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The Many Health Benefits Of Tea
by ShaunaS

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Chinese people have been enjoying drinking tea for thousands of years and have also used tea as a health tonic. Only in recent years has tea caught on in the U.S. with more and more tea shops such as Tealuxe and Teavana popping up in shopping malls and in cities around the country.

You can also now find bottles and bottles of different types of teas, often infused with various supplements and vitamins in grocery stores. In addition, tea is a hot topic for research in reduction of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and weight loss.

So, what is tea?

Tea is made from a plant called Camilla Sinensis. Based on the maturity of the picked leaves and the length of fermentation and four types of tea are white, green, black and oolong.

White and green tea leaves are picked earlier as young buds and leaves, whereas black and oolong are picked as larger, more matured leaves. In addition, white and green teas are not oxidized, oolong is partially oxidized and black is fully oxidized.

Furthermore, there are many herbal teas available but these are not considered true teas since they are not made from Camilla Sinensis and do not provide the health benefits described below.

So what are the health benefits?


Tea is rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals and each type of tea seems to have their unique health benefits.

White tea, which is grown primarily in the Fujian province of China contains the highest amounts of antioxidants since it is least processed, and has been linked with decreasing cancer risk, particularly in lung, colon and skin cancer.

Oolong and black tea contain large amounts of tannins which decrease cholesterol levels and may reduce the risk of heart disease. Tannins however also prevent absorption of certain minerals, most importantly iron and should be considered if you are drinking large amounts of tea each day.

Green tea contains the largest amounts of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) compared to other teas, and helps to boost metabolism, and may aid in weight loss. In addition, ECGC is also a powerful antioxidant and may help to protect against heart disease and certain cancers including breast, prostate, skin and gastrointestinal cancers.

In addition, both green tea and black tea seems to reduce the risk of diabetes, as well as increase insulin sensitivity in diabetics.

What about tea extracts and supplements?

In general, tea extracts and supplements are not recommended because more research is needed to figure out exactly what nutrients in tea are responsible for the health benefits. It may be one nutrient or a unique combination of ingredients in tea that is necessary.

However, since you need to drink 3 to 6 cups of tea each day to potentially have an impact on your health and for those that do not like to drink tea, or have caffeine sensitivities, an EGCG extract or a supplement may be an option.

How to brew the perfect cup of tea

1. Heat cold, filtered water

For white and green tea, do not use boiling water since overheated water can destroy the leaves and the delicate flavors of the tea.

2. Steep for 1 to 3 minutes

3. Strain and enjoy

Drink to your health!

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August 18, 2008

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11 Portion Control Strategies That Work!
by ShaunaS

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When it comes to weight loss – how much you eat matters more than what you eat. Now, that’s doesn’t mean you should live on chocolate and chips; what you eat still determines how satisfied you will be and how healthy you stay.

So, let’s get acquainted with some portion control strategies and you may just meet your goals faster!

--Portion tempting foods or “empty” calorie snacks into snack sized zip lock baggies. Use the food label for nutrition and serving size information and a measuring cup for accuracy.

--Leave the container at the counter! Sitting down in front of the TV with a bag of chips or carton of ice cream can lead to mindless eating. Its okay to indulge in your favorites, however, moderation is key. Put a serving on a plate or bowl and take it with you and enjoy!

--Downsize your dinnerware! Using a smaller plate or bowl offers instant portion control. Studies show we eat more when we’re served more regardless of hunger level. You probably won’t even notice your plate is smaller because typically we’re happy when our plate if full! My favorite portion control trick is to use a small (6-8 ounce) tea cup or coffee cup for ice cream.

--Portion your plate without measuring. We often talk about using the “picnic plate method” and with good reason – it is a simple and effective tool for portion control and balance and keeps you satisfied at the same time. Fill half your plate with veggies, one quarter with whole grains and the other quarter with lean protein. If you need more prompting, check out www.theportionplate.com for a real version you can use at home.

--Measure foods a couple times per week to reconnect with what “normal” portions look like. It is easy to lose sight of what’s “normal” when portions are ever growing.

--Don’t worry about portioning veggies like lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, cauliflower, squash, etc. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone overeat on veggies.

--Order smaller portions when out. Don’t be tricked into “value” meals, there is no value for your health! Try a kid sized meal from a fast food restaurant, order off the a la carte menu or appetizer menu and take some food home with you.

--Individual portion sized products are convenient if you have a hard time portioning. Try 100-calorie snack packs and frozen entrees to retrain your eyes and stomach.

--Skip buffets! Again, when faced with more food, we usually take more food. If you can, choose a restaurant where you have more control such as a sandwich shop.

--Ask for high calorie condiments on the side so you can decide how much you want (or skip them all together). A tablespoon or two of salad dressing can cover a lot of salad when tossed!

--Use common household items to identify standard portions. For example, a baseball or small fist is about a cup of rice, chopped fruit or veggies, a deck of cards is about 3-4 ounces of meat, a golf ball is about 2 tbsp of peanut butter and a cupcake wrapper is about a half-cup of ice cream.

~RDShauna

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June 18, 2008

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How Much Protein & Best Sources
by ShaunaS

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In my previous blogs, we learned all about carbohydrates and fats – what they are and how to separate the “good” from the “bad”. Well, now we’re ready to move on to protein.

Most of us know all about protein from the recent hype on high protein diets, however, do you really know why protein is important, where to find healthy sources and how much you need? This blog will focus on getting to know this essential nutrient along with healthy sources and serving sizes.

What is protein?

• Along with carbohydrates and fat, protein is an essential nutrient.

• Protein is built out of building blocks called amino acids. There are about 20 different amino acids, however, most protein foods are built out of branches and chains of several amino acids. Out of the 20 amino acids, eight are essential, meaning the body can’t produce them and must obtain them from food sources.

• Protein sources can be classified into complete or high quality protein or incomplete and lesser quality protein. The type and amount of amino acids determine how well they will be used by the body for building, etc.

• Complete proteins contain al eight essential amino acids. Animal products such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs are sources of complete protein. Soy products such as tofu and soymilk, are also a source of complete protein.

• Plant foods such as grains, beans, nuts and vegetables are incomplete proteins, they may be lacking one or more essential amino acids or lacking an adequate amount of essential amino acids. It used to be believed that you had to combine incomplete proteins at a meal (such as beans and rice) to make a complete protein, but now we know that it was what you eat over the day that matters. If you eat a variety of plant foods over the day, you will get enough complete proteins.

Why do you need protein?

Protein serves as a building block for muscles, cartilage, bones, skin and blood as well as hormones, vitamins and enzymes.

Protein-rich sources are a good source of B vitamins, iron, zinc and magnesium.

Protein helps keep your immune system strong.

Protein when combined with carbohydrates and a small amount of healthy fat helps keep you satiated longer.

A protein containing meal after endurance activities and help with the repair of muscles.

How much do I need?

Most Americans get enough protein, however, they do not vary their choices enough. Try to include a variety of animal and plant protein sources in your diet. If you are vegetarian, you can still get enough protein from plant sources.

The Institute of Medicine recommends 10-35% of your calories come from protein. Diet.com meal plans average 20-25% of calories from protein. If you are following a 1200 calorie diet, this is equal to 60-75 g per day and 75-94 g per day for a 1,500 calorie diet.

Protein needs may vary depending on your health. For example, poorly controlled diabetes and kidney disease warrant less protein in the diet. Always check with your health care provider if you have diabetes or kidney disease.

An easy way to make sure you are getting enough protein is to aim for 5-6 ounces of meat or meat equivalents each day. Three ounces looks like a deck of cards.

What are healthy sources and serving sizes?

1 ounce of protein is equivalent to 1 ounce of meat, poultry or fish, 1/4 cup cooked beans, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1 egg, 1/4 cup cottage cheese, 1/2 oz nuts or seeds, 1/4 cup tuna, 1/4 cup tofu.

Healthy sources include chicken or turkey breast, lean ground turkey, extra lean ground beef, fish and shellfish, beans, tofu, tempeh, nuts (eat in moderation), pork tenderloin, flank steak, round or sirloin. Low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese are also good sources of protein.

~RDShauna

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June 6, 2008

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