Tag Archives: seafood

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.

Protein Series (Part 3 of 3): Protein Boosts Weight Management

Many adults do not eat enough protein, because of the calorie restrictions they put themselves on as they try to lose weight. Keep in mind that eating lean protein, such as lean meat, poultry, seafood, and low-fat cheeses, is essential for maintaining lean body muscle, which helps promote an active or healthy metabolism. Making dietary changes such as adding high-quality lean protein can ultimately lead to improved weight management. As mentioned in my Protein Series parts 1 & 2, protein promotes satiety as well as body muscle, eating a protein-rich meal or snack helps you feel full longer, and satisfies cravings faster.

Recent research found that a moderate-carbohydrate, moderate-protein (3-4 oz per meal) diet helped individuals lose more weight and even reduce their risk factors for metabolic diseases including type 2 diabetes, compared to those who followed a high-carbohydrate, low-protein diet (2-3 oz per meal) Adding just one more lean protein to each meal, such as 1 oz meat or 1 cup milk/yogurt or ½ cup beans, is enough to add weight loss benefits.

                                                         Black Bean Chili Stew – by Georgia Kostas

1 lb of lean ground beef ( 95% lean, 5% fat)

2 cans of lower-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained

2 Tbp cumin seeds ( or 1 Tbsp ground cumin)

1 Tbsp oregano

1 Tbsp basil

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 large carrots, chopped ( 1.5 cups)

1 large bell pepper ( red or green), chopped

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 Tbsp paprika

1 tsp ground red pepper

20 oz can of lower-sodium crushed or diced tomatoes

28 oz can of lower-sodium tomato sauce

2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeds removed and minced (or small can of chopped jalapeno)

  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a heated non-stick skillet. Add ground beef. Stir 5-7 min, till no longer pink. Drain off fat in a colander, under tap water (not cold or hot). Set aside.
  2. To a dry non-stick skillet, add cumin seeds and heat over medium heat, to toast seeds. Add basil and oregano, shaking pan occasionally for 3 minutes, till fragrant. Set aside. (Skip if using ground cumin.)
  3. In a large pot over medium heat, add all ingredients except beans. Simmer for 40-45 minutes, till onions and carrots are soft.  Then add beans. Heat 5-10 minutes more.
  4. You may also cook everything in a crockpot for 6 hours, except beans and meat. Add meat the last hour of cooking, and beans in the last 10 minutes, to prevent beef and beans from becoming too soft.

Tips for Eating the Mediterranean Way

For Good Health, Lowering Cholesterol, Preventing Heart Disease & Diabetes

May is National Mediterranean Diet Month, so what better time to start eating more healthy foods and beverages than now. Here is a list of some of my favorite foods that fit into the Mediterranean Diet. They are delicious, colorful and packed with nutrients that are scientifically proven to promote good health. I encourage you to give them a try today!

  • Seafood:  Eat seafood two to four times a week. Try salmon, shrimp, snapper, tilapia or tuna fish. Choose light white tuna chunks (note: albacore may contain mercury). The American Heart Association recommends 500-1000 mg omega 3’s daily, which equals 7 grams (7000 mg) weekly.
  • Berries:  Try fresh or frozen bags of mixed berries such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries. Top pancakes, oatmeal, toast, yogurt and light ice cream with berries. Make a smoothie by blending together yogurt, berries, half a banana and a little orange juice.
  • Red foods:  Enjoy red foods daily. Try tomatoes, marinara sauces, carrots, cantaloupe, oranges, red onion, red bell pepper, red cabbage, red beets, red apple with peel, red grapes, purple grapes, cherries, berries eggplant and sweet potatoes.
  • Greens:  Try spinach, asparagus, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, lettuce (with red veins) and broccoli.
  • Fruit & Vegetables:  Have two fruit and three vegetable servings (1/2 to 1 cup) each day. For picky eaters, get creative and find ways to sneak veggies into favorite foods.
  • Beans:  Enjoy a half cup of beans almost daily. Try different kinds of beans such as hummus, lentil soup, black bean soup, limas, black bean & corn salsa, butter beans and black eyed peas. Prepare navy beans cooked with carrots, onions and celery, or combine garbanzo beans with rice and serve on top of spinach. Dip baby carrots and red bell pepper strips in hummus as a snack.
  • Oatmeal and Whole Grains:  Oats lower cholesterol. Prepare a fiber-rich bowl of oatmeal by combining half a cup of dry oatmeal with one heaping tablespoon of Quaker Oat Bran. Add your favorite toppings such as raisins, berries, peanut butter, or chopped almonds or walnuts. Or eat three cups of Cheerios.
  • Enjoy three servings of whole grains a day. One serving equals half a cup of cooked oatmeal, brown rice,  corn, barley, a corn tortilla, two cups popcorn, six low-fat Triscuit crackers or one slice of 100% whole wheat bread such as Sara Lee, Nature’s Own or Orowheat. Choose items with the highest number of whole grains (Nature’s Own: 23 grams of whole grains per slice; Quaker oatmeal: 38 grams per bowl).
  • Lean Protein:  Choose lean beef and pork cuts, poultry without skin, seafood, nonfat milk and yogurt and 2% or low-fat cheese. Visit http://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/ for recipes using lean beef.
  • Healthy Fats and Oils:  Use olive, canola, soy or sunflower oil and tub spreads such as Smart Balance HeartRight Buttery Spread (stanols added). Consume two tablespoons of healthy fats and oils daily. Eat 1.5 oz (3 tablespoons) of walnuts, almonds or pistachios daily…they lower blood fats.
  • Products that Help Lower Cholesterol:  Add one heaping teaspoon of sugar-free citrus-flavored Metamucil to a glass of water at three meals daily. Eat soluble fiber found in beans, bananas, apples, oranges, carrots, oats and eggplant. Include new foods with stanols or stenols. Consume 2 grams (2 servings) a day to lower blood fats. One cup of Smart Balance HeartRight Milk or Kroger Active Lifestyle Fat Free Milk counts as one serving, and are delicious!
  • Physical Activity:  Get up and move every hour of the day! Walk around, move your feet and arms as you sit, march in place, climb some stairs. Use bands or hand weights, toss a ball, play ping pong, throw a tennis ball, dance or do a quick set of jumping jacks. By remaining on the move, you get the benefits of improved circulation, energy and health; plus a smile on your face.

For more resources and tips, visit http://www.georgiakostas.com/. Follow me on Twitter @georgiakostas or like my professional Facebook page, Georgia Kostas Nutrition.

Five Tips to Jumpstart an Active and Healthy 2011

Start off the New Year on the right foot! Here are some tips to make each day better than the last — all year through:

1. Stay active…even two 15-minute segments daily of fast-walking, stair-climbing, etc. when you cannot get to the gym will help!

2. Keep a healthy mindset…balance richer foods with seafood, salads, soups, and veggies. Shrimp is a real winner – 10 calories each!

3. Focus on people before plates…the company you’re with should be the most treasured part of any gathering! Look for good conversations and quality catch-up time as a more fulfilling experience than what is being served.

4. Eat slowly…you will likely feel full twenty minutes after eating, no matter how much or little you eat.

5. Keep healthy foods in sight…display nutrient-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables on your kitchen counter. You’ll likely see and crave an apple, pear or avocado more than a calorie-dense food that’s packed away in your refrigerator or pantry.

For more resources visit my website at http://www.georgiakostas.com/ or like my Facebook Fan Page at Georgia Kostas Nutrition. Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year!