Fruits and Veggies – Are You Getting Enough?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital March 6, 2014

Recent research suggests that eating more than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day would be worth your while.

It’s no secret that fruits and vegetables are good for you. But are you eating enough of them?

Fruits and vegetables contain a unique combination of nutrients and healthy compounds, such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Diets rich in these plant-based foods are associated with a reduced risk of cancer, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, and macular degeneration; increased energy and stamina; and a bevy of other health benefits. Five servings of fruits and vegetables per day is a good start, but recent research suggests that adding a few more servings would be worth your while.

What’s the Evidence?

Below is just a sampling of recent research that supports the recommendation of eating more fruits and vegetables.

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Smart Snacking for the Athlete

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 19, 2014

It's important to eat and drink enough before, during, and after your workouts.

Today’s post was contributed by Registered Dietitian Kate Sweeney, manager of the Nutrition Consultation Service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and a key member of the Women’s Sports Medicine Program at BWH. Kate is an accomplished triathlete and is ranked among the top 18 female triathletes, ages 30-34, in the country.

Whether you are training for a marathon or just working on improving your fitness level, making sure you eat and drink enough before, during, and after your workouts is an important part of optimal sports nutrition. If you’re under-fueled for training, you may experience hunger in the middle of your workout or feel sluggish. You also may feel that you’re working hard but not seeing improvement in your strength or endurance.

To be adequately fueled for each workout session, snacking between meals and eating during training is often required. Being consistent with your nutrition before, during, and after training sessions also is key to training and success on athletic event days.

Here are some guidelines:

Pre-Workout Nutrition

Pre-workout snacks provide energy, add to glycogen stores, and decrease risk for low blood glucose levels. If you are planning a workout lasting one hour or more, or your workout is of high intensity, a smaller meal of 50 grams carbohydrate two to three hours before, or a snack of 15-25 grams carbohydrate one hour before can be consumed.

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Food Allergies: When Nuts Are Not Healthy

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital January 14, 2014

For some people, nuts are health hazards.

Today’s post, written by Kate Sweeney, M.S.,R.D., Manager of the Nutrition Consultation Service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, was adapted from an article that originally appeared on Health-e-Weight for Women.

Nuts are rich in protein, fiber, folic acid, vitamin E, and healthy fats. Research studies suggest nuts may have many health benefits, making them an important part of a balanced diet. However, for some people, nuts are health hazards. In the United States, 1.5 million people are severely allergic to peanuts alone. Half the people allergic to peanuts are also allergic to tree nuts. Tree nuts are large, edible seeds of trees and include cashews, almonds, pecans, walnuts, beechnuts, and pistachios.

What Are Food Allergies?

Food allergies are the immune system’s reaction to proteins in food. Reactions can be mild to severe, in some cases causing life-threatening anaphylactic shock. These reactions are referred to as an “allergic cascade.”  First the allergic food, such as peanuts, enters the body by ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact. The body senses the protein in peanuts as a foreign invader. In response to the threat, IgE antibodies are released into the bloodstream, triggering the release of substances called histamines. Histamines cause the allergic response.

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Healthy Holidays! – Lose the Weight and Celebrate

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 19, 2013

Head for the healthy platters at your holiday parties.

The holidays are here, but don’t let it derail you from your weight management goals. It’s quite possible to enjoy festivities, food, and drink without packing on unwanted pounds. Here’s some advice from our Brigham and Women’s Hospital Health-e-Weight program team:

  • Think about what you’ll eat before the holiday meal or party. Don’t save your appetite for one particular meal or party and arrive starved.
  • Focus on vegetables. Use them for appetizers, serve salad as the first course, sneak them (carrots and celery) into a dressing, or make vegetables, in general, the predominant part of your plate.
  • Tinker with traditional recipes. Consider mashing potatoes with skim milk or buttermilk instead of whole milk. Don’t go overboard with brown sugar, marshmallows, or butter if preparing sweet potatoes. Cook stuffing on the stovetop, not in the turkey (or at least have both versions). Try providing a fruit crisp instead of a traditional pie, or elect to have no more than one pie type. Lastly, aim for a sliver rather than a slice or wedge. Read More »

Good News about Nuts and Your Health

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 18, 2013

Watch this short animation from the New England Journal of Medicine that summarizes our recent research about nuts and your health.

Today’s post, written by Kathy McManus, MS, RD, LDN, Director, Department of Nutrition and Nutrition Director, Program for Weight Management at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, was adapted from an article that originally appeared on the Health-e-Weight for Women site. 

You may be hesitant to eat nuts because they contain fat, but this idea stems from the misunderstanding that all fats are bad. Despite what you’ve heard, all fats are not created equal. Researchers and clinicians now know certain fats (trans fat and saturated fat) contribute to heart disease, while others (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) actually reduce the risk of a heart attack when substituted for the unhealthy fats.

Although nuts contain some saturated fat, most are rich in monounsaturated fats and are packed with important nutrients. Dietary fiber, magnesium, copper, folic acid, potassium, vitamin E and protective phyto-nutrients are found in nuts, all contributors to cardiovascular health.

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Wintertime Health and Fitness

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 12, 2013

It's important to exercise regulary - indoors or outdoors - during the winter.

Today’s post was adapted from an article written by our nutritionists in the Department of Nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). The article originally appeared on the BWH Health-e-Weight website.

No matter what the season, staying healthy requires a balance of good eating and physical activity. Winter, however, poses some unique challenges due to holiday parties, harsh conditions, and cold-weather cravings. Follow these tips for more thoughtful food choices and cold-weather exercise to stay fit and healthy this winter!

Even during the cold weather months, there are many fresh foods available in your produce section. Look for seasonal green and orange vegetables which are packed with vitamins and minerals to
help ward off winter illnesses.

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Latest Food and Nutrition Trends – Healthy Crazes?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 8, 2013

Greek yogurt

Choose plain Greek yogurt to avoid the added sugar in fruit flavors.

Today’s blog post comes from our specialists at the Department of Nutrition.

In a world full of conflicting health information, how do you know whether a new food product is truly good for you or is just the next money-making gimmick?

We researched six of the most popular nutrition trends on the market to help you figure out which foods are worth your money.

Greek Yogurt ($1 – $2.15/cup)

Greek yogurt is made from cow’s or sheep’s milk that has been strained through a cloth to remove the whey, creating a thicker yogurt. It comes in two varieties: strained Greek yogurt (original) and “Greek-style” yogurt (American version, with domestic milk and possibly thickening agents).

Claim: High in protein and probiotics

Evidence: It’s true! Greek yogurt is a protein powerhouse. It contains about twice the protein of traditional yogurts and still maintains all the gut-friendly bacteria present in other yogurts.

Bottom line: Choose plain yogurt to avoid the added sugar in fruit flavors.

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Great Gains from Whole Grains

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 19, 2013

In our quest to eat fewer carbohydrates, we’re missing out on the health benefits of whole grains.

September is Whole Grains Month. Today’s post, from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Health-e-Weight program, will help you learn about this delicious and healthy food. In our quest to eat fewer carbohydrates, we’re missing out on the health benefits of whole grains. But what exactly are whole grains? What benefits can we gain from eating them, and how can we work them into our daily meals?

What Are Whole Grains?

Whole grains contain all three edible parts of a grain: the inner germ, the middle endosperm, and the outer bran covering. This makes them rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and a multitude of disease-fighting substances. By contrast, refined grains have most of their germ and bran removed during processing, resulting in a depletion of many of these nutritious compounds.

Examples of Whole Grains:

  • Whole wheat berries, whole wheat bulgur, whole wheat couscous, and other strains of wheat, such as kamut and spelt
  • Brown rice (including quick-cooking brown rice)
  • Corn, whole cornmeal, popcorn
  • Oat groats, steel-cut oats, rolled oats (including quick-cooking and instant oatmeal)
  • Whole rye
  • Hulled barley (pot, scotch, and pearled barley often have much of their bran removed)
  • Triticale (pronounced try-ti-KAY-lee)
  • Millet
  • Teff (reported to be the world’s smallest grain and to have a sweet, malty flavor)

Buckwheat, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), wild rice, and amaranth are not botanically true grains, but are typically associated with the grain family due to their similar composition. They also are considered whole grains and can be found at health food stores, along with other less common grains.

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The Sour Side of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 12, 2013

Sugar-sweetened beverages can have a sour impact on your health.

Today’s post is written by Kathy McManus, MS, RD, LDN, Director of Nutrition. The post originally appeared in the newsletter, published by the Osher Clinical Center for Integrative Medicine.

The next time you reach for a nice cold soda or juice, consider this – each 12 ounce can of a sugar-sweetened drink or juice contains 10 to 12 teaspoons of sugar, amounting to 150 to 175 calories. Though it doesn’t sound like much, it will take about 20 minutes of casual biking, walking, or yoga just to burn these extra calories!

Obesity is a growing problem in the US (no pun intended), and there are many contributors to the crisis. One is the increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), as well as the increase in beverage portion sizes. These two factors have led to a greater percentage of calories consumed each day via beverages.

Sugar-sweetened beverages currently account for about 10 percent of total calories consumed in the US diet. Today, 63 percent of adults and 80 percent of youth consume at least one sugar-sweetened beverage a day. Americans consume about 250 to 300 more daily calories today compared to the seventies, and about half of this increase is due to the greater consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

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What’s the Big Deal about Salt?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 28, 2013

Excess sodium intake not only increases blood pressure, but also increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.

Today’s post is written by Kathy McManus, MS, RD, LDN, Director, Department of Nutrition and Nutrition Director, Program for Weight Management. The post originally appeared in the Healthy 850 Newsletter, published by the Osher Clinical Center for Integrative Medicine.

Some consumers believe that dietary salt (sodium) is only a concern if they have high blood pressure; not true. Excess sodium intake not only increases blood pressure, but also increases the risk for heart disease and stroke. Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in the US. The American Heart Association (AHA) reports that 97 percent of children and adolescents eat too much salt, putting them at greater risk for cardiovascular disease as they age.

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