Archive for January, 2012

As featured in Real Life Nutrition, WebMD

By David Grotto, RD, LDN

One of my fondest memories as a kid was sharing ruby red grapefruits with my big sister for breakfast. She would slice one in half, cut all the segments for me, and sprinkle just a little sugar on top. I would scoop out each segment and then, when they were all gone, tilt my head back and squeeze the remaining juice from the skin into my mouth. It was fantastic…sometimes I ate two halves because they were so tasty! Gosh…that was probably 40 years ago and I’d be lying if I told you that I’ve done that more than five times ever since!

I can’t for the life of me figure out why I abandoned something I enjoyed so much as a kid. Sure, I’ve had grapefruit and grapefruit juice a handful of times since then, but it has never become a regular part of my dietary routine. This is surprising to me, especially since I deemed grapefruit a worthy member of my book 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life. When I was doing a literature review on grapefruit, I discovered that one-half of a medium grapefruit delivered quite an array of nutrients and health benefits:

  • It’s only 60 calories and supplies 100 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C.
  • Pink or red grapefruit contain more than 50 times the amount of carotenoids of white grapefruit.
  • Grapefruit contains more than 150 phytonutrients, mostly flavonoids, which have been found to help the body fight against aging, allergies, infection, cancer, ulcers and heart disease, to name a few challenges.

So why don’t I eat it more routinely?

Back in the mid 1700’s, the grapefruit was referred to as the “forbidden fruit of Barbados.” I don’t really know why it was called that, but I have observed that not a lot of my guy patients eat grapefruit. Maybe they think it’s forbidden to them? I do think it has a lot to do with the image of the grapefruit as being a “dieter’s fruit.” And if you look at how the fruit is marketed today, it’s definitely targeted towards women. Check out this website and you’ll see what I mean. I rest my case.

So why am I writing about grapefruit if it’s such a chick fruit? I’m on a mission. My friend and colleague, Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, reminded me that grapefruit is a perfect fruit for guys, too. I remembered that one of the carotenoids that pink and red grapefruit contain is lycopene, which benefits the heart and those special parts—like the prostate gland—which often comes back to haunt guys later in life if we don’t feed it right. Grapefruit also contains the citrus flavinoid naringenin which was found to help repair damaged DNA in human prostate cancer cells. And speaking of the heart, I also found a study where researchers fed one grapefruit a day to 57 patients who had high cholesterol, triglycerides and went through bypass surgery. After 30 days those who consumed one red grapefruit a day showed a better lowering in total cholesterol, bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides compared to those who didn’t. Check out this video interview I just did with Dawn on why guys should eat grapefruit.

 

Grapefruit Salsa Photo and recipe courtesy of gofloridagrapefruit.com

Here’re some tips on adding grapefruit to your dining routine:

  • When choosing the perfect grapefruit, choose those that are firm and heavy for their size but slightly springy to the touch of light pressure.
  • Taste quality is not affected by skin discoloration, scratches or scales but avoid those with overly rough or wrinkled skin.
  • Also avoid those that appear to have water-soaked areas or have an overly soft spot at the stem.
  • Grapefruit are juicier when served warm rather than cool, but I think they taste better served cold.
  • If you plan to consume grapefruit within one week of purchase, store them at room temperature. Keep them fresh by storing them in the refrigerator crisper for up to 2-3 weeks.
  • Eat fresh by slicing the fruit in half, separating the flesh from the membrane and scooping out each section with a spoon. Not sweet enough? Just a sprinkle of sugar will do the trick.
  • Special curved-blade “grapefruit” knives or serrated grapefruit spoons can be purchased, too.
  • Lastly, guys, don’t care about all that health business unless the food also tastes great. Once again, grapefruit delivers.

Here’s a recipe you might want to bust out on Superbowl Sunday (by the way, next week’s post is all about “super bowls” for the superbowl).

Grapefruit Salsa

Yields: 1-1/2 cups.

Ingredients:

2 TBSP. lime juice

1 TBSP. olive oil

1 tsp. minced jalapeno

1/2 red bell pepper, minced

2 TBSP. minced red onion

1 large Florida grapefruit, peeled, membrane removed, sectioned, chopped

1/4 tsp. ground cardamom

2 TBSP. chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Directions: Toss all together. Serve chilled as side dish to barbecued meat, seafood and nachos.

For women only: Shhhhh. We both agree that YOU are the true caretakers of guys—no surprise here. As you know, sometimes guys just need a little direction and a big push. But I have an added incentive for all you ladies to serve grapefruit to that special guy in your life. Check out this research… Thirty-seven men and women were asked to estimate the age of a series of models in photographs while wearing masks that were infused with the various aromas and then again while wearing a regular surgical mask. When women wore the mask infused with grapefruit, they were closer to the correct age. But when guys inhaled the smell of grapefruit, it made them guess that the models were six years younger than they actually were. Hey, just wanted you to be prepared. Please, no need to thank me…all in a day’s work for the Guyatitian.

Photo courtesy of www.fatbellyexercises.com

As featured in the Real Nutrition section on WebMD

By David Grotto, RD, LDN

As promised, I offer you  part deux of  Houston, I Don’t Think I Have a Problem…yet…

Some of you were kind  enough to share a bit of your own weight management struggles with me last  week, and I really appreciate that. But I couldn’t help but sense that there   are those of you who are still quietly waiting in the wings, hovering between   pre-contemplation and contemplation, trying to figure out if you even have a  problem or not. And if you do realize that you have health problems, many of   you might be figuring out what your problems might be and then pondering what  you can realistically do about them. All of this can be quite a pain and   perhaps you are feeling one of those big “why bother?” moments coming on.   You’ve been down this path before and the odds seem like they are always   stacked against you. You lose a pound only to gain back two. I get it…totally   frustrating. Is it even worth trying anymore? Do we have a hope of ever  getting back to the glory days state of health we once enjoyed?

If you read The Fat Trap by Tara Parker-Pope in the New York Times, you may have come away with the feeling that when it comes to losing weight   for many of us, the only real “losing” that will be happening in your future  will be that of hope…a total downer for sure. But thankfully, in come the  cavalry of science, common sense and hopefulness.

I read a very eloquent   retort to Jessica Parker-Rope’s article from David Katz, MD, MPH featured in  the Huffington Post in which he pointed out that when we ask: “Our bodies: with us or against us?” we are asking the wrong question. I asked the   optimistic yet pragmatic Dr. Katz to weigh in on our ‘health state of the  nation’ and to also expound upon some of the challenges and solutions that he  discussed in his article.

Have we thrown in the proverbial towel? Are we in the right mindset to make serious changes at this  time? What will it take before we act?

Dr. Katz: The one word answer is passion.  When enough of us are passionate about this cause, we will turn the tide. I’m  not sure we’re there yet – but I think we’re getting there.

You spoke of an  “optimal environment that works with our natural traits and tendencies” in  your rebuttal to the Fat Trap featured in the Huffington Post. Describe what  you mean by an “optimal environment.”

Dr. Katz: Up to a point, we might contend that a Stone Age environment is optimal for our native traits. But that point   would be a life span of about 40 years, MAX! One of the problems with invoking our native Paleolithic environment is that Stone Age humans died at 20 on average, and rarely made it past 40. Still, that is the environment to which we are adapted – so it’s a starting point. The true optimal is a   modified Stone Age environment: one in which food is direct from nature,  there’s routine physical exertion, clean air and water – enhanced by  protection from the elements and predators and pathogens. In essence, we need wholesome food close to nature, the conditioning daily exercise native to our animal vitality, adequate sleep, avoidance of toxins, control of stress and loving relationships in our lives. These are our native tonics.

How do we go about achieving this environment?

Dr. Katz: Incrementally – one paving stone,  sandbag, program practice, and policy at a time. We don’t need a Stone Age  environment to get exercise every day – but we need incremental modifications  of the built environment and daily routine to move us in that direction. We don’t need mammoth meat or Stone Age plants to chew on – but we do need to eat more plants and foods closer to nature in general. We have the means at our disposal to do that—we just need to apply them.

Do you feel our present dietary guidelines are appropriate? What would happen if we actually followed them re: rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, longevity, etc.?

Dr. Katz: They are appropriate – although not optimal. Let’s acknowledge that they are devised by government agencies with a need to keep large corporate interests placated. The Dietary Guidelines are openly a blend of science and politics, not pure public health science. But despite their limitations, they are much better than the typical American Diet. So yes, were we to better approximate them, rates of heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, sleep apnea, arthritis and so on would come down substantially. If we got to truly optimal diets, exercised routinely, and avoided tobacco – we could eliminate fully 80% of the entire chronic disease burden.  ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished!

Do you feel that the food industry is doing enough to change the environmental landscape? If not, what needs to change here?

They are not doing nearly enough. What needs to change is that they must take responsibility for creating the prevailing preferences for copious additions of sugar and salt and fat. As is, they tend to throw up their hands and argue they are just trying to keep the customer satisfied. But they had a hand in creating the palate that prevails in the USA—in essence, they cultivated the addictions and now provide the fixes! They should work a whole lot harder to help cure the addictions. They should stop using marketing to distort accepted truths about nutrition (what on earth is “enhanced” water?). And they should embrace measures of nutritional quality developed by objective 3rd parties, not their own hired guns.

What changes would you like to see to promote more physical activity?

Dr. Katz: Programming adapted to every setting and ability level. Programs that fit into every school and work day.  Ways to be active all at once; in small doses; in planes, trains and automobiles. We are not going back to the Stone Age, so we have to engineer solutions that fit into the modern world as it is. Our ‘abe’ for fitness   program is an example of what I mean. So is our school program, ABC for   Fitness.

Is there enough consumer awareness to drive change? Is it out of our hands at this point? Have we reached the point where we can no longer decide for ourselves what’s best for us?

Dr. Katz: Consumer awareness is not enough – but consumer passion is [enough to drive change]. It is not out of our hands. Demand trumps supply and if every loving parent and grandparent in the country came together around causes devoted to protecting the health of children, no special interest group could withstand our collective might. We have the power – but we need common cause. It begins with common understanding – so we professionals have our work cut out for us. We must   cultivate the common will so we come together to pave the way.

I think what Dr. Katz  proposes will take nothing short of a massive collective effort requiring many intricate wheels to turn simultaneously to work. I agree that we do have many of the tools, the power, and the knowhow at our disposal to make real change for the better happen. But I do wonder, as Dr. Katz mentioned, if we have enough passion to pull it off. Your thoughts? Do we have what it takes to turn the boat around?

As featured in January 3rd’s edition of WebMD’s Real Nutrition

By David Grotto, RD, LDN

Do you have a bunch of “don’t eats” in your resolution package this year? I sure hope not — how depressing! Nothing sets you on the course to Failuresville like stating “I won’t ever eat that”. Forget about it. And why would you forego anything unless there was a good sound reason to do so? Besides, “adding in” healthy food is so much more enjoyable and beneficial to your health than “giving up” supposed bad foods, and it’s more likely to be a sustainable behavior that you can live with.

However, are the bad really bad? I picked five “picked on” foods that I thought were worthy of keeping in your diet just in case you were thinking of excluding them this year. I thought I’d set the record straight on what the latest science has to say about them.

 photo courtesy of www.beef.org

1.      Beef. Heart disease continues to be the number one killer of both men and women in this country and controlling cholesterol levels is thought to be the most effective way of reducing the risk of heart disease. Meat is usually the first diet element to get the old “heave-ho” when it comes to cholesterol management. However, a study that appeared this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that including lean beef, such as sirloin, in a heart-healthy diet was as effective for lowering cholesterol as traditional heart-healthy diets.

In this study, two heart-healthy diets, such as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, that contained up to 1 ounce of beef per day and a modified DASH diet containing upwards of 5.4 ounces of beef per day (renamed BOLD for Beef in a Optimal lean Diet) were randomly assigned to participants. All diets were equally effective in reducing LDL cholesterol (about a 10% reduction). “What’s so unique about this study is that though all of the diets provided less than 7% saturated fat, this was the first time that lean beef was included and found to be as effective for lowering LDL cholesterol,” says distinguished professor Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD from Penn State University. “The take home message is that lean beef can be included in a heart healthy diet and, best yet, there are twenty-nine cuts of beef that fall into the ‘lean’ category.” You can find those lean cuts listed at www.beefnutrition.org.

photo courtesy of www.nuthealth.org

2.      Roasted nuts. I’ve always heard that roasting nuts kills off many of their nutrients and health benefits. Many of my raw foodie buds think you have to soak nuts too in order to make them more digestible and to release their inner nutrients. But a recent study conducted by Joseph Vinson, PhD from the University of Scranton found little nutritional difference between raw and roasted nuts. He found that the polyphenol (plant antioxidant) content were virtually the same. Myth busted! But don’t forget, most roasted nuts are salted. If you must eat them salted, try to stay within the recommended amount of 1 ounce a day, which typically provides less than 200 mg of sodium.

3.      Chocolate. Something that tastes so good can’t possibly be good for you, so it’s easy to assign blame to chocolate for a whole host of health woes. However, a review of several short-term studies (meta-analysis) conducted by researchers from Harvard revealed that those participants who regularly consumed flavanol (plant antioxidant) -rich cocoa had significantly improved blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood flow and also reduced insulin resistance. Most health experts suggest about an ounce a day for good health. Remember — it’s the cocoa in chocolate that’s the healthy ingredient NOT the added calories and saturated fat found in confections made with cocoa. Bottom line? Enjoy in chocolate confections in moderation.

 photo courtesy of  wikipedia.org

4.      Whole Eggs. Like beef, eggs have been relegated to the hall of shame for foods associated with heart disease. However, research spanning some 40 years has not made the connection between egg consumption and heart disease. Though eggs are high in cholesterol, what’s different about them compared to other cholesterol-containing foods is that egg yolks contain powerful antioxidants that may help protect LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized and turning into a more harmful form associated with heart disease. Regardless if whether the theory holds water or not, most agree that one whole egg a day, which supplies about 185mg of cholesterol, fits well within the heart-healthy guidelines of 300mg of cholesterol a day. Let me be the first to egg you on!

 photo courtesy of likecool.com

5.      Coffee. Next to alcohol, no other beverage has been blamed more for causing health problems ranging from cancer and heart disease to reflux disease (chronic heartburn) and dehydration. And to be clear, I’m referring to straight up coffee without all of the fixin’s here. Lots of added cream and sugar can change this healthy beverage into liquid candy. Yes, that’s right, I said healthy.

Back in 2005, coffee was found to be the number one source of antioxidants in the American diet, finally establishing that coffee wasn’t just caffeinated fluid anymore. In fact, several studies have correlated coffee drinking with health benefits such as reduced or no increased risk of colon, prostate, breast and endometrial cancers. The research on diabetes has been mixed depending on whether your cup of Joe has caffeine or not. Some research has suggested that coffee drinkers may be at lower risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and senile dementia when compared to those who don’t drink coffee. A recent Australian study was unable to find any correlation between coffee consumption and gastroesophageal reflux disease even though coffee always appears on the top of the list of “no-nos” for chronic heartburn sufferers. Regarding dehydration, up to two cups (16 ounces) of coffee a day was found to be as hydrating as water. After that the diuretic effects of caffeine may kick in for some and increase your need for additional fluids.

Worry not citizen. Including these supposed “bad boys” in your healthy New Years diet seems to fit just fine. Now you’re only problem is to come up with something else to give up in their place. How about giving up “giving up”?

Need to know the low down on the health worthiness of a food? Hit me up in the comment section. I’m ready to take on your dietary demons. Happy New Year!

AMERICAN DIETETIC ASSOCIATION OFFICALLY BECOMES

ACADEMY OF NUTRITION AND DIETETICS

 

New name, same commitment to public’s nutritional health

CHICAGO – The American Dietetic Association, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, has officially changed its name to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The change took effect January 1.

“The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has been in existence since 1917 as the American Dietetic Association, after working to feed the troops healthfully during World War I. Protecting the public’s health is the highest priority of the Academy and our members, and our new name complements our focus: the nutritional well-being of the American public,” said registered dietitian and Academy President Sylvia Escott-Stump.

“The name, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, promotes the strong science background and academic expertise of our members, primarily registered dietitians. Nutrition science underpins wellness, prevention and treatment,” she said.

“An academy is ‘a society of learned persons organized to advance science.’ This term describes our organization and immediately emphasizes the educational strength of our advice and expertise.”

“By adding nutrition to our name, we communicate our capacity for translating nutrition science into healthier lifestyles for everyone. Keeping dietetics supports our history as a food and science-based profession. Thus, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics quickly and accurately communicates our identity – who we are and what we do,” Escott-Stump said.

“Whether planning nutritious meals for children in day-care centers or schools, teaching individuals with diabetes about managing their blood sugar or saving lives with complex nutritional interventions after surgery, registered dietitians are the best qualified providers. The name change communicates that we are the nutrition experts,” she said.

The Academy’s award-winning website remains www.eatright.org. The colorful Eat Right logo will stay a part of the organization’s graphic identity. In addition, the ADA Foundation has become the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation.

“While our name has changed to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, we still have the same mission, the same powerful Eat Right message, and are still bringing the same quality nutrition advice to the table as we have for nearly 100 years,” Escott-Stump said.

“The field of nutrition has changed over this century, and we’re evolving to meet these needs—as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.”