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Top Five “Fat” Superfoods: Chia seeds

chia seed recipe with zucchini

Photo: http://eatdrinkbetter.com/2011/12/16/chia-seeds-recipe/

The word for “strength” in Mayan is chia and certainly it is a fair description of this seed; as chia is a powerhouse when it comes to the nutrition bundle it delivers.

It is surely a “fat” superfood as most of its calories comes from fat. The healthy fat ratio omega-3 to omega-6 (3:1) helps to bring back fatty acid balance from overeating too many omega-6 fats like vegetable, corn and soy oils.

Chia contains carbohydrates but almost all of its carbs are fiber. It contains protein, some B vitamins, minerals (calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc) and an abundance of antioxidants (chlorogenic and caffeic acids, myricetin, quercetin, kaempferol,  flavonols…).

The Antioxidants in chia help counteract free radical damage to cells in the body.  Antioxidants help promote good health on the cellular level and protect the cell from aging, cancer, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and exercise induced free radical damage, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24811150. If you are interested in learning more about antioxidants and free radicals, there is a simple explanation here, http://greatist.com/health/what-are-antioxidants.

Data on improving actual exercise performance and chia is a little controversial as a study published by David Neiman suggests, “No Positive Influence of Ingesting Chia Seed on Human Running Performance”. However on a health note, a single-blind crossover study using chia and wheat bran were studied. Clinical health labs were monitored in twenty volunteers with diabetes for 12 weeks (authored by V. Vuksan, Dana Whitham, John L Sievenpiper, et al., appearing in Diabetes Care, http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2007/08/08/dc07-1144). Chia seed significantly lowered blood pressure, hemoglobin A1C ( A three month measure of blood sugar.), fibrinogen (A protein that helps stop bleeding by helping blood clots to form.), CRP (C-reactive protein, CRP, produced by the liver it increases in the presence of inflammation in the body), vonWillebrand factor (vWF is a blood glycoprotein involved in a large number of blood clotting diseases). There were no negative effects found in the liver, kidney or blood.

The other nutrients such as fiber, omega 3 and calcium/magnesium/phosphorous…all contribute to supporting the gut, heart, bone health, strengthening the immune system and controlling inflammation.

So ch-ch-ch chia is super food number five and its not just because I can’t get the CH, CH, CH Chia song out of my head!

For about the same amount of energy as that in a 100 calorie snack pack chia may help keep your health in check. No matter what the reason, adding an ounce of chia to your meals or snacks can be simple and convenient.

If you are interested in adding chia seeds to your diet, try topping these foods off with a chia boost: Greek yogurt, smoothies and shakes, salads, cottage cheese, soup, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches or oatmeal.

You can also incorporate chia into a favorite recipe:

Chia seeds can also be purchased in powder form, if you prefer.

Looking for a change in your diet that will blast nutrition and wellness into your food plan, consider these five “fat” superfoods:

  1. CHIA
  2. COCOA
  3. BONE MARROW
  4. COCONUT
  5. AVOCADO
 
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Posted by on July 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Top Five “Fat” Superfoods: Cocoa

The next food on my list earned its spot for three main reasons. It has been found to improve mood, memory and medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

Superfood # 4 is Cocoa!

Cocoa contributes to a calming feeling because of its effect on serotonin but is also contains Phenylethylamine (a body chemical or neurotransmitter) and theobromine (an alkaloid, http://www.phytochemicals.info/phytochemicals/theobromine.php) which can produce a stimulating euphoric effect, and is considered a mood enhancer.

The ability of cocoa to boost memory was tested in a small clinical trial where 90 older individuals consumed 48 mg, 520 mg  994 mg of cocoa flavanols (CF) for 8 weeks.  Cognitive function was assessed at baseline and after 8 wk and it was found to “reduce some measures of age-related cognitive dysfunction, possibly through an improvement in insulin sensitivity”, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25733639.

Metabolic and heart health are also improved with cocoa consumption. Research has shown bacteria in the gut ferments both the antioxidants and the fiber in cocoa to produce anti-inflammatory compounds that improve blood vessel function, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-is-dark-chocolate-good-for-you-thank-your-microbes/, in addition to the heart benefits of lowering blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, raising HDL, improving  type 2 diabetes and insulin sensitivity. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23870648.

Not many realize just how power packed cocoa is yet findings from Cornell University has shown cocoa has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine, and up to three times the antioxidants found in green tea. It also contains magnesium, iron, chromium, vitamin C, zinc and other micronutrients.

Taste is an added bonus making chocolate that is higher in cocoa (85% or higher) and is minimally processed is sinful and healthy making it perfect addition to the list!

Why is the percentage of cocoa important?  Because the higher the percentage of cacao, the lesser amounts of other unhealthy ingredients such as sugar and milk solids. The goal is to get as close to 100% cocoa as possible and avoid Dutch processing (cocoa that is treated with an alkali to neutralize its natural acidity). You will notice with lower amounts of unhealthy ingredients, healthy chocolate contains more cocoa, more fiber and more fat.

Fat absolutely does not detract from the health value of chocolate. The type of fat found in cocoa butter is unlikely to clog arteries.  Most of that fat in cocoa butter contains the same monounsaturated fat as olive oil, oleic acid (known for supporting good heart-healthy) and stearic (a saturated fat)  that has a neutral effect on cholesterol.

There are many brands of chocolate on the market. Selecting one that tastes good and fits the “healthy’ criteria mentioned above. Try these, it’s a good place to start:

  1. >90% Cocoa Lindt
  2. Vivani 85% Cocoa
  3. Endangered Species 88% Cocoa (one serving is 17 g of carbs so only do <1/3 of a bar)

It is important to keep in mind that just because chocolate is dark does not mean it is healthy. Read the labels on any product you purchase. Focus on the ingredients section to know what it is you are exactly eating.

Dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa is the perfect “guiltless” pleasure. So if you love chocolate, eat it! There is absolutely no reason not to indulge.

 

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Top Five “Fat” Superfoods: Bone Marrow

credit:Roasted Bone Marrow with Ox Tail, Parsley Salad and Toasted Brioche Recipes | Food Network Canada

My superfood list is a list that is made so that each listed food is used to help improve nutrient density in its totality. One food alone does not make a nutrient dense diet no matter how rich in nutrients it is. So think of this list as way to constantly rotate a variety of foods into your daily eating regimen to expand on the variety of nutrients you consume. Nutrients should include those that are part of metabolic, enzymatic and other processes not just those that provide caloric density. One “superfood” consumed all the time will not trump a diet that is rich in many “superfoods”.

Consider incorporating each of these super fat foods and others as part of your eating plan to optimize your health on many different levels on the inside and to nourish your skin on the outside. Maintaining well rounded body function for health and to minimize the aging process are the reasons for my list and why I picked the next superfood on my list.

Superfood #3 is Bone Marrow

Bone marrow is a fatty substance, yellow and red in color, found in the core of animal bones. It is composed of fat and other nutrients that support its addition to my super food list: proline (glutamine) and glycine, iron, calcium, phosphorous, vitamin A, type I, II and III collagen as well as additional nutrients that may contribute to helping:

  • Stimulate collagen production to possibly help reduce cellulite and wrinkles
  • Support digestive health and leaky gut repair
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Aid in muscle building
  • Promote wound healing
  • Detox the liver
  • Boost brain function/memory
  • Assist with improved sleep

I was not able to find clinical studies on the specific effects of eating bone marrow and its health benefits but that does not mean benefits do not exist. It just means science and research will need to play “catch-up” with what people are already doing (the Atkins diet is an example of this). I also don’t want to be misunderstood with my thoughts on eating foods like bone marrow and any “miraculous” effects on health.

So it is important to mention that although collagen is found in bone marrow we don’t know that collagen for example will raise collagen levels and minimize wrinkles. The body is a complex system and the mere fact that bone marrow contains collagen and you eat it does not mean it will work to build body collagen to help “erase” wrinkles. The system may be much more complex than that and this is what research will hopefully answer for us in the future.

We are just beginning to understand the benefits of this relatively new “re” found food. I say this because bone broth is a food that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

What I do know is that I use it with my patients and most have an improved sense of well-being and improvements in some of the ailments mentioned above without reports of any negative side effects.

So if you think that bone marrow might help and you do not want to wait until researchers can “catch up” then it might be worth a try.

If you add bone marrow to your diet buy grass-fed, organic, free-range… healthier meats because toxins can be stored in the fat.  Consider trying these recipes, it can’t hurt and it might even help improve your health.

http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/broth-is-beautiful/

http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/bone-marrow/

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/bone-marrow-recipe/#axzz1x1OABrBf

 
 

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Top Five “Fat” Superfoods: Coconut

If you want to build your immune system, lose weight, improve cholesterol and digestive issues try virgin coconut oil or shredded coconut flakes it is one food loaded with healthy saturated fat!

Yes, healthy saturated fat can contribute to wellness in many ways, http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/100713p56.shtml.

But why is saturated fat, like coconut oil, healthy? Composition! Its’ chemical structure is key. Fats come in different lengths. Coconut is composed of 60% medium chain triglycerides (MCT) as opposed to short or long chain triglycerides. This is what makes it so unique and powerful.

Consuming three tablespoons of coconut oil each day will supply you with MCT and lauric acid. Lauric acid is the fatty acid responsible for making a difference in your ability to fend off germs, build and strengthen your immunity against bacteria, fungus and viruses, the gut and even contribute to healthy hair and skin.

Just in case you are interested, MCT is also found in ghee (containing about 25% MCT) and butter (12-15% MCT).

Research supporting the health benefits for coconut oil show its role in protecting liver function (improving glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and blood sugar issues: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2011/142739/), raising good HDL cholesterol and reducing body fat especially belly weight even when compared to olive oil, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S104366180900276X.

So for these reasons coconut oil is added to my Top Five “Fat” Superfood list and should be added to your daily food plan.

As I mentioned last week, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2015/06/22/top-five-fat-superfoods/“Superfood” is a term used to describe foods that are nutrient dense and that may contribute to better health or provide health benefits.  These power foods are natural, not created in a food lab and provide the most nutrient “bang” for the calorie “buck”. In the case of saturated fat, it is the fatty acid in particular that jump starts the positive effects of weight loss and health benefits. Fatty acids are found in foods with fat. So in order to reap the benefits of MCT eat saturated fat.

Eating a variety of foods includes eating a variety different types of fat, no exception. Eating different types of fat daily will help you achieve nutritional balance. Balancing fats are important and saturated fat should NOT be annihilated from your eating regimen, they hold important body functions for hormones and body cell receptors, http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/the-importance-of-saturated-fats-for-biological-functions/.

Saturated fat seems especially important in working with the G-protein receptors that help body signaling functions, are involved in the adrenaline rush and maintaining white blood count.

So lose your fear of saturated fats, they are essential for your good health.

Saturated fats have been given a bad wrap. Most people eat too much (corn and soy oil) omega 6 fats (http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/1408947-something-fishy-in-your-fish-oil/) and not enough omega 3 and healthy saturated fats.

Kill two birds with one stone. Add a healthy fruit and fat daily to your diet, eat coconut. Coconut oil is a better choice to use for high heat cooking, use it as a topping on your favorite food or add it your homemade trail mix. Coconut helps balance the saturated/unsaturated fat ratio while helping to keep your health in balance.

What is next on the Top Five “Fat” Superfoods list? Well stick around and you will see.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Top Five “Fat” Superfoods

“Superfood” is a term used to describe foods that are nutrient dense and that may contribute to better health or provide health benefits.  These power foods are natural, not created in a food lab and provide the most nutrient “bang” for the calorie “buck”. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, co-enzymes, fiber, anti-oxidants or phyto-nutrients.

Typically low fat fruits, vegetables and grains are categorized as superfoods (for example blueberries are considered a superfood because of the health promoting properties they contain: antioxidants, anthocyanins, vitamin C, manganese, and dietary fiber).

My list, contains superfoods that are higher in fat and are not typically considered “super” because of the fat content. Yet, by definition they should not be forgotten on any super food list. These high(er) fat nutrient dense superfoods contribute to optimal health and they should be included in your diet as part of a balanced healthy nutrition plan.

SUPERFOOD #1: Hass Avocado

A fruit also known as the “alligator pear” because of its dark coarse skin, avocado tops the list. Despite its soft creamy texture, half  an avocado contains 6.5g fiber which is more than most other fruits, vegetables or grains. Eighty percent of the calories from avocado comes from fat. So if you take a fat soluble vitamin like vitamin D, an avocado should help with its absorption. This superfruit is dense in other nutrients as well including:

Vitamin A

Vitamin C

Vitamin D

Vitamin E

Vitamin K

Niacin

Vitamin B6

Folate

Pantothenic Acid

Choline

Potassium

Zinc

Copper

Manganese

Selenium

…And there is much much more avocado has to offer as a superfood; it contains phytonutrients like beta-sitosterol (lowers LDL and decreases prostate cancer cell growth, http://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2005/6/report_prostate/Page-01),  antioxidants such as lutein (important in eye and heart health) and oleic acid (an abundant monounsaturated fat component of the avocado) which according to a review in Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry entitled “An overview of the modulatory effects of oleic acid in health and disease,” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23278117, there are multiple health benefits linked to avocado consumption including reducing inflammation, lowering risk for heart disease and wound healing.

Very recently avocado fat is being investigated as an agent that may be effective at destroying the stem cells of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150615142715.htm.

Nutritional benefits have also been linked to anti-aging, helping maintain blood sugar levels, lowering chances of neural tube defects for the baby during pregnancy and improving gut and bowel health.

The broad spectrum of nutrients benefiting different health parameters gives this fat filled fruit its Superfood status. Eating an avocado or veggies with some guacamole  everyday is not just delicious but gives you a wide range of nutrients that can contribute to wellness.

Limiting fat can jeopardize good health decisions and interfere with good choices to eat foods like the avocado just because they contain fat. Health conscious decisions should not be solely based on the narrow scope of macronutrient distribution as carbohydrates, fats and protein consumption only scratches the surface of health as a whole and should be considered only as one piece of an intricate health puzzle.

The countdown continues next week…

 

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5 Top Sizzling Summer Thirst Quenchers

kiwi fruit with warm water cocktail  :P  ( exp...

kiwi fruit with warm water cocktail :P ( explored ) (Photo credit: kakeyzz—-)

Thirsty? During the hot summer months it is important to hydrate and enjoy a tall and tasty drink. Try this calculator to figure out just how much fluid you should drink, http://nutrition.about.com/library/blwatercalculator.htm

Enjoy your fun in the sun with a thirst quenching beverage that supplies electrolytes and nutrients for taste and well-being. My top summer drink picks:

  1. Water will always top my list. Add a slice or two of lemon or lime, cucumber & mint, berries, or any fruit  of your choice to replace electrolytes lost from sweating.  Clear crisp refreshing always and nocalories.
  2. Make your ownvegetable juiceor green drink,  this one looks OH SO GOOD!,http://www.betternutrition.com/green-smoothie-drink/columns/askthenaturopath/1166,  or buy one already made, greens plus http://greensplus.com/index.php. Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants  and fiber play an important role in wellness.
  3. Watermelon smoothie, see this simple “pinktastic” beverage recipe http://low-cholesterol.food.com/recipe/watermelon-smoothie-33787, much less calories than a 100 calorie snack pack with 25 calories and a good dose of vitamin A and potassium and nutrients that promote good bone health, fluoride, calcium, magnesium and even a little choline (see why choline is so important to good health here,https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/eggs-are-not-evil/ ). If you use your good judgement and know that the ingredients pass my inspection then you can use almost any recipe like this.
  4. Rooibos tea(pronounced roy-bos) is caffeine free so it is not dehydrating (maintains fluid and electrolytes) and it does not contain tannins (compounds that decrease iron and amino acid absorption).
  5. Kefir is packed with nutrients and it supports digestion and bone health. It naturally contains good bacteria and everyone should be consuming a good probiotic. One 4 oz. serving contains 75 calories, 4 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbs and 4 grams of protein.

Honorable mentions, because they are processed but much better options than Gatorade or sugar laden drinks, go to:

  1. Coconut water (unsweetened, of course) only 60 calories for 11 oz. and 100% is sugar (coconut is a fruit) and about 700 mg  potassium but if you like it drink 1/2 (about 5-6 oz) after a workout.
  2. V-8, although this is a vegetable juice it is processed so has higher amounts of sodium but it does contain vitamins A, C, iron and calcium.

Eating foods that contain high amounts of sodium, sugar and caffeine will increase your fluid needs  so keep that in mind if you typically gulp down sugary fruit or sports  drinks, soda and even diet soda is filled with sodium.  Most items coming in a package that has to be shelved for a while will contain salt or sugar.

Take on a tall and tasty while serving your body fluid and wellness!

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Cruising Down Memory Lane With The 8th Annual Low Carb Cruise

Image result for cruise

In honor of the 8th Annual Low Carb Cruise 2015, http://www.lowcarbcruiseinfo.com/, hosted by my friend and colleague Jimmy Moore. I thought I would repost an interview we did awhile back and share a great conversation that discusses the health benefits of The Atkins Diet from my perspective as a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator and the book I co-authored, “The Stubborn Fat Fix” (https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/what-is-metabolic-overdrive/https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/insulins-immense-role-in-metabolic-overdrive-mo/, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/hormonal-havoc-harnesses-metabolic-overdrive-part1/https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/hormonal-havoc-harnesses-metabolic-overdrive-part-2/,https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/the-thyroid-tie-in-to-metabolic-overdrive/https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/the-cortisol-connection-to-metabolic-overdrive-mo/). We discuss:

  • how you can identify reasons behind stubborn fat that just refuses to come off
  • why exercise may not be a good idea if you are experiencing metabolic overdrive
  • social and emotional interference with your diet
  • practical and creative solutions to help you stick with your nutrition plan
  • supplement solutions and much much more…

It is with great regret that I have only been able to attend one of the cruises but the memories are like yesterday. I met people who I will be friends with for life!

So here is my interview with Jimmy, http://www.thelivinlowcarbshow.com/shownotes/410/valorie-berkowitz-ep-251/!

I hope you have the opportunity to listen as this interview really hits on many aspects of weight loss and health regardless of diet preference and it may help spark a fire to that will help fix whatever obstacles are getting in the way of getting to your goal(s).

 

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