Who says we have to suffer...to live a healthy happy vibrant life?

Red wine and dark chocolate... might seem decadent...but these guilty pleasures also might help us live longer...and healthier lives. Red wine and dark chocolate definitely improve an evening..but they also contain resveratrol..which lowers blood sugar. Red wine is a great source of catechins..which boost protective HDL cholesterol. Green tea? Protects your brain..helps you live longer..and soothes your spirit.

Red Wine, Green Tea and Dark Chocolate, the blog, is about living the good life...a life we create with our thoughts and our choices...and having fun the whole while!

I say lets make the thoughts good ones..and let the choices be healthy...exciting...and delicious! Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Daily sugary drinks add up to extra pounds of visceral fat.

Yes if you add sugar to whatever you're drinking on a daily basis you'll end up with belly fat. The worst kind of extra weight you could carry.

I have a confession. I am a nutritionist and have been for more than 30 years. So here's the guilty admission. I watch what is in grocery carts when I am in line at the market and I am silently but terribly judgmental.

It just adds up. You see a pile of sugary drinks...cans of soda or fruit flavored sugary drinks in a cart you almost always see extra weight on the person buying them. I know that seems insulting to many shoppers nationwide, but try it yourself and see if I am wrong. Here's an NIH study that makes my case.

Daily sugary drinks tied to increased visceral fat.
Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages like soda daily may lead to more abdominal fat gain over time, according to a new study. 

So-called visceral fat in the midsection wraps around internal organs like the liver and pancreas and affects the function of hormones like insulin. Insulin dysfunction, and becoming resistant to insulin, is closely tied to type 2 diabetes and heart disease risk. A lot of prior studies have looked at sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity, this one looked at body fat distribution, in particular change over time.

The National Institutes of Health volunteer who spoke about the study used data from about 1,000 adult participants in the Framingham Heart Study in Framingham, Massachusetts, who answered food frequency questions about sugar-sweetened beverages and diet soda. 

Sugar-sweetened beverages like regular soda and fruit punch have added sucrose or high fructose corn syrup. Most participants said they drank a mixture of sugary beverages and diet soda.

About a third said they never consumed sugar-sweetened beverages, 20 percent did so occasionally, 35 percent drank them frequently and 13 percent drank them daily.
At the study start, they underwent a computed tomography scan to measure quantity and volume of abdominal fat tissue. Six years later, they underwent another scan. 
Over that period, visceral fat volume increased by 658 cubic centimeters for non-drinkers, slightly more for occasional and frequent drinkers, and by 852 cubic centimeters for daily drinkers of sugary beverages, as reported in the journal Circulation. 
For daily drinkers, that’s in increase of about 0.8 kilograms, or 1.8 pounds, of abdominal fat. That is certainly enough to make a difference in a person's metabolism and increase risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.
The American Heart Association recommends a limit of 100 calories per day of added sugars, such as those found in sweetened beverages, for most women, and 150 calories per day for most men.
“Drinking one 12-ounce soft drink a day would exceed that amount – and while they are a major source, sugar-sweetened beverages contribute only about half of the added sugar consumed by Americans. You also have to look at coffee and tea sweetened with sugar. Each teaspoon of sugar is only 16 calories, but the limit would be six per day for women and 9 per day for men. One Tall Latte or can of soda puts you above that line.
What to do? Think calorie free. Water, unsweetened tea or coffee, and sparkling beverages that are zero calories are much better choices. Why weigh more than you need to? And don't even get me started on fast food.

Friday, January 8, 2016

A Primer on Dietary Fat Recommendations from the US Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020 Edition

Dietary Fats: The Basics
Dietary fats are found in both plant and animal foods. They supply calories and help with the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Some also are good sources of two essential fatty acids—linoleic acid and α-linolenic acid.
All dietary fats are composed of a mix of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated fatty acids, in varied proportions. For example, most of the fatty acids in butter are saturated, but it also contains some monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Oils are mostly unsaturated fatty acids, though they have small amounts of saturated fatty acids.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (polyunsaturated fats are found in greatest amounts in sunflower, corn, soybean, and cottonseed oils; walnuts; pine nuts; and sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, and flax seeds. Only small amounts of polyunsaturated fats are found in most animal fats. Omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fats found in seafood, such as salmon, trout, herring, tuna, and mackerel, and in flax seeds and walnuts. EPA and DHA are long chain n-3 fatty acids found in seafood.
Monounsaturated fatty acids (monounsaturated fats) are found in greatest amounts in olive, canola, peanut, and safflower oils, and in avocados, peanut butter, and most nuts. Monounsaturated fats also are part of most animal fats such as fats from chicken, pork, beef, and wild game.
Saturated fatty acids (saturated fats) are found in the greatest amounts in coconut and palm kernel oils, in butter and beef fats, and in palm oil. They also are found in other animal fats, such as pork and chicken fats and in other plant fats, such as nuts.
Trans fatty acids (trans fats) are unsaturated fats found primarily in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and foods containing these oils and in ruminant (animal) fats. They are structurally different from the unsaturated fatty acids that occur naturally in plant foods and differ in their health effects.

The proportions of fatty acids in a particular fat determine the physical form of the fat:
  Fats with a higher amount of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids are usually liquid at room temperature and are referred to as “oils.”
Fats with a higher amount of saturated fatty acids are usually solid at room temperature and are referred to as “solid fats.” Fats containing trans fatty acids are also classified as solid fats, although they may or may not be solid at room temperature.
A relevant detail in the complexity of making food-based recommendations that consider nutrients is the difference between the terms “saturated fats” and “solid fats.” Although they are closely related terms, saturated fats and solid fats are not synonymous. The term “saturated fats” refers to saturated fatty acids, a nutrient found in foods, while the term “solid fats” describes the physical manifestation of the fats in a food. Some solid fats, such as the strip of fat around a piece of meat, can easily be seen. Other solid fats are not so visible. For example, the solid fats in whole milk are suspended in the fluid milk by the process of homogenization.
Margarines and margarine-like vegetable oil spreads are food products composed of one or more oils or solid fats designed to replace butter, which is high in saturated fats. These products may be sold in sticks, tubs, bottles, or sprays. Margarine and vegetable oil spreads generally contain less saturated fats than butter. However, they vary in their total fat and calorie content and in the fat and oil blends used to make them and, thus, in the proportions of saturated, unsaturated, and trans fats they contain. It is important to read the Nutrition Facts label to identify the calorie and saturated and trans fats content of the spread and choose foods with no trans fats and lower amounts of saturated fats.
The Dietary Guidelines provides recommendations on saturated fats as well as on solid fats because its aim is to improve the health of the U.S. population through food-based guidance. It includes recommendations on saturated fats because of the strong relationship of this nutrient to a health outcome (CVD risk). It includes recommendations on solid fats because they are abundant in the diets of the U.S. population, and reducing solid fats when making food choices is an important way to reduce saturated fats and excess calories.
Saturated Fats, Trans Fats, and Cholesterol
Saturated Fats
Healthy intake: Intake of saturated fats should be limited to less than 10 percent of calories per day by replacing them with unsaturated fats and while keeping total dietary fats within the age-appropriate AMDR. The human body uses some saturated fats for physiological and structural functions, but it makes more than enough to meet those needs. Individuals 2 years and older therefore have no dietary requirement for saturated fats.
Strong and consistent evidence shows that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats, especially polyunsaturated fats, is associated with reduced blood levels of total cholesterol and of low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol). Additionally, strong and consistent evidence shows that replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats is associated with a reduced risk of CVD events (heart attacks) and CVD-related deaths.
Some evidence has shown that replacing saturated fats with plant sources of monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil and nuts, may be associated with a reduced risk of CVD. However, the evidence base for monounsaturated fats is not as strong as the evidence base for replacement with polyunsaturated fats. Evidence has also shown that replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates reduces blood levels of total and LDL-cholesterol, but increases blood levels of triglycerides and reduces high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-cholesterol). Replacing total fat or saturated fats with carbohydrates is not associated with reduced risk of CVD. Additional research is needed to determine whether this relationship is consistent across categories of carbohydrates (e.g., whole versus refined grains; intrinsic versus added sugars), as they may have different associations with various health outcomes. Therefore, saturated fats in the diet should be replaced with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
Considerations: As discussed in Chapter 2, the main sources of saturated fats in the U.S. diet include mixed dishes containing cheese, meat, or both, such as burgers, sandwiches, and tacos; pizza; rice, pasta, and grain dishes; and meat, poultry, and seafood dishes. Although some saturated fats are inherent in foods, others are added. Healthy eating patterns can accommodate nutrient-dense foods with small amounts of saturated fats, as long as calories from saturated fats do not exceed 10 percent per day, intake of total fats remains within the AMDR, and total calorie intake remains within limits. When possible, foods high in saturated fats should be replaced with foods high in unsaturated fats, and other choices to reduce solid fats should be made (see Chapter 2).
Trans Fats
Individuals should limit intake of trans fats to as low as possible by limiting foods that contain synthetic sources of trans fats, such as partially hydrogenated oils in margarines, and by limiting other solid fats. A number of studies have observed an association between increased intake of trans fats and increased risk of CVD. This increased risk is due, in part, to its LDL-cholesterol-raising effect.
Trans fats occur naturally in some foods and also are produced in a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation is used by food manufacturers to make products containing unsaturated fatty acids solid at room temperature (i.e., more saturated) and therefore more resistant to becoming spoiled or rancid. Partial hydrogenation means that some, but not all, unsaturated fatty acids are converted to saturated fatty acids; some of the unsaturated fatty acids are changed from a cis to trans configuration. Trans fatty acids produced this way are referred to as “artificial” or “industrially produced” trans fatty acids. Artificial trans fatty acids are found in the partially hydrogenated oils[23] used in some margarines, snack foods, and prepared desserts as a replacement for saturated fatty acids. Although food manufacturers and restaurants have reduced the amounts of artificial trans fats in many foods in recent years, these fats can still be found in some processed foods, such as some desserts, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, margarines, and coffee creamers.
Naturally occurring trans fats, known as “natural” or “ruminant” trans fats, are produced by ruminant animals. Natural trans fats are present in small quantities in dairy products and meats, and consuming fat-free or low-fat dairy products and lean meats and poultry will reduce the intake of natural trans fats from these foods. Because natural trans fats are present in dairy products and meats in only small quantities and these foods can be important sources of nutrients, these foods do not need to be eliminated from the diet.
Dietary Cholesterol
The body uses cholesterol for physiological and structural functions but makes more than enough for these purposes. Therefore, people do not need to obtain cholesterol through foods.
The Key Recommendation from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines to limit consumption of dietary cholesterol to 300 mg per day is not included in the 2015 edition, but this change does not suggest that dietary cholesterol is no longer important to consider when building healthy eating patterns. As recommended by the IOM,[24] individuals should eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible while consuming a healthy eating pattern. In general, foods that are higher in dietary cholesterol, such as fatty meats and high-fat dairy products, are also higher in saturated fats. The USDA Food Patterns are limited in saturated fats, and because of the commonality of food sources of saturated fats and dietary cholesterol, the Patterns are also low in dietary cholesterol. For example, the Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern contains approximately 100 to 300 mg of cholesterol across the 12 calorie levels. Current average intake of dietary cholesterol among those 1 year and older in the United States is approximately 270 mg per day.
Strong evidence from mostly prospective cohort studies but also randomized controlled trials has shown that eating patterns that include lower intake of dietary cholesterol are associated with reduced risk of CVD, and moderate evidence indicates that these eating patterns are associated with reduced risk of obesity. As described earlier, eating patterns consist of multiple, interacting food components and the relationships to health exist for the overall eating pattern, not necessarily to an isolated aspect of the diet. More research is needed regarding the dose-response relationship between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol levels. Adequate evidence is not available for a quantitative limit for dietary cholesterol specific to the Dietary Guidelines.
Dietary cholesterol is found only in animal foods such as egg yolk, dairy products, shellfish, meats, and poultry. A few foods, notably egg yolks and some shellfish, are higher in dietary cholesterol but not saturated fats. Eggs and shellfish can be consumed along with a variety of other choices within and across the subgroup recommendations of the protein foods group.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Vitamin C delivers stunning benefits for obese individuals with hypertension and/or diabetes.

Vitamin C is certainly not something people get very excited about. We think of it as a means to avoid sniffles. And we envision a tall glass of orange juice. That's about it.

But there has been an amazing new finding involving the use of a daily supplement of 500mg of vitamin C in people at high risk for heart disease and diabetes related health complications.

In a group of obese people who had high blood pressure and/or diabetes taking a simple dose of 500mg of vitamin C for only eight weeks led to reductions, significant reductions in the inflammatory markers C Reactive Protein (51%), Interleukin 6 (36%) and in blood sugar levels (33%) and triglyceride levels (31%).

Slashing inflammation, reducing blood sugar levels and dropping triglyceride levels to this degree would be highly protective in these at risk individuals. It would be protective for anyone.

Never underestimate the power of simple things like vitamin C. My favorite is Carlson Non GMO Vitamin C Crystals. I stir a quarter of a scoop into water as I drink it throughout my day. (No sniffles here!)

Effect of vitamin C on inflammation and metabolic markers in hypertensive and/or diabetic obese adults: a randomized controlled trial. Drug Design, Development and Therapy, 2015;9:3405-3412

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A diet high in refined carbs increased depression in post-menopausal women by 22%.

Watch out for those refined carb food binges. A new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has revealed a diet high in refined carbohydrates may lead to an increased risk of depression in postmenopausal women. One might also assume the foods are trouble for men, but women have higher rates of depression in general.

Carbs are found in a wide variety of foods and have often been the focus of new weight-loss diets. However, the emphasis should not be on how many carbohydrates we eat, but the type.
Refined carbohydrates are contained in refined grains, such as white flour, white bread and white rice. They differ from whole-grain foods because they have been milled - a process that increases the texture and shelf life, but that also removes much of the nutritional value which includes important fiber and vitamins.
Once carbohydrates are eaten, some of the sugar is broken down into glucose that then proceeds to enter the bloodstream. The glycemic index (GI) is a metric tool used to measure and rank the extent to which our body's sugar levels are raised after eating.
Low glycemic index foods take longer to digest and break down and, therefore, enter the blood stream slowly. Thus the blood's glucose level raises more slowly over an extended period of time.
High glycemic index foods cause a more rapid rise of the blood's glucose level. Refined grains fall into this category, and it is this reason why a high glycemic index ( refined carbs) diet can lead to a host of health problems, such as insulin resistance, obesity and type two diabetes.
Foods that have some of the highest GI scores include white bread, breakfast cereals like puffed wheat and rice and corn flakes, also instant oatmeal. Pasta, crackers, cookies, pretzels and popcorn.
Doctors at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), NY, set out to investigate the relationship between a diet high in refined carbohydrates and depression.
The researchers analyzed data from more than 90,000 postmenopausal women who participated in the National Institutes of Health's Women's Health Initiative Observational Study that was conducted between 1994-1998. The observational study enlisted postmenopausal women between the ages of 50-79 and tracked their health over an average of 8 years.
They examined the levels of depression reported, the types of carbohydrates consumed, the GI rank and the glycemic load.
It was found that refined carb diets increased the risk of depression in postmenopausal women by 22%. Also, a higher consumption of lactose, fiber, non-juice fruits and vegetables was significantly associated with a lower chance of developing depression.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Sugary Drinks Linked to High Death Tolls Worldwide

Consumption of sugary drinks may lead to an estimated 184,000 adult deaths each year worldwide, according to research published today in the journal Circulation and previously presented as an abstract at the American Heart Association Council on Epidemiology and Prevention in 2013.
“Many countries in the world have a significant number of deaths occurring from a single dietary factor, sugar-sweetened beverages. It should be a global priority to substantially reduce or eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages from the diet,” said Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H., senior author of the study and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Tufts University in Boston.
In the first detailed global report on the impact of sugar-sweetened beverages, researchers estimated deaths and disabilities from diabetes, heart disease, and cancers in 2010. In this analysis, sugar sweetened beverages were defined as any sugar- sweetened sodas, fruit drinks, sports/energy drinks, sweetened iced teas, or homemade sugary drinks such as frescas, that contained at least 50 kcal per 8oz serving. 100 percent fruit juice was excluded.
Estimates of consumption were made from 62 dietary surveys including 611,971 individuals conducted between 1980 and 2010 across 51 countries, along with data on national availability of sugar in 187 countries and other information. This allowed capture of geographical, gender and age variation in consumption levels of sugar- sweetened beverages in different populations. Based on meta-analyses of other published evidence on health harms of sugar-sweetened beverages, the investigators calculated the direct impact on diabetes and the obesity-related effects on cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
In 2010, the researchers estimate that sugar-sweetened beverages consumption may have been responsible for approximately:
133,000 deaths from diabetes
45,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease
6,450 deaths from cancer
“Some population dietary changes, such as increasing fruits and vegetables, can be challenging due to agriculture, costs, storage, and other complexities. This is not complicated. There are no health benefits from sugar-sweetened beverages, and the potential impact of reducing consumption is saving tens of thousands of deaths each year,” Mozaffarian said.
Overall, in younger adults, the percent of chronic disease attributed to sugar-sweetened beverages was higher than the percent in older adults.
The health impact of sugar-sweetened beverage intake on the young is important because younger adults form a large sector of the workforce in many countries, so the economic impact of sugar-sweetened beverage-related deaths and disability in this age group can be significant. It also raises concerns about the future. If these young people continue to consume high levels as they age, the effects of high consumption will be compounded by the effects of aging, leading to even higher death and disability rates from heart disease and diabetes than we are seeing now.
Singh GM, Micha R, Khatibzadek S, Lim S, Ezzati M, and Mozaffarian, D. “Estimated global, regional, and national disease burdens related to sugar-sweetened beverage consumption in 2010.” Circulation. Published online ahead of print 06-29-15. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.010636

Saturday, May 16, 2015

10 Health Benefits of Broccoli and a Bonus!

1. Helps prevent cancer. Broccoli is a source of powerful antioxidants and anticarcinogens sulphorophane, indole-3-carbinol and diindolylmethane ( DIM) that impede the growth of breast cervical and prostate cancer. 
 2. Curbs overeating. A cup of broccoli has as much protein as a cup of rice or corn but only half the calories. Plus broccoli is a great source of fiber. 
3. Boosts your immune function. A cup of broccoli has a powerful supply of beta-carotene, zinc and selenium which strengthen your ability to fight infections. 
4. Fights birth defects. A cup of broccoli provides 94mcg of folate, a B vitamin important for proper fetal development. 
5. Fights Diabetes. The high fiber, low sugar and low calories keep insulin function tuned up and support stable blood sugar levels. 
6. Fights Heart Disease. The carotenoid lutein, vitamin B-6 and folate in broccoli may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, heart disease and stroke. 
7. Promotes strong and healthy bones. Broccoli provides calcium and vitamin K which promote bone health and reduce risk of osteoporosis. 
8. Regulates blood pressure. The potassium, magnesium and calcium work together to support blood pressure in the normal range. 
9. Reduces incidence and severity of colds. Vitamin C and Vitamin A, antioxidants and anti-infectives help support resistance to respiratory infections. 
10. Makes for healthy women and manly men. Broccoli provides diindolylmethane which supports healthy estrogen balance and reduces accumulation of harmful estrogens in women all the while supporting healthy testosterone levels in men. 

The bonus is broccoli is easy to prepare and delicious. Lightly steam broccoli spears and florets and then sauté in olive oil with and abundant number of garlic cloves for a delicious side dish or serve over pasta for a nutritious and low calorie vegetarian main course.
Broccoli Rabe a Mediterranean favorite confers the same benefits!