by Toby Amidor in Food and Nutrition Experts, March 21, 2017
by Amy Reiter in Food News, March 14, 2017
Growing up, I spent my summers in Israel, where dates were part of the daily diet. These days, I’m pleasantly surprised to see that this dried fruit has become mainstream in the States. I spoke with Colleen Sundlie, founder of the Date Lady, to ask for her tips for getting creative with this versatile, nutrient-packed fruit.
This naturally dehydrated fruit goes back over 5,000 years, and is native to the Middle East. These babies require a hot, dry climate, and are grown in the Middle East, Africa, along with California and Arizona. You may be familiar with the Medjool variety, but there are numerous other varieties including Dayri, Halawy, Thoory, and Zahidi which may be found in specialty food markets. Most varieties are about 1-2 inches long and have an oval shape with a single oblong seed inside. The skin is paper thin, while the flesh has a sweet taste.
Dates are green when unripe, and turn yellow, golden brown, black, or deep red when ripe. The sweet fruits are typically picked and ripened off the tree before drying. You can find pitted and un-pitted dates at the market. Read more
by Serena Ball in Food and Nutrition Experts, Food News, February 21, 2017
In times of stress, many of us turn for consolation to sugary, fatty, high-calorie foods. Macaroni and cheese? Meatloaf and mashed potatoes with extra butter? A massive hunk of buttercream-frosted cake? They don’t call them “comfort foods” for nothing.
“I often see unmanaged stress lead to overeating and binging with my clients,” says Kara Lydon, RD, LDN, RYT, author of Nourish Your Namaste e-book and blogger at The Foodie Dietitian. “When we push away our basic needs for self-care — relaxation, spirituality, fun, sleep — we wind up feeling overexerted, depleted and stressed and turn to food as a way to fulfill an unmet need. Overeating because of stress often leads to more stress and anxiety and it becomes a vicious cycle.”
Given that, the results of a recent British study that found a link between long-term stress and obesity may not come as much of a surprise.
The study, conducted by researchers at University College London and published in the journal Obesity, looked at hair samples representing about two months of growth from more than 2,500 men and women age 54 and over participating in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing to determine the levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, present in the hair. The researchers found that those with higher levels of cortisol, which plays a role in metabolism and fat storage, were more likely to be overweight or obese – to have a larger waist circumference, weigh more and have a higher body-mass index. Read more
by Silvana Nardone in Food News, February 18, 2017
Nordic food is hot. It’s healthy too. A recent study in The Journal of Nutrition found that a Nordic diet — rich in foods like whole grain rye, unsweetened yogurt, wild berries, root vegetables, herbs and fatty fish — can lower levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, and even lead to weight loss. While you may not make it to restauranteur Claus Meyer’s new Great Northern Food Hall in New York, the popular Minneapolis’ Fika Café or Broder Söder at the Scandinavian Heritage Foundation in Portland, OR, you can certainly discover these delicious ways to enjoy the new Nordic diet.
Canned or jarred fish
Pickled herring anyone? While not typical lunch fare, a Swedish smorgasbord would be incomplete without it. In the Nordic Diet study, people ate two to three servings weekly of fish. And eating fish more often is as easy as opening a jar of pickled herring from IKEA stores or most supermarket deli sections. Herring are mild tasting fish that are often pickled in a vinegary onion and black pepper brine, and are addictive on dark rye crackers topped with red onions, fresh dill and a bit of sour cream. And don’t forget canned sardines, which are harvested in the frigid waters of the Norwegian fjords; these trendy tins are packed with immunity boosters. Norwegian salmon is also an appealing choice; add it to potatoes and greens in our hearty-and-healthy Salmon Hash.
The old technique of pickling vegetables is new again. This is evidenced by the whopping $14 price tag found on a jar of pickled seasonal veggies – and by their appearance on restaurant charcuterie platters. Participants in the Nordic diet study ate a lot of cukes and cabbage. Both would be perfect in this quick pickle recipe. Read more
by Amy Reiter in Food News, February 16, 2017
You snooze, you win! Turns out eating sleep smart will deliver enough zzz’s to boost your immune system and shrink your stress. “Sleep is one of the first things I ask patients about,” explains Dr. Donielle Wilson, N.D. naturopathic doctor, certified nutrition specialist and author of the upcoming, A Natural Guide to Better Sleep, “because it tells me about their health and how well they’re holding up under stress.”
But a good night’s sleep — generally defined as 7.5 to 9 hours of uninterrupted slumber per night — can be elusive. Sure, caffeine and alcohol are known sleep disrupters, but your daily eating habits could also be sabotaging your shut-eye. Besides perfecting a bedtime routine (see below), here are Wilson’s top 5 ways to fix sleep issues by giving your diet an upgrade:
- Balance your blood sugar level during the day, which affects your blood sugar balance while you sleep. If you eat large meals, infrequent meals and/or high sugar/carb meals (including bananas), especially near bedtime, you’re likely to wake up from blood sugar fluctuations.
- Reduce inflammation in your body, which for many people means avoiding gluten and dairy. Inflammation can travel to the nervous system and cause symptoms from anxiety to insomnia.
- Boost nutrient-dense foods high in sleep-friendly vitamins and minerals, including magnesium (nuts, seeds, fish, dark leafy greens, dark chocolate), B6 (salmon, beef, chicken, turkey, sweet potato, hazelnuts) and melatonin (cherries, pomegranate, cranberries, pineapple, oranges, tomatoes).
- Ditch your sugar-filled, late-night treat for a non-dairy protein powder–fueled smoothie to break those sweet cravings.
- Calm your nervous system with herbal teas like chamomile and lavender. Stress triggers a stress response involving stimulating cortisol and adrenaline, which leads to disrupted sleep patterns.
by Amy Gorin in Food News, December 10, 2016
We all know the stereotypes: Men like red meat and hefty portions. Women like salads and eat modestly, picking delicately at their meals. Men like it spicy. Women like it sweet.
Fries or fruit on the side? Men, we imagine, may be more likely to choose the former, women the latter. Ditto when choosing between, say, wine or beer.
Whether or not there is intrinsic truth in these cultural preconceptions about gender and food, societal reinforcement of them may influence the decisions we make about what we eat, the Washington Post suggests. What’s more, the paper recently posited, given the body of research indicating that eating plant, rather than animal, proteins, is better for your health and longevity, that may not be great news for men.
One key issue may be the way different foods are marketed to men and women, the messages sent out via advertising and packaging, says Kerri-Ann Jennings, a registered dietitian and nutritionist who writes about food and health trends. Read more
by Amy Reiter in Food News, September 23, 2016
Garlic isn’t only a tasty addition to stir-fries, salads and more. It’s also good for us: It may help lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure, and research shows that regular intake may help lower the risk of certain cancers, like endometrial and prostate cancers.
But all potential health benefits aside, garlic has one major drawback: It can cause garlic breath that lasts up to 24 hours! Thankfully, a recent preliminary study in the journal Food Chemistry found a potential way to help diminish this. A study participant first ate garlic, immediately followed by apple (raw, juiced or heated). Study authors then measured the participant’s levels of garlic volatiles (aka garlic breath) using a technique called spectrometry. The test was then repeated with lettuce (raw or heated), mint leaves (raw or juiced) and green tea.
Garlic breath significantly decreased after the participants ate raw apple, raw lettuce and raw mint leaves. Study authors believe this is due to specific components in the foods that help in the deodorizing process. Although the apple juice, mint juice, heated apple and heated lettuce were helpful in reducing bad breath, their impact wasn’t as great as that of the raw produce and herbs — and the green tea didn’t affect breath at all. Read more
by Sally Wadyka in Food News, May 2, 2016
Eating and reading
You want your kids to eat healthy for all sorts of reasons. Here’s a new one: It may make them better readers. A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Jyvaskyla found that students’ reading skills showed greater improvement between first and third grade if they ate a diet composed primarily of vegetables and fruits (especially berries), along with fish, whole grains and unsaturated fats, and ate very few sugary treats and red meats, HealthDay News reports. “The associations of diet quality with reading skills were … independent of many confounding factors, such as socioeconomic status, physical activity, body adiposity [fat] and physical fitness,” study author Eero Haapala said in a study news release. But don’t worry too much if your kid is a picky eater — the study showed only a correlation, not cause and effect.
by Amy Reiter in Food News, April 15, 2016
Ever since the dawn of the low-carb craze, bread has been on the outs. Diners ask for the breadbasket to be removed from their tables at restaurants, sandwiches are shunned, and toast is … well, toast. But new research may help prove that bread has been unfairly demonized, and that the loaf languishing in your kitchen is not the enemy you once thought.
by Amy Reiter in Food News, April 8, 2016
Healthy Eaters and Financial Incentives
Why didn’t anyone do this before? The insurance company John Hancock is now offering its life insurance policyholders financial incentives — lower premiums, grocery-store discounts and cash back deals — for consuming healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. The company’s president, Michael Doughty, told USA Today that the program, the first of its kind, involves a loyalty card policyholders swipe at the supermarket register and is “designed to recognize that nutrition, and particularly nutrition combined with exercise, is really the best recipe for living a long and healthy life.” And he said, “If we can play a role in helping our customers in doing that, it’s going to be good for them and good for us as a company.” Right on.
Arsenic in rice cereal
One of the first foods many parents feed their babies is about to get safer and healthier. The Food and Drug Administration has proposed a cap on the amount of inorganic arsenic (a potentially toxic and carcinogenic substance in some pesticides and insecticides) in infant rice cereals to 100 parts per billion, similar to Europe’s recommended limit. Rice cereal is the chief source of arsenic exposure for babies, the FDA said, noting that its testing determined that many U.S. retail brands are in already compliance with the new recommended guidelines, according to the Associated Press. Although the FDA has not recommended that parents avoid feeding their babies rice cereal altogether, the agency advised not relying on it exclusively and offering infants other iron-fortified baby cereals — such as oatmeal, barley or multigrain ones — as well. “The proposed limit is a prudent and achievable step,” the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition’s Susan Mayne told the AP.