Advances in Clinical Nutrition: October 7-9, 2010

For a class assignment, I was required to attend a professional conference and write a report.  This past weekend, October 7-9, 2010, the American College of Nutrition held it’s 51st Annual Meeting, “Advances in Clinical Nutrition” at the NY Academy of Medicine in New York City.  Attending professional conferences such as this can provide great insight into the recent developements in nutritional research, however they can cost a lot of money.  Luckily, I was able to work with the meeting coordinator and volunteer to avoid paying. 

I sat in on Symposium IV of the meeting, entitled “Dietary Patterns and Health Outcomes: Current State of the Science”.  While I won’t bore you with the details, the take-home message was the health benefits associated with consuming a Mediterranean Diet.  This is diet pattern has certainly gained a lot of media attention, but the concensus is that most people don’t know what makes up a “Mediterranean Diet”.  And the truth is, it varies based on what culture you look at.  For example, Greeks focus on a higher fat content compared to Italians who consume more carbohydrate (pastas!) over fat.  A Spanish based Mediterranean diet highlights fish and seafood, for obvious reasons.   

However, there are several common threads that make up Mediterranean style meal patterns, including:

  • Plant foods (lots of fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, cereals)
  • Focus on fish & poultry
  • Less red meat
  • Moderate fat intake (primarily from Olive Oil)
  • Red Wine (usually with a meal)

When compared with a Western diet pattern (consisting of refined grains, meat, butter, high-fat dairy, etc), there is no doubt that Mediterranean Diet patterns have more health benefits.  Studies show lower incidence of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease among those following Mediterranean diet patterns.  So go ahead and enjoy that glass of red wine! And as always, all things in moderation! 🙂

Have a Healthier Halloween!

Halloween (my favorite holiday!) always gets a bad rap for leading to cavities and candy binges.  However, it is entirely possible to have a healthy haunting season by making some smart choices!

Here are a few healthy Halloween tips:
1. Try buying candy you and your family DON’T like as the sweets for trick-or-treaters. 
2. The snack-size candy bars can be a great portion control, as long as you can resist temptation and keep it to one or two pieces.  If not, best to just not buy them in the first place. 
3.  Bake up some pumpkin seeds to munch on while acting as candy-distributer.  Pumpkin seeds are packed with a ton of vitamins and minerals and have been linked to lower cholesterol and prostate health.
4. Get active by spending a day at a pumpkin patch or corn maze, raking leaves or stuffing your own scarecrow!
5. Enjoy candy in moderation: separate out your favorites and dispose of the rest!
6. Get rid of extra unwanted candy to programs like Operation Shoebox, which sends care packages to U.S. troops all over the world.
7.  Protect your pearly whites by brushing and flossing after having your treats!

It’s good to know you can indulge without blowing your daily caloric budget, so I’ve included some lower calorie candy options below:

Lollipops: Dum Dum’s ~25 calories each, Tootsie-Pop ~60 calories each
Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Kisses: 180 calories for 9 kisses
York Peppermint Patties: 1 Large Patty= 140 calories or 3 miniatures= 150 calories
Twizzlers(or other Licorice): 4 Twists (strawberry)= 160 calories
Swedish Fish: 140 calories for 19 fish
Sugar-Free Gum: ~5 calories for 1 piece