Tag Archives: protein

Health benefits of nuts and seeds – Tufts

Once thought of as high calorie treats to be avoided, nuts and seeds are emerging as an important component of a healthy dietary pattern.

All Seeds: Nuts and seeds are a rich source of plant protein, have plenty of dietary fiber, and are high in heart-healthy mono-and polyunsaturated fats (including plant omega-3 fatty acids) and low in saturated fats. They also contain many vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and manganese) and a collection of plant chemicals with potential antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

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Nuts and seeds are often thought of as separate categories, but they are actually all seeds of flowering plants. What we call seeds (like sunflower, flax, chia, and pumpkin seeds) come from flowers and crops. Nuts are seeds of trees. Common nut varieties include almonds, cashews, macadamias, pistachios, and walnuts. Peanuts are not technically nuts—they are legumes like beans, lentils, and peas—but they are nutritionally similar to tree nuts and commonly treated as nuts.

Health Impact: Frequent nut consumption is associated with a lower risk of developing high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and cancer, and evidence from clinical trials has suggested nut consumption may improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels, insulin resistance and oxidative stress.

Swapping less nutritious foods with nuts and seeds may be an impactful dietary change. In a study by Tufts’ researchers that looked at the association between various dietary factors and death from heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes in the U.S., low intake of nuts and seeds was more strongly associated with these diet-related deaths than any dietary factor except high intake of sodium.

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Protein Toxicity involved in Alzheimer’s triggered by a chemical ‘switch’

Researchers from Tokyo Metropolitan University have discovered that a specific chemical feature of a key protein known as tau may cause it to accumulate in the brain and trigger illnesses like Alzheimer’s. They found that disulfide bonds on certain amino acids act to stabilize tau and cause it to accumulate, an effect that got worse with increased oxidative stress. The identification of chemical targets triggering tau accumulation may lead to breakthrough treatments.

Tau proteins with cysteine groups bearing thiol groups (S) undergo chemical changes under oxidative stress to form disulfide bonds, making a toxic mutant of the tau protein that can aggregate. These go on to cause neural degeneration. Antioxidants can help reduce these back to thiols; these normal tau proteins can then be naturally cleared away by the cell. Illustration courtesy of Tokyo Metropolitan University

The tau protein is key to the healthy function of biological cells. It helps form and stabilize microtubules, the thin filaments that crisscross cell interiors to help keep them structurally rigid and provide ‘highways’ to shuttle molecules between organelles. However, when they are not formed correctly, they can accumulate and form sticky clumps. In the brain, these aggregates block the firing of neurons and cause a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases known as tauopathies, one of which is Alzheimer’s disease. It is vastly important that scientists find the ‘switch’ that transforms tau from an indispensable part of cell function to a deadly pathology.

A team led by Associate Professor Kanae Ando of Tokyo Metropolitan University has been using model organisms like the Drosophila fruit fly to uncover how specific features of the tau protein cause it to stop working properly. Flies can be genetically altered to express the same tau protein as in humans. By systematically modifying parts of the gene encoding for tau, they have been trying to pinpoint how certain features of mutant tau proteins affect their behavior.

In their most recent work, they found that alterations to amino acid residues in the protein known as cysteines in two different locations (C291 and C322) had a drastic effect on the amount and toxicity of tau. In a further breakthrough, the team pinned down the specific chemical feature responsible for making them toxic to normal cell function, that is, disulfide bonds formed by these cysteine groups. The toxic accumulation of tau got worse when cells were put in an environment with elevated levels of reactive oxygen species, as thiol groups on the cysteines were oxidized to form disulfide links. Biochemical environments with elevated oxidative stress are similar to those seen in patients with tauopathies. The co-expression of antioxidants to counter this effect helped natural processes clear away tau proteins, resulting in dramatically lower tau levels.

The team hope that knowledge of exactly which chemical groups are responsible for tau toxicity may lead to novel therapies which reduce or prevent tau accumulation, helping sufferers of tauopathies around the world.

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Fish: Why (and How) to Choose this Healthful Protein – Tufts

Dietary guidelines from governments and health organizations around the world agree: a healthy dietary pattern includes around two servings of fish a week. Most American adults get less than the recommended eight ounces per week. What makes fish such an important part of a healthy diet, and what are the best choices for health and the environment?

Fish and Health: A versatile, high-quality protein source that is relatively quick and easy to cook, fish have been studied in connection with numerous health benefits. Eating fish has been associated with lower blood pressure and lower risk of stroke and heart attack, and has also been studied for lowering risk of depression, cognitive decline, and other chronic conditions. In 2006, Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, dean of Tufts’ Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and editor-in-chief of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, and colleagues published a study examining the impact of fish on heart disease. This study concluded eating approximately one to two three-ounce servings of fatty fish a week could reduce the risk of dying from heart disease by 36 percent.

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Nutrition and Plant-Based Milk Substitutes – Tufts

It’s beginning to feel like the plants are taking over. Meatless burgers at fast food restaurants. What’s next? Plant-based beverages, of course. Tufts does a good job of explaining how it is not a totally one-for-one substitution.

Enjoy plant-based beverages; but be aware most are not equivalent to milk.
The market for plant-based alternatives to dairy products continues to grow, as lactose intolerance, dairy allergy, veganism, environmental concerns, and other factors lead Americans to look for alternatives to dairy. So where do these beverages fit into a healthy dietary pattern?

How They are Made: To understand the nutrient profiles of plant-based beverages, one first needs to know how they are made. The raw materials (nuts, grains, legumes, or seeds) are soaked in water and ground (or ground and then soaked). The resulting slurry is strained to remove solids, and then any flavorings, sweeteners, and desired nutrients can be added. Thickening agents (such as locust bean gum, carrageenan, or xanthan gum), and stabilizers to keep the mixtures from separating, are often required. The products undergo heat treatment that kills any microorganisms, and they are packaged for market.

This process results in a beverage with a nutrient profile significantly different from the original plant food. Continue reading

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Tips from Tufts on eating eggs …

I count myself as one of those confused about whether and to what extent eggs are a healthy addition to my diet. Love the protein, not so thrilled with the fats… Here is what the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter has to say about it.

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Filed under American Heart Association, cholesterol, diabetes, eggs, HDL Cholesterol, heart attack, LDL Cholesterol

What about those fake meat products?

I have been hearing a lot lately about the new fake meat, plant-based, products that are becoming so popular. Are they really healthier than meat? Here is a super rundown from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

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Plant-based alternatives to animal-based foods are not a new phenomenon. Tofu, for example, has often been treated as an alternative to meat for centuries. In more recent decades, food companies have processed mixtures of soy and other legumes, grains, and a variety of plants into burgers, nuggets, sausages, and other meat-shaped products. These creations were often targeted towards a vegan or vegetarian demographic, and despite their appearance, were not necessarily intended to completely recreate the taste of their meat-based counterparts.

However, a new generation of plant-based meat alternatives is aiming to do just that. In a recent JAMA Viewpoint, Dr. Frank Hu, Chair of the Department of Nutrition, and co-authors including Gina McCarthy, Director of C-CHANGE at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health, discuss how popular products like Impossible Foods’ and Beyond Meat’s burger patties are aimed to appeal to a broader consumer base with their “unique mimicry” of beef in both taste and experience. They also note how these products are often marketed as a way to “help reduce reliance on industrial meat production,” aligned with recent reports calling for dietary patterns higher in plant-based foods for both human and planetary health.

Can these novel products be considered part of a healthy and sustainable diet? According to the Viewpoint authors, the answer to this question “remains far from clear given the lack of rigorously designed, independently funded studies.” We spoke with Dr. Hu to learn more about the potential benefits and concerns surrounding popular plant-based meat alternatives.


Although these alternative meats are being made from plants, you suggest caution in applying existing research findings on plant-based foods and human health. Can you talk about some of that evidence, and why it’s not readily applicable? Continue reading

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Some common sense ideas on fat- Tufts

Fat is a much maligned element of the modern diet. High-fat, Low-fat, Fat-free – which way to go? Here are some common sense observations from Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter.

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Fat (especially unsaturated fat) is part of a healthy dietary pattern. If you have a fear of fats, try these tips:

-Include healthy fats from reasonable quantities of vegetable oils, nuts, fish, and avocados

-Avoid “reduced-fat” foods high in refined carbohydrates and added sugars

-Limit red and processed meats, butter, and tropical oils

-Strive for a balanced diet that includes (healthy) fats, (mainly unrefined) carbohydrates, and protein (from sources other than red and processed meats) Continue reading

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Want to cut down on meat-eating? Here are alternatives from Tufts

If you are feeling uncomfortable with the amount of meat you are eating, but don’t want to short yourself on protein, here are some good alternative ideas from Tufts Medical Center.

hamburger with egg and vegetable

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A. Katie Fort, a dietetic intern at Frances Stern Nutrition Center at Tufts Medical Center, explains: “There is a growing body of data that demonstrates the health benefits of eating less meat and more plant-based foods. Though meat is an excellent source of protein, you get adequate amounts of protein from other foods. Here are some good ones: Continue reading

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5 Tips for a Healthier Morning – Rush

I have to confess that I am a morning person. Have been all my life. I am up around 4:00 to 4:30 AM most mornings. Yes, I go to sleep close to 9:00 PM. When I was working I stayed up a bit later and woke up about a half hour later. I realize that this is not typical of most people, particularly those with jobs. So, I thought I would share this item from the Rush University Medical Center here in Chicago.

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Give your morning routine a makeover
Does your morning go anything like this?

Being in bed feels so good that you can’t get up, so you hit snooze — three or four times.

Once you open your eyes, you realize you have a 9:00 o’clock meeting, so you check your email while still in bed to get ahead of the workday.

Now you’re running late. You throw down vitamins with a glass of juice. You can’t find your keys or your left shoe and run around the house until you’ve found both.

Finally in the car, you grab the biggest coffee you can order and two glazed donuts at the drive-thru, and traffic has you fuming before you even get to work.

All that rushing around can set a negative tone for the entire day, making you feel stressed, lethargic and irritable — and, possibly, affecting your ability to focus on tasks or calmly cope with work-related crises.

To help get your day off to a better, and healthier, start, follow these tips from Maria C. Reyes, MD, an internist at Rush University Medical Center. Continue reading

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Higher protein intake benefits bone health – Study

I have found that most people consider osteoporosis to be a women’s affliction. The reason is that statistics show two out of three women over the age of 50 will experience osteoporosis while only one out of three men will.  This is clearly a disease that affects more of us as we age. I think it is important for us men to keep in mind that while statistics show more women get it, the fact is, as women outlive men, there are simply more of them around. Osteoporosis is definitely something of which men should be aware.

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A new expert consensus endorsed by the European Society for Clinical and Economical Aspects of Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis, and Musculoskeletal Diseases (ESCEO) and the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) has reviewed the benefits and safety of dietary protein for bone health, based on analyses of major research studies. The review, published in Osteoporosis International found that a protein-rich diet, provided there is adequate calcium intake, is in fact beneficial for adult bone health. It also found no evidence that acid load due to higher dietary protein intakes, whether of animal or vegetable origin, is damaging to bone health.

The key findings of the extensive literature review include: Continue reading

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Tufts offers smart snacks for pre-exercise

I have written about snacks and snacking numerous times. You can check out my Page Snacking – the good, the bad and the ugly if you want more details. Herewith The Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter take on the subject.

Make sure you’re properly fueled for a workout, but avoid mindless snacking.

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If you start exercise low on fuel, you could end up feeling weak and run out of steam. Or, you may simply feel hungry, making it hard to focus on your exercise. However, unnecessary snacking before a workout may make exercise uncomfortable and add calories you don’t need, counteracting the calorie burn of your physical activity.

What you’re already eating for meals and snacks likely covers your exercise energy needs.

“I think there’s a misconception that you need to eat a snack before exercise, but this is generally only necessary if it’s been at least 2 to 3 hours since your last meal,” says Jennifer Sacheck, PhD, an associate professor at Tufts’ Friedman School who specializes in physical activity research. “For example, if you eat lunch at 11 a.m. and are going to the gym at 5 p.m., or you exercise first thing in the morning, you’ll need to refuel before exercise.” However, if you ate a late lunch at 2 p.m., and you’re working out at 4:30 p.m., you shouldn’t need a snack first. Continue reading

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10 Metabolism secrets to help shed pounds – Infographic

The aim of this blog is not to simply lose weight. It is to live a healthy, happy and long life and to have all our mental faculties functional till the end. I am including this infographic because it has a lot of good information on those very things – as well as losing weight.

Eat less; move move; live longer.

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Tony

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5 Tips on choosing healthy protein foods – Harvard

Unlike the weather, everyone talks about protein but they usually try to do something about it, too. MedlinePlus says, “Proteins are the building blocks of life. Every cell in the human body contains protein. The basic structure of protein is a chain of amino acids.

“You need protein in your diet to help your body repair cells and make new ones. Protein is also important for growth and development in children, teens, and pregnant women.”

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Here are some tips from Harvard on getting the most benefit from protein.

1. Upgrade the protein on your plate. The Healthy Eating Plate encourages you to eat protein-rich foods like beans, nuts, tofu, fish, chicken, or eggs in place of less-healthy options like red and processed meats.

For example, try a turkey or black bean burger instead of a traditional beef burger. Or slice up a fresh-roasted chicken breast or salmon for your sandwich instead of using processed high-sodium lunch meat.

2. Don’t stress too much about protein quantity. Most reasonable diets provide plenty of protein for healthy people. Eating a variety of healthy protein-rich foods—for example an egg with breakfast, some turkey or beans on your salad for lunch, and a piece of salmon or tofu with a whole grain side dish for dinner—will ensure that you get all the protein and protein building-blocks (amino acids) you need. Choose higher-protein foods instead of bulking up with pricey protein shakes or powders, since some of these are loaded with sugar or other additives.

3. Try a meatless Monday—or more. Diets high in plant-based proteins and fats can provide health benefits, so try mixing some vegetarian proteins into your meals. Going meatless can be good for your wallet as well as your health, since beans, nuts and seeds, and other minimally-processed vegetarian protein sources are often less expensive than meat. Eating plant protein in place of meat is also good for the planet. It takes a lot of energy to raise and process animals for meat, so going meatless could help reduce pollution and has the potential to lessen climate change.

4. Eat soy in moderation. Tofu and other soy foods are an excellent red meat alternative. In some cultures, tofu and soy foods are a protein staple, and we don’t suggest any change. But if you haven’t grown up eating lots of soy, there’s no reason to begin eating it in large quantities. And stay away from supplements that contain concentrated soy protein or extracts, such as isoflavones, as we just don’t know their long-term effects.

Scan the Nutrition Facts label before you buy highly-processed vegetarian “fake meat” foods, since these are often as high in sodium—or higher in sodium—than their processed red meat counterparts.

5. Shift the balance of carbs and protein. Cutting back on highly processed carbohydrates and increasing protein improves levels of triglycerides and protective high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in the bloodstream, and so may reduce your chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or other type of cardiovascular disease. This shift may also make you feel full longer, and stave off hunger pangs.

Tony

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Portion control visuals – Infographic

I am still convinced that portion control is a key concept in controlling your weight. If you stick with these you can’t go far wrong.

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Tony

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All Fat Grams Are Not Created Equal

Here is another super infographic where one picture is worth a thousand words.

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NaturalNews says that avocados boost health in at least five ways:

1. Protein “Avocados provide all 18 essential amino acids necessary for the body to form a complete protein. Unlike the protein in steak, which is difficult for most people to digest, avocado protein is readily absorbed by the body because avocados also contain fiber. If you are trying to cut down on animal sources of protein in your diet, or if you are a vegetarian, vegan or raw foodist seeking more protein, avocados are a great nutritional ally to include not merely as an occasional treat, but as a regular part of your diet.”

To read more on good fats, check my post: Are Avocados Good for You?

For further info on junk food: A Love Letter to Hostess Ho Ho’s – NOT.

Tony

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Just Lose it!

I thought there were some good ideas here on general health and well-being, not just losing weight, or fat.

I especially liked the fact that he mentioned getting a good night’s sleep. This is definitely one of the under-appreciated aspects of good health. To read more on it, check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep?

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Tony

 

 

Here I was, sitting on my lazy butt eating because I had no set diet plan for the day. You get lazy, you eat crappy, it’s a cycle and you don’t even notice it.

So do you want to get fit? Do you want to lose that extra fat that makes you sick? Take these five tips seriously.

1. Cardio on an empty stomach upon waking up.  It can be difficult but try doing it right when u wake up, before hunger strikes. It’s a great fat burner as it targets directly your body  fat as opposed to the carbohydrates and foods you have just consumed.

2. Avoid Carbs after 6pm. Your body just can’t lose that and it will simply store into fat.

3. Focus on weight training, if you think pure cardio will lose that belly or lose that fat you are wrong.  Your body Works the most…

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