Protein Powerhouses: 5 Nutritious Ideas for Every Diet

Joan McClusky wrote . . . . . .

Cutting out fatty and fried sources of protein makes sense when you’re trying to cut calories and eat healthy.

But you still need nutritious forms of protein in your diet, according to Nutrition.gov. Here are five great protein sources you’ll love when you want to add protein without adding a lot of calories.

The first is fish. Besides being low in calories, fish is low in saturated fat. Though varieties like sole, flounder and cod are lower in calories, fatty fish like salmon and mackerel also contain the healthy fats called omega-3 fatty acids. They’re all delicious, even when steamed or slightly sauteed — no breading needed.

Egg whites are another terrific option. One cup of egg whites has 26 grams of protein for under 120 calories — perfect for turning into a scramble.

When you want a meatier mouth-full, choose chicken, a great source of lean protein. Breast meat and skinless thighs are low in fat. Or try turkey. Fat-free ground turkey and light-meat turkey both have about 100 calories in a 3.5 ounce serving.

Low- or non-fat dairy can be a rich protein source. A cup of non-fat cottage cheese or fat-free Greek yogurt supplies between 15 to 20 grams of protein for around 120 calories.

Experiment with unconventional ways to enjoy these options. Yogurt, for example, isn’t just for breakfast. Topped with a medley of berries, it makes a creamy dessert. Or take a leftover fish filet and add it to a bowl of seasonal greens for a satisfying lunch. Or fill a four-egg-white omelet with sauteed vegetables for a fast and easy dinner when there’s no time to cook a full meal.

Source: HealthDay

Is Apple Cider Vinegar a Miracle Food?

Leslie Beck wrote . . . . . .

If you believe what you read on the Internet, apple cider vinegar is a pretty darn powerful natural health product. It’s claimed to do everything from controlling diabetes to lowering cholesterol to boosting weight loss.

Made by fermenting crushed apples, the vinegar is also touted to prevent constipation, ease arthritic joints, reduce heartburn, banish acne and treat eczema, among numerous other things. That’s a whole lot of health benefits.

But here’s the deal: Most claims are untested and, therefore, unfounded. The few health claims that do have (limited) scientific backing are often overhyped. Here’s what we know so far about apple cider vinegar – and what we don’t.

Speeds up weight loss

There’s not much to go on here. Only one small study, published in 2009, has tested the effectiveness of apple cider vinegar on weight loss in people. And the results weren’t that impressive.

For the study, 175 obese but otherwise healthy Japanese adults, aged 25 to 60, were assigned to drink, once daily, a 500-ml beverage that contained either one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (low dose), two tablespoons (high dose) or no vinegar (placebo) for 12 weeks.

At the end of the study, participants who consumed the vinegar drinks achieved greater weight loss than those who got the placebo drink. What’s more, people who drank the beverage that contained two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar lost more weight than those who consumed the lower dose.

But don’t get too excited. After three months, the high-dose vinegar group lost 4.1 pounds compared to the low-dose group, who lost 2.6 pounds. In either case, it’s hardly a dress (or pant) size. And four weeks after the study ended, most had gained back the weight.

Apple cider vinegar may help increase feelings of satiety but, as research suggests, this is likely due to a queasy stomach from drinking the solution.

Research conducted in mice has suggested that acetic acid – the acid that gives vinegar its characteristic sour taste – may prevent the buildup of body fat by activating fat-burning genes.

All in, don’t count on apple cider vinegar to help you slim down.

Controls blood glucose levels

There’s more promising evidence to support the claim that apple cider vinegar helps lower blood sugar. And that seems to be particularly so in people with prediabetes.

If you have prediabetes, your blood glucose level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as full-blown diabetes. People with prediabetes are at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes within 10 years if lifestyle changes are not implemented.

In a study published in the journal Diabetes Care (2004), researchers from Arizona State University asked people with pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes to consume 20 g of apple cider vinegar (about four teaspoons) diluted in water immediately before eating a high carbohydrate meal.

Doing so blunted the after-meal rise in blood sugar. It also improved how the body used insulin, the hormone that clears sugar from the bloodstream. These improvements were significant in participants with prediabetes but only slight in those with diabetes.

Acetic acid in apple cider vinegar is thought to slow the digestion of starch – e.g., carbohydrates in bread, rice, pasta, quinoa, oats, potatoes and other starchy foods – preventing some of it from being absorbed into the bloodstream and raising blood glucose levels.

All vinegars, though, contain acetic acid and can dampen the rise in blood glucose after eating a starchy meal. That means balsamic, red wine, white wine or flavoured and distilled white vinegars will also do the trick.

Prevents heart disease, stroke, cancer

Studies in rodents fed a high fat diet have demonstrated that apple cider vinegar can help lower blood cholesterol, blood triglycerides and blood pressure. But research has not been conducted in humans.

Nor have there been any human studies to substantiate apple cider vinegar’s purported anti-cancer effects.

There’s also not a stitch of evidence that a daily dose (or two) of the vinegar – or any vinegar for that matter – guards against arthritis, digestive upset, acne or eczema.

Still, is apple cider vinegar worth taking?

When it comes to blood sugar and weight control, apple cider vinegar is by no means a magic bullet. Focus your efforts on diet and exercise, strategies proven to help shed excess pounds and guard against Type 2 diabetes.

If you decide to add apple cider vinegar to the mix, I recommend consuming it in a homemade salad dressing made with at least one tablespoon of the vinegar.

If you prefer to drink it, dilute a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in eight ounces of water and drink it at the beginning of a meal, once or twice daily.

Apple cider vinegar is sold filtered and pasteurized or unfiltered and unpasteurized. The unfiltered vinegar is cloudy and retains the “mother” bacteria that fermented the apples, which some experts contend is full of beneficial probiotic organisms.

Precautions

Do not drink apple cider vinegar straight. Undiluted vinegar – in liquid or pill form – can irritate the throat and esophagus and increase stomach acidity. Sipping it plain can also damage tooth enamel.

Prolonged large doses of apple cider vinegar can lead to dangerously low potassium levels in the body.

Since apple cider vinegar may reduce blood sugar and insulin levels, it could potentially amplify the blood-sugar-lowering effect of anti-diabetes drugs. Inform your doctor if you decide to try apple cider vinegar.

Some people with diabetes have delayed stomach emptying, a disorder caused by prolonged high blood sugar levels. Apple cider vinegar could make this problem worse.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Is White or Whole Wheat Bread Healthier?

Despite many studies looking at which bread is the healthiest, it is still not clear what effect bread and differences among bread types have on clinically relevant parameters and on the microbiome. In the journal Cell Metabolism, Weizmann Institute researchers report the results of a comprehensive, randomized trial in 20 healthy subjects comparing differences in how processed white bread and artisanal whole wheat sourdough affect the body.

Surprisingly, the investigators found the bread itself didn’t greatly affect the participants and that different people reacted differently to the bread. The research team then devised an algorithm to help predict how individuals may respond to the bread in their diets.

All of the participants in the study normally consumed about 10% of their calories from bread. Half were assigned to consume an increased amount of processed, packaged white bread for a week – around 25% of their calories – and half to consume an increased amount of whole wheat sourdough, which was baked especially for the study and delivered fresh to the participants. After a 2-week period without bread, the diets for the two groups were reversed.

Before the study and throughout the time it was ongoing, many health effects were monitored. These included wakeup glucose levels; levels of the essential minerals calcium, iron, and magnesium; fat and cholesterol levels; kidney and liver enzymes; and several markers for inflammation and tissue damage. The investigators also measured the makeup of the participants’ microbiomes before, during, and after the study.

“The initial finding, and this was very much contrary to our expectation, was that there were no clinically significant differences between the effects of these two types of bread on any of the parameters that we measured,” says Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science and one of the study’s senior authors. “We looked at a number of markers, and there was no measurable difference in the effect that this type of dietary intervention had.”

Based on some of their earlier work, however, which found that different people have different glycemic responses to the same diet, the investigators suspected that something more complicated may be going on: perhaps the glycemic response of some of the people in the study was better to one type of bread, and some better to the other type. A closer look indicated that this was indeed the case. About half the people had a better response to the processed, white flour bread, and the other half had a better response to the whole wheat sourdough. The lack of differences were only seen when all findings were averaged together.

“The findings for this study are not only fascinating but potentially very important, because they point toward a new paradigm: different people react differently, even to the same foods,” says Eran Elinav, a researcher in the Department of Immunology at the Weizmann Institute and another of the study’s senior authors. “To date, the nutritional values assigned to food have been based on minimal science, and one-size-fits-all diets have failed miserably.”

He adds: “These findings could lead to a more rational approach for telling people which foods are a better fit for them, based on their microbiomes.”

Avraham Levy, a professor in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences and another coauthor, adds a caveat to the study: “These experiments looked at everyone eating the same amounts of carbohydrates from both bread types, which means that they ate more whole wheat bread because it contains less available carbohydrates. Moreover, we know that because of its high fiber content, people generally eat less whole wheat bread. We didn’t take into consideration how much you would eat based on how full you felt. So the story must go on.”

Source: Medical News Today

Dairy Products a Good Dietary Source of Some Types of Vitamin K

Vitamin K, with its multiple forms, is among the lesser known nutrients. Now, new research from scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University sheds new light on the vitamin and its significant presence in some dairy products available in the United States.

In the study, published June 1 in Current Developments in Nutrition, researchers quantified the activity of two natural forms of vitamin K in dairy products of various fat contents and found that common U.S. dairy items, including milks, yogurts and cheeses, contain appreciable amounts of multiple forms of vitamin K. Vitamin concentrations varied by fat content.

Vitamin K, which helps the blood to clot, is most commonly thought to come from leafy greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli. In fact, dietary sources of vitamin K are found in two natural forms: phylloquinone (PK, or vitamin K1), which is widely distributed through plant-based foods, and menaquinones (MK, or vitamin K2), which appear to be primarily in animal products and fermented foods. Almost all MK forms are also produced by bacteria in the human gut. Not much is known about MK amounts in U.S. dairy products.

“Dairy foods contain minute amounts of PK, the best known of the vitamin K forms, and so dairy is not commonly considered a rich dietary source for this nutrient. However, when it comes to MK forms, we found that dairy items already found in many peoples’ refrigerators are indeed a good dietary source for vitamin K,” said Xueyan Fu, Ph.D., first and corresponding author and scientist in the Vitamin K Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA.

Guidelines for adequate vitamin K intake are based only on PK intake without consideration for other forms of vitamin K. MK differ from PK in structure in that they are compounds with different numbers of isoprenoid units in the side chain, designated as MK4 through MK13. Which forms of MK are present reflects which bacteria might be in the dairy products. Lactic acid bacteria, for example, are widely used in dairy and fermented foods.

To understand the presence of MK and PK in dairy products, the researchers used 50 nationally collected dairy samples provided by the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory and 148 dairy samples purchased in 2016 from Boston area retail outlets. The products were divided into categories based on dairy types and fat content: milks, yogurts, Greek yogurts, kefirs, creams, processed cheeses, fresh cheeses, blue cheeses, soft cheeses, semi-soft cheeses, and hard cheeses. The effect of fat content on total vitamin K in all forms was compared using a two-sample T-test. The vitamin K content of cream products, for which the researchers had a smaller sample size, was analyzed using a general linear model, with heavy cream as the reference group.

Among the findings:

  • All full-fat dairy products contained appreciable amounts of MK, primarily in the forms of MK9, MK10 and MK11. Combined, these three forms of MK accounted for approximately 90 percent of total vitamin K present in the foods tested.
  • In cheeses, the total vitamin K content varied by type, with soft cheese having the highest concentration, followed by blue cheese, semi-soft cheese, and hard cheese. All of the cheeses contained MK9, MK10 and MK11, and modest amounts of PK, MK4, MK7, MK8 and MK12. Little MK5, MK6 or MK13 was measured in the majority of cheeses.
  • In milk, the vitamin K concentrations varied by fat content; both total vitamin K and individual MK concentrations in full-fat milk were significantly higher than in 2 percent milk. PK was only detected in full-fat milk. Only MK9-11 were detected in milk.
  • In yogurts, full-fat regular and Greek yogurts exhibited similar vitamin K concentrations as in full-fat milk; neither MK nor PK were detected in fat-free yogurt.

“Estimated intakes of PK and MK in dairy-producing countries in Western Europe suggest that between 10 and 25 percent of total vitamin K intake are provided by MK, and primarily from dairy sources. Additionally, observational data from Europe suggest that MK from dairy products have a stronger association with heart health benefits compared with PK intakes. This data from other countries highlights the need to analyze MK in commonly consumed foods in the U.S.,” said Sarah L. Booth, Ph.D., last author on the study. Booth is senior scientist and director of the Vitamin K Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA, interim director of the USDA HNRCA, and professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

Additional research is needed to determine the role of microbes used in production of dairy products, and their impact on MK content. The researchers also say there is a need to determine the relative bioavailability of all MK forms given their abundance in the U.S. diet.

The researchers acknowledge limitations of the study, including the reliance on food labels for fat content instead of direct measurement of fat content. Additionally, whereas the dairy product samples obtained from the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory were geographically representative of the U.S. diet, those purchased in the Boston region were not. However, items purchased locally were selected from retail outlets with national representation.

Source: Tufts University


Today’s Comic

Chart of the Day: Calorie and Nutrition

Same Calories but Different Nutritional Value

See large image . . . . .