- You'd expect a Registered Dietitian to tell you things like "eat your veggies" or "read the food label" but the advice below might come as a surprise. In honor of National Nutrition Month--and National Registered Dietitian Day, which was March 14, I've put together a list of things a Registered Dietitian might say that you wouldn't expect.
- "It's OK to eat eggs," reports Kari Azar RD, LD, a consulting dietitian with Ameritus. That's because research now confirms that it's not so much cholesterol that's a problem for your heart, it's the saturated fat and trans fat. In other words, it's not the eggs on your plate that clog your arteries, it's the bacon, sausage and biscuits that are the problem. Several international health promotion organizations – including Health Canada, the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Australian Heart Foundation and the Irish Heart Foundation – promote eggs as part of a heart-healthy diet, recognizing that they make important nutritional contributions. Besides perfect protein, two nutrients of note found in eggs are lutein--important for eye health, and choline, a B vitamin important for healthy brain development as well as cognitive performance.
- Don't cook with olive oil," recommends Sara Peidle MS, RD, LD a dietitian who works at Davita and Legslative Liason for the Texas Dietetic Association. While olive oil is a healthy oil to dress your salad with, it has a low smoke point--so heating it to high temperatures is not a good idea. Instead, use canola oil, which has a high smoke point and like olive oil, is rich in monounsaturated fat and low in saturated fat.
- "Fruit is nature's candy," suggests Flor Esnayra MS, RD, LD, President of the El Paso Dietetic Association and clinical dietitian at Sierra Medical Center. Carbs are the fuel your body needs, so choose them wisely. Instead of ending the meal with apple pie, try a fresh apple instead, which is a nutrient-rich way to fill up and cut calories at the same time.
- "Drink wine, but not too much," says Debi Hicks MS, RD, LD, Director of Food and Nutrition Services at Providence Hospital and Treasurer of the El Paso Dietetic Association. Wine is known for it's antioxidant compounds like resveratrol, which may protect the linings of blood vessels from damage, lower the "bad" LDL cholesterol and decrease risk of blood clots. Despite it's proposed health benefits, The American Heart Association hasn't gone as far as recommending it as a heart tonic. That's because too much alcohol of any kind can increase your risk of high blood pressure, liver damage and certain types of cancer.
- "Make your cake and eat it too," advocates Erin Elrafie, RD,LD, secretary of the El Paso Dietetic Association and clinical dietitian at Sierra Medical Center." Many people have the misbelief that they have to give up all their favorite foods. The key is learning to count your carbs, learn to cook your favorites in a healthier way and to practice portion control." How to make that cake healthier? Use applesauce or mashed avocado to replace much of the fat in a recipe to provide a moist, yet healthier final product.
- "Mayonnaise is a healthy fat," notes Phil Arnold RD, LD, Director of Food and Nutrition Care Services at University Medical Center. "The pH of commercially prepared mayonnaise actually has a protective effect on preventing bacterial growth, which could lead to food borne illness."
The best way to stay safe is to remember to CLEAN hands and work surfaces, COOK to proper temperatures, keep things COOL and don't CROSS CONTAMINATE raw protein foods with foods that won't be cooked.
- "An occasional burger or ice cream is OK!" reports Celeste Care, RD, LD Senior Nutritionist with the City of El Paso Department of Public Health. "My clients expect me to say "this food is bad!" but I'm a firm believer in moderation. An occasional burger or ice cream is OK--though I suggest forgoing the sides like french fries or soda.
It's important to be more aware of your internal hunger cues so you can can the foods you enjoy without feeling deprived." If you choose lean beef, you can make beef a more regular part of your diet--there are 27 cuts of lean beef currently on the market. (Look for the words "round" or "loin.")
- Drink your milk!
That's my favorite tip. Most people think they don't need milk once they grow up. Au contrar! In fact, women over 50 need even more calcium--1200 mg per day--the equivelant of four servings of dairy. Adults of all ages only have half the dairy recommended by MyPlate, which may contribute to nutrient deficits in the American diet . Because milk provides a good or excellent source of protein, calcium, vitamin D, B12 and A; riboflavin, and potassium, it's the perfect way to fill in some nutrient gaps at a meal--especially when you eat out. Milk is the main dietary source of calcium and vitamin D--critical for preventing osteoporosis but also noted to help keep blood pressure down.
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