miércoles, 29 de mayo de 2013

Best tips to eat more fruit

There are plenty of ways to add more fruit to your everyday eating habits. Here you have a few tips to get you started:
  • If you see it, you fancy it! 
    • Refrigerate cut-up fruit to store for later.
    • Keep a bowl of whole fruit on the table, counter, or in the refrigerator.
  • Swap sugary snacks, such as biscuits, for fruit. As a snack, eat cheese with grapes, the best food combination ever! (after the combination of melon with Serrano ham, of course...).
  • Make fruit kabobs using bananas, pears, apples, pineapple chunks, grapes, strawberries, etc.
  • Grill pineapple and add it to your sandwiches, you´ll love it!
  • Top your pizza with pineapple or apples.
  • Top yogurt with fruits such as berries, kiwi, banana... with frozen yogurt is even nicer!
  • Frozen juice bars (100% juice) make healthy alternatives to high-fat snacks.
  • Many fruits taste great with a dip or dressing. Try low-fat yogurt or pudding as a dip for fruits. Spread peanut butter on apple slices, it´s really delicious.
  • Make a healthy smoothie by blending low-fat milk or yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit. 
  • To make fruit salads, mix apples, bananas, or pears with acidic fruits like oranges, pineapple, or lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.
  • Pack a tangerine, banana, or grapes to eat for lunch, or choose fruit from the salad bar.
  • Try meat dishes that incorporate fruit, such as chicken with apple, oranges, or mango chutney.
  • Snack on an apple, banana, or strawberries.
  • Add a fruit to your breakfast. Top your cereal, porridge or yogurt with bananas, berries or your favorite fruits.
  • For dessert, focus on fruit by having baked apples, pears, or a fresh fruit salad. 
  • Bring a piece of fruit to work. Placing the fruit on your desk will remind you of the reward that awaits you after a hard days work.
  • Although It´s preferably to eat fresh fruit, you can also eat canned fruit, but choose the ones which are in juice rather than in sugary syrup.

jueves, 16 de mayo de 2013

How to store and cook whole grains

  • You should store whole grains in airtight containers away from heat, light and moisture.
  • Whole grains such as brown rice or pasta, don't keep as well as refined grains, so you should buy them in small amounts. 
  • Wholemeal bread has a shorter shelf life than white bread, so check the expiration date when purchasing. Store it in the fridge to prolong its shelf life.
It is not difficult to include whole-grains in your cooking. You may have to pre-soak the grains a little longer or add more water, especially if you are cooking brown rice:
  • If you want to shorten cooking time, soak whole grains in water before cooking.
  • Add more water when you cook whole grains as whole grains absorb more water than refined grains.
  • Add the pasta only after the water is boiling with a few drops of oil to prevent the pasta from sticking. Wholemeal pastas will take 12 to 25 minutes to cook depending on their size. Remember that you still want your wholemeal pastas to be al dente, firm but not too mushy or hard on the inside.
  • Cook whole-grains using healthier preparation methods too, such as with less oil and salt.
  • One of the easiest ways to boost your intake of whole grains is to substitute a portion of plain flour with wholemeal flour. In other words, if the recipe calls for 2 cups plain flour, you can use 1 cup of wholemeal flour and 1 cup of plain white flour. By doing this, you may need to add an extra pinch of baking powder.
  • You can also use cooking oats or crushed wholegrain cereal as breading for fish and chicken. Remember to use cooking oats instead of instant oats so that your coating will not burn before your fish or chicken is cooked. You can also semi-cook your fish or chicken before you coat them with your wholegrain crumbs. This can shorten the cooking time in the oven so your coatings won't burn before the insides are cooked.
  • Apart from this general advices, check the package for cooking instructions.
Note: You may see the unpolished rice in different colours (yellow, brown, red...) but they all are equaly nutritious regardless of their colour, as it is only due to the pigments in the bran of the grains.

It is possible to have wholegrains even if you don't cook. Use ready-to-eat wholegrain products such as wholegrain cereals and wholemeal bread.

Practical tips to eat more fiber

lunes, 13 de mayo de 2013

Practical tips to eat more fiber

Keep in mind that fiber is only found in food from plants, such as fruit and vegetables, wholegrain bread, oats, brown rice and pasta, beans, peas and lentils... So if you want to increase your fiber intake you have to eat more of this kind of foods and less animal products.

Here are some easy ways to increase fiber:
  • As a general rule, include at least one serving of whole grain in every meal. For exemple oatmeal porridge in the breakfast, whole-grain pasta, rice or bread in the lunch and the dinner, and popcorns as snacks.
  • Buy packaged grain products with ‘whole’ stated on the ingredients label. You should read “whole” in the grain or flour name of the first 3 ingredients.
  • Keep a jar of oat bran or wheat germ handy. Sprinkle over salad, soup, breakfast cereals and yogurt.
  • Try a new whole grain breakfast cereal. Look on the label for cereals with the highest amount of fiber per serving. They must have at least 6 grams of fiber per serving.
  • Snack on a ready-to-eat, whole-grain cereal.
  • Add whole-grain flour or oatmeal when making cookies or other baked treats.
  • Substitute a whole-grain product for a refined product, such as eating whole-wheat bread instead of white bread or brown rice instead of white rice. If the rice switch is hard to make, start by mixing them together (but start cooking first the brown rice because it needs some more time to get cooked).
  • Add kidney beans, garbanzos or other bean varieties to your salads. Experiment with international dishes (such as Indian or Middle Eastern) that use whole grains and legumes as part of the main meal or in salads.
  • Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Fresh fruit is slightly higher in fiber than canned. Leave the skin on fruits, such as apples and pears, and on vegetables, such as potatoes or courgettes
  • Eat whole fruits instead of drinking juices. Juices don't have fiber.
  • Add dried fruits to your cereals, salads... they have a higher amount of fiber than the fresh versions.
Note: ‘Wheat flour’ and ‘enriched flour’ are not whole grains.

The good news is that the development of new fiber ingredients and improvements in food formulations have improved the taste of fiber-containing processed foods, so the taste is not a problem (or a excuse...) anymore. Check out for this names in the ingredients label: inulin, polydextrose, and oligofructose. They enhance the inherent fiber content of certain foods or they can be added to foods that typically don't contain fiber in order to increase the fiber content.

Caution: If you don't drink enough water on a high-fiber diet you may develop abdominal pain and constipation.


Fiber effects on health

domingo, 12 de mayo de 2013

¿How much fiber should I have?

While the average intake of dietary fiber per day is 15g, we should eat 25 to 30g of fiber per day or  14g per 1,000 kcal, from fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grain breads, pastas, rice and cereals.

Men should eat at least 10g of fiber more than women. This is because males are at a higher risk for developing colon cancer, and there seems to be a link between the amount of fiber that people eat and their risk for certain cancers as colon cancer. Anyway men usually have higher calorie needs (around 1/3 more!!!), so as a proportion of their calories, you would see that the total grams of fiber goes up.

The major food sources of dietary fiber (accounting for 85% of the fiber) are:
  • Grain products:  Of this total, grain products account for more than a third of the fiber. Whole grain foods supply about 1-5g per serving with fiber amounts reaching 9g or more per serving for bran cereals. White flour is considered a major contributor, yet it has only about 40% of its original fiber content. One-half of grain intake should be whole grains.
  • Fruits and vegetables: They have around 1-4g per serving, depending on whether the skin is consumed or not.
  • Legumes and soy:  They provide 6-9g of fiber per 1⁄2-cup serving.
  • Nuts and seeds.
But, many of the foods that are large components of our diet, are actually quite low in fiber:
  • Most beverages
  • Dairy foods
  • Eggs
  • Meat and poultry
  • Oils and fats
You should add fiber-rich foods a little at a time to let your body get used to them. Too much fiber at one time may cause discomfort. Let your body adjust to the additional fiber gradually.  And make sure to drink plenty of water (six to eight glasses a day).

If you want to get all the health benefits from fiber I explained in the the previous post, but you don't know how to increase your intake of fiber, don't miss the next post where I'll give practical tips to get easily the 30g of fiber you need per day.

sábado, 4 de mayo de 2013

Fiber effects on health

Fiber is not just important to prevent constipation, it has many other benefits for your health such as:
  • Reduces cholesterol levels, specially the beta glucans from oats and barley, and the pectins in apples, berries, and citrus fruits. This protect against  chronic diseases such as heart disease and stroke.
  • Protects against certain cancers such as colorectal cancer. Fiber’s effect on increasing bulk and decreasing transit time helps to “sweep” cancer-causing substances out of the large intestines. Fiber may also protect against breast cancer by decreasing blood levels of estrogen.
  • Reduces the risk of type II diabetes and help to manage the disease by stabilizing blood sugar as it slows down the rate of glucose absortion. It also decreases insulin concentration and requirements.
  • Promotes a healthy digestion.
  • Promotes proper bowel function: lowers the pressure in the colon resulting in less risk of diverticular disease (pockets that form in the colon and are prevalent in older adults) and hemorrhoids.
  • Provides bulk by absorbing fluid. It is important to consume enough fluids daily (1.5 - 2.0 litres) to prevent constipation.
  • Helps you reach your weight management goals by promoting satiationMeals rich in fiber are processed more slowly by the body, provide more volume, and tend to produce a feeling of fullness with fewer calories. In addition, high fiber foods require more chewing and may take longer to eat, thus potentially limiting the quantity you are going to eat.
  • Additionally, whole grains have more vitamins (vitamins B and E), minerals (iron, zinc and magnesium), and phytochemicals (beneficial plant substances) than refined grains.
Yet, intake of fiber is consistently below recommended amounts (about half the amount of fiber recommended).

Note that these health positive effects have not been proven from supplemental sources of fiber. So you can't eat a crappy diet and then turn around and eat a lot of  fiber supplements, and think that you are going to get the same benefits. You have to focus on the foods. Eat more whole wheat, bran, fresh or dried fruit, vegetables and legumes.

In the next posts I'll write about how much fiber we should eat and I'll give you some practical tips to increase the fiber in your diet.

And please don't be shy and take advantage of the comments to ask me any question about nutrition or food ;)