Should Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Include Nuts in Their Diets?

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nuts, pcos, polycystic ovary syndrome, nutrition, diet

Eat nuts for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)? Image source: Nuts for Life – www.nutsforlife.com.au

One in sixteen young women is afflicted with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).  In PCOS the sex hormones get out of balance.  Many women experience a decrease in ovulation and grow facial hair.  Most will have small cysts grow on their ovaries.   PCOS affects a woman’s hormones, vascular health, fertility, menstrual cycle, and insulin production.  Women with PCOS are at an increased risk for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) as a result of insulin resistance due to the extra weight around their waist.  This condition affects 1 in 16 young women.  The cause of PCOS is not understood, however, it does seem to run in families.

Controlling blood sugar is critical for long-term health of women with PCOS.  It is helpful to follow a diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association.  This would include managing energy input, increasing exercise, and emphasizing carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.  Increase fiber to 28 grams per day and eat two or more servings of fish a day.

In addition to the above recommendations, nuts should be included in the diet.  Nuts are a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA’s), which are beneficial to plasma lipids.  Nuts are also a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber.  Fiber has a positive effect on serum glucose levels by slowing the absorption of glucose in the small intestine.  Nuts also increase satiety, this being very beneficial when trying to lose weight.  Walnuts have a high level of PUFA’s.  PUFA’s have been shown to increase insulin secretion.   In 2011, Nutrition and Metabolism published a study showing that fasting insulin was greater in those individuals who were given whole nuts.  The dual effect of increased insulin secretion and slowing of glucose absorption in the small intestines resulted in a decrease of blood glucose.   These positive results were also pointed out in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition during a study in which PCOS patients consumed 31 grams a day of nuts for 6 weeks.

In conclusion, women with PCOS may benefit by consuming about ¼ cup of nuts, including walnuts every day to help decrease blood glucose.  Controlling blood glucose in women at risk or who have T2DM is the first line of defense to long term medical problems.

WILTED BRUSSELS SPOUTS WITH WALNUTS

Source:  Mel Melcon, Los Angeles Times, December 23, 2009

6 servings

1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 Tablespoons walnut oil

Salt

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts

1 pound Brussels sprouts

  1. Prepare the Brussels sprouts:  Trim the dried bases and pull away any loose or discolored outer leaves.  Stand the sprout upright on the cutting board and slice it as thin as possible into coins.  Aim for pieces as thin as a quarter.
  2. In a small-lidded jar, combine the vinegar and minced shallot, and set aside for 10 minutes.  Add the mustard and walnut oil and shake well to make a smooth emulsion.  Taste and season with salt as needed.
  3. Heat the olive oil over high heat in a large nonstick skillet.  When the oil is very hot but not smoking, add the Brussels sprouts, sprinkle with on-half teaspoon salt and cook, tossing until the sprouts start to wilt, 2 to 3 minutes.  The texture should be chewy crisp rather than simply crisp.
  4. Immediately pour over the dressing and remove from the heat.  Continue tossing to evenly coat the sprouts with the dressing (they will only be very lightly coated).  Stir in the walnuts and serve either warm or at room temperature.

Each serving: 153 calories; 3 grams protein; 7 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 14 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 28 mg sodium

Written by:  Sherry Schulman, Student Intern for Professor Christi Coy, MS, RD, Saddleback College

Treat your kale right

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Are your treating your kale right?

By now, we’ve all heard why we should eat kale: it’s one of the most nutrient dense foods, containing high amounts of Vitamins A, C, K, as well as fiber, magnesium, iron and more calcium per calorie than milk.  But a more important question is how we are supposed to eat it!  The first time I tried kale, I simply chopped it up and threw it in a salad with an Italian vinaigrette.  I must have spent at least a half hour trying to chew my way through the fibrous leaves, determined to enjoy this so-called superfood.

I eventually finished my salad, but I had no desire to try this leafy green again in its raw form.  From then on I would steam or sauté any kale I purchased, which made the leaves more edible.  This method of preparation served me well for a few months, but I wanted to try new ways of preparing my kale.  I tried eating it raw a few more times with no success, until a friend offered to make me his special raw kale salad.  To my surprise, I was actually able to enjoy the salad, and finish in under a half hour!

So what was his secret?  First, know your kales.  There is Red Russian, Curly Leaf, Redbor, Lacinato, and other lesser known varieties.  The best for raw salads is Lacinato, due to its softer texture, flat leaves, and sweeter flavor when compared to other kales.  Second, de-rib the kale.  The spine down the leaf’s center can lead to a lengthy amount of chewing, so you’re best off removing it if you plan on consuming the leaf raw.

Once you have your de-ribbed Lacinato leaves, place them in a bowl with some olive oil and salt and begin the massage.  Like a massage relaxes us after a hard day’s work, it also “relaxes” the kale, breaking down fibers and allowing us to spend less time chewing!  For the best results, spend at least five minutes with your kale, until it has decreased in size by at least 50% and feels wilted to the touch.  Now your kale is ready for any salad!  Read further below for a delicious raw kale salad recipe.

Raw Kale Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing

Dressing from http://ohsheglows.com/2011/05/12/lightened-up-protein-power-goddess-bowl/

4 Servings

Ingredients

  • ½ large head of Lacinato kale (4-6 cups)
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 small carrots, shredded
  • 1 small head of broccoli, finely chopped
  • 1 small cucumber, diced
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ½ cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/4 cup Tahini
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast or a bit more, to taste
  • 2-4 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 3 tbsp water, or as needed

Directions

  1. After preparing, place carrots, broccoli, cucumber, almonds and strawberries aside.
  2. Blend tahini, garlic cloves, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, olive, salt, pepper, and water in a food processor or blender.  Set aside.
  3. Remove stems from kale, then place the leaves in a large salad bowl and coat with 1-2 tbsp olive oil and ¼ tsp salt.  Massage kale leaves together with your hands for about 5 minutes.
  4. After massaging, slice kale into bite sized pieces.
  5. Place all salad ingredients in the salad bowl and toss.
  6. Pour over dressing and toss again.

Serve immediately or let marinate for 30 minutes.

Written by: Ian Schenck, CSULB Nutrition & Dietetics Student and CDA-Orange District Student Liason

All the more reason to love spring

We all recall the saying as children, “April showers bring May flowers.” But what else do April showers bring? Rainbows! This serves as a reminder to make your plate a beautiful array of colors.

FruitKebob

Photo credit: Mazaletel via Flickr

Spring can bring a great selection of fresh fruits and vegetables. With mangos, fennel, asparagus and rhubarb in the produce aisles, get ready to excite your taste buds! Take cues from your supermarket and local farmers market for what is currently in season as they will feature the latest harvest and will also be more cost effective for your budget.

Farmers Market

Photo Credit: Frank Kehren via Flickr

When you purchase produce in season, these fruits and vegetables will be at their peak flavor. Health benefits of consuming a variety of colored foods include antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamin and minerals, dietary fiber, and hydration which help to promote a healthy heart and maintain a healthier weight.
Creating meals rich in color takes only a bit of planning and motivation to be adventurous in the kitchen. I recommend this free resource to help with meal planning: Fruits & Veggies- More Matters. This easy to navigate website includes information on what foods are in season, characteristics of each fruit and vegetable, and tips on how to keep healthy when buying on a budget.
They can also be followed on Facebook in which they post great recipes and share beautiful photos to motivate you to get more fruits and veggies onto your plate and into your mouth.

Resources:
• Fruits & Veggies- More Matters:

http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/

• Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/fruitsandveggiesmorematters

Contributed by Rachel Lynn Martin, MS Candidate in Nutritional Science

For the Love of Chocolate: How to find moderation with Valentine’s sweets

For the love of chocolate!

For the love of chocolate!


Just when you thought the rush of holiday goodies was over, a wave of Valentine’s chocolates crept in your office and home. Before admonishing your loved ones for helping you break your New Year’s resolutions, embrace the extra treats as an opportunity to practice moderation with your sweets. Here are some tips to help keep you from overindulging on heart shaped sweets:

Eat Before you Treat: Having a full stomach and incorporating something sweet in your meal, like fruit, will make you less likely to crave a large quantity of sweets. Having a full stomach tells your brain that you have had enough to eat so that you are likely to choose less and smaller treats after a meal or snack.

Just Dip it!: Consider melting down some of your Valentine’s goodies into a creamy sauce to use for dipping fresh fruits. Strawberries, bananas and apples are particularly delectable for this fondue treat. Incorporating fruit with your desert helps you to feel fuller faster, as well as gives you your daily does of nutrients that we all need. This recipe for fondue may be a great dessert for your family. http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/chocolate_fondue/

Out of Site out of Mind: Avoid keeping candies on your desk or in clear bowls on your kitchen counter. When we see these beautiful treats, it is a constant reminder that we can always have more. Keeping candy out of site is also a good way to keep your kids from constantly being reminded that Valentine’s Day means more sugar.

Pick a number: Deciding how many piece of candy you want before you reach for the jar may help you limit the amount you actually put in your mouth. Picking a number makes it easier to say “No, I’ve had enough today” despite what your taste buds might be telling you. Don’t let this holiday ruin your commitment to eat healthfully for the rest of the year. Allowing yourself to eat candy in moderation keeps it from being a ‘forbidden food, which usually makes you want it more.

Fun Fact!!! Before you throw out the whole box you should know that there are benefits to a moderate amount of chocolate. Dark chocolate is rich in bioflavonoids and antioxidants, which help prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease and help to maintain blood pressure.

Written by Vallary Townsell, MS Candidate in Nutritional Science and Community Nutrition Co-Chair for the CDA Orange District Dietetic Association

Valentine’s Day Recipe: No-Bake Chocolate Pudding Tart

Vegan No-Bake Chocolate Pudding Tart

Vegan No-Bake Chocolate Pudding Tart

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. After your romantic dinner you can snuggle up with your sweetheart and enjoy a slice of this decadent silky chocolate pie.

“No-Bake Chocolate Pudding Tart”
From: The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

1 Cup (235ml) Water
1 T (8g) agar flakes
2 T (16g) unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Cups (350g) nondairy semisweet chocolate chips,
Plus ¼ cup (45g), chopped into small pieces for garnish
12 ounces (340g) silken tofu (firm)
¾ Cup (150g) granulated sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1/8 t sea salt
1 Brownie Crust, recipe to follow
1 recipe Raspberry Sauce, recipe to follow

In a small saucepan, combine the water with the agar flakes and cocoa powder. Heat until the liquid reaches a boil, then lower the heat and gently simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until agar is completely dissolved. At this point, turn off the heat and add the whole chocolate chips. Let them sit for a few minutes in the hot liquid, then whisk thoroughly to blend.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the tofu, sugar, vanilla, and salt and process until smooth. Pour the melted chocolate mixture into the food processor and process until everything is thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into the tart pan to cover the brownie crust. The chocolate mixture should completely fill the pan.

Let the filling set for a few minutes, then sprinkle the remaining chopped chocolate chips around the edges to line the pan. Place in the refrigerator for 45 minutes, or until completely set and cool. Unmold and serve with raspberry sauce.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings

“Brownie Crust”
From: The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

½ Cup (65g) whole wheat pastry flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup Sucanat
3 T (24g) unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ Cup (60ml) canola oil
¼ cup (85g) pure maple syrup
2 T (30ml) nondairy milk
1 t vanilla extract
¼ t salt

Preheat the oven to 350® F. Oil a 9-inch tart or pie pan.
In a medium-size bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, Sucanat, and cocoa powder.
In a small bowl, thoroughly whisk together the oil, maple syrup, nondairy milk, vanilla, and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing just until the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened. Pour the batter into the prepared tart pan and spread evenly with a metal spatula or your fingers to cover the bottom of the pan. It will be a thin layer. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the crust comes out clean. Let cool before adding any kind of filling.
Yield: one 9-inch tart or pie crust

“Raspberry Sauce”
From: The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

2 cups (220g) fresh or 10 ounces frozen raspberries, thawed
¼ cup (50g) dry sweetener (Sucanat is a great options)

In a Blender, thoroughly blend the raspberries and sweetener. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Yield: 2 ¼ Cups

Submitted by: Carole Bader, RD

POWER UP! How to Avoid the Second-Half Slump

Feeling lethargic sometime after your main meal is common. Often called the “mid-afternoon slump”, this lull can hinder your work performance. Whether your shift is late or early, you will benefit from avoiding a crash. The key is to keeping your blood sugar stable to feed your mind and body consistently.
Here’s how to do it –
 
  • Begin your day with a decent meal. It takes more than a glass of orange juice to start the day! A little nutrition goes a long way, and a whole meal lasts even longer. Include complex carbohydrates and lean proteins, such as shredded wheat and low fat ham, or oats and egg whites. Breakfast is an opportune time to include a calcium-rich food like milk or yogurt, too.
  • Skip the buzz. Caffeine and high-sugar foods might perk you up temporarily but could leave you feeling flat later. Like riding a roller-coaster — the greater the rise, the faster the decline. The fall from a high feels like a slump, whereas if you maintain natural momentum there is less fluctuation in energy. Instead of short-term stimulants, opt for fresh, crisp produce for refreshment, or carbonated water for an effervescence lift.
  • Be sure to include a little protein with COMPLEX carbohydrates (usually those with more fiber) to keep your energy levels stable. Digestion takes longer so the supply of sugar into the blood is gradual. Snack examples are peanut butter on Wasa crackers, or hummus and whole grain pita chips.
  • Avoid large volumes of food. You know that feeling after a mega holiday meal? Yes, that’s your gut working hard on processing all that food means less blood for your brain to function, not to mention the boost in serotonin causing sleepiness. Keeping portions small-to-moderate means no “food coma” and better alertness.
  • And, of course, get adequate sleep and exercise!

Debbie James, MS, RD

Healthy Snacking During the Holidays

Healthier holiday snacking Image Credit: emma@vanillasplash via Flickr

Healthier holiday snacking
Image Credit: emma@vanillasplash via Flickr

Snacking is a great idea, but during the holidays when candy and sweets surround us, it may be tempting to snack more often than usual.

Is it hunger or something else?

Before reaching for a bite of something, ask yourself if you are hungry. This might sound silly at first, but remember that we don’t always eat because we are hungry. Sometimes we eat because we’re bored, stressed, or simply because something tastes good. Other times, we may be offered a holiday treat by a friend, but don’t want to say “No, thanks!”, so it becomes easier to accept that homemade delicious cookie (and then the second, and the third) without even hesitating to ask your body if it wants it.

“Lead me not into temptation”

Do you keep candy in your office? Think about where that candy dish is located if you do. Keep it out of your direct vision so that you’re not eating for the wrong reasons. When hunger strikes and if you should choose to have some, then you can make the conscious decision to go for it. An even better option would be to forego the candy dish in your office to lead yourself not into temptation.

Habits to pick up, for the holidays and all year.

You might notice that Registered Dietitians often have snacks on them. It is smart to keep your hunger at bay to prevent an out of control hunger attack, which can creep up when you’ve gone all day without eating. Before you know it, you’re ready to eat anything in sight not making any conscious decision on how it will make you feel afterwards or when enough is enough. Keep your metabolism active with eating something about every 4 hours or less.

Take a tip from the pros.  Carry a healthier, nutritious snack with you whenever possible. This does require a little thinking ahead, but it doesn’t have to be big. Start small, so you don’t have to worry too much about preparation when grabbing something on your way out the door. String Cheese, trail mix, a piece of fruit (think banana, tangerine, apple), or even a granola bar can all fit easily into a purse or bag or be tucked away in an office. Aim for snacks to be less than 300 calories, and whenever possible, avoid snacks which are sold in plastic packaging because these tend to be more processed and less nutritious.

When given the option to separate a small portion from the whole container, always do. You will have a better idea of how much you are consuming. This means if you’re at home on the sofa watching your television show’s season finale and you want to dive into the pretzels, take a small amount (say, a handful) and leave the bag in the kitchen. Or if you go to the theater to catch that great flick that came out on Christmas and the person with you insists on getting some buttery popcorn, get yourself a cardboard box and portion out the amount you think you should have, so that you’re in control.

Snacking is a great way to stay energized and control your weight, but only when choosing healthy options. With that said, it doesn’t mean you have to restrict yourself completely during the holidays.  Mindfulness, preparation, and portion control are keys to success when it comes to eating healthy.

Let them eat cake…but in moderation!

If you feel like you’re out of control with poor eating habits during the holidays, don’t beat yourself up or you may fuel the fire and continue to make unhealthy food choices. So you ate 2 pieces of cake at that wedding? Let it go, and do better the next day. Just remember that it’s okay to splurge now and then, but healthy snacking all year long will resonate to healthy habits carried through the New Year.

A great way to become more mindful of your snacking habits is to start keeping a log of everything you are eating, including how much and what you were doing and/or feeling. Keeping a food journal, even for a couple days, can help you tune into your eating and honor your hunger. Before you know it, you’re paying more attention to how much snacking and what types of foods you’ve been having long after the journaling ends.

For more advice on healthy eating, consult your registered dietitian. Gym memberships spike after the start of each New Year, but consider how much easier it is to make good food choices than to burn off the calories of bad food choices! Contact an RD in your area today to help you reach your goals and implement healthy practices to last a lifetime.

Written by Ladan Tehrani, MS Candidate in Nutritional Science and Community Nutrition Chair for the CDA Orange District Dietetic Association