Give it up for fat!

With so much media attention on fat, it concerns me a little how we seem to forget the importance of fat in our diets.  Fat has been made out to be the bad guy quite a bit lately. Because of that, I’ve been considering writing a post discussing the difference between good and bad fats as well as the importance of including fats in our diet.

In looking up some information to refresh my memory of all those physiology and nutrition classes I took once upon a time, I came across a great article that I decided to send you to instead.  With so much great information already included in one place, I don’t see a need to duplicate it.  The people on this site essentially did everything that I wanted to (and much more) and they did it much more concisely than I could have.

My favorite part is where they give guidelines for choosing healthy fats:

“With so many different sources of dietary fat—some good and some bad—the choices can get confusing. But the bottom line is simple: don’t go no-fat, go good fat.

If you are concerned about your weight or heart health, rather than avoiding fat in your diet, try replacing saturated fats and trans fats with good fats. This might mean replacing some of the meat you eat with beans and legumes, or using olive oil rather than butter.”

I would add, if you are concerned about your weight, pay more attention to how many calories you’re eating compared to how many calories you are expending than to whether or not you’re eating fat-free.

Anyway, I’ll stop typing so you can read what these smarter people say.  Its good stuff.

Remember, the choices you make determine the life you live.

Simple tips

Check out this great post by John Chase, a personal trainer certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.  Simple tips like these are great to come across because they’re easy to implement quickly and they actually make a difference.  These are some of the tips John has:

Eat from smaller plates or bowls. The bigger the plate, the more you’ll eat.

Increase your veggie variety to decrease boredom.

Try a veggie burger. They’re pretty tasty!

Use spinach in your salad

Eat slower. Take your time and enjoy the meal. You’ll be less likely to go back for seconds when you take your time as well.

Chew your food better. It aids digestion.

Make and take your lunch to work. You’ll make better food choices, you’ll eat less, and you’ll save a ton of money.

Use olive oil when cooking.

Fill half your plate with veggies. That leaves less room for the stuff that doesn’t help you get to your goals.

Eliminate soda, sports drinks, and fancy coffee. We get 22% of our calories through drinks.

Have fruit as a snack instead of processed sugars

And my personal favorite, of course: Eat a real breakfast. A pop tart doesn’t count. Neither does the donut and/or cup of coffee.

If you’re looking for simple ways to improve your nutrition, take a good look at John’s list and pick out a couple to start implementing right away.

Remember, the choices you make determine the life you live

Restaurant Nutrition App

Trying to watch what goes into your body while eating out?  Check out this cool app brought to us by Unified Lifestyle.

The app store description touts Restaurant Nutrition as being “loaded with over 250 Restaurants” and “60,000 food items”.

That’s mucho food!

If you’ve had a chance to try this out, let us know what you think.  Is it worth having?  Does it help you make better choices or does it just leave you feeling guilty?

Leave a comment or find us on Facebook and Twitter to let us know.

Remember, the choices you make determine the life you live

Really? They don’t talk about diet and exercise?

Check out this article about how cancer is being shown to help cancer survivors.  Then, if you care, come back to read my ranting.  http://www.telegram.com/article/20120426/NEWS/120429637/-1/NEWS04

What blows my mind is not that diet and exercise is being shown to help prevent the recurrence of cancer.  I’m not surprised that people use exercise to improve their moods and overcome the depression that can so easily follow such a devastating diagnosis.  I’m not even shocked that the American Cancer Society issued new guidelines (finally).

What I find staggering,  astonishing and even distressing is the comment that “usually the last thing on (a doctor’s) mind is to talk about diet and exercise”.  Really?!  Is that really the case?  Has our medical system really strayed so far from helping people actually overcome disease?  Has it simply become a system where we try to alleviate symptoms rather than alter root causes?

I am not a doctor.  I have no interest in going to medical school.  I did, however, study exercise science and was able to take many of the classes required for pre-med.  I sat in the same room as many people in my area who are now studying to become or are practicing as medical professionals.  I cannot fathom that those people studied what I did, listened to the same lectures, read the same books, prepared presentations on the same topics (on top of everything else they later went through in medical school) and would still have the mentality of diet and exercise being the “last thing on their mind…to talk about” with their patients.

I understand that “there hadn’t been much [statistical] evidence on the effects of diet and exercise for people who had had cancer” but, seriously, how can you work with patient after patient dying from a disease that has long been shown to be tied to obesity and lack of activity and not promote a healthy diet and exercise?

Could you please enlighten me?  Is it really true that doctors don’t help patients with improving their diets and fitness levels?  Has this been your experience or have your doctors talked about diet and exercise?  I am having such a hard time imagining this to really be the case.  What have you experienced?

Remember, the choices you make determine the life you live

Corn. Yeah, it really is that good.

Poor corn.  So faithful.  So forgotten.

For generations, corn has been a staple for whole civilizations of people.  Today, however, not many people toot its horn.  Let me change that for just a minute.

One of the most well-known benefits of corn is its huge fiber content.  It has so much fiber that it is really difficult to digest.  A single ear of corn (medium size, about 7″ long) has 3g of dietary fiber.  One cup of corn has 14.3% of the daily needs of fiber.  The insoluble fiber found in corn is great for working on (and preventing) digestive issues like constipation and hemorrhoids.

Anyone who has eaten corn knows how hard it is to digest and has experienced its benefits but did you know that corn also has the following benefits?

  • Corn is a good source of Vitamin C and manganese.  These are both well-know antioxidants that help protect many of the body’s systems and its cells.
  • More recently, corn’s phytonutrients have been documented to be good antioxidants and also to help reduce the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.
  • Some of the phytonutrients found in corn include beta-carotene and lutein, both of which help keep our eyes healthy.
  • Corn is a low-calorie food that still has enough fiber to actually makes you feel full.  One ear of corn has only 77 calories.
  • Corn is also a good source of folic acid.  The importance of folic acid (especially for pregnant women) was discussed in more detail in a previous post.
  • Surprisingly, there is a decent amount of protein found in corn, with a single ear having 3g.  The best part of the protein found in corn is that it is high quality with a great amino acid score of 83.
    • Let’s see if I can explain the amino acid score without putting anyone to sleep.
    • Protein is made up of amino acids.  The body breaks protein down into its amino acids in order to use them.  There are 9 essential amino acids, or amino acids that the body can’t produce on its own so we have to get them from our diet.
    • Amino acids can only be used by our bodies in specific proportions.  If you have 100% of 8 amino acids but only have 50% of the 9th, the body will only use 50% of each of the amino acids.  This is a simplification, I’m sure, but you get the point.
    • The amino acid score is a number (from 0 – 100) that tells you how proportionately balanced the amino acid in that food is.  By comparison, a sirloin, which is considered a great protein source, has an amino acid score of 94.
    • In other words, corn is a good source of good protein.
  • The high fiber and good protein quality in corn help regulate how quickly it passes through the digestive system.  This benefits blood sugar by regulating the uptake of sugar from the digestive tract into the blood stream.  This makes corn great for diabetics and anyone trying to control blood sugar.
  • Corn just tastes good.

There are many reasons corn is a great staple for our dinner tables.  If you haven’t had the pleasure of eating some delicious corn lately, look up your favorite recipe and have some tonight.

And, of course, with so many amazing health benefits, you know you can find corn in Dee’s Cereal.  You can read a little more about corn and the rest of the ingredients found in Dee’s Cereal on our nutrition page at http://deescereal.com/nutrition/.

Remember, the choices you make determine the life you live

Sources that weren’t knowledge gained from classes, past reading, and life experience: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=90http://home.howstuffworks.com/corn3.htmhttp://nutritiondata.self.com/

 

Something missing in whole grains?

When researching for a previous post about whole grains I came across some interesting information from the Mayo Clinic.  This is what they had to say:

A word of caution – If all of the grains you eat are whole grains, you may need to take extra care to get sufficient folic acid, a B vitamin. This is because whole grains are not a natural source of folate, and some may not be fortified with folate. Look for whole grains that have been fortified with folic acid, such as some ready-to-eat cereals. Folate is also found in other foods, including fruits, vegetables and legumes. Folic acid is especially important if you’re a woman who could become pregnant or is pregnant.

This got me hunting down information on folic acid.  It turns out the combination of ingredients in Dee’s Cereal helps alleviate some of these concerns about eating whole grains.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

The form of folic acid naturally occurring in our bodies is called folate so you’ll see the terms used interchangeably.   It helps with body functions such as cell division and growth.  It also helps in making healthy red blood cells.

Folate is especially important for women who could become pregnant because many of the birth defects that a folate deficiency can cause happen before a woman even knows she is pregnant.  Some of the major birth defects that can occur due to a lack of folic acid are spina bifida (where the spinal cord is left unprotected and nerves in appendages don’t work properly) and anencephaly (where the brain doesn’t fully develop).  This is why doctors recommend that women who could become pregnant take a multi-vitamin, such as a prenatal vitamin, that contains 100% of the daily folate needs, even if they don’t plan on getting pregnant.

If we don’t have enough folate in our bodies, we can also have problems making healthy red blood cells.  Folate deficiency can lead to a type of anemia.  That means that the red blood cells can’t carry enough oxygen or that there is a lower number of red blood cells than are needed to get oxygen to the rest of the body.

Taking pills (including vitamins) should always be done with prudence and normally under medical supervision, but as far as we know, we can’t consume too much folate from food.  I have always preferred to find ways to consume the nutrients my body needs through food rather than having to take a pill.  Pregnant women aside (and those who could become pregnant), the rest of us don’t need quite as much folic acid.  Most of us can get a sufficient amount of folate through our diets, if we pay attention to what we are eating.

Leafy greens are a great source of folate.  Eating legumes, liver, kidney and sunflower seeds is also a good way to get folate in your diet.  We haven’t gone quite far enough as to add leafy greens, liver or kidney to Dee’s Cereal, but we do use garbanzo beans and sunflower seeds…alright, so maybe the sunflower seeds don’t sound so weird but I get plenty of funny looks when I tell people we’ve put garbanzo beans in our cereal.

If you missed the blog on the amazingness of garbanzo beans you can read it here, so I won’t bore you with more of that here.  What I will tell you is that a 3.5oz serving of garbanzo beans will get you 43% of your daily folate needs and the same serving of sunflower seeds will get you a whopping 57%.

I’ve always known that the combination of foods in Dee’s Cereal is what makes it such a great product.  Thanks to the Mayo Clinic inspiring some research, I now know a little more about why that combination is so good.  If we learn to watch what we eat and eat a large variety of foods, we can usually get the nutrients our body needs.

As you enjoy that next bowl of hot Dee’s Cereal or toss that next cup into your favorite recipe, remember that you’re getting an amazing combination of nutrients to fuel your body right.  Eat up and enjoy!

Remember, the choices you make determine the life you live 

Garbanzo beans?! In my cereal?! Oh yeah!

I talk to a lot of people about the awesomeness of Dee’s Cereal.  It’s what I do.  Over the years, I’ve heard all sorts of comments and fielded too many questions to number.  Invariably, though, the weirdest looks come when I tell people that Dee’s Cereal has garbanzo beans.  It may sound weird, but garbanzo beans are one of the reasons Dee’s Cereal has helped so many people.

Check out these nutrition facts found at nutritiondata.com to see for yourself.  (Chickpeas is just another name for garbanzo beans)

You can see there that garbanzo beans are well-balanced in macronutrients (carbs, fats and protein). Recommendations vary on what that balance should be but 68% carbohydrates, 14% fat and 18% protein is a great balance for a healthy diet.

Garbanzo beans are also one of the best protein sources found in the plant world.  Along with quinoa and amaranth, garbanzo beans are one of the reasons you are able to get such great protein from Dee’s Cereal.  The best part is that Dee’s Cereal provides the great protein you would normally have to find in meat without adding all the extra solid fats.

The “Amino Acid Score” tells how well-balanced the essential amino acids are in a food.  Amino acids are the building blocks of protein; they are what protein is made up of.  Essential amino acids are the amino acids our body needs but can’t produce on its own.  There are 9 of them and the only way we can get them is by eating foods that contain them.  The body can only use essential amino acids proportionately.  For example, if a food contains 100% of 8 of the amino acids but only has 50% of the 9th, then the body can only use 50% of the essential amino acids found in that food.

A score of 106 shows that the amino acids in the protein derived from chickpeas has a complete amount of each essential amino acid.  This is what is meant by a food being a “complete protein”.  This is one of the best reasons for including garbanzo beans in a food like Dee’s Cereal.  That protein balance helps the body get the nutrients it needs.  It also makes it so the feeling of being full lasts longer because there is a better balance between carbs, proteins and fats.  This is one reason why eating Dee’s Cereal keeps you full longer than eating oatmeal or boxed cereals.

Garbanzo beans also help in maintaining your energy when you eat Dee’s Cereal because they are high in dietary fiber.  Fiber is basically everything in plants that our body can’t absorb.   This means that when we eat fiber, we give the body something to clean its insides with as it works through the digestive system.  It also gives us the feeling of being full that lasts longer than when we eat refined grains or sugars.  It has also been shown to help balance blood sugar and reduce the chance of developing Type 2 diabetes.

If you scroll to the bottom of the nutritiondata.com page I linked to above you can see more of the amazingness found in garbanzo beans.  They are a good source of folate and manganese, a decent source of copper, iron and phosphorous, as well as containing other minerals and vitamins in a low-fat food.

So, yeah, it may sound funny to have garbanzo beans in your cereal but thank goodness they’re in there.  They are one of the fantastic ingredients that make Dee’s Cereal such a unique, nutritious and delicious meal.

And, yes, awesomeness and amazingness are words…at least they are now.

Remember, the choices you make determine the life you live 

What’s the big deal with whole grains?

Everybody is talking about it!  Whole grains are splattered all over our favorite food’s packaging, they’re on the news, they’re even in my blog!  I’m just waiting for someone to create a California Raisins version of the whole grain…please let me know if someone has and I somehow missed out.

Last year the USDA made changes to dietary guidelines asking Americans to include more whole grains in their diet.  As of July 2012, school lunches in the USA will have to include more whole grains.  Bloggers, news agencies, marketing companies; everyone seems to be touting the benefits of whole grains.  They’ve even created a Whole Grains Council!  (It’s a fantastic resource, by the way.)

Dee’s Cereal has been promoting whole grains since day one.  We’ve made it easy to add solid whole grains to your diet by not including a single refined grain in Dee’s Cereal.

So what’s the big deal?

Let’s start off with what a whole grain is.  We have to thank the fantastic Whole Grains Council and USDA for some of the information we’re using.

There are 3 main parts to a grain: bran, endosperm and germ.

Bran: This is the outer layer which helps protect the grain.  It has antioxidants, B vitamins and more fiber than the other two parts.

Endosperm: This supplies food to the plant so it can grow.  It’s the biggest part of the grain.  It also contains the biggest portion of starchy carbohydrates, some protein, some fiber and a few minerals and vitamins.

Germ: This is the part of the plant that, if fertilized, will grow into a new plant.  It has some fiber as well as B vitamins, protein, and other vitamins and minerals.

A whole grain has all 3 parts.  Refined grains typically only have the endosperm left.

Removing the bran and the germ removes lots of protein, fiber and important nutrients.  We’ve said for years that too many grains we eat nowadays are first killed (refined) and then resurrected (enriched). Keeping the grain in its natural, whole state is the best way to go.

The Whole Grains Council has compiled many studies that show health benefits from eating whole grains.  Little things, such as:

  • Risk of stroke reduced 30 – 36%
  • Risk of type 2 diabetes reduced 21 – 30%
  • Risk of heart disease reduced 25 – 28%
  • Better weight control

Right, like I said, little things (hopefully my sarcasm is obvious).  Its amazing that a simple thing like eating grains in their natural state can cause such a huge impact on our health.

The biggest benefits came to those eating 3 servings or more per day (16 g per serving) but some benefits have been shown with only 1 serving per day.

Every 54g serving of Dee’s Cereal contains an astounding 34g of whole grains!  That means that by simply eating one serving of Dee’s Cereal each day you already have 2/3 of the whole grain that showed such amazing benefits in these research studies.  Not to mention the benefits I’ll be discussing later such as omega fats, high-caliber plant-based proteins, no sodium, and great vitamins and minerals.

There may not be a magic pill for health, but nature has provided a pretty good option in whole grains. Dee’s Cereal is an easy, fast, healthy way to incorporate whole grains into your diet.

Remember, the choices you make determine the life you live