Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Is Grilling Safe?

The delicious smoky taste and tender juiciness keeps us grilling all summer long. Gas or charcoal, there are some great health benefits to grilling, but also some documented health concerns to be aware of.

Health Benefits: Grilling helps excess fat drip off, which is particularly beneficial when cooking high fat meats such as steak, sausage, and burgers. The high heat provides a shorter cooking time helping vegetables to retain more vitamins and minerals. The heat also seals in moisture helping vegetables stay tender and decrease the use of added fat and sauces.

Health Concerns: High temperature cooking over gas or charcoal can produce Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs) which are documented carcinogens. These can cause cancer in animal studies and could increase the risk of cancer in humans. Inflammatory substances called Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) are also created which speed up oxidative  damage to cells. This can lead to or make worse degenerative diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure, and  Alzheimer's. The smoke that comes off a grill, particularly from fat drippings, creates toxic chemicals called Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) which can damage your lungs.

Protect Yourself: There are lots of ways to enjoy grilling while minimizing your exposure to HCAs, AGEs, and PAHs. Coat your meat with a rub or marinade. This can significantly reduce the buildup of carcinogens. Be mindful of the salt content if you are watching your sodium intake. Precook your meats inside to limit the amount of exposure they have on the grill. Reduce the heat by cooking over an indirect flame; the higher the temperature the greater the formation of carcinogens and toxic substances. Finally grill vegetables, they do not develop HCAs or PAHs and their healthy antioxidant properties can help counterbalance your animal protein intake.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Are Eggs Safe to Eat?

Eggs are the gold standard for protein quality. They are easy to digest and contain all essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Both the yolk and the white contain protein, but the yolk also contains B vitamins, calcium, iron, vitamins A, D, E, choline, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. The entire egg is a nutrient powerhouse, but is the egg yolk safe to eat?

Egg yolks are high in cholesterol; about 212mg per yolk. Old recommendations were for healthy people to limit daily cholesterol intake to no more than 300mg a day or about 3 egg yolks per week...and only 200mg a day for people with high cholesterol and other health conditions. At the time researchers believed dietary cholesterol negatively impacted blood cholesterol levels and heart disease risk.

New research is showing different results. A new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed 128 overweight and obese people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes over three months. Participants consumed 12 eggs per week and findings showed no adverse effect on lipid profiles. What is important to note is the high egg diet included healthy unsaturated fats as well.

Unhealthy saturated fats and trans fats have a greater correlation with  raising LDL“bad cholesterol” and heart disease risk. We find saturated fats and trans fats in fried foods, hydrogenated oils, bacon, sausage, cheese, red meat, ice cream, whole milk, chips, and baked goods; many of which often accompany eggs at breakfast.

Not all eggs are created equal. Brown shelled eggs come from brown  chickens, and white shelled eggs come from white chickens. The color makes little difference, but the farming practices and diet of the chickens does. Chickens raised in cages are often fed a low quality diet of genetically engineered corn and soy-based feed, resulting in eggs with lower nutrient value. Organic eggs that are pasture-raised on a diet of insects, worms, seeds, and plants just the way nature had intended offer higher nutrient quality. Some research shows pasture-raised eggs have lower cholesterol, more vitamin A, more vitamin E, and a higher amount of healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Could dietary cholesterol raise heart disease risk? It might; some studies show up to 30% of the population may be genetically predisposed and   react to dietary cholesterol intake resulting in a rise in LDL “bad cholesterol.” To be conservative it might be best to eat egg yolks in moderation, limit saturated fats, and target a well-balanced healthy diet most of the time.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Are You Hangry?

Have you ever snapped at someone, then realized you are probably just hungry? Hangry describes the feelings of anger or irritability as a result of hunger. While hunger is a natural instinct, some people have stronger reactions than others when it comes time for a meal.

Glucose is the main source of fuel for your brain and central nervous system. After a meal blood glucose levels rise and then start to fall. Hormones such as ghrelin play a role in producing a feeling of satiation after eating. As time passes ghrelin decreases and you start to feel hungry again. If you wait too long between meals your blood glucose will fall too low and you will start to feel changes in your mood and mental function.

Serotonin, the feel good chemical, can also decrease when you are hungry which could contribute to feelings of irritability and anger. Sleeping less than 7 hours each night can impact the hormones that regulate appetite and hunger, making hunger more difficult to manage. Sleep deprivation can also impact someone's mood.

Waiting too long to eat and feeling hangry often leads to picking the wrong foods out of desperation. It might also lead to binge eating. Blood sugar spikes after eating too many refined carbs and junk food causing a rollercoaster of blood glucose throughout the day.

The best way to prevent feeling hangry is to plan 4-5 small well-balanced meals/snacks throughout the day. Carry healthy portable options when you are on the go. Don’t skip meals or crash diet. Pair fiber with protein to keep you satisfied longer.

Some healthy snack ideas are:
· 100 calorie pack of almonds and 1 piece of fruit
· KIND bar, Balance bar, Kashi granola bar, Simple Protein bar
· 1/4 cup hummus with baby carrots
· 1 low fat string cheese and 1 pear
· 1 brown rice cake with 1 tbs natural peanut butter