Nutrition Controversies Summed Up

New information and research keeps the field of nutrition dynamic and evolving. Some of the information that is shared and liked is evidence based and some is hyped without being completely understood. A healthy diet is considered to be the most important tool in reducing heart disease risk so knowing which fad to believe and which to avoid can be life changing. Here is an article from the trusted Journal of the American College of Cardiology that breaks down the diets that have been proven to be heart healthy, those that have been proven to be harmful and those that are still inconclusive at this time.
Read the whole article here:

Is Chocolate Really Heart Healthy?

 By Sue Saso @behealthysaso

When I think of Valentines Day I think of one thing: chocolate! It’s probably not a coincidence that Valentines Day is in February, the same month the American Heart Association has declared “National Heart Month” because after all, chocolate is good for you, right?
Research has discovered that flavonols, a plant nutrient found in the cocoa (or cacao) bean, and therefore chocolate, may help contribute to lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot. (1). However, the more processed the cocoa bean is to sweeten chocolate, the less flavonols left in the final product. So yes, enjoying dark chocolate (e.g. 1 ounce of 70% chocolate or greater) a few times a week may be beneficial to your heart (2). Also include lots of other foods in your diet that are rich in flavanols like apples, peanuts, onions, green tea and red wine (in moderation).
Beyond flavonols, our bodies need many other nutrients to reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and improve our heart health. According to US News and World Report (3), the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet (4) and Mediterranean diet (5) tied for first place in 2017 for being the healthiest eating plans. Why is this important? Both plans have evidence of lowering cardiovascular disease risk, blood pressure and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. (6) They both emphasize eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans, fish, and unsaturated fats (like virgin olive or canola oil). They both also include choosing low-fat dairy, lean poultry, minimize beef, and limiting salt intake between 1500 – 2300 mg per day (choose herbs and spices instead). Although 1 glass of red wine per day may be beneficial, alcohol and foods high in saturated fat are severely limited while refined sugar and flour are out.

So what does this look like? Here’s a list to help you shop for healthy, nutritious foods for your heart!

Whole Grains: 4-5 servings
Grains include whole wheat bread, whole grain cereal like oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, barley and whole wheat pasta. Look for products labeled “100 percent whole grain” or “100 percent whole wheat.” One serving includes 1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice or pasta.

Vegetables: 5-6 servings
Tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, greens like spinach and kale, summer squashes, and other non-starchy vegetables. One serving is 1 cup of raw or ½ cup of cooked veggies.

Fruits: 3-5 servings
Fresh fruits are low in fat (except coconuts) and include apple, berries, ½ banana, orange, pear, etc. 1/2 cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit (in natural juices with no sugar added) is 1 serving.

Dairy: 2 to 3 servings
Low fat (1%) or fat-free milk, yogurt, cottage cheese and other dairy products including 1 cup skim or 1% milk or low-fat yogurt, or 1½ ounces part-skim cheese. Flavored yogurts should contain less than 15 grams of sugar per serving.

Lean poultry and fish: 6 ounces per day (deck of cards equals 3 ounces)
Choose skinless chicken or turkey breast for protein. Eggs and soybean-based products, such as tofu and tempeh, are good meat alternatives, as is shrimp. Salmon, herring and tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower your total cholesterol. Minimize beef and processed meats.

Nuts, seeds and legumes (beans): ¼ cup of nuts, 2 tablespoons of seeds, or ½ cup beans per day
Almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, sunflower seeds, kidney beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, edamame are full of fiber and healthy fats.

Fats and oils: 2 to 3 servings
Unsaturated fats such as olive oil, canola oil, avocado and avocado oil are best. One serving includes 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise or 2 tablespoons salad dressing (oil based).

Put it all together and you’re on your way to a healthier you!

(1) (August 17, 2017)

(2) (June 17, 2015)


(4) (October 2016)

5) (November 3, 2017)

6) Today’s Dietitian, Vol. 19, No. 5, May 2017

Sue Saso is a health educator and nutritionist whose professional background includes biometric results consultations, facilitating mind-body wellness classes, and health

coaching. Sue works as a consultant for BaySport providing one-on-one counseling to help people achieve their fitness goals and improve their overall health and well-being. She has a Master in Public Health degree and is a NASM-certified personal trainer. Sue enjoys working out, live music, travel, reading and hanging out with her husband and two boys.


By Tony Neal

We all are probably aware of what motivation is, but how do we explain it to others in a way that makes sense, when we all feel motivated by different factors as individuals. Motivation is the desire to achieve something, which stems from a reward type system. That can come from an actual materialized reward or a personal feeling. We as people can gather motivation from both of these types of motivational ideas.

Extrinsic Motivation is gaining motive from outside factors such as participating in a sporting event on a team to win the game. Another example would be a high school student needing a scholarship, and doing particular things in order to give them a better chance of qualifying/receiving one. These external factors help push us as individuals toward a goal that we can quantify or materialize.

Intrinsic Motivation is using inside factors from within one’s own mindset to further achieve a goal or outcome. For example a person who wakes up extra early to work out due to time constraints or other commitments in their daily routine. A person who takes special interest in a topic and chooses to go to the library in their free time to furthermore read and research more information. These specific examples are motivational ideas that start from within an individual.

Extrinsic and Intrinsic motivations are both very important in their own way. When it comes to fitness and health related goals, they become vital! Each person will vary in what drives them to continue on working towards their goals, whether it is losing weight for better health, or wanting to be around for kids/grandkids, or simply just wanting to look physically better for a significant other, a vacation, a wedding, etc. Most fitness people understand these concepts and how important it is for them to practice staying motivated as well as motivating others.

Some ideas that I have come across in my 11 year fitness and health journey, include both extrinsic and intrinsic motivating factors. I have competed in numerous competitions where I was trying to win a prize, which to me was a huge driving factor. I have attended a university to gain a health degree, to be able to make a career in something I am passionate about. I have also spent many years trying to achieve further knowledge and understanding of my own personal goals and fitness related concepts. It serves as a constant reminder as to why you are doing things to help get you closer to your goals. Here is a list of some motivation tactics I like to use to help myself:

  • Using the background of your phone to save keywords or a picture of your goal
  • Writing sticky notes and placing them in the bathroom on the mirror where you get ready
  • Surrounding yourself with positive people and limiting time spent reading negative comments
  • Using social media as a platform for ideas and positive reinforcement
  • Keeping a notepad or person journal to write down any ideas or thoughts
  • Purchasing particular sized clothing to use as guide to see results
  • Creating musical playlist that fits the situation or mood you are looking for
  • Reading self-help or autobiographical stories on other people who have achieved/overcome amazing circumstances
  • Taking personal time to reflect in silence with just your own thoughts and all outside factors gone (phones, people, TV, music, etc.)


Tony is 30 years old and has a high level of passion for health and wellness. Tony has been a fitness specialist for 5 years and a personal trainer for 7 years. He graduated from Miami University (OH) with a B.S. in Kinesiology. He gets the most enjoyment out of teaching individuals that they have the power to change their body and mindset with enough hard work, knowledge and discipline. Outside of work Tony enjoys traveling, cooking, and sports.