Treat yourself with Quality this Christmas

Treat yourself with quality not quantity

this holiday season.

Fall and Christmas 2010 101

At a buffet,

get your money’s worth

by having one plate of

the most expensive, the most unique and the most exquisite foods.

Skip all the buns, macaroni salad and other cheap and ordinary foods.

When it comes time for dessert,

fill 3/4 of your dessert plate with fruit and 1/4 with a few delightful treats.

Eat them slowly and savour every bite!

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At a party,

skip the chips and nuts

that pack a wallop of uninteresting calories.

Instead, choose a couple of special appetizers

that your host has made or purchased.

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At home,

be selective about what you bake.

Bake the treats that are your family’s favourites

and those that are most connected to your Christmas traditions.


Have a fun and joyful holiday season celebrating with family and friends.
Merry Christmas!!
Ruth

Christmas Treats at Work

Throughout the 5 week holiday season
chocolates and candies
are everywhere at work.

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On desks,
in staff rooms,
in waiting rooms and on countertops.

I find that when treats are around me I eat more.
In fact, the number of candies we all eat depends on many factors.

The Candy Experiments
If candies or chocolates are around your work space, you are more than likely to eat them. You can’t control everything in your environment, but you can control your own desk. If you keep treats off your desk, you will eat less. Even if treats are on your desk, you will eat more or less depending on certain factors.

The candy experiments involved dishes of candies that were placed on the desks of secretaries working in an office. For this blog, I am going to use small chocolates instead of candies and assume that the results would be very similar.

Each day, unknown to them, the dishes contained 30 small chocolates and each night. “Chocolate fairies” would determine how many were eaten throughout the day and then top the dish up to 30 small chocolates again.  Here’s what the researchers found:

1. The type of bowl placed on the desk determined the number of candies eaten.

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If the dish was clear, on average 9 small chocolates were eaten per day.

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If the dish was opaque, on average 6½ small chocolates were eaten per day.

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2.  If a clear dish was placed 2 metres away from the desk,
for example on top of a filing cabinet,
on average 4 (less than half) the chocolates were eaten.

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Think having a few chocolates isn’t significant?
Each small chocolate = 30 calories
9 small chocolates = 270 calories/day
4 small chocolates = 120 calories/day.

Over a 5 week period of 25 workdays:
9 small chocolates/day = 2 pounds gained
4 small chocolates/day =  about 1 pound gained

So by just removing the chocolates from your desk,
you can save yourself from having
to work that extra pound off in January
(which would take 7 hours of brisk walking).

The Jellybean experiment
In a different experiment, bowls of jellybeans were put out in an office. Each night 100 jellybeans were put into a bowl.  Here’s what the researchers found.  If there were 6 different colours of jellybeans in the bowl, on average people ate 23 jellybeans.  If there were 4 different colours, people ate 40% less, even though both bowls had the same number of jellybeans and they all tasted the same.  If there were 6 different colours, but each colour was put in a separate bowl, on average, people ate only 12 jellybeans, about 50% less.

So the greater the variety, the more is eaten. This is true not only for candies and chocolates but Christmas baking as well.

How to be an enlightened eater at work this holiday season:

  • Keep candy out of your office, or at least off your desk, as much as possible.
  • If candy is in your office, limit to one kind, in a covered dish, on a counter away from anyone’s desk.
  • Once you start on chocolates/candies/baking, it is hard to stop eating them. If you can’t stop at one, have your “one” at the end of the day when you’re on your way out the door. Sometimes more is not better, it’s just more.
  • When I can’t stop eating those sweet treats, I have a piece of cheese.  It seems to cut the desire for sweets.
  • During the holiday season there usually are many treats from which to choose. So save yourself for your favourites instead of eating them just because they are there.
  • Bring sweet and juicy mandarin oranges into work for a refreshing and satisfying change.

To see my interview on CTV News at Noon click here:  Holiday Treats at Work

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Choose quality over quantity this holiday season!
Ruth

Boning up on Supplements

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These days it is only too easy to buy vitamin supplements.
However, what is available on the pharmacy shelves is not always good for you.
In fact, some vitamins in large amounts can be harmful.

When it comes to vitamins,
more is definitely not always better.

A case in point is vitamin A. Studies have shown that vitamin A is important for bone health but it is thought that too much vitamin A may harm your bones.  This is especially true if you are also not getting enough vitamin D. And many Canadians are deficit in vitamin D.

How much is too much vitamin A?
More than 5,000 IU vitamin A per day from diet and supplements, paired with not getting enough vitamin D, has been shown to increase the risk of osteoporosis and hip fractures in postmenopausal women.

In Canada most of us get adequate amounts of vitamin A in our diets and there is little need to add more with supplements.  (Our daily requirement is 2300 IU vitamin A for women and 3000 IU vitamin A for men.)  So, all of us should be very cautious about taking vitamin A supplements.

I would recommend the following:
1. Don’t take a vitamin A supplement. The only vitamin A supplements available provide 10,000 IU per tablet which is too much.
2. Cod liver oil contains vitamin A, so do not use it as your vitamin D source or as a way to get your heart healthy omega 3s. Instead take vitamin D and omega 3 supplements.
3.  Do not use multivitamins that provide more than 2000 IU vitamin A per tablet. Some contain as much as 5,000 IU per tablet.  Centrum is a line of multivitamins that has low vitamin A levels.

Beta-carotene supplements
Beta-carotene is used to make vitamin A in our bodies. However, our bodies only convert as much as is needed to vitamin A.  Therefore, beta-carotene is a safe source of vitamin A.

Large amounts of beta-carotene are found in some Vitalux products.  Vitalux is a supplement recommended by eye doctors for people with macular degeneration. Beta-carotene is also found in multivitamins.  However, beta-carotene does not have the harmful effects on bone as do large amounts of vitamin A.  Beta-carotene in supplements is not a concern.

Vitamin D supplements
Vitamin D is essential for keeping our bones strong for a lifetime. Without sufficient vitamin D (and calcium) our bones become fragile and break easily.  Many Canadians have low blood levels of vitamin D.

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In sunny Canada, why are many of us not getting enough vitamin D?
Vitamin D is called the “sunshine vitamin” because it is produced when skin is exposed to ultraviolet B radiation from the sun. During the late spring and summer months, when the sun is “strongest”, we can make adequate vitamin D, although sun screen, darker skin and age all reduce the amount of vitamin D produced.

However, from September to April, although the sun is bright, it is ‘weaker’ and provides inadequate ultraviolet exposure to stimulate formation of vitamin D. Consequently, during the fall and winter months, we all need to get vitamin D from our diet and/or a supplement.

How much vitamin D do you need?
Less than 1 year old – 400 IU daily
Age 1 to 70 years – 600 IU daily
Over 70 years old – 800 IU daily
People with osteoporosis – 800 IU

 It is almost impossible to get enough vitamin D from our diets.
Therefore, every man, woman and child in Canada needs to take a vitamin D supplement from September to April.

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You can find vitamin D supplements easily at your local pharmacy. They are available as single supplements of 400 IU or 1000 IU. They are available in chewable and liquid forms as well as tablets.  Vitamin D is also included in most multivitamins and in some calcium supplements.

THE BOTTOM LINE:
Cut down on vitamin A supplements.
Start taking a vitamin D supplement today!!

Your bones will thank you!!

 To see my interview on CTV News at Noon, click on:  Boning up on Supplements

Ruth West

Treat yourself to health!
Ruth

 

 

Dressing up your Oatmeal

 

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 This week the Scots will vote yes or no for independence.
So I thought this would be a perfect time to think about a traditional Scottish breakfast –
oatmeal

And now that the chill of fall is in the air,
there is nothing more satisfying than a hot steaming bowl of oatmeal for breakfast.

One of my “top 10” healthy choices

Oatmeal is a whole grain and one of the healthiest choices you can make for breakfast as it provides essential nutrients like iron, magnesium and B vitamins.  Oats are a combination of insoluble and soluble fibre. Oatmeal has more soluble fibre than any other grain. The soluble fibre unique to oats is called beta-glucan.

No matter what kind of oats you use, – rolled oats, quick cooking oats, instant oats or steel cut oats – you still get the same amount of soluble fibre. Steel cut oats don’t have significantly more soluble fibre than other types of oats. They are just processed differently – chopped up instead of being pressed through rollers into flakes.

Why is oatmeal so good for you?

  1. The expression oatmeal “sticks to your ribs” is so true because oatmeal is a very satisfying breakfast. It is slowly digested which gives you long lasting energy.
  1. The soluble fibre in oatmeal also helps to lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol by reducing the absorption of cholesterol from the gut. Oats act like tiny sponges soaking up cholesterol in your gut and causing you to get rid of cholesterol instead of absorbing it into your body. This slows down the build up of plaque in your arteries and can reduce your risk of heart disease.
  1. Oatmeal has a low glycemic index meaning that it is slowly absorbed, producing a more gradual increase in blood sugar and lessening your need for insulin. Overtime this can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. It also makes oatmeal a great breakfast choice for those with diabetes.

Cooking oatmeal is fast and easy
Quick oats from the bag cook up just as fast as the instant oatmeal in the packages and is a fraction of the cost. Quick oats can be cooked on the stove or in the microwave. I like the microwave. Here is how I make a bowl of oatmeal for myself:

Basic Oatmeal
In a microwave-safe cereal bowl, mix ⅓ cup oats, ¾ cup milk, and a pinch of salt. Cook for 1½ -2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Top with a sprinkle of brown sugar or maple syrup if desired.

Now let’s dress it up
A handful of raisins or crasins are often added to the mixture before cooking.  Here are some other ideas:

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
In a microwave-safe cereal bowl, mix ⅓ cup oats, ¾ cup milk, 1 apple diced (skin left on), a pinch of salt and a pinch of cinnamon. Cook for 1½ -2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Top with a sprinkle of white or brown sugar if desired.

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Banana Nut Oatmeal
In a microwave safe cereal bowl, mix ⅓ cup oats, ¾ cup milk, 1 banana, sliced and a pinch of salt. Cook for 1½ -2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Top with a handful of nuts (e.g. pecans or walnuts) and a sprinkle of brown sugar or maple syrup if desired.

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Other ways to give your bowl of oatmeal a fibre boost:
 1.  Add 2 Tbsp Bran Buds
2.  Add ground flaxseed
3.  Use Porridge Oats (a mixture of oatmeal, oat bran, flaxseeds and wheat bran)

Give your bowl of oatmeal a protein boost
You can boost the protein of any oatmeal by mixing an egg or whey powder into the milk or water before adding the oatmeal and then cook as usual.

Here is one combination that I really love to make:

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Protein Power Oatmeal
Beat 1 egg and ⅓ cup milk in a microwave-safe bowl until blended. Stir in 1 package apples and cinnamon instant oatmeal* (I like using the lightly sweetened version). Microwave on high until liquid is absorbed and egg is set, 1½ -2 minutes. Stir. Top with vanilla yogurt. Enjoy!

* Instant Oatmeal in a package, unlike quick oats from a bag, is fortified with iron, thiamine, niacin, vitamin B5, vitamin B6 and folic acid.

To see my interview on CTV News at Noon click on:  Oatmeal Dressed Up

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Treat yourself to health!
Ruth

How to get your kids to like veggies

Fresh veggies from the backyard gardens to the Farmer’s Market are here and taste so good!  However, there are challenges to getting some kids to enjoy them.  Here are some ideas that may help you.

Grow a garden
Grow a garden with your kids. They will love planting the seeds and watching the plants grow. But the best part is eating vegetables straight from the garden.  A favourite thing to do this time of year, is to eat some garden peas, fresh out of the pod!


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If you don’t have your own garden, take your kids to the Farmer’s Markets and let them choose a vegetable. This week I saw a preschooler choose a purple cauliflower to take home just because she liked purple!

Offer veggies that taste less bitter
Kids are SUPER tasters and taste the flavours of foods more keenly than many adults. And that can be a challenge when it comes to veggies because vegetables can taste bitter. It is those healthy vitamins and antioxidants that they contain that give them that bitterness. Some veggies are more bitter than others.

For this reason, I like to give kids raw veggies that are not bitter, such as mini carrots, red and green peppers, cucumber, and tomatoes. I offer raw veggies with a dip because kids love to dip anything and a dip can take away from the bitterness of the vegetables.

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I have found that some veggies are less bitter when cooked. For example, raw broccoli is very bitter but if it is cooked for just 2 minutes, it takes on a much brighter green colour and loses its bitterness. Some vegetables taste milder when they are not cooked, for example spinach.

Offer veggies that are not mushy
Kids like vegetables with a crunch. Raw veggies are favourites. Many kids prefer the fresh green beans available now in the summer over the cooked frozen beans that we have all winter. Kids like veggies cooked until tender crisp and not mushy.

In fact, I have found that kids prefer to eat frozen peas frozen instead of cooked. When my kids were young, I just put some frozen peas in a bowl for them to eat as a snack. They loved them that way!

Give kids veggies when they are hungry.
Have kids start their supper with veggies by putting out some raw veggies and dip for them to munch on while you are making supper.  By the time supper is served they will have eaten their veggies and won’t need to eat them with the meal.

Enjoy those veggies yourself – your kids do what you do, not what you say.
Don’t force your kids to eat veggies. Don’t even say “Have just one bite.” Offer crisp veggies that taste good and enjoy eating them yourself. Your child may take some time but s/he will eventually enjoy them too.

To see my interview on CTV News at Noon click on:  Kids and Veggies

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Treat yourself to health!

Ruth

Summer Salad Dressings

In the summer, I love my salads.
With all those greens and added veggies, they are so very nourishing.
But to keep them light in calories and sodium,
here are some of the dressings that I like to drizzle over them.

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Calorie-wise dressings

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  1. Most creamy dressings have 70 calories/Tbsp.  So I choose light creamy dressings.  One of my favourites is Kraft Calorie Wise Ranch dressing at 35 calories/Tbsp.  I love using it as an easy summer dip for veggies.
  2. For potato or macaroni salads, I use Hellmann’s Light (1/2 the Fat) mayonnaise or Miracle Whip dressing.  At 40 calories/Tbsp, the calories are less than half those of regular mayonnaise (100 calories/Tbsp) with all the taste!
  3. When eating out I order my dressing on the side.  This is important because the average portion of salad dressings in a restaurant is 3-4 Tbsp!  At 70 calories per Tbsp for regular creamy dressings this can add up to almost 300 calories!  I dip my fork into the dressing for each bite of salad and use a fraction of the amount served.
    Better yet, order an oil and vinegar type dressing.  Creamy dressings cling to the leaves but a lot of the oil and vinegar dressing falls to the bottom of the bowl and you end up eating less.
  4. When at home go for Kraft Calorie Wise Italian Dressing.  At 5 calories/Tbsp it is the lowest calorie dressing I have found.  I like to use it as a marinate.  Add it to a mixture of cut up broccoli, cauliflower, mini carrots and grape tomatoes.  Let stand for a couple of hours in the refrigerator and then serve!

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Tasty, low sodium dressings

Homemade salad dressings that are fast and easy and low in sodium:

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  1. Add a dazzle of olive oil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar straight from the bottle onto your salad.  Just like they do in Italy!
  2. Mix 3 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 crushed clove of garlic, ¼ tsp Dijon mustard, salt and pepper to taste.

Commercial salad dressings:

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  1. The lowest sodium commercial dressing that I have found is Raspberry Merlot from Bolthouse Farms at just 25 mg sodium/Tbsp.
  2. Check out the sodium on the labels of the dressings in your refrigerator.  Some high sodium dressings I found were ones I thought would be low sodium.  For example:  Kraft Oil and Vinegar at 200 mg sodium/Tbsp and Newman’s Lite Balsamic Dressing at 175 mg sodium/Tbsp!

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Treat yourself to health!
Ruth

To see my interview on Edmonton CTV News at Noon, click on Summer Salad Dressings

Sugar Shockers!

Now that it is warmer, I often want a nice cold beverage to quest my thirst.  However, I tend not to choose regular pop, iced tea, vitamin water and fruit juices because they contain significant amounts of sugar.

Did you know?
1 can (355 mL) pop = 10 tsp sugar

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1 bottle (500 mL) iced tea = 11 tsp sugar


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1 bottle (591 mL) vitamin water = 8 tsp sugar

Juice, even pure unsweetened juice, contains about as much sugar as pop.
For example…
1 bottle (355 mL) no sugar added orange juice  = 8 tsp sugar

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1 juice box (200 mL) apple juice = 6 tsp sugar

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All this sugar adds up to significant calories.

Did you know that if you did nothing but have water
instead of 1 can of pop every day for a year,
you would end up 15 pounds lighter!  

Getting too much sugar from drinks can increase your risk of heart disease and strokes.  It can also lead to abdominal gas and bloating.  Kids who sip on a lot of juice throughout the day get cavities.  The juice can often ruin their appetite for the next meal.

Instead I like to quench my thirst with water.
If I want to add some flavour to my glass of water
I add a lemon wedge,
a package of True Lemon powder

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a splash of lemon lime diet pop,
or a squirt of Mio or Crystal Light flavouring.

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All are calorie and sugar free!!

To see my interview on Edmonton CTV News at Noon, click on:  Sugar Shockers!!

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 Treat yourself to health!  
Ruth

Here’s what you need to know about colorectal cancer

April is cancer prevention month.
Here’s what you need to know about colorectal cancer.

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Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada
and is responsible for 30% of all deaths.

On average, over 500 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer every day
and over 200 Canadians will die every day from cancer.

Colorectal cancer, cancer of the large intestine,
is the third most common cancer in men and women,
after breast/prostate and lung cancers.

Early screening and detection is the best defense against colorectal cancer because it is curable in 90% of the cases when detected and treated early compared to only 10% when not treated until the advanced stages of the disease. People over 50 should have an occult blood test done every 2 years to help identify polyps (growths on the surface of the large intestine) in the colon early before they become cancerous.

The risk of developing each type of cancer is affected by a unique set of factors. In the case of colorectal cancer you are at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer when you are over 50, have a family history and if you smoke, drink heavily, or are overweight. You can lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer by being active (exercising at least five times per week) and by eating a healthy diet.

How can diet affect your risk of developing colorectal cancer?

Fibre probably lowers the risk of colorectal cancer.

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You can lower your risk by choosing high fibre foods at each meal:  whole grain cereals and toast at breakfast; vegetables or salad at lunch as well as dinner; trying beans and lentils at lunch (for example, baked beans, chili, lentil soup); and having one or two pieces of fruit each day.

We now have convincing evidence that red meats,
especially processed meats,
can increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

There is convincing evidence
that 
we should avoid eating processed meats
(i.e. ham, bacon, sausage and hotdogs)
to reduce the chance of colorectal cancer.

 

Red meats include beef, pork, lamb and veal and are a valuable source of protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B 12.

Therefore to reduce the chance of colorectal cancer, it is recommended to not cut out red meat but to keep the intake of red meats to less than 24 oz of raw meat (or 18 oz of cooked meat) per week.

So how can you keep your intake of cooked red meat to the recommended weekly total of 18 oz?

  1. Have fish and poultry (chicken and turkey) more often. These do not increase the risk of colorectal cancer. So of the seven dinners in a week, make one fish, two chicken and four beef or pork. For example, have salmon or skinless chicken breasts/thighs on the BBQ instead of steak or pork chops.
  2. For lunch have a tuna salad, peanut butter, or egg salad sandwich instead of one made with processed meats.
  3. When you have red meat, choose a lean cut (e.g. beef tenderloin) and aim for a palm-sized serving (i.e. 4-6 oz). This is very different from the amounts served in many restaurants! When eating out, order the smallest steak available, usually a 6 oz portion, and have a salad, as well as cooked vegetables, with it.
  4. Extend your red meat by having stews, stir fries, chili or spaghetti sauce. This way the amount of meat in your portion is probably only 2 oz or less.
  5. Use meat alternatives such as beans or lentils for some meals. I find that this works better at lunch than at supper e.g. minestrone soup, black bean soup, and baked beans on a baked potato all make wonderfully satisfying lunches.

Food for thought…

Use your diet to reduce your chance of colorectal cancer:
Up your fibre. Reduce your red meat. Avoid processed meat.

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For my CTV interview on this topic, click on:   Diet and your risk of colorectal cancer

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Treat yourself to health!
Ruth

Ancient Grains

You can now find breads, cereals and granola bars
that contain ancient grains.

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What are ancient grains?

  • ‘Ancient grains’ are grains or seeds that have remained true to their original genetic form.
  • They originated centuries ago in northern Africa, South America or Asia.
  • They are rich in fibre and B vitamins and, depending on the grain, can be rich in minerals such as iron, magnesium, selenium, manganese and zinc.

Are ancient grains just as nutritious as whole grain wheat?
Yes, all whole grains are nutritious and each provides its own unique mix of nutrients.

What is not an ancient grain?

  • modern wheat – a hybrid, ‘dwarf’ variety of wheat bred (not genetically modified) to increase yields and improve disease and pest resistance
  • corn – most of the corn grown for food has been genetically modified to resist herbicides and certain insects
  • rice – genetically modified to resists herbicides, resist pests and increase nutritional value (e.g. Golden Rice that is higher in beta carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, is being used to prevent irreversible blindness and death from vitamin A deficiency in countries where rice eaten almost exclusively e.g. China.)

Ancient grains include ancient forms of wheat:

  • Spelt
  • Kamut® (Khorasan)
  • Einkorm
  • Emmer (or Farro)

These ancient wheats contain less gluten than modern wheat but still need to be avoided by those with celiac disease or wheat allergies.  They may be bettered tolerated by those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity.  They are known for their pleasant nutty flavour and chewy texture.

Ancient grains include seeds which have been called ‘pseudograins':

  • Quinoa                      Buckwheat
  • Millet                         Flaxseeds
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These ‘pseudograins’ are seeds, not true grains.  Quinoa and amaranth are seeds more closely related to spinach, buckwheat to rhubarb, and millet to sorghum.  They are all gluten-free.

Those with celiac disease have to avoid the gluten in wheat, rye, oats and barley.  That means that they can’t have hot porridge made out of wheat (cream of wheat or Sunny Boy) or oatmeal porridge.  Millet can be used to make a millet porridge that is gluten free.

Ancient grains also include:

  • Barley                        Rye
  • Oats                           Teff
  • Wild rice

Many people have used pot or pearl barley in soups and stews.  Barley flakes are used in breads.  However, pot or pearl barley has had its husk removed in processing and have been polished which removes a lot of the nutrients.

A new type of barley that has just come on the market over the past few years is a quick cooking barley which cooks up faster (i.e. in 10 minutes).  It isn’t as processed and is higher in nutrients and fibre than pot or pearl barley.  It is great used in a salad, a pilaf or in soup.  I get my quick cooking barley from Save On Foods.

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Ancient grains are worth trying!
I really enjoy the nutty flavour and a chewy texture
that they add to foods.

To see the CTV interview about ancient grains click on:   Ancient Grains

What type of chocolate is best for your heart?

Chocolate is a wonderful “melt in your mouth” treat
but, over the past few years it has also gained a reputation for being “heart healthy”.
But is it really?
Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it?

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Flavanols
The reason that chocolate has been thought to be heart healthy
is because of the flavanols that cocoa/cacao beans contain.
 

Flavanols are antioxidants
that have been shown to relax and dilate arteries.
This helps to reduce blood pressure.

Cocoa/cacao beans are high in flavanols.
They have a strong, pungent taste that comes from flavanols.
But the flavanol content of the raw cocoa beans is reduced
when raw cacao beans are made into chocolate.  

So the more processed chocolate is, the lower the flavanols.

Cocoa powder
Cocoa powder is the least processed form of chocolate.
However, some cocoa powders are further processed (alkalized or “Dutched”)
to reduce the bitterness of the flavanols (e.g. Fry’s).
This kind of cocoa powder contains almost no flavanols.

 Some cocoa powders are not further processed in this way.
These are called “natural” and contain significant flavanols.  

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In fact the Hershey’s natural cocoa powder shown here
states on their label that it contains 119 mg flavanols/Tbsp.
This is the only chocolate product that I found that stated its flavanol content.

Dark Chocolate
It is well known that dark chocolate is considered more heart healthy than milk chocolate.
This is because it is higher in flavanols.

However, most commercial dark chocolate is highly processed
and how much flavanols a particular chocolate has, is often unknown.
Being labeled “dark” chocolate is no guarantee.

Even labeling a chocolate bar as having a certain “% cacao”
isn’t a reliable guide to the amount of flavanols.
You really can’t tell if the cocoa powder used was processed or “natural”.

 So there are probably some dark chocolate bars out there that contain almost no flavanols.
However, some dark chocolate bars do contain flavanols.
The amount is just not on the label. 

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A recent analysis done for Nutrition Action Health Letter looked at three dark chocolate bars  – Hershey’s Special Dark, Lindt Excellence 70% Cacao and Dove Promises Dark Chocolate.  It found an average of 200 mg flavanols per 55 gram portion.  Unfortunately, a 55 grams portion would not be considered heart healthy because it also provides 300 calories and half the saturated fat (which increases blood cholesterol) you should have in a day! 

So what is your most heart healthy way to get the benefits of flavanols?

  1. Get your flavanols from apples, red grapes or tea.  Treat yourself to chocolate just because you like it, don’t count on it for your flavanols.
  2. Use natural cocoa powder to make hot chocolate, or to stir into vanilla yogurt or even oatmeal.
  3. If you want to have a heart healthy portion of dark chocolate, have only 1 small square, the equivalent of 10 grams.   Or perhaps dip strawberries in a small amount of melted dark chocolate.  Enjoy!!

To see Ruth’s interview on CTV News at Noon click on:  Chocolate and Flavanols

Have a heart healthy Valentine’s Day!!