We have all heard that fiber is not only good for the body, but also the mind, and that we need to increase fiber in our diet, but do you understand why we need it and how it benefits our health? Here is some information on this amazing nutrient.
What is fiber?
Dietary fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate that is found in foods. We lack the digestive enzymes required to break these carbohydrates, so they pass through most of the digestive system unchanged. There are two types of fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Dietary fiber is mostly found in plant foods, including vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, and nuts and seeds.
Soluble fiber blends with water in the gut, forming a gel-like substance, and it includes plant pectin and gums. It can reduce blood sugar spikes, may reduce blood cholesterol, and has many metabolic health benefits. Since soluble fiber draws water into the gut, it also softens stools and supports regular bowel movements. Most plants contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, but in different amounts. Here is a list of foods that are high in soluble fiber:
Insoluble fiber is different from soluble fiber in that it does not dissolve in water and includes plant cellulose and hemicellulose. This type of dietary fiber attracts water into your stool, making it softer and easier to pass. It can help promote bowel health and regularity and it also supports insulin sensitivity and therefore may help reduce risk for diabetes. As mentioned in the previous weekly ad, most plants contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, but in different amounts. Here is a list of foods that are high in insoluble fiber:
A high-fiber diet appears to reduce the risk of developing various conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, diverticular disease, constipation and colon cancer. Fiber is also important for the health of the digestive system and for lowering cholesterol. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends a daily consumption of:
While the message of increasing fiber is everywhere these days, Americans are still only consuming, on average, 15 grams of fiber on any given day, and therefore majority of Americans may not be receiving all of the great benefits this nutrient has to offer, such as helping maintain a healthy gut and protecting against chronic disease. Here are some easy ways to increase fiber:
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Today, February 1st, is National Wear Red Day in support of women’s health! This day kicks off American Heart Month. Wearing red brings awareness and supports mothers, sisters, and friends with cardiovascular disease. This campaign started in 2004 when the American Heart Association took on the challenge of raising awareness about the number 1 cause of death in women (1).
Heart disease and stroke kill one in three women and these diseases are 80% preventable. It is important to get checked by your doctor, know your numbers and also know your risk. It is also important to know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and stroke as it can be more difficult to detect for women (1,2).
Signs and symptoms of a Heart Attack in Women (1)
IF YOU HAVE ANY OF THESE SIGNS, CALL 9-1-1 AND GET TO A HOSPITAL RIGHT AWAY
Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke in Women (1)
IF YOU HAVE ANY OF THESE SIGNS, CALL 9-1-1 AND GET TO A HOSPITAL RIGHT AWAY.
To support Go Red for Women, all you have to do is wear red or you can donate to Go Red for Women, either through their website or at one of our Registers at Mackenthun’s! If you would like to donate online, just click the following link: donate to Go Red for Women
Avocados are are often referred to as a superfood thanks to their healthy profile. This unique, nutrient-dense fruit, is a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids, specifically oleic acid, which is considered a heart-healthy fat. Some of the most abundant nutrients in avocados include: vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin E; while nutrients of smaller amounts include magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorus, vitamins A, B1, B2 and B3 (1). Avocados are a low-carb friendly plant food as 7g of the 9g of carbohydrates making up the fruit are fiber, making it a net carb of 2 (1). They also contain some carotenoids (a phytonutrient), and thanks to their fat content, the body can get a good absorption of the carotenoids that they contain. Avocados can also enhance the absorption of carotenoids from other foods (sweet potatoes, carrots, leafy greens) if eaten together. Other phytonutrients in avocados include phytosterols and polyhydroxylated alcohols (2). Thanks to all of these nutrients, there are many health benefits that avocados may provide, including:
They contain more potassium than bananas. Potassium helps maintain electrical gradients in the body’s cells and therefore is involved in several important functions. Many studies have shown that a higher potassium intake is linked to reduced blood pressure. This can help lower the risk factors for heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure (1).
Reduced inflammation. Oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid found in avocado, as well as olive oil, has been associated with reduced inflammation and shown to have beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer (2).
May aid in weight loss, reduce blood sugar spikes and reduce the risk of many diseases. Avocados are rich in fiber, both soluble and insoluble, which can contribute to weight loss, reduce blood sugar spikes and is linked to a lower risk of many diseases. The soluble fiber feeds the friendly gut bacteria while insoluble fiber helps aid in digestion, helping the food pass more quickly through the stomach and intestines (2).
Eating avocados can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Several studies have shown that avocados can reduce total cholesterol levels, reduce blood triglycerides, lower LDL (bad cholesterol) cholesterol and increase HDL (good cholesterol) cholesterol (2).
Eating avocado or avocado oil with vegetables can significantly increase the absorption of antioxidants (2).
Avocados may contribute to eye health. Avocados are high in antioxidants, such as the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. These two carotenoids are very important for eye health and have been linked to a reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration (2).
Avocados are linked to many health benefits. Not only are these considered a superfood because of their health profile, but they are also delicious and can be used in many dishes, or consumed on their own. Avocados are best when they are in their raw, unheated form as it preserves the health benefits. However, if you plan on using avocado in a recipe that requires heating, it is recommended that you use the lowest possible temperature and least amount of cooking time that works with the recipe so that you minimize the damage to its unique fats (1). One approach is to add the avocado to a dish after it has been cooked. Some ways of incorporating avocado into the diet are listed below (1):
When choosing an avocado, look for one that is ripe. A ready-to-eat avocado is slightly soft but should not have any dark sunken spots or cracks. However, a firmer, less mature fruit can be ripened at home and may be less likely to have bruises (2). Hass Avocados are the DIetitian’s Choice for the weekly ad of 1/25/19-1/31/19. Come pick some up in-store or online for $0.99 each. If shopping online, click the following link to add avocado to your cart: Avocados
Romaine lettuce had a rough go in 2018, and that may have scared some people from consuming the green vegetable again. Despite the previously nerve-wracking news surrounding this food, romaine lettuce can make a delicious and nutrient-packed part of one’s diet and is well in the clear to consume once again.
The vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber found in romaine lettuce are great for the prevention or alleviation of many common health issues. This vegetable is an excellent source of vitamin A (mainly through beta-carotene, the pro-vitamin A carotenoid), vitamin K, folate, and molybdenum. Romaine is also a good source of manganese, potassium, copper, and iron as well as biotin, vitamin B1 and vitamin C (1).
Here is a brief overview of the importance of these nutrients (2,3,4,5,6,7,8):
Thanks to all of these great nutrients in romaine lettuce, this vegetable may help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and arthritis due to the amount of antioxidants it contains. Leafy greens are also often considered the best natural vegetable source of vitamin K, which may help prevent bone loss. The folate, vitamin C and vitamin A, as well as the fiber can potentially boost heart health by increasing blood flow, prevent build=up in the artery walls, help prevent blood clots, heart attack and stroke. All of the amazing nutrients can also help lead to a boost in immunity and several of them help aid digestion and intestinal health.
If you get tired of salads, romaine lettuce can also be used as an excellent covering for wraps or to substitute sandwich bread, as a topping for tacos or chilli, and it is even hearty enough to add to stir fry dishes - just make it the last ingredient you add so that it does not cook too long (2).
Romaine Hearts are the Dietitian’s Choice for the weekly ad of 1/18/19-1/24/19. Stop into Mackenthun’s to pick some up or you can add it to your online shopping cart by clicking the following link: Romaine
We are freshly into the New Year, and now is a great time to take the first step this year and have your overall health checked over by your doctor. Chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, are responsible for 7 of every 10 deaths among Americans each year and account for 75% of the nation’s health spending. These chronic disease can be largely preventable through the use of preventive care services. Preventive care is critical to your overall health, and yet nationally, Americans use preventive services at about half the recommended rate. Eating healthy, exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco, and receiving preventive services are just a few examples of ways that people can stay healthy. The right preventive care at every stage of life helps all Americans stay healthy, avoid or delay the onset of disease, keep diseases they already have from becoming worse or debilitating, lead productive lives and reduce costs (1).
Preventive services include screenings, exams, tests, and immunizations that identify health problems early on so you can take action to keep them from becoming chronic conditions or to lessen the progression of such diseases (2). Listed below are a few examples of preventive care (2).
The benefits of preventive health care are important in curtailing chronic diseases, and there are some lifestyle changes you can make on your own to maintain good health and well-being. These include: smoking cessation, moderate alcohol use, eating a well-balanced diet, and exercising at least three days. However, Not everyone can achieve these goals, which is why it is important to see your doctor for regular checkups. The goal of preventive medicine is to provide you with great quality of life and allow you to enjoy your life while feeling your best.
Since we are now into the colder months of the year here in Minnesota, the intensity and duration of sunlight exposure is greatly lowered. This means that we are receiving less vitamin D from sunlight, which is our greatest source of the vitamin. Vitamin D is essential to our health as it serves many roles within the body. During this time of year, it is important to make sure we are still receiving enough of this vitamin (recommendation is 600 IU per day), which typically means increasing the amount of vitamin D foods we consume or adding a supplement. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that:
While the sun is the main and best source for this vitamin, you can also get vitamin D through fortified and naturally occurring foods which include:
We are in the midst of the winter season, and since we live in Minnesota, that means this time of the year can get brutally cold, icy and snowy, making exercise fall to the wayside. However, it is crucial that we still keep up our regular physical activity as the advantages to our health and wellbeing are too great to be put on hold, even if the couch full of warm blankets seems to be calling our name. Regular workouts improve mood, increase energy levels and also help you sleep better at night. Here are some tips to help you stay active this winter: