Archive for the ‘Healthy Eating with Carolyn O'Neil’ Category

Healthy Eating: Some fats linked to health benefits

By Carolyn O’Neil, for the AJC

Eat more of something? That’s good news.

Nutrition advice usually begins with a long list of high fat foods you should be eating less of, like bacon cheeseburgers and fried chicken. But that’s not the case with healthful fats such as the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and some plant foods such as flax seed, canola oil and walnuts.

Research links consumption of omega-3s with an impressive 36 percent reduction in risk from dying of heart disease as well as other health benefits, including lowered blood pressure, enhanced immune function and improved arthritis symptoms.

The versatile disease-fighting power of omega-3s is connected to their anti-inflammatory affect on the body. The three major kinds of kinds of omega-3 fatty acids are known by their chemical abbreviations: DHA, EPA and ALA. DHA and EPA, found in fish, are most closely associated with health benefits. ALA is the form predominantly found in plant sources.

Salmon is a great source of healthy fats. Photo credit: McCormick.com.

Salmon is a great source …

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Healthy Eating: Conference encourages tastier tactics

By Carolyn O’Neil, for the AJC

Imagine a day when your doctor hands you a recipe instead of a prescription and you’ll share the vision of health professionals gathered recently at the Culinary Institute of America’s campus in Napa Valley.

The Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives conference presented by researchers from Harvard Medical School brought medicine and menus together to illustrate the benefits of a healthful diet.

“We need to practice what we preach,” declared Dr. David Eisenberg, director for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies at Harvard Medical School. “What doctors eat predicts their willingness and ability to advise patients about what they eat.”

Chef John Ash recommends, “Instead of steaming, try roasting vegetables such as cauliflower and brussels sprouts — the high heat brings out naturally sweet flavors.”

Chef John Ash recommends, “Instead of steaming, try roasting vegetables such as cauliflower and brussels sprouts — the high heat brings out naturally sweet flavors.”

Eisenberg, who created the Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives conference, led a recipe demonstration on Asian stir-fry …

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Healthy Eating: Plant-based foods offer better nutrition

By Carolyn O’Neil, for the AJC

It’s easy to understand why nutrition advice includes cautionary tales of restaurant menu items that deliver more than a day’s calorie limit with overblown portions and whopping amounts of sugar, salt and fat.

But registered dietitian Connie Guttersen doesn’t think that means declaring a ban on dining out. “Eating out is part of the daily American lifestyle. Strategies for success are essential to help diners who need to lose [weight] or maintain weight loss and feel good about eating in restaurants.”

She says access to the facts helps diners decide what to order. For instance, nutrition information on menu items at P.F. Chang’s reveals wide swings in calories. Choose the orange peel beef and you’re looking at 1,400 calories on the plate vs. the Cantonese shrimp with only 350 calories per serving.

Health care reform may usher in more nutritional information on restaurant menus. Photo by BECKY STEIN/AJC Special

Health care reform may usher in more nutritional information on restaurant menus. Photo by BECKY STEIN/AJC Special

Guttersen knows a lot about the …

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Healthy Eating: Fluids, fiber and exercise important to digestive tract

By Carolyn O’Neil, for the AJC

Can we talk? Constipation used to be whispered about privately, but today it seems like everyone is discussing digestive health and ways to keep things “regular.”

Certainly, what you eat and drink plays a key role all along the digestive tract, and the right dietary choices, including consuming enough fiber and fluids, can help keep things moving along naturally.

Beets are high in fiber and can help keep digestive tracts healthy. Photo by Phil Skinner/pskinner@ajc.com.

Beets are high in fiber and can help keep digestive tracts healthy. Photo by Phil Skinner/pskinner@ajc.com.

You’ll feel better, and that’s great. But did you know that the digestive tract is the first line of defense for the body’s immune system? The intestinal lining absorbs the nutrients we need for good health and rejects what we don’t need, sending waste products down the line to be eliminated. And a healthy digestive tract is actually better at absorbing vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

Irregularity can be caused by medications and some dietary supplements, such as calcium …

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Healthy Eating: Learn to plan diet yourself

By Carolyn O’Neil, for the AJC

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.” — Author unknown

This proverb came to mind when I was answering a request to provide more specific nutritional comparisons of menu items in a restaurant review ranking system — kind of like “order this, not that.”

I agree it is helpful to share where to look for the most fish or eateries with the best selection of healthful items or best attitude toward special diet requests. But I think it’s more helpful to teach strategies to help diners identify the healthiest choices on the menu no matter where they’re eating.

When I discussed the “give a man a fish” concept with registered dietitian Marisa Moore, who is president of the Georgia Dietetic Association, she laughed knowingly. “Too often people don’t want to think for themselves. They want me to catch the fish, cook it up and serve it to them on a plate.”

Dietitians want to teach you …

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HEALTHY EATING: Chefs’ brighter, lighter ideas

By Carolyn O’Neil, for the AJC

The notion of healthy cooking usually conjures up a menu of something grilled and something steamed and probably nothing all that exciting to talk about.

That’s why I am so thankful for the inspiration restaurant chefs provide on the plates they serve.

When taking a bite of a simple green salad at Miller Union, I savored the crunch of an ingredient I first thought was bacon; but these savory bits turned out to be crispy oyster mushrooms. Executive chef Steven Satterfield revealed that he seasoned them lightly and crisped them up in his convection oven before tossing them into the salad. What a great idea.

The vegetable place from Miller Union. Photo by BECKY STEIN/AJC Special

The vegetable place from Miller Union. Photo by BECKY STEIN/AJC Special

Season with herbs
Chefs are trained to coax flavor from foods and create memorable pairings to maximize palate pleasure. This prevents having to add extra salt, butter or cream to make something taste good.

Executive chef Gerry Klaskala’s menu at Aria reads like an open …

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Popular nutrition advice might need another look

By Carolyn O’Neil, for the AJC

From tidbits discussed at dinner parties to food bloggers’ pithy posts, all kinds of diet facts and fallacies are being shared about what to eat and not to eat and how it all might affect our health.

Because I spend most of my time keeping up with the latest in nutrition science and food trends, I thought I would weigh in on some of the most talked about topics today. So dig in and digest a few nuggets of nutrition knowledge to help cut through the clutter.

It’s complicated. Simplistic advice such as “shop the perimeter of the grocery store to find the healthiest food products” just doesn’t make sense anymore. I get the idea that fresh produce is often on the store’s perimeter and potato chips are in the aisles, but isn’t the perimeter also where you find the beer and the bakery? Center aisles are home to many of the most healthful foods, including canned beans, brown rice and whole-grain cereals. Whether you’re shopping for foods low in …

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HEALTHY EATING: Rules for cheating on diet

By Carolyn O’Neil, for the AJC

Nobody’s perfect and that’s especially true when it comes to eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. Diet modification experts say you have to plan for occasional splurges as part of the long-term plan. Atlanta personal fitness trainer Beth Lewis offers empowering psychological advice to her clients who need a boost: “Don’t mistake setbacks with failure.” So, here are a few ways “cheating” on your diet can actually be a refreshing and powerful strategy to support successful weight control.

Some diet experts recommend ordering dessert first. JOEY IVANSCO/AJC Special

Some diet experts recommend ordering dessert first. JOEY IVANSCO/AJC Special

Order dessert first
This strategy helps you plan the rest of your meal around the sinfully rich dessert you really crave. OK, the waiter may think you’re weird asking to see the dessert menu first, but you need information on your destination before you can map out the meal. So, if you know you’ve just got to have the chocolate cheesecake or coconut cake with pineapple ice cream, then …

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HEALTHY EATING: Alcohol high in calories

By Carolyn O’Neil, for the AJC

The Super Bowl parties are behind us. The holidays seem oh, so last year. So, with spring approaching, it might seem like a good time to cut back on the calorie cost of alcoholic beverages.

But then there’s Valentine’s Day, with champagne toasts or romantic red wines. And St. Patrick’s Day parties are just around the corner. And then there’s spring break trips to the beach. So, no matter the season, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the liquid portion of portion control.

It may be true that long-term health recommendations give the green light to two drinks a day for men and one for women; but what are you drinking? The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines a “drink of alcohol” as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1 1/2 ounces of distilled spirits. Now you know how to properly count your drinks, but counting calories in potent potables is another story.

Carbohydrates and proteins contain 4 calories per gram, and fat contains 9. …

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HEALTHY EATING: Teach children to eat for health

By Carolyn O’Neil, for the AJC

Once upon a time, it was a special occasion to dine at a restaurant with your parents. Everyone could splurge. I always got the cheesecake.

Now, eating out with the kids is part of everyday life, and that means restaurant food choices have a greater effect on health and nutrition.

Registered dietitian Janice Bissex is a mother of two girls and writes a family nutrition blog 
(www.mealmakeover
moms.com) with dietitian Liz Weiss, who has two boys.

“If eating out is a frequent occurrence, some ground rules should be set,” Bissex said. She recommends limiting soft drink consumption and encouraging water, low-fat milk or juice as more healthful beverage options.

If french fries are a family favorite, “I’d suggest just one order at the table to share with everyone.”

When dining out, opt for a healthy appetizers that's fun for the kids, like hummus with carrot and celery sticks for dipping. Photo by Kent D. Johnson, kdjohnson@ajc.com.

When dining out, opt for a healthy appetizers that’s fun for the kids, like hummus with carrot and celery sticks for dipping. Photo by Kent D. Johnson, kdjohnson@ajc.com.

Kids menus …

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