"Healthy" Foods that Really Aren't
You can't seem to drop the extra pounds, your cholesterol is on an upward climb, and your blood pressure is far from regulated — even though you're eating "healthy?" A review of studies by John Hopkins University concluded that by 2015 a full 75 percent of the American population will be overweight. What's even more alarming is that this at a time when we are spending more money on so-called "health foods" than ever before. Perhaps we think we are investing in healthy foods, when in reality our money might be in food that's glowing with a "health halo." Don't be fooled — lets evaluate some of the worst offenders.
Energy Bars: Although most contain some fiber and protein, the excess calories in our mini-meal are not needed. Your better bet in leaving your taste buds cheering would be to choose a Snickers bar, the same range in caloric balance as most energy bars on the market, which seems counterproductive in making a "healthy" choice.
- Bottom Line: If a snack bar is easiest to tide you over, choose one that contains a moderate amount of calories, 2 to 4 grams fiber and at least 5 grams protein (Try a Kashi TLC Chewy Granola Bar)
Granola: The term granola sounds healthy and it can be, when loaded with nutrition-packed ingredients. But some, especially store-bought ones, are full of things that will send your diet spinning off-track. Granola cereals often contain oils (including high in saturated fat coconut oil) and are loaded with sugary sweeteners, nuts and other high-calorie foods. A typical 2/3 cup serving has 220 calories and 17 grams of sugar. What's more, most people pour 2-cup portions — that's a whopping 660 calories and 51 grams sugar!
- Bottom Line: Watch the portions. Have just 1/4 cup, and mix it with another less caloric cereal or sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of granola on yogurt. This way, you'll be able to enjoy the crunch and flavor of granola, while minimizing the amount you eat.
Salads: A typical green salad is low in saturated fats and calories and high in nutritional value. However, too much of the wrong ingredients can make a healthy salad take a turn for the worse. Extras like croutons, bacon bits, cheeses, and fried or processed meats add excessive calories. Not to forget all would be piled underneath a blanket of creamy dressing, an easy 1,300 calories that most of us don't have.
- Bottom Line: Request your salad to be prepared with no dressing (you'll save up to 475 calories) and no croutons (another 70 calories saved). Instead, request these extras on the side or toss your salad with 1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil and unlimited vinegar.
Smoothies: It's true, fruit smoothies can be loaded with nutrition, and seem like a tasty way to help get your recommended fruit servings in, but they also contain plenty of calories — most from added sugar. One 24-ounce Jamba Juice (Banana Berry flavor) contains 480 calories. That's the same amount of calories found in 12 glazed doughnut holes!
- Bottom Line: Save fruit smoothies for occasional indulgences or make less caloric homemade versions (use 1 to 2 servings of fruit, 1/2 cup of skim milk, and 1/2 cup of non-fat, flavored yogurt).
Sandwich Shops: A simple sub sandwich makes a satisfying and reasonably healthy meal. Veer off in the wrong direction, though, and you can easily consume more than 1,000 calories, not including the inevitable chips and soda. Sodium is a big issue too. Many sandwiches supply more than half a day's worth, thanks to ingredients like deli-style ham, salami, and cheese. And, of course, saturated fat: meats and cheeses are major contributors, but so are creamy dressings and sauces.
- Bottom Line: Calories from sauces and dressing can add up quick, so ask for it on the side and use just about a tablespoon, or choose low-calorie dressing or honey mustard for about 50 calories. Load up on extra veggies-they lend moisture, nutrients, and satisfying heft to your sandwich. Don't forget to add fiber by ordering your sandwich on whole or multigrain bread, topped with nuts, seeds, or oats.
Top of Page
Myth vs. Fact
"I limit my 'carbs'.. they make me gain weight."
The idea that carbohydrates cause weight gain is misleading. Weight gain is caused by consuming too many calories whether they are from carbohydrates, protein or fat. A diet high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and low-fat dairy products, and moderate in fat and calories, will result in the greatest chance of weight loss and continued maintenance. Such a diet also assists in feeling satisfaction after meals and snacks and in turn suppresses over-consumption and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for many vital organs, including the brain, central nervous system and kidneys. Restricting an entire food group is not optimal and can cause metabolic disturbances to the body. Remember, the healthiest diet is based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean sources of protein — not rigid lists of "good" and "bad" foods.
Top of Page
Executive Health Scoop
Healthy, energized people are productive people. In today's fast-paced society, urban stresses and unhealthy lifestyles are contributors to a number of preventable diseases. The key word is preventable. Annual physical exams can help to identify potential problems before they affect your health, so don't hesitate to call today to schedule your annual physical. The Executive Health Program offers the convenience of flexible scheduling to find a time that's best for you.
For more information on the Executive Health Program or to schedule an appointment, visit TexasHealth.org/EHP or call 817-250-3933.
Top of Page
Top 5 Calorie Burning Workouts for the Time-Pressed Professional
Staying active is a critical factor in helping you lose weight and keep it off for good — but how do you start with your crazy all over the map schedule? At work by eight in the morning and home close to 12 hours later leaves you with little time to get in the recommended 60 minutes of activity each day, and not to mention you will most likely see an expanding trend in your waistline as well. The key is targeting high intensity monster calorie-burning exercises. Here are my top five calorie burning workouts for the time-pressed professional.
- Step Aerobics: One of the most favorite cardio exercises preferred by women, step aerobics mainly target your legs, hips and glutes, including circuit style, boot camp training and dance-inspired classes. It can burn approximately 400 calories in 30 minutes. Classes that incorporate strength training, along with aerobic exercise, help increase lean muscle mass and increase your metabolic rate.
- High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): A specialized form of interval training, HIIT is the newest and quickest way to burn fat and gain muscle simultaneously. HIIT involves short intervals of maximum intensity exercise separated by longer intervals of low to moderate intensity exercise (think P90X or Insanity). The key to HIIT's success is that it constantly keeps your body guessing and keeps you from hitting a steady state or plateau like with other forms of cardio exercises. Workouts are typically only 20 minutes and burn the same number of calories as an hour of regular exercise. The HIIT approach to cardio exercise is very physically demanding and isn't for everyone. If you have any cardiovascular problems or other health concerns that limit your ability to exercise at very intense levels, or are relatively new to aerobic exercise, HIIT is not for you.
- Swimming: An excellent full-body, low-impact cardio exercise, swimming allows for significant reduction in stress on the hips, knees and the back. People who find traditional calorie-burning activities like running, kickboxing and dancing too difficult can still raise their heart rate, build lean muscle mass, and burn calories. Take a dive and practice your breast stroke. You can burn about 400 calories in 30 minutes.
- Racquetball: The explosive movements side to side, sprinting and lunging that occur during racquetball allow for full body muscle toning and increased flexibility. A 200-pound person can burn more 600 calories in 30 minutes. That's a loss of 33 pounds in a year!
- Spinning or Bicycling: Whether stationary or outdoors, taking a ride on the bike is a great cardio exercise. Spinning is more of a high-intensity workout to music simulating a challenging bike ride, complete with hills, valleys and varying speeds, all dictated by the group instructor. Depending on resistance and speed, this cardio exercise can burn 250 to 600 calories in just 30 minutes.
Before beginning any new physical activity, check with your physician — or better yet, schedule a physical examination at the Executive Health Program!
Top of Page
Staying on Top of Your Mental Game
We know that the right diet may prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, or cancer, but to what extent can certain foods, drinks, and supplements actually boost your brain function? In other words, does the concept of "brain food" hold truth or is it media hype? Although there is no current treatment proven to cure Alzheimer's disease or dementia, the Alzheimer's Association reports that following a "brain-healthy diet" can play a positive role in overall mind health. This diet is comprised as "one that reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes, encourages good blood flow to the brain, and is low in fat and cholesterol."Eating these seven foods can help you stay on top of your mental ball.
- Blackberries: Ever heard "Can't teach an old dog new tricks?" Whether it's a new technology gadget or a foreign language, the older you get the harder it is to learn new things. Enter blackberries! According to a 2009 Tufts University study, these little guys provide potent antioxidants known as polyphenols that decrease inflammation in our 'learning cells' and encourage communication between neurons, improving our ability to soak up new information.
- Coffee: In a recent study of 1,400 coffee drinkers, people between the ages of 40 and 50 who sipped between three to five cups of coffee a day reduced their odds of developing Alzheimer's disease by 65 percent compared to those who downed fewer than two a day. Researchers believe coffee's caffeine and ample antioxidants that are the keys.
- Spinach: A 2006 Neurology study revealed that eating three servings of leafy green, yellow and cruciferous vegetables a day can delay cognitive decline by 40 perecent. Of these three, leafy greens were found to be the most protective against dementia — providing nutrients like folate, vitamin E, and vitamin K. Just 1/2 cup of cooked spinach provides a third of the folate and five times the amount of Vitamin K you need in a day.
- Apples: Here's a new reason to munch on an apple a day: Apples are a leading source of quercetin, an antioxidant plant chemical that provides brain function protection. According to researchers at Cornell University, quercetin defends brain cells from free radical attacks which can damage the outer lining of neurons and can eventually lead to cognitive decline. To get the best benefit of this antioxidant, be sure to eat the apple's skin. You'll not only get a serving of fiber, but that's where you'll find most of their quercetin.
- Chocolate: You've heard the good news that chocolate can promote heart health, but now researchers have discovered it can also keep your mind sharp. A 2009 Journal of Nutrition study found that polyphenols in cocoa increase blood flow to the brain which in turn helps protect against age-related memory loss. Don't go "coo-coo" for cocoa-eating, as little as one-third of an ounce of chocolate a day (the size of about two Hershey's Kisses) is beneficial.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Amyloid B-derived diffusible ligands or ADDLs are Alzheimer's-inducing proteins that are toxic to the brain. In the first stages of the disease, ADDLs attach to brain cells, rendering them incommunicable with one another and eventually leading to memory loss. According to research at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, EVOO may help to protect against ADDLs due to its rich content in oleocanthal, a compound that disables these proteins. Another helpful mind boost: drizzle it over your greens for an increased absorption of fat soluble vitamins found in dark green leafy vegetables, like spinach.
- Salmon: Salmon is a top source of DHA, the predominant Omega-3 fat in your brain, believed to protect against Alzheimer's disease. Not only rich in heart-healthy fats, this swimmer is also nature's number one source of Vitamin D, a nutrient recently shown to ward off cognitive decline. A study published in the July 2010 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine revealed that older people who are Vitamin D deficient are 40 percent more likely to suffer from age-related memory loss.
Top of Page
Healthy Bites Recipe of the Month: Grilled Salmon with Chorizo and Fingerlings
This heart healthy recipe superstar incorporates three of my top mind-boosting foods: salmon, spinach, and extra virgin olive oil.
- Cooking spray
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, divided
- 3/4 pound fingerling potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 ounces Spanish chorizo sausage, diced
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 2 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves
- 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
- 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Prepare grill to medium-high heat. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shallots and garlic to pan; cook 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup chicken broth. Cover, reduce heat, and cook until shallots are tender. Stir in remaining 1 1/4 cups broth, potatoes, and chorizo; bring to a simmer. Simmer 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender; stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add spinach to pan and cover. Remove from heat; stir to combine. Keep warm. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and paprika evenly over fillets. Lightly coat fillets with cooking spray; arrange fillets in a single layer, skin side up, on grill rack. Grill 2 minutes. Rotate fillets a quarter turn on the same side; grill 3 minutes or until well marked. Turn fillets over; grill 5 minutes or until desired degree of doneness.
To Serve: Place 1 fillet in each of 4 shallow bowls; ladle 3/4 cup potato mixture over fish. Drizzle 3/4 teaspoon oil over each serving.
Serves 4; Per serving: 462 calories; 25.5 grams fat (5.5 g sat); 100 mg cholesterol; 17.7 g carbohydrates; 39.3 g protein; 3 g fiber; 653 mg sodium.
Top of Page
Dietitian's Product Pick
Breakfast on the Go: A Product Pick for the early morning drive-thru
Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but it's also the one we have the least time for. But before you go without — or grab an oversized muffin in addition to your high-calorie coffee drink — check out the latest fast food offerings and choose the perfect breakfast when there's just no time.
Starbucks: Protein Plate
When it comes to breakfast on the run, it can be hard to find one with plenty of protein that's not also oozing with saturated fat. Starbucks' Protein Plate is an energizing combo of fruit, peanut butter, a hard cooked egg, and a mini bagel. No room for a greasy sausage patty, buttery biscuit, or processed cheese here! Instead, these allow the perfect balance of protein, complex carbs and healthy fats to help get you through your morning. One serving provides 370 calories, 5 grams of fiber, 17 grams each of protein and fat, and 5 grams of saturated fat.
Subway: Western Egg White and Cheese Muffin Melt
The folks at Subway put the typical breakfast sandwich on a diet. Swapping egg whites for whole eggs and adding fresh vegetables like bell peppers and onions resulted in an egg muffin with only 160 calories, 4 grams of fat, and less than 2 grams of saturated fat. Not to forget the satisfying 15 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber along with as much calcium as a glass of milk. Add in a bag of apple slices for an easy serving of fruit to start your day.
Jamba Juice: 12-ounce Mango Peach Topper
Part smoothie, part yogurt parfait, this meal combines bananas, peaches, mangos, soymilk, and non-fat yogurt with a crunchy organic pumpkin flaxseed granola topping. One 12-ounce serving has only 340 calories and 5 grams of fat and supplies 6 grams of fiber and at least half your daily dose of vitamins A and C. Order yours with an extra Whey Protein Superboost for a total of 19 grams of satiating protein.
McDonald's: Scrambled Eggs and English Muffin
Home of the Egg McMuffin, McDonald's also dishes up a simpler and healthier breakfast. The key is to order each item individually, overlooking the oversized platters and breakfast meats. Try a side of scrambled eggs, an English muffin, fruit preserves, and a large coffee for 365 calories and half the sodium and saturated fat you'd get from the classic McMuffin.
Jack in the Box: Breakfast Jack
If breakfast without the meat doesn't suite your taste buds, this Jack is for you. Jack in the Box has traded the saturated fat in bacon and sausage and added infor lean ham, to lighten up their breakfast sandwich to 284 calories and 11 grams of fat. Choose a small OJ and you'll boast a hefty dose of heart-healthy potassium and more than 100 percent of your day's Vitamin C.
Einstein Bros: Pumpernickel Bagel with Smoked Salmon and Reduced Fat Garlic and Herb Cream Cheese
Made with fluffy whipped reduced-fat cream cheese and a not-too-big bagel, it's a lot lighter than you'd expect., Delivering only 380 calories and 11 grams of fat and rich in Omega-3's, this heart-smart bagel breakfast provides a generous serving of DHA, thanks to the smoked salmon. The fiber-filled pumpernickel and other dark breads can reduce your heart disease risk by 25 percent, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Top of Page
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth
Executive Health Program
1325 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 50
Fort Worth, TX 76104
Amber Massey, RD, LD
Top of Page
Healthy Bites Recipe of the Month — Summer Shrimp Cobb Salad