What’s your slice?

Who doesn’t love bread?  Some people would have you believe that eating a slice is like downing an entire birthday cake, frosting and all. But in reality, if you stick to whole grains, bread can actually be healthy. Here’s a guide to navigating the bread aisle.

Whole-grain
Whole grains are wheat flour that is milled using the entire grain.  This process preserves all the fiber, vitamins and minerals and has multiple health benefits. According to the USDA, people who consume at least three servings of whole grains each day are at lower risk for diabetes and heart disease. Studies have shown that diets high in whole grains are associated with lower body weight.

Whole white wheat
If you don’t like the hearty taste of whole-grain breads, this option uses an albino variety of the grain, which is not only lighter in color but also milder in flavor. Double-check that you’re buying whole white wheat, though, or you may wind up with refined flour, which offers very little nutritional value.

 

Light breads
Choosing bread isn’t only about whole grains; carbs, protein, fat and fiber should also be taken into account. Light whole-grain breads can save calories while still offering fiber to keep you feeling satisfied.

 

Organic breads
This is more a question of overall health benefits than dietary ones. The ingredients are grown without pesticides, herbicides or fungicides, which may be beneficial to your body and the planet, but won’t make much difference nutritionally.

Multigrain breads are trickier, since each individual grain is only a small portion of the recipe, but taken all together the whole-grain content may be superb. Other whole grains you might see include barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur (cracked wheat), corn, millet, oats and rye. Ideally, you’re looking for 16 grams of whole grains in a serving — most bread that meets this level will mention it somewhere on the package. This advice works across the board for sliced bread, English muffins, bagels, wraps , etc.

What to look for at the store
Supermarket bread aisles overflow with options. Our advice: Read packages carefully. Ingredients are listed in proportional order, so if the first item doesn’t begin with the word “whole,” beware. Even if it’s the second or third item, the amount may not be substantial.

What to avoid
When reading the label, stay clear of breads with predominantly “white flour,” “enriched white flour” or “wheat flour” — all three terms signify that the grain has been refined: stripped of the nutrient- and fiber-rich bran and germ. All you’re getting is the starchy stuff, with none of the health benefits. Also look at what kind of fats are listed, and avoid trans fats (partially hydrogenated, vegetable oil shortening or hydrogenated vegetable oil). These are the fats that can increase your risk for heart disease. None of them are essential in bread-baking, so they’re easy to avoid.

At the bakery
Without a package to read, it’s difficult to know for sure exactly what you’re getting with bakery bread. But there are some rules of thumb: Look for whole-wheat bread. Ask if you can pick up the loaf before buying, and if it’s lighter than air, don’t buy it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Bakers are often proud to discuss their product and will be more than happy to brag about high-quality ingredients. 

For more information or to ask questions, please visit us at www.vitanutritionals.com.

~Angela

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Should you be eating THAT bar?

You’ve probably heard that you should eat five or six small meals a day to maintain a healthy weight and keep your energy levels high, particularly if you work out regularly. But let’s face it: it’s hard enough to find time to cook one meal a day, never mind six. When you’re on the go and looking for a quick, healthy snack, a nutrition bar can be a good option.

There are so many different brands and types of bars on the market — meal replacement/diet bars, energy bars, protein bars — that choosing one that’s healthy and suits your goals can be confusing.

Different types of bars all contain varying levels of protein, carbohydrates, fat, and sugar, depending on their intended goal.

  • Energy bars:  Designed to give a boost of energy to endurance athletes, such as marathoners and cyclists. Main ingredient is carbs, which provide the “fuel” necessary to make it through a competition.
  • Meal replacement bars/ “diet” bars:  Contain the least amount of calories and more carbs than protein. Meant to replace a meal or as a healthy, low-calorie pre- or post-workout snack.
  • Protein bars:  Designed with weightlifters in mind. High levels of protein meant to help build muscle and lose fat when training.

While a nutrition bar can be a healthy choice once in a while, you should always read the labels carefully. Many bars are packed with sugar, which can make them just as unhealthy as a regular chocolate bar. Choose one that contains little refined sugars and saturated fats.  Don’t make the mistake of eating too many; especially if you’re not very active, or you might end up packing on the pounds (remember the movie “Mean Girls”).  Be aware that many bars tested by Consumer Lab didn’t meet its labeling claims, which means that they may contain more fat and sugar than you think.

Here are some disturbing facts:

  • 1 out of 12 protein bars meet the labeling claims
  • 1 out of 8 meal replacement bars meet the labeling claims
  • 4 out of 10 “diet” bars meet the labeling claims
  • Some products exceed their claimed amount of fat
  • 50% of bars tested exceeded their claimed level of carbohydrates, some by a significant amount.

 Reason:  A major ingredient in most of these bars is glycerin (used as a sweetener to keep the product moist) but is not regarded as a carbohydrate by most manufacturers so it is not counted as a carb.  However, the US Food and Drug Administration states that glycerin is a carbohydrate and should be counted as such. 

Protein Bars are a great option but do your research when choosing a bar for your specific needs.  For more information or to ask a question, please visit us at www.vitanutritionals.com.  

~Angela

 

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~Spring~

Definintion of spring:

Meteorologists generally define four seasons in many climatic areas: spring, summer, autumn and winter. These are distinguished by their average temperatures on a monthly basis, with each season lasting three months. The three warmest months are by definition summer, the three coldest months are winter, and the intervening gaps are spring and autumn. Spring, under this definition, can start on different dates in different regions. In most Northern Hemisphere locations, spring months are March, April and May. The vast majority of Southern Hemisphere locations will have opposing seasons with spring in September, October and November.

Astronomically, the spring equinox (this year March 20), should be the middle of spring (based on the angle of the sun and it’s heat) and the summer solstice (usually 21 June in the Northern Hemisphere and 21 December in the Southern Hemisphere) should be the middle of summer (because the sun is at its highest), but daytime temperatures lag behind by several weeks because the earth and sea take time to warm up.

Spring in Nature:

In spring, the axis of the Earth is increasing its tilt toward the Sun and the length of daylight rapidly increases. The hemisphere begins to warm significantly causing new plant growth to “spring forth,” giving the season its name. Many flowering plants bloom this time of year, in a long succession sometimes beginning even if snow is still on the ground, continuing into early summer. In normally snowless areas “spring” may begin as early as February. Subtropical and tropical areas have climates better described in terms of other seasons, e.g. dry or wet, or monsoonal, or cyclonic. Often the cultures have locally defined names for seasons which have little equivalence to the terms originating in Europe. Many temperate areas have a dry spring, and wet autumn (fall), which brings about flowering in this season more consistent with the need for water as well as warmth. Subarctic areas may not experience “spring” at all until May or even June, or December in the outer Antarctic.

Spring is seen as a time of growth, renewal, and of new life (both plant and animal) being born. Many hibernating animals “awake” and birds and other migratory animals head back north in the spring.  More and more flowers begin to bloom as the bees and butterflies distribute pollen. Spring is also thought of as the season of birth because some animals have mating cycles that enable them to give birth in the spring when food is plentiful and temperatures are favorable to raise their babies.

Spring Cleaning:

The most common usage of spring cleaning refers to the yearly act of cleaning a house from top to bottom which would take place in the first warm days of the year typically in spring, hence the name. However it has also come to be synonymous with any kind of heavy duty cleaning or organizing enterprise. A person who gets their affairs in order before an audit or inspection could be said to be doing some spring cleaning.

It has been suggested that the origins of spring cleaning date back to the Persian New Year, which falls on the first day of spring. Iranians continue the practice of “khooneh tekouni” which literally means “shaking the house” just before the New Year. Everything in the house is thoroughly cleaned, from the drapes to the furniture. Another possibility of the origin of spring cleaning can be traced to the ancient Jewish practice of thoroughly cleansing the home in anticipation of the spring-time holiday of Passover. In remembrance of the Jews’ hasty flight from Egypt following their captivity there, during the eight-day holiday there is a strict prohibition against eating anything which may have been leavened. Jews are not only supposed to refrain from leavened foodstuffs they are expressly commanded to rid their homes of even small remnants of them for the length of the holiday. Therefore, for the past 3,500 years, observant Jews have conducted a thorough “spring cleaning” of the house.

In North America and northern Europe, the custom found an especial practical value due to those regions’ continental and wet climates. During the 19th century in America, prior to the advent of the vacuum cleaner, March was often the best time for dusting because it was getting warm enough to open windows and doors (but not warm enough for insects to be a problem), and the high winds could carry the dust out of the house. For the same reason, modern rural households often use the month of March for cleaning projects involving the use of chemical products which generate fumes.

Other spring time happenings:

Daylight savings time- You should have changed your clocks ahead 1 hour on 3/13. This time change is often termed “spring forward.” Most of the US does this to save on energy as the days start getting longer.

Easter- Although a Christian holiday in honor of the resurrection of Jesus, it has become a day that many celebrate with the Easter bunny hiding eggs, baskets full of goodies and a delicious feast.

Baseball spring training- Many teams are already in training in Florida to get prepared for the regular season.

Spring Break- Although all school age kids get a spring break, it is synonymous with college kids going to the beach and having fun (sometimes a little too much!).

What does spring mean for you?

For me, it means beautiful weather, nature at it prime and a renewal of spirit.

~Debbie

www.vitanutritionals.com

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Ever wondered why an apple a day keeps the doctor away? Well….

Apples are a rich source of flavonoid and polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidant.  Studies show that by eating one apple you get an antioxidant effect that equals taking 1,500mg of vitamin C.

Apples contain a large amount of minerals and vitamins that can strengthen the blood, help prevent disturbances of the liver and digestion, help to prevent the formation of kidney stone, lower cholesterol and reduce skin diseases.

Apples have been recommended for : Obesity, Headache, Arthritis, Bronchial asthma, Inflammation of the bladder, Gonorrhea, Anemia, Tuberculosis, Neuritis, Insomnia, Catarrh, Gallbladder stones, Worms, Halitosis and Pyorrhea (periodontal disease).  And, to top it off… Apples, not caffeine, are more efficient at waking you up in the morning. 

~Angela

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Did you know lowering your thermostat may reduce not only your spending, but also your weight?

Researchers suspect that rising indoor temperatures in American homes may have contributed to the obesity epidemic. The theory is that we burn fewer calories when our bodies don’t have to work as hard to stay warm, according to a report.  Bedrooms in the U.S. were heated to an average of 66.7 degrees in the late 1980s, versus 68.4 degrees in 2005. Studies have shown that slightly chillier temperatures can lead to increased energy expenditures even when people bundle up. Increased time spent indoors, widespread access to central heating and air conditioning, and increased expectations of thermal comfort all contribute to restricting the range of temperatures we experience in daily life and reduce the time our bodies spend under mild thermal stress, meaning we’re burning less energy. 

So, the next time your spouse kicks off the blankets maybe they’re trying to give you a hint.

~Angela

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The way to a woman’s (healthy) heart: Valentine’s Day chocolates

There’s nothing I love more on Valentine’s Day than getting flowers and chocolates.  In years past, I viewed the chocolates as an enemy…..a tasty, tasty enemy.  I love chocolate.  If it’s around, I’ll eat it and it’s so bad for you!!! Or, so I thought….

Then I happened to come across some articles talking about the health benefits of chocolate.  What?! Chocolate has health benefits? Sounds good to me! 

It turns out that there are flavanoids in chocolate which act as antioxidants.  Studies have shown that chocolate can lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and improve blood flow to the brain and heart.  On top of that, it stimulates endorphin production giving you feelings of pleasure, can act as an antidepressant because it contains serotonin, and can give you a small energy boost from caffeine.

It all sounds fabulous so far and there’s still more! Only 1/3 of the fat in chocolate is bad for you.  Another 1/3 is actually a healthy variety that is also found in olive oil and the final 1/3 research shows has a neutral effect on cholesterol levels.

Here comes the catch.  (I suppose everything that sounds too good to be true usually is.) Most of these benefits apply to dark chocolate.  The less processed the cocoa, the better.  That means, highly processed chocolates like milk or white don’t contain the high amounts of flavanols that are good for you.  This doesn’t mean that you can run out and eat a 5 pound brick of dark chocolate, either.  Small amounts on occasion are best.  Odds are the more chocolate you eat, the more healthy calories you’re replacing.

So, this year when you get that box of chocolates, thank the person who gave it to you for being so conscious of your health!

~jackie

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Are you getting enough fiber?

Today’s busy lifestyle is making it increasingly difficult to eat right, exercise, and stay healthy. While most are keeping tabs on calories, fat, and even carbohydrates, one thing that’s often missing from weight management plans is fiber.  Americans might be surprised to learn that they can help meet daily nutritional guidelines and control their weight by fitting in fiber — and a little goes a long way. 

  • Almost 30% of Americans are clinically obese.
  • 24 million Americans have type 2 Diabetes. 
  • 1 out of every 2.8 deaths in America is from a form of heart disease
  • Only 32% of Americans exercise daily. 
  • Only 24% eat at least 5 servings of vegetables and fruit a day. 
  • Only 14% of Americans do both.
  • 86% of Americans do not get enough fiber in their diet.
  • 75% of Americans do not drink enough water.
  • The average American eats the equivalent of 30-40 teaspoons of sugar a day.
  • The average American eats up to 55% of their meals from fast food.
  • The average American gets 45% of their daily calories from fat.
  • The average number of health related deaths is approximately 2,423,712 per year.

It’s time we take responsibility for ourselves and our bodies.  The recommended adult intake of fiber is 28 to 38 grams per day,  yet government studies show that the typical American eats less than half of what they need — about 12 to 15 grams of fiber per day. Start making a change!  By adding fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grain foods- all good sources of fiber and adding products like the Vita Nutritionals® Advanced Fiber Complex, made from various cereal crop sources and acting as a dietary fiber, prebiotic and natural sweetener that is low in calories, you can start managing your body and your health.  Visit www.vitanutritionals.com today and take a huge step in a healthy direction.

~Angela

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