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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!

Source: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/prevention/nutrition/food-choices/benefits-of-chocolate.aspx

Transforming the Food Label

by Morgan V. Robbins RD, LD at LMC

The FDA is proposing updates to the nutrition facts label found on food packages. The updates are based off the latest research linking diet to chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. The principle behind the proposed changes is to make the food label easier than ever for consumers to understand whether or not the item is good for you.

Proposed changes
• Adding of information on “added” sugars, requiring the food label to state how much sugar has been added to the product
• Update serving sizes to reflect what people actually eat; by law serving size is required to be based off what people actually eat, not should eat. Serving sizes were first added to the label in 1994 and people are eating larger quantities in one sitting when compared to 20 years ago.
• Requirement to have potassium and vitamin D present on all food labels- the US population are not getting enough of both of them
• Removing “Calories from fat” portion of the label to focus attention on the type of fat being consumed, not amount
• “Dual column” labels requiring per serving and per package nutritional information for larger packages
• Overall format modifications drawing the eye to total calories and servings per container

Source: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm387418.htm
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Heart Fair 2014

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Hundreds of people came to Lexington Medical Center’s inaugural Heart Fair at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Columbia on Sunday. From healthy cooking demonstrations to health screenings and physician lectures, community members learned about optimizing their cardiovascular health. Did we see you there?