Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Romanesco or Space Broccoli?

Spiral-shaped florets, florescent lime-green hue, Romanesco looks more like a vegetable from Star Wars than something people eat on planet earth.

What might look like a new vegetable surfacing at your farmer’s market, Romanesco has been grown in Italy since the 16th century. It was likely crossbred by farmers to create a striking vegetable with crunch and delicate flavor.

Similar to broccoli and cauliflower, the Romanesco is easier to digest. It is rich in zinc, vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, and carotenoids. It provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Studies have found Romanesco to be high in kaempferol, a flavonoid that inhibits cancer cell growth and induces cancer cell death. Kaempferol has also been shown to prevent arteriosclerosis by inhibiting oxidation of cholesterol.

When shopping for Romanesco look for dense and heavy heads with bright green color. The stem should be firm; avoid any signs of wilting. It should keep about a week in the refrigerator.

Romanesco can be eaten just like cauliflower. Try serving it raw along with hummus or tossed into a salad, sautéing or roasting it with olive oil and garlic, or steaming it for an easy side dish. It cooks fairly fast so be sure not to overcook it; you want to keep its shape.

Spicy Romanesco with Lemon and Capers
Serves: 4
130 calories per serving

1 head Romanesco, cut into florets
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbs capers, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 425F. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper toss the Romanesco with 2 tbs olive oil. Roast for 10 minutes, stir, and roast for another 10 minutes until browned and tender. Meanwhile in a medium sized bowl whisk together remaining olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, capers, red pepper flakes, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Remove Romanesco from the oven and toss in dressing before serving.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Metabolic Adaptation: How eating too little can damage metabolism

Metabolic Adaptation describes how the body fights to maintain equilibrium and prevent starvation. It was very helpful back in our caveman days but a real problem today for people who need to lose weight.

As you lose weight your body adapts to conserve energy and be more efficient. With less body weight, resting metabolic rate decreases and you do not burn as many calories when exercising. With less food intake thermogenesis lowers. Hormones increase to stimulate appetite and stress from eating too little can cause higher levels of cortisol in the body.

As metabolic adaptation occurs weight loss reaches a plateau. At this point weight loss can continue only if you add more exercise or reduce calories even more. If calorie intake is already very low and exercise volume is very high you reach a limit where it is not safe, realistic, or advisable to continue such extremes. If you stop your routine weight gain is common. 

A good example of metabolic adaptation comes from research on The Biggest Loser. Researchers measured 14 participants metabolic rate at the start and end of the show. On average metabolic rate decreased by 610±483 calories. Following up 6 years later 13 of the 14 participants gained weight, although most kept at least 10% of their weight off. Metabolic rate remained low and did not go back to normal as their weight increased. Overall metabolic rate was 500 calories lower than what would be expected in people of similar height, weight, and age.

To minimize metabolic adaptation it is recommended to decrease calories gradually to support 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week rather than crash dieting for rapid weight loss. Eat protein rich foods at each meal and snack since protein has the highest thermic effect, provides satiety, and helps retain more lean muscle mass. In addition to cardio, make sure you strength train at least twice per week since lean muscle increases metabolism. Get enough sleep for the body to recover and work on stress management.

As weight loss starts to plateau make additional modest adjustments to continue losing. The ultimate goal is to develop healthy routines that are sustainable long term and help you feel energized and healthy. Understand that weight loss is not easy. We generally overestimate the amount of calories we burn and underestimate the amount of calories we consume. Work on  accuracy before assuming your metabolism is damaged.

Interested in Nutrition Counseling? We can calculate your calorie target and create a customized nutrition plan to help you reach your goals. Contact me to schedule your appointment.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Are We Getting Healthier? Update on U.S. Obesity Rates

Back in 2000 no states had obesity rates over 25%. Today 47 states are over 25% causing a big need for concern. Fortunately, obesity rates are stabilizing in adults and kids. Progress is being made in the fight against obesity and hopes of furthering nutrition education and public health funding can continue efforts into the future.

Last year was the first time the State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America report showed a decline in obesity rates. Encouraging reports for this year again show a decline in one state (Kansas), an increase in four states (Colorado, Minnesota, Washington, and West Virginia), with all other states staying stable.

Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control, the highest obesity rates are in the South, Midwest, and in adults without a college education and income below $15,000 per year.

The most obese states are:
1. West Virginia 37.5%
2. Mississippi 37.3%
3. Alabama and Arkansas 35.7%
4. Louisiana 35.5%

The least obese states are:
1. Colorado 22.3%
2. The District of Colombia 22.6%
3. Massachusetts 23.6%
4. Hawaii 23.8%
5. California 25%

Pennsylvania ranks 25th most obese at 30.3% and New Jersey ranks 36th most obese at 27.4%.

The fight against obesity is far from over but small changes every day can lead us to a healthier future.