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Celebrate National Chocolate Chip Day: May 15th

by Morgan Robbins RD, LD at LMC

Before you sit down with your glass of milk and cookie on May 15th, take some time to read about how chocolate, in moderation, can promote health. Chocolate, made from the cocoa bean, is rich in flavonoids. Flavonoids are most commonly known for their antioxidant properties. Antioxidants may prevent, or delay cell damage by blocking free radicals.

cookies4Flavanols are the main type of flavonoid found in chocolate. Flavanols have multiple health benefits including lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the heart and brain as well as their antioxidant properties. Flavanols are also found in onions, apples, celery, red wine and tea.

Keep in mind, not all chocolate is created equal. Cocoa’s natural flavor is strong and pungent; the steps taken to process cocoa will reduce this taste. It used to be said the darker the chocolate, the higher the antioxidant properties. Research shows the more processed the chocolate is, the less flavanols the chocolate will have, meaning darker doesn’t always mean better. Commercial chocolate (i.e. Reeses, Snickers, etc.) are highly processed and therefore lack the heart healthy antioxidant properties.

For now, your safest bet is to stick with darker chocolate; it is too difficult to determine the exact path your chocolate has taken to arrive to your table. Additional sugar, fat and oils are added to milk chocolate, making it the less healthy choice of the two. Be mindful of the type of dark chocolate you eat, added ingredients (nuts, caramel, nougat) all mean additional processing. As with anything, moderation is key, keep your chocolate serving to one ounce or less, only a few times weekly.

In honor of National Chocolate Chip Day, try adding some dark chocolate chips or chunks to your yogurt, oatmeal or to a homemade trail mix!


Dietitian vs. Nutritionist, is there a Difference?

table setting_foodBy: Morgan V. Robbins, RD, LD at LMC

As a Registered Dietitian (RD), I’m always asked if there is a difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist. The two terms have different meanings and cannot be used interchangeably. The term RD (Registered Dietitian) and RDN (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) do mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably. RD is the more generally used term, however the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics now allows Registered Dietitians to use RD or RDN to more accurately reflect to consumers what Registered Dietitians are and what they do. All RD’s and RDN’s can be considered “nutritionists”, however not all nutritionists can call themselves an RD or RDN.

Registered Dietitian
•Bachelors degree at minimum in dietetics, nutrition or nutritional science
•RDN’s have met recommendations put forth by the Commission of Dietetic Registration (CDR) and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND)
•RD and RDN are nationally recognized and legally protected title, only eligible for use by those authorized by the CDR
•Registered Dietitians offer the highest level of nutrition counseling, areas of expertise include:
•Management of chronic disease
•Pre/Post gastric surgeries
•Eating disorders
•Digestive problems
•Child and adolescent eating issues
•Weight loss
•Elderly and aging
•Sports performance

•Not a nationally recognized title
•Definition varies state to state
•May or may not have educational background in the field of nutrition – be sure research this information prior to meeting with a nutritionist
•No requirements to call yourself a “nutritionist”

The Registered Dietitian is the nutrition expert based on their required education, formal training/ internship, passing of registration exam and maintaining continuing education credits. RD’s take science-based evidence and translate it into easy-to-follow advice. As an informed consumer, be sure you understand the credentials of the individual giving you nutrition advice.

March 12th is National Dietitian Day, be sure to recognize your local dietitian!

Eating to Prevent Colon Cancer

By Jennifer Benedetto, MS, RD, LD at LMC

Did you know that diet and lifestyle contributes to 50% of all colon cancers? Since March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, here are some prevention tips:

-Limit red meat consumption. According to the American Cancer Society, your risk of colon cancer increases by 15-20% if you consume 100g of red meat (a small hamburger) or 50 g of processed meats (bacon, sausage, hot dogs) per day. Red meat contains heme iron which has been linked to cellular damage that can increase risk. Red and processed meats also stimulate the production of N- nitroso carcinogenic compounds in the body. Red meat cooked at high temperatures produces heterocyclic amines which are known to be carcinogenic. Limit red meat intake to 2, four ounce servings (about the size of a deck of cards) of red meat per week. Consume processed meats rarely since they contain preservatives (including nitrates) that can be carcinogenic.

-Avoid alcohol. The body converts alcohol to acetylaldehyde, a known carcinogen. Alcohol also can impair the body’s ability to repair DNA damage, increasing risk. If you choose to consume alcohol, limit intake to 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.

-Fill up on fiber. There is convincing evidence that dietary fiber protects against colon cancer. Obtaining a majority of your calories from minimally processed plant foods improves colon health. Fiber includes all parts of plant foods that the body is unable to digest or absorb. Whole plant foods contain a variety of types of fiber. Consuming a variety of fibers is recommended to gain health benefits. Boosting your fiber intake is easy, but should be done slowly. radually increasing fiber intake will decrease the risk of digestive discomfort. The Institute of Medicine recommends 38 g fiber/day for men under the age of 50 years old and 25 g for women in this age group. Adult men over the age of 50 years old should consume 30 g per day, and women 21 g/day. It is unclear if processed foods with added fiber have the same benefits as whole plant foods. Since whole plant foods contain other beneficial phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, it may be best to get your fiber from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.

-Power up with Prebiotics. Prebiotics are soluble fibers that are fermented in the colon to provide fuel to the good bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics allow these good bacteria to grow and flourish. Colon bacteria rely on prebiotics to make substances that maintain the health of our colon. It has been proposed that these fibers and the fermentation process prevent colon cells from becoming cancerous. Well researched prebiotic soluble fibers include inulin and oligofructose (FOS). These substances are found in plant foods including wild yams and other root vegetables, wheat, onions, garlic, bananas, leeks artichokes and yicama.

-Watch your weight. Excess body fat increases your risk of colon and other types of cancer. Overweight or obese individuals have higher insulin levels, which can promote tumor growth. Obesity creates a pro-inflammatory environment which can promote cancer. Being active can help regulate insulin levels and decrease inflammation.