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.

How to have fun and stay guilt free this holiday season.

By Sifa Tu

The Holiday season is here! During this time of year, it’s all about the parties, tasty food and beverages. However, all that indulging can have a downside: holiday weight gain. According to the journal of obesity the average person gains 1.7 pounds from Thanksgiving to the New Year. May not sound like much but the extra weight put on during the holidays isn’t lost during the following year and tends to pile on throughout the course of the year. Nevertheless, there are ways to avoid this trap. Try these simple tips and you can still eat, drink, and be merry without piling on the pounds.

Bring your own healthy food!
If you’re currently crushing your diet or you just don’t want to pack on the pounds during the holidays, then prepping your own healthy foods to bring to the party maybe just for you. This will keep you from being tempted due to limited amount of healthy food choices.

H20 is the way to go!
While rushing around shopping and preparing for guests, it’s easy to forget to drink plenty of water. Aim to get in at least eight glasses per day. Your body easily confuses being hungry and being thirsty, so drinking water regularly will keep you from eating when what you really need is to drink.

Eat Slowly!
A review of 22 studies that looked at eating speed and food intake published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2014 concluded that eating slowly reduces calorie intake. The flavor and texture become more noticeable, so a smaller amount of food still seems satisfying.

Fiber up!
Eating plenty of veggies and some fruits in season will help keep you satiated longer due to the fiber and keep you from splurging on some not so healthy foods.

Stay Active!
We all know the tremendous amount of health benefits when it comes to physical activity. So, hike, run, lift, stretch, dance etc., anything that will keep you active!


  1. Clark, Michelle J., and Joanne L. Slavin. “The effect of fiber on satiety and food intake: a systematic review.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition3 (2013): 200-211.
  2. Colman, Gregory J., and Dhaval M. Dave. Physical activity and health. No. w18858. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2013.
  3. Díaz-Zavala, Rolando G., et al. “Effect of the Holiday Season on Weight Gain: A Narrative Review.” Journal of obesity 2017 (2017).
  4. Parretti, Helen M., et al. “Efficacy of water preloading before main meals as a strategy for weight loss in primary care patients with obesity: RCT.” Obesity9 (2015): 1785-1791.
  5. Robinson, Eric, et al. “A systematic review and meta-analysis examining the effect of eating rate on energy intake and hunger.” The American journal of clinical nutrition(2014): ajcn-081745.