Archive for September, 2010

Understanding Fats: A Brief Explanation of the Four Types of Fats


Those people looking to understand what their dietician is talking about when they compare good fats to bad fats will not find these terms on food labels. Instead you will see words like polyunsaturated and Trans fats.

This article will give you a brief explanation of the four types of fats (saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and Trans fats) and how they affect your body.

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are the fats that stay solid at room temperature, such as lard, coconut oil and cow butter. Saturated fats are what dieticians consider “bad fats” because they raise your bad cholesterol level, thereby raising your total cholesterol level.

According to Kristensguide.com saturated fats are often found in animal products such as animal flesh, dairy products and eggs and some vegetable products like coconuts and palm oil. People whose diet consists of many foods high in saturated fats typically are at a higher risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats have a lower melting temperature than saturated fats, which means that they do not stay solid at room temperature. These types of fats can be found in: canola oil, peanut oil, olive oil, nuts and avocados.

Monounsaturated fats are what dieticians consider the “good fats” that lower bad cholesterol without lowering your levels of good cholesterol. In addition, monounsaturated fats help to prevent against cardiovascular disease.

Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fats, otherwise known as essential fatty acids, are fats that can stay liquid even at lower temperatures. Polyunsaturated fats are found in safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybeans, fish, and fish oil.

Dieticians consider polyunsaturated fats the “good fats” as they lower cholesterol and they help prevent cardiovascular disease by lowering the amount of fat in the blood.

Trans Fats

Trans fats, often called “hydrogenated” are man-made fats that are created during the hydrogenation process. They are usually monosaturated or polyunsaturated fats that have been processed to make them solid at room temperature. These types of fats are unnatural and toxic to your body. Trans fats are abundant in packaged and processed foods. Some of the foods that Trans fats are found in include vegetable shortening, margarine, and some dairy products.

Dieticians consider Trans fats the “bad fats” as they can cause cancer, diabetes, obesity, birth defects, low birth weight babies, and sterility.

How Fats Affect You

Fats are essential to your overall health. Fats provide energy and certain types of vitamins and minerals can only be processed by your body when fats are present. Trying to eliminate fats from your diet can lead to problems like vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

While you cannot eliminate fats completely from your diet, you should be conscious to consume fats in moderation.

Most dieticians will recommend that no more than 10 percent of your daily calories come from saturated fats, with up to 10 percent coming from polyunsaturated fats and up to 15 percent coming from monounsaturated fats. No amount of Trans fats are safe or are recommended on a daily basis.

The best way to keep an eye on your daily fat intake is to be cautious of what you eat and to be a good label reader. This will help you to keep your dietary fats at a healthy level.

Fall Squash: Don’t Miss Out on These Fantastic Fall Fruits


Now that summer is coming to a close, it’s time to enjoy one of the most popular fruits that fall has to offer: squash. While they are commonly thought to be vegetables, botanically speaking squash are actually considered a fruit due to the fact that they have their seeds on the inside.

According to everynutrient.com, the winter squash group includes pumpkin, acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash. Winter squash, like other richly colored vegetables, provide excellent sources of carotenes. The richer the color, the richer the concentration. In addition they are also a good source of vitamins B and C, folic acid, fiber, vitamin B6 and potassium. Studies even show that winter squash exert a protective effect against many cancers.

Summer squashes which include yellow squash and zucchini, have a higher water content, therefore are not as nutrient dense as the winter varieties. But they still provide nutritional benefits including low calorie count, vitamin C, potassium and carotenes.

When it comes to picking out the best squash at the grocery store, thenibble.com says that summer squash are thin-skinned and bruise easily, so look for firm, blemish-free ones with taut skin. The smaller ones are sweeter, tenderer and tend to last in the fridge for about a week before they start to wrinkle.

Winter squash have hard, thick rinds and often may require a hammer to cut one in half. Their thick skin makes them last longer. You can often keep winter squash fresh in cool, dark places for one to three months.

Here are a few storage tips for squash:

• Avoid storing squash near apples, avocados or passion fruit, all of which are are natural ripening agents that release ethylene gas. While they are great to throw into a paper bag to aid the ripening process of other fruits like pears, bananas and tomatoes (and to quicken plant flowering), they only discolor and decay zucchini and other dark green squash.

• When storing winter squash with woody stems, leave a 4-inch (or longer) stem on the fruit. Fleshy or softer stems, such as those found on banana and hubbard squash, can be cut to one 1 to 2 inches. This helps to retain moisture.

The squash is also very versatile when it comes to using them to cook. While some require cooking others, like zucchini can be prepared in every conceivable way: raw, sautéed, grilled, steamed, boiled, broiled, baked, fried, microwaved or freeze-dried. They can be easily puréed for soups, cakes, pies and quick breads; it also can be spiced and added to rice pilafs, cubed and grilled on skewers, added to stews and made into famous dishes like ratatouille and pumpkin pie. Served alone or as a side dish, the diverse flavors of squash lend itself to any occasion.

Giving Your Child the Essential Vitamins They Need


When given the chance to choose their own meals, many children would opt for foods such as mac & cheese and chicken nuggets, food that don’t necessarily make a complete meal with all of the vitamins and nutrients that they need. That’s why as parents we need to make sure that they are getting all of these important vitamins when choosing their daily meals.

According to KeepKidsHealthy.com, it’s important to check with your pediatrician to see if they recommend your child take an age appropriate multivitamin. An estimated 25 to 50% of children in the United States take a multivitamin, although this is generally not necessary for most children with an average diet. It is usually better to try and reach daily requirements by providing a well-balanced diet. Consuming a diet with the minimum number of servings suggested by the Food Guide Pyramid will provide most children with the recommended daily allowances of most vitamins and minerals. You can check out the Food Guide Pyramid for Kids at Mypyramid.gov.

Also try to keep these tips in mind when label reading to make sure that they are getting all that they need from their food:

• Calcium: Getting enough calcium is important to everyone, especially children. That’s why children require at least 800 mg of calcium for children ages 4 to 8, and at least 1,300 mg of calcium for children 9 and older.

• Iron: Many multivitamins do not contain iron, so be sure to supplement your child’s meals with iron-rich foods to be sure they get the recommended 10 mg of iron a day.

• Folic Acid: Important for so many reasons, including the production of red blood cells and healthy skin, hair and gums. A typical child’s dose of folic acid is 75 to 150 mcg daily.

• Vitamin C: Especially during cold and flu season, be sure to increase your child’s daily intake of Vitamin C to at least 1 gram per day.

• Vitamin D: Children’s growing bones require plenty of Vitamin D; so many pediatricians recommend that children take a supplement with 800 to 1,000 IU of Vitamin D daily.

• Vitamin A: Vitamin A is also important for a growing child’s body, but too much Vitamin A can also be toxic, therefore many pediatricians suggest increasing your child’s beta carotene intake, which is converted into Vitamin A in the body.

While these are just some of the main vitamins that your school-aged child needs on a daily basis, be sure to check with your own pediatrician to see what vitamins and minerals they suggest specifically for your child.

Make sure that your child is eating balanced meals with the proper doses of vitamins and minerals and your child will be well on their way to a healthy lifestyle.

Prepare Yourself for Cold and Flu Season: Do’s and Don’ts


Now that the kids are back in school and the weather is starting to change, it’s time to start worrying about cold and flu season. According to MSNBC, while the flu can resemble a cold, the flu has more severe symptoms including fever, achy joints, sore throat, chills, congestion, headache and hacking cough. In addition, children sometimes come down with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea when they catch the flu.

Adults can pass the virus to others a day before they feel sick and up to 7 days after symptoms appear, according to experts. So it is possible to give someone the flu even before you know you’ve got it yourself. Therefore it’s important to take steps to protect you or your family from getting it in the first place. Here’s some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind:

Do Use Hand Sanitizer- Carry a pocket-size hand sanitizer with you at all times and use it generously whenever you are in public places. Germs are everywhere and on everything and by using hand sanitizer you are protecting yourself from bringing home these flu viruses.

Do Wash Your Hands Frequently- It may seem like the simplest thing to do, but be sure that you are washing your hands frequently with warm water and soap, and for at least 15 to 20 seconds. Teachers are now telling students to sing the ABC’s or Happy Birthday to themselves while they are washing their hands to be sure you are washing for a full 15 to 20 seconds.

Do Sneeze Into the Crook of Your Elbow- By sneezing into your elbow, you are avoiding transmitting flu viruses to your hands and will keep you from passing the virus to others. It may seem socially awkward at first, but soon you will see more and more people doing this when they sneeze.

Do Fight Back with Food-
Research shows that adding certain foods to an already healthful diet can increase your ability to fend off colds and flu. Try yogurt, garlic, black tea, mushrooms, and fatty fish.

Don’t Shake Hands– To keep from transmitting germs, avoid shaking hands with people when you greet them. Try a head nod, waving or smiling instead to greet someone. If you can’t avoid shaking someone’s hand, then be sure to use your hand sanitizer following the hand shake.

Don’t Use Someone Else’s Phone or Computer Mouse– Phones and computers harbor some pretty heinous germs for hours. Avoid sharing someone else’s phone or computer mouse if at all possible. If you do have to use someone else’s phone or computer wipe it down with an alcohol swab prior to using it.

Don’t Change a Diaper Without Washing Your Hands Immediately Afterwards-
This should be a given at all times and not just during the flu season, but stool harbors gastrointestinal bugs that cause diarrhea, vomiting and upset stomach. It may also contain H1N1, so anyone changing a diaper needs to be sure that they are washing their hands (for 15 to 20 seconds) following the changing.

Having Low Cholesterol Can Ward Off Prostate Cancer


According to a recent report put out by MSNBC.com new studies show that many men may be able to lower their risk of acquiring the most aggressive form of prostate cancer if they keep their cholesterol levels in a healthy range.

The report states that men whose cholesterol was under 200 had less than half the risk of developing high-grade prostate tumors compared to men with high cholesterol. This information comes from about 6,000 men who participated in a federal cancer prevention study.

While having high cholesterol is typically a consequence of aging, young people are not in the clear either. Luckily there are preventive measures that anyone can do to help lower their cholesterol levels.

In fact, with simple lifestyle modifications — and, if necessary, drug therapy — people often see significant reductions in cholesterol within six weeks.

There are four basic ways to help maintain a healthy cholesterol level:

1. Eat a Healthy Diet- One of the first things to do when trying to lower cholesterol is to take in less saturated fat and eat more smart fats. Try substituting canola oil or olive oil for vegetable oil, butter, margarine and substitute meat for fish. Fruits and vegetables, including whole grains, are good sources of heart-healthy antioxidants but also cholesterol-lowering dietary fiber.

2. Exercise- In addition to lowering LDL or bad cholesterol, regular physical activity can raise HDL or good cholesterol by up to 10%. Even more benefits can be acquired with moderate exercise. Try getting a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps a day. And try to at least fit in a regimen of brisk walking at least five days a week.

3. Quit Smoking– Smoking lowers levels of HDL or good cholesterol and is a major risk factor for heart disease. So if you haven’t already, try to stop this unhealthy habit.

4. Consider Medication- According to WebMD lifestyle modifications are important, but the benefits of medication, when appropriate, should also be considered. Several types of cholesterol-lowering medication are available, including niacin, bile acid resins, and fibrates. But statins are the treatment of choice for most individuals and can lower LDL cholesterol by 20% to 50%.

Some people will need to implement only one of these, while others may require a combination of these tips to help regulate their cholesterol.