Nutrition

Get the Facts on Nutrition: Eat Healthy and Feel Good

Fruit Vegetable FactsThe facts on eating healthy are clear: Good nutrition helps your body run the way it should. Research proves the many benefits to our health time and time again, including:

  • Boosting your mood and appearance
  • Giving you more energy
  • Lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Reducing your risk of cancer
  • Reducing your risk of diabetes

Why, then, do we struggle to make healthy eating a priority? Often, it’s because there is an overwhelming amount of information about nutrition to navigate and lack of time. That’s why, with this blog, we’re taking it back to the basics by offering simple nutrition facts to help you maximize your healthy eating habits.

Nutrition Fact No. 1: 5-9 Fruits and Veggies a Day Keep the Doctor Away

If you’re committed to eating healthier, the best place to start is by adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet every day. Not only are you filling up on good-for-you vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other powerful nutrients, but you’re cutting empty calories and sugar out of your diet.

Five to nine fruits and vegetables may sound like a lot, but start slowly and consider some of these simple substitutions throughout the day:

  • Grab a banana for a convenient on-the-go snack.
  • Dedicate at least two-thirds of your plate to fruits and veggies at dinnertime.
  • Dip raw veggies in Greek yogurt or hummus to power through your mid-day slump.
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth in the evening with a bowl of fresh fruit.
  • Swap your regular sandwich at lunch with a salad packed with dark, leafy greens, tomatoes, shredded carrots, dried fruit and a hard-boiled egg.
  • Top cereal or yogurt with one cup of blueberries or strawberries at breakfast.
  • Keep dates and unsalted nuts available for a healthy snack.

Plan meals with your favorite fruits and vegetables to keep it enjoyable. Challenge yourself to try at least one new fruit or vegetable a week to mix it up and expand your taste buds. Try different methods of preparing your vegetables, such as sautéeing, roasting, or grilling. You never know what you may discover!

Nutrition Fact No. 2: Maximize Freshness

It’s happened to all of us: We load up our carts with fresh and nutritious food, only to let them spoil in the refrigerator. Not only is food waste a drain on our budget, it’s also bad for the environment. The National Resource Defense Council estimates that up to 40 percent of the food in the U.S. is never eaten. That’s food that’s going straight from our homes to the landfill, untouched.

Another downside of food hanging out in the fridge is that fresh fruits and veggies can lose their nutritional punch after being harvested. Add in transportation time to local grocery stores, and it can be anywhere from 3 days to several weeks before consumers even have a chance to buy fresh produce.

Try eating frozen vegetables. Frozen vegetables are packaged soon after they are picked, so they are more likely to retain their nutrients rather than fresh vegetables that hang out in the refrigerator. Be sure to check the nutrition label for added sugar or sodium.

A recent article in Healthline found that fresh fruits and vegetables lose nutrients over time — some as soon as they’re picked, including:

  • Soft fruits, such as berries, can lose nutrients after three days of refrigeration.
  • Vitamin C in fresh vegetables declines as soon as it’s picked from farms.

Maximize freshness and nutrients in produce:

  • Buy produce you plan to eat in the next 3-5 days.
  • Freeze fruit that’s nearing its shelf life or make a smoothie to use up fruit on hand.
  • Rinse and cut fruits and veggies to have on hand for snacking. Be sure to store them in airtight containers in the fridge.
  • Store produce appropriately to maximize its freshness. Some fruits and vegetables do best at room temperature while others should be stored in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Fact No. 3: Read Food Labels

The food labels on the back of packaged foods can help you find healthy options to add to your diet. Look past the claims on the front or sides of packaging and zero in on the food label and ingredient list.

Here are a few tips to help you choose healthful foods:

Look for Wholesome Ingredients in the Ingredients List

Manufacturers are required to list ingredients based on how much is used in the product. If sugar is the first, second, or third ingredient, that means there is more sugar in the food than whole grains. Another good rule of thumb is to look for ingredients you can pronounce. While most packaged foods contain preservatives that can be a mouthful, most ingredients should be easy to read, easy to say and recognizable.

Check the Serving Size

Manufacturers can sometimes make food look healthier than it is based on the serving size. Double-check how much is considered a serving and then consider how much you typically eat to be sure you are keeping “healthy” foods healthy.

Cut Back on Sugar

These days sugar is added to almost every packaged food. Keep your sugar consumption in line with the recommended daily intake: 3-6 teaspoons (12-16 grams) for women and 6-9 teaspoons (16-36 grams) for men. Sugar can increase your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease and add pounds and inches to your waistline.

Focus on Healthy Fats

Avoid saturated and trans fat in food to help reduce your risk of heart disease. Instead, find foods with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, like fish, nuts and vegetable oils. Be sure to limit fat to 25-30 percent of your calories. Fat from plant-based sources like avocados, nuts, and olives pack a lot of omega 3 fatty acids, which help reduce heart disease.

Cut Back on Salt

Manufacturers add sodium to most packaged foods. Look for foods that are low in sodium and high in potassium to help combat heart disease and manage high blood pressure. Avoiding canned vegetables high in sodium is preferred. But if you do eat canned vegetables, rinsing them off can reduce some of the sodium you consume.

Nutrition Fact No. 4: Drink More Water

Drinking water throughout the day offers many health benefits. Research has shown that drinking water can help you:

  • Feel energized
  • Improve kidney function
  • Keep skin looking hydrated, smooth and glowing
  • Lose weight
  • Stay hydrated and help your body run properly
  • Avoid constipation

The most common advice is to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Reach for water when you’re thirsty and be sure to drink more on hot, sunny days or when you’re working up a sweat.

Nutrition Fact No. 5: Refrigerate Leftovers

Skipping takeout and making homemade food is another great way to boost your nutrition. Leftovers also make a great, healthy lunch the next day or can do double-duty for dinner two nights in a row. Be sure to refrigerate your leftovers safely to reduce the risk of bacteria or other contamination.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers several tips on leftovers and food safety:

  • Divide food into shallow containers to cool it more quickly and safely.
  • Reheat food safely, in the microwave, stovetop or oven. Food should reach 165 degrees, and sauces, soups and gravies should be brought to a rolling boil.
  • Refrigerate leftovers two hours after food was cooked or removed from a warm appliance.
  • Store food in airtight storage containers or wrap it in airtight packaging.
  • Store leftovers safely in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 3-4 months.

Emory Healthcare

At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need, when you need it. With more than 2,000 doctors and 300 locations, including six hospitals, primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. If you have questions about how you can boost your nutrition, find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.

About Dr. Collins

Caroline Jones Collins, MD, joined Emory at Peachtree Hills in January 2018. Dr. Collins grew up in Snellville, GA, and gained her bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from the University of Georgia. She attended Emory University for both medical school and her internal medicine residency. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and their two children. Dr. Collins is passionate about preventive health and helping patients live healthy, happy lives.

 

 

 

Emory Metabolic Camp Helps Young Women Manage Metabolic Disorders

This summer marked the 21st annual Metabolic Camp hosted by Emory University. This camp helps girls and young women with inherited metabolic disorders, including phenylketonuria (PKU) and maple syrup urine disease (MSUD), learn how to better manage and live with their disorders. Metabolic Camp provides the girls with educational opportunities for handling the lifetime responsibility of managing their diets and health along with traditional camping activities.

These disorders are caused by the body’s inability to process proteins normally. In individuals with these rare genetic disorders even one gram of protein can cause irreversible brain damage or death. However through Georgia’s newborn screening program, metabolic disorders can often be detected early on.

“Metabolic Camp has had a tremendous impact not only on the quality of life of girls over the years but also on the outcome of the next generation of their children,” says Rani Singh, PhD, RD, camp director and director of Emory’s Genetics Metabolic Nutrition Program. “Most of these girls can’t attend other camps because of their special dietary needs, and this allows them to interact with others with their conditions and feel less isolated, while learning things that can save their lives and the lives of their future children.”

People with these disorders must learn as children to stick to a special diet of fruits and vegetables along with their specialized medical formula, and they are able to live normal lives if they adhere to this routine. It is important for females to follow specialized diets before and throughout pregnancy in order to avoid maternal PKU (MPKU) and prevent mental disabilities in their children. Emory University Metabolic Camp helps these girls and young women understand the importance of these diets and learn how to fit it into their everyday life.

The Emory University Metabolic Camp allows young women to be around others that can understand what they are going through and show them that they are not alone. The camp helps them learn skills and gain knowledge that will help them throughout a lifetime of managing and living with their disorder.

Metabolic Camp is a collaboration between the Atlanta Clinical and Translational Science Institute(ACTSI) and the Department of Human Genetics at Emory University Medicine.

For more information about Emory University Metabolic Camp visit the Emory News Center.

Spotlight: Men’s Fitness

Men's Health MonthJune is Men’s Health Month. It’s also the time of year when many men become more active. The warm temperatures and long days make it easier (and more fun) to play on a softball team, tend to the yard, or start a new exercise routine, like biking or swimming. But after months of rest, the sudden explosion of activity can wreak havoc on the body.

If you’re about to ramp up a new summer workout, keep these injury prevention tips in mind:

1. Get Professional Help

If you are new to exercise, or just haven’t been active in a while, see your doctor for a physical to make sure you are healthy enough to take on strenuous activity. Also consider hiring a professional trainer or coach who can teach you proper form and technique.

2. Wear Proper Clothing

Always wear appropriate footwear. Not only will you be more comfortable, but you will also be able to alleviate undue stress to your ankles, knees and hips by providing much needed support. Also choose appropriate clothing that fits well, allows you to move naturally, and doesn’t interfere with your safety.

3. Warm Up

Never start a workout in full throttle. Begin slowly and build the pace. This gets the blood flowing to your muscles gradually, giving them time to warm up and acclimate to the activity. This also gives you time to listen to your body and identify any aches or pains that may be red flags to more serious problems.

4. Leave Your Ego At The Door

Many men start a workout program thinking too much about what they should be able to do rather than what they are honestly capable of at the time. Attempting too much too quickly invites injury. So, take the pressure off. Concentrate on your individual progress rather than comparing yourself to or competing with others.

5. Stretch

When your muscles have warmed up, stretch. Many men skip this part of a workout. After all, stretching is for girls, right? But, as your muscles get stronger and tighter they start pulling on one another. Eventually, this tug-of-war affects your body posture and you start to feel aches in your back, hamstrings, and shoulders. These minor aggravations can turn into serious problems, all preventable if you take the time to stretch.

6. Take A Day Off

Rest is important. It gives your body time to recuperate and repair. If you’re just starting an exercise program, make sure you take two days off each week. Listen to your body and respond accordingly. Pain and fatigue are subtle signs of overtraining that can lead to more serious problems.

7. Eat Well

Pay attention to nutrition. In order to maintain healthy energy levels and have the physical endurance to push through tough workouts, you need to fuel your body with good, healthy food. Avoid high-fat foods and sweets and drink lots of water to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Related Resources:

Emory Johns Creek Hospital continues Community Health Classes

Wellness ClassesLooking for a way to kick start a healthier lifestyle in the new year? A new 5-week course starts Feb. 25 at Emory Johns Creek Hospital focusing on health and wellness. Classes are taught by community and hospital healthcare providers and provide general education on nutrition and health issues to help participants progress toward developing personalized health plans.

Classes meet every other Wednesday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in Physicians Plaza Suite 109, located at 6335 Hospital Parkway in Johns Creek. The cost for all five sessions is $75. Class topics are:

  • Feb. 25: Introduction and Initial Health Screening. Taught by Andrew Pugliese, MD, a Disease Prevention Physician at Emory Johns Creek Hospital, will set the foundation with information on how a healthy, active lifestyle can influence personal risk factors for disease. Licensed lab technicians help participants complete a personalized physical health assessment.
  • March 04: Health Eating Habits and Their Effect on Chronic Disease Management. Julie Parish, an Emory Johns Creek registered and licensed dietitian, will provide disease specific diet education relevant to participant’s personal risk factors and demonstrate how to use a food diary to track progress.
  • Feb. 11: Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives. Emory Johns Creek Food Services Director, Amy Davis, will talk about organic and sustainable cooking tips and how to stock your kitchen to achieve dietary success. The class will also participate in a cooking demo and prep their own healthy dinner for four to take home.
  • March 18: Preventative Benefits of Exercise. Kay Halbert, Outpatient Rehabilitation Services Supervisor at Emory Johns Creek, discusses setting goals and general requirements for physical activity. Class participants can register to win a Fitbit to help track fitness and nutrition goals along with a pair of shoes from fleet feet and a gym membership with LA fitness.
  • March 25: Wrap-up with General Well-being. Emory Johns Creek Hospital’s Sleep Lab Coordinator and Registered Respiratory Therapist Joyce Neidert and Licensed Pharmacist Roland Tam. Discuss stress management with the Director of Marketing for Massage Envy Barb Hornsby. Class members can experience a free chair massage, take home a one hour session, and enter to win a custom pillow.

For more information or to register online, visit emoryjohnscreek.com/events-classes or call 678-474-8200 to register.

Hit Your New Year’s Goals – Every Single Day!

It’s the first full week of the new year! Many of us have made lengthy lists of New Year’s Resolutions that probably include many long-term goals. While long-term goals are great – and necessary for success – sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated when you know that your goal is far off in the future. An easy way to avoid that discouragement is to set daily goals that you can meet every single day. Feeling a sense of accomplishment every day will help you stay motivated to reach your future, long-term goals. Here’s a template of simple, healthy goals you can meet every single day. Visit our Pinterest page for a printable version you can hang on your fridge and check off every single day. Good luck, and Happy New Year!

Daily New Years Goals

New Year’s Resolutions – 4 Tips for a Successful Year

New Year's ResolutionsThe first day of the New Year inspires many to start a new, healthier lifestyle. For some, the holidays have been a time of over-indulgence. Surveys suggest that the average American reports that they gain about 5 pounds during the holiday season. For others, the previous year has inspired concern with overall health. Studies consistently show that a good diet and regular exercise not only reduce the risk of heart disease, but reduce cancer risks, as well.

Whatever your reason for making healthy changes this year, we have some suggestions to help you make and meet your new goals!

1.) Know Your Numbers

Taking the time to find out your blood pressure, blood glucose level, cholesterol, and body mass index numbers can be a scary task, but deciding to know your numbers can be incredibly empowering. Having this information can help you and your healthcare provider make specific decisions about your diet and exercise plans as you resolve to make changes.

2.) Make New Habits

It’s much easier to make a new habit than it is to break an old one. For example, instead of giving up your favorite desserts altogether, decide to choose healthier options more often. Still allowing yourself to indulge now and then makes it much easier for you to maintain these new habits instead of ditching them when things get difficult.

3.) Take Baby Steps

While setting new habits into motion is key, it’s important to be sure that you’re allowing yourself room to adjust. For example, a sedentary person will likely fail in the long run if their goal is to run a 5K by the end of the month. Starting with 15 minute jogs three times a week is a much more attainable goal. Once the 15 minute jogs become routine, gradually increasing the length, difficulty, and frequency of the workout will help you reach a larger goal.

4.) Find a Support System

Don’t feel like you have to do this alone! Talk to somebody about your plans for change. Join a workout group. Encourage your partner and friends to find out their numbers and share in your goals. Finding someone to share your goals with makes the journey more doable AND enjoyable!

Related Resources

5 Weeks to Better Wellness with Community Health Classes

Wellness ClassesLooking for a way to kick start a healthier lifestyle in the new year? Starting in January 2015, Emory Johns Creek Hospital will launch a five-week course of health and wellness classes taught by community and hospital healthcare providers. The classes focus on providing general education on nutrition and health issues to help participants progress toward developing personalized health plans. Classes meet every other Wednesday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. The first class meets Jan. 7, 2015 in Physicians Plaza Suite 109, located at 6335 Hospital Parkway in Johns Creek. The cost for all five sessions is $75. Class topics are:

  • Jan. 7:  Introduction and Initial Health Screening. Taught by Andrew Pugliese, MD, a Disease Prevention Physician at Emory Johns Creek Hospital, will set the foundation with information on how a healthy, active lifestyle can influence personal risk factors for disease. Licensed lab technicians help participants complete a personalized physical health assessment.
  • Jan. 21:  Healthy Eating Habits and Their Effect on Chronic Disease Management. Julie Parish, an Emory Johns Creek registered and licensed dietitian, will provide disease specific diet education relevant to participant’s personal risk factors and demonstrate how to use a food diary to track progress.
  • Feb. 4: Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives. Emory Johns Creek Food Services Director, Amy Davis, will talk about organic and sustainable cooking tips and how to stock your kitchen to achieve dietary success. The class will also participate in a cooking demo and prep their own healthy dinner for four to take home.
  • Feb. 18: Preventative Benefits of Exercise. Kay Halbert, Outpatient Rehabilitation Services Supervisor at Emory Johns Creek, discusses setting goals and general requirements for physical activity. Class participants can register to win a Fitbit to help track fitness and nutrition goals along with a pair of shoes from fleet feet and a gym membership with LA fitness.
  • March 4: Wrap-up with General Well-being. Emory Johns Creek Hospital’s Sleep Lab Coordinator and Registered Respiratory Therapist Joyce Neidert and Licensed Pharmacist Roland Tam. Discuss stress management with the Director of Marketing for Massage Envy Barb Hornsby. Class members can experience a free chair massage, take home a one hour session, and enter to win a custom pillow.

For more information or to register online, visit emoryjohnscreek.com/events-classes or call 678-474-8200.

Healthy Thanksgiving Day Recipes – Don’t Choose Between Health and Flavor!

heatlhy thanksgiving dinnerThanksgiving. This highly-anticipated day marks the beginning of the holiday season—the time of year when we usually fall off the wagon and overindulge on fattening food and drink. With so many delicious recipes out there that seem to appear in endless quantities at our dinner tables, it’s understandable that we may indulge here and there. Just remember—everything good comes in moderation. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself every now and then, but make an attempt to maintain healthy meals at least 80% of the time. In the spirit of giving and moderation, here are a few recipes to help you cut unnecessary calories from your Thanksgiving menu without cutting the flavor or fun!

Healthy Turkey Recipes

Your turkey doesn’t need a full tub of butter to be moist, nor does it require brining days in advance for flavor. Try out this recipe instead: Cornbread-Crusted Turkey.

This recipe calls for healthier ingredients such as low-sodium chicken broth and skinless turkey fillets to cut down fat and excess salt. It also includes carrots and sage for an extra boost of flavor.

Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Side-dishes can be your biggest enemy if you’re not careful. Traditional side dishes can be filled with sugar, butter and cream, but if you’re willing to branch out, here are a couple of suggestions for lighter, healthier options:

Sweet Potato Casserole
Just putting a slightly healthier spin on a classic. This still contains butter and sugar, so watch your serving size and enjoy!

Mashed Cauliflower (instead of mashed potatoes)
Here, we’re simply substituting a high-fiber vegetable like cauliflower for the potatoes. This shaves off calories and carbs while adding more nutrients. Cauliflower is a nutrient powerhouse, loaded with more calcium, fiber, vitamin C, folate, and vitamin K than a comparable amount of white potatoes.

Lemon-Garlic Roasted Potatoes
Leave the unhealthy add-ons to baked potatoes at the door. Stick with lemon and garlic for seasoning with this delicious recipe that totals about 69 calories per serving.

Mock Sour Cream
If you do decide you want to add the sour cream to your mashed potatoes and other sides, here’s a tip for making a healthier version (only 11 calories per TBSP)!

Greek Yogurt Subsitutes
Both low- and non-fat versions of Greek and traditional plain yogurts can play a part in a healthy diet by improving bone health and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in adults. One of Greek yogurt’s primary benefits is it delivers higher protein and less sugar than the regular variety. Six ounces of Greek yogurt can deliver as much protein as three ounces of lean meat. As a result, Greek yogurt promotes the sense of fullness with fewer calories than many other protein sources. Check out these ways you can incorporate Greek yogurt into your favorite recipes this holiday!

Healthy Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes

Thanksgiving desserts are often people’s favorite part of the holidays, and rightfully so. Homemade Thanksgiving pies are the ultimate comfort food. What’s not so comforting, however, is the amount of bad fat in most desserts. Here are a couple of healthy takes on some favorite desserts:

Diabetic Friendly Crustless Pumpkin Pie
If you’re living with diabetes, you know that finding a good diabetic-friendly dessert recipe can be a challenge. Try this one out and let us know what you think in the comments below.

New York Style Cheesecake
The ingredient choices here help this to be a better option than a traditional recipe. However, remember, this is still a dessert with calories and fat. Even though it is a better decision than traditional fare, be sure to watch your portions and keep this to an occasional treat.

Chat with Us!

Healthy Holiday Eating ChatJoin Dr. Gina Lundberg, Clinical Director of the Emory Women’s Heart Center, on December 9 at noon for a live web chat on Heart Healthy Holiday Eating. Dr. Lundberg will give advice on how to enjoy the season while maintaining a healthy heart, ingredients to avoid if you’re worried about weight gain and more. You can still enjoy tasty and satisfying holiday fare without blowing a button, or even worse, negatively affecting your heart health. Join us for all the tips!

Pin with Us!

You can find all these recipes and more on Emory Healthcare’s Pinterest page! All recipes are Emory MD-approved and delicious! We also want you to share YOUR recipes with US! Just message or tweet us @emoryhealthcare and we’ll add you to our Healthy Recipes community board!

4 Ways to Substitute Greek Yogurt to Make Healthier Snacks and Meals

Greek YogurtGreek yogurt has skyrocketed in popularity during the past several years as consumers have started recognizing the health benefits of this once obscure dairy product.

The difference between the Greek yogurt and regular yogurt is in the straining process. The Greek variety is strained more extensively, which removes more of the liquid whey, lactose and sugars. This also produces Greek yogurt’s thicker consistency.

Both low- and non-fat versions of Greek and traditional plain yogurts can play a part in a healthy diet by improving bone health and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in adults. Yogurt, Greek or otherwise, is a good source of calcium, potassium, Vitamin D and protein. Both regular and Greek yogurts also contain active cultures (probiotics), which promote better digestive health.

One of Greek yogurt’s primary benefits is it delivers higher protein and less sugar than the regular variety. Six ounces of Greek yogurt can deliver as much protein as three ounces of lean meat. As a result, Greek yogurt promotes the sense of fullness with fewer calories than many other protein sources. On the downside, Greek yogurt can be higher in cholesterol and lower in calcium than regular yogurt. Full-fat versions of Greek yogurt can be higher in saturated fats.

Aside from all the great benefits of Greek yogurt, you may be getting bored with breakfast parfaits, don’t really like yogurt to begin with or have never been able to acquire a taste for Greek yogurt’s more intense flavor.

With just a few creative reconfigurations, you can introduce the healthy benefits of Greek yogurt into your favorite snack foods, recipes or toppings, while getting the benefits of active cultures (to promote digestive health), higher protein and lower fat. Remember to choose a low-fat or no-fat Greek yogurt.

  • Sour cream. For the simplest of swaps, top your tacos or baked potatoes with a dollop of Greek yogurt. Compare the numbers: one ounce of low-fat sour cream (which is half a tablespoon) contains 51 calories, 4 grams of fat, 2 grams of carbohydrates and 2 grams of protein. On the other hand, the same amount of Greek yogurt contains 22 calories, 0.6 grams of fat, a little more than 1 gram of carbohydrates and 2.9 grams of protein.

   You can also thin out Greek yogurt with a bit of 2% milk and add your favorite Ranch dressing or French onion seasoning to make a healthier version of your favorite dip (make      it even healthier by substituting raw veggies for the potato chips).

  •  Mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is a creamy dressing made mostly from eggs and oil, which are both fats. Using Greek yogurt replaces fat with protein in recipes like tuna, macaroni, chicken, or potato salads. It works well in deviled egg recipes and in creamy salad dressings, like Caesar and Ranch.
  • Heavy cream or milk. Use Greek yogurt in your mashed potatoes, soups or sauces. Chef’s tip: To prevent curdling, remove the dish from the heat source before adding Greek yogurt to the recipe. Yogurt as a milk substitute is one of the reasons yogurt parfaits have become popular.
  •  Use in baked goods. Reduce the fat content in store-bought mixes for cakes, muffins, pancakes by replacing eggs and oil with Greek yogurt and water. You can also substitute Greek yogurt for cream cheese when making cake frosting.

Finally, make sure you check the nutrition label. The ingredient list should be fairly short, with milk and active cultures at the top of the list. Some brands contain more sugars and less protein than others. Fat content can also vary. As with any dairy product, opt for the low-fat or no-fat version for maximum health benefits.

Vegetable Oils: A Simple Switch to Improve Heart Health

Cooking with OilIf you want to improve your heart health, you can make simple changes to your recipes, such as switching your butter/shortening/lard for vegetable based oils, like olive or canola oil. While fat is an essential macronutrient that our body needs to provide energy, support cell growth, absorb key vitamins and insulate and protect our body’s vital organs, not all fats are created equal. Butter, lard, and processed foods contain saturated and trans fats, which increase the LDL (bad) cholesterol in your body.

Olive oil, canola oil and other vegetable oils are great heart healthy choices because they contain mono and poly unsaturated fats, which decrease LDL cholesterol. Unsaturated fats are usually liquid like olive or canola oil, but can also be found in fish, nuts, seeds and avocados. Each oil contains a different combination of mono and poly unsaturated fats, and provides its own unique flavor. Because of its robust flavor, olive oil is great to use for salad dressing or marinades. Vegetable oils also are excellent for grilling, sautéing, roasting, baking, poaching and steaming . Consider switching canola oil for solid fat when baking to decrease calories, saturated and trans fats. Use 25 percent less oil than solid fat. For example, substitute ¾ cup oil for one cup solid fat.

Although these vegetable oils are heart healthy, it’s important to be mindful of portions. One gram of fat provides nine calories, while one gram of carbohydrate or protein only provided four calories. For example, 1 Tbsp of oil= 140 calories, 14 grams of fat . If you’re not careful, you can easily add 500 calories or more s to a meal with 3 ½ Tbsp of oil. To avoid this pitfall, when you are cooking, consider how many servings you intend to make. Aim to limit one to two tsp per serving (or 45-90 calories, 5-10 grams of fat).

Each oil also has its own smoke point. A smoke point is the temperature at which an oil will start to smoke. Heating oils past their smoke point can impact flavor, leaving food with a burnt taste.. Canola, safflower, and sunflower oils have high smoke points >460◦F, while olive oil has a lower smoke point of 330◦F. Consider how much heat you will use while cooking when choosing an oil.

Tropical oils such as coconut, palm, or palm kernel oils recently have been receiving a lot of attention in the media. It is important to note that these oils have a high amount of saturated fat. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to no more than five to six percent of total calories when trying to control cholesterol levels.

Check out some of our heart-healthy recipes online, and check out our Pinterest boards for even more health tips and recipes!