Posts Tagged ‘Elana Zimelman’

Heart Health Boosting Foods

February 17, 2015 Leave a comment

This month we celebrate heart health. There are many powerful foods that deliver big benefits to reduce your risk of heart disease. Here are a few super-stars that you may want to incorporate into your routine. All of these foods are loaded with heart-protective components that will keep your heart strong and pumping.

This fatty fish ranks high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats may reduce inflammation throughout the body which can cause damage to your blood vessels and lead to heart disease. These healthy fats may also lower cholesterol, blood pressure, reduce blood clotting, decrease stroke and risk for heart failure. Try to eat fatty fish, like salmon, two to three times a week.

These berries are bursting with antioxidants, specifically the phytonutrient polyphenol. Anti-oxidants are potent substances that reduce inflammation in the body and reduce the risk of heart disease, along with other chronic diseases. Add blueberries to yogurt or smoothies. Frozen blueberries are just as nutritionally packed as fresh!

Everyone loves avocados! These fruits are packed with mono-unsaturated fat that bumps up your good HDL cholesterol and lowers risk of heart disease. Recent research shows a link between consuming avocados daily and reducing bad LDL cholesterol. Avocados also contain vitamin B 6 and folic acid which are also beneficial to your heart. Enjoy avocados in salads or as a sandwich spread instead of mayo several times a week.

Walnuts contain a wealth of omega-3 fats in the world of nuts. If you’re not a fan of salmon or other fatty fish, this is a great way to fit these fats into your diet. Walnuts also contain vitamin E which is an antioxidant that may protect your heart. Enjoy walnuts on salads or as a crunchy snack. Try to eat nuts at least 3 times a week- 4 or five times is even better!

Oatmeal is good news for your heart. The type of soluble fiber in oats, beta-glucans, forms a gooey mass in your stomach, trapping cholesterol and transporting it out of the body before it can get absorbed into your blood, thus lowering your LDL cholesterol levels. It takes about 1 ½ cups of cooked oatmeal (equal to ¾ cups dry) to get the maximum benefit. Try to eat oatmeal several times a week. Top with blueberries and walnuts- two other star foods on the list!

For information on nutrition consultations at Cooper Clinic visit or call 972.560.2655.

Bean Basics

January 20, 2015 1 comment

Depending on the variety, a half cup of cooked dry beans has about 120 calories, 7-8 grams protein and about 6 grams fibKnower.

Known as nutritional “powerhouses,” there are so many reasons to celebrate beans! Beans are low in fat and high in fiber and protein and also serve as good sources of folate, calcium and iron. Beans fit under not one but two food groups: vegetables and meat/protein. Nutritionally higher in carbohydrates than non-starchy vegetables, beans also count towards the goal of getting 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Benefits of Beans

Beans promote a healthy weight because of their high protein and high fiber content. Fiber creates a feeling of fullness that keeps you satisfied from one meal to the next. Depending on the variety, a half cup of cooked dry beans has about 120 calories, 7-8 grams protein and about 6 grams fiber. Check out the nutrient profiles for several beans in the table listed.

Reduce risk of disease: Research has shown that eating just a half a cup of beans several times a week helps reduce your risk of heart disease. There are also correlations between eating beans and reducing risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

How to Fit Beans into Your Routine

  • Pick a meatless meal (like the popular Meatless Mondays) for the week and use beans for your protein.
  • Buy frozen, dry or canned beans- they are all healthy! Rinse canned beans to reduce sodium by almost 40 percent.
  • Reduce gas-producing side effects with the following tips. If you are cooking dry beans, discard the soaking water and rinse the beans thoroughly before cooking. Take Beano, an over-the-counter gas remedy, prior to eating your first bite.
  • Kidney beans are great for chili and three-bean salad.
  • Pinto beans can be refried for dips or served as side dish. They are also popular in stews. You can buy fat-free refried beans for a healthier option.
  • Navy beans are perfect in soups, stews, or baked beans.
  • Lentils are great in soups and stews.
  • Garbanzo beans can be tossed into salads or used to make hummus dip.

Nutrient Profiles of Various Dried Beans: (Per ½ cup serving)

Baby Lima   Black Beans Black-eyed Peas Baby Lima Beans Pinto Beans Red Kidney Beans
Calories 114 calories 100 calories 115 calories 118 calories 109 calories
Carbohydrates 20g 18g 21g 22g 19g
Protein 8g 7g 7g 7g 8g
Fiber 4g 6g 6g 6g 4g
Fat 0g 0g 0g 0g 0g
Sodium 0g 3mg 3mg 2mg 4g
Iron 2mg 2mg 2mg 2mg 2mg
Folate 128mcg 179mcg 137mcg 147mcg 65mcg

You really can’t go wrong with any type of beans. Try incorporating these little gems into your routine and you will reap all the potential health benefits. Set a goal; aim to eat beans 4 times a week!

For information on Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services call 972.560.2655 or visit

Saluting Spaghetti Squash: A Power Food

December 30, 2014 2 comments

Ten fruits/vegetables a day will help lower blood pressure (from potassium) and can cut a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer by almost half.

Winter is the perfect time to try out different varieties of fall and winter-type squash. There are many to choose from and some of the popular standouts are acorn, butternut, pumpkin and spaghetti. My personal favorite is spaghetti squash. Like its namesake it can be a perfect swap for noodles in various recipes which call for pasta. It’s a great way to bump up your veggie intake while trimming down on carbs. I love it because it’s delicious and easy to prepare. Spaghetti squash is also referred to as squaghetti, vegetable spaghetti and noodle squash.

What is spaghetti squash?
Spaghetti squash is an oval shaped yellow fruit that contains a stringy flesh and a mild taste. It can also be found in ivory or orange colors; the orange kinds have higher beta-carotene content. The center contains many large, edible seeds.

Nutrition Facts
Spaghetti squash is packed with nutrients including folic acid, potassium, vitamin A and beta carotene. It’s low in calories and fairly low in carbs, especially compared to starchy noodles. In fact, spaghetti has about five times the calories as spaghetti squash

Nutritional Analysis | One cup, cooked
Calories: 42
Fat: <0.5g
Sodium: 28 mg
Carbs: 10 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sugar: 4 g
Protein: 1 g

Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Oven or Microwave

With a very sharp knife, chop off the top or bottom of the squash so it will stand flat and secure on your cutting board. Be very careful as you slice it in half lengthwise. Then use a spoon to scrape out all of the seeds.

To bake in the oven: Heat oven to 375 degrees. Brush the inside of each half with olive oil and optionally sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Place the cut sides down on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until you can easily pierce the squash with a fork. Cool for about 15 minutes, or until squash is cool enough to handle. With a fork, scrape out the spaghetti-like strands and prepare as desired.

Or to microwave: Place squash cut sides down in a microwavable baking dish. Fill the dish with about one inch of water. Microwave on high for about 12 minutes, or until you can easily pierce with a fork. Cooking times will vary depending on the size of the squash. Cool for about 15 minutes, or until the squash is cool enough to handle. With a fork, scrape out the strands and prepare as desired.

Preparation Tips

  • Toss cooked squash in chunky marinara sauce
  • Top with lean protein such as 97% lean ground beef or ground turkey breast
  • Lightly toss strands in olive oil and spices and top with grated parmesan
  • Make a tomato basil spaghetti squash bake
  • Prepare spiced squash pancakes
  • Save the seeds and roast them with olive oil and salt or for a sweet, spicy kick mix in honey, paprika and cayenne pepper

Spaghetti squash is versatile vegetable that is easy to make, delicious to eat and has a high nutrient profile you can’t beat. Try it this season to balance out all the calorie-laden carbs and sweets. You might surprise yourself how good it is and make it a new fall favorite.

Find more recipes from Cooper Clinic Dietitians here.

What’s New About the Proposed New Food Labels?

Earlier this year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration made a formal proposal to update the “nutrition facts” labels on food products to more accurately reflect the current health concerns and eating habits of Americans. These changes will update the current labels that have been around for the past 20 years and will be based on the most current and reliable science.

Americans are now increasingly health conscious and more interested in what’s in their food. Research has shown that between 2007 and 2014, there has been an 8% increase in reading food labels in the age group of 29-68 year olds. Revising the current labels to be more easily decipherable will make it easier for consumers to better understand what to look for when making informed food choices.

The future proposed changes are in the following areas.

Serving Size. Many of the serving sizes will be increased to more realistically reflect how much people actually eat. For example, the current label on a carton of ice cream lists a standard serving as half a cup, but most people typically eat more than half a cup. Read tips to control your portions.

Total Calories. Total calories will be listed more prominently and possibly in bold print towards the top of the new label. The number of calories is one of the most important things to note. While Americans’ waist lines are ever expanding, it’s become increasingly important to pay more attention to calories consumed. It will also make calorie counting easier.

Calories from Fat. This line will be removed from the new labels which will focus more attention on the breakdown of fats. Research shows that the type of fat is more important than the calories from fat. Labels will continue to list total fat, saturated and trans fat.

Sugars. The new labels will note how much added sugar is in the product. At this time, you cannot differentiate how much sugar comes from added sugars versus natural sources found in fruit and milk. This will make it easier for Americans to follow the American Heart Association’s guidelines for limiting added sugar. The recommendations state that men should consume no more than 150 calories a day from added sugar and women no more than 100 calories a day from added sugar.

Daily Values. There will also be updates to sodium, dietary fiber, vitamin D, potassium, calcium and iron. These will be based on the current needs that have changed over the 20 year period.

With more than a third of Americans obese, paying more attention to the labels in their new and improved format is great news! Studies show that people who read labels tend to eat more healthfully. Food knowledge can be a powerful tool!

For information about Cooper Clinic Nutrition services, click here or call 972.560.2655.

Popular Salads from Around the World

June 12, 2014 2 comments

Prioritize fruit and veggie servings – five is fine, but nine is divine!

Do you get tired of eating the same boring salad day in and day out? To spice things up, try venturing outside of your basic plate of greens to a world of international salads that will delight your taste buds. All three of these salads are built with healthy ingredients however we made some minor adjustments that will not sacrifice the taste. You may never grow bored of salad again!

Tabouli is a Middle Eastern salad made from bulgur wheat, finely chopped parsley, scallions and tomatoes.  This tangy crunchy salad is dressed with a blend of lemon juice and olive oil. Use less olive oil for a lighter dish. As a variation try wheat berries in place of the traditional bulgur wheat. Both are excellent sources of whole grains and fiber. Use part mint and part parsley for a refreshing twist. Swap out the scallions for a white onion. Tabouli is traditionally served over Romaine lettuce but also goes well with whole grain pita wedges as a light appetizer. It is a low calorie dish with about 80 calories per ½ cup serving.

Greek salads are very popular, found in both Greek and non-Greek restaurants alike. There are variations to this dish but the basic vegetable ingredients include tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, and green bell peppers.  Interestingly, the traditional version does not include lettuce. Seasonings include a sprinkling of dried oregano and minced garlic. Whisk these together with a high quality extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar. You may use less oil and more vinegar than the recipe calls for. The vinegar offers extra flavor and virtually no calories, sodium or fat. Top salad with flavorful Feta cheese crumbles or cubes and Greek Kalamata olives.  You may garnish with pickled pepperoncini for a hot kick. The heart healthy fats of olive oil and olives make this salad a real winner. Feta cheese is typically not high in fat but you may use a reduced-fat version to save one gram of artery-clogging saturated fat without sacrificing one bit of taste.

Salad Nicoise is a French tuna and vegetable salad that can be served as a main dish. Its high protein content with tuna and eggs make this salad very satiating. The vinaigrette dressing is so simple, containing four basic ingredients: red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, minced scallions and olive oil (add salt and pepper to taste). The salad base is plentiful with greens and topped with tomato wedges, bell pepper strips, basil leaves and black olives. Hard boiled eggs and canned tuna garnish the top. Grilled tuna steaks may be used as a variation. Outside of France boiled potatoes and cooked green beans are very popular additions. This is another heart healthy salad rich in omega-3 fats found in tuna and monounsaturated fats in olive oil and olives.

Whether you are looking for a main dish, appetizer or light salad to accompany your meal, try something new with an international twist and make your salad come to life again!

View salad recipes from Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Nutritionists on our website and follow our Cooperized Recipes board on Pinterest.

What to Eat for Better Sleep

Research shows that sleep deprivation slows the metabolism, makes weight loss difficult and is an additional stressor on the body.

Research shows that sleep deprivation slows the metabolism, makes weight loss difficult and is an additional stressor on the body.

Did you know that what you eat can affect your sleep? There are certain foods that can improve your sleep and others that can disrupt your sleep. Let’s look at how to eat better to get a good night’s rest.

Research has shown that people who reported sleeping less than five hours a night consume more calories than those who slept more than seven hours. Other studies have suggested that sleep deprivation interferes with the hunger and satiety signals. People who don’t get enough sleep may have an imbalance of these hormones, putting them at greater risk for health problems including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and depression. Getting your z’s really does impact your health!

Foods that Improve Sleep

  • Foods with tryptophan. Tryptophan is a sleep-promoting amino acid substance. You may have heard that turkey makes us drowsy because of the tryptophan, however this may not be the case. Mostly carbohydrate foods with tryptophan cause sleepiness (turkey and animal-based proteins do not contain carbohydrates). Good sources of tryptophan include dairy, nuts and seeds, bananas and honey.
  • Combining carbohydrates with dairy. Pair dairy sources with carbohydrate-rich foods to increase blood levels of tryptophan. Try yogurt and whole grain crackers, a small bowl of fiber-rich cereal and fat free milk, or a slice of whole wheat bread and low-fat cheese.
  • Light bedtime snack. This may contradict the unwritten “rule” of not eating before bedtime, however if you have trouble sleeping, there’s truth in eating a light bite to help you fall asleep. Remember to keep it small and light. A heavy snack will make your digestive system run on overtime, hindering sleep.
  • Herbal teas. These can have a sedative affect. Pour yourself a warm cup of chamomile, passion flower tea or valerian as a calming routine at night.

Foods that Hinder Sleep

  • Heavy dinner meal. Overeating at night causes a lot of strain on your digestive system that interferes with sleep. Eating late may also cause you to have heartburn. Try to finish your meal at least three hours before bedtime.
  • Alcohol. Although a few drinks may help you fall asleep, too much will disrupt the important REM “restorative” sleep cycle. Alcohol can cause your blood sugar to drop and wake you up in the middle of the night.
  • High tyramine foods. Avoid pork, chocolate and wine before bedtime because they contain the amino acid tyramine. Tyramine converts to noradrenaline, a brain stimulant.
  • Excess protein. Protein-rich foods that are also high in fat are harder to digest than carbohydrates and can make it more difficult to sleep.
  • High-fat foods and spicy foods. A high-fat meal and spicy foods can disrupt your sleep so skip the fried, rich and spicy foods, especially at night.
  • Hidden caffeine. Even moderate amounts of caffeine can disrupt sleep. Don’t forget less obvious sources in chocolate, soda and even decaf coffee. Cut the caffeine at least four to six hours prior to bedtime. Beware of some over-the-counter headache and cold medicines that may contain caffeine, too.
  • Excess water. Cut off drinking water and other fluids a few hours before bedtime. Drinking too much late at night may interrupt your sleep if it causes you to get up and use the restroom often.

Better sleep “hygiene” is possible with a few tweaks to your diet routine. Test them out and see if you can get a better night’s sleep!

For more information on Nutrition consultations at Cooper Clinic for you and your family click here or call 972.560.2655.

Tips for Your Trip to the Farmer’s Market

The next time you plan your visit to the grocery store, consider your local farmer’s market instead. There’s a wealth of fresh produce to fill up your reusable tote bags. What’s in season? What’s not? To get the most from your experience, consider a few things.

Reasons to Shop at the Farmer’s Market

  • You are making a difference by supporting your local farmers and their success will grow.
  • The produce is picked at the peak of the season, so it’s naturally more flavorful compared to your grocery store items that may not be as fresh from transit to store. In many cases, the market offers lower prices.
  • Follow the simple rule of thumb to eat a rainbow of colors to get a variety of cancer-fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals that different colors offer.

What’s in season right now?

  • Fruits: apples, avocados, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, Texas grapefruit, kiwi, lemons, oranges, papayas, pears, pineapple, raspberries, tangelos and tangerines
  • Vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, radicchio, Belgian endive, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, kale, leeks, lettuces, mushrooms, parsnips, peppers, russet potatoes and new potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, shallots, spinach, sugar snaps, snow peas, squash and sweet potatoes

Strategies for Shopping at the Farmer’s Market

  • Do some research and plan ahead. Seek out what’s in season and know before you go. Think about what meals and snacks you’re planning for the week and guide your purchases around that.
  • Take a stroll around and scan what’s there to decide what and where to buy, instead of settling on the first vendor you walk up to. There are so many choices and the same foods reappear. You might get a sweeter tasting watermelon at one vendor versus another.
  • Try before you buy. Take advantage of taste testing. The vendors offer a plethora of samples so you can taste all the lovely fresh food before you buy it.
  • Get creative and adventurous. Here’s a great opportunity to experiment with foods. You may discover that you like fresh figs, which by the way, are loaded in fiber. Find out how to use certain foods and get new and fresh ideas. Ask your vendor their favorite way to prepare a particular food. You might leave with some new recipes. You may not realize all the uses for a single food. Make it a learning experience for the whole family!
  • Stock up. Buy your favorite foods in season and then freeze them for later when that food is off season. A good example of this would be berries that freeze well.
  • Make requests. Don’t be shy to ask questions. If you are buying for one or two people you may ask for half a basket of an item to get the amount you really “need.” It’s better to buy two tomatoes and actually use them, than a large basket of six tomatoes and realize the other four have spoiled by the end of the week.
  • Have fun! Make your visit to the farmer’s market a field trip for you and your family. You’ll leave with some super nutritious fresh food, some extra knowledge, and maybe even a bit more passion about filling your plate with a rainbow of colors.

To receive more health tips from Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, click here.