To improve your appetite control during the morning hours, choose a bowl of oatmeal over a ready-to-eat breakfast cereal. In a recent carefully conducted head-to-head study, researchers noted that eating a calorically equivalent bowl of prepared oatmeal resulted in greater fullness and less hunger during the following four hours relative to eating a bowl of breakfast cereal. Oatmeal is especially high in a unique form of soluble fiber called beta-glucan. Beta-glucan forms a sticky, gooey mass in the GI tract that seems to be particularly adept at quieting appetite.
If you want a delectable way to include oatmeal in your morning, check out my quick recipe for Chocolate Banana Oatmeal. It is divine and keeps me satisfied and energized all morning! (Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2013; 32(4))
The majority of the solid structure of our brains is made up of fat – yes we are all true fat heads! And the special type of fat that makes up most of our brain architecture is none other than the superstar omega 3 fat. Omega 3 fat, specifically DHA is the brain’s most prized and highest quality building material so it was no big surprise that a large review of clinical trials (Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, August ’07) looking at omega 3 fats and mood disorders found they had a significant antidepressant effect. Interestingly, Japan has the highest intakes of omega 3 in the world (about 15x higher than US) and their rates of depression are about 1/20th — 1/30th of ours.
So Hippocrates was right when he said “what’s good for the heart is also good for the brain,” because these fats provide 7 separate benefits to your heart and arteries. Be sure to strive to include a serving of omega 3 fats in your diet each day. The best sources are oily fish, walnuts, omega 3 eggs, whole soy foods and flax seed. Fish oil supplements can provide a convenient safety net.
Omega 3 fats appear to help colon cells stay healthy and happy too. A study involving 1455 people with colon cancer compared with 1455 matched individuals without the disease found that the cancer subjects consumed less omega 3 fats. (American Journal of Epidemiology, July ’07). Specifically, study subjects with the highest intake of DHA (found in oily fish and omega 3 eggs) had 41 percent lower odds of colon cancer.
Normally, white potatoes are on my list of forbidden foods because of their high glycemic response (which means they send your glucose levels up high and fast because of their rapid and easy digestibility). If you have a craving for them, here are 4 simple strategies that you can use to turn this high glycemic starch into a much lower glycemic option.
- Choose baby “new” potatoes. The starch structure of new potatoes is different from larger, mature potatoes and has a lower glycemic response.
- Eat the skin too. The fiber in potato skin lowers the potato’s glycemic response by slowing the digestion and absorption of the potato starch. (The skin is also where most of the potato’s antioxidants and nutrients are!)
- Refrigerate the potatoes for 24 hours or longer before eating them. After cooling, the potato’s starch structure changes resulting in slower digestion and thus a lower glycemic response. You can eat them cold (think potato salad) or reheat them.
- Combine the potatoes with some healthy fat (olive oil) and/or lemon juice or vinegar. Fats and acids (like lemon and vinegar) slow down the digestion of starch.
A German potato salad made with new potatoes, including the skin, takes advantage of all 4 of these tips and is a great way to enjoy white potatoes without wrecking your waistline and metabolic health. Here is a delicious recipe for my favorite German potato salad.
As the holiday season approaches, many of us will be facing buffet lines tempting us with a vast assortment of calorie-loaded, not-so-good-for-us choices. A timely and intriguing new study from Cornell University offers a super-simple strategy for successfully navigating bountiful buffets without wrecking your waistline and your health. According to their carefully conducted studies, we are much more likely to select the food items we encounter first in buffet lines and less likely to partake from those placed near the end. Specifically, the researchers found that when a healthy food, in this case fruit, was offered first, 86.4% of the study subjects took it while only 54.8% took the fruit when it was offered last. Likewise, 75.6% took a less healthy choice, in this case cheesy eggs, when offered first while only 28.8% selected them when they were offered last. Additionally, the researchers found that about 65 % of a study subject’s plate was filled with at least one of the initial three food items offered.
Take home message – Enter the buffet line where the healthiest food selections are located, and if you are hosting the buffet, strategically place the healthiest food items first.
(Plos One, November 2013)
One of the most spectacular scientific advancements of the past 2 decades has been the realization that we have enormous personal power and control over whether or not we will develop chronic disease. Thankfully, cancer is no exception to this awesome biological reality. Based on the latest evidence, about 60% of all cancers could be prevented through diet (Click here to buy Dr. Ann’s Just Say Whoa! to Cancer Grocery List) and healthy lifestyles. Here are the four most effective ways to lower your cancer risk:
1. Strictly avoid all forms of tobacco exposure. Tobacco use remains the single greatest cause of preventable cancer.
2. Maintain an optimal weight (BMI <25; waist size <32.5” for females; <36” for males) throughout your life. Assuming you are a non-smoker, this is the single most powerful means to lower your cancer risk. Overweight/obesity is a significant risk factor for many forms of cancer. BMI, weight gain after age 20, and belly size are the relevant aspects here.
- Exercise daily the rest of your life
- Consume the right foods and avoid the wrong foods
- Eat mindfully – become a “defensive” eater
- Control your portions
3. Be physically active/exercise regularly the rest of your life. Regular physical activity reduces cancer risk through several powerful and synergistic mechanisms.
- At least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity daily.
- Optimal – 60 minutes or more of moderate activity daily or 30 minutes of vigorous physical activity daily.
- Always check with your healthcare provider before beginning an exercise program.
4. Get Real! Limit consumption of energy dense, processed foods, especially fast foods, sugary beverages, and junk foods. These foods are those most adept at causing weight gain.
If you want to lose weight, get your insulin level down! Insulin is your body’s fuel storage “fat hormone”. The higher your insulin level, the hungrier you are and the more receptive your fat cells will be to accumulating more fat and the more resistant they will be to giving it up. In fact, weight loss is largely impossible in the face of high insulin levels. Conversely, the lower your insulin level, the less hungry you will be and the more readily your fat cells will release fat to be burned. Unfortunately, the average American’s blood insulin level is twice as high as it was just 30 years ago. For most everyone, lowering insulin is truly the linchpin, the master lever to successful weight loss. There are only four ways to lower your insulin levels. Click here to see how.
Mushrooms are great for you! Super low in calories (20 calories per ½ cup), but high in key nutrients including B vitamins, copper, potassium, and selenium — it’s wise to get into the habit of including them regularly in your diet. A little known fact is that mushrooms are particularly high in antioxidants. According to Penn State food scientist, Jay Dubost, the common mushrooms found on produce shelves at the grocery, like white buttons, criminis, and portabellas, provide more antioxidant power than most vegetables. As an added bonus, mushrooms, especially the Asian varieties, are uniquely high in a class of beneficial polysaccharides that enhance immune function.
Cooked mushrooms maintain their antioxidant capacity and make an excellent substitute for meat because of their savory flavor and meaty texture. I throw mushrooms into most of my soups, stews, spaghetti, and sauces as a quick and simple way to jack up nutritional value and flavor.
Here are 6 great reasons to include edamame, green immature soybeans, in your diet regularly.
- Unlike most commercially grown soybeans, edamame are not genetically modified.
- They are one of the very rare forms of plant-based proteins that contain all of the essential amino acids.
- They are more readily digestible than varieties used for making dried soybeans.
- Their overall nutritional profile is simply stellar and superior to other beans and legumes. A single one-half cup serving provides ten grams of protein, five grams of fiber, loads of key vitamins and minerals – all for just 100 calories.
- They are uniquely high in plant compounds called isoflavones that have been linked to protection from prostate cancer, breast cancer, and heart disease.
- They are delicious, incredibly easy to prepare, and remarkably versatile in food preparation.
Look for frozen shelled edamame in your freezer section. I buy mine from Costco where they carry them in bulk for a great bargain.
It may be cold outside, but winter brings us foods that are smoking hot for health! Be sure to eat these three often.
Broccoli is bonafide nutritional megastar. This non-starchy cold weather veggie is chock full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, yet ridiculously low in calories. Even more remarkable, broccoli is home to over 150 health-promoting phytochemicals, including sulforaphane, now world famous for its anti-cancer prowess. Because I like to eat a lot,
broccoli is my go-to veggie for bulking up my meals and dishes without adding hardly any calories. Strive to include 2 or more servings weekly, and note broccoli is healthiest raw or lightly steamed.
This refreshing fruit is a fabulous source of vitamin C, folate, potassium, and fiber—a sure-fire winner for heart health. In addition, this amazing food contains every known class of natural anticancer compounds making them one of nature’s most perfect “anticancer packages”. For best results, consume a piece of citrus daily. All citrus fruits are great, but oranges are the superstars.
All green vegetables are nutritional treasures, but kale is one of the crown jewels. This leafy green is unequivocally one of the healthiest foods you can eat, providing more nutrition per calorie than any other food. Kale also tops the list of the most potent antioxidant vegetables, and of course has just a smidge of calories. When I feel the urge to “really feel” the nutritional power of food, or when I think I am coming down with something, I eat a huge bowl of kale salad. Here is my favorite quick kale salad recipe.