Tag Archives: diabetes

Falling for Apples

Apples

Fresh and cooked apples, apple butter and apple pie are favorites this time of year. The good news: apples are as healthy for you as they are delicious.

An apple a day does keep the doctor away. In fact, this everyday fruit is packed full of key nutrients, including fiber, potassium, folic acid, Vitamin C, flavonoids and disease-fighting antioxidants. Research shows that the phytonutrients and antioxidants in apples may help reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases like cancer1, hypertension2, diabetes3 and heart disease4. An apple peel ingredient slows down cancer cell growth while quercetin reduces blood pressure, increases blood flow and reduces inflammation and heart disease. As an added bonus, the quercetin in apples also has antihistamine properties that may help reduce allergy symptoms4. The slow-digesting pectin fiber in apples also helps with blood sugar control and the high boron content supports strong bones and a healthy brain5.

Apples are also a good source of vitamin C. In a medium-size apple you will find about 10 percent of the daily-recommended intake of vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital to our health. It helps repair collagen and tissue, maintains bone health and provides antioxidants to lower your risk of acquiring chronic diseases.

 With less than 100 calories and 4 grams of fiber in a medium-size apple, apples make a low-calorie, healthy, crunchy and portable snack. Apples can be incorporated into many recipes and used as a healthy baking substitute, too. This fall, here are some delicious ways to enjoy apples and eat an apple a day:

  • Add sliced apples to your oatmeal at breakfast time.
  • Use chopped apples to add color and crunch to salads, coleslaw, and tuna salad.
  • When baking desserts or holiday treats, swap in applesauce as a healthier baking alternative to oils, butter and eggs. If a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of butter or oil, swap in 1/2 cup of applesauce. For eggs, swap in 1/4 cup of applesauce per egg.
  • Enjoy honey-crisp apple slices topped with peanut butter.
  • Try replacing jam or jelly on a peanut butter sandwich with apple slices dipped in orange or lemon juice to prevent browning.
  • Pair cheese with apples for a healthy snack.
  • Cook apples in a little sugar or stevia and cinnamon for a sweet treat, side dish or oatmeal topping.
  • Use apple butter in place of jam on toast as it contains no butter, just cooked apples that soften and thicken like butter.
  • Zap an apple in the microwave with cinnamon and stevia in the cored out center, as a sweet dessert.
  • Have applesauce as a snack.
  • Add apple chunks to stews, roasts, chicken or turkey dishes, spaghetti or tomato sauces, to add flavor and a natural sweetener.
  • Puree a cooked apple and add to a soup to thicken it (e.g. butternut squash soup).

You can even let apples help you with weight control. To avoid overeating, try eating an apple before a large meal. It is filling, curbs your appetite and satisfies a sweet tooth. Crunching and chewing an apple even reduces your day’s stress level.

Enjoy an apple today, sweet or tart, and add to your health!

For more ideas on how to feel satisfied and not overeat, as well as how to enjoy a healthy diet and succeed with weight loss, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia KostasNutrition and visit: http://www.georgiakostas.com.

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

 1 Nutrition and Cancer. http://bit.ly/1uXsRr6

2 The Journal of Nutrition. http://bit.ly/1uUGAya

3 British Medical Journal. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f5001

4 British Medical Journal. http://bit.ly/1gFBONG

5 Journal of Investigational Allergology. http://1.usa.gov/1swOyaO

6 Environmental Health Perspectives. http://1.usa.gov/1tzLbPF

 

Advertisements

Almonds – The Inside Scoop

Earlier this month, I had the great pleasure of joining the Almond Board of California for an almond orchard tour. Next time I enjoy that almond crunch, I will think back on my time in the orchards where I came to appreciate the many steps taking one of my favorite nuts from the grove to the grocer!

Following is the inside scoop and key learnings from my almond orchard tour.

Growing Almonds

Almonds spend five months maturing on trees. They must be grown in the right climate – warm and dry – in order to produce well and that’s why California serves as the perfect environment to grow these nuts. In fact, California is home to 80 percent of the world’s almond production. The almonds are harvested in August, at which time they are hulled and shelled. The whole raw almonds are then prepared for shipment to food manufactures who dice, slice, sliver, roast, toast and blanch almonds for various foods and snacks.

Scientific Backing

New health benefits for almonds keep mounting. Four large prospective epidemiological studies – including the Harvard’s Nurses’ Health Study, the Physician’s Health Study, the Adventist Health Study and the Iowa Women’s Study – all link nuts to lower heart disease risk. Further, the British Journal of Nutrition recently published a study highlighting how consumption of nuts at least four times a week reduces risk of heart disease by 37 percent. The focus on nuts in the Mediterranean, DASH, and Portfolio diets also back the health benefits of these nuts, leading the American Heart Association to include almonds, pistachios and walnuts in their AHA Food Certification program.

Heart Health

What in almonds is cardio-protective? It’s the monounsaturated fats that help lower LDL-cholesterol and keep good HDL cholesterol high. Anti-oxidants, polyphenols, phytonutrients, flavonoids and Vitamin E work synergistically to keep blood vessels more elastic and block LDL oxidation, which hardens arterial plaque. Calcium, magnesium, potassium, fiber, anti-oxidants and arginine content are all responsible for helping to lower blood pressure, dilate blood vessels and enhance blood flow. These nutrients combined with protein and fiber, work together to help control blood sugar. Almonds also have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant components that prevent heart attacks and strokes.

The nutrient-richness of almonds means each almond packs a lot of nutrients that work with 20 or more powerful antioxidants (including flavonoids in almond skins), which synergistically work to confer these multiple benefits. To ensure your heart health while reducing risk of diabetes, eat almonds with other foods at meals or snack time.

Weight Loss

Almonds have even been shown to aid weight loss, too! Research suggests, almonds do this in two ways: 1) promoting satiety (long-lasting satisfaction), helping to reduce calorie intake by satisfying hunger; 2) promoting body fat loss. In fact, a study featured in Obesity found those who ate nuts at least twice a week were 31 percent less likely to gain weight over a 28-month period than those who did not eat nuts. Additionally, in a recent weight loss study, smaller waist circumferences were evident among those who included almonds in place of equivalent amounts of carbohydrates in their diets.

Breaking Health News


Almond lovers rejoice! Thanks to new methodology used to measure calorie value, researchers recently confirmed almonds have 30 fewer calories per oz. (23 almonds) than previously thought. Now, for a satisfying snack, almonds are just 130 calories instead of 160 calories per oz.

It’s hard to believe all these health benefits are packed into one little shell! You can try incorporating these special nuts into your day – morning, noon and night. Spread a little almond butter on your toast and sprinkle a handful of almonds on cereal or yogurt. Top your salad with a sprinkling of almond slivers or pop a handful of raw, unsalted almonds for an afternoon snack.

Enjoy the crunch!

For more ideas on heart-healthy eating, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating fun and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition and visit:http://www.georgiakostas.com.

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

Eat the Mediterranean Way for Better Health, Preventing Heart Disease & Diabetes

The rich flavors and health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet are hard to ignore. The heart-healthy diet is based on eating traditional foods (and drinks) of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, including Crete and other parts of Greece and Southern Italy. The diet focuses on consuming healthy fats, seafood, wholegrains, fruits and vegetables. Ingredients emphasize fresh and real foods, which help manage blood pressure, lipids and blood sugar while promoting longevity.1 In addition to cardiovascular benefits, research suggests a delayed need for sugar-lowering drug therapy in overweight patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes.2

The century-old tradition of the Mediterranean Diet has proven to contribute to good health. Try incorporating these dietary patterns into your own home to promote an overall sense of well being while combating heart disease and chronic illness.

  • Seafood. Eat seafood 2-4 times a week. Try salmon, halibut, tuna steak, snapper, mackerel, bass, sardines, tilapia, canned light white tuna, shrimp and rainbow trout. The American Heart Association recommends eating oily fish twice weekly to reduce heart disease risk by 40%. The omega 3 oils in fish are heart-healthy.
  • Berries, Cherries, Red Grapes. Eat these daily. Choose fresh, frozen and dried and eat as part of meals, snacks and desserts. Add to shakes, smoothies, stews, salads. Use as toppings for yogurt, pancakes, oatmeal and cereals. The deep red pigment (identifying anthocyanins, flavonoids and polyphenols) are powerful anti-oxidants that reduce cholesterol oxidation (plaque) and inflammation in arteries, preventing the stiffening of artery walls.
  • Tomatoes. Eat daily fresh or cooked in sauces, stews, spaghetti or pizza sauce, soups, salsa and tomato juice. Include other red-pigmented foods too, such as carrots, cantaloupe, oranges, red onion, red bell pepper, red cabbage, red-veined lettuce, beets, red apple, red or purple grapes, eggplant, cherries, berries and sweet potatoes. The flavonoids in these foods fight heart disease.
  • Greens. Eat daily: spinach, asparagus, cabbage, greens, Brussels sprouts, lettuce and broccoli. These foods are packed with heart-healthy vitamins, minerals and phyto-nutrients, such as the B Vitamins, potassium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, calcium and Vitamins A,C, E, K that lower blood pressure and keep arteries elastic.
  • Beans. Include ½ cup daily or 4 cups a week of beans to lower lipids. Eat all types and colors, served hot or cold. Tasty options include hummus, lentil soup, black bean soup, limas, black beans, black-eyed peas, navy beans, garbanzos, pintos, edamame and red beans. Try adding beans to dips and salads and snack on baby carrots and red bell pepper strips with hummus.
  • Wholegrains with Fiber. Strive for 3 servings daily. Enjoy oatmeal topped with raisins, almonds or walnuts; 100% wholewheat bread, cereal, crackers; kashi, barley, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, popcorn and wheat berries. Aim for 48 grams of wholegrains daily.
  • Lean Quality Protein. Include lean beef and pork cuts in your diet. Eat poultry without skin, low-fat dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese), seafood and soy. These nutrient-rich foods protect your body and your heart.
  • Olive Oil, Nuts, Avocado. These healthy oils lower cholesterol. Use in salads and cooking. Try up to 6 teaspoons of oils daily or 2 tablespoons of nuts, such as almonds, walnuts or pistachios.

For more ideas on heart-healthy eating, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating fun and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition and visit: http://www.georgiakostas.com.

2011 American Society for Nutrition. “The Impact of a Mediterranean Diet and Healthy Lifestyle on Premature Mortality in Men and Women.” (Piet A van den Brandt) http://www.ajcn.org

2 2009 Annals of Internal Medicine. “Effects of a Mediterranean Style Diet on the Need for Antihyperglycemic Drug Theray in Patients with Newly Diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes.” (Esposito) http://www.annals.org

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

Spring-Clean Your Diet!

Spring is a perfect time to clean out your pantry and refrigerator and freshen up your eating!

7 ways to get you started:

1. Go to the farmer’s market and buy 10 different colorful fresh fruit and vegetables! Vegetables and fruit are nutrient-rich, low in calories, anti-inflammatory, flavorful and refreshing.

2. Serve fresh vegetables with hummus, bean dip, light Ranch or a Greek yogurt-based dip.

3. Eat 3 fresh sliced fruit daily – melons, berries, pineapple, oranges, apples, and bananas, grapes – as part of meals, snacks, appetizers and dessert.

4. Enjoy lean protein such as seafood, poultry without skin, lean beef or pork cuts. Just add a little seasoning and olive oil for flavor.

5. Choose 100% whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, steel-cut oats, corn, homemade popcorn, barley, whole-wheat crackers. These supply fiber and crucial nutrients.

6. Try Greek yogurt, which has twice the protein and more calcium than other yogurts.

7. Get creative with nuts! Try pistachio snacks, almonds on salads, or walnuts in cereal. The type of fat and nutrients in 3 Tbsp of nuts each day improves artery health, lipids, diabetes and reduces the risk of heart disease.

Clean up your diet by adding just one more vegetable, one more fruit, and one more whole grain daily. Eating clean will help put spring in your step!

For more resources and advice, visit http://www.georgiakostas.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @georgiakostas or like my Facebook Fan Page, Georgia Kostas Nutrition.