Tag Archives: fruits

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.

Renew Your Health in the New Year!

If you are committing to “eat better” in 2012, and want to reap the greatest benefit with the least amount of change, where will you begin? Most health experts agree:  “eat more fruit and vegetables”!  Here are four good reasons why:

  • their unique nutrients help reduce chronic disease – heart, hypertension, cancer, osteoporosis, obesity
  • their low-calorie, high fiber, and water content will help you lose weight faster, while feeling “full”  
  • their potassium, magnesium, and fiber content counters common nutrient shortfalls
  • their nutrition impact trumps genetics in reducing genetic-related heart disease

Not convinced?  The Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, which followed the diets and health of 110,000 men and women for 14 years, found that eating more fruit and vegetables helped people lose weight faster and more easily, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke by 30%. Those averaging 2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables daily had the greatest reduction in cardiovascular risk.  Although all fruits and vegetables likely contributed to this benefit, the greatest impact seemed to come from green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and mustard greens; cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and kale; and citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit (and their juices).

Beyond the cholesterol-lowering benefits of fresh produce, their anti-oxidant content improves artery health. A Swedish study released in December 2010 quantified the antioxidant value of diets in over 35,000 older women. Those who ate the most fruit, vegetables, and whole grains had the greatest anti-oxidant intake and greatest reduction in stroke risk.

Anti-oxidants have many beneficial qualities, including: 1) block cholesterol-plaque build-up and hardening in our arteries, keeping artery walls (muscle) pliable and healthy for better blood flow, and 2) lessen plaque-related inflammation in artery walls, leading to blood clots. Stiff, plaque-narrowed arteries and clots lead to heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. Supplemental anti-oxidants have proven unhelpful, and in some cases, even dangerous.  Nature provides the right form and balance of anti-oxidants in foods, conferring health benefits, as well as the right mix of vitamins, minerals, fiber, phyto-nutrients, and phytosterols, which most likely are at the heart of the benefits.

Another interesting study reported in 2011 found that adding fresh produce and other heart-protective foods to one’s diet reduced the risk of heart attacks more powerfully than merely subtracting the “bad” stuff – saturated fat, sugar, trans fats, salt.

I love this finding because I have long been an advocate of adding quality foods rather than merely subtracting foods when helping my clients to eat better, lose weight, or lower cholesterol or blood pressure.  My clients tell me they prefer this positive approach and are more successful with their health and weight results.

So, if you make one change this year, begin by adding more fruits and vegetables to your meals daily! You may start with just one extra fruit and one vegetable today. Or, follow the recommendations of the 2011 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans:   fill “half your plate with fruit and vegetables and lunch and dinner”.

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. Let the New Year begin with renewed health and zest!

Happy, Healthy Holiday Tips

“Tis the season to be jolly! A season filled with festivities, friends, family, fellowship…and yes, food!

How can you enjoy the season and not give yourself the typical 2- 8 lbs at Christmas that may linger all year? Here are a few top survival tips:

  1.  Focus on the people and conversation everywhere you go — let food be a secondary joy.
  2. Arrive at events satisfied, not starving. 
  3. Drink 2 glasses of water before walking in the door, and drink 2 glasses of water for every higher calorie beverage.
  4. Fill up first on veggie and fruit options (easy on the dips, dressings, sauces).
  5. Go lean with protein, such as turkey, meatballs, ham, roasted chicken, beef tenderloin slices.
  6. Pay attention to liquid calories, such as holiday punch, soda, beer, wine, eggnog, which pack hundreds of extra calories…and pounds. 
  7. Use small plates, which lends to smaller portions. Imagine each bite providing 50 calories…100 bites = 5000 calories (= 1.5 lbs of weight gain per party!)
  8. Think small and special, so skip “usual” foods like chips and dips, and head to seasonal favorites.
  9. Cut portions into smaller bites than usual.  More bites = more chews = more filling.
  10. Offer to bring a dish, such as a fruit trays, vegetable tray, coleslaw, pico de gallo, Heavenly Seven-Layer Dip (recipe below), turkey slices, vegetable wraps, popcorn, chex mix with added popped cereals (rice, oats, wheat, etc).
  11. Keep moving –walk the mall or walk your neighborhood! Every step helps.
  12. Remember that eating scheduled meals and exercising at scheduled times will help you survive the stress of the season, so you can enjoy the holidays even more.

For easy tips, meal plans, recipes and more, check out my book The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution:  Step up to the Plate (2009). Or, send me an email at Georgia@GeorgiaKostas.com, for a nutrition consult in person, over the phone or online.  I want you to be at your healthiest and happiest this holiday season, and carry that well into the New Year!

Follow me on Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition or Twitter @georgiakostas.

Healthy Seven-Layer Dip

Guacamole (buy at grocery store or make homemade below). Set aside.

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
2 teaspoons lime juice, fresh or bottled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons salsa or fresh chopped tomato
Garlic powder or garlic salt to taste (optional)
Black pepper to taste

Dip layers   Prepare and set aside each item below.

8 ounces fat-free or light sour cream
1-ounce packet taco seasoning mix
15-ounce can fat-free or vegetarian refried beans
1 cup diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
2 cups shredded reduced-fat Mexican-style cheese blend (i.e. Jack and cheddar)
2 1/4-ounce can sliced black olives (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In small bowl, blend sour cream with taco seasoning.
  2. Spread the refried beans in the bottom of a deep-dish pie plate or glass pan (you can warm the beans up in the microwave briefly to make them more spreadable.)
  3. Top the beans with the sour cream mixture; then top each layer as follows: guacamole, tomatoes, green onions, shredded cheese, black olives.

Serve with reduced-fat tortilla chips or reduced-fat crackers or baby carrots, jicama sticks, red bell pepper slices, broccoli or cauliflower pieces,

Makes 16 appetizer servings.

Per serving (dip only): 85 calories, 5.2 grams protein, 6.4 grams carbohydrate, 4.4 grams fat (1.9 grams saturated fat, 1.9 grams monounsaturated, .3 grams polyunsaturated fat), 7 milligrams cholesterol, .7 grams fiber, 258 milligrams sodium. Calories from fat: 46%.

Healthy Dish, Healthy Thanksgiving

Berries, spinach, nuts, oranges, red bell pepper are considered “super-foods” because they contain  exceptional amounts of nutrients that promote specific health benefits.  What if you could consume all these great foods in one simple dish? Try the recipe below – it is one of my favorites and perfect for Thanksgiving Day or any occasion. It is beautiful, delicious, easy to make, and wows your guests.

Specific health benefits?  Enjoy these huge health-boosters along with the great flavors! Berries provide anti-oxidants that block cholesterol -hardening plaque (atherosclerosis) in arteries and provide anti-inflammatory agents that prevent plaque from breaking off, forming blood clots. Further, berries contain components that block platelet stickiness (clots). Besides these heart and artery benefits, berries provide  lots of fiber, Vitamins A and C, and potassium, among other healthy nutrients. Cranberries help prevent urinary tract and bladder infections, as well.  All berries are all-star fruits. 

Spinach, like all green leafy vegetables, provide a wealth of health- Vitamins A, C, K, almost all B’s, magnesium,  potassium, zinc, calcium, manganese, copper, iron, fiber  – all of which conduct primary metabolic functions in the body crucial for heart, bone, muscle and overall health.  Greens help prevent cancer, heart disease, hypertension, cataracts, vision loss and cognition loss with age, and they block inflammation and unhealthy  free-radical created during metabolic processes.

Nuts lower LDL cholesterol, when consumed as part of a low saturated fat diet; and reduce diabetes risk, due in part to their high-magnesium content and fiber. Nuts contain a great mix of quality nutrients. 

Oranges and red bell pepper, both loaded with vitamins A and C, are key anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory agents for the body, fighting heart disease, cancer, and infection, and boosting immunity. So, enjoy this holiday favorite – and appreciate it being a recipe for health!

Spinach Cranberry Salad

8 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed and torn

One red bell pepper, diced

One fresh orange, segmented and sliced

1/3 cup green onion, minced

¼ cup walnuts or almonds or pistachios or your favorite nut

Dressing:

¼ cup whole-berry cranberry sauce (homemade or canned)

 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons olive or canola oil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground pepper

1. Combine first 4 ingreidnets in salad bowl.

2. Combine and whisk dressing ingredients.  Add to salad and toss.

Serves 6.       

Nutrient analysis per serving:   125 Calories, 9 gm fat, 150 mg sodium, 4 gm fiber. Standouts: meets 51% of your day’s needs for Vitamins A & C; 40% of folic acid needs; 15-20% of iron, Vitamin E, magnesium needs; 15% of Potassium needs .

Source:  The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution by Georgia Kostas, available at Amazon or http://www.georgiakostas.com          

Heathy eating can transform your health, energy and weight. For more resources and nutrition and healthy eating tips, visit www.georgiakostas.com/Products.aspx . Follow me on Twitter / @georgiakostas, Facebook / Georgia Kostas Nutrition, and LinkedIn / Georgia Kostas.

Share the Importance of Food Day 2011

Food Day 2011 is less than a week away! On Monday, October 24, join the likes of Former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher; Celebrity Chef, Author, and Registered Dietitian Ellie Krieger; and thousands of parents, teachers, students, health professionals, community organizers, local officials, school lunch providers, neighbors and friends across America—to push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way.  
 

The overall goal for Food Day is to transform the American diet. I personally see this as a wonderful opportunity and challenge for all of us across America to build our meals around REAL foods. We should enjoy the great flavors and reap the powerful nutrient-rich benefits of consuming vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meat, and low-or-no fat dairy foods each day. Adversely, overly processed foods are usually high in added solid fats, sugar, and salt are often high in calories, low in nutrients per calorie, and are  packaged in non-biodegradable  plastic , making them increase our waistline, heighten chronic disease risk , harm our health and  the environment.

Need help getting started to improve your eating? Download one of the delicious, healthful, easy-to-prepare recipes from some of the country’s most prominent chefs and cookbook writers in the Food Day cookbook.

You can also try a favorite recipe of mine from my book, The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step up to the Plate(2009). This recipe is full of delicious, fresh ingredients that you can find in season now at your local farmer’s market or in the produce section of your grocery store.

Ranch Pasta and Vegetable Salad

6 ounces corkscrew pasta, uncooked

¼ pound fresh snow peas, trimmed (about 1 ½ cups)

1 ½ cups fresh broccoli flowerets

1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

1 cup fresh cherry tomato halves

2 medium fresh yellow squash, trimmed and cut into 2” x ¼” strips

¾ cup nonfat buttermilk

½ cup 1% lowfat cottage cheese

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, chopped

¼ teaspoon salt

1 green onion, chopped (about 1/3 cup)

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (about 2 Tablespoons)

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.  Drain; rinse under cold water, and drain again.  Place in a large bowl.
  2. Blanch snow peas, broccoli and squash in boiling water 30 seconds; drain and rinse under cold water to stop cooking process. Drain well; add to pasta.
  3. Process buttermilk and next 4 ingredients in an electric blender until smooth; add green Onion, jalapeno and cilantro; process until minced.  Pour over pasta mixture, and toss.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Yield: 8 cups (8 servings) 

Per Serving: 125 Calories, 1 g Fat, 3 g fiber, 7 g protein

For more resources and nutrition and healthy eating tips, visit www.georgiakostas.com/Products.aspx . Follow me on Twitter / @georgiakostas, Facebook / Georgia Kostas Nutrition, and LinkedIn / Georgia Kostas.

National Cholesterol Education Month is Now!

Do you have a happy heart? This is a perfect time to get your cholesterol checked; then be pro-active to achieve and maintain a low (healthy) cholesterol level (below 200) and low LDL cholesterol (below 130).  LDL is the cholesterol that sticks to arteries, hardens, and creates plaque.  It eventually builds up and narrows and stiffens arteries, blocking blood flow and causing clots.  The result?  Heart attacks and strokes.  You can lower LDL and total cholesterol the same way.  My top ten tips:

  1. Eat more fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.  Their natural anti-oxidants block LDL from oxidizing (hardening) in arteries, causing plaque.  They also prevent LDL-inflamed arteries, which spin off clots. Red foods in particular are natural clot-busters.  Eat red apples, berries, tea, red grapes, and red onions, tomatoes …particularly rich in the artery-protective polyphenols and flavanoids.
  2. Eat seafood 2-4 times a week…particularly omega-3 rich salmon, tuna, bass, sardine, swordfish, and cod.  And take a fish oil supplement with 1000 mg EPA/DHA omega-3’s from marine sources only.  Fish oils protect arteries from inflammation and clots, and keep the heart beat in rhythm.
  3. Eat lean protein – fish, poultry, lean beef and ham, nonfat dairy; 3-7 eggs a week.  Keep fish/poultry/lean meat at 6 -8 oz daily to not exceed safe amounts of hidden cholesterol and saturated fat.
  4. Keep fiber intake high as possible, particularly insoluble fiber sources – as in oatmeal, Kasha, beans, oat cereals (like Cheerios and oat squares), and psyllium.  You may also add one tsp of sugar-free Metamucil (psyllium) to a glass of water at 2-3 meals daily to lower cholesterol.  Three whole grain foods daily will also lower cholesterol.  Example: oatmeal, 100% whole grained bread, popcorn or corn.
  5. Use healthy oils – olive and canola, nuts, nut butters, avocado, olives – to lower LDL.
  6. Add special sterol-fortified foods (like Smart Balance Heart Right spread or milk). Two servings daily will lower cholesterol in 6-8 wks.  Many more are on at your grocery store. Ask a dietitian.
  7. Lose 5-10 lbs – cholesterol will drop 15-25 points.
  8. Do not smoke.
  9. Limit alcohol – 1 drink a day for women; 2 for men.
  10. Keep moving!  Aerobic activity 150 min a week and weight training (30 min twice a week) will do the trick!  You will lower cholesterol and build healthy HDL cholesterol, which transports LDL out of your arteries.  You will decrease your blood pressure, blood sugar and unwanted pounds.

Lowering cholesterol with food, exercise, weight, and lifestyle is the key.  Check out my book The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution:  Step up to the Plate (2009) for more ideas of menus, snacks, cereals, cheeses, beef cuts, vegetable ideas to make all this easier for you . Or call me for a phone consult at 214.587.4241.  I want to help you be healthy and have a happy heart!

Follow me on Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition or Twitter @georgiakostas.

Image: “Mixed Vegetables Healthy Lifestyle” by Grant Cochrane

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.