Monday, August 1, 2011

30 Days of Blogging: Tricky Nutrition Questions- Answered!

"With all of the daily food choices we have to make, there isn't much time to spend weighing the options that directly affect our health, weight, energy level, and taste buds. But think about this: each of these decisions is a new opportunity to do right by your body. Need help? No problem!

Is brown rice really that much healthier than white rice?

---Yes, and that goes for all grains, whether it's the rice with that Chinese takeout, the tortilla used to wrap your burrito, or the bread on your sandwich. If you eat the carbs with the grain-the label will say "whole wheat"- it will be full of fiber because it's made from the entire wheat kernel: germ, bran, and endosperm. Fiber takes up room in your belly, which then sends your brain the signal that you're full. But if the fiber is taken out (refined carbs such as white rice and bread), fast-rising blood sugar triggers your pancreas to release a flood of insulin, the hormone that not only lowers blood sugar but also signals your body to store fat (Yikes!). Penn State University recently conducted a study comparing how much belly fat people lost when they ate whole grains instead of refined grains, and the results were incredible: the whole-grain eaters lost 2.4 times more fat!

Dining at regular intervals, eating protein and fat at every meal, and choosing whole grains such as whole-wheat bread will help manage your blood sugar and your cravings- and your fat storage.

Is chicken always a better choice than beef?

---Not always. A lot depends on how the chicken or cow was raised. Organic-fed, pasture-raised skinless chicken breast is remarkably healthy, but most of us don't eat chickens that roamed free and fed on grass. Today's birds are raised in a way that promotes fat growth. The result? {The average piece of chicken has 266% more fat than it did in 1971, while its protein content has dropped by a third!!} Similarly, many cows today are fed an unlimited supply of corn to fatten them up as quickly as possible. Grass-fed beef has 16% fewer calories, 27% less fat, 10% more protein, and a healthier balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.

If my options are a cheeseburger, a hot dog, or a slice of pizza, which should I eat?

---Clearly there is some room for debate about these American staples, as hundreds- if not thousands- of varieties exist. Let's face it. Ballpark stadiums aren't exactly "up to standards" when it comes to healthier choices. But when it comes down to it, you have to eat something, right? It comes down to your choice of toppings: The more high-fiber veggies you can include, the better. Your best option is probably a slice of pizza loaded with a combo of veggies like bell peppers, broccoli, and salad greens. It's not a perfect meal-the carbs in the crust will likely be the refined variety- but the pile of produce on top certainly helps make it a healthier choice.

Is turkey bacon honestly that much better for you than the real thing?

---Nope. As far as calories go, the difference between the two is negligible. While turkey is a leaner meat, turkey bacon isn't made from 100% bird-it comes with a long list of additives and extra ingredients that don't pack nutritional value. Both kinds of bacon can give you a mouthful of sodium, but at least with regular bacon you're eating a real food that also makes your kitchen smell delicious.

Is a glass of fruit juice just as nutritious as a piece of fruit?

---Not even close. Most prepared fruit juices contain not only natural sugar but also substantial amounts of added sugar to cut the tartness of the drink (try straight unsweetened cranberry juice sometime and see what I mean). Plus, even juices labeled 100% pure aren't necessarily made exclusively from the advertised juice. Superfoods like blueberry and pomegranate may get top billing even though the ingredient list reveals that pear, apple, and grape juices-cheaper to produce and supersweet-are among the first four ingredients. To avoid a sugar surge, pick single-fruit juices, pour half a glass, and fill the rest with water or seltzer. Even better, stick with whole fruit. A medium orange has just 62 calories, 12 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of belly-filling fiber compared with the 110 calories, 24g sugar, and 0 fiber found in an eight-ounce glass of OJ.

Which source of protein is better: plant or animal?

---Animal-based proteins have a slight edge. While many plant foods can provide a good dose of protein, the best sources are lean fish, meat, dairy products, and eggs. Because, unlike plant-based products, animal protein is complete, meaning it contains the right proportions of amino acids your body can't synthesize on its own. It's possible to build complete protein from plant-based foods (for all you vegetarians!) by combining legumes, nuts, and grains, but you'd need to consume 20-25% more plant-based protein to reap the same benefits." (I always learn so much from Women's Health!)

As some of you may have seen me post on twitter, my dinners the past two nights have been out of this world! Last night, I grilled up some Red Snapper...

Yes, I made the whole fish...

Friday night my mom got a great deal on some Maryland Crabs and so, she picked a bunch of meat and asked what we should do with all of it. I quickly looked up and threw together Crab and Veggie Stuffed Mushrooms!

Crab and Veggie Stuffed Mushrooms

1 lb. fresh mushrooms
7oz. crabmeat
5 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup bell peppers, chopped
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground savory
black pepper to taste
1/4 cup + 3 Tbl. Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine crab, green onions, bell peppers, herbs, and pepper. Mix in mayo and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese until well combined. Refrigerate filling until ready for use. Wipe mushrooms clean with a damp towel. Remove stems. Spoon out gills and base of stem. Fill caps with rounded teaspoons of filling and place in an ungreased shallow baking pan. Sprinkle tops with 3 Tbl. Parmesan cheese and paprika. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Crab and Veggie Stuffed Mushrooms, Red Snapper, and Rice w/ Cilantro, Spinach, Squash, and Zucchini!!

This was gone in about 2 minutes! It was delicious!

What is a nutrition question that you have always had in the back of your mind??

I hope everyone had a great weekend and will have an even better first day of August...on your own two feet...

Until the next step bloggers...

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