The Big “C” in Food

eggs

People everywhere are looking for easy and affordable ways to add healthy protein to their diet. It seems that eggs appear to be the perfect little protein package. But since the advice from health professionals seems to change often about eggs, consumers are becoming increasingly confused. Healthy consumers really shouldn’t worry about this but, individuals who at-risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) or who have CVD, may want to be aware of this.

What seems to be more important than the food itself is the total cholesterol intake from food. Regardless of where the cholesterol comes from, like eggs or other animal products, consumers who are more susceptible to CVD should keep account of the cholesterol and saturated fat that they are consuming from these food sources.

Remember that eggs are contained in many foods, including bread, cakes, ice cream, muffins and even such entrees as breaded fish, meat dishes and meatloaf. Each of those might add just a fraction of an egg per serving, but together they can increase your cholesterol intake, especially since many of those items contain other ingredients that can be high in cholesterol and saturated fat, such as butter or cream.

Consumers should be careful about not confusing dietary cholesterol with blood cholesterol (LDL, HDL, and triglycerides). The major contributing factor of blood LDL cholesterol is saturated fat. There is a recommendation to limit dietary sources of saturated fat, largely found in dairy and animal protein. Although the saturated fat in eggs is relatively low compared with that in many other animal-based protein sources (one large egg has less than 2g of saturated fat), many of the foods that often accompany eggs (such as bacon, butter, cheese and sausage) are high in saturated fat as well. The combination of foods high in cholesterol, like these, can really add up.

According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, cholesterol intake by men averages about 350 mg per day, which exceeds the recommended level of less than 300 mg per day. Average cholesterol intake by women is 240mg per day. Independent of other dietary factors, evidence suggests that one egg (including egg yolk) per day does not result in increased blood cholesterol levels, nor does it increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in healthy people. Consuming less than 300mg per day of cholesterol can help maintain normal blood cholesterol levels. Consuming less than 200mg per day can further help individuals at high risk of cardiovascular disease.

On the plus side, eggs have many nutritional benefits. They’re a good source of high-quality protein, with relatively few calories (6.3 grams of protein for only 72 calories in a large egg). Eggs also contain vitamins B12 and D, and several essential micronutrients, including choline (important for brain health) and lutein (for eye health).

NHANES satd fat

cholesThe Washington Post

The Plant-Based Mediterranean Wallet

The Mediterranean Wallet

Americans constantly correlate a healthy lifestyle to expensive foods. This is not always the case. Yes, fresh foods, like produce for example, are normally higher in price compared to canned foods, or foods with a longer shelf-life.

Studies have shown that adopting the Mediterranean Diet helps reduce risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and heart attacks, amongst other chronic health disparities. The lifestyle stresses the importance of plant-based meals. One major ingredient in the diet is olive oil. The introduction of olive oil into the diet has been determined, to aid in feeling fuller long or the feeling of satiety.

Studies have also shown that an increase in plant-based meals can lead to a decrease in food insecurity. Food insecurity is defined as a lack of access to nutritional foods for at least some days or some meals for members of a household.

Researchers conducted a study to emphasize the use of simple, plant-based recipes and olive oil, following a Mediterranean diet pattern. A number of participants commented on how inexpensive a Mediterranean-style diet was.  So, the study approached a local food bank about designing their study using food pantry items for the program’s recipes.

Most people, who attempt at putting together a nutritionally balanced menu for their family or household, spend the bulk of their budget on meats, poultry, and seafood. These items, specifically lower-fat versions, tend to be the most expensive items someone will see on their grocery store receipt. Low socioeconomic status families will normally purchase these items first, leaving little left in the budget for healthier fruits and vegetables.

The researcher on the study explained that if the focus of the shopper could be changed to eliminate foods that are not needed to improve health from the shopping list, a healthy diet can be more economical.  Certain foods that could be crossed off that grocery store list include meats, snacks, desserts, and carbonated beverages/sodas.

The first 6 weeks of the study consisted of cooking classes where instructors prepared quick and easy plant-based recipes that incorporated ingredients like olive oil, whole grain pasta, brown rice and fruits and vegetables. The participant’s progress was tracked for 6 months after the conclusion of the cooking program.

One particular benefit for those attending the 6 week cooking class was that they were provided with groceries that contained most of the ingredients discussed by the class facilitators. The chosen ingredients provided to the participants would allow them to make 3 of the discussed recipes for their family members.

Once the classes were over, the researchers collected grocery receipts throughout the remainder of the study. Analysis of these receipts showed a significant decrease in overall purchases of meats, carbonated beverages, desserts and snacks. This was particularly interesting to the research team as they never offered instruction to the participants to avoid buying these items.

The further review of the grocery receipts showed that each household enjoyed an increase in the total number of different fruits and vegetables consumed each month. Participants cut their food spending in more than half, saving nearly $40 per week. The study also found that the reliance on food pantries decreased as well, indicating a decrease in food insecurity.

The research team also found that the cooking program had unexpected health benefits as well. Almost one-half of the participants presented loss in weight. This was not an objective in the study but, raised a few eyebrows. The study also showed an overall decrease in BMI of the participants.

Overall, this study shows that a plant-based diet, similar to the Mediterranean Diet, not only contributes to an overall improvement in health and diet. The study also highlights how a plant-based diet can contribute to decreasing food insecurity in America.

Plant-Based Med Diet Can Be Easy On the Wallet

6-week Cooking Program on Plant-Based Recipes

plantbased diet

food inse

med dietmed diet cooking class

Happy RD Day!

Happy Registered Dietitian (RD) Day!!

March 13th celebrates Registered Dietitian Day! This celebration occurs every year during National Nutrition Month, which is March. RDs are the public’s go-to healthcare professionals when they need reliable nutrition information, in this field. RDs pull from their experience to create a personalized nutrition plan for people of every age. These are the professionals that are able to separate facts from fads and translate nutritional science into information you, the consumer/client/patient, can use!

Dietitians can improve the health of Americans and save money through healthcare costs. Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) provided by RDs is critical in preventing the top 3 chronic illnesses. It is well documented that MNT is associated with a decrease in utilization of hospital services of 9.5% for patients with diabetes and 8.6% for patients with cardiovascular disease. Also noteworthy is that participation in community-based programs that focused on improving nutrition and increasing physical activity had a 58% decrease in incidence of Type 2 Diabetes.

Registered Dietitians assist to promote a net decrease in healthcare utilization and costs for most people. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation estimates that in Idaho, for every $1 spent in wellness programs, companies could save $3.27 in medical costs and $2.73 in absenteeism costs. Some interventions have been shown to help improve nutrition and activity habits in just 1 year and had a return of $1.17 for every $1 spent. Reducing the average BMI in the state of Idaho by 5% could lead to health care savings of more than $1 billion in 10 years and $3 billion in 20 years.

Well, unfortunately Wild and Wonderful West Virginia isn’t as lucky as ole Idaho. West Virginia still leads the nation in obesity, and was recently named the state with the highest number of overweight residents in the union. According to the 2012 Gallup-Healthways Well-being Index released last week, 33.5% of West Virginia’s population is considered obese.

Mississippi is the closest with an obesity rate of 32.2%. Arkansas has a rate of 31.4%, Louisiana is 30.9% and Alabama is listed at 30.4%, to round out the top five.

Residents of the Mountain State believe that a reason for the high obesity rate is the change in physical jobs and increase in availability of fast food. The combination of lack of physical activity and the ready access of fast food and junk food in homes has really contributed to the epidemic. On the flip side of our state, nutrition-related efforts seem to be working as West Virginia is no longer in the top five for childhood obesity!

With the help from schools and communities, West Virginia is increasing physical activity and need for healthier foods. As a unit we are advocating and promoting activity and nutrition. I think it seems to be helping! All thanks to those RDs out there!!!

Job outlook: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nutrition and Dietetics careers are expected to increase much faster (by 20%) than other jobs by 2020 and faster than many other industries within health care. In 2010, the median annual salary for RDs was $53,250, at $23.60 an hour. And the number of jobs available in the nutrition and dietetics field was 64,400.

Money Bags

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Fat West Virginia

Nutrition in the Community

RD Day 2013

RD Day