Thursday, April 4, 2019

Hidden Salt: It Is Not Just On Your Chips

Potato chips and and other salty snacks have always gotten a bad rap for their high salt content.  However, potato chips are not the bad actors anymore.  There are many other foods that have significantly more sodium than potato chips.

Surprisingly, some foods that don’t taste salty can still be high in sodium, which is why using taste alone is not an accurate way to judge a food’s sodium content.  For example, while some foods that are high in sodium like pickles and soy sauce taste salty, there are also many foods (like cereals and breads) that contain sodium but don’t taste salty.  FDA

One cup of Kellogg's Raisin Bran cereal has 350 milligrams (mg) sodium.  One Lender's Plain Whole Grain Bagel has 490 mg sodium.  And one slice of Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Devils Food Cake has 380 mg sodium.

The average American eats 3,400 mg sodium a day.  The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 mg a day and moving toward an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults. Heart

2,300 mg of sodium is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of salt.  Cardiosmart

The human body cannot live without some sodium.  Sodium is essential for nerve and muscle function and is involved in the regulation of fluids in the body.  Sodium also plays a role in the body's control of blood pressure and volume.  Manoa

While some sodium is good, too much sodium is bad for you.  According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, diets higher in sodium are associated with an increased risk of developing high blood pressure.  FDA

Sodium attracts water which can increase the volume of blood which increases your blood pressure. High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is a condition in which blood pressure remains elevated over time.  Hypertension makes the heart work too hard, and the high force of the blood flow can harm arteries and organs (such as the heart, kidneys, brain, and eyes). Uncontrolled high blood pressure can raise the risk of heart attacks, heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, and blindness. In addition, blood pressure generally rises as you get older, so limiting your sodium intake becomes even more important each year.  FDA

1 in 3 Americans will develop high blood pressure in their lifetime.  LiveScience

Many processed foods have a lot more sodium than potato chips.  For example frozen meals, canned soup, pasta sauce, and seasoned rice have significant amounts of sodium.  Cottage cheese and condiments such as soy sauce also have a lot of sodium.

Pizza has a lot of sodium.  For example one slice of Veggie Lover's Pizza from Pizza Hut has 760 mg sodium.

Campbell's Slow Kettle Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup has 1,420 mg sodium in one serving!  This amount is almost equal to the target daily amount.

The original Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup has a lower amount of sodium but it is still very high at 890 mg per serving.  

Don't let "healthy" versions of processed foods fool you.  Lean Cuisine Fiesta Grilled Chicken frozen meal has 590 mg sodium in 1 serving.

Lays Potato Chips have 340 mg of sodium in 30 chips (2 servings).  See the table below for sodium comparisons to other popular foods.

Sodium (mg)
American Heart Association Limit
American Heart Association Target
Kettle Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup ( 1 serv.)
Rage Traditional Spaghetti Sauce (1 cup)
Stouffer’s Manicotti Cheese (1 serv.)
Soy Sauce (1 tablespoon)
Pizza Hut Veggie Lover’s Pizza Slice (1 slice)
Daisy Low Fat Cottage Cheese (1 cup)
Far East Garlic and Herb Rice (1 serv.)
Lean Cuisine Grilled Chicken (1 serv.)
Lays Potato Chips (30 chips)

With our current food production we have to be diligent in monitoring our sodium intake.  Look for products with less than 140 mg per serving, which is considered to be low in sodium.

If we consume fresh, whole and natural foods, sodium intake can be reduced quite easily. Avoiding added salt, soy sauce or other salty condiments will also help reduce total sodium intake.  LiveScience

Friday, March 29, 2019

Five Surprising Benefits of Deep Breathing

Breathing is something we all know how to do. It is a necessity of life that occurs without much thought.

Most of us are not using our whole respiratory system to breathe. In fact, many of us use just 33% of our total capacity. ConsciousLifeStyle Chest breathing or shallow breathing is when minimal breath is drawn into the lungs using the intercostal muscles. Wikipedia

Proper breathing goes by many names. It is called deep breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, or belly breathing. When you breathe deeply, the air coming in through your nose fully fills your lungs, and you will notice that your lower belly rises. HealthHarvard
We are all born with the ability for deep breathing. Newborn babies naturally breathe this way. When a newborn baby sleeps, he/she uses the whole body for breathing. The back, tummy and chest move together with no blockages.

We are conditioned from an early age to control our feelings and emotions, and as a result our muscles tighten and our breathing patterns become restricted. ConsciousLifeStyle

This can be fixed with practice. Focus on deep breathing once or twice a day.  Every time you breathe in, your belly should fill up like a balloon, And every time you breathe out, that balloon should deflate. RunnersWorld

Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax. UofMHealth

Deep breathing also helps to control anxiety. When people are anxious they tend to take rapid, shallow breaths that come directly from the chest. VeryWellMind

In addition to stress relief and anxiety control there are five more surprising benefits of deep breathing. Deep breathing can provide mental clarity, better sleep, more energy, improved aerobic performance, and digestive health.

1. Mental Clarity
The brain requires a lot of oxygen to function, and increased intake of oxygen helps us to achieve clarity and feel grounded and productive. ConsciousLifeStyle

When our mental chatter is distracting us, or when we are fixated on events that have happened either in the past or are yet to come, taking a deep breath helps us re-center and brings us back to the present moment. MindBodyGreen

2. Sleep Better
Deep breathing promotes better sleep by alleviating stress and triggering relaxation response.  When stress is lowered, sleep is improved. An adult needs at least six to seven hours of sleep every night for optimum health and productivity. Skiin

3. Feel Energized
When we take deep breaths, more air is drawn into our lungs. Since the lungs help generate maximum blood flow, proper air supply to the lungs is critical. Improved oxygenation of the blood also results in an enhanced metabolism and greater energy.  With the proper oxygen supply, all your organs are revitalized, filling you with more energy and vigor each day. Skiin

4. Improved Aerobic Performance
Better breathing equals more oxygen for your muscles, and that equals more endurance. The key to preventing lung and leg 
fatigue is breathing more fully.  When you take deeper breaths, you use more air sacs in your lungs, which allows you to take in more oxygen to feed your muscles. RunnersWorld

5. Improved Digestion
Deep breathing increases blood flow in the digestive tract, which encourages intestinal action and improves overall digestion, alleviating irritable bowel syndrome and constipation. In addition, deeper breathing results in a calmer nervous system which in turn enhances optimum digestion. ConsciousLifeStyleMagazine

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Healthy Tips for Cell Phone Use

Cell phones are attached to our person and go with us everywhere.  Many of us even bring them to bed each night.

85 percent of American adults own cell phones and many are using them for much more than just calling people.  Cell phone users now treat their phone as a body appendage.   DigitalJournal

Cell phones emit low levels of radiofrequency energy (RF). Over the past 15 years, scientists have conducted hundreds of studies looking at the biological effects of the radiofrequency energy emitted by cell phones. The majority of studies published have failed to show an association between exposure to radiofrequency from a cell phone and health problems. FDA

Research so far shows that it is unlikely mobile phones could increase the risk of brain tumours or other types of cancer.  But we still need to know more about any potential long-term effects. CancerResearch

Long term effects aside, we need to make sure that our cell phones are not causing us health issues today.  Given below are five tips for healthy cell phone use.
  • No Cell Phones in the Bathroom
One of the worst places to use your phone is in the bathroom.  When toilets flush, they spread germs everywhere, which is how phones end up with fecal bacteria like E. coli.

Scientists at the University of Arizona have found that cell phones carry10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats. Time
  • Routinely Disinfect phone
Each square inch of your cell phone contains roughly 25,000 germs, making it one of the filthiest things you come in contact with on a daily basis.  That's something to think about the next time you press your face to your phone. DebGroup

Viruses that cause influenza can survive in the air as droplets for hours and live on hard surfaces like phones and keyboards for up to 24 hours. SafeSpaceCo

One of the easiest ways to clean your phone is to wipe it down with a microfiber cloth which will remove many of the germs. Time

For a deeper clean, use a mixture of 60% water and 40% rubbing alcohol.  Mix the ingredients together, and then dip a cloth in the solution before wiping it gently across your phone.  Stay away from liquid or spray cleaners, which can damage your phone. Time
  • Switch Hands While Talking on the Phone
Don't spend the whole call with your phone held to one ear.  Swap your ear at least every 10 minutes.

Bending the elbow in one position for long periods of time stretches the ulnar nerve that runs from the elbow to the ring and little finger which can cause weakness in the hands that makes it difficult to type, write or open jars. CoachNine  Cell Phone Elbow commonly occurs after prolonged cell phone use and manifests as "pins and needles" tingling, aching, burning or numbness in the ulnar forearm and hand.  MedicalNewsToday
  • Protect your eyes
Small text and bright screens can strain mobile phone users’ eyes.  Prevent digital eyestrain by taking breaks from looking at your cell phone screen.  Take a 20 second break every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away.

Other ways to protect your eyes is to reduce the glare by cleaning the screen, dimming the surrounding light and keeping adequate distance between eyes and screen.

As digital use increases, so do potential vision problems, including eye strain.  Symptoms of digital eye strain include eye redness or irritation, dry eyes, blurred vision, back pain, neck pain, and headaches.  SouthUniversity
  • No texting while walking
Researchers have found that over the last 10 years texting and walking has caused more than 11,100 injuries.  ReadersDigest  In 2008, more than 1,000 people were injured seriously enough to seek medical attention at the emergency room as a result of texting and walking.  Safety

The risks of texting and walking have become such a problem that some towns, such as Fort Lee, New Jersey, have banned texting while walking.  If caught texting while jaywalking in that town, violators face an $85 fine.

In London, England, some lamp posts have been padded in order to protect the large numbers of people using their mobile devices while walking. Safety  In Honolulu a Distracted Walking Law bans texting while crossing streets.  NPR

Friday, March 15, 2019

Food For Mood

We all know that exercise and healthy eating is good for your body.  However, did you know that what we eat affects how we feel? 

Researchers like Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, PhD (professor of neurosurgery and physiological science at the UCLA School of Medicine) have found convincing evidence that certain foods and nutrients may actually help pull us out of the doldrums. ClevelandClinicWellness

Examples of a good mood include positive feelings such as:  Amused, Blissful, Calm, Cheerful, Content, Dreamy, Ecstatic, Energetic, Excited, Flirty, Giddy, Good, Happy, Joyful, Loving, Mellow, Optimistic, Peaceful, and Silly. YourDictionary

Foods For Mood
  • Serotonin - Serotonin is a chemical messenger that is believed to act as a mood stabilizer.  Studies show that serotonin levels can have an effect on mood and behavior, and the chemical is commonly linked to feeling good and living longer.  Eggs, cheese, tofu, pineapple, nuts and seeds, turkey and salmon can help increase your serotonin levels.  HealthLine
  • Breakfast - Studies have shown that eating breakfast leads to improved mood, better memory, more energy throughout the day, and feelings of calmness. WebMd   If you skip your breakfast, there’s nothing you can do to boost your mental state and mood later in the day.  No food will make up for that mistake.  Your energy reserves are at their lowest when you wake up; unless you refuel, your blood sugar levels will drop, causing fatigue and irritability.  Good breakfast choices include: whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk and berries, whole-wheat toast with peanut butter and apple slices, and yogurt with fresh fruit and whole-grain granola. ClevelandClinicWellness
  • Fish - Fish doesn’t just improve mood, it helps your entire mind work better.  The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are essential building blocks of the brain and nervous system.  They help cells communicate.  If you don’t like the taste of fish, studies have shown that supplements can work just as well. ClevelandClinicWellness
  • Fruits and Vegetables - Happiness and mental health are highest among people who eat seven portions of fruit and vegetables a day, according to research.  Scientists from the University of Warwick studied the eating habits of 80,000 people in Britain. They found mental well being appeared to rise with the number of daily portions of fruit and vegetables people consumed. The researchers reported that life satisfaction and happiness peaked at 7 to 8 servings. BrainMDHealth
  • Complex Carbs - When you’re under the gun and need a quick lift, try snacking on complex carbs, advises nutrition expert Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD, author of Food & Mood.  Carbohydrates supply the brain with quick energy, and research shows they may boost  mood and performance when you’re under stress.  Complex carbs include whole wheat bread, bananas, brown rice, white potatoes and chickpeas.  Women'sHealthMag  To maintain a balanced mood, avoid refined carbohydrates and sugar, which can cause your blood sugar levels to spike and drop, leaving you irritable and lethargic.  ClevelandClinicWellness
  • Selenium  - Selenium can decrease anxiety and improve mood.  A study which was conducted in 1991, showed that the subjects consuming the highest amounts of selenium had the highest elevation of mood and the lowest anxiety. The best source of selenium is brazil nuts. One brazil nut contains over 100% of your daily requirement of selenium!  Other foods with high levels of selenium include: tuna, cod, turkey, chicken, beef, sunflower seeds, eggs and cottage cheese. MentalHealthFood
  • Probiotics - There is a lot attention these days about probiotics, fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut that help keep your gut bacteria in check.  Recent studies in both animals and humans suggest links between balanced gut bacteria and better mood, less stress and anxiety, and lower risk of depression. EatingWell
  • Avoid Eating Processed Foods - Processed foods high in saturated fats and sugar completely disrupt our mental and emotional functions, leaving you feeling depressed, exhausted, anxious, tired, unmotivated and uninspired. MedicalNews, EatThis

Friday, March 8, 2019

9 Reasons to Fall In Love With Jicama

Jicama (pronounced HEE-kuh-muh) is a round root vegetable native to Mexico, and Central and South America.  It can be purchased at supermarkets (Kroger, Meijers, Walmart, etc.) in the produce section.

Jicama has been part of the Mexican diet for centuries.  It is regularly sold from food carts at Mexican markets, beaches, and bus stops.  A favorite Mexican recipe is chilled jicama slices sprinkled with chili powder, salt and lime juice.  CookingInMexico,  MexConnect

Jicama is also popular in China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, and parts of Southeast Asia.  StyleCraze

It has a crunchy texture similar to a pear or a raw potato. It has a sweet and nutty flavor that tastes like a cross between a pear and a water chestnut.

9 Reasons You Will Love Jicama

1.  Wonderful Taste - it is light and refreshing with a good crunch and a sweetness. You will be surprised it tastes so good.  It is an addictive, satisfying snack.

2.  Very Low in Calories - one cup of jicama contains only 49 calories.  This is very low compared to other snacks:  1 cup of grapes, 62 calories, 10 Saltine crackers, 120 calories, 1 cup of 1% milk fat cottage cheese, 163 calories and 32 Nabisco Wheat Thin Crackers, 280 calories.  

3.  ExtremelyVersatile - it can be eaten raw or cooked.  Jicama can be chopped, cubed, sliced into fine sticks, spiralized or shredded.  It can be used in fruit or savory salads, stir-fries, soups, or with dips and salsas.  It can be steamed or microwaved and served with butter and honey, or added raw to chicken salad or potato salad.  It is ideal for vegetable or fruit trays because it does not discolor, even after a few hours on the buffet table

4.  Easy Way To Add Fiber To Your Diet - jicama is naturally high in fiber with 6.4 grams per 1 cup serving.  Currently, adults in the United States consume only half of the recommended daily amount. UCSFHealth  Consuming one serving of jicama will provide 25 - 30% of the recommended intake of fiber per day for women, and 17 - 20% of the recommended intake per day for men. LiveStrong 

5.  Brightens Skin -  regular consumption of jicama is believed to improve skin health, improve skin tone, help heal wounds easily, and make skin healthy and fresh. SkinTreatmentz

6.  Increases "Good" Bacteria in the Gut - jicama is high in inulin, which is a prebiotic fiber.  A diet high in prebiotics increases the population of “good” bacteria in your gut and decreases the number of unhealthy bacteria.  Studies have shown that the types of bacteria in your gut may affect your weight, immune system and even mood.  HealthLine

7.  Helps Control Weight  - research has shown that eating jicama can decrease blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity and help you feel full longer.  HealthLine

8.  Excellent Source of Vitamin C - one serving of jicama (one cup) provides 43% of the recommended daily amount.  Vitamin C is important for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body.

9. Improves Circulation - jicama contains iron and copper, both of which are necessary for healthy red blood cells. HealthLine  Copper helps your body absorb iron from the food that you eat and releases iron when it is needed in your essential organs.  Circulation is improved by maintaining the iron levels in your blood. Pangeabed

Note:  Always peel Jicama and discard the skin.  The skin, leaves, stems, pods and seeds contain a dangerous toxin and cannot be consumed. 

As mentioned above Jicama can be prepared many different ways.  The Tangled Thai Salad is  delicious.  Jicama is prepared using a spiralizer, but it also could be diced.  Given below are some other ideas to try: 

Slices sprinkled with cinnamon and brown sugar

Slices sprinkled with chili powder, salt and lime juice

Fruit Salad with mango, pineapple, jicama, watermelon and cucumbers, seasoned with lime juice and chili powder.

Chicken Sitr Fry

Jicama Chips


Even though Jicama does not look appetizing it is surprisingly delicious. It can be eaten alone or added to many recipes. And the best part of all it is low in calories and nutritious. You should try it!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Why CBD Oil is Hotter Than Jennifer Lawrence

CBD oil is Everywhere!

Mandy Moore is using it to make her feet more comfortable when she wears high heels, it is included in a breakfast dish at a New York City restaurant, the FDA has approved its use in an Epilepsy drug, and Amazon offers 7 pages of CBD oil.  WellAndGood GuestofGuest USAToday

CBD Oil is hot:  the market is growing, the number of states where it is legal is increasing, and it has many health benefits.
  1. The CBD industry grew by 40% and hit $367 million in sales in 2017.  TheStreet
  2. It is predicted the CBD market will hit $22 Billion by 2022.  RollingStone
  3. The number of states where medical or recreational use of CBD oil is legal keeps growing. WebMd
  4. Research has shown that CBD oil can provide pain relief, anti-inflammatory properties, treatment for acne, slow progression of Alzheimer's disease, reduce anxiety and depression, and lower high blood pressure.   MedicalNewsToday HealthLine
What is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is Cannabidiol oil which is extracted from the flowers and buds of the marijuana or hemp plant.  It does not produce the marijuana "high" which is caused by the chemical Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).  Don't get CBD confused with THC, the two are different.  WebMd

Our Body Produces Cannabinoids
Our cells produce and use cannabinoids to respond to stress, illness, and injury.  Cannabinoids are part of the Endocannabinoid System in our body.  It helps balance all major body systems ensuring that all systems work together.

Research has shown that small doses of cannabinoids from hemp plants help support the Endocannabinoid System.

Also, consumption of Omega 3 from oily fish or flax and hemp seeds can help support the Endocannabinoid System.    Medium

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Beans: Expectations vs Reality

We've been told since we were kids to "Eat your beans.  They are good for you!"   Our parents were right!  Beans are good for you.

Beans are loaded with fiber, folate, potassium and protein.  They can lower "bad" cholesterol levels, protect your bones, promote healthier blood pressure and assist with weight loss.  Beans are also a good source of prebiotics.  MedicalNewsToday,  PhLabs

The American Heart Association recommends that you eat 3 cups of beans per week. GoodHousekeeping

Nutritionally, canned and dry beans are the same.  However, manufacturers add sodium to canned beans to preserve and increase shelf life.  They also add sodium to enhance their flavor.  Canned beans have a lot of sodium!  For example, 1/2 cup of Bush's Black Beans have 490 mg sodium which is 20% of your recommended daily sodium intake.

Bush's Black Bean Fiesta beans have 580 mg in 1/2 cup serving which is 25% of your recommended daily sodium intake.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 mg sodium per day.

There are three ways to reduce the sodium:
  1. Use dried beans instead of canned beans
  2. Purchase low sodium beans 
  3. Rinse canned beans 
Dried Beans
Dried beans have less than 10 mg of sodium.  They are easy to prepare as long as you plan ahead. Rinse the beans and soak in a bowl of water overnight.  In the morning, drain the beans and boil for 40 - 60 minutes until tender.

The nutritional value of Pinto, Black and Kidney beans is pretty similar.  Black beans have a little more sodium, iron and magnesium as compared to the other beans.  The table below is based on 1 cup serving.

Sodium (mg)
Total Fat (g)
Dietary Fiber (g)
Protein (g)
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. 

Purchase Low Sodium Beans
Bush's Reduced Sodium Dark Red Kidney Beans and Simple Truth Organic Black Beans both have 130 mg sodium in 1/2 cup serving.  However, some reduced sodium beans still have a lot of sodium.    For example, Bush's Reduced Sodium Black Beans have 240mg sodium.  Make sure to read the labels.

Rinse Canned Beans 
If you do not want to use dried beans and can't find low sodium beans in your grocery store you can rinse canned beans to reduce sodium.  Rinsing canned beans after they have been drained reduces the sodium content by 41%. HealthyEating

Rice and Bean Bowls are a nutritious way to add beans to your diet.  Bowls are easy and quick meals to have for dinner.  The trick is to prepare the rice, beans, vegetables and meat ahead of time.  Then when it is time for dinner just mix the ingredients and heat.  You can vary the meals by adding different ingredients and flavors (cheese, soy sauce, salsa, marinara , etc.).  Given below are some other ideas.

1.  Bean Burrito Bowl  ReadySetEat
2.  Red beans and rice Graceful
3.  Spicy Shrimp Burrito Bowls TwoSisters
4.  Instant Pot Chicken Burrito Bowl EasyDinner