Diets and Weight Loss, Foods, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Calorie Counts on Menus May Be Trimming Americans’ Waistlines

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Calorie Counts on Menus May Be Trimming Americans’ Waistlines

fastfood

With roughly 40 percent of Americans now obese, new research finds that one strategy may be helping Americans stay slim: calorie counts on restaurant menus.

Following the passage of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, chain restaurants with 20 or more franchises must now list a meal’s calorie count on their menus and order boards.

And some cities and states — including New York City, Philadelphia and Seattle, and all of California, Massachusetts and Oregon — have gone a step further, imposing broad calorie label mandates in full-service restaurants.

Now, a snapshot of the ordering habits in two full-service, sit-down restaurants suggests the legislative moves are having an impact.

“We conducted an experiment with over 5,500 diners in real-world restaurants and found that calorie labels led customers to order 3 percent fewer calories,” said study author John Cawley. The drop amounted to about 45 fewer calories consumed per meal.

“This was due to reductions in calories ordered as appetizers and entrees,” he added, with little change seen in the calorie count of either drinks or desserts.

That second finding struck Cawley, a professor in the departments of policy analysis and management, and economics at Cornell University, as surprising.

“Before we started, I expected that people would reduce calories in desserts, but they didn’t,” he said.

Why?

“In interpreting that, it’s important to remember that people will change their behavior when the information is new or surprising,” he explained. “People may have already known that desserts are high-calorie and not cut back, but been surprised by the number of calories in appetizers and entrees, and so reduced calories there.”

Cawley calculated that over a three-year period, the calorie cut would lead to weight loss in the range of one pound.

“Not large,” he acknowledged, “but it’s also a cheap policy, and philosophically it’s attractive to allow people to make informed decisions.”

What’s more, “the vast majority of people support having calorie labels on menus, and those who were exposed to them expressed even higher support,” he added.

The findings were published recently as a report issued by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private nonprofit research organization.

Both restaurants in the study were located on a university campus.

Dining parties were randomly given a menu with or without calorie-count labels. About 43 percent of the study participants were men. The average age was 34, and about two-thirds were white.

Appetizers contained between 200 to 910 calories, entrees contained 580 to 1,840 calories, and desserts contained 420 to 1,150 calories. Drinks ranged from 100 to 370 calories.

Beyond the 3 percent calorie drop linked to the labeling, the researchers also found that consumer support for labeling went up by almost 10 percent among patrons who were given labeled menus.

And restaurant revenue did not seem to be affected by the type of menu offered, despite long-voiced industry concerns that calorie counts might undermine a food establishment’s bottom line.

Lona Sandon is an associate professor in the department of clinical nutrition with the school of health professions at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. She said the study makes it “apparent that some people at least pay attention” to labels.

But the move is just “one piece in the big puzzle of addressing the public health problem of obesity,” she said.

“I do not see a drastic change in overweight and obesity rates anytime soon as a result of the menu labeling,” Sandon added.

“On the positive side, it is making people more aware. It may also be making restaurant owners and chefs more aware, which could lead to them putting more healthier options on the menu,” she said. “Between the labeling and changes in recipes, we could get more impact.”

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Foods, Uncategorized

Creamy Southwest Chicken

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Creamy Southwest Chicken : Low Carb

southwestshicken-56d5d9be3df78cfb37da4765

 

Low carb chicken recipes are a must-have for many on low carb diets. This creamy chicken skillet dish is one you can have on the table in 20 minutes, from prep time to finished product, using canned green chilies and shredded cheese for enhanced flavor. This is also one of those dishes you can still serve to family members who may not be on the low carb diet you’re on. Just add their desired side dish, with your low carb options at the same time. The chilies are mild, so this isn’t a spicy dish, but it is a tasty one. Serve with refried beans and/or a salad and sliced avocado. To give it some heat and spice things up, add red pepper flakes or sriracha.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium chicken breast (boneless, skinless)
  • 1/4 cup onion (minced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 4.5 ounce can green chiles (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup cheddar (shredded, or jack cheese)

Preparation

1) Heat large skillet with oil over medium heat.

2) Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper. Saute until brown on both sides, adding onions about ​halfway through.

3) Add garlic and cook for another minute.

4) If needed, deglaze the pan with a little water.

5) Add green chilies and cream, and simmer until chicken is done on both sides and the sauce is thickened.

6) Top with shredded cheddar or jack cheese, and serve when cheese melts.

Optional garnish: avocado slices or cilantro.

Suggested Additions: Add low carb veggies such as chopped broccoli or cauliflower to boost fiber; use feta cheese and sun-dried tomatoes instead of cheddar or jack.

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Chicken Marsala

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Healthier Chicken Marsala

chickenmarsala-56a5c27f5f9b58b7d0de59eb

Marsala is a popular wine in Sicily, Italy. Chicken Marsala is made with a wine reduction sauce and originated in the late 1800’s with families living in Italy. As restaurants picked up on the easy-to-make dish, Americans took notice, and it is now popular in the United States. The meat in Chicken Marsala (or Veal Marsala) is pounded flat and floured. While you can sprinkle some flour over the meat to help in browning, this recipe doesn’t include it). You can use chicken breast tenderloins (quicker and less expensive) as a simple trick to make this dish cook up even quicker. Be sure to use dry Marsala wine, not sweet, to save calories.

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast cutlets
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 cup crimini or porcini mushroom slices
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry Marsala wine
  • 2 tablespoon minced Italian (flat leaf) parsley
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (or chicken bouillon equivalent)

 

Preparation

1. If desired, pound chicken between two pieces of wax paper or plastic (use anything from an old wine bottle to a small heavy pot for this). Season chicken with salt and pepper.

2. Heat oil in a skillet and add chicken. Pan fry chicken for 5 minutes on each side until golden, turning once until done. Remove, and cover with foil to keep warm.

3. Add onion and mushrooms to the pan (add a little more oil if needed), cook until onion is translucent and mushrooms are soft(approximately 5 minutes).

4. Add wine to pan and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.

5. At this point, judge the amount of liquid for sauce for chicken. If you need more, add a bit of broth. Taste, and adjust seasonings.

6. Pour vegetables and sauce over chicken, and sprinkle with parsley.

 

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Foods to Eat When You Have Hypothyrodism

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Foods to Eat When You Have Hypothyrodism

 

Eat Right to Support Thyroid Function

When you have hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, symptoms can include fatigue, depression, constipation, and other more serious health concerns. Fortunately, eating certain foods can help boost the effectiveness of your thyroid — a little butterfly-shaped gland in your neck with a big role in how well your body works.

The thyroid produces hormones that regulate mood, metabolism, energy levels, body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Hypothyroidism occurs when this gland isn’t producing enough hormones. Along with taking your thyroid medication, you can bolster thyroid function with a well-balanced diet that includes lots of produce and protein, among other healthy foods, says Gregory B. Dodell, MD, an endocrinologist in New York City. The next time you’re at the grocery store, look for these seven nutrient-rich foods.

salmon

Fish

The omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish such as wild salmon, trout, tuna, or sardines make this food an excellent choice for lunch or dinner, says Virginia Turner, MS, RD, LDN, clinical nutrition manager at The University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville. Unmanaged hypothyroidism can increase the risk for heart disease as a result of higher levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol. “Omega-3s are known to decrease inflammation, help with immunity, and lower the risk for heart disease,” she adds. Fish is also a good source of the nutrient selenium, which is most concentrated in the thyroid. Selenium also helps decrease inflammation.

nuts

Nuts

Another great source of selenium, nuts make a handy snack that you can take anywhere. They also go well in salads or stir-fries. Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, and hazelnuts are all particularly high in selenium, which helps the thyroid function properly. With Brazil nuts, you only need to eat one or two; with other nuts, a small handful is enough to get your daily nutrients — and be sure to keep an eye on portion size, as nuts are also very high fat.

wholegrain.jpg

Whole Grains

Constipation is a common symptom of hypothyroidism. Whole-grain foods such as cereal, bread, pasta, and rice are high in nutrients in addition to fiber, which can help with bowel regularity. However, fiber can interfere with synthetic thyroid hormones, cautions Turner. Some people with hypothyroidism choose to avoid whole-grains altogether, but if you do choose to eat them, “the recommendation is to take your thyroid medication several hours before or after eating foods rich in dietary fiber,” she says.

fruitsandvegies.jpg

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

An early symptom of hypothyroidism is weight gain. Low-calorie, high-density foods such as fresh produce are the cornerstone of every successful weight loss program. Include either fresh fruits or veggies at each meal, if possible. Specific foods such as blueberries, cherries, sweet potatoes, and green peppers are also rich in antioxidants, nutrients that are known to lower risk for heart disease.

However, people with hypothyroidism may want to limit their intake of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cabbage, because they block thyroid function.

seaweed.jpg

Seaweed

Seaweed has a high concentration of iodine, an essential nutrient for thyroid function. “Iodine is the precursor for the production of thyroid hormone,” Dr. Dodell explains. Seaweed, packaged as nori, wakame, and dulse, can be used in sushi, soups, and salads. Another plus: Seaweed offers nutritional benefits of fiber, calcium, and vitamins A, B, C, E, and K.

It is possible to have too much iodine, which can worsen thyroid disease, Dodell cautions. However, according to the American Thyroid Association the likelihood of this is greater if you’re taking supplements that contain iodine. Be sure to talk with your physician before increasing your iodine intake.

 

Dairy as in EGGS

There is an association between vitamin D deficiency and Hashimoto’s disease, the most common cause of hypothyroidism, according to a study in the issue of August 2011 issue of the journal “Thyroid”. Eggs not only has added vitamin D, but also significant amounts of calcium, protein, and iodine. Because Hashimoto’s may also lead to changes that contribute to gut issues like heartburn, eggs with good bacteria may help regulate other bacteria, Dodell says.

beans

Beans

An inexpensive and versatile food, beans are a great source for sustained energy, which can be helpful if hypothyroidism leaves you feeling drained. Beans contain protein, antioxidants, complex carbohydrates, and loads of vitamins and minerals. They are also high in fiber, which can be beneficial if you suffer with constipation, a common side effect of hypothyroidism. If you’re new to beans, there are many varieties to try, all of which can be used as the base for entrees, as side dishes, and to enhance soups, salads, and stews. Just be sure not to overdo it — guidelines recommend that adults get 20 to 35 grams of fiber each day, but excess fiber can interfere with your hypothyroidism treatment.

 

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Protein Packed Chopped Salad

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Protein Packed Chopped Salad

 

proteinpackchoppedsalad.jpg

 

MAKES 1 LARGE SALAD

¾ cup romaine, finely chopped

¾ cup radicchio, finely chopped

1 hard-boiled egg, finely diced

1 chicken cutlet, grilled and finely diced

10 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters

½ cup cooked chickpeas

2 tablespoons chives, finely chopped

¼ cup crumbled blue cheese

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, or to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil, or to taste

salt and pepper

 

1. Combine romaine, radicchio, hard-boiled egg, grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, chives, and blue cheese in a bowl.

2. Toss with red wine vinegar and olive oil (add more if desired) and season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

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Why Should You Pick Steel Oats?

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Why Should You Eat Steel Oats and Not Quaker Oatmeal

 

steel oats

 

Oats are sold in more forms than any other grain. All of them are high in beta-glucan, a kind of fiber that has special cholesterol-lowering properties. Studies have shown that individuals with high cholesterol have reduced their total level by eight to 23 percent simply by consuming three grams of this soluble fiber per day – the amount you get in one bowl of oatmeal.

 

Steel-cut oats (also known as Irish or pinhead oats) are whole oats that have been chopped into two or three pieces with steel blades. Uncut, they are known as oat groats. Steel-cut oats and oat groats are the least processed forms available.

 

Rolled oats are made by steaming the groats, then rolling them, steaming them again, and, finally, toasting them resulting in the familiar thin flakes. Though processed, rolled oats are still a whole grain. The cooking time for steel-cut oats is 20 to 40 minutes, compared to 10 minutes for rolled oats and 45 to 60 minutes for oat groats.

 

I prefer steel-cut oats because they digest more slowly than rolled ones. Like all other grains in whole or cracked form, steel-cut oats rank lower than rolled oats on the glycemic index (GI), which ranks carbohydrate foods on the basis of how rapidly they affect blood sugar (glucose). The reason for this difference is that it takes longer for digestive enzymes to reach the starch inside the thicker pieces, slowing down their conversion to sugar.

 

The higher on the glycemic index a food ranks, the more likely it is to cause spikes in blood sugar. Over time, these rapid fluctuations can cause genetically susceptible people (many of us) to develop insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. Insulin resistance is associated with obesity, high blood pressure, elevated blood fats, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

 

You can be sure you’re eating a whole grain with a low GI ranking if you have to chew it or can see the grains or pieces of grains. The more your jaw has to work, the better.

 

Oat bran – the finely ground meal of oat groats’ outer layer – has the health benefits of a whole grain with its high fiber and low starch content. It makes a good addition to other foods, especially baked goods. Despite its short cooking time and smooth texture, it won’t spike blood sugar levels, thanks to its soluble fiber.

 

While I recommend steel-cut oats, “old fashioned” rolled oats are preferable to quick-cooking ones or instant oatmeal. Those products do not provide whole, intact grains, and some brands of the latter contain partially hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors and colors, or a lot of added sugar and salt.

 

Because oats have a higher fat content than other grains, they go rancid more easily. For that reason, whether you’re buying oat groats, steel-cut oats, rolled oats or oat bran, buy in smaller quantities, and store these foods in the refrigerator.

 

 

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Cauliflower Steak

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Cauliflower Steak

cauliflowersteak.jpg

 

One of the components of a heart-healthy dietary pattern that helps lower blood pressure is consuming less meat. Poultry and fish are better than red meat and processed meat, but vegetables are even better.

 

One of the best ways to make vegetables feel hearty enough for the main dish is to cut them into “steaks” so that you still feel like you’re eating an entree-sized portion instead of just a bunch of side dishes. The other way is to add tons of flavor so that you feel satisfied.

 

Grilling the cauliflower instead of baking or sautéing it adds some nice flavor, but the real punch comes from the bold Romesco sauce. Roasting the bell pepper, tomato, garlic, and almonds bring out natural sweetness that pairs beautifully with the smoky paprika. It packs such a huge burst of flavor that you would never guess there is no salt in it.

 

Ingredients

2 tablespoons raw almonds

2 cloves garlic

1/2 large red bell pepper

1 Roma tomato

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 small head cauliflower

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish

Preparation

To make the romesco sauce, heat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and almonds on the baking sheet and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, or until almonds are toasted.

Remove almonds, rotate peppers and tomatoes, and stir garlic. Return to the oven and continue roasting, another 10 minutes, or until garlic and tomatoes are soft.

Remove garlic and tomatoes and keep roasting peppers, rotating occasionally, until skins are blistered.

 

Remove peppers and place in a bowl with tomatoes. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes.

Gently peel skins away from peppers and tomatoes. Discard skins and pepper seeds and stem.

Place all ingredients for the sauce in a high powered blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Cut cauliflower vertically into 1-inch steaks. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder and pepper.

Heat a grill or grill pan to medium heat. Grill cauliflower steaks for 4-5 minutes per side. You want them to be slightly charred on the outside but not mushy on the inside.

Spoon about 1/4 cup of Romesco over each cauliflower steak and sprinkle with parsley.

Ingredient Variations and Substitutions

Be sure to buy smoked paprika, because regular paprika doesn’t have the same effect- your sauce will just be bland without it.

 

Cooking and Serving Tips

To ensure you get a complete protein profile in this meal, pair the cauliflower steaks with quinoa or black beans and perhaps a green veggie.

Double or triple the recipe for the sauce to keep in your refrigerator to spoon over chicken, fish, or eggs for a quick and flavorful dinner.

Each serving should be two steaks covered with about 1/2 cup of sauce.

 

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Foods, Health and Disease, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Extreme Eating Award Goes To….

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Extreme Eating Award

 

Restaurants serve up salt, fat and a whole lot of calories in their menus, the Center for Science in the Public Interest says in its Xtreme Eating Awards.

A breakfast burrito might sound a little healthy, with fillings like potatoes, avocados and even veggies in the form of peppers and onions.

extremeeating.jpg

 Public Interest XTreme Eating Awards Winner is: Cheesecake Factory’s Breakfast Burrito is loaded with bacon & sausage & delivers more than a day’s worth of calories & 3 days’ worth of fat

But the Cheesecake Factory’s Breakfast Burrito is also loaded with bacon and sausage and delivers more than a whole day’s worth of calories and three days’ worth of artery-clogging fat, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

 

“It’s like eating seven McDonald’s Sausage McMuffins,” the CSPI said.

 

The CSPI released its annual Xtreme Eating Awards on Wednesday — a not-so-tongue-in-cheek poke at some of the excesses Americans can find at fast-food joints, in restaurants and in movie theaters.

 

“These dishes go the extra mile … just so more of us can start looking for extra-large-size apparel. Bravo!” the group says in its report.

 

“Many people may not realize that eating out almost always means overeating,” CSPI senior nutritionist Lindsay Moyer told NBC News.

 

“The Xtreme Eating Awards highlight some of the worst restaurant meals in America,” she added. “These are dishes that have oftentimes about 2,000 calories or more.”

 

The federal government and most health groups suggest that the average person eat 2,000 calories a day or less. One day’s sodium limit should be 2,300 milligrams, saturated fat should be kept to 20 grams or less and sugar intake should be kept to 50 grams or lower.

 

But even foods labeled as snacks can take people beyond those limits.

 

At the AMC movie chain, the Bavarian Legend Soft Pretzel “weighs in at a pound and a half of mostly white flour, with tubs of nacho ‘cheese’ and mustard for dipping,” the CSPI report reads.

 

“The 9-inch-wide pretzel has a day’s calories (1,920), three-quarters of a day’s saturated fat (15 grams), and more than three days’ worth of sodium (7,600 mg).”

 

Chili’s Honey-Chipotle Crispers and Waffles, the group says, doses restaurant patrons with more than a day’s worth of calories, two days’ worth of saturated fat and more than three days’ sodium allowance.

 

“This chicken and waffles on steroids is like eating five Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts smothered in 30 McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets and five packets of barbecue sauce,” the group says.

 

The Cheesecake Factory pushed back, noting that people may be eating out as a special occasion. It says it also offers lower-calorie options.

 

“Many of our guests come in and want to celebrate and not be concerned with calories. Others want to share their dish — and we love it when guests share — that’s a great sign that our portions are generous – and a large percentage of our guests take home leftovers for lunch the next day,” the company said in a statement.

 

“For our calorie-conscious guests we have our award-winning SkinnyLicious Menu featuring nearly 50 delicious choices with 590 calories or less — which is actually larger than many restaurants’ entire menus.”

 

Moyer advises people to always look for such lower-calorie menu choices.

 

“Restaurant portions almost everywhere are out of control. It’s a good idea to either share a dish with someone else or take home half for later,” she said

 

“That’s why it’s so important that calories are now listed on chain restaurant menus. When you go out to eat, look for the calories.”

 

Restaurants are just trying to look generous, Moyer said.

 

“The other thing I find is that restaurants pile all sorts of cheap ingredients on a plate to make it seem like a good value. It’s often large portions of white flour and cheese. At the very least you can ask restaurants to use less cheese or leave it off entirely,” she said.

 

And most Americans eat out regularly now, not just as a treat or to celebrate special occasions. This regular overeating is helping drive the obesity epidemic. Nearly three-quarters of Americans are overweight or obese.

 

“We pick on these extreme meals, but even many typical dishes in restaurants are a threat to Americans’ health because they raise the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease,” Moyer said.

 

“We’re at the point now where about 45 percent of American adults have pre-diabetes or diabetes.”

 

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Foods, Health and Disease, Uncategorized

The Most Toxic Food In The World

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The Most Toxic Food in the World

farmsalmon

Fish are an important part of the ecosystem and the human diet. Unfortunately, overfishing has depleted many fish stocks, and the proposed solution — fish farming — is creating far more problems than it solves. Not only are fish farms polluting the aquatic environment and spreading disease to wild fish, farmed fish are also an inferior food source, in part by providing fewer healthy nutrients; and in part by containing more toxins, which readily accumulate in fat.

 

Farmed Salmon = Most Toxic Food in the World

Salmon is perhaps the most prominent example of how fish farming has led us astray. Food testing reveals farmed salmon is one of the most toxic foods in the world, having more in common with junk food than health food. Studies highlighting the seriousness of the problem include:

 

  • A global assessment of farmed salmon published in 2004, which found 13 persistent organic pollutants in the flesh of the fish. On average, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) concentrations in farmed salmon was eight times higher than in wild salmon, prompting the authors to conclude that “Risk analysis indicates that consumption of farmed Atlantic salmon may pose health risks that detract from the beneficial effects of fish consumption.”

 

The International Agency for Research on Cancer and the Environmental Protection Agency classify PCBs as probably carcinogenic.

 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PCBs elicit a significant number of health conditions in animal studies, including cancer, immunosuppression, neurotoxicity and reproductive and developmental toxicity.3 Disturbingly, research suggests contaminated fish is the most common source of PCB exposure, as the chemicals accumulate and build up in the fat tissue.4

 

  • A 2005 investigation5 by another group of scientists concluded even relatively infrequent consumption of farmed salmon may be harmful to your health thanks to the elevated dioxin levels in the fish.

 

  • Toxicology researcher Jerome Ruzzin, who has tested a number of different food groups sold in Norway for toxins, discovered farmed salmon contain five times more toxins than any other food tested. (In light of his own findings, Ruzzin has stopped eating farmed salmon.)

 

  • A 2011 study6 published in PLOS ONE found chronic consumption of farmed salmon caused insulin resistance, glucose intolerance and obesity in mice, thanks to the persistent organic pollutants (POPs) found in the fish.

 

According to the authors, “Our data indicate that intake of farmed salmon fillet contributes to several metabolic disorders linked to Type 2 diabetes and obesity, and suggest a role of POPs in these deleterious effects. Overall, these findings may participate to improve nutritional strategies for the prevention and therapy of insulin resistance.”

 

Researchers Warn Farmed Salmon May Contain Fire Retardant Chemicals

Now, researchers warn7,8 farmed Atlantic salmon sold in the U.S. and U.K. may also contain polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), toxic POPs that have been restricted or banned in the U.S. and many European countries due to their toxic influence on child development.9 As reported by The Star,10 “[A] new study by the University of Pittsburgh has found evidence of PBDEs in food fed to farmed salmon — even in those in supposedly PBDE-free environments.”

 

PBDEs are a class of chemicals that for years were used as flame retardants, and while restrictions were placed on some of the chemicals in this class in 2004, they can still be found in older products — and in the environment. China, Thailand and Vietnam — three areas that process significant amounts of electronic waste — are known to have higher levels of PBDEs in the environment.

 

In more recent years, flame retardant pollution has raised serious concern, as these chemicals build up in the environment over time and are in many areas now found in both ground water and open waters.

 

Health risks associated with these chemicals, including PBDEs, include infertility, birth defects, neurodevelopmental delays,11 reduced IQ,12 hormone disruptions13 and cancer. In fact, flame retardant chemicals have been identified as one of 17 “high priority” chemical groups that should be avoided to reduce breast cancer.14,15

 

Toxic Fish Food Blamed for Farmed Salmon Toxicity

You’re probably familiar with the saying that “you are what you eat.” However, a key take-home message here is that “you are what your food eats.” In other words, whatever the animal you eat consumed, you consume also, which means you really need to know the source of the animals’ feed as well. In the case of farmed fish, toxins in the fish feed and environmental concentrations of the chemicals have been identified as the two primary culprits.

 

According to the authors, when the fish are raised in areas with high PBDE concentrations in the water, the feed becomes a relatively minor contributor. In PBDE-free waters, on the other hand, elevated concentrations of these toxins in the feed may be high enough to end up on your plate. As noted by lead author Carla Ng, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering:16

 

“Otherwise clean and well-regulated environments, contaminated feed can be thousands of times more significant than the location of the farm for determining the PBDE content of salmon fillets … The international food trade system is becoming increasingly global in nature and this applies to animal feed as well.

 

Fish farming operations may import their feed or feed ingredients from a number of countries, including those without advanced food safety regulations. The United States and much of Europe banned several PBDEs in 2004 because of environmental and public health concerns. PBDEs can act as endocrine disruptors and cause developmental effects. Children are particularly vulnerable.”

 

What Makes the Fish Feed so Toxic?

One of the main ingredients in farmed salmon feed is fatty fish such as eel, selected for their high protein and fat content. The problem is, many toxins readily bind to fat, and the fish feed industry is using fish deemed unfit for human consumption due to elevated toxicity. As you might expect, when the fish used in fish feed contain toxic levels of pollutants, they get incorporated into the feed pellets.

 

One significant source of fish for farmed salmon feed is the Baltic Sea, which is well-known for its elevated pollution levels. Nine industrialized countries dump their toxic waste into this closed body of water, which has rendered many Baltic Sea fish inedible. In Sweden, fish mongers are actually required to warn patrons about the potential toxicity of Baltic fish.

 

According to government recommendations, you should not eat fatty fish like herring more than once a week, and if you’re pregnant, fish from the Baltic should be avoided altogether. As mentioned by Ng, fish farms may also import their feed, or individual ingredients from other countries with lax regulations and significant pollution.

 

Toxic Manufacturing Processes Add to the Problem

Some of the toxicity also stems from the manufacturing process of the feed pellets. The fatty fish are first cooked, resulting in protein meal and oil. While the oil has high levels of dioxins and PCBs, a chemical called ethoxyquin is added to the protein powder as an “antioxidant,” which further adds to the toxicity of the final product. Ethoxyquin, developed as a pesticide by Monsanto in the 1950s, is one of the best kept secrets of the fish food industry — and one of the most toxic.

 

The use of ethoxyquin is strictly regulated on fruits, vegetables and in meat, but not in fish, because it was never intended for such use. Fish feed manufacturers never informed health authorities they were using this pesticide as a means to prevent the fats from oxidizing and going rancid, so its presence in farmed fish was never addressed. Disturbingly, testing reveals farmed fish can contain levels of ethoxyquin that are up to 20 times higher than the level allowed in fruits, vegetables and meats.

 

What’s more, the effects of this chemical on human health have never been established. The only research done on ethoxyquin and human health was a thesis by Victoria Bohne, a former researcher in Norway who discovered ethoxyquin can cross the blood-brain barrier and may have carcinogenic effects. Bohne was pressured to leave her research job after attempts were made to falsify and downplay her findings.

 

Environmental Pollution Is Also Affecting Wild Fish, Including Some Salmon

Salmon is one fish species looked to as an indicator of environmental conditions, and salmon have become increasingly toxic. While farmed salmon is by far the worst, even wild salmon can contain unwanted pollutants. In a study of salmon found in Puget Sound, researchers discovered 40 contaminants, including drugs, in the flesh of the fish.

 

Some of the drugs were found at levels known to interfere with growth, reproduction and behavior. No one knows exactly how this chemical cocktail affects the fish, especially as they are exposed in combination. In all, the study found 81 of 151 contaminants tested for in Puget Sound off the coast of Washington.

 

Aside from toxins already mentioned above, such as PCBs, PBDEs and other POPs, researchers have also found a long line of pesticides — including the long-banned DDT — at concerning levels in fish off the coast of California. And despite the Clean Water Act, enacted nearly 40 years ago, there are areas of the U.S. where the water is so contaminated with mercury that residents are warned to refrain from eating any locally caught fish.

 

Microplastic Pollution — Another Increasingly Common Seafood Hazard

The fish you eat may also come with a side order of microplastic,20 as 13 metric tons of plastic enter the waterways every year. Once consumed, microplastic particles tend to remain in the body and accumulate, becoming increasingly concentrated in the bodies of animals higher up the food chain.

 

Scientists are still unsure of the effect this may have on those who eat the fish, but common sense would suggest it might not be entirely harmless, considering the fact that microplastic fibers soak up toxins like a sponge, concentrating PCBs, flame retardant chemicals, pesticides and anything else found in the water.

 

Evidence also suggests these microscopic particles can cross cellular membranes, causing damage and inflammation inside the cell. According to a 2016 report21 by the British Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs [DEFRA], microplastics have been found in a wide variety of sea creatures, from zooplankton to whales and everything in between.

 

According to this report, “microplastics are present in seafood sold for human consumption, including mussels in North Sea mussel farms and oysters from the Atlantic.” Eating six oysters could introduce about 50 plastic microbeads into your body and, according to DEFRA, this kind of contamination may indeed “pose a threat to food safety.” Other studies have found one-third of the fish caught in the English Channel contain microbeads, as do 83 percent of scampi sold in the U.K.22

 

Nutritional Differences Between Farmed and Wild Salmon

As mentioned at the beginning, farmed salmon is also nutritionally less desirable than wild, which actually ties in with its toxicity. One significant nutritional difference is the fat content. Wild salmon contains about 5 to 7 percent fat, whereas the farmed variety can contain anywhere from 14.5 to 34 percent.

 

This elevated fat content is a direct result of the processed high-fat feed that farmed salmon are given, and since they contain more fat, they also accumulate higher amounts of toxins. Even when raised in similarly contaminated conditions, farmed salmon will absorb more toxins than the wild fish because of this.

 

But farmed salmon doesn’t just contain more fat overall; another nutritional travesty is its radically skewed ratios of omega-3 to omega-6 fats.23 Half a fillet of wild Atlantic salmon contains about 3,996 milligrams (mg) of omega-3 and 341 mg of omega-6.24 Half a fillet of farmed salmon from the Atlantic contains just a bit more omega-3 — 4,961 mg — but an astounding 1,944 mg of omega-6;25 more than 5.5 times more than wild salmon.

 

While you need both omega-3 and omega-6 fats, the ratio between the two is important and should ideally be about 1-to-1. The standard American diet is already heavily skewed toward omega-6, thanks to the prevalence of processed foods, and with farmed salmon, that unhealthy imbalance is further magnified rather than corrected.

 

A Norwegian report on farmed fish feed ingredients26 talks about the negative impacts of the antinutritional factors of plant proteins and other additives in the feed. Some of the most common ingredients in farmed fish feed include soybeans, rapeseed/canola oil, sunflower meal and oil, corn gluten meal from corn grains, wheat gluten, pulses (dry, edible seeds of field peas and faba beans), palm oil, and peanut meal and oil — none of which are natural wild salmon foods.

 

However, as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) explains,27 Atlantic farmed salmon feeds can also contain animal by-products from poultry, meat meal, blood and hydrolyzed feathers. Additives such as enzymes, crustacean products (to color the salmon flesh), vitamins and selenium are also added — and again, none these are ingredients that any wild salmon has ever encountered and all are about as far from a species-appropriate diet as you can get.

 

Salmon Farming Is Not a Green Solution

More than half of the fish Americans eat now comes from fish farms. Aquaculture promotes itself as a sustainable solution to overfishing, but when you consider it takes 1.5 to 8 kilograms (3.3 to 17.6 pounds) of wild fish to produce a single kilogram (2.2 pounds) of farmed salmon, you start to realize there are significant holes in that claim. In reality, the aquaculture industry is actually contributing heavily to the depletion of wild fish stocks rather than saving it.

 

A salmon farm can hold upward of 2 million salmon in a relatively small amount of space. As with land-based factory farms where animals are kept in crowded conditions, fish farms are plagued with diseases that spread rapidly among the stressed fish. Sea lice, pancreas disease and infectious salmon anemia virus have spread all across Norway, yet consumers have not been informed of these fish pandemics, and sale of diseased fish continues unabated.

 

To stave off disease-causing pests, a number of dangerous pesticides are used, including one known to have neurotoxic effects. Workers who apply this pesticide must wear full protective clothing, yet these chemicals are dumped right into open water, where it spreads with local currents.

 

The pesticides used have been shown to affect fish DNA, causing genetic effects. Estimates suggest about half of all farmed cod, for example, are deformed due to genetic mutations. What’s worse, female cod that escape from farms are known to mate with wild cod, spreading the genetic mutations and deformities into the wild population.

 

Genetically Modified Salmon May Hit US Grocers by 2019

It’s become quite clear that fish farms are not a viable solution to overfishing. If anything, they’re making matters worse, destroying the marine ecosystem at a far more rapid clip. Consumers also need to be aware that some farmed salmon may be genetically engineered (GE) to boot. AquaBounty salmon, engineered to grow twice as fast as typical farm-raised salmon, received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in November 2015, and could be on sale in the U.S. by 2019.

 

Crazy enough, the FDA is not regulating Aquabounty’s salmon as food. It chose to review it as a drug. All GE animals, it turns out, starting with this GE salmon, will be regulated under the new animal drug provisions of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, “because the recombinant DNA (rDNA) construct introduced into the animal meets the definition of a drug.” Yet the reason given for not requiring the fish to carry some form of GE label is that it’s nutritionally equivalent to conventional farm-raised Atlantic salmon.

 

The unnatural growth rate was achieved by inserting the DNA from two other fish, a growth-promoting gene from a Chinook salmon and a “promoter” gene from the eel-like ocean pout. This genetic tweaking results in fish with a chronic, continuous release of growth hormone. While a typical salmon might take up to 36 months to reach market size (and grow only in spurts during warm weather), AquaAdvantage GM salmon are ready for market in just 16 to 18 months.

 

The fish are being grown on land and have several other supposed safeguards in place to prevent both escape and breeding with wild populations but, in nature, nothing is foolproof. This became readily evident last year, when thousands of land-based Atlantic salmon escaped when the pens were broken asunder by a passing storm.

 

Are There Any Healthy Seafood Options Left?

So, what’s the answer? Unfortunately, the vast majority of fish — even when wild caught — is frequently too contaminated to eat on a frequent basis. Most major waterways in the world are contaminated with mercury, heavy metals, POPs and agricultural chemicals.

wildalaskansalmon.jpgWild Alaskan Salmon

This is why, as a general rule, I no longer recommend eating fish on a regular basis. There are exceptions, however. One is authentic wild-caught Alaskan salmon, the nutritional benefits of which I believe still outweigh any potential contamination. The risk of wild Alaskan salmon accumulating high amounts of mercury and other toxins is reduced because of its short life cycle, which is only about three years.

 

Alaskan salmon (not to be confused with Atlantic salmon) is not allowed to be farmed and is therefore always wild-caught. Canned salmon labeled “Alaskan salmon” is a less expensive alternative to salmon fillets. Remember that wild salmon is quite lean, so the fat marks — those white stripes you see in the meat — are on the thin side. If a fish is pale pink with wide fat marks, the salmon is likely farmed. Avoid Atlantic salmon, as salmon bearing this label are almost always farmed.

 

Another exception is smaller fish with short lifecycles, which also tend to be better alternatives in terms of fat content, such as sardines and anchovies. With their low contamination risk and higher nutritional value, they are a win-win alternative. Other good choices include herring and fish roe (caviar), which is full of important phospholipids that nourish your mitochondrial membranes.

 

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Foods, Uncategorized

Low Carb New York Ricotta Cheesecake

Health and Wellness Associates

EHS – Telehealth

 

Low Carb New York Ricotta Cheesecake

 ricottacheesecake.jpeg

Ingredients

24 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup extra-fine whole milk ricotta cheese (to refine, process in a food processor for 1 minute)

1/2 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cups sugar substitute (recommended: Splenda)

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon no sugar added vanilla extract

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 eggs

3 egg yolks

 

Directions

Special equipment: 1 (8-inch) springform cake pan

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

 

Spray the springform pan with nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside. In a shallow roasting pan big enough to fit the cake pan, pour about 1-inch of water and place it on the center rack of the oven to preheat.

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat softened cream cheese, ricotta, sour cream and sugar substitute on low speed for about 1 minute until well blended.

 

In a separate bowl, using a wire whisk, mix heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, eggs, and egg yolks until blended.

 

Turn the mixer on medium speed, and slowly pour the egg mixture into the cream cheese mixture. Beat just until blended and then turn off; be careful not to over-whip.

 

Pour batter into the greased springform pan. Place pan into the heated water bath. Bake for 15 minutes, and then lower the oven temperature to 275 degrees F. Continue baking for 1 1/2 hours, or until top is light golden brown and cake is pulling away from the sides of the pan. Turn the oven off when finished cooking and leave the cake in the oven to cool for 3 more hours. (This will keep the cake nice and tall.) Then remove cake and refrigerate before serving. Serve chilled.

 

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