Let’s Hear it for Popcorn!

popcornAccording to a study by the American Chemical Society in San Diego, if you want a healthy, whole grain treat make it popcorn.

Their Researchers found that popcorn has more healthy for you antioxidants called polyphenols than some fruits or vegetables. In every serving of popcorn there are 300 milligrams of polyphenols compared to 114 mg per serving of sweet corn and 160 mg per serving for all fruits. A big difference!

The study demonstrated that the levels of polyphenols in popcorn are higher than previously thought. The levels are similar to those levels found in a serving of  nuts and 15 times higher that the levels found in whole-grain tortilla chips.

The highest concentrations of polyphenols and fiber are found in the hulls of the popcorn; you know…those annoying little bits that get caught in teeth.

“Of course adding butter, salt and other calorie-laden flavorings can turn this snack from healthy into unhealthy. Air-popped popcorn has the lowest number of calories,” one of the researchers reported. He added, “Microwave popcorn has twice as many calories as air-popped, and if you pop your own with oil, this has twice as many calories as air-popped popcorn. About 43 percent of microwave popcorn is fat, compared to 28 percent if you pop the corn in oil yourself.”

The study makes a point of stressing that one is not suggesting eating popcorn instead of fruits and vegetables, as popcorn lacks the vitamins and other nutrients found in fruits and vegetables that are essential for good health.

The study continues to promote popcorn as a snack as it is the only snack that is 100 percent unprocessed whole grain. One serving of popcorn will provide more than 70 percent of the daily intake of whole grain. The average person only gets about half a serving of whole grains a day. Eating popcorn could fill that gap in a way that most of us would enjoy.

The study was not funded by the food industry.

SOURCE: American Chemical Society

 

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Should You Take Dietary Supplements?

supplementsThe NIH offers a look at supplements including vitamins, minerals, botanicals and more. 

When you reach for that bottle of vitamin C or fish oil pills, you might wonder how well they’ll work and if they’re safe. The first thing to ask yourself is whether you need them in the first place.

More than half of all Americans take one or more dietary supplements daily or on occasion. Supplements are available without a prescription and usually come in pill, powder or liquid form. Common supplements include vitamins, minerals and herbal products, also known as botanicals.

People take these supplements to make sure they get enough essential nutrients and to maintain or improve their health. But not everyone needs to take supplements.

“It’s possible to get all of the nutrients you need by eating a variety of healthy foods, so you don’t have to take one,” says Carol Haggans, a registered dietitian and consultant to NIH. “But supplements can be useful for filling in gaps in your diet.”

Some supplements may have side effects, especially if taken before surgery or with other medicines. Supplements can also cause problems if you have certain health conditions. And the effects of many supplements haven’t been tested in children, pregnant women and other groups. So talk with your health care provider if you’re thinking about taking dietary supplements.

“You should discuss with your doctor what supplements you’re taking so your care can be integrated and managed,” advises Dr. Craig Hopp, an expert in botanicals research at NIH.

Dietary supplements are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as foods, not as drugs. The label may claim certain health benefits. But unlike medicines, supplements can’t claim to cure, treat or prevent a disease.

“There’s little evidence that any supplement can reverse the course of any chronic disease,” says Hopp. “Don’t take supplements with that expectation.”

Evidence does suggest that some supplements can enhance health in different ways. The most popular nutrient supplements are multivitamins, calcium and vitamins B, C and D. Calcium supports bone health, and vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Vitamins C and E are antioxidants—molecules that prevent cell damage and help to maintain health.

Women need iron during pregnancy, and breastfed infants need vitamin D. Folic acid—400 micrograms daily, whether from supplements or fortified food—it is important for all women of childbearing age.

Vitamin B12 keeps nerve and blood cells healthy. “Vitamin B12 mostly comes from meat, fish and dairy foods, so vegans may consider taking a supplement to be sure to get enough of it,” Haggans says.

Research suggests that fish oil can promote heart health. Of the supplements not derived from vitamins and minerals, Hopp says, “Fish oil probably has the most scientific evidence to support its use.”

The health effects of some other common supplements need more study. These include glucosamine (for joint pain) and herbal supplements such as echinacea (immune health) and flaxseed oil (digestion).

Many supplements have mild effects with few risks. But use caution. Vitamin K, for example, will reduce the ability of blood thinners to work. Ginkgo can increase blood thinning. The herb St. John’s wort is sometimes used to ease depression, anxiety or nerve pain, but it can also speed the breakdown of many drugs—such as antidepressants and birth control pills—and make them less effective.

Just because a supplement is promoted as “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe. The herbs comfrey and kava, for example, can seriously damage the liver.

“It’s important to know the chemical makeup, how it’s prepared, and how it works in the body—especially for herbs, but also for nutrients,” says Haggans. “Talk to a health care provider for advice on whether you need  supplements in the first place, the dosages and possible interactions with medicine you’re already taking.”

For vitamins and minerals, check the % Daily Value (DV) for each nutrient to make sure you’re not getting too much. “It’s important to consider the DV and upper limit,” says Haggans. Too much of certain supplements can be harmful.

Scientists still have much to learn even about common vitamins. One recent study found unexpected evidence about vitamin E. Earlier research suggested that men who took vitamin E supplements might have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. “But much to our surprise, a large NIH-funded clinical trial of more than 29,000 men found that taking supplements of vitamin E actually raised—not reduced—their risk of this disease,” says Dr. Paul M. Coates, director of NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements. That’s why it’s important to conduct clinical studies of supplements to confirm their effects.

Because supplements are regulated as foods, not as drugs, the FDA doesn’t evaluate the quality of supplements or assess their effects on the body. If a product is found to be unsafe after it reaches the market, the FDA can restrict or ban its use.

Manufacturers are also responsible for the product’s purity, and they must accurately list ingredients and their amounts. But there’s no regulatory agency that makes sure that labels match what’s in the bottles. You risk getting less, or sometimes more, of the listed ingredients. All of the ingredients may not even be listed.

A few independent organizations conduct quality tests of supplements and offer seals of approval. This doesn’t guarantee the product works or is safe; it just assures the product was properly made and contains the listed ingredients.

“Products sold nationally in the stores and online where you usually shop should be fine,” Coates says. “According to the FDA, supplement products most likely to be contaminated with pharmaceutical ingredients are herbal remedies promoted for weight loss and for sexual or athletic performance enhancement.”

To make it easy to find reliable information, NIH has fact sheets on dietary supplements at http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/list-all/.  NIH also recently launched an online Dietary Supplement Label Database at www.dsld.nlm.nih.gov. This free database lets you look up the ingredients of thousands of dietary supplements. It includes information from the label on dosage, health claims and cautions.

“Deciding whether to take dietary supplements and which ones to take is a serious matter,” says Coates. “Learn about their potential benefits and any risks they may pose first. Speak to your health care providers about products of interest and decide together what might be best for you to take, if anything, for your overall health.

Safe Use of Supplements

  • Tell all of your health care providers about any dietary supplements you use. Some supplements can interact with medications or affect medical conditions.
  • Read the label instructions for use.
  • “Natural” doesn’t always mean safe. For up-to-date news about the safety of particular supplements, check http://nccam.nih.gov/news/alerts.
  • Too much might be harmful. Don’t take more than the recommended dose.

Source: NIH News in Health

NIH Office of Communications
and Public Liaison
Building 31, Room 5B64
Bethesda, MD 20892-2094
nihnewsinhealth@od.nih.gov
Tel: 301-402-7337

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Health Tips from Those in the Know

healthSoccer Players

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons offers these health tips for soccer players:

  • Stay in good physical shape, even in the off-season, with regular exercise and strength training.
  • Always warm up and stretch before playing.
  • Always cool down and stretch after playing.
  • Be sure to drink enough water before and during play.
  • Always wear proper safety gear, including shin guards and shoes with ribbed soles or molded cleats.
  • When the field is wet, use soccer balls made of synthetic, nonabsorbent materials, instead of leather.

Obese Youth and Gallstones

According to health information from the U.S Dept of Health and Human Services obese youth are an eight times higher risk of gallstones than youth who are not obese.

Young people should only rarely have gallstones. But doctors are treating more teens for the buildup of the hardened cholesterol-laden lumps in the gallbladder. Research finds that the risk of gallstones was higher in obese young people.

At Kaiser Permanente Southern California in Pasadena, research scientist Corinna Koebnick looked at medical records of 766 10- to 19-year-olds with gallstones, “Obese youths have a much higher risk – up to 8 times higher – than their normal-weight counterparts.” Koebnick shared that parents and kids should get together on eating right and being moreactive.

This health study in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

 

 

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Balance Food and Activity

The following message on maintaining a healthy weight by creating a balance of foods consumed and  food calories burned through activity comes from the National Institutes of Health.

balance

What is Energy Balance?

Energy is another word for “calories.” Your energy balance is the balance of calories consumed through eating and drinking compared to calories burned through physical activity. What you eat and drink is ENERGY IN. What you burn through physical activity is ENERGY OUT.

Your ENERGY IN and OUT doesn’t have to balance every day. It’s having a balance over time that will help you stay at a healthy weight for the long term. Children need to balance their energy, too, but they’re also growing and that should be considered as well. Energy balance in children happens when the amount of ENERGY IN and ENERGY OUT supports natural growth without promoting excess weight gain.

That’s why you should take a look at the Estimated Calorie Requirement chart, to get a sense of how many calories (ENERGY IN) you and your family need on a daily basis.

Estimated Calorie Requirements

This calorie requirement chart presents estimated amounts of calories needed to maintain energy balance (and a healthy body weight) for various gender and age groups at three different levels of physical activity. The estimates are rounded to the nearest 200 calories and were determined using an equation from the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

Estimated Calorie Requirements (in kilocalories) for Each Gender and Age Group at Three Levels of Physical Activity.

Gender

Age (years)

Activity Level

Sedentary

Moderately Active

Active

Child

2-3

1,000

1,000 – 1,400

1,000 – 1,400

Female

4 – 8

1,200

1,400 – 1,600

1,400 – 1,800

Female

9-13

1,600

1,600 – 2,000

1,800 – 2,000

Female

14-18

1,800

2,000

2,400

Female

19-30

2,000

2,000 – 2,200

2,400

Female

31-50

1,800

2,000

2,200

Female

51+

1,600

1,800

2,000 – 2,200

Male

4-8

1,400

1,400 – 1,600

1,600 – 2,000

Male

9-13

1,800

1,800 – 2,200

2,000 – 2,600

Male

14-18

2,200

2,400 – 2,800

2,800 – 3,200

Male

19-30

2,400

2,600 – 2,800

3,000

Male

31-50

2,200

2,400 – 2,600

2,800 – 3,000

Male

51+

2,000

2,200 – 2,400

2,400 – 2,800

Source: HHS/USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans: 2005

  • These levels are based on Estimated Energy Requirements (EER) from the IOM Dietary Reference Intakes macronutrients report, 2002, calculated by gender, age, and activity level for reference-sized individuals. “Reference size,” as determined by IOM, is based on median height and weight for ages up to age 18 years of age and median height and weight for that height to give a BMI of 21.5 for adult females and 22.5 for adult males.
  • Sedentary means a lifestyle that includes only the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.
  • Moderately active means a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking about 1.5 to 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.
  • Active means a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking more than 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.
  • The calorie ranges shown are to accommodate needs of different ages within the group. For children and adolescents, more calories are needed at older ages. For adults, fewer calories are needed at older ages.

Energy Balance in Real Life

Think of it as balancing your “lifestyle budget.” For example, if you know you and your family will be going to a party and may eat more high-calorie foods than normal, then you may wish to eat fewer calories for a few days before so that it balances out. Or, you can increase your physical activity level for the few days before or after the party, so that you can burn off the extra energy.

The same applies to your kids. If they’ll be going to a birthday party and eating cake and ice cream—or other foods high in fat and added sugar—help them balance their calories the day before and/or after by providing ways for them to be more physically active.

Here’s another way of looking at energy balance in real life.

Eating just 150 calories more a day than you burn can lead to an extra 5 pounds over 6 months. That’s a gain of 10 pounds a year. If you don’t want this weight gain to happen, or you want to lose the extra weight, you can either reduce your ENERGY IN or increase your ENERGY OUT. Doing both is the best way to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

  • Here are some ways to cut 150 calories (ENERGY IN):
    • Drink water instead of a 12-ounce regular soda
    • Order a small serving of French fries instead of a medium , or order a salad with dressing on the side instead
    • Eat an egg-white omelet (with three eggs), instead of whole eggs
    •  Use tuna canned in water (6-ounce can), instead of oil
  • Here are some ways to burn 150 calories (ENERGY OUT), in just 30 minutes (for a 150 pound person):
    • Shoot hoops
    • Walk two miles
    • Do yard work (gardening, raking leaves, etc.)
    • Go for a bike ride
    • Dance with your family or friends

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10 Ways to Teach Kids about Poison Ivy

poison ivy is no funGetting a case of Poison Ivy is a misery for your child, and a sure way of losing out on several days of warm weather fun.

It is well worth the time to educate your child about poison ivy, in the hopes that he or she will be able to recognize and avoid it when out in a wooded area or on a camping trip.

The following guest post comes from Carrie Dotson, Summer Nanny Jobs at www.summernannyjobs.com/blog

10 ways to make your children aware of Poison Ivy.

  1. Take them to a nature museum: A nature museum may have a pressed specimen of Poison Ivy if they don’t have any on property. Experts at the museum can speak about Poison Ivy, describing what it looks like.
  2. Have them color a picture of it: Since the shape of Poison Ivy leaves are the most important thing for identifying it in the wild, coloring a picture should help your child learn what it looks like.
  3. Show them a video online: There are visuals of Poison Ivy along with a lot of information about the plant. Check out this video on how to recognize and avoid Poison Ivy: http://www.howcast.com/videos/22122-How-To-Recognize-and-Avoid-Poison-Ivy.
  4. Read a book about it: Visit a library and check out a book about Poison Ivy. Ask your local librarian for an age-appropriate recommendation.
  5. Show them a live plant: Go on a hike in your area and find some Poison Ivy.  Show your child where Poison Ivy tends to grow and how it grows. Showing your child how Poison Ivy can hide in among many other weeds and that it can be hard to see is an important part of teaching him to avoid it.
  6. Make a craft project: Have your child cut out Poison Ivy shaped leaves from green felt. Glue all of the pieces down onto another piece of felt.
  7. Let them try to draw the shape in shaving cream: Put some shaving cream down on the table and smooth it out. Illustrate the shape of the Poison Ivy leaves and then have your child copy you.
  8. Host a game show: Playing a game where your child answers questions about what you’ve taught him can be a fun way to review.
  9. Have a contest: See who can remember the most information about Poison Ivy and then give the most knowledgeable child a prize.
  10. Teach someone else: Sometimes teaching someone else can help to solidify a concept in your mind.  If your child has a younger sibling or friend, let him teach the sibling what he has learned about Poison Ivy.

http://www.summernannyjobs.com/blog/

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