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Oatmeal Might Be A Superfood After All

We all know that oatmeal is good for you and can be a great way to start the day.  But it wasn’t until my daughter started eating it and then got her younger brothers to eat it, that I took a second look.  I was aware, like most of us, that oatmeal had fiber, and I had seen all those commercials about it lowering your cholesterol.  But I thought a lot of this was just overblown advertising.  However, when my kids started asking for it as a snack after school, I decided it was time to do a little more research.oatmeal

As a child, I ate the instant maple brown sugar kind in those little brown packets. At the time, I thought it was tasty and sweet.  But as I got older, it was too sweet and uninspiring for me to keep eating it.  It wasn’t until recently that I had the ‘real stuff’ – the slow cook rolled oats or the steel cut version.  What a difference!  Before trying it, I was under the impression that the ‘real’ oatmeal took forever to cook.  But it takes maybe 10 to 15 minutes – quick enough for most crazy rushed mornings.

I listed many of the nutritional information and health benefits of slow cooked oatmeal below. One half cup of oatmeal uncooked (which about doubles after cooking) has the following nutritional content.

Protein: 5 to 6 grams of protein depending on the type.  Oats have one of the highest protein levels of any grain, even beating out today’s favorite, quinoa.  Oats, like many other whole grains, is a complete protein – meaning it contains all 10 essential amino acids. Oats have a one of the highest levels of these amino acids, again, beating our other whole grains like quinoa and brown rice.

Fiber:  4 grams of fiber.  Women need between 21 and 25 grams of fiber per day and studies show that the majority of Americans get only about 15 grams a day.  If you add fruit, such as bananas or apples, to your oatmeal, you will pump your fiber intake up to by an additional 3-5 grams of fiber.  This one meal will meet 1/3 of your recommended daily fiber needs.

Beta glucan:  This is a type of fiber that appears to be the all-star compound in oatmeal. There have been hundreds of studies published on beta-glucan and how it naturally boosts your immune system. Beta-glucan stimulates immune cells that ingest and demolish invading pathogens and stimulates other immune cells to attack. In addition, beta glucans stimulate lethal white blood cells (lymphocytes) that bind to tumors or viruses, and release chemicals to destroy it.  And to top it off, our bodies do not produce beta-glucan, so you have to ingest it to get it.  Hello oatmeal!

Low in fat and calories: Approximately 3 grams of fat and 150 calories per serving.

Whole Grains: Oatmeal is a whole grain, and eating whole grains can lower your risk for several diseases, including high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Oatmeal also contains lignans, a plant chemical that has been found to prevent heart disease.

Low Glycemic Index (GI):  Oatmeal has a low glycemic index (Steel Cut have an index of 42, standard rolled oats have an index of 55.). (Instant has 83 – NOT a low GI food.)  GI measures the actual impact that a carbohydrate food has on blood sugar.  Foods with low GIs provide sustained energy and do not spike insulin levels.  As such, we feel full longer which can aid in dieting and fat loss.  In addition, low GI diets are associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, stoke, depression and certain cancers, to just name a few.

Lower Cholesterol: Since 1963, study after study has proven the beneficial effects of oatmeal on cholesterol levels.  Yes, the commercials are actually true!  Studies show that in individuals with high cholesterol (above 220 mg/dl), consuming just 3 grams of soluble oat fiber per day (an amount found in one bowl of oatmeal) typically lowers total cholesterol by 8-23%. This is highly significant since each 1% drop in serum cholesterol translates to a 2% decrease in the risk of developing heart disease.

Iron:  10% of recommended daily amount

There are so many ways to dress up oatmeal and add variety and nutrients.  Our favorite way is to add peanut butter, banana and a teaspoon of honey.  We eat the natural peanut butter so the honey gives us a little sweetness.  You can also add any kind of nuts or seeds to get a little crunch.  Another favorite is to add nonfat Greek yogurt – it adds a little creaminess and pumps up the protein.  Fruit is also a popular option – we usually use bananas at this time of year, but any fruit works beautifully.  Cinnamon and flax seeds are other options to jazz up your oatmeal.  The possibilities are bountiful and each one only increases the healthfulness of the meal.  If you had relegated oatmeal to the back shelf, it may be time to give it a second look.

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20 Healthy Things You Can Do For Yourself Today…In 10 Minutes or Less

1. Drink 8-12 oz of water first thing in the morning – helps empty your bowels, flush out toxins and hydrate you for the first part of the day

2. Straighten your posture and lower your shoulders – releases tension and stress, resets your spine and strengthens your core10 min

3. Take a probiotic to balance the bacteria in your stomach – remarkable healing powers

4. Replace your sugar snack with a protein snack – lite cheese stick, nuts, peanut butter, Greek yogurt, egg…helps build muscle throughout the day and keep your sugar levels balanced

5. Resist the impulse purchase of a candy bar and eat fruit instead – the benefits of fresh fruit far outweigh the sugar high and crash from a processed candy bar…and you will be fuller, longer

6. Sprinkle your food with organic 100% whole ground flaxseed – provides high fiber, protein, lignans (antioxidants) & omega-3’s (healthy, beneficial fats)

7. Eat slowly – pause 2 seconds between bites…helps you eat less, realize you are fuller, quicker and helps you digest your food more efficiently

8. Conquer a fear – provides an amazing sense of accomplishment and encourages you to challenge yourself even more

9. Climb the stairs – works your quads, hamstrings, butt and heart

10. Drink a skim latte with cinnamon (1 sugar/syrup pump or less) – high dose of protein, healthy caffeine & cinnamon to raise your metabolism

11. Tell someone how good they look– the reward from making someone feel good is worth every second

12. Have oatmeal for a healthy breakfast or snack – perfect balance of complex carbs, protein and fat and will keep you full for hours

13. Ask for your salad dressing on the side – salad dressing can sabotage a healthy lunch with high fat, empty calories and chemicals – dip your fork in first, then take a bite of salad

14. Take a slow, deep breath and exhale. Repeat. – it will reset your mind and stress level

15. Wake up 10 minutes earlier so you don’t have to rush – imagine how much calm you will add to your morning

16. Park far away from where you have to go and walk there briskly – gets in a quick cardio burst and fills your lunges with fresh air (while you are at it, return the cart too) 😉

17. Stand up and stretch – hold each stretch for at least 6 seconds, repeat…really try to elongate your spine – helps stretch your muscles and reset your body

18. Squeeze your buttocks whenever you stand and hold the contraction – this full body isometric hold will tighten your butt and strengthen your abs – wait until you see the results in lift!

19. While watching TV, do as many push-ups as you can during the commercials – will strengthen your upper body and core and keep you from going to the cabinet for a snack (it’s ok to drop to your knees)

20. Have sex – helps improve your immune system, counts as exercise, releases endorphins and Oxycontin to eliminate stress, anxiety and depression and helps you sleep better!

To be continued…

  • Debra

    My favorite is #18!!

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What’s In a Label?

Food labels have been increasingly confusing to decipher. Marketing companies focus their messaging on how to get people to buy their product, yet these messages can be deceiving when it comes to the contents of the product and the nutritional value of the ingredients. nutrition label

Nutritional health experts recommend that you keep your intake of saturated fat, trans fat, sugars, sodium and cholesterol as low as possible to maintain a nutritionally balanced diet. However, marketing labels are often misleading when it comes to what you are buying.

Reading ingredient labels can really help you understand what you are consuming. For example, you may think 100% whole wheat bread or flavored Greek yogurts are healthy choices. However, the food label may reveal it contains additives including high fructose corn syrup, guar gum, colored dyes or artificial sweeteners including aspartame, sucralose/sucrose or Splenda. And the yogurt often may have up to 24 grams of sugar, per serving.

A product’s ingredients are listed in descending order of weight (from the most to the least). Typically, the less ingredients in a product, the less manufactured it is, which means the healthier it is to eat. Ingredients that are processed or manufactured are often difficult for our bodies to digest and use as fuel, or burn off as energy.

Recommendation on what to try to avoid when possible:

  • High fructose corn syrup – a highly refined sweetener made from genetically modified corn
  • Artificial sweeteners (acesulfame-K, aspertame, Equal, NutraSweet, Saccharin, Sweet’n Low, Sucralose, Splenda & Sorbitol) – they are chemically derived
  • Hydrogenated oils (trans fat) – actually illegal in some countries
  • “Enriched” and “bleached flour” (ie. “enriched” whole wheat flour has removed all of the nutrients and your body will have difficulty processing food with this ingredient. Carbs and empty calories are what remain- 100% whole wheat flour is the best option – or sprouted bread)
  • Foods with 10 ingredients or more – typically, the more ingredients, the more a food is artificially manufactured
  • Artificial colorings/flavorings  – found in everything from soda to snack cakes, they are chemical compounds made from coal-tar derivatives to enhance color and flavor
  • Saturated fats – leading cause of high cholesterol
  • High sugars – refined white sugar has no nutrients and can cause premature aging, digestive problems and obesity
  • High sodium – can lead to high blood pressure and excessive bloating
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate) – an artificial flavor enhancer added to many foods
  • Sodium nitrate – chemicals used to preserve meat
  • BPA – a hormone mimicking chemical found in nearly all food packaging plastics – known to be harmful to your health
  • GMOs (explained below)

Whenever you purchase a food item, remember to look at the Nutrition Facts label to understand the serving size and nutrients in a product and the ingredient label to avoid foods that are manufactured and may be hazardous to your health.

A general rule is to keep your daily intake of fat to less than 65 grams, saturated fat to less than 20 grams, cholesterol to less than 300 mg, sodium to less than 2400 mg, total carbohydrate to 300g and dietary fiber to 25 g (these are maximum measurements). Also, take a look at the serving size – it’s often misleading how many servings are in a package. For example, a Snapple bottle actually contains 2 servings – so you have to double the food label contents and calories.

AND what is all the hype about GMO?

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. The genetic material of food organisms have been altered using genetic engineering techniques, creating unstable genes that do not naturally occur.

In the U.S., GMOs are in as much as 80% of conventional processed food. Most of which, are unlabeled in America.

Why GMOs are deemed bad for your body & environment:

  • The health consequences of GMOs are unknown and potentially dangerous.
  • GMOs have been rendered toxic when ingested (studies still pending).
  • GMOs require massive amounts of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides (poisons). But companies produce them, as they are focused on mass production and revenue.
  • Our bodies do not know how to digest GMOs.

Genetically modified organisms have not been proven to be safe in any way, and most of the studies are actually leaning in the other direction, which is why many of the world’s countries have banned these items.

The best way to avoid GMOs is to buy organic.

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