In Your Corner: June 2012
Woo We! It took a bit to get here, but summer is finally here and in full swing! Don’t forget to check out this month’s edition of In Your Corner to help fight the heat, the sun, and get a sneak peak of our new column, the Cornerstone Difference! Happy Monday!
How To Get Kids To Frequent A (salad) Bar
Fewer than 1 in 10 children eat the recommended daily serving of fruits and veggies. Part of this reason is the limited choices they have in school, where they spend a good portion of their day. Research shows kids will make these choices more often if they have a variety of food choices available and a new public effort, Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, is working to provide children with a broader, and healthier, range of lunchtime options. To learn more about this effort, click here.
What is full of sugar and fat, tastes delicious and is good for you?
If you said “nothing” you aren’t alone, but it seems that (once again) Willy Wonka’s favorite treat is making some people rethink that conclusion. Yes, we’re talking about chocolate! If you haven’t heard, another “chocolate is good for you study” came out this week and so we thought we’d give you a brief summary of it.
If you’ve followed our blog, you’ve seen periodic posts about studies that seem to suggest chocolate (often dark chocolate specifically) might be good for blood pressure, cholesterol and prevention of heart disease. The current study used questionnaires of 1000 healthy adults and found some interesting associations. Specifically the people who ate chocolate more often (5 times a week) tended to be thinner than the people who ate it less often. This association persisted even after they corrected for things like activity and saturated fat intake. In other words the people eating chocolate more frequently weren’t also exercising more frequently or eating less saturated fat.
Before you go buy a bunch of chocolate bars, keep reading…
The thought is that there is something in chocolate that helps us process calories better. Now this is speculation based on animal studies, but it seems that a substance called epicatechin–found naturally in cocoa–increases the metabolism of our cells and improves muscle performance and mass. Said another way, this substance may help us burn calories faster and make us more muscular! Dark chocolate, which contains more cocoa, is what tends to contain this substance (sorry to all the white and milk chocolate lovers out there!)
There’s another important point here, and that is there seems to be a “sweet spot” in the amount of chocolate that provides these benefits and if you go below or above it, you don’t get them. That “sweet spot” is (unfortunately) only about the size of a Hershey’s Kiss (dark chocolate!).
One last technical, but important point: this type of study (questionnaire-based) has some important limitations, and it is hard to draw firm conclusions because of those limitations. In other words, this might be all wrong. A stronger study design is what is called a randomized trial. So if they decide to do a randomized trial looking into the benefits of chocolate consumption in humans, does anyone want to volunteer?!
(photo sourced from photobucket.com)
Want an easy way to get more attractive skin?
Earlier this month researchers from Scotland published the results of a study that demonstrated a simple way to make your skin healthier and more attractive appearing in just 6 weeks. They found that when study participants ate about 3 servings more of fruits and vegetables a day, their skin coloration became healthier-appearing and measurably more attractive! Looks like fruits and veggies are good for you–inside and out!
Want to read more? Click here.
Please pass on the salt!
Last month, the CDC reported that 9 out of 10 Americans consume more sodium than is recommended. The average was almost 3300mg, whereas the recommended dose is 2300mg for regular joes and 1500mg for high-risk individuals! More than that, most of that sodium came from only ten food groups, most of which are from grocery stores: cold cuts, pizza, soup, bread, pasta, cheese, snacks (chips, pretzels). Follow the link below to see them all. While we can’t completely avoid salt (and most of us admit to loving those chips or pretzels), make sure you pay attention to how much you eat. Too much sodium can not only lead to unwanted bloating and water weight, but also higher risk for heart attacks and strokes.
In Your Corner – March 2012 Newsletter
Happy March everyone! With March comes Saint Patrick’s Day, and with St. Patty’s comes Guinness and shamrocks and much more. Check out Cornerstone’s March 2012 newsletter for some ins-and-outs of alcohol, fun facts, a clover search, and even a recipe! Follow the link to read the newsletter…from our corner to yours!
Salty Love Leads to Painful Hearts
A recent study by the CDC found that 9 out of 10 people consume more sodium than is necessary – a whopping 3300mg as opposed to the <2300mg recommendation. We do love our salt! But too much sodium can cause severe health issues such as heart disease and strokes. Read this article to get an idea of which foods contain the most sodium so you can make better, more informed choices about your meals!
In Your Corner: February 2012 – Love Your Heart!
Not all Fat is Created Equal
Ever wondered why it sometimes seems that thin, fit people don’t have to watch what they eat as much and are better able to keep exercising? This month Harvard & Dana Farber researchers report on a newly discovered hormone, Irisin, that may play a role in this seemingly unfair phenomenon. Irisin, created when people exercise, seems to turn white fat cells into brown fat cells. White fat? Brown fat? What difference does it make–fat is fat, right? Actually no, not all fat is created equal.
White fat just stores calories, whereas brown fat actually burns calories. We used to think that only babies had brown fat. It was thought that they used it to help keep themselves warm until they were old enough to move around and generate their own heat, and then-no longer needing the brown fat’s heat-the brown fat was replaced by white fat. In 2009 we learned that some adults still seem to have some brown fat, but we didn’t know how or why. This new study seems to have revealed one possible mechanism. In brief, exercising muscles release a hormone called PGC1-alpha which in turn leads to the creation of Irisin. Irisin then travels to white fat and seems to signal the white fat to become brown.
Now these guys aren’t the only reasons fit people are more toned than sedentary individuals, but the study does demonstrate that the more you exercise, the more of these hormones you release, and the more brown fat you develop – ergo, burning calories for you and increasing your metabolism!
You can read more in this NY Times article.
Tackling Obesity: Contrasting Approaches to Moving Forward
Georgia’s new campaign to stop childhood obesity, “Strong4Life” has caused a fair amount of controversy with it’s high “shock value” videos about the problem. Here is one of the Strong4Life videos as well as another, more education-focused video about childhood obesity. Check them both out and see what you think. Is one approach better than the other? Is there a need for both?