Live a “berry” colorful life

Is your plate colorful at meal time?
The majority of foods in a typical American diet are bland and pale in color such as pasta, white breads, cheese and white rice.
Science has shown that colorful foods are healthier because they contain antioxidant pigments. For example, the orange pigment in carrots and sweet potatoes is due to the beta carotene, the red in tomatoes is from lycopene and the blue in blueberries is from anthocyanin. Antioxidants have been proven to protect against cancer, to boost the immune system as well as prevent cardiovascular disease. Berries are the second only to herbs and spices as having the most antioxidant concentration. They pack an average of nearly ten times more antioxidant content than other fruits and vegetables. According to a study comparing antioxidant levels of 100 different berries, blackberries have the most, followed by blueberries, raspberries, cranberries and strawberries. Other berries to consider are tart cherries or goji berries. Cherries have shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and natural levels of melatonin. In order to enjoy berries year around, it is reassuring to know that frozen berries retain most of their nutritious qualities.
What about the sugar content of fruit? Consuming sugar (fructose) in natural fruit form is different than the added sugars in processed foods. Eating berries can actually blunt the insulin spike that occurs after eating high glycemic foods. The fiber content apparently slows the digestion of the sugars and the phytonutrients appear to block absorption through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream.
When shopping, antioxidant supplements are not a good substitute. The body digests and absorbs nutrients and fiber from fruits and vegetables more effectively in their natural state. Therefore, start reaching for a variety of colors in the produce section. Consider red rather than green grapes, red onions instead of white, or purple cabbage rather than green. Look for the brightest deepest colored berries and try to consume a ½ cup of them daily for health benefits.
Carol Penfield MS, NPc is a nurse practitioner and certified personal trainer who specializes in Lifestyle Medicine at Emerald Physicians in Yarmouth. She offers private consultations as well as shared medical appointments for weight loss, which are covered by insurance.

 

 

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Say “CHEESE”!

Cheese is one of the most frequently eaten foods in America, the home of obesity and overweight. For health reasons, many individuals are decreasing their meat intake but when it comes to cheese, “no way”! What makes cheese so difficult to eat in moderation or to avoid? It provides the combination of fat which helps you feel satisfied and salt which tantalizes your taste buds. It also contains compounds called casomorphins which are derived from the protein found in milk called casein. Casomorphins attach to the opiate receptors in the brain and trigger the brain to release dopamine, which leads to feelings of reward and pleasure. It is no surprise that cheese consumption has sky rocketed. In 1909 the average American ate less than 4 pounds of cheese per year. Today, an American eats more than 33 pounds annually. It has become a multi-million dollar industry to promote tasty and cheesy high fat foods to the public.
The rising amount of cheese consumed in the United States is directly associated with the obesity epidemic and leading cause of death, heart disease. Cheese is very calorie dense and the majority of calories come from fat. Most of the fat is saturated fat which leads to insulin resistance and elevated cholesterol levels. The typical sodium content per ounce ranges from 175 mg (cheddar) to 450 mg (parmesan) for those concerned about their blood pressure. So why do we eat it? If you are eating cheese for the protein or calcium content, choose healthier choices such as nuts.
Interested in alternatives to cheese?
• Try sprinkling roasted sunflower seeds or chick peas on your salad
• Mix nutritional yeast into your pasta sauces or meat-less meatball recipes
• Find a recipe for cashew cheese or try vegan cheese
• Squeeze fresh lemon on your cooked vegetables for flavor
• Take cheese out of your sandwich and add avocado, roasted red peppers or hummus
It is still important to watch the calorie content when choosing your foods. Good luck!
Carol Penfield MS, NPc is a nurse practitioner and certified personal trainer who specializes in Lifestyle Medicine at Emerald Physicians in Yarmouth. She offers private appointments as well as shared medical appointments for weight loss, which are covered by insurance.

May I have some more willpower please?

If a piece of cake is placed in front of a person long enough, that person will eventually eat it. Where does the “will” to do healthy activities such as avoiding fattening foods or exercising regularly come from? There is no specific part of the brain that is called “will power”. Neurotransmitters in the brain do affect our mood and actions but actual “willpower” is a result of developed habits. A person’s response to a challenge will vary. Using the example of cake, one person may eat the “cake” in front of them and want another piece, when another individual may have only three bites and stop. Another person may exercise for an hour to burn the calories of the cake, while a different person prefers to have no dessert at all. All four people have developed a behavior that becomes a habit. Habits can change. Bad habits can be replaced with good habits with practice and trying different techniques.

Developing new healthy habits takes effort, patience and problem solving skills. It is hard to do alone. This column will provide practical information and techniques to acquiring healthy habits for dessert lovers. First decide what type of dessert eater you are and choose the approach that best describes your style of eating.

1. “I want to eat the whole thing.” For the over-eater, choose a “dessert” day once a week to have the dessert you want.

2. “I can’t stop thinking about what I am going to have for dessert.” For the “food thinker”, planning ahead may help. Decide what “starch” options you plan to go without, (such as alcohol, bread or pasta) in order to have the dessert instead at the end of the meal.

3. “I just want to fanaticize about dessert.” The “food teaser” can read the menu, look at the dessert isle in the market enjoying the choices in their mind, and choose nothing at all. Leaving the temptations promptly is important.

4. “I always have to have something sweet after dinner.” Having only three bites of the dessert can let the “sweets lover” practice portion control while still enjoying their habit.

5. “I will skip the dessert now, but always eat something else later”. Splitting a dessert with someone provides a controlled setting for the “binge eater” who would otherwise go home and eat more when alone.

6. “I only wanted a few bites, but I ate the rest. “ For the “picker”, ask the wait staff to take away the remaining dessert, freeze leftovers, or put the sweets out of sight before you eat more than you actually wanted.

7. “I will be good, and just have fruit”. The “dessert alternative” eater may choose fresh fruit, tea or coffee but make sure there are no other hidden calories. For example, coffee drinks and frozen yogurt are often calorie dense.

8. “I will exercise an extra 45 minutes to earn my dessert.” The “exercise to eat” eater needs to make sure that the calories burned during exercise are actually equal to the calories of the dessert.

9. “I can’t resist, it looks sooooooooo good!” The “always tempted” eater can try distraction techniques such as avoiding the dessert menu or standing away from the dessert table. Choose restaurants that do not have good desserts or refrain from keeping sweets in your home.

10. “I ate too much, why not have dessert too.” The “desert my healthy eating plan” eater must not give up. Try not to identify having dessert as a “failure”. Evaluate the situation and try another technique next time. No strategy works every time.

People find that their eating habits overlap with many of the examples listed above. Recognizing your unique behavior is the first step towards developing an approach to a new healthy habit. Good luck!

 

Carol Penfield MS, NPc is a nurse practitioner and certified personal trainer who specializes in Lifestyle Medicine at Emerald Physicians in Yarmouth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nutritional secrets of the world’s longest-living people

Nutritional secrets of the world’s longest-living people

by Carol Penfield, M.S., Nurse Practitioner

Dan Buettner, National Geographic fellow, identified 5 areas of the world where people live to the age of 100 and lead fulfilling lives.  He called these locations “Blue Zones”.  He continued to work with researchers and dietitians to identify their dietary and daily practices that contributed to their unique longevity.  Here is a brief summary:

  • Okinawa, Japan: Home of the world’s longest-lived women. Their dietary habits include; sweet potato, brown rice, turmeric, vegetables, seaweed and tofu. Dairy and meat (primarily pork) represented only 3 percent of their caloric intake as well as minimal sugar and salt.
  • Sardinia, Italy: Mountainous highlands with the highest concentration of centenarian men. They typically consumed meat and dairy from sheep or goats. Flat and sour dough bread, grains (mostly barley), chick peas, tomatoes, almonds and local red wine.
  • Loma Linda, California: 7th Day Adventists who live ten more HEALTHY years than the average American. Their diet consists of mostly fruits and vegetables (avocados), salmon, nuts, beans, oatmeal, soy milk, and whole wheat bread.
  • Ikaria, Greece: An island off the coast of Turkey, with the lowest rate of dementia and middle-age mortality. Their diet varied from the typical Mediterranean diet with emphasis on potatoes, legumes, wild greens, fruit, lemon juice and small amounts of fish.
  • Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica: The lowest rate of middle-age mortality and 2nd highest concentration of male centenarians. Their dietary choices include corn soaked in lime and ground into corn meal, squash, papayas, yams, bananas, black beans and rice.

There is more to living a long healthy life than just the food you eat.  These “blue zone” populations also moved naturally, had a sense of community with deep social networks, valued friends and their elders, rested, had a sense of purpose and faith, and gardened.

It is not just about what to eat but also notice what these communities did NOT eat.  They had minimal sweets, salt, processed foods, dairy or animal protein.

Are there ways that you can improve your diet? Eating and living like the world’s healthiest people is not just about adding years to your life, but about adding life to your years.

You can learn more from Dan Buettner’s book, “The Blue Zone Solution”.

Carol Penfield M.S., Nurse Practitioner, specializes in Lifestyle Medicine and is accepting new patients into her practice at Emerald Physicians beginning mid-May.

Going NUTS after the holidays?

As we enter a new year, many choose to focus on weight loss.  With that in mind, dieters tend to shy away from nuts.  Although calorie dense, they are a nutritional powerhouse.  Nuts are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, vitamins (such as vitamin E and folate) and minerals (such as magnesium and calcium).  Having “just a few” nuts can also assist with satiety.  What is the healthiest nut?  It depends on what your focus is.  According to the chart below, almonds offer the most “bang for your buck”.  Incidentally, peanuts were added to the list, although they are technically legumes rather than nuts. If you are concerned about fat, focus on the healthier fat content rather than the total fat amount.  Believe it or not, even nuts contain saturated (unhealthy) fat, therefore minimize macadamia, brazil and cashew consumption.  Pick sources of unsaturated (good) fats which provide total Omega 3 fatty acids, the best being walnuts.  For highest protein content, choose almonds or peanuts and for fiber, almonds win again! The best magnesium sources are: coconut WATER (not milk), brazil nuts or cashews. If interested in Vitamin E or calcium supplementation, then almonds are the ideal choice.

Suggestions for dieters.  The lowest calorie content per ounce is almonds, pistachios or peanuts.  But if you are prone to over eating your favorite nut, choose a different type or consider buying the nuts in their shells and work for them! For portion control, purchase 100 calorie pre-packaged almonds. Other tips:  Choose raw unsalted or dry roasted nuts to avoid excess oil, salt and sugar preparations.  If you have a sweet tooth, try cocoa dusted almonds.  Beware of trail mixes, since many include chocolate pieces or other high calorie tasty additives that make you want to eat more!  Adding a few nuts to your salad or fruit snack are great ways to slow digestion and feel satisfied longer, which potentially decreases overeating.  Just don’t go nuts and eat too many!

Nutritional Content of Common Nuts (1 oz.)

Nutrients per 1 oz. (weight)
Nut
Variety
Approx # of nuts
Cals (kcal)
Protein (g)
Total Fat (g)
Satur-ated Fat (g)
Mono- unsatur-ated Fat (g)
Poly- unsatur-ated Fat (g)
Carbs (g)
Fiber (g)
Almonds
23
160
6
14
1
9
3.5
6
4
Brazil
Nuts
6
190
4
19
4
7
6
3
2
Cashews
18
160
4
13
3
8
2
9
1
Hazelnuts
21
180
4
17
1.5
13
2
5
3
Maca-
damia Nuts
11
200
2
22
3.5
17
0.5
4
2
Pecans
19 (halves)
200
3
20
2
12
6
4
3
Pine Nuts
165
190
4
20
1.5
5.5
10
4
1
Pistachios
49
160
4
18
1.5
7
4
8
3
Walnuts
Peanuts
14 (halves)
28
190
159
4
7
18
14
1.5
2
2.5
6.8
13
4.4
4
5
2
2
 (foodreference.about.com)

Turning Green with Protein

TURNING GREEN WITH PROTEIN

By Carol Penfield, M.S., Nurse Practitioner

“Eat your vegetables” is an ageless request.  The health benefits of eating vegetables is extensive.  They are a wonderful source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.  Eating an assortment of vegetables of various colors also have been shown to promote a decreased risk for heart disease, cancers, stroke, as well as eye and digestive disorders.  Variety is as important as quantity.  The goal is to consume at least 2½ cups of vegetables daily.  According to major studies that included 110,000 people showed that those who ate 8 or more vegetable servings a day were 30% less likely to have a stroke or heart attack.

However, many people do not realize that some vegetables are also sources of protein.  Legumes, such as black beans, chick peas, kidney beans contain roughly 14 – 16 grams of protein per cup.  The highest protein content is in white beans and lentils, topping out at 19 grams/cup.  Other vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, corn and artichokes provide 4 – 5 grams of protein per cup.  Potatoes do as well, but don’t remove the skin, it contains over half of the nutrient.  The ideal source of vegetable protein is soy beans.  A cup serving has 29 grams and contains all 9 of the essential amino acids.

When adding protein to your meal, think beyond animal sources.  Animal based protein, such as meat, chicken, and cheese, also are sources of cholesterol, saturated fat and offer NO fiber.  The typical American diet exceeds the daily requirement of protein.  In fact, the suggested daily requirements have decreased over the years.  An average recommendation for females is 45 – 50 gms daily, and 50 – 70 gms for males. When looking for healthy sources of protein, look to vegetables as a lower calorie option as well.

Yet, another reason to eat more vegetables!

 

Carol Penfield M.S., NPC. is a Nurse Practitioner specializing in Lifestyle Medicine.  She instructs Complete Health Improvement Programs “CHIP” that highlight nutrition and exercise at Chatham Health & Swim Club. For more information contact: carol@chathamhealthclub.com  or call 508-945-3555.

 

Healthy Eating for Your Good Health!

Healthy Eating For Your Good Health.

By Carol Penfield, M.S., Nurse Practitioner

I will be addressing healthy eating in “To Your Good Health” (an insert in the Cape Codder) on a regular basis.  My expertise is in the relatively new medical specialty of Lifestyle Medicine.  The principles of Lifestyle Medicine were developed from evidence-based medical research, and help you prevent and even reverse disease by addressing how you live your life day to day.  This includes exercise, stress management, substance abuse, sleep quality and, most germaine to this column, diet.  What you eat greatly affects your health and wellbeing. This makes sense to most of us intuitively, but up to now that knowledge has not led to behavior change in the general population.

So what is a “healthy” diet, and why should you follow it?  Dr. Dean Ornish is one of the pioneers who scientifically addressed how a low fat, plant-based diet was able to decrease and reverse narrowing of the arteries.  Not only did his seriously ill patients achieve a remarkable clinical reversal of their disease, but he used actual pictures of the heart vessels called “angiograms” to prove that those changes were real.

As a result of this and other research supporting “plant-based diet”, that term is now used more often, but what does it really mean?  It involves eating foods as grown and in their natural state, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, and nuts.  It also involves avoiding or minimizing the consumption of animal-based products, meaning foods produced from animals, such as cheese, ice cream, or meats. An easy way to remember this is to avoid eating anything that came from something with eyes… except potatoes, they are the only plant with “eyes”!  Furthermore, it means you need to avoid eating processed foods.  The body is designed to absorb the nutrients from foods in their natural state rather than products invented over the past few decades.

OK, simple enough, but at this point you might be thinking, “I still want my steak, and butter on my toast.”  I will address in future columns how you can change your eating habits in a positive and lasting way, and in more detail what you need to do, and why you will want to.