Archive of ‘Nutrition’ category
Memorial Day Weekend is here! Nothing kicks off the summer quite like a poolside bbq with friends. If I was a betting gal, I would say you’re planning on heating up the barbie this weekend and grilling some of your favorite foods.
Not to be a giant buzz kill, but grilling certain foods like steak, salmon, & chicken create the cancer causing chemicals Heterocyclic amines(HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons(PAHs). These form anytime muscle is cooked over a high heat source- like grilling or pan-frying. When meat is grilled the protein, sugar, and creatine in the meat react with high temperatures and become mutagenic- meaning they cause changes in DNA that may increase the risk of cancer. Meat that is cooked the longest (think well-done) have the highest concentrations of these chemicals.
In animal studies, rats fed HCAs developed tumors of the breast, colon, liver, skin, lung, prostate, and other organs. Those that were fed PAHs also developed cancers, including leukemia and tumors of the gastrointestinal tract and lungs. While the doses of HCAs and PAHs used in these studies were very high (1000X the doses that a person would consume in a normal diet) the results should be noted.
“We know these compounds can probably cause cancer in humans,” says Elizabeth Snyderwine, Chief of the Chemical Carcinogenesis Section at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, Maryland. “What we don’t know yet is how significant a problem they are in the American diet.”
Until there’s more evidence, “it makes sense to avoid (HCAs) when we can,” says Mark Knize of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California.
What’s a BBQ host to do!?
If you are planning on serving and grilling meat, the National Cancer Insitute has developed some guidelines to help reduce the amount of HCAs and PAHs:
- Avoiding direct exposure of meat to an open flame or a hot metal surface and avoiding prolonged cooking times (especially at high temperatures).
- Using a microwave oven to cook meat prior to exposure to high temperatures can also substantially reduce HCA formation by reducing the time that meat must be in contact with high heat to finish cooking.
- Continuously turning meat over on a high heat source can substantially reduce HCA formation compared with just leaving the meat on the heat source without flipping it often.
- Removing charred portions of meat and refraining from using gravy made from meat drippings can also reduce HCA and PAH exposure.
You can also skip the meat all together and choose from my favorite grill recipes:
Grilled Corn: Maybe the simplest indulgence summer can offer. Peel the husk down, remove the silk strands, add margarine/EB butter and seasonings. Pull the husks back up, wrap with kitchen string and soak in cold water. Grill with husks on for 30 minutes.
The BEST vegetarian burgers
Banana & Pineapple sundaes: Split a whole banana lengthwise, keeping the peel on. Place pineapple slices on grill and cook 3-5 minutes per side. Add banana to grill and heat until it starts to soften. Dice the pineapple slices place inside the sliced banana. Top with a scoop or two of your favorite ice cream and dig in!
Fire up the Grill Fajitas
What are your thoughts on this topic? What are you planning on grilling this weekend?
Sugimura T, Wakabayashi K, Nakagama H, Nagao M. Heterocyclic amines: Mutagens/carcinogens produced during cooking of meat and fish. Cancer Science 2004; 95(4):290–299. [PubMed Abstract]
Ito N, Hasegawa R, Sano M, et al. A new colon and mammary carcinogen in cooked food,2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP). Carcinogenesis 1991; 12(8):1503–1506.
Kato T, Ohgaki H, Hasegawa H, et al. Carcinogenicity in rats of a mutagenic compound, 2-amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline. Carcinogenesis 1988; 9(1):71–73.
Rohrmann S, Zoller D, Hermann S, Linseisen J. Intake of heterocyclic aromatic amines from meat in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Heidelberg cohort. British Journal of Nutrition 2007; 98(6):1112–1115
You don’t have to be a dietitian to know that vegetables are good for you. Most of us understand that broccoli > Cheetos and apple pie counts more towards dessert than fruit. So, why are we lacking in our intake? If study after study proves the oomph factor that vegetables give to our bodies and minds, why does most of the population struggle to get in 1 serving a day?
You could answer that question lots of ways, but I’m taking the DK approach. Unfortunately, most of us don’t know how to cook vegetables so they are appealing. (That is unless you regularly follow this veggie love blog! Go Spaghetti Squash,go!)
If the option is between steamed broccoli, canned green beans, or tator tots you can bet what most of us would choose for a side. Sure, canned and steamed vegetables can be great options but if that’s the only way vegetables are ever presented then I get why we don’t eat ‘em.
Let’s change that.
1. PIMP MY DINNER! Add vegetables into dishes you already love. No one is forcing you to put down the pasta fork but throw in some peppers, peas, & leeks and we’ve got a game changer. This is an especially important point for parents. As we discussed above, if the option is mixed vegetable medley and creamy mac and cheese then I can already guess what junior is going to choose. This is a DK trick of adding more “nutrient dense” foods in exchange for “caloric dense” ones. Vegetables are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber (nutrient rich, not calorie rich). Adding 1 cup of cooked vegetables to your average pasta meal increases your portion without adding many calories. Cut down the pasta by 1/2, add double the vegetables and you’ve just PIMPED your dinner. You can do the same think with quesadillas, scrambles, burritos, stir-frys and on. Before cooking ask yourself, where can I add a vegetable or two? The possibilities are endless.
2. GO ETHNIC. As a true spice lover, Indian and Thai food have a very special place in my heart. I also love the fact that they make vegetables taste divine because they let them shine. Vegetables don’t have to be a lonely side dish. Replace chicken with cauliflower and your vindaloo just become a heart healthier meal. Tandoori eggplant, vegetable curry, Chick pea Channa Masala are just some examples of veggie-centered meals. Most cuisines, especially Asian Cuisine, tend to highlight vegetables and use them in creative ways. Break out of your rut, grab a new cookbook and go crazy!
Remember, it takes us about 10 times to like a new food. If you don’t think you or your kids will like something, try, try, try again. Taste buds do change!
3. HAVE YOU HUGGED A APPLE TODAY? Let’s not forget about fruit. Sure, fruit can be higher in calories than vegetables but did anyone ever gain weight eating too much watermelon? Don’t listen to people who tell you that fruit is bad for you. Sure, cherry cheesecake isn’t a winner but that’s not the cherry’s fault. Fruit gets a bad rap because it contains fructose. But the fructose in fruit isn’t like the fructose found in agave nectar or high-fructose corn syrup. Fructose in fruit is diluted, unlike sugary fructose syrups. Fruit also contains fiber which helps to slow release and absorption of such sugar. Eat up as we enter into summer where fresh fruit is plentiful and begging to be added to your favorite recipes.
What are your favorite vegetable centered meals or cooking ideas? Share the wealth!
Along with other great causes, March is honored as National Nutrition Month. Each year the American Dietetic Association chooses a theme to promote and celebrate. This years is ‘Eat Right with Color.’ I love this theme, it’s the perfect “anti-diet” message. Focusing on eating a variety of produce not only allows for more interesting meals, but it also ensures the consumption of a variety of antioxidants and powerful phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are compounds responsible for providing food with color and the nutrients that reduce the risk of cancer or heart disease and promote vision, immune system, and healthy aging.
While I want to promote natural colors in produce, I want to caution against the use of artificial colorings. Artificial colorings are synthetic products used to give color and appeal to mostly low-nutrient foods. The problem? Artificial colorings have been shown to promote hyperactivity in some children and some studies suggest they increase cancer risk.
Thankfully, the FDA is holding a meeting on March 30th to consider the need for these toxic chemicals in our food supply. While I am skeptical on change, you can send a letter by march 23rd stating your support for removing artificial colorings.
If your interested in learning more one of my favorite organization’s, The Center for Science in the Public Interest has compiled all the studies done on artificial colorings and the risk they pose. You can see the detailed list here. As my speciality is food sensitivity, I also see a lot of patients whose migraines/IBS/ect. are triggered by artificial colorings. See what a color-free diet can do for you!
Are you worried or concerned about artificial sweeteners?
Did you know that red kidney beans can cause food poisoning? Don’t worry, it’s easy to avoid… you just have to know how to cook ‘em!
Many varieties of beans contain the toxin Phytohaemagglutinin (PHA), kidney beans contain the highest amounts. PHA is a lectin (sugar binding protein in beans) which causes food poisoning when the beans are consumed raw, soaked or under cooked.
If you’re like me, dried beans are a staple food. I’m a big fan of dried beans, as they are a delicious, inexpensive source of protein, iron, and fiber.
When you go to cook kidney beans, make sure you do so either in a pressure cooker or stove pan. Most food poisoning cases are seen when beans are cooked in slow-cookers/crock pots. Slow-cookers keep food at 180 degrees F, the optimum temperature that increases the toxicity of red beans.
Love kidney beans? Great. Just don’t cook them from a raw state in a slow cooker. Instead, soak the beans in water for at least 5 hours. Replace this water a few times during the soaking process, drain the water and boil beans in new water for at least 10 minutes. Then bring to a simmer and cook until done.
If that seems like a lot of work remember that cooked beans freeze well. Make a big pot, drain and then freeze until ready to use. Dried beans are also cheaper and lower in sodium than their canned counterparts.
Once you make your own beans from scratch, try one of these recipes:
Enchiladas a la DK
Rustic Corn Chili with Polenta
Ma! The Chili
What are your favorite kidney bean recipes?