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Help Your Cells with Folic Acid

by Donna Quirk MBA, RD, LD at LMC

broccoli

January is Folic Acid Awareness Month. Folic Acid, also known as folate, is a B-vitamin and an important nutrient for all. Folic Acid is needed for the body to produce the genetic material DNA and to make the new cells it needs on a daily basis. Skin, hair, nails, and the gastrointestinal tract all lose and regenerate cells everyday.

cerealWomen of child-bearing years should eat foods with Folic Acid because it reduces the risk by 50% to 70% of developing birth defects of the spine and brain, also known as neural tube defects. Remember to include Folic Acid even if don’t think you are pregnant! Spine and brain development happens early in pregnancy so you need that Folic Acid before you know you are pregnant.

Including Folic Acid into your eating plan is easy. For the past 16 years enriched bread, cereal, pasta, flour, crackers and rice have been fortified with Folic Acid. Many fruits and vegetables, like oranges and avocado, are an excellent source of this vitamin. Yet another great reason to eat more fruits and vegetables!

peanuts3Good sources Folic Acid are orange juice, spinach, Romaine lettuce, broccoli, okra, asparagus, bananas, melons, peanuts, avocado, enriched-grain products, and fortified breakfast cereal. If a food, like cereal, is fortified with Folic Acid the amount will appear on the Nutrition Facts Label. The recommended daily requirement is 400 mcg. Check the label to be sure you are getting enough.

Not sure you are getting the Folic Acid you need from food? Go ahead and take a vitamin that has Folic Acid in it every day. Most multivitamins sold in the United States have the amount needed.
orange
So, next time you reach for fortified breakfast cereal (or another Folic Acid source) for you or your family remember you are also keeping everyone healthier right down to the DNA.

Halloween Tricks and Treats

By: Morgan V. Robbins, RD, LD, at Lexington Medical Center

Halloween is just around the corner, and while it tends to be filled with tricks and quite a few treats, life is all about balance. Here are a few healthy tips so the scale doesn’t get too scary.
-Want a healthier option for trick-or-treaters? Try offering animal crackers, pretzels, cereal bars, or stickers for a healthier alternative to candy.
-Attending a Halloween party? Be sure to get some sort of exercise in the day of the party.
-Don’t skip meals! Skipping meals can lead to over indulging later in the day; eat a good meal two to three hours before the party.
-Think balance- enjoy your favorite Halloween treat in moderation! Have a small handful of candy corn, not the entire bag.

Here are two healthier recipes to bring to this years Halloween festivities:

Bananas
Peanut Butter Banana Eyeballs
Ingredients:
Keebler® Townhouse Wheat Crackers
1 banana, sliced
Mini Chocolate Chips
Honey
Peanut Butter
Directions:
1. Spread peanut butter onto entire cracker
2. Spread honey over peanut butter
3. Please slice of banana in the center of the cracker
4. Place mini chocolate chip (point down) into center of banana to serve as pupil

* Use things like Nutella, cream cheese, jelly, apples, cinnamon, fruit loops and marshmallows for other varieties of eyeballs.

Pumpkin
Pumpkin Veggie Tray
Ingredients:
A large serving tray
1 large bag of baby carrots
1 cucumber
1 head of broccoli 1 carton veggie dip
Three Ramekins or small bowls

Directions:
1. Create an outline for your pumpkin by laying some of the carrots out in an oblong circle. Once the carrot outline is set, fill in the circle with the rest of the carrots.
2. Remove enough of the carrots to create a cucumber-filled smile, set the carrots you removed on top of the other carrots within your pumpkin
3. Place halved cucumber slices in the space you created for your carrot pumpkin’s smile
4. Fill your ramekins with the veggie dip and place them where you want the pumpkin’s eyes and nose to be
5. Slice off the stem of the broccoli head. Place the broccoli at the top of your pumpkin

Resources: tastaeofhome.com, snackpicks.com

Upping Protein Intake Promotes Fat Loss

By Susan K Wilkerson, RD LD & Donna Quirk, RD LD at Lexington Medical Center

Usually when we try to lose weight, we want all of the weight we lose to be fat not lean muscle. Unfortunately, we always lose some muscle in the process no matter how much we exercise. Some new research just published has shown that weight loss doesn’t have to mean muscle loss if you eat more protein!

apple with measuring tape_1
A new report appearing in the The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal challenges the long-held belief that significant muscle loss is unavoidable when losing weight through exercise and diet. In the report, scientists show that consuming twice the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein while adhering to a diet and exercise plan prevents the loss of muscle and promotes fat loss. Tripling the RDA of protein, however, failed to provide additional benefits.

“This study essentially confirms what body builders have shown us for a long time — a high protein diet helps prevent muscle loss when trying to lose fat,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal.

Although eating a well balanced diet is still necessary for health and weight maintenance, upping one’s lean protein intake when dieting might be a useful tool in the short term. This does not give you the license to eat all the meat you want. The calories were controlled in the study as well as the fat calories to promote a 1-2 pound weight loss per week.

So what would a typical day look like? This day would provide about 1500 calories and 100 grams of protein.

Breakfast
Vegetarian Sausage patties (2)
Egg Substitute (4 oz)
Whole Wheat Toast (1)
Orange Sections

Lunch
Whole Grain Tortilla (1)
Turkey (4 oz)
Cheese (1 slice)
Salsa and Guacamole
Red Grapes

Snack
Fat free Greek Yogurt

Supper
Beef (3 oz) & Vegetable Stir-Fry over Brown Rice