Bountiful Beans

We are happy to spill these beans: Whether drained, canned, frozen or fresh, these special seeds, which come in many varieties, are filled with major health-boosting benefits.  Sometimes referred to as pulses or legumes, these fiber-filled vegetables – half a cup of cooked chickpeas contains 5 grams of fiber – also pack quality protein – 7 grams in half a cup.  Did we mention beans are virtually fat-free?  The soluble and insoluble fiber in beans helps the body maintain regularity, control cholesterol levels, regulate blood glucose levels and reduces risk for certain cancers.  And, beans are a super source of potassium, folate, magnesium and thiamine.  Large-scale studies have shown that bean-eaters are less likely to be obese than their non-bean consuming peers.  All beans, from black and kidney to fava and navy are soft when cooked making them easy to eat with dentures or a tired jar.

Concerned about gassy side effects?  There is no need to be embarrassed by nature.  To calm an active gastrointestinal system, ease into bean eating with a small amount each day.  Eventually your body will adjust to the habit of consuming more fiber.  Some of Williamson chefs’ favorite ways to serve beans: In soups, salads, dips, with Mexican food and in vegetarian casseroles.

Published by Anna Bullett, MS, RD, on August 8th, 2011 at 9:00 am. Filled under: Diet,Fiber,Health,nutrition,Protein,Uncategorized,VegetablesNo Comments

The Facts on Fat

Despite what has seemed like a two-decade-long war against fat in food, the truth is that your body needs dietary fat for a multitude of reasons.  It gives you energy for now and stored energy for later, helps your body absorb important nutrients, produces hormones, protects organs, and keeps you warm.  Americans’ real issue with fat is over-consumption.  Fat should make up between one-quarter to one-third of you daily calorie intake and should be comprised of plant fats, like canola, vegetable, and olive oils, nuts, seeds and avocado.

There are four major types of fat: Saturated, trans, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.  They differ in their chemical structure, their source and how they affect the body.  A simplified way to understand fat is that the less-healthful fats are animal derived and solid at room temperature- think butter, lard and the fat on meat and poultry.  The more healthy fats are plant- and seafood- derived and liquid at room temperature like olive oil.  High intakes of saturated and trans fat are linked to increased heart disease and stroke risk while moderate intakes of unsaturated fats, especially olive and fish oils, are linked to decreased heart disease risk and improved cholesterol levels.  Every type of fat contains 9 calories per gram.  So although the cardiac health effects may differ, a food with 12 grams of fat has 108 calories from fat no matter if the fat is saturated or unsaturated.  It is important to note that a food labeled “trans-fat-free” does not mean it is fat-free, or even saturated fat-free, and such a label is no indication of a food’s healthfulness.

In Williamson Hospitality kitchens you will not find any artificial trans-fats.  Our chefs cook with a variety of vegetable, canola and olive oils and always attempt to achieve the perfect flavor and health balance.

 

Published by Anna Bullett, MS, RD, on August 4th, 2011 at 9:00 am. Filled under: Fat,Health,nutritionNo Comments

Know the Lingo

Mineral – A chemical element needed for the health and maintenance of your body.  Helps build body tissue such as bone and regulates vital functions like heartbeat.  Sodium and potassium are examples of minerals.

Vitamin – A compound needed to help sustain life; vitamins do an enormous list of activities like preventing sickness, aiding in the body’s processing of other nutrients and helping all of the body’s organs work efficiently.

Macro-nutrient – These are nutrients that supply the body with energy in the form of calories.  The three macro-nutrients are carbohydrates, fat, and protein.  Alcohol also provides calories and is considered a forth macro-nutrient (of far inferior nutritional quality).

Micro-nutrient – These are non-calorie providing nutrients, which are needed in small amounts everyday (vitamins and minerals are examples).  They allow the body to produce substances needed for growth and development.

Antioxidant – A molecule that helps stop cell damage caused by toxins.  Fruits, veggies and whole grains contain high levels of antioxidants (vitamin C is an example).

Phytochemical – Natural substances found in plants that protect your body against some cancers and heart disease (broccoli and blueberries are high in these).

Published by Anna Bullett, MS, RD, on July 25th, 2011 at 9:00 am. Filled under: Antioxidant,Diet,Health,Minerals,nutrition,VitaminsNo Comments

Fabulous Fiber

People who eat a fiber-rich diet are not only less likely to become constipated; they enjoy many health benefits beyond regularity.  Fiber helps fight against heart disease, defend against diabetes, combats some cancers, aids in the lowering of cholesterol, slows digestion, helps with a weight loss diet and prevents hemorrhoids and bowel disorders.  What a list!  Despite fiber’s fundamental role in a healthy diet, most Americans only consume one-third of the daily recommended amount from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 25 – 35 grams for adults.

To make sure you are eating enough fiber, have fresh vegetables with every meal.  Choose fruit instead of juice and eat the skin (on apples, pears, peaches, etc, not on citrus).  Eat cooked lentils, peas and beans often.  Choose whole grain breads and cereals.  Start the day with oatmeal.  All of these fiber-rich options are readily available in Williamson Healthcare dinning rooms and cafes.

If you are just starting to increase you fiber intake, start slowly, add a few more grams per day until you reach the recommended intake level.  Make sure to increase your fluid intake to prevent cramping or gastric distress.

Published by Anna Bullett, MS, RD, on July 15th, 2011 at 12:00 pm. Filled under: Diet,Fruit,Health,nutrition,Vegetables,Whole GrainsNo Comments