YOUR NUTRITION MONTH
The food we eat makes an enormous difference in the way we feel. Incorporating nutritious food choices into your daily diet will help you feel and be your best, and this is what good nutrition is all about. In response to growing public interest in nutrition, the American Dietetic Association (ADA) adopted March as National Nutrition Month in 1980, a time to reinforce to all Americans the importance of a healthy diet.
In observance of National Nutrition Month, Harris Teeter is devoting this month’s yourwellness guide to good nutrition. Eating nurtures your body and gives you the energy needed to get through the day. The foods you eat supply vitamins, minerals and other nutrients your body requires to stay healthy. Making good food choices is one of the most important things you can do to stay well.
“Eating well can be relatively easy, even fun. And please remember, a healthy diet plan permits occasional splurges on not-so-healthy taste treats,” says Russell H. Greenfield, M.D.
Eating healthily may help prevent many common diseases, but it can also help you feel and look great! We want to encourage you to take time out during March to think about what you eat and learn ways to make even smarter, healthier choices.
The Harris Teeter yourwellness team is here to help. Beth Avery, R.D. has chosen 5 foods for you to start incorporating into your daily diet. They are nutrient powerhouses with potentially great disease fighting properties. Add these foods to your diet in March and beyond to reap the health benefits they may have to offer! In this guide you will also find tips on cleaning out your pantry and how to read a food label, as well as delicious recipes.
“It’s important to understand that we’re not giving you a prescription to follow strictly, we’re offering options to choose from so you might participate more fully in optimizing your health and wellbeing. Very strict diets rarely work because food is more than medicine, it’s part of the joy of life,” adds Dr. Russ.
NUTRITION IN A NUTSHELL
While walnuts may have specific health benefits (see 5 Foods for Healthy Living panel), a variety of nuts can be a healthy addition to your diet, when eaten in moderation. In fact, many studies have shown that eating 1.5 ounces (about the size of a small handful) per day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, is healthy for your heart.
Walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans and pistachios are all good choices. Try to eat a blend of these nuts to obtain all of the various health benefits they might offer.
Nuts are a source of protein and fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals such as folic acid, vitamin E, and selenium. They contain healthy oils, are cholesterol-free and provide various phytochemicals (plant compounds) that are thought to fight disease. It’s best to buy unprocessed “raw” nuts, not the ones that have been roasted or coated in any way. Check the food label to make sure other oils have not already been added to the nuts.
Store nuts in a cool, dark place (like the refrigerator) in an airtight container, since the healthy nut oils can easily spoil with prolonged exposure to heat and light. To enjoy toasted nuts, follow these easy instructions just prior to eating:
Preheat oven to 170 degrees F. Spread nuts in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Toast in oven for 5-15 minutes, stirring nuts often for even toasting. Remove from pan and cool on a separate plate.
Understanding Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol, as found in some foods and also produced in the body, is needed for normal cell function. Too much cholesterol, however, can put us at increased risk for heart disease and stroke.
Specialized carriers, called lipoproteins, move cholesterol throughout the body. Your doctor may order blood tests that measure specific lipoproteins, as well as triglycerides, to monitor your risk for cardiovascular disease. Testing is usually done after 8 to 12 hours of fasting overnight. While other measurements are often included in such blood tests, the results to focus on are:
Total cholesterol or TC - a normal level is less than 200 mg / dL
Low density lipoprotein or LDL (“bad cholesterol”) drops excess cholesterol in the lining of blood vessels, starting a cascade of events that damages and otherwise clogs up “the plumbing,” increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
A level less than 100 mg / dL is optimal; for those at high risk of cardiovascular disease it is recommended that your LDL be less than 70 mg / dL
High density lipoprotein or HDL (“good cholesterol”) helps carry cholesterol to the liver in preparation for its removal from the body. High levels of HDL appear to be protective, while those people with low levels are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease.
Normal levels are between 40-60 mg / dL
Triglycerides - can be thought of as a form of fat in the blood. High levels may increase the risk for heart disease and stroke, and are especially common in people with diabetes or pre-diabetes (those with insulin resistance)
Normal is less than 150 mg / dL
Borderline: 150-200 mg / dL
High: 201-499 mg / dL
Very high: greater than 500 mg / dL
A healthy diet can help us minimize our risk for heart disease and stroke, in part by helping to appropriately manage cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Other factors may contribute to abnormally high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. These include: diseases like diabetes and hypothyroidism, inadequate exercise, smoking, being overweight, or genetics.
Ask your doctor if your cholesterol and triglyceride levels are within normal range. If they are higher than is good for you, your doctor can guide you towards the best way to care for yourself.
BUILDING A HEALTHY PANTRY
One way to make healthy eating easier is to have the right foods on hand when hunger strikes. Cleaning out your pantry (as well as what’s stored in your refrigerator and freezer) and restocking it with healthy alternatives is a great way to get started on your spring cleaning.
Step 1: Start by removing the following items from your pantry:
Packaged foods that contain trans fats - Read the food labels on the package and discard anything that lists partially hydrogenated oils on the ingredients panel, especially if it’s in the first 5 ingredients. Trans fats can be found in many crackers, breads and snack foods. Trans fats are bad for health because they increase the “bad” LDL cholesterol in your blood and appear to increase inflammation throughout the body.
Even with recent changes in the food industry trans fats are still found in some foods, so it may be hard to eliminate them completely from your diet. Try to remove as much of them as possible.
Full fat dairy products - These products are higher in saturated fat than the low fat varieties and can raise your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels if you eat too much of them on a daily basis, but recent research suggests that moderate intake may be healthy for us.
Fried snacks - chips, tortillas, cheese puffs, etc. A handful may seem harmless but they are loaded with fat, calories, and salt. Having them on hand is a temptation that can ruin a healthy diet.
Sweetened cereals - Read the Nutrition Facts panel on the box and get rid of cereals that contain more than 6 grams of sugar per serving.
High salt soups - Look for low sodium varieties.
High sugar foods - Items that provide the majority of calories from sugar or that contain high fructose corn syrup should be taken out of your pantry. They may include sodas, fruit drinks, breads, cookies, cakes and crackers.
Step 2: Stock up on the following
Brown and basmati rice, quinoa, barley, and couscous
Whole wheat breads, crackers and tortillas
Whole grain cereals and granola - choose cereals with less than 6 grams of sugar and at least 4 grams of fiber per serving.
Whole wheat pasta and a healthy tomato sauce - look for sauces with only a small number of ingredients such as tomatoes, spices and olive oil. Add fresh or frozen vegetables for a quick, healthy meal.
Oatmeal or steel cut oats
Low fat yogurt - Plain is best because it lacks added sweeteners. Mix in berries for extra flavor.
Canned beans - (black, pinto, navy, lima and garbanzos are good choices). Rinse well with water before using (to remove excess salt) and add to soups and salads or blend for creamy hummus and bean dips.
Eggs - Keep some hard-boiled eggs on hand for snacks, sandwiches or salads. Try the variety with added omega-3’s for possible heart health benefits!
Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables - Remember to “Eat the Rainbow” every day by choosing vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables.
Canned tuna* (light, not albacore), salmon and low-sodium sardines - provide a quick and healthy protein source to any meal.
Low sodium broths - (vegetable, chicken or beef ) to add to your favorite recipes.
**Unsalted Nuts - walnuts, almonds, pistachios.
**Unsalted Seeds - pumpkin, sunflower, sesame (for cooking).
Vinegars - balsamic, red wine or cider are all great for marinades and salad dressings.
Oils - extra virgin olive, organic expeller pressed canola, and a cooking spray containing either.
Seasonings - such as pepper, garlic, ginger and other herbs all add flavor without adding fat or salt.
Seltzer - is a refreshing switch from soda. Just add a splash of your favorite 100% fruit juice for a kick! Choose seltzers with no sodium.
Tea - herbal teas are flavorful and many are caffeine-free. Drink them hot or cold!
Treats - dark chocolate, dried fruits, and healthy granola or trail mix.
Organic milk or soy milk
*No more than 6 ounces per week.
**See Nutrition in a Nutshell for additional nformation.
Reading a Food Label
The food label provides important nutrition information about the contents in the package. When space allows, this is found under the title “Nutrition Facts”. A lot of information is included on the label. Research has shown that the two most confusing areas for consumers are serving size and servings per container. It is important to understand this information when you are trying to enjoy a nutritious diet and maintain a healthy weight.
This is perhaps the most important part of the food label and one that everyone should be familiar with. The serving size refers to the amount normally considered to be one serving. This can be much smaller than what is typically eaten at one time. The serving size on the package may be 1/2 cup, when you really eat 1 or more cups of that food. If this is the case, you are eating at least twice the amount of calories, fat, sugar and sodium listed!
Servings Per Container
Always check the number of servings in a container. It will often be more than one, even for something that may seem like only one serving to you. Bottled beverages and small bags of chips often contain two to three servings. If you finish the entire bottle or bag, you will consume two to three times the number of calories, fat, sugar and sodium you thought you were.
5 FOODS FOR HEALTHY LIVING
To celebrate National Nutrition Month, we are spotlighting 5 foods that may provide extraordinary health benefits. Try to fit these into your eating plan whenever and wherever you can.
Blueberries contain powerful antioxidants that may help protect the body. These antioxidants make blueberries potentially beneficial in fighting illness like cancer and heart disease. They taste great fresh or frozen, and are easy to carry with you for a quick treat.
|2 cups plain low fat Harris Teeter yogurt
½ cup Harris Teeter applesauce
1 tsp Harris Teeter vanilla extract
4 large Harris Teeter eggs, separated
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp Kosher salt
1 ¾ cups Harris Teeter flour
½ tsp Harris Teeter canola oil
2 cups Farmers Market blueberries, rinsed clean
blueberry puree (recipe below)
Separate egg whites from yolk. Place 4 egg whites in a bowl. Place one egg yolk in a separate bowl, and discard the other 3 egg yolks.
In a large mixing bowl add the yogurt, applesauce, sugar and vanilla to the egg yolk. Stir to mix. Combine the dry ingredients and add to the yogurt mix. Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter and mix until no white streaks remain.
At the same time, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon oil and smooth over the skillet. Pour 1/4 cup batter onto skillet, gently spreading batter to make a 4” pancake. Sprinkle some berries on top, then cook 2 minutes longer or until bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake and undersides are golden-brown. Turn pancake over with a spatula and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Top with blueberry puree.
1 cup of Farmers Market blueberries
2 tbsp Harris Teeter grape juice
In a blender, combine the above ingredients, puree. Serve over pancakes.
Crunchy, satisfying and packed with healthy oils and antioxidants, walnuts are a good addition to your daily meal plan. Walnuts may help fight inflammation in the body, have a positive impact on cholesterol levels, and may lessen the risk for type 2 diabetes. Eating nuts regularly does not typically result in weight gain. Enjoy a small handful each day.
Blueberry, Pear and Walnut Salad
|1 lb Farmers Market baby field greens
½ cup Farmers Market blueberries
1 Farmers Market pear, thinly sliced
½ cup Harris Teeter walnuts
Blueberry vinaigrette (recipe below)
In a large bowl, combine field greens, blueberries, pear and walnuts. Toss with 1/3 cup of vinaigrette and serve. Drizzle with additional vinaigrette.
1/3 cup Harris Teeter balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup walnut oil
1/2 cup Farmers Market blueberries
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender and pulse to puree.
In Asia, shiitake mushrooms have been used in medicine and enjoyed in cooking for thousands of years. These flavorful mushrooms are thought to possess numerous health benefits including possible immune-enhancing potential as well as mild cholesterol lowering effects.
Asian Shiitake Stir-Fry
|2 tsp Harris Teeter canola oil
1 tsp Farmers Market ginger, minced
1 tsp Farmers Market garlic, minced
8 oz Farmers Market shiitake mushrooms, quartered
1 tsp H.T. Traders low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp H.T. Traders toasted sesame oil
1 tsp Farmers Market green onion, chopped
¼ tsp toasted sesame seeds
2 cups steamed brown rice, cooked and hot
Heat a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil, ginger, and garlic, sauté about 1 minute. Add mushrooms, sauté until mushrooms are golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add soy sauce and sesame oil; cook and stir until most of the soy sauce evaporates, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat; sprinkle with green onion. Top with toasted sesame seeds and serve over steamed rice.
Oats can be found in the store as oats, oatmeal or oat bran. All contain soluble fiber, a key ingredient that helps lower cholesterol. Eating three grams of oat fiber a day may help lower cholesterol levels. Oats are a delicious and filling whole grain and can be enjoyed at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
|1 tsp Harris Teeter canola oil
½ cup Farmers Market onion, diced
½ cup Farmers Market green onion, chopped
¼ cup Farmers Market basil, chopped
¼ cup low-fat parmesan cheese, grated
2 large Harris Teeter eggs
4 tbsp Harris Teeter flour
2 cups Harris Teeter oatmeal, cooked thick and cooled
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
½ cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs for coating
Sauté diced onions in oil until tender. In a large mixing bowl add the sautéed onions, green onion, basil, cheese, eggs, and oatmeal. Blend well. With damp hands, form the mixture into oval patties. Dredge them in the bread crumbs. Sauté in the same pan you used for sautéing the onion until golden on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.
This is one green vegetable you really need in your diet! It is packed with fiber and antioxidants, and contains chemicals such as sulforaphane that appear to have anti-cancer benefits. It is also a great source of vitamin C and calcium.
|1 ½ lbs Farmers Market broccoli
1 cup Harris Teeter fat-free sour cream
¼ cup HT Naturals organic milk
½ tsp curry powder
¼ tsp Kosher salt 1/4 tsp dry mustard
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
Trim off large leaves of broccoli. Remove tough ends of lower stalks and wash broccoli thoroughly, cut the florets and stems into bite-size pieces.
Steam broccoli 8 to 10 minutes and cool. Place in bowl. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Toss with the broccoli to cover.