- Slice one hard-boiled egg. Place pieces on five low-salt whole-grain crackers topped with small tomato slices. Add ground pepper to taste.
- Dip 10 carrot sticks into two tablespoons of hummus. Go the homemade route and whip up this tasty recipe for black bean hummus.
- Make use of your leftovers: Shred two ounces of turkey breast and place on half a toasted whole wheat English muffin. Place two thin slices of avocado and a large sliced strawberry on top.
- Cut a small apple into eight pieces. Mix together one tablespoon of natural peanut butter and one teaspoon of honey; spread evenly on each slice.
- Lightly toast one small slice of whole-grain bread. Cover its surface with two ounces of drained water-packed tuna and top with one tablespoon of shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted.
- Cut one large flaxseed tortilla in half. (Save the other half for your next snack attack.) In a small bowl, mash one-quarter cup of blueberries and sprinkle with cinnamon. Spread one tablespoon of low-fat cream cheese onto one half, then top with the blueberry mixture. Fold and enjoy.
- Have a quick, colorful salad: Toss three cups of baby spinach, 10 cherry tomatoes and one tablespoon of pine nuts with two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.
- Mix a half-cup of cooked quinoa with one to two tablespoons of chopped, sautéed onion, one-quarter cup of canned lentils (drained and rinsed) and a dash of garlic powder. Add a pinch of chili powder for heat. Warm slightly in the microwave before eating and garnish with tomato slices, lemon and parsley (optional).
Put those chemical-filled cookie bags back on the shelf where they belong! Stay on the diet straight and narrow with these filling, delicious, fat-loss approved snacks. Bonus: They’re all under 200 calories!
When it comes to the heart, vitamin D can be a double-edged sword.
Scientists have long known that low levels of the nutrient can hurt the heart, but new research shows that higher than normal levels can make it beat too fast and out of rhythm, a condition called atrial fibrillation, according to a report presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association.
The study, which followed 132,000 patients at a Utah based medical center, found that the risk of newly developed atrial fibrillation jumped almost three-fold when blood levels of vitamin D were high.
Most people get at least some of their daily needs of vitamin D from sunlight. But in cold northern climates where everyone bundles up for the winter -- inadvertently blocking rays that raise the body’s vitamin D levels -- people are often encouraged to take supplements to boost levels of the nutrient to protect the bones and heart, said the study’s lead author, Dr. Jared Bunch, director of electrophysiology research at the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah.
However, because everyone absorbs these supplements differently, blood levels need to be tested to make sure they’re in the safe range, Bunch explained.
High levels of vitamin D only occur when people take supplements, Bunch said. Because consumers assume supplements sold over the counter are safe, they may not realize the danger of taking too much vitamin D, he added.
“People are looking toward therapies considered to be natural to treat a broad variety of disease states and as a means of prevention,” Bunch said. “We see patients who take a tremendous amount of vitamin supplements.”
The recommended daily intake of vitamin D for people from 1 year to age 70 is 600 IUs, or international units a day, based on what is sufficient for bone health, according to the National Institutes of Health. There are few natural food sources of vitamin D, although oily fish such as tuna or salmon are among the best. For example, 3 ounces of cooked salmon contains 447 IUs of vitamin D per serving. Small amounts are also found in cheese and egg yolks. The Department of Agriculture provides a comprehensive list of foods containing vitamin D.
Bunch advised people who have recently been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and are taking vitamin D supplements to make sure their doctors check blood levels of the nutrient.
He suspects that the effects of high vitamin D on heart rhythms are reversible.
“If the levels are excessive, I would hope that when they’re cut back the arrhythmias would improve as well,” Bunch said.
By Linda Carroll
When you think of food poisoning, you probably think of unpleasantness like nausea, dizziness, and maybe some bathroom troubles. But do you think of hospitalization, miscarriages, and even death? A couple of years ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 50 people in the northeastern United States had been infected with Listeria from deli turkey. Most were hospitalized, seven died, and three pregnant women had miscarriages or stillbirths.
In the same year, E. coli-contaminated ground beef that was packed by ConAgra Foods prompted the second-largest meat recall in US history. Thirty-eight people, primarily in Colorado, were ill, six people developed serious complications, and one person died. The CDC estimates that food-borne illnesses cause 76 million Americans to get sick, over 300,000 people to be hospitalized, and 5,000 people to die each year. Children, the elderly, people with compromised immune systems, and pregnant women are most at risk.
Where the danger hides
Meats, poultry, and seafood are common culprits – especially ground beef, as any dangerous microbes that are present on the meat can become mixed into the product during processing. "If the meat is ground, there are a number of surfaces where the organism can be," says Garry L. McKee, administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service. "So if we eat hamburgers that haven't been cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, there's the potential for the organisms to still be present in the meat." Chicken is another harborer of pathogens, especially Salmonella. In the produce department, lettuce and sprouts have been the most linked with food-borne illness in recent years.
Beat the bug!
Want to get in on the act? There's a lot you can do, from the market to the kitchen, to protect yourself and your family from food-borne diseases.
At the supermarket, cross-contamination is a real danger, so keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from the other foods in your shopping cart. Put your meat in the plastic bags offered in most meat departments to keep them from dripping onto other foods. Also, ask the checkout clerk to bag these items separately.
If the supermarket salad bar doesn't seem cold enough, be sure to avoid dairy products like chopped egg, and meats like grilled chicken strips. Finally, avoid buying unpasteurized juices; in 1996, unpasteurized juice harboring E. coli sickened more than 60 people in the western United States and killed one.
Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood away from fruits and vegetables so meat juices won't cross-contaminate foods. If you cut meat on a cutting board, wash it thoroughly in hot, soapy water before using it to cut other foods. Even better, keep a separate cutting board for meats. Whether your cutting board is plastic or wooden, the risk factor for harmful germs is the same. Disinfect your cutting board occasionally with a mixture of bleach and water, and be sure to replace cutting boards when they become heavily scratched or gouged.
Cook foods thoroughly to kill bacteria. Use a meat thermometer just to be sure. Roast beef should be cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit for medium rare. Finally, don’t let foods sit at room temperature for more than two hours.
By: Linda Formicelli