Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Food Mood Connection!

Did you know that there is a dramatic connection between your diet and your emotions? Foods you eat can influence your mood, by affecting the body’s metabolism, hormones and neurotransmitters (mood chemicals that are produced in the brain), and these in turn influence your emotions and energy. Here are some examples:

Consuming strawberries and magnesium rich foods such as pumpkin seeds, bananas, leafy greens and almonds can keep you calm and relaxed when you feel stressed. Also drinking a glass of wine can help reduce the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline and results in a more relaxed mood and an improved memory.

On the other hand, eating complex carbohydrates, fruits,  foods rich in folic acid (asparagus, beans, peas, egg yolks, spinach and liver), foods rich in vitamin B6 (green leafy vegetables and seeds), foods rich in vitamin B12 (fish, poultry and meat), and foods rich in Omega 3 (fish, flaxseeds and oils) can make you happier and relieve depression by keeping homocysteine levels low and adrenaline levels high.

In addition to that, eating chocolate can also stimulate the release of serotonin into the body which produces a relaxed and happy feeling. This may explain why some people crave chocolate when they feel depressed!

In contrast, consuming too much sugar, white bread and pasta, alcohol and caffeine can cause low moods and make you feel sad by bringing on an inflammatory response in the nervous system.

Finally, a cup of warm milk or chamomile tea with cinnamon before bedtime can help you feel relaxed and sleep well.

To stay healthy and happy choose foods that keep you in a good mood.
Dietitian Dina Moghraby

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Read it before you eat it!

Low fat, light and diet foods may be very attractive for weight loss seekers, although these foods are made for weight management purposes but actually they may not be safe and good for our health.
Low fat foods contain less fat than full fat foods which seems a good reason to choose these foods. The truth is that the amount of fat is not the only difference between low fat and full fat foods.

When reducing the fat content the taste is always affected (that’s why when we eat these foods, we need more to get satisfied), and food manufacturers become obligated to add other substances to compensate for the loss of taste so they usually add very large amounts of sugar, salt or chemical substances like artificial sweeteners. The addition of these substances make the calorie content of low fat and full fat foods nearly the same, the fact that may depress the efficacy of eating low fat foods to lose weight. For example, replacing a regular cookie by a low fat one means saving less than 10 calories only!

In addition to the surprising calorie content of low fat foods, they may be harmful for our health. Where the high sugar content may raise the blood sugar levels, the high salt and sodium content may raise the blood pressure, the chemical and artificial substances may cause severe health problems and cancer, and the fat used in low fat foods may be saturated or Trans fat which increase the risk of heart diseases.

So we just have to know when and how to consume low fat, light and diet foods. The most important points are to consume these foods in moderation and to read carefully the nutritional facts. Be aware of the calorie content, the type of fat used, the amount of sugar and salt, and the presence of harmful chemical substances.
In some cases, low fat is recommended, as the skimmed milk that is a healthy choice for all adults and kids above 2 years old. But in some other cases, low fat and diet may be harmful, as diet coke which is a very bad choice for kids, pregnant women, and people with phenylketonuria disease.

Dietitian Dina Moghraby

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Truth About Avocados!

Avocados! Are they fruits, vegetables, or fats? Although some people say that avocados are fruits since they grow on trees, others say that they are vegetables since they are not sweet. The truth is that avocados are classified in the fat and oils food group due to their high fat content.

Avocados are very nutritious foods, due to their high content of folic acid, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium and soluble fibers. In addition to that, avocados are cholesterol free and sodium free, and they are also rich in Polyunsaturated fatty acids and Oleic acid (a Monounsaturated fatty acid) which can replace saturated fats in a healthy diet.

It’s now obvious that avocados are a great healthy choice, they are good for the heart and for people with diabetes due to their high monounsaturated fatty acid content which improves blood sugar control, increases HDL levels and decreases LDL levels. They can also help in lowering high blood pressure due to their high potassium content. Studies have revealed that avocados may help in fighting skin-aging, boosting memory, preventing liver diseases, absorbing more nutrients when mixed with other fruits and vegetables, and preventing cancer.

A recommended serving size is about 2 tablespoons, which provides 5 g of fat and 45 calories.

Want a healthy and light avocado sandwich?

Mix 2 tablespoons of avocado with ½ cup mashed tomatoes, ¼ cup mashed red onions, and ¼ cup colored sweet peppers.
Spread it on a wholegrain bread slice, add top it off with 1 slice light mozzarella cheese. Toast it until the cheese melts or eat it as a cold sandwich, and Enjoy!

Dietitian Dina Moghraby

Thursday, February 21, 2013

What to eat during Lent

“I am fasting for lent, giving up meat, dairy products, sweets, fats or any other food, and yet I am gaining weight!!!” Yeah it is a surprising and an unexpected result that may shock many of us after all that hunger and deprivation. Let’s find out the truth behind gaining weight while fasting.
When you fast, the metabolism slows down, and you burn fewer calories. And in the long fasting phase, the body feels deprived or really hungry, so it may store all the food you are taking and keep them as a reserve for next hunger or fasting period.  So consuming one big meal only once all day may be a reason for your metabolism to slow down, and for your body to store more fat, and therefore you may gain extra weight.
On the other hand, not only the quantity of food and calories affect your weight. The quality of food eaten also plays an important role in boosting the metabolism, and affecting your weight. For example, when you eat French fries, chocolate, pancakes, croissants as meat-free foods, simple sugars, saturated fats and Trans fats will be directly stored in your body, and losing weight will never be achieved.
So to keep a healthy weight or lose extra weight during fasting, you have to eat small frequent meals to keep your metabolism high, and you should also focus on whole grain cereals, brown rice and pasta, unrefined starches rather than white pasta, white rice, refined flour, and simple sugars. And you also have to avoid a high carbohydrate diet, by focusing on plant sources of protein (such as soy, tofu, all types of beans, quinoa…) and controlling your carbohydrate intake.
Here’s a one day sample menu for a healthy Lent diet:
Breakfast: 25 grams wholegrain bread + thyme (Zaatar) + 1 teaspoon olive oil + 1 cup of raw vegetables.
Lunch: 1 cup lentil soup + 3 medium sized zucchini (filled with rice and vegetables).
Snack: A handful of raw nuts + 1 fruit Or 1 cereal fruit bar.
Dinner: 1 small plate Tabouli (without bulgur) + 2 wholegrain rice crackers or oat crackers + 3 tablespoons hummus with tahini.  

Dietitian Dina Moghraby

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Snack Attack!

Did you know that when you go more than 3 hours without eating, your metabolism slows down?! Small, but frequent, meals help keep your metabolism high, so "eat more often, and you'll lose more weight." Here are the top 5 creative and healthy snacks to satisfy your hunger and boost your metabolism.
1. Fruits and Nuts salad:
Mix 2 cups of fresh fruits (bananas, cherries, berries, pineapple, pears, oranges…) with 30 g raw nuts (almonds, pistachios…)
Calories: 170
Nutrients: vitamin C, vitamin E, polyunsaturated fatty acids(omega 3) and monounsaturated fatty acids, B-complex vitamins.

2. The Colorful Plate:

Mix half cup of sweet corn, half cup of mushrooms, 1 medium carrot, lettuce, 4 asparagus, and 5 cherry tomatoes. Add vinegar, lemon juice, salt and a teaspoon of olive oil for dressing. 
Calories: About 200
Nutrients: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, manganese, vitamin B6, calcium, folic acid, dietary fibers.

3. Turkey sandwich:

 2 whole grain rice cakes, with a slice of turkey, lettuce, onion, tomatoes, and a teaspoon light mayo sauce.
Calories: 150
Nutrients: dietary fibers, iron, vitaminB12, vitamin C.

4. Honey Bananas:

Put 1 tablespoon of honey on top of a large chopped banana.
Calories: 160
Nutrients: potassium, dietary fibers, vitamin C, vitaminB6, iron, calcium.

5. Peanut Butter Apple:

Cut a large apple into 5 round slices, and spread a teaspoon of peanut butter on top of each slice.
Calories: 230 calories
Nutrients: vitamin C, dietary fibers, vitamin E, polyunsaturated fatty acids, magnesium.

Dietitian Dina Moghraby

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Keep Healthy Bones!

Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins that help us keep healthy bonesIt plays an important role in bone health. It aids in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in our bodies, helps bring calcium and phosphorus to our bones and teeth, and plays a role in the strength of our immune system.We can get vitamin D from many sources:

First of all from the sun, because our body converts sunlight into vitamin D. That’s why it’s called the "Sunshine Vitamin". However, we have to avoid extended exposure to sunlight without sunscreen which may lead to skin aging and skin cancer.

Second from food such as egg yolks, some oily fish (tuna and salmon), and liver. Milk, yogurt, cheeses, cereals, breads and soy drinks are often fortified with vitamin D.

Third from dietary supplements. Some people have to take supplements because they need more vitamin D, such as breastfed infants, postmenopausal women, people with dark skin, and those who have had a gastric bypass surgery. But we have to stay aware that very high levels of vitamin D cause toxicity and have been associated with other health problems.

Unfortunately 85% of us aren't getting enough of this “sunshine vitamin”, and deficiency is spreading day after day, symptoms are Fatigue, Muscle cramps, and Joint pain. It can lead to many diseases such as osteoporosis, Rickets, Cancer (including breast and colon), Rheumatoid arthritis and Osteoarthritis.

Regulate your vitamin D intake and prevent its immobilizing deficiency!
Normal range of Vitamin D in the blood is 30 ng/mL to 75 ng/mL.

Dietitian Dina Moghraby

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Flu-fighting foods!

It’s winter, the flu season. It’s the time of year when sickness strikes, causing missed days at work and school. With winter upon us, it’s time to boost our immune system and fight against flu. In addition to getting enough rest and sleep, and engaging in a daily moderate physical activity, some foods with their nutrient and vitamin content can boost our immune system and prevent us from getting sick.
Here are some key nutrients and foods that will help you fly through the winter season in good health without flu! 

Yogurt contains probiotic microorganisms which stimulate the immune system and increase the acidity of the gut so undesirable bacteria can’t grow.

Garliconions, and leeks can stink out sickness due to the phytochemicals and antimicrobial compounds they contain. 

Carrot, pumpkin, sweet potato, and other orange foods that are high in vitamin A and beta-carotene, play an important role in immune defense. As a maker of infection-fighting white blood cells, vitamin A plays a crucial role in fighting off infections.

Mushrooms contain selenium, which helps white blood cells produce cytokines that clear sickness, and beta glucan which is an antimicrobial type of fiber.

Sunflower Seeds, almonds, peanut butter, and other vitamin E containing foods have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory role.

Strawberries, oranges, lemons, and other vitamin C rich foods can reduce the duration and severity of cold and flu.

Don’t forget to stay warm and drink lots of water to keep your body hydrated and compensate for the flu losses.

Have a healthy winter!
Dietitian Dina Moghraby.