Whether it’s the Super Bowl or Valentine’s Day, February is full of party opportunities. Here are some tips to take the stress out of eating and enjoy what really matters – the company!
Pre-game wisely: avoid getting too hungry beforehand by including a snack with fiber and protein.
Celebrate mindfully: pay attention to what you are eating and really taste it.
Don’t avoid your favorite foods: all foods can fit – add some vegetables for balance (they are also linked to a decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes).
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It is essential to stay hydrated during the summer as we lose fluid through sweat, but we may forget the importance during winter months because we are already cold, especially in Boston.
Even mild dehydration can influence your energy, mood, and aspects of cognition like concentration and memory.
Try these tips to help stay hydrated:
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Boost your immune system to help fight cold and flu season by adding these foods to your diet.
Berries (such as blueberries and blackberries) are packed with anthocyanins which have powerful antioxidant benefits. Add them to cereal or yogurt.
Garlic contains allicin which has been studied for its antimicrobial properties and shown in one small study to be effective at preventing the common cold.
Citrus fruits are well known for their vitamin C content, but did you know they also contain flavonoids? Flavonoids are a type of phytonutrient that have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting benefits.
Sweet potatoes and carrots contain beta carotene, which plays a role in maintaining your body’s natural defenses including keeping your lungs and gut healthy and free of disease-causing pathogens.
Looking to increase your intake of these foods? Try these recipes:
Breakfast: baked blueberry oatmeal
Lunch: loaded baked sweet potato
Dinner: ginger-spiced chicken with roasted winter vegetables
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Marchese, A. et al. Antifungal and antibacterial activities of allicin: a review.Trends in Food Science & Technology, 2016. 52: 49-56.
Wang, S., et al. Characterization and Metabolic Diversity of Flavonoids in Citrus Species. Scientific Reports. 2018.
Wang, Y., et al. Molecules. (2017). Antioxidant Capacity, Anticancer Ability and Flavonoids Composition of 35 Citrus (Citrus reticulata Blanco) Varieties. Molecules, 2017. 5: 22(7).
With the return to cool temperatures, we also usher in a season of squash. Varieties include butternut, spaghetti, delicata, kabocha, and acorn.
These winter vegetables are a good source of vitamin A, which supports a healthy immune system and may help protect against cancer.
They also contain fiber and generally have fewer calories per cup compared to other types of carbohydrates.
Due to their tough exterior, squash can be intimidating to cook. But certain varieties (like spaghetti or acorn squash) are easy to prepare. To roast them:
1. Cut the squash in half using a large sharp knife
2. Scoop out seeds and stringy flesh
3. Brush inside with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
4. Roast (flesh side down) in a 400° oven for 30 to 45 minutes (or until tender when pierced with a fork)
5. Shred the spaghetti squash with a fork or scoop out the acorn squash flesh using a spoon
Need inspiration? Try this recipe.
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Vitamin A: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. NIH: Office of Dietary Supplements, Updated 2018. Accessed September 2018.
Winter Squash. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: The Nutrition Source. Accessed September 2018.
Certain types of bacteria can help us digest food and may support a healthy immune system. But stressors, such as antibiotics and a diet high in processed foods, can reduce these beneficial microbes.
Fermented foods are a source of these bacteria. We don’t know yet to what extent they colonize our guts, but research suggests they may be helpful.
Some foods with live bacteria include yogurt, kefir, and certain types of sauerkraut and pickles. Other cultures eat a variety of fermented foods, such as:
Look for foods that are fermented, rather than pickled with vinegar or processed using high heat. Labels on dairy products should include live bacteria (such as Lactobacillus). Aim to regularly incorporate these foods into your diet.
To start, try this sesame miso cucumber salad. Or blend 2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt with ½ cup kimchi for a dip that tastes like pimento cheese, as suggested by Cooking Light.
Moyer, L. The Lowdown on Fermented Foods. Nutrition Action, March 2017. Accessed August 2018.
Fermented Foods Can Add Depth to Your Diet. HMS Harvard Health Publishing, July 2018. Accessed August 2018.
Skara, T. et al. Fermented and Ripened Fish Products in the Northern European Countries. Journal of Ethnic Foods, 2015. 2(1): 18-24.
Pérez-Cataluña, A. et al. Diversity and Dynamics of Lactic Acid Bacteria in Atole Agrio, a Traditional Maize-based Fermented Beverage from South-Eastern Mexico, Analysed by High Throughput Sequencing and Culturing. Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek, 2018. 11(3): 385-399.
The only diet advice you need is that you probably don't need one. Click here to read an article by one of our nutrition experts, Emily Gelsomin, about how to sort through recent diet fads.
A safe amount of sun can help your body make Vitamin D, but as we prepare for fall turning to food and supplements can help meet needs.
Vitamin D is important for maintaining strong bones and a healthy immune system. Some studies suggest it may also help reduce diseases like diabetes and cancer, though more research is needed.
Vitamin D sources include:
It can be hard to get enough vitamin D through diet alone. (Eating a tuna sandwich, egg, and cup of milk only provides about half the daily amount.)
600 IU of vitamin D is recommended for most adults and some studies suggest getting 1000 IU or more may have benefits.
Read food labels (hint: a daily value of 20% or more is an excellent source) or take a supplement to meet your needs when the season changes.
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Vitamin D: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health. Accessed July 2018.
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With various protein supplements on the market, choosing one can be confusing – so let’s break down some common types.
Do You Need One?
Supplements are not essential for muscle growth or weight loss.
Chicken, fish, eggs, yogurt, tofu, soy milk, beans, and nuts provide ample protein plus vitamins and minerals that supplements may lack, making whole foods equally effective – if not more so.
If you include a protein source with most meals and snacks you probably do not need a supplement.
Be aware supplements may contain added sugars and artificial ingredients and are not approved by the FDA before sale.
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Studies show eating vegetables can reduce risk of early death, especially related to heart problems. Yet, only 13% of us meet the recommended intake. Most people should have at least 2 to 3 cups a day.
Leafy greens are particularly protective, but increasing any type is helpful. Here are five ways to add more vegetables to foods you love:
Already include a vegetable with dinner? Serve more than one. Research shows when multiple vegetables are offered, a larger quantity is eaten overall.
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Meengs, J., Rose, L., Rolls, B. and H. Guthrie, Vegetable Variety: An Effective Strategy to Increase Vegetable Intake in Adults. J Acad Nutr Diet, 2012. 112(8): 1211-1215.
Slavin, J. and B. Lloyd, Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables. Adv Nutr, 2012. 3(4): 506–516.
Wang, X. et al., Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Mortality from All Causes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer: Systematic Review and Dose-response Meta-analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies. BMJ, 2014. 349:g4490.
You can encourage healthy habits and still enjoy summer cookouts with family and friends with these tips:
Get Up and Move!