Ask the Dietitian
Feel Like Chicken Tonight? Thu, 04/28/2011 - 22:03 - sarah
This week I was asked this question:
“I know that grilled chicken is a lean meat, but do you have any tips for keeping it moist and tender?”
Chicken is a quintessential healthy food since it is very lean-low in fat, but high in protein. However, these same characteristics are also what make it dry out easily, especially when it is cooked using a dry heat method, such as grilling. This is a great time of year to grill, and grilled chicken can be a flavorful addition to a healthy meal. Just follow my tips for grilling up juicy, tender, tasty chicken every time.
1. Pierce the uncooked chicken with a fork before marinating as this will allow more of the marinade to seep into the chicken and keep it moister.
2. Use a marinade has some type of healthy fat in it, such as olive or canola oil, as well as an acid such as a vinegar or citrus juice. These two ingredients help to tenderize chicken and keep it juicy.
3. Overcooking is one of the most common causes of dried out chicken, but of course you don't want to run the risk of undercooking chicken either, so I always use a meat thermometer with grilled chicken to make sure it is done, but not overcooked. The USDA recommends that chicken breasts should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. But remember, the chicken will continue to cook some once it has been removed from the grill, so you may want to take it off the grill when it is a few degrees less than this, just make sure it reaches 165 before serving it.
Ask the Dietitian: Coconut Oil Thu, 02/10/2011 - 17:26 - sarah
I answered this question this week...
Do you know anything about coconut oil? I've seen a couple of blogs tout its health benefits, but I also thought I remembered coconut oil's healthiness being debated a while back.
Coconut oil is a very popular oil in India. It's not considered a heart healthy oil (like olive or canola) to add to food. But it's widely use for head massage and body massage for its skin-softening properties, and for cooking in southern parts of India. However, the coconut itself and its water are very good for health.
It’s widely used in all parts of India especially in the tropical regions. Coconut oil has more than 80% saturated fat and 2-3% Poly unsaturated fatty acids and 6% Monounsaturated fatty acids. Food manufactures often hydrogenate it, which adds trans fats.
However because coconut oil is an MCT(medium chain triglyceride with only 8-10 carbon atoms chain), it is very good for people with fat malabsorption problems such as liver disease, cystic fibrosis etc.-and also with AIDS or patients in catabolic states such as cancer. This is because it is digested quickly and not affected by intestinal factors. MCT oils like coconut oil provide 8.25kcal/gm.
The reason you are probably seeing these things about coconut oil on the blogs is because in recent studies findings have shown that you need some amount of saturated fat in diet, and coconut oil is considered a "better" source of saturated fat because it is a MCT and easily digested. But the problem is that we already have a high consumption of foods in the American diet with saturated fat, and there is no room left or need to get saturated fat from an additional source (coconut oil).
Making New Year's Resolutions that You'll Keep Mon, 12/27/2010 - 19:47 - sarah
I was asked this question this week:
I make a new year's resolutuion to lose weight or get healthier every year, but by the end of January it's only a distant memory. How can I make a New Year's resolution that I'll actually keep this year?
This is not an uncommon problem. Many people have great intentions when they set their lofty resolutions, but keeping them is a whole differnt ballgame. Here are some tips for making New Year's Resolutions that you will keep.
Expecting the Best: Beating Morning Sickness Wed, 06/23/2010 - 17:06 - sarah
This week I received this question:
I am in my first trimester of my first pregnancy and experiencing a lot of nausea throughout the day. Is there anything I can do to reduce these symptoms? I am worried that I will not get enough nutrition for my baby while I'm feeling sick.
Hi! Congrats on expecting your first! Morning sickness is caused by the increase in the hormone progesterone, which slows down digestion. While it tends to be worse in the morning, some pregnant women feel sick all day. It is estimated that two thirds of all pregnant women feel morning sickness, usually beginning around 8 weeks of gestation and ending by 14-16 weeks of gestation. Don't worry too much though, it is unusual that morning sickness leads to significant weight loss or dehydration. Little nutrition is required because the baby is so small. Resourceful, even before birth, babies in utero preferentially acquire all of the nutrients they need from the mother’s blood. A day or two of missed prenatal vitamins or poor nutrition will not adversely affect the developing baby.However, feeling sick throughout the day is no fun. There are many things you can do to reduce the symptoms of nausea associated with pregnancy. I have listed some of the most helpful suggestions below:
Are Raw Diets Really the Best Way to Eat to Preserve Nutrients? Thu, 01/07/2010 - 16:46 - sarah
This week I received this question about raw diets:
I know some people who have started following raw diets because they say that cooking foods breaks down enzymes and vitamins. I was aware that a few vitamins are delicate and can be destroyed by heat, but I wasn't aware that cooking food could dramatically lower nutritional content. What vitamins are heat sensitive, and what is your opinion on the raw vs. cooked debate?
Great question! The raw foods diet is a popular fad right now, and while many times it is true that the more heat and water vegetables are cooked in, the more nutrients are leached, this is not always the case. In fact, many veggies such as tomatoes increase their nutritional profile of important nutrients, like the antioxidant lycopene, through the cooking process.
Also, when veggies are steamed, which uses very little water and only a short time in heat, veggies don't lose very many nutrients at all, and many times, like in the case of broccoli, steaming can increase the cancer-killing properties. A study done by some researchers at the University of Illinois found that when broccoli was heated (through steaming) the number of sulphoraphanes (a compound in broccoli that fights cancer) was increased.
Is "Healthy Chocolate" Really Worth $150 per box? Thu, 07/30/2009 - 21:26 - sarah
What do you think of all these new healthy acai chocolates?
Recently several people have asked me about these new “healthy chocolate” products being sold and marketed by independent consultants. While it is true that dark chocolate and acai berries are both great sources of antioxidants, are these chocolates really worth $150 or more per box? I’ll give you the facts below and then let you decide for yourself.
What Dark Chocolate/Acai CAN Do:
According to the American Dietetic Association, research has shown that true Dark Chocolate (at least 60% or more cocoa bean content) is high in antioxidants and may help prevent cholesterol from sticking to artery walls, reducing your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Chocolate also contains flavonoids, which are the same compounds that give red wine and tea their disease-preventing benefits. The darker the chocolate, the more antioxidants and flavonoids it contains.
Ask the Dietitian: How Much Water Do I Really Need? Thu, 06/18/2009 - 19:49 - sarah
Stacy from Antigua sent me this great questions:
I would like to know your recommendations for water intake. I have seen that the recommended amount is half your body weight in ounces. How much water do I really need to drink each day?
Great question, Stacy, and very timely too. As the weather is getting hotter and hotter each day, we need to be very aware of our fluid needs and be careful to meet them. Half your body weight in ounces seems a high recommendation to me. However, we do need lots of water since the body is roughly 65% water.
According to the American Dietetic Association’s Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, the average adult loses about two and a half quarts or about 10 cups of water daily. To maintain your body’s fluid balance, you need to replace it each day.
Ask the Dietitian: Which is Better: butter or margarine? Thu, 06/04/2009 - 19:09 - sarah
This week I received this great question on my website from Laura:
Is margarine better for you than real butter? What is the truth behind margarine and is it really better for you?
Hi Laura! That is a great question, and one that many people often ask me. The truth is when it comes to butter or margarine in stick form, butter is actually better.
Now, don’t leave here thinking the dietitian told you that butter was healthy, I am just saying when it comes to stick butter vs. stick margarine, butter is the lesser of the two evils.
When we compare a stick of butter and a stick of margarine, we find that they both are high in fat. Also, they both have saturated fat that has been shown to raise blood cholesterol. Butter contains cholesterol, but margarine does not. However, margarine has trans fat, while butter does not.
Ask the Dietitian: How Much Sodium is Too Much? Sat, 04/25/2009 - 16:27 - sarah
Hello Everyone! I recieved this great question from Rebecca this week on my website:
Who needs a low salt diet and what are the guidelines for buying low sodium foods?
Great question, Rebecca! Doctors will often perscribe a low sodium diet to people with certain illnesses or conditions, such as congestive heart failure (CHF), high blood pressure, kidney failure, or diabetes. However, most Americans could also benefit from decreasing the amount of sodium in their diet.
The American Heart Association recommends that the average healthy American eat less than 2300mg of sodium per day. For people with risk factors such as those listed above or for those that are middle-aged or older, the recommendation is less than 1500mg.
Sodium does play an important role in our health. It helps to regulate the fluid balance in our bodies as well as plays a role in muscle contraction and nerve function; so we do need some sodium in our diet. The problem is that most Americans eat 18 times more than the amount of sodium they actually need per day.
You may be thinking, "I don't salt my food at the table, so this doesn't apply to me." But before you decide to rule out the need to watch your sodium intake, listen to this. Using table salt only accounts for about 10% of Americans' sodium intake, 75% comes from packaged and processed foods or restuarant foods. Foods such as canned soups, frozen dinners, sauces or sauce mixes, seasonings, snack foods, pickled foods, and deli meats are all particularly bad culprits. Mexican, Chinese, and fast foods are some of the worst when in comes to dining out.
Ask the Dietitian: "Good Carbs, Bad Carbs" and Added Sugars Sat, 04/18/2009 - 19:57 - sarah
Hi everybody! Rusty from Columbia, TN sent me these two nutrition questions this week:
How do you tell the difference between bad carbs and good carbs?
When shopping you may see something having 3 grams of sugar. How can you tell if it is just natural sugar in the product or added sugar with so many different names for sugar?
Great questions, Rusty! Thanks for sending them! To start with your first question, there are no bad foods (not even carbs)! However, there are certainly some foods that are better to choose more often than others.
With your carbohydrate foods, specifically grain foods, you want to make sure that they are whole grains. This means the grain is left totally in tact and has not been stripped away of nutrients and fiber. To see if a product is whole grain or not, do not pay attention to the front of the box. It may say “made with whole grain” or “contains whole grain”, but this probably means it just has a little bit of whole grain in it and it is not 100% whole grain.
Instead, look at the ingredient list. Ingredients are listed in order of the amount in the product, so the first ingredient is what the product has the most of. In grain products, like cereals, breads, crackers, granola bars, etc. you want that first ingredient to be a whole grain such as: whole wheat flour, whole grain flour, whole grain oats, etc. Then you know it is a complex carb and is a great choice for everyday! Also, when choosing other grain foods such as rice, corn, or pasta, be sure to choose the whole grain version as well. This would be whole grain brown rice (in white rice the fiber has been stripped away), whole kernel corn, and 100% whole wheat pasta.