Optimize your fruit and vegetable choices with tips from our wellness experts

eating well doesn't have to break the bankIt should come as no surprise that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is part of a healthy diet. The more vegetables and fruit you eat, the less likely you are to develop cardiovascular disease, age-related eye diseases, osteoporosis and some types of cancer. What does seem to be surprising to many is how easy it is to incorporate vegetables and fruit into our diets. We often hear one of these comments as the reason someone is not eating enough vegetables and fruit:

     “Fresh produce is so expensive.”

     “Fresh produce goes bad before I use it.”

     “I don’t know what I should buy, and I don’t know what to do with the stuff I do buy.”

These are legitimate questions and concerns. Here are some things to consider that will hopefully help to address how to incorporate produce more easily into your diet.

Add More Variety

We eat with our eyes. Lots of color and variety is key. We eat with our eyes – color and variety make a plate of food look more enticing. Keep this in mind when you are trying to persuade yourself or your family to eat more vegetables and fruit. Not only does variety prevent boredom, it also ensures that your body gets a full spectrum of nutrients. Different types and colors of foods provide different vitamins, minerals and other plant compounds that enable your body to perform its everyday functions and prevent disease. Add produce that is in season or locally grown is likely to be fresher and more flavorful, and generally it is more cost effective.

TIP: Purchase produce in season, cut it up into smaller pieces and freeze for use throughout the year.

Fresh vs. Frozen vs. Canned

While fresh is always best, it may not always be possible to have fresh produce. Frozen fruits and vegetables are convenient, nutritious, and often less expensive, so they are your next best option. Avoid items with added sugar, butter or sauces, as this adds extra calories and fat. In the case of beans and tomato products, canned versions are far more convenient and can still be relatively healthy. When buying canned vegetables, choose low-sodium or no-salt-added options; otherwise, drain and rinse thoroughly to reduce the sodium.

TIP: Keep some frozen vegetables on hand for a quick and easy addition to soups, pastas or rice dishes.

Think About Organic

Should you buy organic produce? That’s something you have to decide for yourself.

If you would like to eat organic foods to reduce the amount of synthetic chemicals you ingest, but you can’t buy organic every time, here are a few suggestions for prioritizing your purchases:

  • If you frequently eat a lot of certain types of fruits or vegetables, buy organic versions of them to reduce your intake of the particular pesticides commonly used on those crops.
  • Check out “The Dirty Dozen.” It is a list of conventional produce that, according the Environmental Working Group, carries a high pesticide load. Buying organic versions of these foods can reduce your consumption of toxic chemicals.
  • Most pesticide residue exists on the outer surface of produce, so you may want to buy organic if you are planning to eat the skin.

Organic foods are not necessarily more nutritious, and there is no good evidence to show that eating organic produce reduces your risk of cancer. The important thing is that you eat more fruits and veggies, however you manage to do it.

For more tips on making the most of your produce see this TMC for Women post.

Design your personalized nutrition plan or tour the grocery store with help from our registered dietitians

Make summer snacks fun, tasty and healthy

Summer snack 3Summertime brings vacations, warm weather and great food. The TMC and TMCOne Clinical Dietician Kallie Siderewicz offers some tips to make summer food fun, tasty and healthy.

Healthy doesn’t mean boring

Try a peanut butter and low-fat Greek yogurt dip for fruit. Ranch seasoning also gives Greek yogurt the yum factor for dipping veggies.

Other fun dishes include fruit kabobs, apples slices topped with peanut butter, coconut, and chocolate chips. A summertime favorite is fruit coated with frozen yogurt.

Cool off by infusing water or tea with lemon, lime, berries, oranges, mint, or rosemary.

Summer snackFor an adult beverage, try light beer, a glass of red wine or liquor mixed with water or diet soda.

High-calorie pitfalls

Before hot summer days have you reaching for a frozen coffee drink – remember that a small serving can have over 500 calories. Sodas and most sports drinks offer hard-to-burn calories with no nutrition.

For adults, mixed drinks usually combine alcohol and sugar, piling calories on top of calories.

Fruit salads made with fruit canned in heavy syrup can have as many calories as pie and cake, especially if you add marshmallows and whipped cream.

Don’t forget water

Water is the absolute best thing you can give your body. It hydrates, helps cleanse and cool. Another good reason to drink water – it can aid in weight loss.

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Kallie Siderewicz is a clinical dietician at the TMCOne Rincon location. She also provides nutrition services at Tucson Medical Center.

Food-safe grilling and picnicking

Food grilling safety tipsFor heat-tolerant Arizonans, and for those visiting slightly cooler destinations, summer is a time for picnics and cookouts. Unfortunately, it can also be a prime time for foodborne illness (“food poisoning”) to hit. Although warm summer temperatures may make humans feel sluggish, bacteria are undeterred. In fact, most harmful bacteria reproduce faster at temperatures of 90° to 100° F. That’s a good reason to be cautious, but there’s no need to give up al fresco dining. You can still have an enjoyable outing by following a few simple food safety guidelines:

Food Safety Basics: Clean,  Separate, Cook, Chill

  1. Clean your hands and anything that is going to touch the food – cutting boards, utensils, cookware and other surfaces. The best cleanser is soap and warm water. However, if they are not available, you can use alcohol-based hand sanitizer on your hands. Wipe or rinse off any dirt or grease before applying the hand sanitizer, so it can work better. If you are heading outdoors, bring clean utensils and other items with you. Be sure to pack everything into clean coolers, baskets and bags.
  2. Separate raw meat, poultry, fish or eggs from ready-to-eat foods. Raw meat, etc., should be wrapped in its own container and carried in a separate cooler filled with ice. Once a raw item is cooked, do not put it back into the same container, which may still be contaminated with germs.
  3. Cook that raw meat, poultry, fish and eggs to a safe internal temperature. You cannot rely on color to tell you whether or not the food is safe. Use a food thermometer, and go to www.fightbac.org/cook-1 to find a chart of safe temperatures for various foods.
  4. Chill perishable food at 40° F or below until you are ready to cook or eat it. When transporting food, carry it in the air-conditioned section of the car, not in the trunk. If you are working with frozen foods, do not defrost them at room temperature. At the end of the meal, chill leftovers as soon as possible. It is normally recommended to put leftovers in the refrigerator within 2 hours. However, if the ambient temperature is above 90° F, you only have 1 hour to get them chilled. If you are picnicking or camping, it would be wise to discard the perishable leftovers rather than risk a foodborne illness.

Healthier Grilling

Cooking meat, poultry or fish at a high temperature – as in pan frying or direct grilling – can create carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compounds. There are steps you can take to minimize the amount of dangerous compounds in your food.

  1. Choose lean cuts of meat and poultry, and cut off visible fat before cooking. Another option is to choose fish or vegetables instead. Less fat produces fewer toxins.
  2. Marinate food before cooking it.
  3. Cook at a lower temperature. If using a gas grill, don’t set it on high. With conventional grills, use hardwood charcoal, which burns at a lower temperature than softer woods like mesquite. Flipping the food frequently will also keep the surface temperature cooler.
  4. Cook indirectly rather than setting food directly over the flame or coals.
  5. Do not eat charred food. Cajun food blackened with spices is not a problem. Food blackened by overcooking or burning is.

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Mediterranean diet has much to offer

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We know that healthy diets can definitely be beneficial in lowering LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, which is a major risk factor in causing heart attacks and strokes. In general, the main principle is to avoid saturated fats.

Cholesterol itself is only found in animal fats, so you would think that avoiding animal products would be sufficient to prevent elevated cholesterol. Certainly, it is important to avoid high-fat meats and cheeses. Lunch meats, bacon and similar products should be totally avoided. At the same time, avoiding animal products is insufficient because vegetable products with saturated fats will stimulate the liver to produce cholesterol. So, the amount of cholesterol that is eaten is only one factor in determining blood levels of cholesterol.

A Mediterranean diet appears to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events. These diets are typically high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and include olive oil as an important source of fat. There are typically low to moderate amounts of fish, poultry, dairy products, and red meat is limited to no more than a few times a month. Herbs and spices are used instead of salt to flavor foods.

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There is often red wine in addition to the diet*. Resveratrol is an anti-oxidant especially found in the skin of red grapes. It has not been proven to lower LDL cholesterol but does help prevent cardiovascular disease, probably by other mechanisms (the same is true for dark chocolate). However, even without the wine the Mediterranean diet, particularly including virgin olive oil, seems to be very effective in decreasing heart attacks and strokes.

William Abraham, M.D.

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Dr. William Abraham is board-certified in internal medicine and has more than 30 years of experience. He is a TMC One provider who specializes in same-day/next-day appointments at the Wilmot location.

TMC One Med Group your health your team OL

*Please consult your doctor before changing your diet. Red wine should be enjoyed in moderation.

Keeping your food safe while outing…

picnic food safetyThe summer has fully kicked in and trips to the beach, a picnic at your favorite park, and an overnight stay in a campsite sound so exhilarating!

It is certain that food will be involved in any of these trips since we all need to eat. Perhaps your favorite grilled entree paired with vegetable skewers and fresh-squeezed lemonade over ice sound like a perfect culinary experience during an outing.  Wouldn’t you want to finish up this experience without gastrointestinal problems?

To protect you and your trip crew against food borne illnesses and keep a pleasantly healthy gastrointestinal system (mostly made up of your stomach, intestines, and trips to the WC…) when eating outdoors, follow these eight simple guidelines for preparing, transporting and serving your food safely – you can even print this page, take it with you and share it with your trip crew. This can be a teachable moment for your children, family members and friends. We all eat and handle food, so this info is worthwhile to everyone. Happy outing!

Eight Simple Food Safety Steps

  1. Keep everything clean. Always wash and dry your hands before handling food or cooking, and after using the restroom, touching your body, and handling raw animal foods. Make sure all utensils and dishes are cleaned with running water and soap when preparing foods and reusing them.
  2. Fresh fruits and vegetables. Unless they are packaged and labeled “ready-to-eat” or “washed,” rinse and dry them with running water before eating or packaging them. Brush fruits and vegetables with skin.
  3. Don’t cross-contaminate. Don’t let cooked food touch raw foods and keep raw meat, poultry and seafood away from foods that do not require cooking them to a specific internal temperature.
  4. Keep cold food cold (at or below 40°F) and hot food hot (at or above 140°F) during preparation and storing to prevent bacterial growth. A food thermometer comes in handy; make sure to sanitize it with alcohol before each use. Tip: carry coolers inside the cabin of the car as the trunk can get too warm, becoming the perfect environment for bacteria.
  5. Cook food thoroughly. Use a food thermometer to be sure food is cooked to a safe internal temperature – the table below from the FoodSafety.gov website shows food-specific cooking temperatures.
  6. Check for foreign objects in food. For example, body hair or bristles from a brush to clean the grill. Tip: tie your hair back or wear a cap when cooking.
  7. Store leftovers ASAP. Place them in a refrigerator or ice chest to keep them at or below 40°F. Discard food if it has been left out for over 2 hours or over 1 hour if the temperature is above 90°F, and if they have been stored for 2 days or more. Specific food storage times are found here.
  8. Reheating. When reheating cooked food, reheat to 165°F.
Category Food

Temperature (°F) 

Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb

160

Turkey, Chicken

165

Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb Steaks, roasts, chops

145

Poultry Chicken & Turkey, whole, breasts, roasts, thighs, legs, wingsDuck & GooseStuffing (cooked alone or in bird)

165

Pork and Ham Fresh pork and ham (raw)

145

Precooked ham (to reheat)

140

Eggs & Egg Dishes Eggs

Cook until yolk & white are firm

Egg dishes

160

Leftovers & Casseroles Leftovers & casseroles

165

Seafood Fin Fish

145 or cook until flesh is opaque & separates easily with a fork.

Shrimp, lobster, and crabs

Cook until flesh is pearly & opaque.

Clams, oysters, and mussels

Cook until shells open during cooking.

Scallops

Cook until flesh is milky white or opaque & firm.

 

Blog Courtesy of Martha Mosqueda

 


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