Archive for March, 2012

THE CHOLESTEROL CONFUSION

I want to talk about cholesterol because there is a lot of confusion out there.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance, which is produced by the liver. It’s an important substance because our bodies need cholesterol in order to function properly. So, some cholesterol is good; too much cholesterol is not.

There are two main types of cholesterol—LDL (think LEAST DESIRABLE) and HDL (think HIGHLY DESIRABLE). There is a link between LDL cholesterol and saturated fat. Remember—saturated fat comes from animal sources and stays solid at room temperature. (The white band of fat on steak, cheese, butter, the speaks of fat in salami, etc) Fat digestion is a bit tricky because fat molecules don’t mix well into our blood stream. (Think about trying to mix oil and water—they don’t mix!) So in order for fat to be transported to our cells they need special transporters or carriers. That’s where LDL comes in—it stands for low-density lipoprotein CARRIERS. So the more saturated fat we take in, the more low-density lipoprotein carriers we make to transport the fat. When there is an excess of LDL cholesterol it sticks to our arteries. However, there is good news: If you decrease your saturated fat intake by 1%, you will lower your LDL cholesterol by 2%. You can now see the connection.

HDL cholesterol is extremely beneficial to us. These carriers are like street sweepers. They go out and pick up the excess, harmful LDL cholesterol that’s clogging our arteries. They bring the excess back to liver where it gets re-cycled. That’s why an elevated HDL level is heart protective. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to raise HDL cholesterol. Studies have shown that exercise helps as well as moderate red wine drinking.

We also take in cholesterol via our diets. Only animal products contain dietary cholesterol. (Fatty meats, eggs, liver, cheese, butter, shellfish) The American Heart Association wants us to limit our dietary cholesterol to less than 300 mg a day if we are healthy. Most people worry about eating eggs because of the cholesterol. One large egg has about 186 mg. So, if you are careful with other animal products in your diet, there is no reason why you can’t have 1 whole egg per day. If there is cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or high LDL cholesterol, we should limit our intake to less than 200 mg day.

I hope this clears up some of the cholesterol confusion!

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WHAT’S YOUR HUNGER ON THE HUNGER SCALE?

This past weekend I attended a diabetes seminar, where a wonderful dietician* talked about a great tool to use with clients: a hunger scale. While the focus was on diabetes, we can all use this hunger scale to keep us in-tuned with our bodies.

Here’s how it works: Think about your hunger on a scale from 1-10. One is feeling STARVING–like you could eat anything,  and 10 is feeling Thanksgiving STUFFED and sick.

STARVING STUFFED
        1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9      10

Most of the time, if we allow ourselves to get to a 1, it means that we are way too hungry and inevitably, we will overeat leading to feeling way too full—perhaps like a 9.

Using this scale, the goal is to begin eating around 3-4 where you’re just getting the slight feeling of hunger and stopping around 6-7, when your satiated but not stuffed.

Doing this means that you will have to eat more frequently, which is something highly recommended as most people overeat if too much time has passed between meals/snacks. It also means that you’re going to have to pay more attention to those hunger and satiety cues. Often, we look at the clock for mealtimes instead of listening to what our bodies are saying. Being more mindful about eating is very important!

So, try this scale and see if it helps you get more in-tuned with yourself!

*This idea came from Jennifer Regester at Eat With Knowledge. (www.eatwithknowledge.com.)

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SPAGHETTI WITH FRESH TOMATO AND ARUGULA

Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato & Arugula

(serves  4)

ingredients

1 lb spaghetti

5 ripe tomatoes or 2 pints of cherry tomatoes

2 cups arugula

1 1/2 cups fresh basil

½ cup olives (optional)

1 tsp dried oregano

2 T balsamic vinegar

3 T olive oil

salt

pepper

grated Parmesan cheese

directions

Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to the directions.

Chop the tomatoes, basil, rocket, and olives however you like—chunks, slices, etc. Place in a bowl. Add oregano, oil, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

When the spaghetti  is cooked, drain and place in a large bowl. Add the tomato mixture and toss together. Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

(Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s pasta recipe)

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THE BIGGEST MISTAKE DIETERS MAKE

Cutting calories to lose weight is not fun and feels like hard work. However, once you get on a roll, it becomes easier and easier. But often dieters make the fatal mistake: they try to reduce their caloric intake even more, thinking less is better. Wrong.

Our bodies are programmed to survive. When you restrict calories too much, the body thinks “OH NO………..STARVATION IS COMING. SLOW DOWN.” And that’s exactly what happens. Remember–most of our calorie needs come from running our bodies—breathing, heart pumping and circulating blood, digesting food, and excreting waste. This is called your base metabolic rate. You don’t want to slow this down.

Restricting calories too much will, indeed, slow down your metabolism and weight loss will stop.  When this happens, I usually get a panicked text or e-mail saying “Rhonda…….I ate even less than I normally do this week………….the scale didn’t move……….what happened???” Now you know.

The rule of thumb is to reduce calories by 300-500 per day and increase exercise. If you do this you will lose about 1-1.5 pounds per week, which is the perfect amount. Rapid weight loss is not healthy.

So………..don’t make the mistake that most dieters do. Less is not more!

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ROASTED CHICKEN WITH PANCETTA AND BEANS

Roasted Chicken with Pancetta and Beans

ingredients

vegetable oil

8 small pieces of chicken parts (can use thighs or breasts that are cut into quarters), skin removed

sea salt and black pepper

2 leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced

2-3 oz of pancetta or bacon (can use turkey bacon as well)

2 sprigs of rosemary

1, 14 oz can of small white beans, drained and rinsed (can also use cannellini beans)

1 pint of cherry tomatoes

1 cup of chicken stock

½ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

directions

Pre-heat the oven to 4000F. Heat a bit of vegetable oil in an ovenproof frying pan over a high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to the pan and cook for 7 minutes on each side or until well browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the leeks, pancetta and rosemary to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes or until golden. Stir in the small white beans, tomatoes and chicken stock. Return the chicken to the pan. Place in the oven and roast for 12 minutes or until the chicken is golden and cooked through. Stir in the parsley and serve.

(Adapted from a recipe given to me  by my wonderful Australian friend.)

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HOW DOES SALT DO IT???

A while ago, I blogged about oatmeal and how oatmeal reduces cholesterol. Many of you thought that was very interesting and so I thought I would now shed some light on how salt affects blood pressure. After all–we hear all the time how too much salt in our diets is linked to high blood pressure but I often think that most of us don’t know how salt does this.

The body is always trying to achieve homeostasis, which is equilibrium or balance. When we take in too much salt there will be a higher concentration of sodium in the bloodstream. The body says “TOO MUCH…….LET’S DILUTE THIS” and so the water from our cells move into the bloodstream causing an increase in blood volume. When blood volume increases, the heart has to work harder to pump the extra blood volume, increasing blood pressure.

Simply put, more blood volume means higher blood pressure. So now you know  the salt-blood pressure connection! Pretty cool, huh?

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SKIP THE SALAD, EAT A BURGER

I LOVE salad. I love crunching,  I love chewing and I love vegetables so a big salad is one of my favorite things to eat. However, salads can be a caloric mess if you load them with dressing. Ask my family what happens to me when I’m at a salad bar and watch people heap on several LADLES of salad dressing on their salad. I honestly feel that I could pass out! 

While salad dressing ladles vary in size, they typically hold about 4 tablespoons of dressing. This means that 1 ladle of blue cheese dressing will have over 300 calories and (wait for it) 40 grams of fat. By comparison, a 4 oz ground beef patty (80% lean, 20% fat) will have just about the same amount of calories but 22 g of fat.

Bottom line: If you think you’re eating “healthy” by having a nice salad you might have to think again if you’re heaping on the dressing.

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