Monday, February 17, 2014

Busting the Myths about fats

Trans fat are the hydrogenated fats in processed foods. Some people think that trans fats are only found in fried foods. . That is not the case. Some trans fats are found naturally in small amounts in meat and dairy products but are not a significant source. Many processed foods use "hydrogenated" vegetable oils that add trans fat, so check the nutrition facts labels.

Another myth is that fats are the same. However, this is not the case. Trans fatty acids raise bad cholesterol levels and lower good cholesterol levels, and increase your risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke.

Another myth is that no trans fat means no taste. Today manufacturers are finding new ways to improve the texture and taste of food without using trans fatty acids.

Saturated fat are generally found in animal based foods.  Some people think that all saturated fats are bad for you. However this is not necessarily true. Steric acid, the most abundant saturated fat in beef and chocolate can be good for you. It does not raise bad cholesterol and gives good cholesterol a boost.

Some people believe that saturated fats are from animal products. However, saturated fatty acids are mainly found in fatty meats and high-fat dairy products, but some plant foods are high in saturated fat such as coconut, palm and palm kernel oils.

There are people that believe that if you eat fat you get fat. However, this is false. Fat is a powerful source of energy, more than twice as concentrated as protein and carbohydrates. Consuming more calories than you need is what makes you gain weight--not the source of the calories.

And finally there is a myth that meat is high in saturated fat. This is not necessarily the case. Foods contain differing amounts of each type of fat. Monounsaturated fatty acids make up half the fat content of lean red meat. Look for the words "round" or "loin" in the name to choose the leanest cuts.

saturated fats should be eaten in moderation-10% of your total intake.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Foods that help you sleep

We live in a non-stop society. In our rush, we too often put sleep on the back burner to get things done. But it is the wrong approach. Sleep has a huge effect on how you feel throughout the day, and nutrition plays a role in how well you sleep. Food relates  directly o serotonin, a key hormone that _along with vitamin B6, B12, and folic acid helps promote healthy sleep. Try to consume foods that calm the body, increase serotonin levels and get you ready for restful sleep.

Here are a few foods to get you started on the path to slumber:

Complex Carbohydrates
Embrace whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta, crackers and brown rice. Steer clear of simple carbohydrates, including breads, pasta and sweets such as cookies, cakes, pastries, and other surgery foods. These tend to reduce serotonin levels and do not promote sleep.

Lean proteins
Lean proteins include low fat cheese, chicken, turkey and fish. These foods are high in the amino acid tryptophan, which tends to increase serotonin levels. On the flipside, avoid high fat cheese, chicken wings or deep fried fish which take longer to digest and can keep you awake.

Heart healthy fats
Unsaturated fats will not only boost your heart health but also improve your serotonin levels. Examples  include peanut butter (read the label to make sure that peanuts are the only ingredient) and nuts such as walnuts, almonds, cashews and pistachios. Avoid foods with saturated and trans fats, such as French fries, potato chips or other high fat snack foods. They have the opposite effect and lower your serotonin levels.

Certain drinks can promote or prevent sleep. A good soothing beverage to drink before bedtime would be warm milk (your mother was right) or herbal tea such as chamomile or peppermint.  As for caffeinated drinks, I recommend that if you are having trouble sleeping consume that last cup by 2pm. Caffeine can affect people differently, and even the smallest amount of stimulant can keep you awake. 

Fresh herbs
Fresh herbs can have a calming effect on the body. For example, sage and basil contain chemicals that reduce tension and promote sleep. Try making your own homemade pasta sauce with sage and basil> it is easy to do, and homemade sauces tend to be lower in sugar than store bought versions. However, avoid herbs such as red pepper at night, as they have a stimulatory effect.

Sleep inducing snacks
Try a banana with low fat yogurt
Eat low fat cottage cheese with a few 100 percent whole grain crackers
Enjoy an apple with mozzarella string cheese

Try all these foods to reduce your tossing and turning when you hit the pillow. Sweet dreams!