Thursday, December 20, 2012

How To Get Kids To Eat Better: The Magic Solution

People try all kinds of crazy things to be healthy -- both for them and their families. But here's a radical solution: eat with the people you love in your life. 

Take your time. Talk. 

Need data? 
Schoolchildren whose families ate dinner together every night ate 1.6 more servings of fruits and vegetables each day compared with those whose families never ate together. 
In addition, parents who ate fruits and vegetables every day and who cut them up for their children had kids who ate more of them (P=0.001 for both), the researchers reported online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Common problems often have common solutions. They're not sexy solutions, so we tend to overlook, dismiss, and just blow them off. We think, "How could the key to 'getting my children to eat better' be this simple"? But my question is, "How could the solution be this simple, and so many families still miss it"?

More data: 
After adjustment for age, sex, ethnicity, and a measure of deprivation, children from families that reported "always" eating a family meal together ate, on average, 125 more grams of fruits and vegetables compared with those from families that "never" ate a meal together. Eating a family meal together "sometimes" was associated with consumption of 95 grams more.
Children whose parents ate fruits and vegetables every day ate 88 grams of fruits or vegetables more than those who parents rarely or never ate the foods. Having a parent who cut up the fruits and vegetables was associated with consumption of 44 grams more each day. 

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving "Myth-conceptions"

Here's another doozie: dark meat is worse for you than white meat. 

Dark meats has more zinc, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, vitamin B6, B12, amino acids, AND iron!!

Take THAT, you dry, flavorless, white meat! 

In turkey specifically, dark meat contains more vitamin A, K, B6 and 12, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, selenium, phosphorus, and zinc. 

The only down side to dark meat is that it is richer than it's dry, flavorless, white meat cousin. But, even at that, the difference is not massive -- you get about 40 more calories in a 1-cup serving of dark meat, as compared to white meat. 40 calories comes to only about 2% of your total estimated daily calorie intake, leaving you 98% more for your pumpkin pie!! 

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving "Myth-conceptions"

Okay, here's whopper number 1:  Turkey makes you tired.

Here's the theory. Turkey has a lot of tryptophan. Tryptophan in your body can be converted to serotonin and then melatonin, both of which play roles in your sleep cycles. 

But serotonin is also involved in positive emotions, but no one is calling turkey the "Happy Food". It helps move your food through your intestines, but no one is worried that turkey is going to cause too-rapid digestion! 

So, don't worry that you shouldn't eat a drum stick and drive, because you'll go into a narcoleptic coma at some random time.  

If you're sleepy after your T-Day meal, it's likely no different than any other lunchtime lull. The nice thing about Thanksgiving is that you can actually doze off take that nap!!

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Thanks. Giving.

I LOVE Thanksgiving. 

This is the time of year when everyone gets together, makes food, hangs out, and reminds each other that you have things to be grateful for. 

As the name implies, this holiday consists of  both Thanks and also Giving. 

Don't blubber about it or cause a messy scene, just let the people you love in your life know that. And honestly? That kindness ... that little window into your heart is enough. This kind of emotional "touching base" is important for your relationships and metaphorical heart, but also, oddly, for your physical heart!!
This is why I love Thanksgiving the best. Because the "giving" that you give is given as a gift that you didn't have to purchase at some all night!!, one time only!!, free-gift-with-purchase!!, sales event at the mall. This giving is something that the stores will never run out of, because they don't carry it there. 

Tomorrow, I want to talk nutrition with you, and also to bust up a couple of the myths that we encounter every year at this time. But for now, I just wanted to encourage a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving for you and your family. 


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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Artichokes And Hand Grenade: October's Healthiest Foods

I was at the checkout line at a grocery store to picked up stuff, including a couple of artichokes for dinner. 

The person at the checkout counter paused, then picked up the artichoke as gingerly as she could. Her eyes widened. 

She glanced up at me as if she heard the tick, tick, ticking of the cleverly disguised hand grenade she was certain I had put in her checkout line. 

"Um," looking back down at this, this, thing, "what IS it?" 

"An artichoke?"

And then, I kid you not, she said, "How do you spell that?" [she had to find it on her little spinny wheel thing to get the code]

"How do you spell it," I repeated? "Like artichoke. Ar.Ti. Choke. You know, like artichoke." 

She had no idea what this thing was, or that this was actually not a weapon of mass destruction. And that's really the problem with this wonderful edible thistle, that we're largely unfamiliar with it. 

So, for those of you who have not had one of these in a while (read, EVER), let me assure you that they will not "go off". It's simple to cook them up. You just take a knife, slice a bit off the top, throw them in a pot of boiling water for about 40 minutes while you're doing other things. 

Then, you'll just make a little dipping sauce: a good solid dollop of mayo or sour cream, add enough white wine vinegar to give it the tartness you like. Then, you'll need just a bit of spicy mustard (or better, horseradish!!), with salt/pepper to taste. Poom!! 

Then you pull the leaves off one at a time, and eat the "meat" that is closest to the base. Basically, you'll just scrape your teeth across the bottom to get at it. You'll see what I mean once you start. By the time you get to the center, you'll pull out all the thistly parts and then cut up that heart. You can eat it, as is, or put it in a salad (see this recipe).  

Reference: Check out this article showing the healthfulness of this wonderful little non-hand grenade. Content of redox-active compounds (ie, antioxidants) in foods consumed in the United States. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jul;84(1):95-135. 2006. 

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Mohammad Ali of Foods: The Healthiest Foods of October (w Dr Oz video)

"The greatest of all time!"
I remember watching Mohammad Ali as a child, and you could not NOT watch him. So fast, as the butterfly floating, bee stinging champ; the greatest of all time. 

I'm going to say that he was the greatest of all time, because I love the guy, but also because he did so many things in the ring so well. 

So, after slobbering on about how awesome Mohammad Ali is, why am I linking him to the lowly cabbage? 

Because the cabbage is the greatest fighter of all time. Not against Sonny Liston and Smokin' Joe Frazier, but against all cancers. 

Listen to this. 
Over 1,000 men at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center ate 28 servings of vegetables a week. They had a 35% lower risk of prostate cancer. Blah blah blah, we might have guessed that. BUT, those who ate just 3 or more servings of cruciferous veggies per week had a 44% lower prostate cancer risk.

The same thing was found in the Netherlands on over 100,000 people. They followed these people for over 6 years, and found that those eating the most vegetables had a 25% lower risk of colorectal cancers. 


However, those eating the most cruciferous vegetables did almost twice as well with a 49% drop in their colorectal cancer risk.

Americans, Netherlanderthals, and also Chinese women in Singapore, who struggle with fetid air pollution levels, returned the identical result. Non-smokers who eat cruciferous vegetables like cabbage had 30% less lung cancer. In smokers, regular cruciferous vegetable consumption reduced lung cancer risk an amazing 69%!

Include The Food 
(you don't have to eat 10 heads of cabbage per day, just have it from time to time)
Cabbage is not just about slaw – although slaw qualifies as a solid Righteous Food. You can also braise with, say, chopped apple and red wine. You can also sauté it with onions as a tasty side dish. 

In this video, I am talking with Dr Oz about cabbage, sour kraut, and the simple things you can do to prepare it in your own home. 

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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Crying Out Loud: Octobers Healthiest Foods (w video)

Dry your eyes, princess, onions are awesome. Say it with me ... "onions are awesome". Thank you!! 

Yes, they make you cry when you cut them, but they make you very happy if you are a diabetic ... helping you control your blood sugar (here you go, science geeks and data heads). 

And you're asking me, "why is this an October food, when I can get these all year round?" Good question. The answer is that onion crops peak in the fall. The stuff you get at other times of the year  will either come shipped in from somewhere else (like plums from Peru, or apples from Australia), or be produced in some other agro-controlled way. 

So now -- and this is just me talking -- is the time to get the onions that will taste the best. You know how you get those winter tomatoes that are whitish in the middle and pithy and mealy and [fill in the blank with some term that means low flavor]? The same thing will happen for any of your veggies. So get the onions now, they'll likely taste better!! 

Why do onions make you cry? 
This is a great video showing 1) why this happens at all, and 2) how to prevent it from happening. 

Include the Food 
(don't drink it by the gallon, just have it once in a while)
Killer recipe for French Onion Soup, from my 2nd book, The French Don't Diet

I love when this happens. French Onion Soup is a perfect fall food because it's hot, it's got these awesome caramelized onions, with a scatter of cheesy bready wonderfulness. 

Make this soup yourself this weekend. It's so easy, and cheap to throw together!! Once you do it, start playing with your food to tweak the savor and flavor to be EXACTLY what you want it to be. 
Click here for the recipe.  

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Monday, October 08, 2012

Fertility Fruit: October's Healthiest Foods (w video)

This fruit won't make you pregnant, but it has been a symbol for fertility, for prosperity, and also eternal life for thousands of years. 

Actually, people started planting this fertility fruit about 5,000 years ago! 

Why is it associated with fertility? 
Maybe its because this fruit is nothing more than a bunch of tart little seeds, that have the potential to produce thousands more pomegranates. 

That's some reproductive potential!! 

But maybe because, for 5,000 years, the people who eat this are less likely to die from things like cancer (here's the data) or heart problems for diabetics (here's the data) as well as for everyone else (here's the data)!!

So What's The Problem?
The problem is that many people don't know about them, don't know how to prepare them, or even how to get the seeds out without becoming a red, juicy mess. 

So here is a great video showing you an easy way to de-seed this beautiful (if seedy) fertility fruit. 

Include the Food! (you don't need to bathe in pomegranate juice, just have a little from time to time)

Check out this super simple supper recipe for a salad with carrots (just run them through a chopper) and pomegranate seed (just throw them in there) and finish it off with your own salad dressing -- a squeeze of lemon and a couple of Tablespoons of olive oil. 

Oh, salt and pepper too. 

It's also awesome because it combines two of  October's healthiest foods. 

It's ALSO awesome because its a salad that you can make for dinner, and then have it for lunch. Even though it's a salad, it keeps really really well.    

Get this recipe for pomegranate/carrot salad here. 

See Also: Food Res Int. 2011 August 1; 44(7): 1856–1865.
Exotic Fruits as Therapeutic Complements for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome

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Sunday, October 07, 2012

Spoiler Alert: Healthiest Foods Of October: Beets are NOT actually gross!

When I was a kid, beets came out of a can. I thought they GREW in there. Weird, right, how beets come pre-sliced and pre-canned. 

I had no idea A) that they were a root veg just like a carrot, or B) that they did not taste like dishwater. 

Now that I'm older (read, ancient) and wise to the ways of the world, I love them ... but NEVER from a can. Do you know why? Because dishwater belongs in the sink, not in my mouth. 

The only real downside to beets is also the massive upside. The incredible beautiful color stains like crazy. AND if you're wearing a white shirt when you're cutting a beet, there is some gravitational pull, some fundamental force of physics that causes the beet juice to splash onto your clothes. Science is so strange sometimes. 

The really good news is that the compounds that give beets that violety, carmine color are called "betalains". They're incredibly powerful as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and for detoxification. By the way, betalains will kill cancer cells ... KILL them. Here's the research on that. 

You know those people who do detox diets, and take detox pills, and a search for a billion other species of weird detox things?  The detoxification slurry of green goop is slimy, for sure, but it's not necessarily bad for you. 

But does it actually detoxify your body? Sure, but it's no more or less that having that ground up spinach and flax and whey and raw egg and whatever in a salad (please cook your eggs, people). Sometimes we totally overthink things.  

In fact, did you know that there's actually a detox foot patch. You see this, and you think, "really"? That the Detox Foot Patch exists MEANS that people purchase this. Really? 

In any case, if you want to detox your system, just "include the food". Have beets, by themselves, or in a salad. 

Include The Food 
(don't eat a ton, just make sure you have some)

This beet salad is great (Click here for the recipe), but, there's something you can do to this salad to make sure it is even better. Sure, sure, try the salad as per the recipe at first, but then give it a twist the next time. Then, when you cook the beets, instead of boiling them, roast them in a foil packet with S&P and some oil/vinegar. They're awesome. 

The betalains in beets will breakdown due to cooking. So, if you don't want to chomp on your beet like a violety, carmine apple (um, wouldn't recommend that, just sayin'), keep your roasting time to around 45 minutes. Some of the betalains will be lost in any case, but this will keep most of them in tact for your detoxification pleasure. 

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Saturday, October 06, 2012

Bugs Bunny and The Healthiest Foods Of October

Carrots are uber healthy, ja? But, vy should vee eat zem? 

First if all, if it's good enough for bugs bunny, it's good enough for me. 

Think about it. Why is bugs always smiling? Because the carrots he eats all the time help him see better. They help keep his buck teeth under control. 

But also, it's because his little rabbit heart is protected by the carotenes and other antioxidants. 

Check out this chart

The vitamin K here is vital to maintain healthy bones. Bugs' rabbit foot is only lucky because it's not all osteoporotic and full of holes! 

That's another reason why he's always saying, "Eh, what's up doc." The magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C keep him OUT of the doctors office!! 

By the way, if you don't want to munch on carrots all the time, you can get the same benefit from drinking carrot juice. 

Read the research showing how drinking carrot juice is actually great for your heart.

Include The Food!!
(don't go overboard, just eat it once in a while)
Another awesome way to get your carrot fix, without walking around with a carrot stick in your hand, is with carrot soup. 

Actually, if you've had my butternut squash soup, you'll recognize this recipe because it's basically done just the same. 

Soften your carrots with onions, add stock with seasonings, puree the veggies and then add them back. 

Easy. And you'll love this! 

Get the recipe for a carrot soup that is dirt simple to make.

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Friday, October 05, 2012

The 7 Healthiest Foods Of October.

Over the next week, I'm going to list the healthiest foods available this month. Each day I'll have something new, with our recipes so you can make audible-groaning, healthy meals for you and your family!! 

The first must-include food is the pumpkin. The pumpkin IS fall, it IS Halloween, and it IS crazy good for you.  

When you're having a really, really hard time sleeping, you can read this research study showing how pumpkin can help reduce your risk of prostate cancer ... or this one, which links its consumption as a part of an overall set of choices that reduce a boat-load of cancers. 

Then, when you regain consciousness from your science-induced slumber, you could just include the Great Pumpkin in your diet. 

It's got massive vitamin A and also vitamin C, both of which tag team to help fight cancer. 

Got high blood pressure? 
Then you need foods high in potassium -- like pumpkin!! It's phytosterols have been shown to boost your immune response (it's getting chilly, winter's coming ... just sayin', perhaps you could use a little immunity boost?). 

Talk about a super food. The humble pumpkin is one of the best best fall foods, and ranks as our #1 Healthiest Choice Of October. 

Include The Food
Remember, you don't have to overindulge to get the awesome health properties of pumpkin ... just include the food.

Don't eat so much that YOU make it bad for you by overdoing it, just ... include the food.   

Pumpkin Pancakes!! Get the recipe.  

Pumpkin Pie!! Get the recipe.  
This is one of the best pumpkin pie recipes of all time, because it is relatively low in sugar, and it eats just as well for breakfast as it does for dessert after dinner!! 

I love when that happens. 

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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Chocolate For Slow Learners?

Slow Learners? Let me explain. When you think of animals that move slowly, what do you think of? The snail, right? 

Well, study just published in The Journal of Experimental Biology  found that the strength and length of snail memories were improved after consumption of the epicatechin flavonoid found in chocolate.

Wait, so, chocolate for slugs? Slugs with memory problems? How could this possibly be relevant? It turns out that it is. 

There is a large body of evidence showing that these healthy flavonoid elements of cocoa (not nasty, sugary, milky, caramel-y, quote, chocolate candies) have awesome cognitive benefits (see this page from PubMed).

So what happened with the slugs?

The snails were trained on a dirt simple task -- to keep their breathing holes closed when tapped. This is apparently a standard learning model, where researchers studying learning/memory can show that slimy snails can actually learn this task, and remember it for a period of time.
Bottom line? These slow learners learned faster, and kept the learning longer when they were exposed to epicatechin, which is found in chocolate, wine, and tea. 

Again, why is this relevant? Because a very simple animal like a snail can reveal whether there is learning at the most basic, most elemental level in a biological system. We have great evidence linking chocolate with improved cognitive performance in humans. The work on lower animals can reveal the more primary mechanisms behind it. 
J. Exp. Biol. 215, 3566-3576. (2012) 
'A flavonol present in cocoa [(–)epicatechin] enhances snail memory'
Authors: Fruson, L., Dalesman, S. and Lukowiak, K.
Cocoa flavanols give snail brains a boost

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Monday, August 20, 2012

A New Bone Building Booster Drug. You've got to see this.

The only hitch with this new wonder drug is that it takes ~17 minutes per day to administer such an incredible miracle. 

But I think that, once you hear what it does, you'll have no hesitations in getting this drug every day, if necessary, to save your thinning bones. 

Here's what it does in two steps:

  1. First of all, your bones will sometimes build more bone tissue. This drug amps up the process so your bones rebuild themselves. 
  2. Next, sometimes your bones can turn off the rebuilding process. This drug keeps that slowdown from happening.  

So, when you take this med, you're building more and breaking down less. How cool is that? 

Like I said, this is an amazing new pharmaceutical that takes about 17 minutes per day ... but don't worry if you have a busy day, because you don't even have to go through the drug administration all at one sitting. You can infuse this drug a little now and a little later, as long as you get at least 17 or more minutes of it in, in a given day. 

It's an over-the-counter drug, too, which is awesome. You know what it's called? Exercise. Other generic version names? Activity, movement, gettin' off the couch ... you may have heard of it. 

Simple activity, to the tune of at least 17 minutes per day INCREASES the "serum-insulin-like growth factor" by a whopping 107%. This molecule is seen whenever your bones rebuild themselves. At least 17 minutes of activity per day DECREASES the "serum sclerostin" by 36.8%. This molecule is seen when your bones are decreasing bone formation.  

WARNING: This drug can be addictive, and side effects include greater energy, toned muscles, and smaller pants. Ask your doctor if smaller pants is right for you. 

STUDY: Exercise Is Good for Women's Bones

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Monday, August 06, 2012

Which Sugars Are Best? Just remember the 3 rules ...

I was on KDKA-TV this morning talking about all the sweeteners out there -- there are tons of them!!

Here is the link for the video: Real and Artificial Sweeteners - YouTube

First we moved through the artificial ones ... the synthetics that are between 100 -- 200 TIMES as sweet as sugar. Then we discuss Stevia, white sugar, brown sugar and molasses.

In the end, natural sugar of course is not bad for you. It's the overconsumption that makes it harmful. However, that rule only applies to the real sugars. The artificial sweeteners have very little to recommend them. Plus, even if you're diabetic, there are far, far better choices for you.

Let me know what you think!!

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