With several new meat alternatives coming to market in recent years, tofu has taken a backseat. However, tofu remains a good source of protein and, unlike more processed meatless products, it typically contains few additives and is low in sodium.
Tofu also contains more isoflavones, plant compounds with potentially protective properties. Research shows eating tofu may lower the risk of heart disease and could help protect against breast cancer.
The amount shown to be beneficial ranges from eating it at least once a week to consuming a serving (1/5 of a block of tofu) at least 3 to 4 times per week.
Not sure how to incorporate tofu into your diet?
Bhagwhat S, Haytowitz DB, and JM Holden. USDA database for the isoflavone content of selected foods: release 2.0. USDA Nutrient Database Laboratory Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center. 2008; 1-69.
Ma L. et al. Isoflavone intake and the risk of coronary heart disease in US men and women: results from 3 prospective cohort studies. Circulation. 2020; 141(14):1127-1137.
Messina V. Tofu’s many faces. Today’s Dietitian. 2015;17(4):22-26.
Nechuta SJ. et al. Soy food intake after diagnosis of breast cancer and survival: an in-depth analysis of combined evidence from cohort studies of US and Chinese women. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012; 96(4):123-132.
Wu AH, Lee E, and C Vigen. Soy isoflavones and breast cancer. American Society of Clinical Oncology Education Book. 2013; 13: 102-106.
By Meredith Berman, MGH Dietetic Intern
It can be hard these days to sort diet facts from fiction. One food group that tends to be portrayed negatively in the media is dairy. Does it actually promote significant health risks?
Here's What the Research Shows:
So if you like yogurt, cheese, and milk there is little evidence to support avoiding them to reduce major disease risks.
Astrup, A. Yogurt and Dairy Product Consumption to Prevent Cardiometabolic Diseases: Epidemiologic and Experimental Studies. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2014; 99(5): 1235S-1242S.
Bhavadharini, B. et al. Association of Dairy Consumption with Metabolic Syndrome, Hypertension and Diabetes in 147, 812 Individuals from 21 Countries. British Medical Journal Open Diabetes and Research Care. 2020; 8:e00826.
Rautianinen, S. et al. Dairy Consumption in Association with Weight Change and Risk of Becoming Overweight or Obese in Middle-aged and Older Women: A Prospective Cohort Study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2016; 103(4): 979-988.
By Lauren Sorel, MGH Dietetic Intern
Mindfulness is a commonly used term these days - it means having enhanced awareness of the present moment. It is associated with improved stress management and quality of life.
Mindful eating is mindfulness targeted at behaviors that promote eating with attention and awareness. Mindful eating is linked to a health body mass index (BMI) and can reduce distracted eating habits that lead to unnecessary food consumption.
As many people continue to work from home, incorporating mindfulness can help reduce anxiety around eating and support productivity.
Here are some tips to incorporate mindfulness into your work routine:
Durukan A and A Gul. Mindful Eating: Differences of Generations and Relationship of Mindful Eating with BMI. International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science. 2019; 18: 100172.
Framson, C et al. Development and Validation of the Mindful Eating Questionnaire. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2010; 109(8): 1439-1444.
Fung TT, Long MW, Hung P, Cheung LW. An Expanded Model for Mindful Eating for Health Promotion and Sustainability: Issues and Challenges for Dietetics Practice. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2016; 116(7): 1081-1086.
Mantzios, M and JC Wilson. Mindfulness, Eating Behaviours, and Obesity: A Review and Reflection on Current Findings. Current Obesity Reports. 2015; 4(1): 141-146.
Winkens, LH, et el. The Mindful Eating Behavior Scale: Development and Psychometric Properties in a Sample of Dutch Adults Aged 55 Years and Older. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2018; 118(7):1277-1290.
By Cameron Allen McDonald, MGH Dietetic Intern
Studies suggest that even mild dehydration - a water loss of 1 to 2% - may affect how well our brains function.* Dehydration can also cause cramping, especially for those participating in sports like tennis, soccer, and cycling.
For most of us, the best way to hydrate is with water. Eating regular meals also helps support hydration through the consumption of electrolytes like sodium, chloride, and potassium in our food.
That said, hydrating with drinks that contain electrolytes may be helpful for some people. For instance exercisers who experience heavy sweating, especially those participating in high intensity activities in hot weather, may benefit from a drink that include electrolytes.
Some people may be concerned about sports drinks that contain artificial coloring and added sugar. Luckily, you can also make a hydrating electrolyte drink from home - check out the recipe below.
Homemade Electrolyte Drink
provides 80 mg sodium and 60 mg potassium per cup
*A loss of 2% body weight is 3 pounds for a 150-pound person.
If you are exercising for longer than an hour at a high intensity, you may benefit from commercial sports drinks - they contain a specialized ratio of electrolytes, plus added carbohydrates to help with proper fueling. Also, if you have a medical condition, like kidney disease or high blood pressure, talk to your doctor or dietitian before making any significant changes to your beverage intake.
Huang WC, Tung YT, Wu MS, et al. Low-Osmolality Carbohydrate–Electrolyte Solution Ingestion Avoid Fluid Loss and Oxidative Stress after Exhaustive Endurance Exercise. Antioxidants (Basel). 2020; 9(4):336.
Riebl SK and BM Dav. The Hydration Equation: Update on Water Balance and Cognitive Performance. The American College of Sports Medicine Health & Fitness Journal. 2013; 17(6): 21–28.
Sawka MN, Burke LM, and Eichner R, et al. American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. Exercise and Fluid Replacement. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2007; 39(2):377-390
By Courtney Cayer, MGH Dietetic Intern
Are you or someone you know struggling with having enough food to eat? In Eastern Massachusetts, 1 out of 11 of our community members is at risk for hunger. Hunger affects people from many different backgrounds, especially during a pandemic.
Need extra support? Here are some resources that can help:
The Greater Boston Food Bank
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
COVID-19 Food Resources in Boston
Need more help?
Call Project Bread's FoodSource hotline at 1-800-645-8333. They can help determine if you are eligible for SNAP and assist in finding other resources in your area. They have material available in 160 languages too.
Ending Hunger. The Greater Boston Food Bank. Accessed May 2020.
By Alysia Vega, MGH Dietetic Intern
Commonly used herbs, like sage, rosemary, and thyme, contain protective plant chemicals that may help fight chronic diseases, like heart disease and cancer. These compounds have been shown to attack inflammation and may inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
Aim to optimize the potential benefits of herbs by eating them regularly. One way to do this is to grow them at home.
Tips for starting an indoor garden:
Looking for starter plants? Check out your local home improvement or garden store online.
Chohan, M, Naughton DP, Jones L, Opara El. An Investigation of the Relationship Between the Anti-inflammatory Activity, Polyphenolic Content, and Antioxidant Activities of Aooked and In Vitro Digested Culinary Herbs. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. 2012;2012:627843.
Jiang, T. Health Benefits of Culinary Herbs and Spices. Journal of AOAC International. 2019; 102(2): 395-411.
MacCaskey M and B Marken. Gardening for Dummies. New York, NY: Wiley Publishing.2006.
Opara M and M Chohan.Culinary Herbs and Spices: their Bioactive Properties, the Contribution of Polyphenols and the Challenges in Deducing their True Health Benefits. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2014; 15(10): 19183-19202.
Tapsell, L et al. Health Benefits of Herbs and Spices: the Past, the Present, the Future. Medical Journal of Australia. 2006; 185(4): S1-S24.
By Kristin Otto, Dietetic Intern
Though there are no major shortages of food in this country, canned and frozen foods may be difficult to find due to consumer stockpiling. Fear not - fresh foods can also be frozen at home. Refer to our chart below to learn how to freeze them.
Plus Here's 4 Tips to Make Your Produce Last Longer:
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions. FDA. Accessed March 2020.
Demichele, K. How to Store Fruits and Vegetables. Cook's Illustrated. 2019. Accessed March 2020.
Refrigerator and Freezer Storage Chart. FDA. 2018. Accessed March 2020.
The Big Thaw - Safe Defrosting Methods for Consumers. USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. 2013. Accessed March 2020.
By Kylie Sakaida, MS, RD, LDN
Avoid unnecessary trips to the grocery store by making use of long-lasting ingredients. To create a supportive meal, mix and match simple combinations of starch, produce, protein, and healthy fats (like olive oil and olives).
1. Utilize Tortillas to Make a Variety of Quesadillas and Tacos
PROTEIN OPTIONS: black, pinto, or garbanzo beans, frozen shrimp, or cheese
PRODUCE OPTIONS: frozen spinach, peppers, or broccoli and jarred salsa
Tip: frozen produce often has just as many - if not more - vitamins than fresh
2. Use Leftover Grains (Like Rice or Quinoa) for a Stir-fry
PROTEIN OPTIONS: tofu or eggs
PRODUCE OPTIONS: frozen broccoli, peas, or peppers and canned vegetables like baby corn or mushrooms
3. Get Creative with Pasta
PROTEIN OPTIONS: white beans, chickpeas, anchovies, or tuna
PRODUCE OPTIONS: garlic and onions, canned tomatoes (or tomato paste), dried mushrooms and herbs (like basil, oregano, or thyme), jarred roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and frozen broccoli or spinach
Tip: try this pasta with chickpeas recipe, which utilizes only pantry ingredients
By Kylie Sakaida, MS, RD, LDN
Getting enough vitamin A, C, and E is important for maintaining a healthy immune system. Most of us don't need supplements to do this. In fact, you can support your immune system even while minimizing grocery store trips.
Here's how to stock your kitchen with healthy foods that have low perishability:
Labeling Daily Values. NIH Dietary Supplement Label Database. Accessed April 2020.
USDA Nutrient Database Laboratory. Accessed April 2020.
Vitamin A. NIH: Office of Dietary Supplements. Last updated February 14 2020. Accessed March 2020.
Vitamin C. NIH: Office of Dietary Supplements. Last updated February 27 2020. Accessed March 2020.
Vitamin E. NIH: Office of Dietary Supplements. Last updated February 28 2020. Accessed March 2020.
By Kristine Miklos, MS, RD, LDN
Approximately one-third of the world’s food supply is lost or wasted every year. Fruits and vegetables have the highest waste of any food, so we’ve gathered a few tips to help pack produce onto your plate and divert it from the dumpster.
Root Vegetables: Get Soup Savvy
Blending root vegetables is a quick, easy way to savor the flavors of the season. (They are easily frozen this way too.)
Leafy Greens: Wilted? That Works!
Sauteing leafy greens is a useful cooking strategy when their crispness begins to decline.
Cauliflower: Go Halfsies with Grains
Cauliflower’s chameleon-like flavor makes it one of the most versatile vegetables out there.
FAO. Cutting Food Waste to Feed the World. 2011. Last accessed 2020.