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A Reversal on Carbs

Article from the LA Times:

A reversal on carbs

Fat was once the devil. Now more nutritionists are pointing accusingly at sugar and refined grains.

By Marni Jameson, Special to the Los Angeles Times

December 20, 2010

Most people can count calories. Many have a clue about where fat lurks in their diets. However, fewer give carbohydrates much thought, or know why they should.

But a growing number of top nutritional scientists blame excessive carbohydrates — not fat — for America’s ills. They say cutting carbohydrates is the key to reversing obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

“Fat is not the problem,” says Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. “If Americans could eliminate sugary beverages, potatoes, white bread, pasta, white rice and sugary snacks, we would wipe out almost all the problems we have with weight and diabetes and other metabolic diseases.”

It’s a confusing message. For years we’ve been fed the line that eating fat would make us fat and lead to chronic illnesses. “Dietary fat used to be public enemy No. 1,” says Dr. Edward Saltzman, associate professor of nutrition and medicine at Tufts University. “Now a growing and convincing body of science is pointing the finger at carbs, especially those containing refined flour and sugar.”

Americans, on average, eat 250 to 300 grams of carbs a day, accounting for about 55% of their caloric intake. The most conservative recommendations say they should eat half that amount. Consumption of carbohydrates has increased over the years with the help of a 30-year-old, government-mandated message to cut fat.

And the nation’s levels of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease have risen. “The country’s big low-fat message backfired,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. “The overemphasis on reducing fat caused the consumption of carbohydrates and sugar in our diets to soar. That shift may be linked to the biggest health problems in America today.”

To understand what’s behind the upheaval takes some basic understanding of food and metabolism.

All carbohydrates (a category including sugars) convert to sugar in the blood, and the more refined the carbs are, the quicker the conversion goes. When you eat a glazed doughnut or a serving of mashed potatoes, it turns into blood sugar very quickly. To manage the blood sugar, the pancreas produces insulin, which moves sugar into cells, where it’s stored as fuel in the form of glycogen.

If you have a perfectly healthy metabolism, the system works beautifully, says Dr. Stephen Phinney, a nutritional biochemist and an emeritus professor of UC Davis who has studied carbohydrates for 30 years. “However, over time, as our bodies get tired of processing high loads of carbs, which evolution didn’t prepare us for … how the body responds to insulin can change,” he says.

When cells become more resistant to those insulin instructions, the pancreas needs to make more insulin to push the same amount of glucose into cells. As people become insulin resistant, carbs become a bigger challenge for the body. When the pancreas gets exhausted and can’t produce enough insulin to keep up with the glucose in the blood, diabetes develops.

The first sign of insulin resistance is a condition called metabolic syndrome — a red flag that diabetes, and possibly heart disease, is just around the corner. People are said to have the syndrome when they have three or more of the following: high blood triglycerides (more than 150 mg); high blood pressure (over 135/85); central obesity (a waist circumference in men of more than 40 inches and in women, more than 35 inches); low HDL cholesterol (under 40 in men, under 50 in women); or elevated fasting glucose.

About one-fourth of adults has three or more of these symptoms.

“Put these people on a low-carb diet and they’ll not only lose weight, which always helps these conditions, but their blood levels will improve,” Phinney says. In a 12-week study published in 2008, Phinney and his colleagues put 40 overweight or obese men and women with metabolic syndrome on a 1,500-calorie diet. Half went on a low-fat, high-carb diet. The others went on a low-carb, high-fat diet. The low-fat group consumed 12 grams of saturated fat a day out of a total of 40 grams of fat, while the low-carb group ate 36 grams of saturated fat a day — three times more — out of a total of 100 grams of fat.

Despite all the extra saturated fat the low-carb group was getting, at the end of the 12 weeks, levels of triglycerides (which are risk factors for heart disease) had dropped by 50% in this group. Levels of good HDL cholesterol increased by 15%.

In the low-fat, high-carb group, triglycerides dropped only 20% and there was no change in HDL.

The take-home message from this study and others like it is that — contrary to what many expect — dietary fat intake is not directly related to blood fat. Rather, the amount of carbohydrates in the diet appears to be a potent contributor.

“The good news,” adds Willett, “is that based on what we know, almost everyone can avoid Type 2 diabetes. Avoiding unhealthy carbohydrates is an important part of that solution.” For those who are newly diagnosed, he adds, a low-carb diet can take the load off the pancreas before it gets too damaged and improve the condition — reducing or averting the need for insulin or other diabetes meds.

Americans can also blame high-carb diets for why the population has gotten fatter over the last 30 years, says Phinney, who is co-author of “The New Atkins for a New You” (Simon & Schuster, 2010).

“Carbohydrates are a metabolic bully,” Phinney says. “They cut in front of fat as a fuel source and insist on being burned first. What isn’t burned gets stored as fat, and doesn’t come out of storage as long as carbs are available. And in the average American diet, they always are.”

Here’s how Phinney explains it: When you cut carbs, your body first uses available glycogen as fuel. When that’s gone, the body turns to fat and the pancreas gets a break. Blood sugar stabilizes, insulin levels drop, fat burns. That’s why the diet works for diabetics and for weight loss.

When the body switches to burning fat instead of glycogen, it goes into a process called nutritional ketosis. If a person eats 50 or fewer grams of carbs, his body will go there, Phinney says. (Nutritional ketosis isn’t to be confused with ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition that can occur in diabetics.)

Beyond the fat-burning effects of ketosis, people lose weight on low-carb diets because fat and protein increase satisfaction and reduce appetite. On the flip side, simple carbs cause an insulin surge, which triggers a blood sugar drop, which makes you hungry again.

“At my obesity clinic, my default diet for treating obesity, Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome is a low-carb diet,” says Dr. Eric Westman, director of the Lifestyle Medicine Clinic at Duke University Medical Center, and co-author of the new Atkins book. “If you take carbohydrates away, all these things get better.”

Though the movement to cap carbs is growing, not all nutritional scientists have fully embraced it. Dr. Ronald Krauss, senior scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute and founder and past chair of the American Heart Assn.’s Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism, says that while he fundamentally agrees with those advocating fewer dietary carbs, he doesn’t like to demonize one food group.

That said, he adds, those who eat too many calories tend to overconsume carbohydrates, particularly refined carbohydrates and sugars. “It can be extremely valuable to limit carbohydrate intake and substitute protein and fat. I am glad to see so many people in the medical community getting on board. But in general I don’t recommend extreme dietary measures for promoting health.”

Joanne Slavin, professor of nutrition at the University of Minnesota and a member of the advisory committee for the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, is less inclined to support the movement. The committee, she says, “looked at carbohydrates and health outcomes and did not find a relationship between carbohydrate intake and increased disease risk.”

Most Americans need to reduce calories and increase activity, Slavin adds. Cutting down on carbs as a calorie source is a good strategy, “but making a hit list of carbohydrate-containing foods is shortsighted and doomed to fail, similar to the low-fat rules that started in the 1980s.”

As nutrition scientists try to find the ideal for the future, others look to history and evolution for answers. One way to put our diet in perspective is to imagine the face of a clock with 24 hours on it. Each hour represents 100,000 years that humans have been on the Earth.

On this clock, the advent of agriculture and refined grains would have appeared at about 11:54 p.m. (23 hours and 54 minutes into the day). Before that, humans were hunters and gatherers, eating animals and plants off the land. Agriculture allowed for the mass production of crops such as wheat and corn, and refineries transformed whole grains into refined flour and created processed sugar.

Some, like Phinney, would argue that we haven’t evolved to adapt to a diet of refined foods and mass agriculture — and that maybe we shouldn’t try.

health@latimes.com

 

 

 

 

Cleaning up your carb act: Where to begin

latimes.com

Here is expert advice on how many and what kinds of carbs you should be eating each day.

By Marni Jameson, Special to the Los Angeles Times

December 20, 2010

Most Americans eat between 250 and 300 grams of carbohydrates a day, the equivalent of 1,000 to 1,200 calories. The Institute of Medicine, which sets dietary nutrient requirements, recommends 130 grams a day. Some, such as Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, say achieving that would be a big step in the right direction, but other low-carb advocates believe the number is too inflexible.

“What people can tolerate varies widely based on age, metabolism, activity level, body size and gender,” says Dr. Stephen Phinney, nutritional biochemist and an emeritus professor of UC Davis. For healthy adults the number can be higher, he says, while others will feel and function better if they stay between 50 and 100 grams a day. “I’ve seen some people get in trouble when they eat over 25 grams.”

If you’re lean and active, you can tolerate a higher carb intake than if you’re fat and sedentary, says Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. But genetic predisposition, he adds, will also play a role.

Good carb or bad? How to choose wisely

Food scientists divide carbohydrates into two categories: good and bad. A good carb is one that doesn’t raise your blood sugar quickly. (Some people call these complex carbs.) Examples are whole grains, brown rice and legumes. Bad, or simple, carbs trigger a fast rise in blood sugar. Some examples are white bread, refined pasta, processed cereals, cookies, candy and sugary sodas.

When evaluating carbs, look at both the fiber content — it should be high — and glycemic index, which should be low, says Dr. Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health.

One rule to use when buying bread (the words “whole grain” on a package can often mislead) is the 6 to 1 rule, he says: Look for a ratio of 6 grams of carbs to 1 gram of fiber to determine whether the product is truly whole grain. An example: If the bread has 24 grams of carbs per serving and 4 grams of fiber, the ratio is 6 to 1 — that’s good. If it has 44 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fiber, it’s 22 to 1 — not so good.

The glycemic index ranks food on a scale of 1 to 100 based on a measure of how fast blood sugar rises after a food is consumed. Foods with a glycemic index below 55 are considered low glycemic.

As a general rule, the more processed a food, the higher the glycemic levels and the lower the fiber levels. In addition, when flour gets refined, many minerals and vitamins get lost or depleted along with the fiber.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of carbs that Americans eat are the bad kind. In the typical American diet, 55% of calories come from carbohydrates, according to Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. More specifically, Hu says, the carb breakdown in our daily diet goes like this:

Sugary sodas, sweet beverages and fruit juice: 10% of total calories.

Refined starches, including white bread, cakes, bagels, cookies and muffins: 20% to 25%

Potatoes, white rice, tortillas and refined-grain cereals: 10% to 15%

Healthful sources, including nonstarchy vegetables, whole grains and legumes: 5% to 10%.

‘Net’ is key when counting

Counting carbs is easier than counting calories, if you know where to look. Start by being aware of what foods are naturally high in carbs. Those include anything with flour and sugar, starchy vegetables (corn, peas and potatoes), rice, pasta, cereals and sweets. You can find carb counters online and tables in low-carb diet books.

On packaged foods, look at labels. Then you’ll want to calculate “net carbs,” the number that counts. First find the total grams of carbohydrates per serving, then subtract grams of fiber and sugar alcohols. For example, if one serving of canned beans has 18 grams of carbohydrates and 6 grams of fiber, net carbs equal 12 grams.

Why do this? Fiber is a nondigestible carbohydrate, so it’s not absorbed by the body. Sugar alcohols, found in certain foods labeled “sugar-free” — including gum, candies, cookies and some sodas — are lower in calories, absorbed only slowly and don’t affect blood sugar levels much.

Tips to help cut them from your diet

Many well-known diets, including the Zone diet and the South Beach diet, focus on cutting and counting carbs to varying degrees. The most famous is the Atkins diet, which starts with an induction phase, a very-low-carb diet of fewer than 20 grams daily, and ramps up the carb allotment later in the diet. Other low-carb diets are less strict. The Zone diet, also known as the 40-30-30 diet, is a calorically restricted diet that recommends that 40% of calories come from carbs, 30% from protein and 30% from healthful fats (ones from plants and fish). The South Beach diet more closely resembles the Atkins regimen but does not restrict carbohydrates as much in the early phase.

Whether you’re ready for a whole new way of eating or just want to cut back on carbs, here are some ways to do so:

Substitute sugar-free beverages for sugary soft drinks, sports drinks and juice.

Look for low-carb and sugar-free products in stores. Low-carb tortillas, bread, pasta and ice cream are in many grocery stores.

Instead of a starchy vegetable, such as potatoes, corn or rice, serve two green vegetables and a nonstarchy soup or salad.

Skip the bread basket at restaurants.

Have olives or cheese on high-fiber wafers as an appetizer.

Boost your intake of most green vegetables, nuts and berries.

At lunch, order an entree salad instead of a sandwich. Ask for your burger bunless, served on top of extra lettuce and tomato, with cheese.

Order your burrito naked and your tostada without the tortilla but with guacamole.

Add portions of fish, poultry, cheese, meat and eggs to your diet: These are virtually carb-free. Add peanut butter (the kind without added sugar), which is relatively low in carbs.

Get a low-carb cookbook or search for low-carb recipes online.

What the nutrition experts say

Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health:

“Almost everyone could improve his or her health by cutting back and paying more attention to carbs. Reduce refined carbs in the diet and replace them with lean protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and fats from vegetable sources. Reduce the overall amount of carbs from 55% of calories to below 40%, and make as many of those good carbs as you can.”

Dr. Ronald Krauss, senior scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute and founder and past chair of the American Heart Assn. Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism:

“Avoid white starches, sugars and trans fat; look for whole kernel (not just whole wheat) grain products; load up on vegetables, limit red meats (especially processed); and don’t agonize about saturated fat. Even better, burn up calories by getting plenty of exercise; then you won’t have to worry as much about choosing between fats and carbs.”

Dr. Stephen Phinney, nutritional biochemist and emeritus professor of medicine at UC Davis:

“A person’s carbohydrate intake should match his tolerance. In my case, since I am carbohydrate intolerant, I eat less than 50 grams of net carbs a day from vegetables, berries and fermented dairy, including sour yogurt, cheese and buttermilk. I’d rather eat a diet higher in fat, rich in protein and lower in carbs than take two drugs a day with side effects, which I used to have to do to control my blood pressure.”

Dr. Edward Saltzman, associate professor of nutrition and medicine at Tufts University:

“A very-low-carb diet is likely healthier for the long term, but it’s difficult to consume given the food environment in which we live. I’ve never recommended a very-low-carbohydrate diet, one under 20 grams a day, for my patients, though I have suggested patients stay between 100 to 120 grams. You can eat a lot of vegetables, lean meat and some dairy and have a healthy diet not high in carbs.”

Joanne Slavin, professor of nutrition at the University of Minnesota, member of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee:

“Americans have to eat fewer calories. But I see no value in making a hit list for carbs. There are many healthy eating patterns, and potatoes, pasta, white bread and rice surely fit into many of these.”

Dr. Eric Westman, director of the Lifestyle Medicine Clinic at Duke University Medical Center:

“If we were to design a one-size-fits-all diet, it should probably be a low-carb diet. We should go back to the days of hunter-gatherers. The secret to maintaining a low-carb diet is to increase fat intake, but only natural fats, not man-made fats. I can keep patients on a low-carb diet forever if they can have cream, butter and bacon.”

Dr. Walter Willet, chairman of the department of nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health:

“Eating moderate carbohydrates can be healthy if they’re comprised of high fiber and whole grains. Personally, I avoid refined starches and sugars, and limit my carbohydrates to what I get from vegetables and whole grains. If I only eat healthy carbs, I feel so full, I really can’t consume more than 40% of my calories from carbs per day, so I tend to stay well under that.”

health@latimes.com

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

Jughandle says:  Thanks Darlene for that great article on Carbs, but some may be wondering how to keep up with all those numbers.   If you decide to do this low carb thing and want to stay healthy try

www.Sparkpeople.com  

and use their trackers to count anything you want.  Its free.

 

 

8 Eating Mistakes That Contribute to Weight Gain

This post comes in part from CBS News:

#1 – Scarfing whole entrees when eating out

To please their hungry (and value-conscious) customers, many restaurants go overboard on portion sizes. So just because an entree is sold as something for one person, always consider the possibility that you would be better off splitting it with a friend – or asking for doggy bag.

Pitfall #2: Using serving platters

Serving dishes are dangerous because they encourage you to help yourself to as much as you want – even if it’s more than you should eat. Prevent the temptation of second and third helpings by serving food on individual plates.

Pitfall #3: Being fooled by nutrition labels

Food packages come in all shapes and sizes – and hold all number of servings. It’s easy to be fooled into thinking that the nutrition information on the label is about the whole package – and not just one of many servings. Be sure to read the label carefully to see just how many servings are included.

Pitfall #4: Waiting till the next meal when you’re hungry

When you’re hungry, you’re more likely to overeat if you wait till the next meal. Instead, tide yourself over with a healthy snack – like a piece of fruit or a small salad. As the CDC jokes, “Go head, spoil your dinner.”

Pitfall #5: Keeping tempting food within easy reach

When cookies, chips, ice cream or other treats are within easy reach, it’s hard to grab something a bit healthier. Instead, store especially tempting foods on a high shelf or at the back of the freezer. Move healthful fare to the front at eye level.

The same rule goes for excess groceries – if you buy in bulk, store what you don’t need in a place that’s not so easy to get to – such as a high cabinet or at the back of the pantry.

Pitfall #6: Snacking straight from the package

Snacking straight from the package encourages mindless eating. This is especially dangerous if you’re watching TV or doing some other activity that keeps you from focusing on what’s going into your mouth. Instead of eating from packages, put the amount you plan to eat in a bowl or container. Once you’re done, that’s it. No going back for more.

Pitfall #7: Keeping candy dishes around the house

What harm will a little candy dish do? Plenty – by encouraging you to consume needless calories. If you want something sweet around, replace the candy dish with a fruit bowl.

Fad Diets May Be Killing You!

If you are on a diet and are experiencing any of the following, stop that diet immediately:

Muscle cramps
Dizziness
Confusion
Fainting
Dehydration
Severe constipation or diarrhea
Mood changes
Constant hunger

I would even add strange cravings to that list.

These are all symptoms of potentially serious dietary problems that you should address NOW!

You don’t need to starve yourself to lose weight and be healthy.

Join us and become healthy.  Read the post on “A diet that makes sense” to get started.

Jughandle

List of “Superfoods” we all need

Men’s health has an interesting article on the “25 Ridiculously Healthy Foods” that we need to eat.  Here is the list, but click the link and read it for your self.  This should be easy for everyone, I think there are only 3 things on the list I don’t eat regularly.  – jug

1. eggs -Egg yolks are home to tons of essential but hard-to-get nutrients, including choline, which is linked to lower rates of breast cancer (one yolk supplies 25% of your daily need) and antioxidants that may help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. Though many of us have shunned whole eggs because of their link to heart disease risk, there’s actually substantial evidence that for most of us, eggs are not harmful but healthy.

2. Greek yogurt-Yogurt is a great way to get calcium, and it’s also rich in immune-boosting bacteria. But next time you hit the yogurt aisle, pick up the Greek kind—compared with regular yogurt, it has twice the protein (and 25% of women over 40 don’t get enough). Look for fat-free varieties like Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt (90 calories and 15 g of protein per 5.3-ounce serving).

3. fat-free milk- Yes, it does a body good: Studies show that calcium isn’t just a bone booster but a fat fighter too. Recent research from the University of Tennessee found that obese people who went on a low-calorie, calcium-rich diet lost 70% more weight than those who ate the least. Vitamin D not only allows your body to absorb calcium, it’s also a super nutrient in its own right. Recent research found that adequate D levels can reduce heart disease risk, ward off certain types of cancer, relieve back pain, and even help prevent depression, but most of us don’t get nearly enough of the 1,000+ IU daily that most experts recommend.

4. Salmon- Salmon is a rich source of vitamin D and one of the best sources of omega-3s you can find. These essential fatty acids have a wide range of impressive health benefits—from preventing heart disease to smoothing your skin and aiding weight loss to boosting your mood and minimizing the effects of arthritis. Unfortunately, many Americans aren’t reaping these perks because we’re deficient, which some experts believe may be at the root of many of the big health problems today, like obesity, heart disease, and cancer.

5. Lean beef- Lean beef is one of the best-absorbed sources of iron there is. (Too-little iron can cause anemia.) Adding as little as 1 ounce of beef per day can make a big difference in the body’s ability to absorb iron from other sources, says Mary J. Kretsch, PhD, a researcher at the USDA-ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, CA. Beef also packs plenty of zinc (even minor deficiencies may impair memory) and B vitamins, which help your body turn food into energy.

If you can, splurge on grass-fed. Compared with grain-fed beef, it has twice the concentration of vitamin E, a powerful brain-boosting antioxidant. It’s also high in omega-3 fatty acids. Because this type of beef tends to be lower in overall fat, it can be tough—so marinate it, and use a meat thermometer to avoid overcooking.

6. beans- It’s hard to imagine a more perfect food than beans. One cooked cupful can provide as much as 17 g fiber. They’re also loaded with protein and dozens of key nutrients, including a few most women fall short on—calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Studies tie beans to a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and breast and colon cancers.

The latest dietary guidelines recommend consuming at least 3 cups of beans a week—3 times the measly 1 cup we usually get. Keep your cupboards stocked with all kinds: black, white, kidney, fat-free refried, etc. Use them in salads, stuffed baked potatoes, and veggie chili or pureed for sandwich spreads.

7. nuts- In a nutshell: USDA researchers say that eating 1½ ounces of tree nuts daily can reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Walnuts are rich in omega-3s. Hazelnuts contain arginine, an amino acid that may lower blood pressure. An ounce of almonds has as many heart-healthy polyphenols as a cup of green tea and 1/2 cup of steamed broccoli combined; they may help lower LDL cholesterol as well.

8. edamame and tofu- 

Soy’s days as a cure-all may be over—some claims, such as help for hot flashes, don’t seem to be panning out—but edamame still has an important place on your plate. Foods such as tofu, soy milk, and edamame help fight heart disease when they replace fatty meats and cheeses, slashing saturated fat intake. Soy also contains heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats, a good amount of fiber, and some important vitamins.

Soy’s isoflavones, or plant estrogens, may also help prevent breast cancer. Some researchers believe these bind with estrogen receptors, reducing your exposure to the more powerful effects of your own estrogen, says Prevention advisor Andrew Weil, MD. But stick with whole soy foods rather than processed foods, like patties or chips, made with soy powder. Don’t take soy supplements, which contain high and possibly dangerous amounts of isoflavones.

9. oatmeal- Fiber-rich oats are even healthier than the FDA thought when it first stamped them with a heart disease–reducing seal 10 years ago. According to new research, they can also cut your risk of type 2 diabetes. When Finnish researchers tracked 4,316 men and women over the course of 10 years, they found that people who ate the highest percentage of cereal fiber were 61% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

To reap the benefits, eat 1/2 cup daily—preferably unsweetened. For a versatile breakfast, top with different combinations of fruit, yogurt, and nuts. You can also use oats to coat fish or chicken or add texture to meatballs.

10. flaxseed- Flaxseed is the most potent plant source of omega-3 fats. Studies indicate that adding flaxseed to your diet can reduce the development of heart disease by 46%—it helps keep red blood cells from clumping together and forming clots that can block arteries. It may also reduce breast cancer odds. In one study, women who ate 10 g of flaxseed (about 1 rounded tablespoon) every day for 2 months had a 25% improvement in the ratio of breast cancer–protective to breast cancer–promoting chemicals in their blood.

Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons of flaxseed a day on your cereal, salad, or yogurt. Buy it preground, and keep it refrigerated.

11. olive oil- Olive oil is full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), which lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise “good” HDL cholesterol. It’s rich in antioxidants, which may help reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, like Alzheimer’s.

Look for extra virgin oils for the most antioxidants and flavor. Drizzle small amounts on veggies before roasting; use it to sauté or stir-fry, in dressings and marinades, and to flavor bread at dinner in lieu of a layer of butter or margarine.

12. avocado- These smooth, buttery fruits are a great source of not only MUFAs but other key nutrients as well. One Ohio State University study found that when avocado was added to salads and salsa, it helped increase the absorption of specific carotenoids, plant compounds linked to lower risk of heart disease and macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. “Avocados are packed with heart-protective compounds, such as soluble fiber, vitamin E, folate, and potassium,” says Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of 10 Habits That Mess Up a Woman’s Diet.

13. broccoli- Pick any life-threatening disease—cancer, heart disease, you name it—and eating more broccoli and its cruciferous cousins may help you beat it, Johns Hopkins research suggests. Averaging just four weekly servings of veggies like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower slashed the risk of dying from any disease by 26% among 6,100 people studied for 28 years.

For maximum disease-fighting benefits, whip out your old veggie steamer. It turns out that steaming broccoli lightly releases the maximum amount of sulforaphane.

14. spinach- We’ll spare you the Popeye jokes, but spinach has serious health muscles. For one thing, it contains lots of lutein, the sunshine-yellow pigment found in egg yolks. Aside from guarding against age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness, lutein may prevent heart attacks by keeping artery walls clear of cholesterol.

Spinach is also rich in iron, which helps deliver oxygen to your cells for energy, and folate, a B vitamin that prevents birth defects. Cook frozen spinach leaves (they provide more iron when cooked than raw) and serve as a side dish with dinner a few times a week.

15. tomatoes- Tomatoes are our most common source of lycopene, an antioxidant that may protect against heart disease and breast cancer. The only problem with tomatoes is that we generally eat them in the form of sugar-loaded jarred spaghetti sauce or as a thin slice in a sandwich. For a healthier side dish idea, quarter plum tomatoes and coat with olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Roast in a 400°F oven for 20 minutes, and serve with chicken.

16. sweet potatoes- One of the best ways to get vitamin A—an essential nutrient that protects and maintains eyes, skin, and the linings of our respiratory, urinary, and intestinal tracts—is from foods containing beta-carotene, which your body converts into the vitamin. Beta carotene–rich foods include carrots, squash, kale, and cantaloupe, but sweet potatoes have among the most. A half-cup serving of these sweet spuds delivers only 130 calories but 80% of the DV of vitamin A. Replace tonight’s fries with one medium baked sweet potato (1,096 mcg) and you’re good to go—and then some.

17. garlic- Garlic is a flavor essential and a health superstar in its own right. The onion relative contains more than 70 active phytochemicals, including allicin, which studies show may decrease high blood pressure by as much as 30 points. High consumption of garlic lowered rates of ovarian, colorectal, and other cancers, according to a research review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Allicin also fights infection and bacteria. British researchers gave 146 people either a placebo or a garlic extract for 12 weeks; garlic takers were two-thirds less likely to catch a cold.

The key to healthier garlic: Crush the cloves, and let them stand for up to 30 minutes before heating them, which activates and preserves the heart-protecting compounds, according to a 2007 study from Argentina.

18. red peppers- Citrus fruits get all the credit for vitamin C, but red peppers are actually the best source. Vitamin C may be best known for skin and immunity benefits. Researchers in the United Kingdom looked at vitamin C intake in 4,025 women and found that those who ate more had less wrinkling and dryness. And although getting enough vitamin C won’t prevent you from catching a cold or flu, studies show that it could help you recover faster.

Vitamin C has other important credentials too. Finnish researchers found that men with low levels were 2.4 times likelier to have a stroke, and Australian scientists recently discovered that the antioxidant reduces knee pain by protecting your knees against arthritis.

19. figs- When you think of potassium-rich produce, figs probably don’t come to mind, but you may be surprised to learn that six fresh figs have 891 mg of the blood pressure-lowering mineral, nearly 20% of your daily need—and about double what you’d find in one large banana. In a recent 5-year study from the Netherlands, high-potassium diets were linked with lower rates of death from all causes in healthy adults age 55 and older. Figs are one of the best fruit sources of calcium, with nearly as much per serving (six figs) as 1/2 cup of fat-free milk.

Serve by chopping and adding to yogurt, cottage cheese, oatmeal, or green salads. Or enjoy them as a savory snack: Cut a slit in the side and stuff with 1/2 teaspoon of a low-fat version of a soft cheese such as chèvre or Brie.

20. blueberries- Blueberries may very well be the most potent age-defying food—they’re jam-packed with antioxidants. When researchers at Cornell University tested 25 fruits for these potent compounds, they found that tangy-sweet wild blueberries (which are smaller than their cultivated cousins) packed the most absorbable antioxidants. Research shows a diet rich in blueberries can help with memory loss, prevent urinary tract infections, and relieve eyestrain.

Add up to 1/2 cup of blueberries to your diet a day for maximum health benefits, recommends Ronald Prior, PhD, adjunct professor of food science at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. This alone provides just about double the amount of antioxidants most Americans get in 1 day.

21. asian pears- One large Asian pear has a whopping 10 g of cholesterol-lowering fiber, about 40% of your daily need. People who ate the most fiber had the lowest total and LDL cholesterol levels, according to a recent study of Baltimore adults. The same researchers found that people who ate the most fiber also weighed the least and had the lowest body mass index and waist circumference.

Serve by dicing it into a salad of Boston lettuce, crumbled goat cheese, walnuts, and mandarin oranges. Or make it a dessert: Add peeled and cored pears to a saucepan with 1 cup white wine, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, and enough water to cover the pears. Cover and simmer 40 minutes or until pears are soft.

22. lychee- A French study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that lychee has the second-highest level of heart-healthy polyphenols of all fruits tested—nearly 15% more than the amount found in grapes (cited by many as polyphenol powerhouses). The compounds may also play an important role in the prevention of degenerative diseases such as cancer.

Serve by peeling or breaking the outer covering just below the stem; use a knife to remove the black pit. Add to stir-fries or skewer onto chicken kebabs to add a sweet, grapelike flavor.

23. apples- One of the healthiest fruits you should be eating is one you probably already are: the apple. The Iowa Women’s Health Study, which has been investigating the health habits of 34,000 women for nearly 20 years, named apples as one of only three foods (along with pears and red wine) that are most effective at reducing the risk of death from heart disease among postmenopausal women. Other massive studies have found the fruit to lower risk of lung cancer and type 2 diabetes—and even help women lose weight.

In fact, one of the only things that could make an apple unhealthy is mixing it with sugar, flour, and butter and stuffing it into a mile-high pie. Instead, have one as an afternoon snack with a tablespoon of peanut butter, or add slices to sandwiches or salads.

24. guava- Native to South America, this tropical fruit is an excellent source of skin-healing vitamin C, with 250% of your RDA per serving. One cup of guava has nearly 5 times as much C as a medium orange (377 mg versus 83 mg)—that’s more than 5 times your daily need. It’s also loaded with lycopene (26% more than a tomato), which may help lower your risk of heart disease. And according to research by microbiologists in Bangladesh, guava can even protect against foodborne pathogens such as Listeria and staph.

You can buy guava juice, or simmer chunks in water as you would to make applesauce. Guava also makes a super smoothie: Blend 1/2 banana, 1/2 ripe guava, a handful of strawberries, 1/2 cup soy milk, and a few ice cubes.

25. dark chocolate – Thank you, dark chocolate, for making us feel good—not guilty—about dessert. Dark chocolate is filled with flavonoid antioxidants (more than 3 times the amount in milk chocolate) that keep blood platelets from sticking together and may even unclog your arteries.It may also help with weight loss by keeping you feeling full, according to a study from Denmark. Researchers gave 16 participants 100 g of either dark or milk chocolate and 2 hours later offered them pizza. Those who consumed the dark chocolate ate 15% fewer calories than those who had milk chocolate, and they were less interested in fatty, salty, and sugary foods.

Try a chocolate with 70% or more cocoa. Two tablespoons of dark chocolate chips with fresh berries as a midafternoon snack or after-dinner dessert should give you some of the heart-healthy benefits without busting your calorie budget.

 

Confessions of a Fat Man

I don’t know about you but my scale and the BMI say I’m “morbidly Obese”
Now, that is an ugly term. I don’t like it and I’d like to be just “obese”.

I haven’t always been this way. For most of my life I was an athlete. I lived and breathed it. Then in or around 1995 I was teaching a few 8th grade kids how to triple jump (My specialty in college.) I felt a pop in my left hip and to make a long story short, I’ve been on and off crutches ever since with a diagnosis of “Avascular Necrosis” of the hip. That is bone death and the only remedy is a $50,000 hip replacement. Since then my other hip has suffered the same fate. I only tell you this to explain that my weight gain is more or less food related and not due to lack of exercise. “What?” You say. “If you have a fractured hip you can’t exercise, please explain.” Ok, I believe that exercise is just a faster way to burn calories and an excuse to keep eating large. I love to cook and eat, I can’t stop. I can stop a lot of things cold turkey, but since we have to eat to live, it makes it hard to give up.  So I have to learn to eat and lose weight.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe in exercise, I just can’t do it like I need to.

I’ve tried most of the popular diets in the last 15 years.  I even lost 47 lbs 3 years ago by joining “SparkPeople” and counting my calories.  I hated it.  Since then I blossomed to my all time high last December at 287.  Wow, that is hard to write, but you have to own it to change it.

I’m an old 58 years, having had cancer twice, making me a survivor of sorts.  In January of this year I had a sit down with myself and decided I needed a permanent solution or resign myself to an early demise.  This blog is the result of my conversation with my alter ego, Jughandle, and also a way to give back to others for God allowing me to spend more time here on earth.

“Jughandle,” I said, “What the hell are we going to do about our ugly self?”

“Jerry”, Jughandle replied, “you know you can’t do a diet for more than a month, and you love to cook and eat too much to stop, you might as well go ahead and die…except for the fact that we both love living so much.”

“I’ve got it,” Jughandle snapped, “I’m going to read and study the interaction of the body to the food we eat and find the best way to lose weight while staying healthy and eating delicious meals.”  “Then we both are going to blog about it to share that knowledge with our friends and others who need it.”

Born from a mountain of fat is “Jughandle’s Fat Farm” and the NO Diet, Diet.

You might be asking, “Jug, have you lost any weight yet?”  Yes, I have, around 27 lbs since February.  Not anywhere near my ultimate goal of 87 lbs or 200 body weight, but a start none the less.

My point of all this conversation is that we can lose weight and stay healthy just by eating the proper type of food at the proper time of day in the proper amounts.

Will you join me.  I don’t care if you lose a pound, I just want you to be healthy.  And there IS a revolution in the making!

Jughandle and Jerry out.

Let Jug help you with your Food or Diet problems
Have a diet related Question?

Ask Jughandle

I’m here to help. I need your questions about diet problems and cooking or food related road blocks.

Need a recipe idea for a party? Ask Jug
Need a gift for a “foodie” friend? Ask Jug
Can’t get past that plateau on your diet? Ask Jug how
Can’t decide what diet to do? Ask Jug
Have a “friend” with a health problem? Jug will find the answer

Thanks for following me and I look forward to a healthier life for all of us.