Author Archive

What’s Really in Your Juice?

July 29, 2013 1 comment

Meridan Zerner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, Cooper Clinic registered dietitian shared ‘what’s really in your juice’ on Fox 4 Good Day.

Anytime I’m in the grocery store I love to check out the latest juices. They look so enticing with the juicy fruits and fresh vegetables on the labels, but I always check the nutritional values before buying a new drink. And sometimes I’m surprised by what’s really in my juice. Meridan Zerner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, Registered Dietitian at Cooper Clinic was recently featured on Fox 4 Good Day sharing the facts about popular juices.

Meridan surrounded herself with a myriad of juice drinks and started the conversation by explaining—when choosing juices it all depends on the portion and caloric intake.

100% Juice

Sometimes we see 100% juice or we see the words ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ and think it’s a healthy option. Meridan said, “In reality it’s a glass of high-sugar, high-calorie and low-protein—which is pretty much a recipe for weight gain.”

Liquid calories are really the no. 1 contributor to weight gain in everything we take in as a nation.

Meridan presented a bottle of 100% juice labeled “citrus mango pineapple,” and explained that the no. 1 ingredient is apple juice, which is an inexpensive filler. There is minimal nutrient value in apple juice and it can result in cavities and weight gain.

You would think the 100% juice would be a healthier option, but it’s not if it’s filled with high fructose corn syrup. In the average bottle of 100% orange juice that you can buy in the airport or local convenient store there can be up to the equivalent of 22 sugar cubes. After drinking this bottle, you won’t feel full and you may crave more in calories later in the day.

Kids Drinks

We give kids packaged drinks in their lunch boxes, that aren’t really juice to begin with. If you read the ingredients, you can see they contain a lot of water and high fructose corn syrup. For example, a Capri Sun® contains the equivalent of eight sugar cubes. And the nutritional value of cranberry apple raspberry juice is not much better. Apple juice is again the no. 1 ingredient, and a glass contains the equivalent of 28 sugar cubes.

Fruit & Veggie Juices

Juices like Naked Juice® are everywhere with other popular juices in the refrigerated section of grocery stores. When you see these you think—that has to be healthy, it looks very organic. Yet even in one of these bottles featuring berries on the label, the no. 1 ingredient is—you guessed it, apple juice.

“When it’s all said and done if you’re somebody who’s never going to eat a fruit or vegetable, I would suggest a very small serving of this, otherwise you’re likely to gain weight. Of course if you need help adding fruits and vegetable to your diet a  Cooper dietitian can help out.”  And adding real fruits and vegetables has an added benefit—real fiber which can help with digestion.


Meridan demonstrated a common pour for a juice glass and compared it to the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended four ounces a day for kids. “When we look at the amount kids are drinking you can see it’s really contributing to ill health and weight gain,” Meridan said. “If I could go from the standard American juice glass to the recommended four ounces a day, you could lose 10 pounds in a year! That is without dieting or exercise! That’s powerful.”


This is always your healthiest option. It is very important, especially in the summer heat to stay hydrated. Every cell in the human body requires water to function properly. When we don’t drink enough water, the cells begin to lose their function. Always keep a bottle or glass handy as you’re going about your daily routine.

The bottom line on juices—moderation is key. For more health tips from dietitians at Cooper Clinic, visit our website.

A Healthier Cup of Coffee, A Better Start To Your Day!

Meridan Zerner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD

Meridan Zerner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, Cooper Clinic registered dietitian talks coffee sweeteners on Fox 4 Good Day.

A day doesn’t pass by without my hazelnut K-Cup® coffee. I’m always on the go and need my morning fuel–it’s great to hear I’m reaping benefits from my daily cup of Joe. In my role in Marketing and Communications at Cooper Aerobics I have the opportunity to work with the local media to highlight our experts. Meridan Zerner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, Registered Dietitian at Cooper Clinic was recently featured on Fox 4 Good Day sharing the wonderful health benefits that coffee offers as well as the best and worst of sweeteners. Meridan explained that the polyphenols in the coffee bean in combination with caffeine provide substantial reduced risk in cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and some forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease.

While coffee can be wonderful, it can also propose a challenge when we begin to “doctor” our cup. The biggest offenders are half and half and flavored creamers. These are filled with saturated fat which is a high contributor to heart disease and inflammation.

To obtain the same thick texture, Meridan suggests opting for fat free half and half, which only has a dash of corn syrup. Be sure to measure what you are pouring, ideally one tablespoon is enough. Sometimes we can get carried away and have more than ¼ cup, which adds up quickly. Another option is a soy creamer; Silk® soy creamer has only 15 calories, zero saturated fats and zero trans fats for one tablespoon.

With a variety of flavored creamers on the market like NESTLÉ® Coffee-Mate®‘s Girl Scouts® Thin Mints® to International Delight®‘s Almond Joy®, these options combine cream and sugar into one pour. Meridan said the most inflammatory ingredient in these products is the partially hydrogenated soybean oil or palm oil. If you are choosing a flavored creamer use it sparingly or look at other alternatives. Consider sugar free or fat free–but which is best? Meridan said fat free is the better option with less calories and none of the partially hydrogenated ingredients.

If you don’t drink your coffee black, what is the optimal cream and sugar option? Meridan said fat free milk which provides calcium, vitamin D and protein. If you need a little more flavor to your coffee, you could try original or flavored Silk® Almondmilk. That plus a packet of sugar or sugar subsitute can be an easier way to track your morning calories.

Enjoy your coffee and don’t forget to always eat breakfast! For more health tips from dietitians at Cooper Clinic, visit our website.

Box With The Foxx at Cooper Fitness Center

As a new member of the Marketing and Communications team at Cooper Aerobics, I wanted to study our audience in their element.

Cooper Fitness Center is conveniently located right across the parking lot from our office. For the first few weeks, I was just visiting to check out the renovation site and finally I got around to picking up my membership to Get Cooperized™. I know it is good for many reasons to change up your workout regime and Cooper Fitness Center has no shortage of opportunities with more than 70 group exercise classes a week! On top of the regular classes, they also have Sports Pros.

Derric James, also known as “The Foxx,” is the Boxing Pro at Cooper Fitness Center and recently trained a 2012 Olympic games welterweight boxer to the quarterfinals! He periodically offers 30-minute boxing clinics to members. When I caught wind of the opportunity, I signed up! While attending Texas Tech University (Guns Up!) I went a kick boxing class at the recreation center, but I’d never actually punched a punching bag – until I met The Foxx! My traditional kick boxing class was a great total body workout, but I wasn’t prepared to be trained by a professional boxer.

As soon as my hands were wrapped and pink gloves were on, I was ready to go!

First we assessed my form. Feet shoulder width apart, and body turned to your dominant side (right for me) with toes and heels in line.

It’s all about the technique. When going for the punch, turn your shoulders and torso (use your oblique muscles) facing towards your opponent, coach or punching bag.

If you want to keep up with your opponent, you must add cardiovascular training. After every few rounds, we headed to the track to take some laps or hit the stationary bike for intervals.

When it’s down to the count, core strength is key. After I had taken my last punch, we slowed our heart rates down with a walk around the track and headed to the gym floor. Here, The Foxx led us through the last component of training.

In only 30 minutes I had trained as a real boxer and received a total body workout, and was sore for days! After the clinic I was curious, why do they call him The Foxx? I found that when Derric was fighting professionally, his style was very calculated and smart. He was sly like a fox, hence the name. Rumor has it, that it is spelled with double X’s because his opponents knew they were in double trouble!

To learn more about becoming a member at Cooper Fitness Center in Dallas, visit our website.