Nutrition

Reduce Sodium for World Salt Awareness Week

Check the label! This year’s World Salt Awareness Week (March 10-16) focuses on the need for clear and consistent nutrition labelling so consumers know how much sodium they are consuming each day and can choose foods with lower sodium.

Too much sodium increases your blood pressure, a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Previous themes for World Salt Awareness Week have encouraged chefs, caterers, and the prepared food industry to decrease the amount of sodium they add to foods and to purchase lower sodium ingredients and products.

Why Is Reducing Sodium Important?

Consuming less sodium can help prevent or control high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, which is a leading contributor to death, disability, and costs from cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD is the leading cause of death in the United States and a major factor in health disparities across different population groups. US spending on CVD in 2010 totaled an estimated $315 billion.

Most of the sodium we eat—more than 75%—comes from packaged, processed, store-bought, and restaurant foods. That means the sodium is in our food before we even buy it, and the salt you add to food during cooking or at the table is only a small amount of what you consume each day. CDC’s Sodium and Food Sources Web page shows which food categories are the biggest contributors of sodium to your daily diet.

Many people are surprised to learn that foods that seem healthy, such as low-fat deli turkey or light salad dressings, can be high in sodium. In fact, the top sources of sodium in the American diet are bread and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, and pizza. Learn more about the most common sources of sodium in our diets from CDC Vital Signs.

What would the nation gain if everyone could reduce daily sodium intake to 2,300 mg? Such a reduction has been estimated to

  • Reduce cases of high blood pressure by 11 million.
  • Save $18 billion health care dollars each year.

What You Can Do

During World Salt Awareness Week and every week of the year, you can reduce your sodium intake by following the tips below. Check out CDC’s Salt Web site to get more recommendations about reducing sodium in your diet and improving your heart health.

At the Grocery Store

  • Check Nutrition Facts labels while shopping to find the lowest sodium options of your favorite foods.
  • Limit purchases of processed foods high in sodium.
  • Talk with your grocer about stocking lower sodium food choices.

Eating Out

  • Ask your server for nutritional information, or check online before you go to find lower sodium options. menustat.org
  • Ask the chef for no added salt in your meal. You can add some yourself if you find it is needed.
  • Talk with the manager of your favorite restaurant about offering lower sodium food choices.

At Home

  • Eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. You can opt for frozen or canned fruits and vegetables, but select no-salt-added varieties and packages without sauce.
  • Prepare more meals from fresh ingredients at home, where you can control added salt.
  • Get enough potassium each day.1 Potassium can help reduce the effect of sodium on blood pressure and is found in many foods, such as bananas, potatoes, beans, and dairy products.
  • Support initiatives that reduce sodium in foods sold in cafeterias and vending machines.

Sodium Reduction in Communities

CDC is working to lower sodium intake at the community level through the Sodium Reduction in Communities Program. This current 3-year effort encourages communities to reduce sodium in school meals, at senior centers, in restaurants, at convenience stores, and at government facilities, and among other food establishments.

You can help by spreading the word to similar organizations in your community to ask for “less salt, please.”

SOURCE: www.cdc.gov/features/sodium/


Healthy Resolutions: Focus on Your Health in 2014

Family, fun… and FOOD! Does that sum up the holiday season for you? Don’t worry, all is not lost. You can let go of the past and resolve to start the New Year on the right foot. That will mean eating fewer calories and engaging in more physical activity to lose weight. Here is some information to help you eat healthier and move more this year.

Focus on Your Health in the New Year

Getting healthy after over-indulging during the holiday season may not be easy at first, but it can be done. Here are some suggestions for cutting your calories.

Enjoy your favorite comfort foods, but try a lower-calorie version. Use lower-calorie ingredients or prepare meals differently. For example, if your macaroni and cheese recipe uses whole milk, butter, and full-fat cheese, try remaking it with non-fat milk, less butter, light cream cheese, fresh spinach and tomatoes.

Fruits and veggies: keep it simple! Most fruits and veggies are low-calorie and will fill you up, but the way you prepare them can change that. Breading and frying, and using high-fat creams or butter with vegetables and fruit will add extra calories. Try steaming vegetables and using spices and low-fat sauces for flavor. And enjoy the natural sweetness of raw fruit.

Eat smaller portions. When eating out, save some of your meal and take it home to make another meal, or split one meal between two people. At home, try putting only the amount you want to eat in a small bowl and don’t go back for more. People eat more when confronted with larger portion sizes.

Drink water. Drink water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. Give your water a little pizzazz by adding a wedge of lime or lemon. This may improve the taste, and you just might drink more water than you usually do. This tip can help with weight management. Substituting water for one 20-ounce, sugar-sweetened soda will save you about 240 calories.

Eat breakfast every day. When you don’t eat breakfast, you may be likely to make up for the calories you saved by eating more later on in the day. Many people who maintain long-term weight loss eat breakfast daily.

Get Active, Healthy, and Happy

Are you already physically active? That’s great…keep it up, or take it to the next level! If you aren’t physically active, this could be your year to get started. Regular physical activity is an important part of losing weight and being healthy. Make a goal with a friend to achieve the amount of activity recommended by the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans!

Get Moving. Physical activity helps control weight, but it has other benefits. Physical activity such as walking can help improve health even without weight loss. People who are physically active live longer and have a lower risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers.

Walk & Talk. Stay connected and get active with family and friends. Do yourself (and them) a favor by initiating a Walk & Talk weekly visit as part of your physical activity routine.

Have Fun. Check out community resources like nearby trails and parks. Sign up for a 5K walk or run to keep your mind focused on physical activity goals.

SOURCE: www.cdc.gov/features/healthyresolutions/


Nutrition for Everyone: Healthy Eating Habits

These days, a wealth of nutrition information is at your fingertips. From diet books to newspaper articles, everyone seems to have an opinion about what you should be eating. It’s no secret that good nutrition plays an essential role in maintaining health. While you already know it is important to eat a healthy diet, you may find it more difficult to sort through all of the information about nutrition and food choices. CDC has compiled a variety of resources to help you start healthier eating habits:

Selected Resources

ChooseMyPlate.gov
This Web site features practical information and tips to help Americans build healthier diets.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Dietary Guidelines for Americans, published jointly by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA), provides advice about how good dietary habits for people aged 2 years and older can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases.

Food Safety

Sites designed to help consumers get the latest information on food safety and food recalls.

SOURCE: www.cdc.gov/nutrition/


Smart Foods for a Healthy Brain

Listen to the buzz about foods and dietary supplements and you’ll believe they can do everything from sharpen focus and concentration, to enhance memory, attention span, and brain function.

But do they really work? There’s no denying that as we age chronologically, our body ages right along with us. The good news is that you can increase your chances of maintaining a healthy brain — if you add “smart” foods and beverages to your diet.

Caffeine Can Make You More Alert

There’s no magic bullet to boost IQ or make you smarter — but certain substances, like caffeine, can energize and help you focus and concentrate. Found in coffee, chocolate, energy drinks, and some medications, caffeine gives you that unmistakable wake-up buzz — though the effects are short term. And more is often less: Overdo it on caffeine and it can make you jittery and uncomfortable.

Sugar Can Enhance Alertness

Sugar is your brain’s preferred fuel source — not table sugar, but glucose, which your body metabolizes from the sugars and carbohydrates you eat. That’s why a glass of something sweet to drink can offer a short-term boost to memory, thinking processes, and mental ability.

Consume too much, however, and memory can be impaired — along with the rest of you. Go easy on the sugar so it can enhance memory, without packing on the pounds.

Eat Breakfast to Fuel Your Brain

Tempted to skip breakfast? Studies have found that eating breakfast may improve short-term memory and attention. Students who eat breakfast tend to perform significantly better than those who don’t. Foods at the top of researchers’ brain fuel list include high-fiber whole grains, dairy, and fruits. Just don’t overeat; researchers also found high-calorie breakfasts appear to hinder concentration.

Fish Really is Brain Food

A protein source associated with a great brain boost is fish — rich in omega 3 fatty acids, essential for brain function and development. These healthy fats have amazing brain power: higher dietary omega 3 fatty acids are linked to lower dementia and stroke risks; slower mental decline; and may play a vital role in enhancing memory, especially as we get older.

For brain and heart health, eat two servings of fish weekly.

Add a Daily Dose of Nuts and Chocolate

Nuts and seeds are good sources of the antioxidant vitamin E, which is associated with less cognitive decline as you age. Dark chocolate also has other powerful antioxidant properties. And it contains natural stimulants like caffeine, which can enhance focus and concentration.

Enjoy up to an ounce a day of nuts and dark chocolate to provide all the benefits you need without excess calories, fat, or sugar.

Add Avocados and Whole Grains

Every organ in the body depends on blood flow, especially the heart and brain. Eating a diet high in whole grains and fruits like avocados can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and lower bad cholesterol. This reduces your risk of plaque buildup and enhances blood flow, offering a simple, tasty way to fire up brain cells.

Whole grains, like popcorn and whole wheat, also contribute dietary fiber and vitamin E. Though avocados have fat, it’s the good-for-you, monounsaturated fat that contributes to healthy blood flow.

Blueberries Are Super Nutritious

Research in animals shows that blueberries may help protect the brain from the damage caused by free radicals and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Studies also show that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning and muscle function of aging rats, making them mentally equivalent to much younger rats.

Benefits of a Healthy Diet

It may sound trite but it’s true: If your diet lacks essential nutrients, it can decrease your ability to concentrate. Eating too much or too little can also interfere with your ability to focus. A heavy meal may make you feel lethargic, while too few calories can result in distracting hunger pangs.

Benefit your brain: Strive for a well-balanced diet full of a wide variety of healthy, wholesome foods.

Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements?

Store shelves groan with supplements claiming to boost health. Although many of the reports on the brain-boosting power of supplements like vitamins B, C, E, beta-carotene, and magnesium are promising, a supplement is only useful to people whose diets are lacking in that specific nutrient.

Researchers are cautiously optimistic about ginseng, ginkgo, and vitamin, mineral, and herb combinations and their impact on the brain.

Check with your doctor.

SOURCE: WebMD


5 Weight Loss Roadblocks

Think you’re doing everything right with your diet, but still not dropping any pounds? One of the dieting obstacles below might be to blame. Avoid these five weight-loss roadblocks on the path to a healthier you:

Stress: When you’re stressed out, your body releases a hormone that causes you to crave fatty, sugary foods. Avoid stress and you might be able to resist dessert.

Unhealthy “healthy” foods: Labels such as “all natural” and “fat-free” can be misleading and may not tell the whole story. Make sure you check the nutritional facts to see exactly what you’re eating.

Not enough sleep: Too little time spent asleep may keep your body from producing hormones that regulate your appetite, causing you to overeat. To keep your diet on track, make sure you’re getting at least six to eight hours of sleep each night.

Missing a workout: We all know missing a workout means burning fewer calories, but new research shows that people who skip the gym are more likely to give in to temptation when it comes to their diet.

Eating out: Most restaurants are concerned with how your food tastes, not your waistline. Because restaurant foods tend to have more calories, sodium and fat, consider cooking more meals at home when trying to shed a few pounds.


FDA approves new weight-loss drug

For the first time in over 10 years, the FDA has approved a weight loss drug. The newest drug is called Belviq (lorcaserin hydrochloride) while Qnexa (phentermine and topiramate) is still under review by the FDA.

Read more to find out who can take Belviq, how it works and about the possible side effects.


Childhood Obesity: Akeila’s Story

One out of every three U.S. kids is obese or at risk of becoming obese. Akeila was just another teen  facing the challenges of childhood obesity, but then she decided to make a change. Watch Akeila’s Story above. And Akeila’s not alone. Austin, Alejandra, Aaron and Maya are also making a change.

http://www.besmartbewell.com/childhood-obesity/index.htm?WT.mc_id=BSBW0000014