to color your plate like an artist’s palette this month and all year long:

Color: Green
Foods: Spinach, lettuce, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprout
Health benefits: Helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease, macular eye degeneration, cataracts, inflammation, colon cancer, heart disease, bone loss

Color: Red
Foods: Berry, tomato, tomato sauce, apple, watermelon, radish, pomegranate
Health Benefit: Helps prevent cell damage, breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure

Color: Orange
Foods: Sweet potato, carrot, apricot, cantaloupe, orange
Health Benefits: Helps prevent heart disease, stroke, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis

Color: Yellow
Foods: Butternut squash, crookneck squash, corn, pineapple, lemon
Health Benefits: Helps prevent heart disease, stroke, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis

Color: White
Foods: Garlic, onion, pear, black-eyed pea, cauliflower, chick pea, mushroom
Health Benefit: Helps prevent high blood pressure

Color: Purple
Foods: Grape, fig, blueberry, black currant, red cabbage, eggplant, black bean, plum
Health Benefits: Helps prevent memory loss, cancer, heart disease

Help me add to my list. What foods do you enjoy that add color to your plate? Please enter your examples in the comments below.

Don’t forget to check out Part 3 of my National Nutrition Month blog series: Count Your Portions before they Count You

For more healthy plate ideas, or to order a copy of my book, visit www.georgiakostas.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @georgiakostas or like my Facebook Fan Page, Georgia Kostas Nutrition.

Celebrating National Nutrition Month (Part 1 of 3)

Getting to Know Your Plate

In honor of National Nutrition Month, let me fill you in on two simple tips to help boost the nutritional value of every meal you eat. Start by looking at your plate. What do you see?

Tip #1:  Is it bursting with color?  If it is, it’s bursting with nutrients! Does it boast color variety? If it does, it’s boasting nutrient variety! And the brighter the colors…you guessed it…the more nutrients present!

Tip #2:  Is it divided into four different foods of equal portion? By dividing your plate into four equal food portions, you get the proper amount, proper food balance and proper calories in return.

Now combine these two tips and you’re on your way to better health.

Remember this example:

Choose a fist-sized portion of a green vegetable, a fist-sized portion of a red/orange vegetable, a fist-sized portion of a healthy starch (potato, brown rice, pasta, or wholegrain), and a palm-sized portion of protein.  These portions represent about 1 cup of everything; and a 3-4 oz piece of protein. Now you have a perfectly balanced, healthy meal…rich in nutrients and fiber, and low in calories…all for under 600 calories!

Try these delicious meal ideas:

  • 3-4 oz chicken breast, 1 cup broccoli, 1 cup carrots, 1 cup brown rice
  • 3-4 oz lean beef tenderloin, 1 cup spinach, 1 cup yellow squash, one small sweet potato
  • 2 cups of salad consisting of dark lettuce greens, tomato, red bell pepper, red onion slices, mushrooms, celery, radishes, and cucumber slices and carrots, topped with 3 thin slices of fajita meat or a chicken breast and dressed with a touch of salsa or vinaigrette
  • 2 cups of mixed vegetables, such as broccoli,  snow peas, cabbage, carrots, onions and mushrooms, stir-fried with 3-4 oz of scallops, shrimp, lean meat or poultry, and served over 1 cup of brown rice

Need more ideas for building a healthy plate bursting with color and in appropriate proportions? See my book, The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution (2009). Quick meal Ideas in my book are just 400-500 calories!

Next time you sit down to eat, ask yourself: are there four colors or more? Are there four different foods of equal portion? If yes, enjoy! You are treating yourself to better health and easier weight control.  If no, simply add a splash of grape tomatoes, radishes, baby carrots, or a bright salad to your plate. Check out Part 2 of my National Nutrition Month blog series: Color Your Plate like an Artist’s Palette.

For more healthy plate ideas, or to order a copy of my book, visit www.georgiakostas.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @georgiakostas or like my Facebook Fan Page, Georgia Kostas Nutrition.