Tag Archives: weight control

Whole Grains for Your Heart? Use the 5 to 1 Fiber Rule

Grain and cereal food selection in heart shaped porcelain bowls over lokta paper background. Green freekeh wheat in large dish with ears.

Ever since your doctor told you to start eating more fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes (beans, split peas, chick peas, and lentils), you switched to eating whole wheat bread. You congratulated yourself on trading in (reluctantly) your soft white “wonder” for a 21-grain brick, but your new kind of loaf may not be as healthy and whole as you might think.

Why You Need More Dietary Fiber

There is accumulating evidence that eating more dietary fiber reduces your risk for:

• Type 2 diabetes
• Cardiovascular disease
• Certain cancers
• Weight gain
• Obesity
• Diverticular disease
• Functional constipation

According to a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, as your fiber intake goes up, your risk of metabolic syndrome goes down resulting in less inflammation and a drop in obesity risk. It was concluded that greater dietary fiber intake is associated with a lower risk of both cardiovascular disease and coronary artery disease. (See ‘”Inflammation / Foods that Heal and Harm“)

It’s no surprise that another study concluded that for every additional 7 grams of fiber consumed, heart disease risk decreased by 9%. Seven grams of fiber really doesn’t equate to that much food. You can get 7 grams through a serving of whole grains plus beans or lentils (e.g., rice and beans), or a few servings of fruits and vegetables.

How Dietary Fiber Benefits Your Heart

The cardiovascular benefits of dietary fiber include:

  • Helps get rid of excess bile (reduces LDL “bad” cholesterol)
  • Reduces cholesterol production
  • Feeds our “good” bacteria
  • Changes our gut hormones
  • Promotes eating low-calorie-density foods
  • Increases satiety
  • Delays gastric emptying

These effects collectively help control your cholesterol, body weight, blood sugar, and blood pressure which all reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease.

Also, per a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, dietary fiber has been shown to reduce inflammation, specifically, C-reactive protein, a sensitive inflammatory marker that can predict chronic disease.

Eat More Whole Plant Foods

Consuming more dietary fiber means eating lots of whole plant foods, such as:

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

Soluble fiber acts like a “cholesterol sponge”. Sources include:

  • Oats
  • Nuts
  • Seeds (especially flaxseeds)
  • Legumes
  • Most fruits

Sources of insoluble fiber, a.k.a. “Nature’s Broom”, help prevent constipation and include:

  • Whole wheat
  • Wheat bran
  • Brown rice
  • Other whole grains
  • Most vegetables

When shopping for “packaged” grain products, such as bread, crackers and ready-to-eat cereals, the first word in the ingredients list should be “whole”. However, the remaining ingredients might look like a bunch of chemicals, so how do you choose?

The “Five to One Fiber Rule”   

A more reliable strategy to identify a healthy whole grain food product is to   Continue reading

Super Moist Pumpkin Bars

pumpkin-muffin-bars4

Pumpkins are the eternal symbol of fall and a healthy food, but they’re often transformed into not-so-healthy desserts. New York magazine declared Pumpkin is the New Bacon in their headline several years ago. Aargh! That’s because the minimal amount of pumpkin used (if any) in some of these processed products is usually wrapped in layers of saturated fat (butter), refined carbs (white flour) and sugar.

However, after much ‘tinkering’ in my kitchen, you can enjoy this nutritional all-star. These pumpkin treats are not only quick and easy to make, they’re extremely moist and light in texture (yes, despite being ‘whole grain’). I’ve skimped on the fat and sugar, but not the flavor. Best of all, my cardiac patients and family gave them a huge thumbs up! 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (117 grams) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cinnamon (I use Vietnamese cinnamon)
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 2 large eggs (omega-3 fortified)
  • 1 1/3 cups (176 grams) light brown sugar
  • 2 cups (488 grams) pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
  • 1/2 cup (113.5 grams) nonfat milk
  • 1/4 cup (56 grams) Earth Balance® (Original) natural buttery spread, melted
  • 1/4 cup (63.8 grams) unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I use Mexican vanilla bean extract)
  • Date sugar (optional)

Directions:   

Continue reading

Discomfort Food: Is Your Marriage Making You Fat?

 

Couple facing relationship difficulties

In a study of 43 couples, researchers at the University of Delaware and Ohio State University College of Medicine showed a connection between marital stress, hunger and food choices. The correlation was observed in healthy weight and overweight subjects, but was not seen in couples who were obese (having a BMI of 30 or higher).

They found that hostile marital arguments caused a surge in ghrelin, one of your hunger hormones. Known as the “appetite increaser”, ghrelin is primarily released in the stomach and signals your brain when it’s time to eat.

The couples agreed to participate for two days (each 9 1/2 hours long). They ate a meal together and tried to resolve one or more conflicts in their marriage. Hormones were tested at four different times of the day — once before a meal and three times after it (at two, four and seven hours after).    Continue reading

10 Ways to Lose Weight Without Sweating

If you’re trying to lose weight, join 69% of American men and women over the age of 20 who are also overweight or obese. Don’t fret. Here are 10 things you can do that’ll shed some pounds AND don’t involve walking on a treadmill, riding a bike, or running around the block.

Of these 10 things, how many do you do now? DO YOU…

☐ Stop eating when distracted by the TV, computer, phone, or a magazine/book?eating at work_dollarphotoclub_51568892_600x469

 

☐ Eat on a smaller plate? Do you eat on a 9″ dish versus an 11-12″ hungry man dinner plate?

Use smaller utensils or chopsticks and take smaller bites of food?

☐ Always sit down to eat?   

Chew slowly and steadily? Do you chew until your food has lost all of its texture or is liquefied?

☐ Finish chewing and swallowing completely before taking another bite of food?     Continue reading

Fit TV | Undersleeping and Overeating


VIDEO: If you’re running on too little sleep, here’s how it can affect your waistline. Karen Owoc, The Health Reporter, hosts this compact segment of men’s health and fitness news in The Men’s Health Minute.

♥ Daily Dose | Stevia and Sugar Substitutes

Question: What’s your take on Stevia as a sugar substitute? I use a flavored coffee creamer (French vanilla or Irish cream) in my coffee and would like to add some kind of sweetener. From John S., San Ramon, CA

Answer: First, the flavored coffee creamers are already sweetened.  The primary ingredients of commercial creamers are oil, sugar and artificial flavor/color. See my post on Creaming Up Your Coffee for healthier alternatives.

SteviaSecond, almost all of my patients with type 2 diabetes are hooked on calorie-free sugar substitutes, struggling with their weight and have cardiovascular disease. Coincidence? Maybe not. Studies on artificial sweeteners show these compounds contribute to weight gain, sugar cravings and obesity. Also, compared to people who avoid diet or regular soft drinks, diet soda drinkers also appear to have elevated risks for:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease 
  • Metabolic syndrome (the name of a cluster of risk factors that occur together and increase your risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes)

But It’s “Natural”…

Stevia leaf

For centuries, stevia was used medicinally as a cardiac stimulant.

Stevia is a plant native to South America, also known as sweetleaf or sugarleaf, and is processed to produce a calorie-free sugar substitute. Because it’s derived from a plant, food companies market stevia as a “natural” sweetener to appeal to dieters, diabetics and health-conscious individuals who presume it must be healthier and safer than those originating in a lab. But unless you are eating stevia in its whole-leaf or crude form (which is NOT FDA-approved due to possible health effects), it isn’t all that “natural”.   Continue reading

Fit TV | Tips to Eat Less

VIDEO: New studies reveal that your eating habits can expand your waistline. Here are some tips to keep from shoveling down food too fast. Karen Owoc, The Health Reporter, hosts this short-form segment of men’s health and fitness news in The Men’s Health Minute.

Raising Healthy Kids

When NYC Mayor Bloomberg proposed the ban on sodas in containers larger than 16 ounces, he said, “We’re not taking away anybody’s right to do things, we’re simply forcing you to understand that you have to make the conscious decision to go from one cup to another cup.” Bloomberg believes his proposal will help in the fight against the obesity crisis, but his ban removes the most important element in the battle with weight control… and that element is CONTROL.

Sodas are nutrient-void beverages, but as the mother of two, I’ve learned that it isn’t wise to “force” decisions upon kids. Decision-making is a learned skill and requires a parent’s belief that their children are smart, capable and independent-minded human beings.

Bloomberg continues, “The idea here is, you tend to eat all the food in the container in front of you,” said Bloomberg. “If it’s a bigger container, you eat more. If somebody put it in a smaller glass or plate or bowl in front of you, you would eat less.” One of the most important life skills children need to learn to become functioning and responsible adults is the ability to evaluate options and make a decision based on their valuation.   Continue reading

The Healthy Plate | The Health Reporter Minute

The USDA has retired its longstanding Food Guide Pyramid and unveiled its new food group symbol. Find out how to apply the model to your lifetime eating plan. Karen Owoc, The Health Reporter, hosts a compact segment of health news in The Health Reporter Minute. Writer/Producer: Karen Owoc. [Segment #0016H

Celebrity Slimming Secrets

Ever wonder how your favorite A-list celebrities maintain their million-dollar bodies? Or snap back into silver screen shape so quickly post-pregnancy? Here are some of Hollywood’s favorite health strategies that really work and a few that you should avoid.

1. Invest in Sweat Equity:  Many celebs like Pilates, yoga and running to get fit, flexible and firm. To lose fat fast though, your choice of physical activity needs to be sustained at a level of intensity that’s appropriate for you. Long leisurely walks around the block or on the beach are great for de-stressing and innervating muscles, but won’t knock off 10 to 20 pounds anytime soon. To boost fat burning, you have to raise your heart rate for at least 20 to 30 minutes daily where you’re exercising at your ‘training heart rate’.  To determine this level of intensity, have a certified fitness trainer calculate your rate for you.   Continue reading