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Healthy Diet Plan

Our body requires food to function. What kind of food you put into your system will reflect in your health. If you are eating healthy your body will look and feel healthy. But if you are just consuming food that have poor nutrition it will make you look unhealthy, sometimes out of shape, will lead to lifestyle related diseases, overall you will not feel great about yourself.

By following a healthy diet you are ensuring your body is getting adequate nourishment required for the day to day functioning of the body.Being healthy does not mean starving yourself or living on raw fruits and vegetables. Being healthy simply means being more conscious about what you expose your body to. Physical activity is also an important part of being healthy but unless you are eating a healthy diet you will not reap much benefit.

Here are a few dos of a Healthy Diet:

1) Carbohydrates are important as they are the basic energy source of our body. What you actually need to avoid are simple carbohydrates like maida & white bread but keep the complex carbohydrates like whole wheat, oats etc.

2) Eat a variety of natural foods like seasonal vegetables and fruits. Make sure you have at least 4-5 servings of these in a day. Your body requires vitamins & antioxidants to build immunity and stay healthy.

3) Have at least 8-10 glasses of water everyday.

4) You should include dairy for protein, Vitamin A & D , calcium, phosphorous for bone health and better metabolism.

5) Try to have foods that have high biological protein value like eggs, fish, dairy & nuts.

6) Moderation is key. Eat a little bit of everything to get the maximum benefits and stick to less processed food as much as you can.

 While we have told you what to do lets also highlight what not to do :

1) Skipping meal is old school. You might think you are cutting down on calories but you are actually depriving your body of key nutrition

2) Avoiding carbohydrates from your diet will make you only feel lethargic and over a period of time it will slow down your metabolism

3) Don’t over eat food just because it is labelled as healthy. Too much of anything can be bad .

Eating healthy is not restricted to people who are unwell or recovering from an illness. A healthy diet should be eaten to maintain general well being o the body. It is when we stop eating healthy that we start putting on weight, falling sick , have poor energy levels & in general not feel 100 percent .

Healthy is also the most used word especially when it comes to marketing a food or beverage. When a food is labelled healthy what does it actually mean .To ensure what you eat is healthy read the nutrition label on the food and understand how that food was created.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo
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What does whole grain or whole wheat actually mean?

Supermarket shelves are packed with breads claiming to as be “whole grain”. We all know that we should consume whole grains and not the refined grains. But are they all healthy?

Studies show that eating whole grains instead of refined grains lowers the risk of many chronic diseases. So what does whole grain means? Whole grain means that all parts of the grain are used, including the nutritious germ and bran. They are higher in vitamins, minerals and fiber, which helps to keep you feel fuller. They are also richer than refined grains in anti-oxidants and phytochemicals. In general, the phytochemicals in whole grains, including lignans, phytoesterols, and polyphenolics, help protect against cancer. The fiber found in whole grains may ferment in the gut, lowering colonic pH (a higher colonic pH is a cancer risk). It’s been demonstrated that fiber, especially soluble fiber, can reduce serum lipids, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol—all factors in heart disease development.

In the grain-refining process, most of the bran and some of the germ is removed, resulting in loss of dietary fiber and loss of vitamins and minerals.

Whole wheat is one kind of whole grain, so all whole wheat is whole grain, but not all whole grain is whole wheat. The whole grain also encompasses other grains like brown rice, oats, barley, buckwheat, bulgur and corn. And the term “multi-grain” simply means ‘more than one grain’, but not necessarily ‘whole’ grains.

So how could you get the whole grain or whole wheat in your diet? Start by checking the ingredient list for the word ‘whole’ before the names of grains, and look for products that list a whole grain as the first ingredient, indicating that it contains more of this than any other ingredients. For e.g., to make sure that the bread you are buying is made from whole grains, look at the label: whole wheat flour or whole grain flour should be among the first ingredients listed. However, every food item labeled as 100% whole grain doesn’t mean that it contains only whole grains. Other than grains, they also contain sugar, malt syrup and invert sugar.

So, next time while shopping, check the ingredient list and nutrition label to see what you’re really buying. Limit the consumption of food products that contain refined grains added with solid fats, sugars and sodium. Increase whole-grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Health Benefits of Muesli

Muesli is becoming a popular breakfast option on the breakfast table of most urban households. It is by far one of the healthiest cereal options currently available in the market. Besides the fact this is a great healthy breakfast option , it actually tastes good! Muesli is a combination of rolled oats and wheat flakes that also contains added ingredients like dry fruits, nuts and seeds in it. Some of the pre-packaged muesli available in the market might contain added sugar in form of dried fruits and other preservatives. While buying the box make sure to read the instructions and look for “ low-sugar” or “no-added sugar” option.

We have told you many times that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It contributes to 1/3 of an individual’s daily calorie & nutrition requirement. Muesli is one of the healthiest, high in nutrition that contains relatively low calories and easy to prepare breakfast option available. It is far superior to the regular cornflakes in terms of health benefits.

Most common mistake people make when they are trying to lose weight is that they skip breakfast, without realizing it is the most important meal of the day. Skipping breakfast over a period of time slows down your metabolism. Let us explain the logic: by missing breakfast you have automatically reduced the calories from your diet. After sometime your body gets use to the limited calories and in return slows the metabolism. So anytime you add it back to your routine it gets added to your system as extra calories (especially since the body is not use to it), making you believe that eating breakfast makes you fat.

Coming back to why you should add muesli to your diet. The health benefits of a bowl of muesli with added milk, fruits and seeds/nuts is a dish full of fiber, vitamins, protein, omega 3 and minerals and are the best way to start your day.  You can further increase the nutrition value of a bowl of muesli by adding fresh fruits &  seeds/nuts like apple, banana, strawberries, pear, almonds, walnuts, raisins, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed etc. If you get bored of adding milk you can choose from other available substitutes like yogurt, fruit juice, or even just plain water. All these ingredients along with muesli have multiple health benefits and will also promote weight loss by nourishing the body and regulating the metabolism.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Preventing Osteoporosis

Lately women in the early 30′s are suffering from osteoporosis. The earlier average age was from 50 years, around the same time menopause would set in. The reason is with menopause the body experiences a dramatic drops in estrogen production that results in bone loss. This was labeled  as  a growing old diseases since the two big reasons for developing osteoporosis are when the body fails to form enough new bone or when the old bones are reabsorbed by the body, but not anymore.

Calcium and phosphate are two minerals that are essential for normal bone formation. Throughout youth, your body uses these minerals to produce bones. Mineral intake during adolescence and early adulthood lays the foundation of healthy bones for the coming years.  Not getting enough calcium and body not being able to absorb enough calcium from the diet adversely affects the bone production and bone tissues.

Bone is a dynamic living tissue that becomes strong when exercised or used and becomes fragile when unused. Mostly we are advised to eat foods rich in calcium for bone development but equally excluding foods that lead to loss of bone mineral in the body like sugar, sodas, table salt, coffee and alcohol. But are you forgetting nutrients which directly or indirectly benefit the bone health like vitamin D for better absorption of calcium, vitamin K which activates osteocalcin which is a bone protein which bonds calcium, vitamin C which improves bone absorption and other bone minerals like magnesium, phosphorous, boron etc.

Though dairy is the most popular source of calcium, many other nutrients required for prevention and better bone health can be consumed from plant based sources like vegetables and fruits which are rich in various nutrients. Optimum levels of the following nutrients in your diet will improve your bone health as well as overall fitness.

Women are more prone to developing osteoporosis than men due to two reasons first they are genetically born with a lower bone mass than men and secondly estrogen levels. Estrogen plays an important role in keeping bones strong and healthy, in both men and women. Changing levels of estrogen especially in women make them more vulnerable to this disorder.

Foods bad for bone health

Salt: Over consumption of salt than the daily requirement could make you lose calcium. You require 2400 milligram of sodium in a day. Not only you consume sodium through salt in foods but foods naturally contain salt which could create an excess. Eat salt in moderation to avoid loss of calcium.

Soda: Sweetened soft-drink and aerated drinks cause loss of calcium in the body and has been observed while excreted in urine. The phosphoric acid which is the fizziness in soda drinks could lead to faster loss of calcium.

Caffeine: Caffeine in excess of 100 milligram can cause loss of some calcium in the body. Caffeine is not consumed by the body just through coffee but some iced teas, energy drinks and other drinks contain them.

Alcohol: Alcohol blocks calcium absorption in the body and restricts bone building minerals to be absorbed properly. Bones become weak faster and can cause trouble while healing of bones due to alcohol consumption during fracture.

Some vegetables which immensely improve bone health and maintain them and avoid loss of bone minerals in the body are green peas, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, asparagus, oats, parsley, lemons, milk and dairy etc. Though milk and dairy are the best sources but these vegetables have various nutrients to support good bone health and prevent osteoporosis. Exercising, the often most forgotten factor, is critical to bone health as it helps in improvement of bone density and better absorption of nutrients.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

What are Antioxidants?

Antioxidant is another very freely used terms by promoters of wellness, nutritionists and healthy living. What do you really mean by antioxidants and why does our body need them. Lets start from the beginning. Oxygen is the prime ingredient for our body’s metabolism. It is this the process that changes food into the fuel for our body to continue living. While our food is digested with the help of oxygen it releases certain oxidized particles in the body which are also commonly known as free radicals. These free radicals are potentially dangerous and cause cellular damage that can lead to serious diseases like cancer, heart problems, aging etc.

Pumpkin (Cr/freedigital)

Free radicals are not only created by regular metabolism of food in the system. Factors like pollution, smoking, over exposure to the sun, high cholesterol food further aggregation the production of the free radicals in our body.Therefore it becomes imperative to use enzymes that neutralize the effect caused by free radicals in our body. Antioxidants are the most powerful and effective molecules that help control and destroy these free radicals in the body. Our body naturally has tendency of producing antioxidants but with age, lower immunity system begins to diminish. Fortunately there are many natural resources of antioxidants available in the form of vitamins and minerals. Fruits, nuts, spices and vegetables are the best and most easily available resources. You can reduce free radicals in your body by adding these food groups to your diet.

Here is a list of some food Sources rich in antioxidants

Vitamin C – Citrus Fruits (orange, sweet lime, lemon), amla, sprouts,

Vitamin A – Yellow coloured fruits and vegetables, carrots, papaya, mango, pumpkin

Vitamin E – Nuts like almonds, hazelnut, walnuts, sunflower oil, brocolli, avocado,

Zinc – Nuts, chicken, beans like kidney beans, chickpea, cashew nut, oats, seafood (mildly)

SeleniumNuts, chicken, fish, wheat flour,

Phytoestrogens – Soya, flax seeds, nuts,

ProbioticYogurt

Spices: Turmeric, cinnamon

Another popular source of antioxidant is green tea. (more…)

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Low Calorie Breakfast Options

Bread and egg (Cr/freedigital)

Make your breakfast options healthier and satisfying. Start eating breakfast which offer low calories and helps you lose weight. Eating breakfast will keep you active and full helping you avoid munching in between. If you skip breakfast you could be slowing your metabolism which would affect your weight loss process.

You could make breakfast options simpler and easily available to not skip it and eat healthy and stay fit. Here are some breakfast options that would keep you active and keep you full to avoid mid-meal munching.

Curd and a fruit: If you are the one who doesn’t like eating breakfast and are always in a hurry to run to the office then this the easiest breakfast option. You don’t have to prepare anything or cook it either. Just carry it or even buy it on your way. A good combinationof carbohydrate and protein providing approximately 250 calories. Curd (Yogurt)provides satiety which helps to keep hunger away till its time for next meal.

Brown Bread and Egg: Eggs are possibly the most versatile as well as being the most nutritious breakfast protein. They can be poached, scrambled, fried, soft-boiled, hard-boiled or made into an omelette. Egg is low in calories and saturated fat yet is full of vitamins A, B,D, E and minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, selenium and magnesium. Brown bread is rich in nutrients providing a feeling of fullness, thereby reducing the risk of overeating. Egg with 2 slices of bread provides approx 220 calories.

Sprouts with buttermilk : Sprouted seeds, legumes and grains are a cheap and easy way of increasing your intake of vitamins and minerals. Germinating seeds and grains increase their nutritional value. The vitamin C content of wheat increases sixty percent during sprouting. Sprouts are filled with antioxidants, they are full of protein, chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Buttermilk is lower in fat than regular milk, because the fat has been removed to make butter. It is also high in potassium, vitamin B12, calcium, and riboflavin as well as a good source of phosphorus. Approx calories 270 calories.

Oats in low fat milk: Oats, like other cereal grains, are valued primarily as a source of carbohydrates which provide calories for energy needs. It contain soluble fibre beta glucan which help to control your sugar and cholesterol levels. Oats have a higher concentration of well-balanced protein than other cereals. It also helps in keeping bowel movements regular. Approx calories 240 calories.

Nuts and Fruit:Nuts are a Super source of Non-animal, digestible protein Breakfast options does not have to be the one which has to pass through the oven. Eat some nuts and a fruit at breakfast with a glass of milk. When eaten first in the morning, nuts help start proper digestion for the rest of your day. A fist of nut along with a fruit provide approx 200 calories.

Whatever you prepare for yourself, choose a healthy option to keep you full and meet the nutrition requirement.

You can also use Fitho’s calorie counter to search for your food, calculate its calories and see its full nutrition facts.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo

Eat Satisfying Foods to Lose Weight

We all focus on low calorie foods, and eating healthy to lose weight, but are we eating satisfying foods? New research shows that eating certain foods satisfies you much more than others. Scientists think that this might be helpful for people who want to lose weight.

Photo- Potatos can be healthy too (ranjit@flickr)

Studies have suggested that the more viscous or glutinous a food, the better is its satiety value. Different foods have different effect on energy production, and satiety is the feeling of fullness that arises after eating. Some examples of high satiety foods are (more…)

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo