Category Archives: Breaking Nutrition News

Legumes! New Information Shows Even Greater Health Benefits


Legumes may lower risk of type 2 diabetes

Written by Ana Sandoiu
Published: Sunday 2 April 2017

Type 2 diabetes is a serious health concern in the United States and across the globe. New research shows that a high consumption of legumes significantly reduces the risk of developing the disease.
[various types of legumes]
A new study suggests that a high consumption of legumes can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 35 percent.

The legume family consists of plants such as alfalfa, clover, peas, peanuts, soybeans, chickpeas, lentils, and various types of beans.

As a food group, they are believed to be particularly nutritious and healthful. One of the reasons for this is that they contain a high level of B vitamins, which help the body to make energy and regulate its metabolism.

Additionally, legumes are high in fiber and contain minerals such as calcium , magnesium, andpotassium. They also comprise a variety of so-called phytochemicals – bioactive compounds that further improve the body’s metabolism and have been suggested to protect against heart disease and diabetes.

Finally, legumes are also considered to be a “low glycemic index food,” which means that blood sugar levels increase very slowly after they are consumed.

To make people aware of the many health benefits of legumes, the year 2016 has been declared theInternational Year of Pulses by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Pulses are a subgroup of legumes.

Because of their various health benefits, it has been suggested that legumes protect against the onset oftype 2 diabetes – a serious illness that affects around 29 million people in the U.S. and more than 400 million adults worldwide. However, little research has been carried out to test this hypothesis.

Therefore, researchers from the Unit of Human Nutrition at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona, Spain, together with other investigators from the Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea (PREDIMED) study, set out to investigate the association between legume consumption and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in people at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

The study also analyzes the effects of substituting foods rich in proteins and carbohydrates with legumes, and the findings were published in the journal Clinical Nutrition.

High intake of lentils lowers risk of type 2 diabetes by 33 percent

The team investigated 3,349 participants in the PREDIMED study who did not have type 2 diabetes at the beginning of the study. The researchers collected information on their diets at the start of the study and every year throughout the median follow-up period of 4.3 years.

Individuals with a lower cumulative consumption of legumes had approximately 1.5 weekly servings of 60 grams of raw legumes, or 12.73 grams per day. A higher legume consumption was defined as 28.75 daily grams of legumes, or the equivalent of 3.35 servings per week.

Using Cox regression models, the researchers analyzed the association between the incidence of type 2 diabetes and the average consumption of legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, dry beans, and fresh peas.

Overall, during the follow-up period, the team identified 266 new cases of type 2 diabetes.

The study revealed that those with a higher intake of legumes were 35 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than their counterparts who consumed a smaller amount of legumes. Of all the legumes studied, lentils had the strongest association with a low risk of type 2 diabetes.

In fact, individuals with a high consumption of lentils (defined as almost one weekly serving) were 33 percent less likely to develop diabetes compared with their low-consumption counterparts – that is, the participants who had less than half a serving per week.

Additionally, the researchers found that replacing half a daily serving of protein- and carbohydrate-rich foods – including bread, eggs, rice, or potatoes – with an equivalent serving of legumes also correlated with a reduced risk of diabetes.

The authors conclude that:

“A frequent consumption of legumes, particularly lentils, in the context of a Mediterranean diet, may provide benefits on type 2 diabetes prevention in older adults at high cardiovascular risk.”

Fish Oil Supplements – Helpful or Harmful?

The American Heart Association has, for years, recommended fatty fish to help reduce the chance of heart disease.   Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

There are documented benefits linked to omega-3 fatty acids. According to the, omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fatty acid, which have been shown in clinical trials to reduce inflammation and lower risk for heart disease. Other benefits include decreasing triglycerides, lowering blood pressure, reducing risk for blood clots, boosting immunity and improving arthritis symptoms. Even more studies have shown omega-3 fatty acids improve memory for adults and learning ability for children.

fish oil woman mouth

Health seekers have turned to omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements for a couple of reasons.

Some people dislike fish, especially fatty fish, which is the best food source of omega-3s. Anchovies and sardines are two of the richest sources, but a lot of people complain about the “fishy taste” so fish oil capsules are an ideal compromise.

Contamination is yet another concern. Fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel may be overfished, farmed (and fed antibiotics), or tainted with mercury. A few years back, actor Jeremy Piven would up in the hospital with mercury toxicity – it appears that his twice-daily meal of raw sushi (tuna, mackerel, salmon) caused his mercury levels to soar.

Fresh fish can be expensive – and supplements may be a way to get the fish benefits more cheaply and easily.

But, as reported in Men’s Fitness,   there are countless brands of fish oil supplements ranging in price from $5 up to $30 dollars per bottle – available over-the-counter, even online. But be forewarned – all supplements are not created equal – some may even be dangerous – they may contain less of the active EPA and DHA omega-3s than advertised…or worse, they may contain unsafe and illegal levels of PCBs.  Safe supplements will list the species of fish used to make the oil (salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies are the richest and safest fish in terms of level of mercury), and also list total amounts of EPA and DHA – as well as the source of the fish, and a guarantee that there are no heavy metals, toxins or pesticides. I think it’s important to only buy supplements that have been reviewed by an independent, third-party testing company, such as or


Consumers can skip supplements and if they dislike fish they can choose other sources of omega-3 fatty acids, including vegetarian omega-3 supplements (vegetable oils such as soybean, canola, walnut, and flaxseed) and foods such as walnuts and flaxseeds.

The American Heart Association recommends eating one to two servings a week of fish, particularly fish that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids. The AHA cites studies that link consumption to a reduced risk of heart disease and sudden cardiac death.

All fish are good sources of protein but the best advice is to avoid potential contaminants – such as mercury – by eating a variety of fish – avoid big predatory fish like swordfish, tuna, and shark – and eat smaller fish like sardines, anchovies, and my favorite, shellfish – all are rich in omega-3s and have a low chance of being contaminated.

To learn more about all sources of omega-3 fatty acids: from both fish and vegetarian sources from, click here

To learn more about fish oil supplements from the click here


Make Your Hands Smile With My Meal

Some great innovative information from Angie Hasemann, a genius registered dietitian colleague from the University of Virgina:

“Want to know how to teach children and adults how to balance meals, focus on fruits and veggies, and eat appropriate portions in a simple, easy‐to‐remember way? Try out this simple “Make Your Hands Smile” trick to teach clients of any age in under five minutes. It may just be the most effective tool you’ve ever learned. Place your hands palms up, side‐by‐side. Your meal should be just enough food to cover your hands (accounting for children of different ages). One palm is a lean protein; the other is a whole grain. Fingers are filled with fruits and veggies. Your hands are filled, but what if you’re still hungry? Spread out our fingers to fit more fruits and veggies (our best choices for seconds). Recognize the shape of the smiley face, with the most important part (the mouth) being fruits and vegetables-the best part to eat first! Using numerous photos of actual meals demonstrating this concept to encourage balance, portion control, and to focus on fruits and veggies is the perfect teaching tool for clients, students, and other health professionals. Family tested and RD approved, this simple technique for teaching the very basics of nutrition in a fun and creative way has proven to be effective with children of all ages and is regularly used with overweight and obese children in the University of Virginia’s Children’s Fitness Clinic.

This innovation has already enhanced the practice and performance of practitioners. It turns all of the basics‐‐that we try to teach overweight children, adults wanting to lose weight, and other health professionals with little nutrition education‐‐into something simple, fun, and easy to remember. It’s an effective way of providing pictures for visual learners and utilizes a tool‐‐our hands‐‐that stays with us all day long. It solves the questions of “Why is my big brother getting more food than me?”, “How do I know how much to eat?”, and “How can I plan a healthy meal?”. With the overriding concept of half of the plate being fruits and vegetables, it’s an easy message for kids and parents to understand and health professionals to pass on to their clients. The pictures of smiley face meals are great ideas for meal planning as well.

Feedback from patients, their parents and other family members, students and interns, as well as other health professionals shows they have successfully learned basic nutrition and applied it to their daily life with the use of the innovation. Many RDs and DTRs struggle with translating the science of nutrition into user-friendly formats that motivate people to be interested in nutrition and empower them to make real changes. This technique is simple to understand, easy to apply, and impossible to forget. Kids come back requesting that every meal be in the shape of the smiley face and going for their fruits and veggies first at meals, because that’s what they learned! Physicians have responded that it’s one of the easiest ways to communicate nutrition to their patients and can be done without any visual aids or handouts, so its ease of use makes it more practical for their office setting. Using and teaching techniques likes this helps our clients and other health professionals to continue to look for us for guidance in nutrition.”

Thanks for sharing, Angie!

Angie Hasemann, MS, RDN, CSP
Weight Management Dietitian, Pediatric Endocrinology, University of Virginia Children’s Hospital
Program Director, UVA Health System Dietetic Internship
Address: P.O. Box 800673, Charlottesville, VA 22908-0673
Make Your Hands Smile with My Meal

A New Year – Set Health Goals

Some call the very first Monday to follow New Year’s Day “Blue Monday” and it may be the most depressing day of the year. IMG_1799After the glow and excitement of the December holidays wears off, reality sets in – with the new year, comes new bills, and it’s back to work, and gee…what about those New Year resolutions! You may be thinking, “Do I have any idea how I’m going to get to Rome in May? And those 20 pounds I want to lose by June – oh boy, does that mean I have to give up my grande coffee drink? How can I find the motivation to really accomplish what I want?”
Well, maybe Rome may have to wait, but your weight and your health are in your hands. Nothing succeeds like success, and we’re not just saying it – research tells us this is true! Depending when you start your weight loss program, when you have some noticeable success early on, then you’re more likely to continue. Results from a randomized trial (where one group used one weight loss plan, and another group used a different one), early weight loss (at least 2 pounds weekly during the first 3 weeks) was predictive of sticking to it over time.
Each person loses weight differently, depending on how many calories they need to maintain their current weight and how many calories they consume and burn daily

IMG_3132. Although some will say it’s all about total calories, there’s also science that says that all calories are not equal. Calories from simple, refined carbohydrates like juice, white flour and sugar are quickly absorbed. Whole foods contain fiber, which helps promote stable blood glucose. Lean protein is also satiating, and even if you don’t eat meat, plant proteins from legumes and whole grains are also great sources of fiber. In less than three months, you can lose 10 pounds – or more. Keep up that pace – losing too quickly means you’re likely to regain it: two pounds weekly is just about ideal. If you’re hungry and you’re losing more than 2 pounds weekly, it’s a sign that you need to up your calories to sustain your nutrition and motivation. Remember, it’s one day at a time, one pound at a time toward your healthy weight.

Safest Choice Pasteurized Eggs: Good Nutrition, Taste and Satisfaction

See this video of Dr. Jim Painter and me posted on the Safest Choice Website.  Why are eggs a good choice?  Because they’re one of the best inexpensive and easy-to-prepare sources of valuable protein and nutrients.