The Potential Hidden Danger in Your Cereal

We all know iron is something we need to stay healthy and prevent anemia. But did you know that too much dietary iron can hurt your health? When choosing a cereal, most people grab what tastes good. If they are health conscious, fiber rich cereals might be chosen. Or, a cereal low in sugar and calories might be selected. But, savvy health conscious consumers should also be thinking about iron in cereal.

One of the main problems with iron fortification is that the cereal is fortified for the part of the population that needs the most iron. That part of the population is women of childbearing age. So, listen up adult males and older women: you, in particular, need to be mindful of the iron content of your favorite breakfast cereal.

Check the Nutrition Fact Label for iron

When looking at a Nutrition Fact Label, note the percentage of DV iron. Looking at the above label, if a young female of child-bearing age has a 3/4 cup serving of Wheat Chex, she will be consuming 80% of her iron requirements (or about 14 mg of iron). However, if an adult male or older woman eats 3/4 cup of the above cereal, he/she will be consuming almost double the iron recommendation of 8 mg of iron. The fact that so much of our food supply is fortified with iron increases the risk of getting too much.

Problems resulting from too much iron

Constipation. Aside from being unpleasant, this is not healthy for your body. Any toxins or food pathogens present in your food will linger in your gastrointestinal tract. And, this will potentially threaten your overall health. There is also scientific evidence that constipation can be a risk factor for colorectal cancer.

Possible accelerated aging. Researchers recently pointed this out in worms, and will likely try to evaluate if this applies to aging in humans. In the interim, we already know that iron causes oxidative stress. Oxidative stress in humans is thought to be involved in the development of diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

Iron overload concerns. Healthy people make a hormone, hepcidin, which swings into action to prevent too much iron from being absorbed. However, in a now common genetic condition called iron overload (or technically Hemochromatosis), the body is unable to put the brakes on iron absorption and iron begins to build up in the tissues. Early symptoms are varied and include fatigue, abdominal pain, and increased infections. Later symptoms include liver failure and heart failure, bone damage, and diabetes.

For those who have yet to be diagnosed with iron overload, choosing a cereal with generous iron is particularly problematic. Healthy males and older women should read the cereal Nutrition Fact Label to make the best choice for iron intake. Chances are your cereal has too much, so buyer beware.

Sue Rose is an IL licensed dietitian/nutritionist providing counseling to both corporations and individuals. She invites you to visit her blog for intelligent and relevant diet and lifestyle strategies to enhance your life and well-being.

50 Calorie Snacks: Something for Everyone

Do you like to snack? It seems most of us do if we have the choice. According to one survey, in 2018, 43% of respondents reported eating three meals and a few snacks on a daily basis. And, another 32% usually skip or replace one meal per day with snacks. Impulse snacking is not the only type of snacking. Planned snacking is also on the rise, and choosing 50 calorie snacks with a strategic purpose is smart eating!

According to a Nielson report, 33 billion US dollars are being spent on snacks. The current trend for snacks is opting for snacks that call attention to health claims. Choosing packaged convenience snacks that are non-GMO, free of artificial colors/flavors, and low in sugar are leading the way.

If your goal is managing blood sugar or weight, opting for a healthier low calorie snack is not optional. Poor snacking can definitely wreck the best eating plans. But, selecting healthier snacks that fit your personal calorie requirements and dietary needs can help your overall healthy eating strategy.

50 calorie snacks with some protein

Protein offers the dietary advantage of making you feel full for a longer time period. It helps regulate blood sugar by stabilizing it. And, in order to maintain blood sugar levels, it is not necessary to consume a large amount of protein. The portions below will often be just enough to keep hunger pangs away by preventing drastic drops in your blood sugar levels.

1 slice of 2% milkfat American cheese
1 oz. of lean turkey
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup 2% cottage cheese
Laughing cow cheese wedge
1 oz. flank steak
1/3 cup garbanzo beans
3 oz. Dannon Greek yogurt
3 Tbsp. egg whites
1 oz. chicken
50 calorie snacks to satisfy your sweet tooth
While there’s nothing unusual about having a sweet tooth, most people know that this can get out of control. Knowing the portion sizes that can satisfy your sweet tooth without ruining your waistline is important for your sanity and health. The ten options below will help your cravings and keep your trim.

1 fig bar
5 jelly beans
12 M & M candies
1 vanilla Snackwell cookie
1/2 of a low fat 100 calorie ice cream sandwich
2 Hershey kisses (more ideas for chocolate cravings)
coffee with 1 tsp. sugar and 2 Tbsp. half and half
2 marshmallows
diet root beer float made with diet root beer + 1/4 cup ice cream
1/4 cup frosted mini wheats
Fiber rich snacks to fill you up
Fiber has so many health benefits for so many medical concerns. One of the key benefits of fiber is that is fills you up-we say it offers satiety. If you feel full, then you will theoretically be less inclined to keep eating. Obviously, feeling full is great while you are trying to shed some pounds or manage weight.

12 baby carrots
1 cup watermelon
10 dill pickles
1/2 grapefruit
15 grapes
1 cup cantaloupe
15 cherry tomatoes
1 cup light popcorn
1/2 oz. melba wheat toast crackers
1 large chopped pepper
Enjoy this list to meet your snacking goals along with rounding out your dietary requirements.
Sue Rose is an IL licensed dietitian/nutritionist providing counseling to both corporations

Some Food Pairings That You Need To Avoid

Can Fruits be eaten with or after a meal? which proteins can be combined with starchy foods? DO some food decrease your digestive rate? Are there some food combinations to avoid?

These are a few questions that I will attempt to address in this article. I have also described the reasons why a few food combinations are beneficial and why some of them must be strictly avoided.

Before understanding the rules regarding the best and worst food combinations, let us define every food category:

Starchy foods: Pasta, bread, cereals, grains, potatoes/ sweet potatoes, winter squashes or pumpkin
Non-Starchy foods: Asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, onions, brussels sprouts, artichokes, broccoli, celery, eggplant, mushrooms, leafy greens, peppers or zucchini
Proteins: Chicken, beef, eggs, fish, seeds, nuts, beans, legumes or soy products like tofu.
Fruits: Includes all the acidic, less acidic, sweet fruits and melons
Lets look a few food pairings or combinations that have to be avoided:

1. Latte and a croissant:

This breakfast combination consists of processed foods like croissant, which lacks fibre. This combination spikes the blood insulin levels and can lead to a serious sugar crash. It further decreases the energy production in the cells and allows the liver to store the excess calories as fat instead of using them as fuel.

As an alternative, it is better to include a whole-grain English muffin and a Black coffee in your breakfast. This combination is rich in fibre and low in fats. The caffeine in the black coffee will help the cells burn fat faster, while the whole grain muffin will cause a slow release of energy.

2. Fruits with a meal:

Fruits are a rich source of sugar and can break down at a faster rate compared to a heavy meal, which consists of meat, vegetables, starch etc. This leads to a fermentation reaction in your stomach and causes many digestive issues.

Similarly, combining some fruits with dairy can lead to bloating. Avoid eating citrus fruits with milk, however, you can eat dates and milk. Fruits must be consumed individually, and not with any other foods. The best time to eat fruits is in the mornings, on an empty stomach, with a glass of water, as it helps in detoxifying your system. You can also indulge in a fruit as an afternoon snack rather than reaching for those chips!

3. Dairy products with meat, fruits or vegetables.

Milk needs to be consumed alone. You can use a few spices like cinnamon and cardamom to enhance the flavor of milk. Avoid using milk with sour foods. The acidic nature of these fruits curdles the milk in the stomach and can lead to many digestive problems. You can eat dates and milk.

Dairy products like cheese and yoghurt with fish, eggs, beans, meat etc., must not be combined together.

On the other hand, clarified butter or ghee can be used for cooking vegetables as it displays similar properties as cooking oil.

4. Beans with dairy, eggs, fish, meat or fruit.

Though beans are very beneficial and product vital micronutrients like Iron and magnesium, they contain a high quantity of soluble fibre, which can lead to flatulence. Combining this food product with meat, eggs or dairy can become very difficult to digest and can lead to bloating.

Instead pair beans with nuts, other beans, vegetables or lentils. These need to be cooked well to aid in digestion.

5. Melons with other foods:

Melons must always be consumed on their own or not consumed at all. They MUST NOT be combined with dairy, grains, fried foods, eggs or starchy foods.

Hence, in summary, some of the food combination rules are as follows:

1. Foods that CAN be combined:

• Starchy foods can be combined with the non-starchy items

2. Foods combinations that MUST be avoided:

• Starchy foods and proteins

• One form of protein with a different form

3. Some foods that NEED TO BE EATEN ALONE

• Melons

• Dairy

These rules are based on the fact that all different categories of foods are digested at different rates and generate different by-products. For instance, the starchy and non-starchy foods can be combined together since they can be digested at the same pH level; while starches and proteins are digested at different pH levels.

Also, some foods like fruits are digested faster than proteins, and hence need to be eaten separately. If combined, it can overload the digestive system and decrease its efficiency.

Let’s look at one example of an ideal food combination:

Breakfast: You can include a fruit bowl with bananas, berries or grapefruit
Mid-morning snack: A whole-grain toast with avocado, or scrambled eggs or veggies. (DO not add cheese since 2 proteins must be avoided and also dairy is eaten separately). You can have a cup of black coffee.
Lunch: A tofu or chicken salad with veggies like lettuce, peppers etc. You can also use a vinaigrette or olive oil dressing on the salad.
Afternoon/Evening Snack: You can include a fruit like apple or pear. It should be 2-3 h before your dinner
Dinner: Brown rice with any one protein of your choice.
These food combinations are based on the ancient Ayurvedic theories regarding which foods work best. Though, not all the rules can be practically followed, you can always try your best to incorporate a few of these rules in your daily lives. Remember to include a large variety of foods in your diets to derive the maximal amount of nutrients.