Nutrition 101 for Seniors

seniors shopping healthy

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

Macronutrients

The fact is less active seniors need less calories or they may end up gaining weight as they age. Even though less calories are needed as we age, you need just as many nutrients. Therefore, choosing nutrient dense foods over calorie dense foods are warranted. For example, choosing skim milk over whole milk; choosing reduced fat cheese over full fat cheese; baking, grilling, or broiling meats rather than frying with lots of fat. Seniors should choose small portions of foods high in fat, sugar and sodium. Using spices to help flavor foods may be helpful since smell and taste are affected as we age. Protein needs don’t change as we age but some seniors tend to eat less meat. Choosing foods that are higher in dietary fiber will help prevent constipation. Beans are high in dietary fiber but also contain protein and lots of nutrients such as folate, manganese, potassium, iron, copper and magnesium. But when you eat more dietary fiber, you need to make sure you drink enough fluids as well. Adequate fluid intake for seniors is essential! The number one problem that typically sends seniors to the emergency room is dehydration. Water, juice, milk, coffee and tea contain fluids. In addition, high fluid foods like melons, berries, and grapes offer dietary fiber and also lots of nutrients.

Micronutrients

As we age, it is important that we eat more calcium to help prevent osteoporosis.  Including 2 to 4 servings of dairy products like vitamin D enriched milk, yogurt or cheese each day. If you can’t tolerate these foods, check with your doctor about appropriate nutritional supplements. Make sure these supplements contain a source of Vitamin D as well. Other nutrients that are important as we age are: iron, vitamin C, and zinc.  Iron and zinc are found in meats, eggs and seafood. Vitamin C rich foods include: citrus fruits, green and red peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries and potatoes.

Problems Facing Seniors

Eating alone can affect the amount and type of food you eat.  Loss of teeth or improper fitting dentures may affect your eating style as well. Affordable food is also an issue if you are on a fixed income. Drug therapy can also affect your taste & your appetite. Depression can either decrease your food intake or increase your intake. Gas and heartburn become an issue as we get older. Overeating, avoiding fatty foods, alcohol & carbonated beverages may help to relieve heartburn problems. In addition, eating slowly, chewing food thoroughly, & eating smaller more frequent meals may help.

Senior Nutritional Tip Sheet

  • Eat breakfast every day.
  • Drink plenty of water or water based fluids & high fluid foods.
  • Select high fiber foods like whole grain breads & cereals, beans, & brightly colored fruits and vegetables.
  • If poor appetite is a problem, eating smaller more frequent mini-meals may be helpful.

 

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition, www.DayByDayNutrition.com, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, www.KentuckianaHealthWellness.com. Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for www.LiveStrong.com as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 13 grandchildren.    

Cheesy Quinoa Black Bean Sweet Potato Casserole

sweet potato black bean quinoa recipe

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is considered a whole grain but it is really a seed. Quinoa is high in protein and dietary fiber. It contains more high quality protein than any other grain. Quinoa is considered a complete protein because it contains all the 9 essential amino acids. It does not contain any gluten.  Quinoa is a perfect food for vegetarians, vegans and people who are lactose intolerance. Quinoa can be served hot or cold. It can be served as a side dish, in soups, as a pilaf or as a breakfast cereal.  One cup of cooked quinoa has 222 calories, 8 grams of protein, 4 grams of fat, 32 grams of carbohydrate and 5 grams of dietary fiber.  Quinoa is a good source of magnesium, iron, selenium, calcium, folate and vitamin E.  I typically use quinoa in the place of rice or couscous. It takes about 10 – 15 minutes to cook. I typically cook a batch and store in the refrigerator.  It can be stored up to 4 days. I use it in soups and as a base for stir fry vegetables.

Nutritional Information Per Serving: 443 calories, 25 grams protein, 7 grams of fat,  61 grams of CHO, 19 grams dietary fiber, 1868 mg sodium.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes  Cook Time: 30 minutes

Serves:  4

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa*
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, shredded**
  • 1 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs or 4 egg whites
  • 2 cups of medium salsa
  • 2 tsp fresh cilantro, chopped as garnish

Instructions

Cook quinoa according to the package. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a 9” X 9” casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.  In a large bowl, mix cooked quinoa, black beans, sweet potatoes, ½ cup cheese, chili powder, cumin & salt and pepper to taste.  In a small bowl, mix together the eggs and the salsa.  Pour the salsa mixture over the vegetables and beans.  Then pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over top & bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Garnish with cilantro.

 

Shopping List

  • quinoa
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • ground cumin
  • chili powder
  • eggs
  • medium salsa
  • fresh cilantro

*You can substitute whole wheat couscous.

**You can substitute fire roasted red pepper and garlic instead of the sweet potatoes.

Image from: Jerry Miller.

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition, www.DayByDayNutrition.com, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, www.KentuckianaHealthWellness.com. Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for www.LiveStrong.com as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 12 grandchildren.     

Super Sports Foods: Do They Really Need to be Exotic?

clark super foods

By Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD

 Do you ever get tired of reading yet-another headline about The 10 Best Super Sports Foods, only be instructed to buy exotic fruits, ancient grains, and other unusual items? Do we really need chia, spelt, and quinoa? Is anything wrong with old-fashioned peanut butter, broccoli and brown rice? Doubtful! Powerful nutrients are found in standard foods that are readily available at a reasonable cost. You know, oranges, bananas, berries, oatmeal, almonds, hummus, lowfat yogurt, brown rice, tuna … the basic, wholesome foods recommended by the government’s My Plate (www.ChooseMyPlate.gov). Are those foods exotic? No. But do they still do a great job of offering super nutrition? Yes!

To add to the confusion about exotic sports foods, the sports food industry touts their list of engineered super sports supplements. Ads lead you to believe you really need to buy these products to support your athletic performance. The question arises: Are there really special nutrients or components of food that can help athletes to go faster, higher or stronger? If so, can they be consumed in the form of whole foods or do we actually need special commercial supplements?

At a 2014 meeting of Professionals in Nutrition for Exercise and Sport (PINESNutrition.org), exercise researchers from around the globe discussed that topic and provided the following answers to the following thought-provoking questions.

 

Is there any difference between consuming pre-exercise caffeine in the form of pills, gels or coffee?

Regardless of the source of caffeine (pill, gel, coffee), it is a popular way to enhance athletic performance. Take note: High doses of caffeine (2.5 to 4 mg/lb body weight; 6 to 9 mg/kg) are no better than the amount athletes typically consume in a cup or two of coffee (1.5 mg/lb; 3 mg/kg). Hence, drinking an extra cup of coffee is unlikely to be advantageous, particularly when consumed later in the day before an afternoon workout and ends up interfering with sleep.

 

Do tart (Montmorency) cherries offer any benefits to sports performance? If so, what’s the best way to consume them?

Tart cherries (and many other deeply colored fruits and veggies) are rich in health-protective antioxidants and polyphenols. Tart cherries can reduce inflammation, enhance post-exercise recovery, repair muscles, reduce muscle soreness, and improve sleep. Athletes who are training hard, participating in tournaments, or traveling through time zones might be wise to enjoy generous portions. Yet, to get the recommended dose of cherries that researchers use to elicit benefits, you would need to eat 90 to 110 cherries twice a day for seven days pre-event. Most athletes prefer to swig a shot of tart cherry juice concentrate instead!

 

What about food polyphenols such as quercetin and resveratrol?

Polyphenols are colorful plant compounds that are linked with good health when they are consumed in whole foods. Yet, polyphenol supplements, such as quercetin or resveratrol, do not offer the same positive anti-oxidant or anti-inflammatory benefits. An explanation might be that once in the colon, where most polyphenols go, parts leak into the bloodstream during heavy exercise. These smaller compounds create the anti-inflammatory effect. Athletes who routinely eat colorful fruits during endurance training offer their gut the opportunity to distribute good health!

 

Does curcumin reduce chronic inflammation?

Curcumin (an active constituent of tumeric, the spice that gives the yellow color to curry and mustard) has beneficial properties that have been shown to help prevent cancer, enhance eye health, and reduce inflammation. Subjects with osteoarthritis (an inflammatory condition) who took curcumin supplements for 8 months reported less pain (due to less inflammation) and better quality of life. Unfortunately, curcumin is rapidly metabolized and therefore has low bioavailability when consumed in the diet. To increase absorption, supplements often contain curcumin combined with piperine (black pepper extract).

 

Does green tea help improve body composition in athletes? What is the best way to take it?

Green tea reportedly enhances fat oxidation and helps with weight loss, particularly when combined with caffeine. But the amount of additional fat burned is minimal, and the 10 to 12 cups of green tea needed to create any effect is a bit overwhelming. (Hence, most studies use a green tea extract.) Because green tea has not been studied in lean athletes, we can only guess that it is unlikely to offer a significant improvement in body composition.

 

Is watermelon juice a powerful stimulant for sports performance?

Watermelon juice is a source of L-citrulline, an amino acid that contributes to production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps relax the blood vessels and thus enhances blood flow so more oxygen can get transported to the working muscles. One study with athletes who consumed L-citrulline supplements reports they attained a 7% higher peak power output as compared to when they exercised without L-citrulline.

Yet, when athletes were given watermelon juice (contains L-citrulline) or apple juice (that has no L-citrulline), the peak power was only slightly higher and the L-citrulline gave no significant benefits. The bottom line: Watermelon is a nourishing fruit and a welcome refreshment for thirsty athletes. You would need to eat a lot of watermelon to get the equivalent of L-citrulline found in (expensive) supplements. Your best bet is to enjoy watermelon in standard portions as a tasty addition to your sports diet.

 

What can be done with pea, hemp, or other plant protein to make them as effective as whey for building muscle?

In general, plants (such as peas, hemp) contain less leucine than found in animal proteins. Leucine helps drive the muscle’s ability to make new protein. Hence, to increase the muscle-building properties of plant proteins, you need to either eat large portions of, let’s say, hemp or pea protein (to get a bigger dose of leucine), or you can combine those plant-foods with leucine-rich proteins, such as soy, egg, or dairy foods.

 

The bottom line: Your best bet to optimize performance is to optimize your total sports diet. No amount of any supplement will compensate for lousy eating, though a few just might enhance a proper diet.

Boston-area sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD counsels both casual and competitive athletes. Her private practice is in Newton, MA (617-795-1875). For information about her Sports Nutrition Guidebook (new 5th edition) and food guides for runners, cyclists and soccer players, see www.nancyclarkrd.com. For online education, also see www.sportsnutritionworkshop.com.

 

 

 

Eat your Beans!

By Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD

Remember this jingle: “Beans, beans, the musical fruit. The more you eat, the more you toot”? The embarrassment associated with tooting explains why many athletes shy away from beans (pinto, kidney, black) and also legumes (lentils, peanuts, soy, chick peas). But far more than being a musical fruit, beans can be a nutrient-rich bonus for a sports diet.

To my dismay, the popular but faddish Paleo diet advises against eating beans because:

1) they need to be cooked to be edible (the cavemen ate only raw foods),

2) they contain compounds that might influence your hormones (that is, if you were to eat them in super-human amounts), and

3) they contain phytates that can diminish the absorption of certain nutrients (insignificant in US diets where beans are not the primary food).

In this era of over-abundant processed foods, I contend that eating cooked beans enhances intake of a variety of important vitamins and minerals for athletes. But before I offer reasons why you should include beans in your sports diet, here are tips to minimize the “toots” so you’ll want to even entertain this suggestion.

 

Beans and gas

The average adult produces one to three pints of gas per day which is passed through the anus 14 to 23 times each day. Beans can be gas-producing because they contain raffinose, a type of carbohydrate. Humans do not possess the enzyme needed to digest raffinose, so it passes undigested through the stomach and upper intestine. In the lower intestine, it gets fermented by gas-producing bacteria which do possess the necessary enzyme. The by-product of raffinose digestion is carbon dioxide and methane (odorless) but also hydrogen sulphide (stinky). To help you blow fewer “bombs”—

1. Gradually introduce beans into your diet so your body gets used to digesting them. The jingle should actually say, “the more often you eat beans, the less likely you will toot.”

2. Drain the liquid from canned beans and rinse them well. This will decrease the amount of gas-producing carbs.

3. Try Beano, a product with the digestive enzyme that breaks down raffinose; it may help some people.

 

Nine reasons why you want to eat more beans

Beans are a positive addition to a sports diet. Here’s why.

1.Beans are a natural protein-carbohydrate combination. As an athlete, you need carbs to fuel your muscles and protein to build and repair your muscles. A bean burrito, hummus wrap, or bowl of chili is a great way to fuel-up or refuel from a hard workout (if you don’t get gas propelled, that is).

2. Beans are a good source of plant protein—but take note: you do need to consume generous portions of beans if you are a vegetarian. Athletes need at least 10 grams per meal to trigger muscular growth, and most athletes need at least 60 to 90 grams of protein per day. Half a can of refried beans offers only 10 to 12 grams of protein, the amount of protein in 1.5 eggs or a few bites of chicken. One spoonful (1/4 cup) of garbanzos on a salad offers only three grams of protein.

3. Beans have a low glycemic index, which means they are slow to digest and offer sustained energy. Low GI foods are good choices before endurance exercise if you cannot eat anything during the workout.

4. Beans are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as folate, manganese, potassium, iron, copper and magnesium. All these “spark plugs” help your body’s engine run smoothly.

5. Beans are good for heart-health. (Remember this jingle: “Beans, beans are good for your heart. The more you eat, the more you ___.”?) Yes, the soluble fiber in beans helps protect against heart disease by lowering the cholesterol in your blood. Also, beans are naturally low in fat and dietary cholesterol, so replacing meats with beans is a heart-healthy swap.

6. Beans are high in fiber (7 to 8 grams fiber per half-cup). This sharply contrasts to the chicken or meat they replace that has no fiber. This fiber acts as a “broom” and assists with regular bowel movements. Snacking on hummus with baby carrots contributes 8 to 10 grams of fiber towards the recommended daily target of 25 to 35 g.

7. Beans are inexpensive. By enjoying bean-based meals such as chili or lentil soup, you are likely eating less animal protein and saving a lot of money.

8. Bean-based meals are better for the environment than meat-based meals. If everyone were to eat one less meat-meal a week, we’d need fewer beef cattle (major producers of greenhouse gasses) and this could assist in the war against global warming.

9. Beans are good sources of fuel for the harmless, health promoting bacteria that live in your gut. We each have about 2 to 4 pounds of gut bacteria that strongly influence our immune system. In fact, about 70% of our immune response is generated from the gut. The bacteria love to eat the undigested raffinose provided by beans (and other vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, and asparagus). Having well-nourished gut microbes invests in overall good health. A strong intake of prebiotics (bacteria food) helps strengthen the immune system and optimizes wellness. In contrast, antibiotics kill the good bacteria along with the bad bacteria.

Easy ways to boost your bean intake

Here are a few ways to easily add more beans and legumes to your sports diet.

• Hummus–A tasty dip with carrot sticks, or an alternative to mayonnaise on a turkey sandwich.

• Refried beans–canned vegetarian refried beans are fat-free. Heat some beans in a microwave oven, spread them on a tortilla, spoon on some cottage cheese and salsa, and then wrap it up like a burrito. Voila: a tasty breakfast, lunch, snack or dinner that fits into a meager food budget.

• Chili with beans–make a potful and enjoy planned-overs for lunch or dinner that week.

• Salads–spoon on black, white, or red beans and you’ll have a super sports salad that offers carbs to fuel and protein to build muscles.

• Soups–minestrone, lentil, black bean, and split pea soups make hearty, wholesome meals, You can also add beans to almost any soup to add substance and nutrients.

• Baked beans—served on toast (a popular breakfast item in England). A small can of baked beans can also be a filling snack.

• Pasta–toss a can of pinto or white beans into spaghetti sauce. Serve over pasta shells (they “catch” the beans).

Beans? No thanks!

Some athletes get terrible intestinal distress when they eat beans (and likely some other foods as well. Think onions, garlic, and wheat).  The poorly digested fiber/carbohydrate in these foods become a feast for gut bacteria. When microbes eat these undigested carbs, they create gas bombs. In some people, this fiber causes diarrhea too. Not fun.

If you fall into this category of avid bean avoiders and want to learn more, you may want to read The Complete Idiot’s Guide to IBS by Kate Scarlata, RD (www.katescarlata.com).

Image from: privateeyehealth.com/foods-rich-in-fiber-beans/

Nancy Clark, MS, RD CSSD (Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics) counsels active people at her private practice in Newton, MA (617-795-1875). For more information, read her Sports Nutrition Guidebook and food guides for marathoners, soccer players, and cyclists. They are available at www.nancyclarkrd.com. Also see www.sportsnutritionworkshop.com for online CEUs.

 

 

Pineapple Crunchy Chicken Spinach Salad

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

Here’s a summertime salad that can be used as a salad or can be made into a delicious sandwich. You can also add more vegetables like tomatoes or more fruit like grapes if you want.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:  262 calories, 22 grams protein, 13 grams of fat,  15 grams of CHO, 3 grams dietary fiber, 227 mg sodium.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Serves:  4

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked chicken breast, cubed
  • ¾ cup pineapple chunks, drained
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • ½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 4 green  onions, sliced
  • ½ cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • ½ cup reduced fat mayonnaise
  • 4 cups baby leaves spinach

Instructions

Mix chicken, pineapple, celery, almonds and onion and set aside. Blend yogurt and mayonnaise well and stir into chicken mixture.  Serve over spinach leaves.

Shopping List

  • chicken breast
  • pineapple chunks
  • celery
  • slivered almonds
  • 4 green  onions
  • plain nonfat yogurt
  • reduced fat mayonnaise
  • baby leaves spinach

Image from:  www.tasteofhome.com

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition, www.DayByDayNutrition.com, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, www.KentuckianaHealthWellness.com. Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for www.LiveStrong.com as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 13 grandchildren.    

 

 

 

Sweet Potato, Spinach, Black Bean & Quinoa Burrito

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

I love sweet potatoes fixed almost any way. Here’s a really great recipe that adds a combination of vegetables and whole grains to make a delicious burrito.  If you don’t like sweet potatoes you can substitute acorn squash. You can also substitute kale or another green rather than use spinach.  You can also substitute another type of beans for the black beans. If you want to cut the calories, you can leave off the sour cream.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:  419 calories, 14 grams protein,  10 grams of fat,  63 grams of CHO,  9 grams dietary fiber,  1818 mg sodium.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes  Cook Time: 15 minutes

Serves:  4

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sweet potato, cooked, cube
  • ½ cup quinoa, dry
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ½  cups fresh baby spinach
  • 2 tsp kosher salt to taste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 6 drops hot sauce (Frank’s Red Hot)
  • ½ black beans, cooked or canned (drained)
  • 4 whole grain tortillas
  • 1 cup of thick salsa
  • 1 cup of low fat sour cream

Instructions

Wash sweet potatoes. You can peel them or not. Cut them in small cubes. Place the sweet potatoes into boiling water. Boil until potato is tender to touch. About 15 minutes. You can also baked them as well & then cube them. To cook quinoa, boil 1 cup of water. Add quinoa & fresh spinach & simmer on low until the water is absorbed which takes about 10-12 minutes. In a bowl, mash sweet potatoes. Add black beans, garlic, spices and quinoa spinach mixture. Mix well. Divide sweet potato mixture equally over the 4 tortillas and fold.  Add ¼ salsa and ¼ cup of sour cream over the burritos. Enjoy.

 

Shopping List

  • 2 medium sweet potato
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • fresh baby spinach
  • kosher salt
  • ground cumin
  • hot sauce (Frank’s Red Hot)
  • black beans
  • whole grain tortillas
  • thick salsa
  • low fat sour cream

 Image from: http://tastykitchen.com

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition, www.DayByDayNutrition.com, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, www.KentuckianaHealthWellness.com. Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for www.LiveStrong.com as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 13 grandchildren.    

 

 

 

 

Phytochemicals Can Help Keep You Healthy

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

It’s no secret, you are what you eat.  Phytochemicals which come from plants provide the plant color, aroma but more importantly provides protection from infection and predator cells which can cause cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and aging. Phytochemicals work effectively with vitamins and minerals to help fight disease in a concerted effort.  Check out the table below to see what foods and herbs contain phytochemicals and how they are beneficial in keeping us health.

Table 1. Phytochemicals Found in Food & Herbs*

Phytochemical Family Plant Sources Possible Actions & Benefits
Allium Compounds Allicin

Allin

Allyl sulfides

Chives, garlic, leeks, onions, scallions, shallots -Slow or stop the growth of tumors.

Foods in the allum family probably protect against stomach cancer.

Garlic probably decreases the risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Laboratory studies suggest that allium compounds might also protect against leukemia and cancers of the prostate, bladder, skin and lung.

Hint: Cutting or crushing garlic at least 10 minutes before cooking makes more cancers fighters available.

CarotenoidsAlpha-carotene

Beta-carotene

Beta-cryptoxanthin

Lutein

Lycopene

Zeaxanthin

Red, orange, yellow and some dark green

Fruits: apricots, cantaloupe, citrus fruits, nectarines, papayas, peaches, watermelon.

Vegetables: Bok choy, broccoli, carrots, corn, green (collards, kale, lettuce, spinach), pumpkin, red peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and tomato products, winter squash

-Acts as an antioxidant.

-Inhibit cancer cell growth.

-Improve immune response.

Foods containing carotenoids probably protect against cancers of the mouth, pharynx and larynx.

Carotenoids in dark leafy vegetables might inhibit the growth of cancers of the skin, lung, stomach and some types of breast cancer cells.

Lycopene in tomatoes and tomato products may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Flavonoids (a group of Polyphenols)Anthocyanidins (cyanide, delphinidin, malvidin, pelargonidin, peonidin)

Flavan-3-ols (catechin, eicatechin, epicatechin gallate, epigallocatechin, epigallocatechin gallate, theaflavins)

Flavanones (hesperetin & naringenin)

Flavones (apigenin & luteolin)

Flavanols (kaempferol, myricetin)

Flavonoids (quercetin)

Isoflavones (see separate category below)

Fruits: Apples, berries, cherries, citrus fruits, cranberries, currants, grapes, pears, plums

Vegetables: Beets, bell peppers, broccoli, celery, chard, eggplant, kale, lettuce, onions, red cabbage, radishes

Beans: Black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans

Herbs: Parsley, rosemary, thyme

Other: Cocoa powder, dark chocolate, coffee, tea

-Act as an antioxidant.

-Increase the enzymes that protect the body from cancer-causing compounds.

-Stimulate self-destruction of abnormal cells.

-Inhibit inflammation that supports cancer groups.

-Inhibit tumor growth.

-Boost immune function .

Some flavonoids may help prevent colon cancer.

In laboratory studies, the phytochemicals in apples reduced the growth of lung cancer cells.

IndolesIndole-3-carbinol Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish, mustard greens, turnips, watercress -Act as a antioxidant.

-Increase the activity of enzymes that protect the body from cancer-causing compounds.

– Helps repair damaged DNA.

-Block the activity of hormones that influence the development of some cancer (breast & cervical).

-cause cancer cells to die.

Laboratory studies suggest that cruciferous vegetables protect against cancers of breast, endometrium, lung, colon & cervix.

 

 

InositolPhytic acid (also called inositol hexaphosphate or IP6) Whole grains: Bran from corn, oats, rice, rye, and wheat

Nuts

Legumes: Soybeans and dried beans

-Act as an antioxidant.

-Slow growth of tumors.

-Cause cancer cells to die.

Laboratory studies suggest that phytic acid may prevent tumors from forming in the colon, lung, prostate & skin.

Isoflavones (a category of Flavonoids)Daidzien

Genistein

Glycitein

Soy: Soybeans & soy products (such as edamame, soymilk, tofu) -Acts as antioxidant

-decrease production of some hormones

-inhibit growth of tumors

IsothiocyanatesAllyl isothiocyanate

Benzylisothiocyanate

Crambene

Phenylethylisothiocyanate

Sulforaphane

3-phenylpropylisothio-cyanate

Cruciferous Vegetables: Arugula, broccoli, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (red & green), cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, mustard greens, radishes, rutabaga, turnips, watercress

 

-Act as antioxidants.

-Block tumor growth.

-Cause cancer cells to die.

-Inhibit inflammation that supports cancer growth.

-Increase the activity of enzymes that protect the body from cancer-causing compounds.

Laboratory studies & some small population studies suggest that cruciferous vegetables protect against cancers of the bladder, breast, endometrium, esophagus, lung, colon, liver, prostate, & cervix.

Isothiocyanates form when glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables are broken down by an enzyme released when the vegetable is chewed or chopped.

Polyphenols (other than Flavonoids & Terpenes)Coumarin

Curcubitacin

Curcumin

Phenolic Acids (cafferic acid, ferulic acid, ellagic acid, gallic acid)

Stilbenes (pterostilbene, resvertrol)

Tannins (such as ellagic acid)

Fruits: Apples, blackberries, black raspberries, blueberries, cherries, red grapes, pears, pomegranates, strawberries

Other: Chestnut, peanuts, lentils, pecans, turmeric, walnuts

-Act as a antioxidant.

-Inhibit inflammation that supports cancer growth.

-Prevent cancer formation.

-Cause abnormal cells to die before they can become cancerous.

Cell culture & animal studies suggest pterostibene could help prevent colon, lung, skim stomach, pancreatic & breast cancers by inhibiting growth & stimulating destruction of abnormal cells.

In laboratory & animal studies, resverstarol has inhibited the formation or slowed the growth of cancers of liver, prostate, stomach & breast.

Resveratrol has caused the death of leukemia & colon cancer cells.

In lab studies, ellagic acid has inhibited the development of cancers of the colon, esophagus, liver, lung & skin.

In the lab, curcumin has reduced the formation & growth of breast, colon, & stomach cancer cells.

Protease Inhibitors Legumes: Beans, lentils, peas, soybeans & whole soy products (such as edamame, soymilk, tofu) -Inhibit cancer cell growth.-Prevent tumors from releasing compounds that can destroy nearby healthy cells.
SterolsBeta-sitostrol

Campestreol

Ergosterol

Stigmasterol

Vegetables: Asparagus, beets, Brussels sprouts,

Legumes

Nuts

Seeds: Flax, pumpkin, sesame & sunflower seeds

Most Vegetable Oils: corn, olive, safflower & sesame oils

Whole Grains

-Cause the death of cancer cells.

-Lessen the inflammation that supports cancer growth.

Terpenes (a group of Polyphenols)Carnosol

Curcubitacin

Limonene

Perillyl Alcohol

Fruits: Apples, cherries, citrus fruits, pears, prunes

Herbs: Bay leaves, dill, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme

Other Foods: Pumpkin seeds

-Act as antioxidant.

-Slow cancer cell growth.

-Boost immune function.

-Inhibit inflammation that supports cancer growth.

Laboratory studies suggest carnosol may decrease cells’ sensitivity to reproductive hormones that promote prostate cancer.

 

*From the American Institute for Cancer Research handout: Facts on Preventing: The Cancer Fighters in Your Food.

 Image from: www.thecompleterecipe.com

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition, www.DayByDayNutrition.com, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, www.KentuckianaHealthWellness.com. Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for www.LiveStrong.com as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 13 grandchildren.    

 

Spinach Salmon Cakes

Spinach Salmon Cakes

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

 

I grew up eating canned salmon because we couldn’t afford fresh salmon. So you might say canned salmon is one of my comfort foods. Canned salmon is high in omega 3 fatty acids and always is wild salmon not farmed salmon.  If you mash the bones, you can get some extra calcium. Adding the spinach helps to increase the nutrient content as well and adds some dietary fiber. Canned salmon doesn’t contain more sodium, however.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:  336 calories,  28 grams protein, 14 grams of fat,  27 grams of CHO,  3 grams dietary fiber,  971 mg sodium.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes  Cook Time: 10 minutes 

Serves:  4

Ingredients

  • 1 can (14 ¾ oz) salmon or 1 lb skinless salmon filet
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup corn meal or whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp oil

Instructions

In a large bowl, drain salmon, remove skin.  Mash salmon bones & mix.  Add onion, lemon juice, spinach, sour cream, mustard, egg, and bread crumbs to mashed salmon.   Form into 3-inch cakes that are about ½-inch thick.  In a large non-stick pan, heat oil over medium heat. Cook salmon until lightly browned.

Yogurt-Dill Dressing

Can use this dressing on your salmon or other fish as well.

  • 6 oz fat free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup fresh dill sprigs
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot
  • ¼ tsp salt

Instructions

Put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.  Serve over the Salmon Cakes.

Shopping List

  • 1 can (14 ¾ oz) salmon or 1 lb skinless salmon filet
  • red onion
  • 1 egg
  • lemon juice
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach
  • Dijon mustard
  • corn meal or whole wheat bread crumbs
  • oil
  • 6 oz fat free plain Greek yogurt
  • fresh dill sprigs
  • 1 small shallot

Image from: simplysophisticatedcooking.wordpress.com

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition, www.DayByDayNutrition.com, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, www.KentuckianaHealthWellness.com. Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for www.LiveStrong.com as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 13 grandchildren.    

 

Chicken Crunch Waldorf Salad

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D. C.N.

 

This is one of my favorite recipe combinations that I refer to as my comfort food. But I made a few changes. I like to use sweet apples like Gala or Red delicious but you could also use Granny Smith apples. Plus I added grapes because I like grapes, too. I use red grapes because they have more nutrients than green grapes.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:  320 calories, 24 grams protein,  14 grams of fat,  26  grams of CHO,  3 grams of fiber,  219 mg sodium.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes 

Serves:  4

Ingredients

  • 2 cups coarsely chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped apples (sweet or tart)
  • ½ cup sliced celery
  • 1/3 cup light Miracle Whip or Mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup walnut pieces
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 1 cup grapes

 

Instructions

Put all the ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Place in refrigerator and let chill for 1 hour. Serve plain or on a bed of lettuce.

 

Shopping List

  • cooked chicken breast
  • apples
  • celery
  • light Miracle Whip or Mayonnaise
  • walnut pieces
  • raisins
  • grapes

Image from: wwwwhatdidyoueat.typepad.com

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition, www.DayByDayNutrition.com, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, www.KentuckianaHealthWellness.com. Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for www.LiveStrong.com as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 13 grandchildren.    

 

 

Easy Chicken Breasts A La Parmesan

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

This is an incredibly easy recipe. When my boys were home, this was one of their favorite recipes. In fact, when they went to college, all of them would make this recipe when they lived in their apartments. If you want to cut down on the sodium, you can use lower sodium spaghetti sauce.  Serve with whole wheat spaghetti, brown rice, whole grain couscous or quinoa, garlic bread and green leafy salad.

 

Nutritional Information Per Serving:  462 calories, 25 grams protein, 26 grams of fat,  32 grams of CHO,  4 grams dietary fiber,  1276 mg sodium.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes  Cook Time: 30 minutes 

Serves:  4

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness (1 lb)
  • 1 egg, beaten or 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2  tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups (1 lb) of prepared spaghetti sauce
  • ½ cup reduced fat Parmesan cheese

 

 

Instructions

Mix beaten egg and skim milk together and place in a flat bowl. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dip the chicken breasts in mixture, then roll both sides of the chicken breasts in bread crumbs completely covering them with bread crumbs. Brown the chicken on both sides until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Place chicken in a baking dish. Cover the chicken breasts with mozzarella cheese.  Spoon spaghetti sauce equally over the chicken. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and  add thin strips of mozzarella cheese on top. Bake at 350° for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly.

 

 

Shopping List

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts (1 lb)
  • 1 egg or egg whites
  • skim milk
  • seasoned bread crumbs
  • olive oil
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese
  • 1 jar of prepared spaghetti sauce
  • reduced fat Parmesan cheese

 

 

 

 

 

Image from: www.wizardrecipes.com

 

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition, www.DayByDayNutrition.com, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, www.KentuckianaHealthWellness.com. Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for www.LiveStrong.com as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 13 grandchildren.