Three foods that promote liver health

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Summer cocktails can take a toll on your liver, but fear not, I’m not suggesting that you ditch the cocktails and cold ones! Of course, moderation is important, but if you enjoy a cocktail occasionally on a hot summer day, read on for some suggestions on how you can keep your liver healthy despite the alcohol consumption.

First off, let me explain how alcohol can harm your liver. Think of your liver as your body’s main detoxifier. It rids toxic waste to help prevent infections. Your liver needs water to effectively rid the waste and alcohol dehydrates you, robbing the liver of the main ingredient it needs for eliminating waste!

Another way alcohol damages your liver is that it produces a toxic enzyme called acetaldehyde, which can damage liver cells and cause permanent scarring, This can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, which can become life-threatening if left unchecked.

A few drinks here and there are unlikely to cause severe damage to your liver, but either way you look at it, it’s wise to incorporate foods into your regime that are protective of your liver.

Here are my three favorite, liver-protective foods that have the most scientific research backing them.

Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, mustard greens and Brussels sprouts are a must in anyone’s diet! They have so many beneficial properties and are one of the most protective foods against cancer.

They help your liver by increasing detoxification enzymes. An animal study found that broccoli sprout extract prevented liver failure in rats.

Broccoli sprouts are available in many grocery stores. Note that anything sprouted increases its beneficial nutrients exponentially!

Fatty fish

Fatty fish like salmon are loaded with Omega-3s, which we know promotes heart health and brain health. Studies show that omega-3s also fight liver inflammation and keep liver enzyme levels healthy.

Olive oil

Several studies have linked olive oil to lower fat accumulation in the liver. Olive oil also keeps liver enzyme levels optimal. It also assures better blood flow to the liver. I cook with olive oil and dress my salads with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

I hope you all can find ways to incorporate these three types of food into your daily diet. The cool thing is that each of these food choices not only benefit your liver, but also help prevent several health ailments!

 

 

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Get your heart healthy with a smoothie bowl for breakfast

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February is Heart Health Month and I’m going to tell you about how eating a smoothie bowl for breakfast can help reduce your risk of heart disease! Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in both men and women in the United States, so give this smoothie bowl a try!

Now, you may be wondering, what is a smoothie bowl? Aren’t smoothies supposed to be drunk from a glass? Smoothie bowls are simply smoothies you can eat with a spoon with lots of delicious toppings!

This smoothie was made with mixed berries, a frozen banana, plain Greek yogurt, and unsweetened cashew milk. It was topped with oranges, hemp seeds, and pomegranate!

Berries, oranges, and pomegranate are packed full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, they are naturally low in calories and high in fiber and water! Fiber helps lower your cholesterol.

Bananas are a great source of potassium. Potassium can help manage high blood pressure by reducing the effects of excess sodium. When you eat more potassium, you lose more sodium in urine. Other foods rich in potassium are avocados, beans, potatoes, and more!

Greek yogurt and cashew milk are both fantastic sources of calcium. Calcium is a mineral that helps with muscle contraction!

And last but not least, hemp seeds are an excellent source of those healthy fats, omega-3 and rare omega-6 GLA. They are also packed with protein, iron, zinc, magnesium, vitamin E, and riboflavin! It’s really important to limit saturated and trans fats as they can damage your arteries and lead to heart disease. Load up your diet with omega-3 rich foods like hemp seeds instead!

There are so many variations of smoothie bowls you can make, so I’m going to give you a base recipe and you can create your own!

Step 1: Choose your fruit. Frozen fruit works best in smoothies because it makes it nice and cold!

Step 2: Choose your yogurt. Any kind is fine, but if you want extra protein try Greek yogurt. Try to stay away from yogurts with a lot of added sugars to cut back on calories.

Step 3: Choose your milk. Any kind of milk is fine too! I always go for nut milk because it is a lot lower in calories. If you are trying nut milk, make sure it’s the unsweetened variety to decrease added sugars.

Step 4: Pick some optional add-ins: spinach, nuts, seeds, protein powders. Add-ins like spinach are very tasteless and give you an extra serving of vegetables!

Step 5: Pour into a bowl and load up with healthy toppings like sliced fruit, coconut flakes, granola, and extra dark chocolate!

Go to Kellyschoice.org to see this recipe and more that were created by Rosemary Squires.

 

Weighing in on Weight-Loss: Healthy Fats

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I have a lot of clients who are on a weight-loss journey and so many of them have a “fat” phobia. They think if they eat fat, they will get fat, but that is not the case my friends when it comes to healthy fats. Let me clear up the conclusion.

Why You Need Fat:

Dietary fat provides you with energy, builds healthy cells, and regulates your hormones. Your brain needs fat in order to function properly—in fact, did you know that your brain is 60 percent fat? Studies have linked lack of dietary fat in one’s diet to depression as well as cognitive decline.

The Good Fats

Monounsaturated Fats: Known as MUFAs (Monounsaturated Fatty Acids), these fats actually help prevent belly fat. Even better, they help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol, and raise your HDL (good) cholesterol. Good monounsaturated fats include: olive oil, cashews almonds or peanuts (this includes almond butter and peanut butter). I would recommend a quarter cup of the nut choices, 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a dressing, or 2 Tablespoons of a nut butter on whole grain bread to get a nice daily serving of these good-for-you fats.

Polyunsaturated Fats: Like MUFAs, polyunsaturated fats(PUFAS) lower your LDL. And PUFAS are the specific fats that have shown amazing benefits to your brain from mood improvement to boosting brain function. In particular it is the Omega-3 form of polyunsaturated fats that your body needs most. Omega-3s are broken down into DHA, which is amazingly beneficial to your brain and EPA, which is known for its benefits you joint health and your skin. Both forms are excellent for heart health.

Omega-3s are found in fish like salmon, mackerel, and herring, as well as flaxseed and walnuts. The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fish a week. I would add that ground flaxseed in oatmeal is delicious (try it—a couple tablespoons a couple times a week). Like all nuts, a good serving of walnuts is one-quarter cup.

Omega-6s are also polyunsaturated fats that are found in oils like sesame oil, sunflower oil, grape seed oil, and safflower oil. Omega-6s benefits include the reduction of nerve pain, possibly helpful with ADHD, and they may ease Rheumatoid arthritis pain. However, too much Omega-6 compared to Omega-3 can cause inflammation and the Standard American Diet is inundated with Omega-6s because of the use of Omega-6 oils in processed food. If you reduce the amount of processed food that you consume, the safer you will be!

The Bad Fats

Saturated Fat: A high consumption of saturated fats will result in weight gain, not to mention that they raise your LDL cholesterol and can increase heart-disease risk. Saturated fat is found in most meat and in full-fat dairy like butter, milk, cream, cheese, etc. I recommend eating lean meat like chicken or turkey breast or leaner cuts of beef like sirloin. I also recommend eating low-fat cheese and drinking skim milk.

Trans Fat: Trans fat has gotten a lot of media attention the past decade ever since food companies were required to list the amount of trans fat in their foods starting in 2006. Trans fats are generally oils (partially hydrogenated soybean oil for example) that extend the shelf life of food. They raise your LDL, lower your HDL, and cause inflammation throughout the body, including weight gain.

The bottom line here is to read nutrition labels and look for 0 grams of trans fat and avoid fried food as much as possible because the majority of fried food has trans fat.

Now that you are clear on fat, make sure to include some good fats on your weight-loss journey.

 

 

Settle your Milk Confusion

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17134291469_71480bd560_oThere are so many different types of milk on the supermarket shelves; it’s confusing as to which one you should drink, right? You may like a certain type in your coffee, but a different type on your cereal. Some may not settle right in your stomach; some may settle just fine.

I will review the differences with you in this blog.

Cow’s Milk

Let’s start with cow’s milk and I will explain the differences between whole, 2 percent, and skim.

An 8-ounce glass of whole milk has 8 grams of saturated fat and 150 calories per cup, while the same amount of two-percent milk has 5 grams of saturated fat and 120 calories per cup; the same amount of skim milk has no saturated fat and only 100 calories. All of these types of milk have about 8 grams of protein per 8-ounce serving.

This means that skim milk is best for your waistline.

However, 2 percent and whole milk have more calcium and vitamin D for your bones. Vitamin D is fat-soluble so you need the fat in two percent and whole milk to absorb this superstar vitamin!

And then you have the cholesterol to think about; with more saturated fat, there’s more cholesterol!

Lastly, you may very well be lactose-intolerant and unable to handle any type of cow’s milk!

Don’t fear! I have more types of milk to review!

Sheep or Goat Milk

Both of these types of milk are friendlier on the stomach, but they have a strong flavor that some find hard to acclimate to. I do recommend trying them for their rich nutrition!

Plant-Based Milks

There are a plethora of plant-based milks. The only one with a decent amount of protein is soy, but keep in mind that soy is a common food allergy. Also, go organic with soy, otherwise, there’s a strong chance that it is genetically-modified.

Almond milk is a popular choice; it is a good choice of vitamin e and magnesium, low in fat, and has a pleasant, sweet taste. The texture is nice and late too.

Coconut milk is becoming quite trendy. It is low in carbs and rich in lauric acid; this converts to monolaurin in your body, which helps your body fight bacteria and viruses.

Rice milk has a nice taste; it doesn’t have much nutritionally, but is great for people who have nut allergies!

Hemp milk is the only plant-based milk with a good amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, the GOOD FATS, which your brain indulges in!

There you have it…just a few of the milk choices you have! Which will you choose?

 

 

 

Healthy Choices for Dad on Father’s Day

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We all want to make dad a delicious dinner for “his” day and often rich foods come to mind: bacon and eggs for breakfast, spare ribs or his favorite Reuben with homemade fries for dinner. Well, I have some great ideas of ways you can “treat” dad and not worry about giving him a heart attack in the process.

For his breakfast

Swap out the bacon for Canadian ham; it has way less fat than bacon and packs in 11 grams of protein. It’s berry season and few foods are as delicious as berry pancakes. Look for a whole grain pancake mix and sneak in a couple tablespoons of ground flaxseed for extra fiber and healthy omega-3 fats. Use coconut oil on the griddle instead of butter and reap the benefits that the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil boast, resulting in a perk to dad’s metabolism.

For his lunch

So maybe dad really wants a Reuben; no problem! You can make him a healthy rendition. The Thousand Island dressing in a Reuben is much of an assault on your health as the corned beef. And don’t think a fat-free Thousand Island dressing is your answer. Do you know how many chemicals are in that? Instead, look for a yogurt-based Thousand Island dressing.  Find a low-sodium turkey and use Alpine Lace Swiss, which is low in fat, for the cheese. And the remaining three ingredients are sauerkraut, mustard and rye bread. Try to find a hearty rye from a bakery for more fiber. And be generous with the sauerkraut; it is fermented and will boost those healthy bacteria in dad’s gut!

For his dinner

Guess what? Dad can still have steak for dinner, just look for a leaner cut! The Mayo Clinic has a great diagram, which shows the leanest cuts of beef, such as sirloin or flank steak. Steam up some asparagus on the side with a sprinkling of sea salt and a teaspoon of lemon juice for a delicious veggie side.

We hope your dad has a happy and healthy father’s day. Keep in mind that most days, a mostly plant-based diet is the best route to optimal health, but on days like Father’s Day, give the man what he wants, with healthy substitutions.

 

Top-Five Nutrition Tips for Men’s Hearts

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As part of Men’s Health Month, I’ll be writing several blogs related to men’s health. Earlier this week, I wrote about prostate health. This entry gets to the heart of the matter when it comes to men’s health; after all, heart-disease is the top killer of men! Men, of all ages, please take your heart health seriously. Here are five easy nutrition tips to apply to protect your precious, beating heart.

Tip #1: Say Goodbye to Fast Food, MOST of the time!

According to a recent Gallop Poll, men ages 18-49 eat fast food at least weekly; try to cut that down guys! Fast food is high in salt and both hydrogenated and saturated fat, all of which are bad news when it comes to heart health. If you must eat out, opt for a sandwich shop where you can get a lean meat such as turkey.

Tip #2: Fill up on Fruits and Veggies

Potassium is super protective for your heart; two cups of fruit and two and a half cup of veggies today will assure you are getting a powerful amount of potassium to keep your heart healthy. The best picks are tomatoes, leafy greens, potatoes, bananas and squash.

Tip #3: Once again, Load up on Omega-3s instead of Fatty Meats

Sorry guys, but you really should exchange your steak for fish!

Fish is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association (AHA) states, “Omega-3 fatty acids benefit the heart of healthy people, and those at high risk of — or who have — cardiovascular disease. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats), which can lead to sudden death.  Omega-3 fatty acids also decrease triglyceride levels, slow growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque, and lower blood pressure.” The AHA recommends at least two servings of fish a week. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids.

Tip #4: Choose Red Wine over Beer

Red wine contains heart-protecting flavonoids. If you’d like an alcoholic beverage, red wine is the best choice for your heart!

Tip #5: Address Stress  

This isn’t necessarily nutrition advice, but it’s sound life advice. Managing stress is imperative when it comes to heart health. Studies show that chronic stress, especially the kind that creates feelings of fear or anger, is a risk factor for heart disease. Explore stress-reducing techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, relaxation exercises, meditation, and massage.

Guys, a healthy life requires a healthy heart. Apply these tips and eat your way to a healthy heart!

Guys, Please Protect your Prostate!

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Because June is Men’s Health Month, I have decided to dedicate some blogs to men’s health concerns. Today’s entry is about nutritional approaches men can take to protect their prostate. The prostate is about the size of a walnut; it is a gland that is part of the male reproductive system. As a man ages, it is very important for him to protect his prostate and be sure that it doesn’t enlarge; if it enlarges, the risk of prostate cancer increases exponentially. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be over 180,000 cases of prostate cancer diagnosed this year; prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in men in the United States.

While it is the season of delicious, yet meat-heavy barbecues, men must make sure to consume some health-boosting (mostly) plant-based foods to protect their prostate. Here are some suggestions guys:

  • Love your Lycopene

Lycopene is a carotenoid found in red fruits and veggies, most notably tomatoes. Studies have found that lycopene can lower your risk of developing prostate cancer. Not a lover of fresh tomatoes? Tomato sauce has just as much lycopene!

  • Get Zany over Zinc

Several studies have found that men with enlarges prostates or prostate cancer have low levels of zinc in their blood; therefore, research indicates that zinc has a protective effect. Men, increase your zinc with these excellent options: sesame seeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds, or adzuki beans.

  • Achieve Victory with Vitamin C from Veggies

Research is finding that vitamin-C has a protective role against an enlarged prostate; interestingly, it is only vitamin-C from veggies (not fruit) that has this protective effect. Reach for bell peppers, which have more vitamin C than any other veggie. If bell peppers aren’t your thing guys, consider broccoli, kale, or Brussels sprouts.

  • OMG is Omega-3 Amazing

Although experts tend to recommend reducing meat consumption for prostate health, fish is the exception to the rule. A recent study showed that omega-3s can prevent prostate cancer tumor growth due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Great fish choices with high omega-3s include: wild-caught salmon, freshwater trout, anchovies, and sardines.

  • Boost your Health with Beta-Sitoserol

 Beta-what? Beta-sitosrol is a plant sterol found in avocados, pumpkin seeds, and pecans; this plant sterol has been found to reduce the risk of an enlarged prostate. What a great excuse for guacamole!

While most men I know don’t deliberately make food choices to protect their prostate, I ask that you do because a healthy prostate is very important, especially as you age and your risk of prostate cancer increases.