Category Archives: Healthy Habits

Healthy Habits: Swap Refined for Whole

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You are probably thinking, I already know this. I hear it all the time! And, you probably have. Ads, commercials, pamphlets, doctors, etc. I’m sure they have all told you. However, did they give any reasons other than “It’s healthier.” I wanted to know exactly why it’s better for you. Why shouldn’t someone continue to only eat white bread, white rice, regular pasta? While I personally like the flavor of whole grains better than that of refined, I know a lot of people who don’t. So, here are the facts. This is why you should make the switch:

Whole grain, just by the name, indicates that no part of the grain is removed. This means that their bran and germ are still intact giving it more fiber, protein, magnesium, selenium, potassium, etc.

Refined grain, you got it, has the bran and germ removed and thus is lacking in the above mentioned nutrients. This makes consuming refined grains a way of depriving your body of essential nutrients.

Here’s a couple of charts that shows the nutrients in just some of the different grains:

*These amounts are based on FDA standard serving sizes, 45g.

http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/whole-grains-an-important-source-of-essential-nutrients

Okay, I think we all understand that there are a lot of nutrients that can be had by consuming whole grains. But why is this important, how do the added nutrients help you on a daily basis? Well, the nutrients provide energy giving you strength to get through your day, the fiber makes you feel full causing you to consume less and helps with your digestive system. If you have problems with your blood sugar, eating whole grains will help with spikes due to your body taking longer to digest the grains. Regular whole grain consumption is also known to lower triglyceride levels which your heart will thank you for, oh, and it helps with your blood pressure too. Another thank you from your heart!

So we have:

  • Energy
  • Essential vitamins and minerals
  • Healthy Digestive System
  • Weight Management
  • Level Blood Sugar
  • Lower Triglycerides
  • Lower Blood Pressure
  • Happier Heart

That is just a non-technical list. However, I think that is enough to show the importance of making the switch.

Just a few examples of where you can easily find whole grains:

  • Brown Rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Popcorn
  • Barley
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Wild Rice
  • 100% Whole Wheat/Grain Pastas, Breads, Crackers

 You may not like your first experience with whole grain pasta or bread, but don’t give up after your first experience. Different brands taste differently. And remember, just because it is brown or says wheat on the package does not mean that the product is “whole,” in fact, if it doesn’t say whole grain or whole wheat, it most likely contains mainly refined grains. Be sure to read labels!

All information complied for this post came from the following resources:

American Diabetes Association – Whole Grain Foods

Mayo Clinic – Whole Grains: Hearty Options for a Healthy Diet (This site cool has interactive pictures! Well, cool if you like “science-y” things like me. . .)

Whole Grains Council – What are the Health Benefits? (If you are interested in more in-depth explanations, this site contains many statistics of national studies proving the benefits.)

Wikipedia – Whole Grain

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Healthy Habits: Learn to Love Flaxseed

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This week’s Healthy Habit impacts my own daily living. I suffer from joint pain on a regular basis and have noticed a significant change in both the frequency and the intensity of the pain once I started incorporating flax seed into my diet. Because of this, I have been interested in learning more about the benefits of flax and the different ways in which it helps our bodies. It is such a simple step that can be taken to increase our overall health. Here are some of the things that I have learned. (I will try not to get too technical!)

Here are just a few of the ways flax seed (especially ground) can benefit your body:

  • Improve digestive health – high in fiber, omega-3’s, and omega-6’s
  • Helps reduce total blood cholesterol – omega-3’s and omega-6’s
  • Promotes weight loss and cardiovascular health – fiber makes you feel full, the flax emulsifies fats before the body absorbs them
  • Boost immune system and relieve inflammation (pain in joints) – because it strengthens the immune system, it seems to suppress auto immune diseases
  • Contains lignans, which are thought to have antioxidant properties that may reduce the activity of cell-damaging free radicals, thus having anti-cancer properties
  • For a longer, more technical list, please visit this page.
Whole Seed or Ground?
– Though both types offer benefits to your body, your body digests the ground seeds easier. This ensures that your body is able to reap every benefit of the seed instead of ridding itself of the seed before taking in all of the nutritional value.
How much should you have a day?
– Though the serving size varies depending on the source of information, most doctors agree that you should try to get 2-3 tablespoons into your diet on a daily basis.

Simple ways to incorporate it into your daily diet:

  • Mix a tablespoon of it into your oatmeal or other hot cereal
  • Mix a tablespoon of it into your yogurt
  • Sprinkle on salads and soups
  • Add a tablespoon to your smoothie
  • Try mixing in a teaspoon to sauces
I hope you have found this brief overview to be helpful. If you have any questions or would like to be pointed in the direction of more articles, please e-mail me! I would be glad to give you more information regarding the flaxseed.

All information for this post was compiled from the following:

Livestrong – The Benefits of Flaxseed

Mayo Clinic – Ground Flaxseed: Better than Whole?

UC Berkeley Wellness Guide – Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil

Webmd – The Benefits of Flaxseed

Do you have any experience with using flaxseed in your diet? What have you discovered?

Healthy Habits: Blotting and Straining Browned Ground Beef

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When searching the internet for tips on simple ways to reduce calories in cooking, I came across an interesting article from the Beef Checkoff Program, which is overseen by the USDA, that I thought I would share with you. The full article can be found here, but I will attempt to summarize it for you. It is really a very simple process that can save you from consuming unwanted (or needed) fat and calories!!

  • After browning your ground beef, drain the fat from the skillet.
  • Take a slotted a spoon, remove the beef from the pan, and place it on paper towels. This will allow the towels to soak up some of the grease. Make sure to blot the top of the beef as well.
  • While the beef is sitting on the paper towels, heat up 4 cups of water in a glass measuring cup in the microwave for 5 to 6 minutes. You want the water very hot but not boiling.
  • Place beef in a mesh strainer or colander and place it on top of a larger, sturdy bowl.
  • Pour the water over the beef and let drain for a few minutes.
  • That’s all! You just saved upwards of 10 grams of fat and 100 calories by taking those few extra minutes during preparation!*

*When using 80/20 ground beef.

The article says that minimal flavor from seasonings will be lost, but I am sure that you can always sprinkle on a little more if necessary before continuing on with your recipe.

There you have it! The article contains charts that let you know just how much fat you are removing according to the different processes and cuts of beef.  Of course, another way to cut calories and fat when cooking with ground beef is to make sure that you are using a leaner beef such as 90%.