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total wellness

a ucla student welfare commission publication

organic foods: are they better for you? diet myths, debunked!

the ultimate food guide improve your diet today! top 10 foods to keep in your fridge and pantry

buying local: exploring the farmers market

+ how to add

color to your diet! spring 11 | vol 11 | issue 3

editor’s note The basic, nutritional needs of people may

seem universal, but how we determine them can in fact be very particular. Just ask those who came up with the USDA food pyramid in 1992 and revamped it again in 2005 (“Revamping the Food Pyramid”, page 44). No sooner had the guidelines been revised, than critics derailed them again, this time coming out with their own interpretations of what a healthy, balanced diet ought to look like. But that didn't make the issue any less contentious. And for good reason.

total wellness ▪ spring 2011

At the end of the day, it is important to appreciate that nutrition is powerfully personal. In many ways, you’ll find that as a concept, it really is a moving target, different for everyone. If we’ve learned anything from the obesity epidemic, it’s that our most urgent nutritional goal as a nation is to get Americans to eat less junk. That was certainly reflected in the new dietary guidelines that were issued for 2010 this last January, which urged people to consume less sugar, fat, cholesterol, and salt, and more fruits, vegetables and fish instead. But some critics and leading health experts worry that these guidelines, as was the problem with the original 1992 food pyramid, propagate an illusion that there is a one-size-fits-all diet that universally suits all of us, when really, at the level of the individual, these general approaches only cover half the story. From the public health vantage point, the task of prescribing a diet plan for all Americans is a daunting one at best: in reality, the diet that arguably suits us, as individuals, is one that serves each of our variable physical, lifestyle, and cultural needs. And while one of the salient features of the current USDA food pyramid is its ability to customize

a personalized eating plan, some have argued for a pyramid that caters instead to different body sizes or borrows from other cultural models for healthy eating, such as the Mediterranean diet and other ethnic food pyramids (page 47). This issue – the “Food” issue – reflects some of these sentiments. For example, you’ll see that our article on workout foods (page 8) seeks to help you understand what your body needs for an exercise routine, based on whether you’re an athlete, a weightlifter, or just an average gym-goer. Our feature on food pyramids also hopes to demonstrate the variety that exists in many of these models for healthy eating – and that there is much to be explored beyond what traditional models have emphasized. So, then, did these critics have a point? Arguably, yes. But these guidelines have and will be made and re-made, in many respects to keep up with the research. And if there's anything we've learned from the research, it's that it is dynamic. You would think that as we make advances in the field of nutrition, our understanding of it starts to become a little more cohesive. In so many ways, that’s absolutely true. For example, in this issue you’ll see how we have made huge strides in understanding how plant phytonutrients can better health (page 22), what certain foods can do for physical performance (page 8), and what benefits certain nutrients can confer to mental health (page 14). Still, there are many issues that are a source of ongoing controversy and pressing inquiry, as is the case with most areas of active research (“Does Organic Really Matter?”, page 25). How all this ends up shaping your own diet and lifestyle is a personal matter, and on our end, our best hope is that this issue merely does its job in showing you what we know about it. Cheers,

Elizabeth Wang Director & Editor-in-Chief

total wellness Director & Editor-in-Chief Art Director Assistant Director Research Editor Finance Director Food & Nutrition Editor

Elizabeth Wang Karin Yuen Grace Lee Leigh Goodrich Stephan Chiu Anna Wong

Senior Staff Trang TJ Nguyen Lillian Zhang Staff Writers Fritz Batiller, Yessenia Chaiu, Joy Cuerten, Jennifer Danesh, Sandeep Dhillon, Jenny Hong, Julia Horie, Cindy La, Melody Lavian, Nicole Lew, Shamim Nafea, Trang TJ Nguyen, Jennifer Wilson, Shannon Wongvibulsin, Danna Zhang Design Chloe Booher, Amorette Jeng, Grace Lee, Jessica Lo, Jennifer Shieh (Intern), Elizabeth Wang, Karin Yuen Advisory & Review William Aronson, MD

Professor, UCLA School of Medicine

Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD

Assistant Director, UCLA Center for Human Nutrition

Leah FitzGerald, RN, FNP, PhD

Assistant Professor, UCLA School of Nursing

Dena Herman, PhD, MPH, RD

Adjunct Assistant Professor, UCLA School of Public Health

Eve Lahijani MS, RD

Nutrition Health Educator, UCLA Bruin Resource Center

Melissa Magaro, PhD

Affective Disorders Program Coordinator, UCLA Counseling and Psychological Services

William McCarthy, PhD

Adjunct Professor, UCLA School of Public Health

Rena Orenstein, MPH

Assistant Director, Student Health Education

Allan Pantuck, MD, MS, FACS

Associate Professor, UCLA School of Medicine

Raffi Tachdjian, MD, MPH

Assistant Clinical Professor, UCLA School of Medicine

Elisa Terry, NSCA-CSCS

FITWELL Services Program Director, UCLA Recreation

Alona Zerlin, MS, RD

Research Dietitian, UCLA Center for Human Nutrition

Total Wellness is a free, student-run, biquarterly publication published 7 times a year and is supported by advertisers, the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center, the On Campus Housing Council (OCHC), the Student Welfare Commission (SWC), UCLA Recreation, and the Undergraduate Students Association (USAC). Contact 308 Westwood Blvd., Kerckhoff Hall 308 Los Angeles, CA 90024 Phone 310.825.7586, Fax 310.267.4732 Subscription, back issues, and advertising rates available on request

Total Wellness is a division of the Student Welfare Commission that is dedicated to spreading awareness of and sharing knowledge on issues of student health and health care. By providing an understanding of health and lifestyle issues, elucidating health concepts, providing recommendations for physical, mental, and social well-being, and making visible and accessible various health resources, programs, and events occurring at UCLA, Total Wellness seeks to empower students with up-todate and accurate knowledge on the appropriate management of their health.


Volume 11, Issue 3 © 2011 by Total Wellness Magazine. All rights reserved. Parts of this magazine may be reproduced only with written permission from the editor. Although every precaution has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the published material, Total Wellness cannot be held responsible for the opinions expressed or facts supplied by authors. We do not necessarily endorse products and services advertised. The information in Total Wellness is not intended as medical advice and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult a health care provider for clarification.

spring 2011

contents 2 4 5 50 51

Editor’s Note In the News Q&A Food Pick Credits


Eat Right 6 Reasons to Love Broccoli Get Active 8 Workout Foods for Every Level Body in Focus 12 Five Dieting Myths Debunked Mind Matters 14 Five Nutrients For Better Memory

FEATURES 18 22 25 28 31 33 36 38

Exploring the Farmers Market How to: Color Your Diet Does Organic Really Matter? Get a Load of the Glycemic Index 9 Ways to Spice up your Life Meet your Meat Navigating the Frozen Food Aisle Vegetarian Protein: Getting Protein Without the Meat 40 Bare Necessities: Food Essentials to Keep Stocked in Your Fridge or Pantry 44 Revamping the Food Pyramid 48 Becoming a Fish Connoisseur


25 Organic Foods 12 Diet Myths, Debunked! 40 Foods to Keep in Your Fridge/Pantry 18 Farmers Market 22 Color Your Diet


total wellness ▪ spring 2011

cover: elena elisseeva/istockphoto; arseniaya pavlova/istockphoto


in the news

what’s happening in


news - updates - discoveries

// by leigh goodrich | design by elizabeth wang RESEARCH & NEW FINDINGS While the jury’s still out on the health effects of diet soda, a new study suggests an increased risk for strokes for consumers. The research from the longitudinal Northern Manhattan Study showed that people who reported drinking diet soda every day were 48% more likely to have had a stroke or other vascular event within the nine-year time period than those who didn’t drink any soda. Though the researchers controlled for age, sex, heart disease history and other factors, the study did have its limitations. Chiefly, the subjects reported their soda consumption habits only at the beginning of the study, in a self-reported survey.

A new study conducted by British researchers and published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that 30 out of the 37 common pesticides tested either blocked or mimicked the action of male hormones. For 16 of these pesticides, commonly used on fruits and vegetables, no hormone disruption had been previously reported. Alarmingly, none of those 16 pesticides is included in the Environmental Protection Agency’s endocrine disruptor screening program, which has been met with much controversy and opposition. Some researchers suggest that the prevalence of pesticide use is currently taking a population-wide toll on male fertility and other issues like testicular cancer.

New research suggests that eating fiber, perhaps surprisingly, may be a matter of life and death. The large study, published in the latest edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine and funded by the National Institutes of Health and AARP, found that consuming more fiber resulted in a 22% decrease in mortality. Researchers surveyed nearly 400,000 people aged 50 to 71 and found correlations, nine years later, between the amount of fiber in the diet and the risk of death for heart disease, cancer, infection, and respiratory illness. Current recommendations suggest 25 grams of fiber daily for women and 38 grams for men – much more than the average consumption of 15 grams.

Marijuana use linked to early onset of psychosis


Agricultural pesticides shown to disrupt male hormones

total wellness ▪ spring 2011

Long-term look at fiber intake reveals great benefits

Researchers stumble upon potential remedy to baldness

Getting high may have more implications than most students consider. A new study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that marijuana use is linked to early psychosis development. After analyzing 83 studies, researchers found that cannabis users developed psychosis at an age about three years younger than abstainers. Though this does not prove a cause and effect relationship, it certainly provides a disquieting correlation, and motivation for further study.

Though they originally sought to study the effects of stress on gastrointestinal health, a UCLA study published in PLoS ONE recently found a link to baldness as well. The researchers used mice to overexpress a stress hormone-releasing factor, causing the mice to become chronically stressed – and very bald. When the experimenters injected astressin-B, a peptide meant to block the action of the stress hormone factor, over a period of five days, they measured its effects solely on the mouse colons. Three months later, the bald mice had regrown all their hair to the point that researchers were unable to distinguish the stressed mice from the control group. t w


13 4

(in millions) number of elective cosmetic surgeries performed in 2010 nationally, up 5 percent from 2009, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons


(in millions) number of people who die each year from alcohol related causes, more than AIDS, tuberculosis, or violence, according to a new World Health Organization report


percent of medical tests ordered by doctors out of fear of lawsuits, as opposed to patient benefit, according to a new study reported at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons conference

top doodle: faye brown/istockphoto; leaf: scott vickers/istockphoto; fiber: maris zemgalietis/istockphoto; right: designed by grace lee

Study findings implies a link between diet soda and risk of stroke

Q: A:

Q&A What goes into the “A” restaurant?

Dinnertime arrives in the midst of your LA excursion, but as you are about to walk into a small “mom and pop” restaurant, you notice the green letter “B” posted next to the front door. Sure, it’s no “A,” but it can’t hurt—can it? These letters are assigned by the Los Angeles County Public Health department following a local grading ordinance under California’s Retail Food Code, which is based on the model Food Code set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) outlining updated guidelines for food safety. Implementing these federal regulations is another matter, however. As one of two countries to make the food inspection system public, the US has federal food safety regulations that are actually quite fragmented. Safety and sanitation inspections fall into the hands of state or local health departments. Luckily for us, Los Angeles County has a relatively impressive restaurant grading system. This can be largely attributed to a KCBS-TV Behind the Kitchen Door news story aired back in 1997. Reporter Joel Grover went undercover with hidden cameras to a number of LA County restaurants, and released footage exposing shocking health code violations and unsanitary conditions “behind the kitchen door.” Unseen by the typical consumer were improper food handling, restaurant employees re-serving food from the floor, and rodent or insect infestations. Following the public outcry in response to this exposé, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a “restaurant grading” ordinance, standardizing a restaurant rating system implemented by the Food Inspection Bureau from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. The effectiveness of the new A-B-C grading system is nothing short of striking. A recent Orange County Grand Jury investigation found that the 39.9 percent of restaurants given a blue letter A grade in 1998 increased to 82.5 percent in 2007, and restaurants rated below a C decreased from 11.7 percent to 0.2 percent. So, how do these letters actually get assigned? Health inspectors compile Food Official Inspection Reports (FOIR) for approximately 26,500 restaurants and 12,300 food markets across LA. Each health violation is given a point value and subtracted from 100 to attain the final inspection score of A (90-100%), B (80-89%) and C (70-79%). Inspectors cross-examine everything, from minor 1-point wiping cloth violations to major 6-point improper hand washing deductions. Best of all (for consumers, at least), food inspections come unannounced several times each year. All food locales scoring below 70 percent twice in one year are subject to closure. Moreover, these letter grades must be prominently posted at every food facility, which is why the red “C” so obviously detracts from an otherwise alluring diner.

// by grace lee | design by grace lee


This establishment received a score of 90-100% at the time of inspection The most recent food inspection report is available here for review upon request

This establishment received a score of 80-89% at the time of inspection The most recent food inspection report is available here for review upon request

This establishment received a score of 70-79% at the time of inspection The most recent food inspection report is available here for review upon request

So, the next time you head into a diner, don’t forget to check the letter grade. Be wary of the red C, and trust the blue A. Health ratings and food safety violations of all LA locales are available at www.publichealth. For questions or complaints, contact Environmental Health at (888) 700-9995. t w

got a question? We love curious readers. Send your question over to and the answer may appear in a future issue.


total wellness ▪ spring 2011

To match the growing food truck fad, the LA County Board of Supervisors recently implemented the food grading system to our favorite food mobiles. Since October 2010, all 6,000 LA catering trucks and food carts have been subject to the same health regulations as restaurants.

eat right

8 WAYS TO ENJOY BROCCOLI Broccoli pizza Add broccoli to a pizza and make a remarkable vegetable collaboration. Add ricotta cheese, garlic, tomatoes and any other favorites to a ready-made whole-wheat dough crust, or try using pita bread as a base. Just bake until golden. Dining hall dish Gather some broccoli florets from the dining hall and sprinkle them with water. Microwave the vegetables for about 40 seconds. Add spinach and kidney beans if you’d like. Season with hot pepper flakes or low sodium soy sauce, and you will have a flavorful creation. Broccoli almondine Steam broccoli florets. Add olive oil, lemon juice, and toasted sliced almonds. Toss and serve. This creation should be zesty and crunchy. Broccoli dip Puree steamed broccoli florets and stems with low-fat sour cream and Parmesan. Use the finished dip for veggies or crackers. A great alternative to high calorie Superbowl food. Broccoli and cheese Steam broccoli florets and stems. While still hot, sprinkle with cheese and breadcrumbs, but make sure to use sparingly. Broccoli stir fry Lightly oil broccoli, paprika and onions in a pan, and serve with brown rice or make fajitas. Not satisfied yet? Add lean chicken breast or tofu. Broccoli sprouts + sandwich Add broccoli sprouts to your favorite turkey sandwich. You may even want to sprinkle a little curry and lime juice on to give it an extra kick. Broccoli coleslaw Chop up raw broccoli stems, and add onion, thick Greek style yogurt, cider vinegar, and honey for a homemade coleslaw.

reasons to love broccoli total wellness ▪ spring 2011

Although children stereotypically despise the taste and texture of broccoli, it has an impressive resumé when it comes to nutritional value. This fact may explain why Americans are eating over 900% more broccoli than they did 25 years ago, according to Dr. Julie Garden-Robinson, a food and nutrition specialist at North Dakota State University. Even if former President Bush and other famed broccoli-haters may not give it another try, after considering the benefits and trying out some recipes, it may be impossible to resist this veggie. Once considered an exotic vegetable, broccoli is filled with nutrients that benefit the body. The flowering clusters, also known as heads or florets, are abundant in phytonutrients, chemical


compounds that are found naturally in plants and greatly benefit the body. One serving (a cup) of broccoli florets contains a whopping 66 milligrams of vitamin C, an antioxidant that boosts immune function and contains antiviral properties. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, a cup of this vegetable contains more vitamin C than the average orange and almost 100% of your daily recommended dose. Broccoli also aids in monitoring blood calcium levels and blood clotting by means of vitamin K, as a serving contains more than 200% of your daily recommended intake. Additionally, the florets provide 40% of your daily value of vitamin A, which promotes healthy vision. But don’t just discard the stalks – they are also a great source of nutrients and work well in slaws and stews.

// by joy cuerten | design by elizabeth wang

joe biafore/istockphoto

What’s not to love about broccoli? After considering the benefits and trying out a few recipes, you might just find yourself a fan of this green-flowered veggie


Not only does broccoli provide vitamins and minerals, but a 2009 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that broccoli protects the middle layer of the heart, called the myocardium, after instances of ischemia, or restricted blood flow. Ischemia, which can be caused by accumulations of cholesterol plaques, is often the culprit behind heart attacks and abnormal heart rhythms. Ischemia patients have a high risk of inflammation and cell death, even after blood flow has been restored through surgery or other treatment. Stunningly, broccoli, due to its antioxidant component sulforaphane, decreases the instances of inflammation, and down-regulates the mechanisms responsible for cell suicide. Thus, broccoli aids in keeping the heart functioning properly. Of course, if you really despise the taste, try broccoli sprouts, three to four day old seedlings that taste similar to radishes. Broccoli sprouts contain all the health benefits of broccoli stems and florets, but in a more concentrated form. Broccoli sprouts reportedly have 20 times more protective chemicals than the mature florets. They are such a nutrient powerhouse, with a colossal amount of sulforaphane, that they can even help protect against cancer and ulcers. For instance, a 2009 study published in Cancer Prevention Research showed eating Âź cup of broccoli sprouts daily for 2 months can reduce the colonization of ulcercausing bacteria by 40%. The potential of sulforaphane is also being investigated locally, by Dr. Marc Riedl, UCLA respiratory physician and immunologist, in conjunction with asthma. His recent clinical trials have shown that sulforaphane, when ingested in the form of 200 grams of broccoli sprouts, increases, by more than 100%, the amounts of four key antioxidant enzymes, known as Phase II enzymes. These enzymes help minimize tissue damage, and offset the harmful effects of the free radicals found in smoke, exhaust and polluted air. Although more research is required, sulforaphane is thought to be a potential treatment for counteracting respiratory inflammation.


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total wellness â–Ş spring 2011

If health benefits alone are not enough to convince you to change your opinion of broccoli, you might be surprised to learn some truly delicious ways to prepare the vegetable that are palatable to any taste. It is always best to steam the vegetable until just crisp, or lightly stir-fry. Boiling vegetables may result in the loss of some vitamins and phytochemicals. t w



get active

workout foods for every level The key to making the most out of a

workout begins even before you hit the gym. What you eat and drink before and during your exercise influences not only your endurance and performance, but also the overall benefit your body can gain from the workout. Whether you are an endurance athlete, a weight trainer, or simply a typical gym-goer, it is important to understand what your body needs for your exercise routine.

To amp up your workout, it is necessary to ensure that your muscles are fully energized for prolonged activity. All cells in our body need a source of energy to sustain their function. During exercise, the muscles’ demand for fuel heightens. If their energy needs are not met, they will tire quickly, making it difficult to achieve a rewarding workout. While about 15% of an athlete’s energy needs should come from protein and about 25% should derive from fat, carbohydrates supply the main source of fuel. Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, registered dietitian and Assistant Director for the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, says that carbohydrates are “the body’s preferred source of fuel and they also help preserve body protein and muscle breakdown.” Since protein is necessary for muscle building and repair, in most cases, it should not be sacrificed for energy.

Therefore, it is important to drink the right amount of fluids before, during, and after exercise.

To achieve optimal performance, it is also crucial to maintain proper fluid levels in the body. Dehydration can significantly decrease energy levels and in severe cases, cause dizziness. Even if you are not thirsty, you can still be at risk of dehydration if you lose more fluids from sweating than you restore to your body. Elisa Terry, NSCA-CSCS, UCLA’s FitWell Program Director, warns that in general, if the color of your urine is not a clear or light lemonade color, you are probably dehydrated. Especially during exercise, water is vital for body temperature regulation and removal of waste from muscle cells.

For an ordinary gym-goer who exercises for an hour, energy and nutritional needs are most likely met by maintaining a well-balanced diet. However, if you are an endurance athlete or weight trainer, proper use of specialty workout foods and supplements may help you get more rewarding workouts with better results. While the optimal amounts and timing of consumption for these products vary from individual to individal, following this simple guide to energy bars, protein supplements, and sports drinks can help you get started in forming a personalized plan to enhance your workout.


Nutrient timing is also essential to maintain high energy levels for a workout and avoid gastrointestinal distress. Bowerman recommends a pre-event meal that is high in carbohydrates, low in fat and fiber, and easily digestible to maintain optimal blood glucose levels for working muscles. To meet the high energy demands of a workout, athletes should consume an additional 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates each hour as they exercise. Within two hours after intense training, eating nutrient-rich carbohydrate and protein foods and snacks provides the nourishment necessary for replenishment of muscle glycogen stores, synthesis and repair of muscles, and overall recovery of the body.

right: tom young/istockphoto; left: nicolas hansen

total wellness ▪ spring 2011

// by shannon wongvibulsin | design by karin yuen

the guide ❯❯ what do i need for the gym? Sports Drinks Staying hydrated for a workout can sometimes be a complicated ordeal with so many options of sports drinks, each claiming to provide essential nutrients while maximizing rehydration. Originally, sports drinks were developed specifically for rehydrating and replenishing the electrolytes of competitive athletes enduring long hours of practice. Their use has clearly expanded beyond the realm of competitive sports. However, unless you are planning to exercise for more than an hour, water alone should be sufficient. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, founder of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, “Despite the advertising hype for various neon-colored concoctions, good old water is actually the best ‘sports drink’ available.” Additionally, in a 60-minute workout, there is little need to restore electrolytes since a well-balanced diet should provide enough potassium and sodium to last a typical exercise routine. If you workout for more than an hour at a time, sports drinks may be an appropriate option to help you rehydrate, provide you with electrolytes and, in some cases, carbohydrates for fuel and protein for muscle repair.

➺ For the Athlete v For competitive athletes, Gatorade Sports Institute has shown that drinking sports drinks with electrolytes and carbohydrates can improve endurance and decrease the risk of dehydration. v If the sport results in large amounts of sweating, it is important to consume a drink with sodium or other minerals to assure that electrolytes will remain in balance. v If an athlete wants an additional source of fuel, sports drinks with 4 to 6% carbohydrates are a good option. However, drinks with more than 8% carbohydrates should be avoided since these drinks are absorbed slowly and can result in gastrointestinal distress during a workout.

➺ For the Typical Gym-Goer

v In general, the perspiration of weight lifters does not result in significant fluid loss and as a result, the use of sports drinks is not typically necessary. However, there are certain protein-enhanced sports drinks that may be appropriate for lifters who want a boost in their protein intake during training.

v These natural alternatives to sports drinks can provide you with hydration and electrolytes. v Coconut water v Watermelon v Vegetable Broth

v While the efficacy of protein-enhanced sports drinks for increased endurance remains an area of great debate, a 2008 study in the American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism found that consuming a sports drink with protein during resistance training can decrease the rate of protein breakdown and actually stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Additionally, a 2007 study in the Journal of Strength Conditioning Research found that individuals who drank a carbohydrate-protein sports drink and those who drank a placebo drink had comparable performances during the workout. However, levels of creatine kinase and myoglobin, biomarkers for muscle damage, were significantly greater in the placebo group after the resistance exercise. These studies suggest that although protein sports drinks may not aid in performance during a workout, the protein these drinks provide during training can reduce muscle damage.

to Consider about Sports ➺ Things Drinks v A 2010 study in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that a low-carbohydrate sports drink with added protein improved the cyclists’ endurance time by up to 28% compared with the standard carbohydrate-enhanced sports drink, water, or the placebo drink. However, this improvement in endurance only occured when the athletes were exercising at or below their ventilatory threshold, or the point where breathing becomes more challenging. v Water alone is enough to remain hydrated and keep your electrolytes in balance during workouts lasting less than an hour.


total wellness ▪ spring 2011

➺ For the Weight Lifter

v For an ordinary one-hour workout, there is no need to replenish your electrolytes with sports drinks. However, it is still essential to remain properly hydrated with water throughout exercise.

Energy Bars Because of the convenience and wide availability of energy bars, many turn to them as a quick and easy power boost. If you decide that a bar will be a beneficial addition to your workout, it is a good idea to carefully read the nutrition labels. Livestrong, an online division of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, suggests comparing the ingredients of energy bars to candy bars and avoiding bars with many of the same ingredients as candy bars. As a general rule of thumb, UCLA’s Director of Sports Nutrition Becci Twombley, RD, recommends energy bars that contain vitamins, minerals, and 7 to 10 grams of protein, especially if your prolonged workout prevents you from eating an actual meal. However, the term “energy bar” encompasses a broad range of bars that vary greatly in ingredients and nutritional value. Therefore, it is important to understand the energy demands of your workout before selecting the optimal bar for your exercise routine.

➺ For the Endurance Athlete v Consuming an energy bar with 25 to 40 grams of carbohydrates and 100 to 200 calories an hour before athletic competitions or intense workouts can help provide a quick source of energy and enhance performance. When selecting energy bars for this purpose, avoid bars high in fat, fiber, or protein since these nutrients slow down digestion and can result in cramps and discomfort during exercise. v Bowerman cautions athletes to consider the timing of energy bar consumption, since some individuals find that eating solid foods even an hour before an event will be too much to digest. She recommends trial and error to find the best timing for each athlete. v For workouts lasting more than an hour, it is important to eat about 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates for each hour of exercise. If the athlete can handle solid foods during a workout, consuming a quarter of an energy bar every 15 minutes may be a good option for fuel. v For individuals who do not have time to sit down for a meal after a workout, energy bars with the right composition can help provide the carbohydrates necessary to refuel. Additionally, bars that provide protein in the right amounts can also aid in muscle building and repair.

➺ For the Typical Gym-Goer v For an average exerciser, energy bars are probably not necessary for a workout. Since many bars have up to 300 calories, be aware that consuming these bars can result in greater caloric intake than you burn during an typical hour-long workout.

to Consider about Energy ➺ Things Bars v ”Energy” bars will not necessarily make you feel “energetic.” According to the Food and Drug Administration, anything that provides calories can be called an “energy” food. v Common mistakes made with energy bars include snacking on them while sitting in class and eating them as substitutes for meals. It is important to realize that a wide variety of bars are on the market, including not only energy bars, but also nutrition bars, high protein bars, diet bars, meal replacement bars and more. While some bars are formulated specifically to serve as meals for people on the go, energy bars do not fall within this category because most of them do not contain the all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients you normally get from a well-balanced meal consisting of whole food sources. Instead, energy bars are designed to serve the specific purpose of fueling the body during workouts lasting longer than 45 to 60. minutes. v The main benefit of energy bars is their convenience. However, whole food sources can also provide the power boost necessary before a workout. Consider these whole food alternatives to energy bars v Oatmeal v Baked sweet potatoes v Raisins v Apples v Bananas v Carrots v Low fat yogurt

total wellness ▪ spring 2011

v Even if the main goal of a weight lifter is muscle building, having enough carbohydrates is still necessary to reach optimal results. When carbohydrate stores are depleted, the body turns to protein for a source of energy, which limits the amount of protein that can be used to build and repair muscle. In fact, a 2003 study in the Journal of Applied Physiology examined the influence of consuming 100 grams of carbohydrates after resistance exercise and found that this intake of carbohydrates decreased protein breakdown and increased net muscle gained compared to the placebo controls. v Bowerman says, “Energy bars with some protein content might be a good supplement to the diets of weight lifters since they have both high calorie and high protein demands.” However, these bars are typically not used during training, but instead for a post-exercise snack.


left: joe biafoe/istockphoto; right: sava alexandru/istockphoto

➺ For the Weight Lifter

Protein Supplements Protein, while not a primary source of quickly-metabolized energy, is essential for muscle building and repair. Most sports nutrition experts agree that athletes have a higher protein requirement to aid in muscle repair and the replenishment of energy stores. In many cases, maintaining a balanced diet already provides enough protein even for endurance athletes. However, protein supplements are a convenient way to supply an extra amount of protein. For instance, protein powder can easily be mixed in with milk, cereal, oatmeal, and fruit. Additionally, protein drinks provide the advantage of being easily digestible and thus, a great pre-workout liquid meal or snack. The three main types of protein supplements you can purchase are whey, soy, and egg white, although there are also protein products derived from pea and hemp. Whey protein is particularly popular because it is a rich source of branched chain amino acids, which are important for muscle recovery. If used in the right amounts, these protein products can go a long way in providing your body with a convenient source of additional protein to supplement your normal diet.

➺ for the athlete v While the protein needs of athletes is still a topic that is not fully understood, based on current research, the National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends that athletes should consume around 0.7 to 0.9 grams of protein daily per pound of body weight. The protein needed by athletes exceeds the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of 0.36 grams for each pound of body weight because intense training accelerates the breakdown of protein for use in both muscle building and as a secondary source of energy when glycogen stores are depleted. While it is recommended that individuals should obtain the majority of their protein from whole food sources, protein supplements may be an appropriate addition to an athlete’s diet. In fact, a 2004 study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that after a workout, ingesting protein in a liquid form aids in its digestion and reduces postexercise muscle soreness.

➺ For the Weight Lifter v Because muscles undergo high levels of stress and strain during strength training, weight lifters often have protein needs above the RDA. It is safe for weight lifters to eat greater amounts of protein than the RDA, and generally a good idea to have a mix of animal and plant sources. v Multiple studies including a 2004 study in the Journal of Sports Sciences and a 2003 study in the Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews have found that protein consumption is essential for recovery from strength training exercise since high resistance activities accelerate the breakdown of protein in muscles.

v Protein powders have the added benefit that the amounts you consume can be easily personalized to meet your body size and the protein needs of your workout.

v Unless you are looking for a convenient source of protein, maintaining a balanced diet with whole food sources already provides enough protein to meet the demands of a typical onehour workout. On the other hand, protein shakes made with protein powder, milk or soy milk and fruit can serve as convenient meal replacement.

to Consider about Protein ➺ Things Drinks v It is important to maintain a balanced diet and meet most of your protein requirements from whole food sources. In general, reserve the use of protein drinks for use directly before or after a workout or as a meal replacement. v Consumer Reports notes that obtaining protein from whole food sources is not only healthier, but also cheaper. Consider these whole food alternatives to protein drinks. v Half a chicken breast (27 grams of protein, 62 cents per serving) v Three glasses of milk (23 grams of protein, 60 cents per serving) v Three scrambled eggs (20 grams of protein, 46 cents per serving) t w


total wellness ▪ spring 2011

v To build bigger and stronger muscles, strength training to stimulate muscle wear and tear is necessary in addition to supplying the body with the right amount of protein. Since digestion of protein from whole food sources is a slow process, eating a high-protein snack in solid form to meet your workout needs is not ideal. Instead, protein drinks are much easier to digest and can provide the protein necessary directly before and after a workout to aid in muscle growth.

➺ For the Typical Gym-Goer

body in focus



dieting myths

debunked The pressure to be thin has made the topic of weight loss an everlasting and ubiquitous concern throughout our society today. The secrets to losing a certain number of pounds in a certain number of days are constantly on the covers of magazines, and with all the product claims out there that guarantee a slimmer physique, it’s hard to decipher fact from fiction. Here are five common misconceptions when it comes to losing weight: // BY ANNA WONG | DESIGN BY AMORETTE JENG AND ELIZABETH WANG

myth #1

total wellness ▪ spring 2011

A 2004 study published in Obesity Research found that obese participants including dairy in a low-calorie diet lost weight most effectively. This group lost more weight than other participants who either took calcium supplements on the same diet, or just maintained the low-calorie diet. Conversely, a 2005 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that including dairy resulted in neither weight gain nor weight loss amongst women. The studies on milk and weight loss have thus shown to be inconclusive. In addition, the numbers of participants included in these studies are fairly small. Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, Assistant Director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, states that, “simply adding milk to your regular diet isn’t likely to lead to weight loss.” Thus, though milk (as long as it’s low-fat or nonfat) is good to have in your diet because of its calcium and protein, drinking milk in addition to what you’re eating now won’t necessarily help you lose weight.

Bottom line: Milk is not magical, but it’s great for calcium and protein.


emilia stasiak/istockphoto

Drinking Milk Promotes Weight Loss

myth #2

myth #3

small, frequent meals stimulate metabolism

PASTA MAKES YOU gain weight

Whether you eat three big meals a days or six small meals a day, it’s really a personal preference. One option won’t make you burn more calories and lose weight more than the other. A 2009 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition demonstrated that increased meal frequency does not promote any greater weight loss. Metabolism itself is mainly determined by body composition (i.e. muscle mass) rather than food intake. However, there are some studies that indicate that eating breakfast may raise your metabolism by 10% so it’s a good idea to make time in the morning to eat.

The scare of carbohydrates is a common worry amongst dieters, the big culprits being pastas and breads. It’s true that foods like white pasta are loaded with refined carbohydrates, and overeating them may lead to weight gain. But it’s not the carbohydrates particularly that cause this weight gain; it’s the ease of being able to eat large amounts of calories from pasta. Highly refined carbohydrate foods – like pasta, white rice, white bread or pretzels – are not very filling on a per-bite basis, so we can consume a lot in one sitting before feeling full. According to the FDA, one serving of pasta is one cup. Nowadays, a restaurant-served plate of pasta can have three times the amount of a single serving, making it one large caloriepacked meal. And that’s before you put anything on it. The Tomato Basil Spaghettini at California Pizza Kitchen, for example, measures about 3 cups and packs 1,040 calories. And according to a 2002 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the bigger the portion served, the more people will eat. The trick: think of pasta as an ingredient instead of the main star of the show. Use other ingredients like tomatoes, onions, and shrimp to add to the production.

Other than that, if you want a boost in metabolism, focus more of your attention on exercise and building muscle. A pound of fat-free tissue can burn about 14 calories a day, while a pound of fat-filled tissue only burns about 2 calories a day. On the upside, though eating smaller more frequent meals does not have significant effects on metabolism, it can prevent you from getting overly hungry. Eating every 4-5 hours to keep blood sugar levels constant can prevent consumption of excess calories later in the day.

Bottom line: If a boost in metabolism is desired, then focus on strength training, building more muscle and making time to eat breakfast.

Bottom line: Pasta is fine to eat as long as you watch the

myth #4

myth #5


EATING after 8 pm makes you fat

Because dietary fats tend to have such a bad reputation due to their calorie density, many believe that cutting out as much fat as possible will lead to weight loss. However, it is important to realize that low-fat foods do not always mean low-cal. And what weight loss really boils down to are the calories. In fact, many foods labeled fat-free or low-fat can have almost the same amount of calories as their regular versions. For example, a single serving of regular Oreo cookies is 160 calories, while a single serving of the reduced-fat version is 150 calories; only a 10 calorie difference. And many times people think that if a product is labeled reduced-fat, they can eat more of it, which could lead to excessive calorie intake. For instance, a 2006 study published in the Journal of Marketing Research found that participants consumed up to 50% more of the foods that were falsely labeled low-fat by the researchers. Thus, you could potentially be eating more calories when opting for the low-fat or fat-free diet foods based on the mindset that you can eat more of a food when it is low-fat.

Though students may be more likely to sit around during the nighttime, calories can’t distinguish night from day. Your body uses and burns calories the same way no matter what time it is. In fact, a study published in Obesity Research in 2003 found that monkeys that mostly ate at night were no more likely to experience weight gain than those that mostly ate during the day. The energy stored while you sleep is simply used the next day once you wake up. Thus, the focus isn’t so much when you eat but what you eat and how much of it you eat. Night eaters may gain weight due to high-fat and high-calorie food choices like ice cream, but it’s not specifically because it’s 9pm as opposed to 9am. According to Nigel Denby, registered dietitian and spokesman for the British Dietetic Association, this myth might “date back to when people started taking an interest in diets. People are more likely to eat fatty snacks at night when they are watching television. In order to try to avoid that, they put restrictions on when they should eat.” The reason why some people do lose weight by limiting food intake after a certain time is not the timing per se but rather the fact that they’ve stopped eating and thus are not taking in any more calories.

Bottom line: As Denby says it, “a calorie is a calorie whenever you eat it.” So focus more on food choices and quantity rather than what time it is. t w


total wellness ▪ spring 2011

Bottom line: Opt for the low-fat versions of foods, but make sure to watch how many servings you are taking in. Check the nutrition label and see how many calories are in a serving instead of just looking at how much fat is in it.

portion size. Try to opt for whole grain pastas instead of the highly refined white pastas.

mind matters

five nutrients ❯❯ for better memory

// by shamim nafea and leigh goodrich

| design by elizabeth total wellness ▪ spring 2011

wang and karin yuen


left: malerapaso/istockphoto; right (in order):; viktor kitaykin/istockphoto; burwell and burwell photography/istockphoto; only_fabrizio/istockphoto; ermin gutenberger/istockphoto

They say you are what you eat, but could this pertain to the mind? The idea may be more than just food for thought

01 | folic acid


EAT SMART TO BE SMART: Foods for a memory boost

02 | choline

Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter (a signaling chemical used among neurons) found throughout the nervous system, including the brain. According to Dr. Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, Professor of Neurosurgery and Integrative Biology and Physiology, acetylcholine plays a supportive role in cognitive processing and choline is crucial for brain development. Studies investigating the effect of acetylcholine have often focused on its signaling pathway. A 2004 study published in Behavioral Neuroscience, for example, showed that blocking acetylcholine receptors impaired test subjects’ learning in a word-memory test compared to a placebo group. Details of acetylcholine’s role in encoding memories have yet to be described, but a link seems likely. To incorporate acetylcholine in your diet, try apples, egg yolks, and soy protein.

04 | antioxidants

03 | curcumin

Curcumin is a nutrient that gives turmeric, a spice used widely in Indian dishes, its yellow color. Dr. GomezPinilla says, “Curcumin seems to be important for supporting cognitive function. There are many efforts right now trying to see how curcumin may lower Alzheimer’s risk.” Several studies have shown that curcumin works in concert with other nutrients that made this list, including acetylcholine and antioxidants. In 2008, a study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry suggested a cause for this action. Researchers found that administering curcumin to mice led to an increase in cell growth of the hippocampus, a region of the brain known to function in learning and memory. As an added bonus, several studies have also suggested the use of curcumin as a potential anticarcinogen. Turmeric is found in yellow mustard and, as mentioned before, many ethnic cuisines like Indian, Indonesian, and Thai foods.

05 | omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to play a key role in brain function and development by increasing the fluidity of neural membranes and improving neural communication. Omega-3 fatty acids function in a similar way as antioxidants, but, in the words of Dr. Gomez-Pinilla, they “affect the plasma membrane of the brain cells, thus improving neurotransmission and cell-to-cell signaling. This then can affect the cognitive function and mental health in general.” Some preliminary research has shown a link between consumption of omega3s and a lowered risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, though more research needs to be done to establish a causal relationship. Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, and flax seeds. They can also be found in DHA-enriched eggs. Like many other nutrient sources, a little goes a long way, so consume these oils in moderation. t w


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Antioxidants disarm free radicals, rogue reactive molecules that contribute to DNA damage and have been implicated in the development of certain cancers and cardiovascular disease. So what does this imply in terms of memory? According to Dr. Gomez-Pinilla, “the brain is particularly susceptible to oxidative damage. It consumes a lot of energy, and the reactions that release this energy also generate oxidizing chemicals.” Because of the brain’s high susceptibility to oxidative stress, antioxidants may play an especially important role. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that rats fed antioxidants (specifically green tea catechines) “had improved reference and working memory–related learning ability” in a baited maze. If antioxidants affect humans similarly, then antioxidants may provide a boost in memory through their action in the brain. Foods high in antioxidants can be found in highly colored fruits and vegetables including blueberries, raspberries, beans and artichokes. There are also high levels of antioxidants in tea, such as the green tea compounds used in the study.

Folic acid is a B-vitamin responsible for manufacturing red blood cells and preventing anemia and intestinal nutrient malabsorption. Deficiency in folate (the natural form of folic acid) generally correlates with decreased cognitive performance. A 2007 study published in The Lancet demonstrated that older adults who consumed folic acid had lower memory deficiency and higher verbal proficiency after three years than a placebo group, suggesting mental health benefits. Interestingly, a 2002 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that folic acid deficiency, in combination with high levels of the amino acid homocysteine, put mice at an increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s. Many foods are enriched with folic acid such as orange juice, spinach, and bananas.


Cassarah Chu Body Image Coordinator Peer Facilitators Cassarah Chu Grace Lee Susan Giang Kristin Schlansky Millie Liao Dr. Danielle Keenan-Miller Program Administrator Dr. Gia Marson CAPS Program Director of Disordered Eating Programs

Cosmo says you’re fat? I ain’t down with that!        encourages a campus free of “fat talk� and the “thin-ideal�, and the strengthening and emergence of positive body image among undergraduate women. The program consists of two, 2-hour interactive discussion sessions with 6-13 undergraduate women and two Peer Leaders (trained Student Health Advocates) to facilitate discussion.            thin ideal, its origins, its all encompassing costs, how to challenge “fat talk� and encouraging positive body image.

For general information, visit

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total wellness ❯❯ on the cover

“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates, father of western medicine (ca. 460 BC – ca. 370 BC)

elena elisseeva/istockphoto

farmer’s markets 18 ▪ how to: color your diet 22 ▪ organics 25 the glycemic index 28 ▪ spices 31 ▪ meet your meat 33 frozen food guide 36 ▪ vegetarian protein 38 top 10 essential foods 40 ▪ food pyramids 44 guide to eating fish 48


total wellness ▪ spring 2011



exploring the

farmers market

From farm fresh fruits and vegetables to baked goods and hot meals, there is much to be explored at your local farmers market. A look into how to start buying locally today // BY LEIGH GOODRICH

total wellness ▪ spring 2011

In a country where the average food item travels 1,300 miles to get to the consumer, the sight of local farmers setting up tents for weekly markets is, at the very least, refreshing. Farmers markets, benefiting from the rising trend of buying local, sustainable, and organic food, are growing in number and influence. According to the USDA, the number of operational farmers markets listed in the 2010 National Farmers’ Market Directory is 6,132, a 16% growth from 2009. Additionally, California has the most farmers markets of any state, with 580 listed in the USDA directory.


The recent growth of farmers markets is more than just hype – and the benefits of farmers markets are widespread. In terms of health, most people know that eating more fruits and vegetables is beneficial. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Nutrition performed a metaanalysis study, analyzing several studies at once, and found that fruit and vegetable consumption decreased the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). They found that each portion of fruit and vegetable consumed per day decreased the risk of CHD by 4%. And while the presence of farmers markets do not automatically change eating habits, they certainly make many healthy options available. Since low intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with low income, many public health programs have targeted this at-risk group to increase access to farmers markets. A 2008 UCLA study published in the American Journal of Public Health looked at the efficacy of giving farmers market or supermarket food vouchers to families in the USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program. Researchers found that the group receiving farmers market vouchers increased fruit and vegetable consumption by 1.4 servings, while the group receiving supermarket vouchers increased consumption by 0.8 servings, when compared to the control group receiving a non-food incentive. Besides individual health benefits, farmers markets also help local communities and the environment. According to Gail Feenstra, a food systems analyst from the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, farmers markets foster social interaction and the building of communities. These benefits are especially pronounced

artichokes: liza mcCorkle/istockphoto; behind: jessica lo. right: alex potemkin/istockphoto


Focusing on local and sustainable food sources, farmers markets offer a greener alternative to traditional grocery shopping.

marketing of the food. All this inefficiency creates many environmental problems.” With farmers markets focusing on local and sustainable food sources, they offer a greener alternative to traditional grocery shopping. Although farmers markets are usually thought of as summer events selling berries and melon, many markets run year-long, providing fresh produce and food that changes with the seasons. According to the USDA, the prevalence of winter markets has increased 17% in the last year, with California listed as having 140 winter markets. With many nearby markets open weekly, use the following advice to try them out for yourself!


total wellness ▪ spring 2011

among low-income and elderly community residents. Relationships formed between farmers and their customers also create a sense of accountability, reinforcing consumers’ notions that fresh produce bought at markets is safer and more reliable than supermarket food. The environmental impact of farmers markets is also a positive aspect. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “our existing system of food transportation and distribution requires enormous amounts of energy and resources…Only about 10% of the fossil fuel energy used in the world’s food system is used for production. The other 90% goes into packaging, transportation, and

] find your local farmers market Broxton Market Location: In Westwood on the corner of Broxton Ave and Weyburn Ave. The market continues down Broxton Ave and traffic is blocked off. Hours: Wednesdays 3 – 8 pm Santa Monica Market Location: In Santa Monica on Arizona Ave and 3rd Street. Right by the 3rd Street Promenade, this market is located in Santa Monica close to the pier. From UCLA, head west on Santa Monica Blvd all the way to the Promenade. Hours: Wednesday and Saturday 8:30 am – 1:30 pm. There is also a large market in the same general area on Sundays, from 9:30 am – 1 pm at 2640 Main Street.

the guide ❯❯ 6 tips to take with you


bring a bag


bring cash

Plastic bags have already been banned in Los Angeles by the County Board of Supervisors, showing growing support for reusable bags that are better for the environment. (This ban goes into full effect in January 2012). According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, only 5% of the 6 billion plastic bags used in Los Angeles County alone are recycled. Though many stands at farmers markets do provide thin plastic bags if necessary, the flimsy material is less than ideal both in terms of environmental impact and also ability to hold heavy items. Another ecofriendly option, which some markets provide, is a biodegradable bag.

Make sure to bring cash when shopping at farmers markets. Most vendors do not accept credit cards, debit cards or checks. Although there are usually ATMs nearby, getting small bills ready beforehand can make transactions easier. Especially during busy periods of sale, vendors will appreciate this advanced planning and you can navigate the stands like a pro. Note that unlike other cash-only policies, this does not necessarily mean that vendors negotiate prices. Don’t be aggressive about haggling – instead, feel free to visit a variety of stands to be sure you’re getting a competitive price.


be adventurous


go early or late

Many fruits and vegetables offered at farmers markets may be foreign to you. Case in point – rutabaga, kumquats, quinces, starfruits. The availability of exotic varieties is one of the many draws of farmers markets. When you come across unfamiliar items, don’t hesitate to ask the vendor what they are and how to best prepare them. This is a great way to discover a new dish and incorporate another fruit or vegetable into your diet. Additionally, farmers markets usually have non-produce stands offering dried fruits, nuts, breads, or baked goods. Many stands also offer ethnic foods that are worth trying. One of the great things about farmers markets is the vast quantity of samples – be open-minded and at least give something a try before ruling it out.

You can easily find the hours of local farmers markets on signs, in the guide on this page, or online. To get the freshest and best selection, arrive within the first hour. Many popular items may sell out as the day goes on, especially if supply is limited in the winter months. Selection is also best in the morning, as fewer people have touched, squeezed, and possibly bruised fruits. Of course, if you’re after the best deal, arriving late in the day may be your strategy.

The Grove Market Location: Part of The Grove shopping center, this permanent indoor market is open every day. To get to The Grove, travel east on Santa Monica Blvd, turn right at Beverly Blvd, and then another right at The Grove Drive. The market is located on one end of the mall – look for the clock tower as a landmark. Hours: Monday – Friday 9 am – 9 pm, Saturday 9 am – 8 pm, Sunday 10 am – 7 pm



total wellness ▪ spring 2011

Vets Garden VA Westwood Market Location: Known as the only market in a garden, this is located at 11011 Constitution Ave. The garden is located one block north of Wilshire Blvd off of Sepulveda Blvd. Hours: Thursdays 12 – 6 pm

FREE As the crowds die down, vendors might discount some items or throw in a few extra fruits when you make a purchase. After frequenting a particular market a few times, you will learn the patterns and “rush hour” periods for those stands.


Not only can vendors help you with possible preparation and serving ideas for produce, they can also provide more detailed information on the goods themselves. Don’t be afraid to ask a vendor whether their items are organic, pesticide-free, free-range (if meat or eggs), locally-grown, etc. You might be curious about how many other markets the stand operates at, where their farm is located, or how large the farm is. Ask! This can also be a great way to build trust with a vendor and ensure that you are getting the best quality goods. An alarming investigation by NBC Los Angeles released earlier this year found that many farmers markets in the LA area were deceiving customers. Undercover reporters found that some vendors actually buy produce from wholesale produce warehouses, marketing and selling goods made in commercial farms, sometimes in Mexico, as local, organic produce. Reporters also found that three out of five samples of berries labeled pesticide-free actually contained pesticides. Establishing a relationship with a vendor and asking, for example, how they control pests, can help avoid these problems. If vendors are unwilling to answer such questions, or their answers are inconsistent, the quality of their produce is probably dubious at best.



ask questions


Reevaluateyourrelationshipwithfoodbyattendinga FREE1hourNutritionWorkshopattheAsheCenter! 


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know what’s in season

Seasonal produce is always the freshest and most likely to be available locally and cheaply. It’s no secret that you pay a large premium at the grocery store for berries in December, which have usually been shipped from out of the country. A much more sustainable approach is to simply eat what is in season, also avoiding monotony in your diet. Some healthy winter classics include broccoli, cabbage, leeks, kale, sweet potatoes, onions, and winter squash. All of these vegetables, rich in vitamins and phytochemicals, can be used in a hearty winter soup. Although a bit choppingintensive, many soup recipes are simple, and include broth with a wide variety of vegetables stewed in. On the fruit side, there are lots of citrus fruits in season during the winter – great for combating a cold. Some prime examples include satsumas, grapefruits, pommelos, persimmons, and clementines. There are also a wide variety of pears in season, from giant Asian pears to green Anjou or red Bartlett. These sweet treats can be eaten plain, but also make delicious additions to winter salads. t w

You can also check out the UCLA Marina Aquatic Center on the web at MAC for more water sports such as rowing, surfing, windsurfing, and sailing. They can also be contacted at (310) 823-0048 or

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made simple Pick up a copy!

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total wellness ▪ spring 2011

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// by julia horie | design by chloe booher and elizabeth wang

Over 2,200 years ago, Hippocrates, the father of Western

medicine, said, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.” To this day, experts agree that colorful fruits and vegetables are key players in maintaining optimal health. As it turns out, many of the disease-fighting components in plant foods are actually the colorful pigments themselves. Known as phytonutrients, these colorful compounds work to protect genes, aid vision, defend the heart, and reduce the inflammation that accompanies common forms of cancer and other age-related diseases. In general, more richly colored foods are packed with more phytonutrients, making


them better allies for preventing and fighting disease. According to Dr. David Heber, Founding Director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition and author of the book What Color is Your Diet?, it is best to eat at least seven servings of fruits and vegetables a day (one from each category listed below) to prevent age from getting the best of us. Says Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, Assistant Director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, and co-author of the book, "When you look at a beautiful plate of food, it's more than a feast for your eyes. The colorful compounds in fruits and vegetables provide the body with a host of health benefits."

arseniaya pavlova/istockphoto

total wellness ▪ spring 2011

Who says you have to put up with the rain to enjoy a rainbow? As it turns out, many of the diseasefighting compounds in fruits and veggies are their colorful pigments themselves. Paint your plate with these colors to reap their many benefits

RUN FOR THE REDS Red fruits and vegetables get their color from the pigment lycopene – a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals, especially those generated from oxygen. Free radicals are unstable, reactive, and highly aggressive molecules that react with cells (including their DNA) and can cause permanent damage. By trapping these dangerous species, lycopene can protect the body from common forms of cancer, atherosclerosis (a condition in which fatty plaques build up on artery walls), and coronary artery disease, while also reducing cholesterol levels and the risk of macular degeneration, an eye disorder that damages the center of the retina. According to the USDA, products with processed tomatoes such as ketchup, tomato sauce, and tomato juice have the highest concentration of lycopene. Consuming lycopene-containing foods together with a small amount of oil can maximize absorption even more.

➺ WHAT TO EAT: Tomatoes, tomato juice, pink grapefruit, watermelon, guava


The body absorbs the phytonutrients alpha-carotene and beta-carotene from orange fruits and vegetables. As antioxidants, they protect the body from cellular damage caused by free radical oxidation, lowering the risk for heart disease and cancer. A 2010 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that alpha-carotene may help stave off brain, liver, and skin cancers. Both alpha-carotene and beta-carotene are also converted into vitamin A, an essential aid for vision, healthy skin and mucous membranes, and a strong immune system. Orange fruits make refreshing afternoon snacks, while orange vegetables are scrumptious in soups.

➺ WHAT TO EAT: Carrots, mangoes, apricots, cantaloupes, pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes


Foods in this category contain beta-cryptothanxin, a phytonutrient that helps the body’s cells communicate with each other and may prevent heart disease. According to a 2005 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, beta-cryptothanxin was found to lower the risk of developing arthritis by inhibiting inflammation at the linings of joints. Like alpha and beta-carotene, it is converted into vitamin A, thus promoting skin and bone health as well as improving immunity. The foods in this group are perfect for midday snacks, smoothies, and healthy desserts.

➺ WHAT TO EAT: Oranges, orange juice, pineapple, tangerines, peaches, papayas, nectarines

10 ways to splash color onto your plate

one: Add fruit to

a bowl of yogurt or cereal.

two: Enjoy an

all-fruit smoothie to quench your thirst. These can include 3-5 servings of fruit in one glass!

three: Top a hot bowl of oatmeal with fresh berries and a bit of brown sugar. Dried fruits like raisins and cranberries, sprinkled with cinnamon, work great as well.


five: Snack on

fresh fruit, trail mix, or veggie chips, rather than candy or potato chips.

➺ WHAT TO EAT: Spinach, collard greens, yellow corn, green peas, honeydew 23

total wellness ▪ spring 2011

The two main phytonutrients found in this color group, lutein and zeaxanthin, lower the risks of cataracts and macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss in those over 60 years old, according to the National Eye Institute. A 2002 study published in Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science demonstrated that zeaxanthin increases the macular pigment that acts as “sunglasses” for the central area of the eye and has greater photoprotective activity than lutein. Lutein, a chemical naturally produced at the back of the eye, also has the potential to reduce atherosclerosis. Many of these foods make for great components of salads – if you’re feeling extra adventurous, try them in curries, or perhaps even an omelet.

vegetable or tomato juice before meals.

six: Make your own

seven: When eating

a salad, choose darker greens like spinach and kale rather than iceberg lettuce. A big bowl of greens is also an open invitation to other colorful veggies, like carrots, peppers, corn, olives, and beets.

eight: Chop up

some grapes, carrots, or celery and mix in a chicken or tuna salad for a refreshing lunch. Try it in a lettuce wrap for even more vegetable goodness.

nine: Mash blanched cauliflower and garlic into mashed potatoes – you won’t even know they’re there!

ten: Incorporate

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grated vegetables like zucchini, squash, carrots, onions, and peppers, into red sauces. It’s a tasty addition on pasta, pizza, or chili. 24


White and green fruits and vegetables contain quercetin and kaempferol, as well as allicin. Allicin is found in onions and garlic – in plants, it is a defense mechanism against attack by pests. In humans, the allicin found in white/green foods gives off both anti-tumor and anti-microbial properties. The other two chemicals in white foods, quercetin and kaempferol, protect against postmenopausal bone loss, according to a 2003 study published in Biochemical Pharmacology. These two chemicals fall into a group of phytonutrients known as flavonoids, which possess anti-viral, anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, and antioxidant activities. Stick to white/green foods found in nature, and avoid processed white foods, like processed sugar, breads, and flour as they are devoid of the phytonutrients that are found in the foods listed below.

➺ WHAT TO EAT: Leeks, scallions, garlic, onions, asparagus


Green is the most abundant color in the plant world. Green foods are packed with nutrients that defend against cancer-causing chemicals also known as carcinogens. These include the phytochemicals sulforaphane and indoles. According to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the diverse activities of sulforaphane extend to the prevention of age-related immune system decline. In addition, another study conducted in 2009 and published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, discovered sulforaphane’s capacity to decrease plaque buildup in arteries, a major cause of heart disease. Indoles themselves have been widely promoted for their antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties.

➺ WHAT TO EAT: Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choi (Chinese

cabbage), kale


The phytonutrient anthocyanin is the main player in this category. Anthocyanins protect against heart disease by inhibiting blood clots. They may also delay aging and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. According to a 2005 animal study published in Neurobiology of Aging, blueberries can slow, and even reverse, the brain’s aging process. The study showed that blueberry-supplemented rats produced more of a chemical called HSP70, which helps the aged cells of the hippocampus (responsible for memory and learning) respond to inflammatory and oxidative processes. Aside from preventing oxidation of the nervous system, anthocyanin’s benefits include fighting atherosclerosis by lowering LDL cholesterol, stabilizing capillary walls, preventing diabetes complications, and improving eyesight.

➺ WHAT TO EAT: Beets, eggplant, red grapes, prunes, cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, pomegranates t w

right: original illustration by trang tj nguyen

lemonade or limeade instead of drinking canned juices and sodas. Replace white sugar with honey or agave syrup for a healthier alternative.

Wondering what the green certified organic label means? Or maybe why it costs so much? The recent and rapid growth of the organic food industry has flooded the market with an abundance of new products – and a heap of questions as well.

// by leigh goodrich| design by karin yuen and elizabeth wang Whether at the grocery store, or watching TV, students

#1: is organic food healthier for you?

According to the Organic Trade Association, “organic production is based on a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers. Organically produced foods also must be produced without the use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones, genetic engineering and other excluded practices, sewage sludge, or irradiation.”

Researchers have yet to reach a definite conclusion. A 2003 review published in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition found that “although there is little evidence that organic and conventional foods differ in respect to the concentrations of the various micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and trace elements), there seems to be a slight trend towards higher ascorbic acid content in organically grown leafy vegetables and potatoes. There is also a trend towards lower protein concentration but of higher quality in some organic vegetables and cereal crops.”

have probably noticed the growing trend of organic food and the many implications made about its quality. Some hail organic produce as the only way to avoid pesticides and disease, while others call “organic” a mere marketing ploy designed to charge outrageous prices for regular produce. And while organic farming principles have been around for centuries, the increase in demand and availability of organic products is fairly recent, now the fastest growing sector of the food industry. Though consumers now enjoy a wider range and greater supply of organic products, this also means that the research into long-term effects of organic produce is limited.


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To find out more about what organic really means, and whether you should incorporate organic options into your diet, read the following answers to common questions students may have.

According to a 2006 study published in The Journal of Food Science, “surveys indicate that many consumers purchase organic foods because of the perceived health and nutrition benefits of organic products. In one survey, the main reasons consumers purchased organic foods were for the avoidance of pesticides (70%), for freshness (68%), for health and nutrition (67%), and to avoid genetically modified foods (55%).” Organic labels often decorate packages marketed as healthy, nutritious, all-natural, or low-fat. Organic produce is displayed prominently, and for a premium. But, is organic food nutritionally superior?

#2: is organic food better for the environment?

total wellness ▪ spring 2011

The spread of organic farming started as a grassroots movement based on sustainable and healthy living – though today’s mainstream organics industry sometimes clashes with the founding principles of organics. In his bestselling book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan examines the contrast between small organic farms that rigorously adhere to the environmental values of their predecessors, and so-called “Big Organic”, the industrial companies that have spread organic products throughout The general trend of the current the country. “The body of research indicates that while food industry burns nearly a fifth of all the organic products are not all inherently petroleum consumed more nutritious than conventional in the United States foods, there are some nutrients that (about as much as automobiles do). Today are found in different levels. it takes between seven and ten calories of fossil fuel energy to deliver one calorie of food energy to an American plate,” Pollan writes. “And while it is true that organic farmers don’t spread fertilizers made from natural gas or spray pesticides made from petroleum, industrial organic farmers often wind up burning more diesel fuel than their conventional counterparts: in trucking bulky loads of compost across the countryside and weeding their fields, a particularly energyintensive process involving extra irrigation (to germinate the weeds before planting) and extra cultivation.” Many argue that the giant organic corporations out-compete the very local farmers that the organic movement was built on. While some organic endeavors are more eco-friendly than others, organic produce in general still tends to be more green than its conventional counterpart. According to a 2008 study published in BioScience, “among the benefits of organic technologies are higher soil organic matter and nitrogen, lower fossil energy inputs, yields similar to those of conventional systems, and conservation of soil moisture and water resources (especially advantageous under drought conditions).” To maximize the environmental benefits of organic foods, consumers can look for organic products grown locally and with minimal processing or packaging.


#3: is organic food free of harmful pesticides?

By definition, organic produce must be grown without the use of pesticides. However, studies have shown that even if a product is labeled organic, it may still have pesticide residue, either due to contamination or mislabeling. According to a 2006 article published in the Journal of Food Science, a USDA program found that 23% of organic produce tested contained pesticide residue, while a Consumers Union test found pesticides on 27%. Of course, these levels are significantly lower than the conventional produce tested. In the USDA program, 73% of conventional produce had pesticide residues, 3.2 times the amount of organics. In the Consumers Union study, 79% of conventional produce had pesticide residues detected. If you are concerned about pesticide residues, organic foods are less likely to pose a problem – though they clearly aren’t all as pesticide-free as they claim. Additionally, many argue that the levels of pesticides present on conventionally grown produce are too slight to make a difference. A 2006 review published in The Critical Review of Food Science Nutrition states that “organic fruits and vegetables can be expected to contain fewer agrochemical residues than conventionally grown alternatives; yet, the significance of this difference is questionable, inasmuch as actual levels of contamination in both types of food are generally well below acceptable limits.” Pesticide residues are one factor to consider if deciding between an organic or conventionally grown product. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “the health effects of pesticides depend on the type of pesticide.” Some disrupt the nervous, hormone, and endocrine systems, while others can irritate the skin or eyes. Of course, trace quantities of these toxins may not produce an immediate response.

If you are concerned about pesticide residues, organic foods are less likely to pose a problem – though they clearly aren’t all as pesticide-free as they claim.

original illustrations by trang tj nguyen

Other research has confirmed the improved vitamin C content of many organic fruits and vegetables, though other aspects of nutrition content, such as calories and fat, vary only slightly between organic and conventional produce. The USDA maintains that “no conclusive evidence shows that organic food is more nutritious than is conventionally grown food.” Still, a 2001 study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture showed that the antioxidative activity of organic spinach was 120% higher than conventional spinach and 20–50% higher for the onions and cabbage tested. Similarly, a 2004 study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that “organic crops contained significantly more vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus and significantly less nitrates than conventional crops.” Vitamin C and other antioxidants have been known to have anti-aging, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory properties, boosting nutritional value. The general trend of the current body of research indicates that while organic products are not all inherently more nutritious than conventional foods, there are some nutrients that are found in different levels. Whether these differences make a long-term or significant impact on health warrants further research.


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#4: is organic food unreasonably expensive?

If you’ve ever seen berries sold for close to $10, chances are they were organic. Organic food is almost always more expensive than conventional produce because of production and farming costs, along with transportation, certification, and other hidden expenses. Organic produce and products also seem more expensive than more processed options due to subsidization. According to Pollan, “very simply, we subsidize high-fructose corn syrup in this country, but not carrots.” When referring to subsidies of vast quantities of corn and soybeans, Pollan points out the flaws of our food industry, which puts organic produce, and sometimes produce in general, out of the economic grasp of much of the population. According to a 2004 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, one dollar could buy 1,200 calories of potato chips and cookies, but only 250 calories of carrots. For beverages, a dollar could buy 875 calories of soda and only 170 calories of fruit juice. The financial incentive to buy unhealthy foods puts low-income families at an even greater risk for health complications that undoubtedly cost more in the long run.


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total wellness | spring 11 coming in may simple steps to a happier you! easy ways to boost your happiness PLUS the science behind what makes us happy

Mood-boosting foods How to improve your diet on the cheap! Fatigue easily? Reasons why and how to re-energize

ALSO Which foods are better raw? A guide to shopping for athletic shoes


total wellness ▪ spring 2011

Another important aspect to note is that, while food may seem expensive today, it actually makes up less of the typical American’s budget than it did in the past. According to Pollan, “as a society we Americans spend only a fraction of our disposable income feeding ourselves – about a tenth, down from a fifth in the 1950s. Americans today spend less on food, as a percentage of disposable income, than any other industrialized nation, and probably less than any people in the history of the world.” If students were to analyze their budgets, they would probably find that they spend more on items they consider necessities – video games, iPods, designer shoes – than on the food purchases that can truly keep them healthy. t w

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get a load of the glycemic index

total wellness ▪ spring 2011

The glycemic index (GI) has produced quite a bit of hype, from both confusion and curiosity. Found in recipes for daily meals or in diet books, the GI is beginning to gain more traction as a guide for better eating. In fact, the GI has only been around for about thirty years. Before Dr. David Jenkins from the University of Toronto invented the GI in the 1980’s, dietitians categorically broke down carbohydrates as simple or complex – nothing more, nothing less. Now, carbohydrate-containing foods are ranked on a numerical basis depending on how much they affect blood glucose levels. So, why is the GI attracting people like Oprah Winfrey (who has advocated low-glycemic diets), and what can we do with this relatively new knowledge? Read on to find out.



// by cindy la| design by chloe booher

what is the glycemic index? The GI is a useful tool for expressing how blood glucose levels vary after eating a particular food. It ranks foods according to how quickly blood sugar levels rise – and how far – after the consumption of a defined amount of carbohydrate (usually 50 grams) from the food in question. The GI numerically categorizes foods into groups of low GI (below 55), medium GI (55 to 70), and high GI (above 70). All carbohydrates are processed in our bodies at different rates: carbohydrates in higher GI foods (such as white bread) break down and release glucose into the bloodstream more quickly than foods with a lower GI (such as whole grains) that the body can digest more slowly. Unlike lower glycemic index foods that allow the body to maintain energy levels for a longer period of time because they take longer to digest and absorb, higher glycemic index foods provide energy for only a short while.

Glycemic Index: a measure of the effects of

metabolic, as well as hormonal, changes in the body that promote greater bouts of hunger among obese subjects. Low GI carbohydrates and fiber-rich foods are known to delay hunger and leave the body satisfied for a longer period of time.

how the glycemic index is measured Glycemic index values are determined experimentally by monitoring the blood glucose response to the carbohydrate in a particular food for two hours after its consumption, and comparing it to the blood glucose response from pure glucose, the value of which is set at 100. The GI is calculated based on comparing the effects of the consumption of 50 grams of a carbohydrate from the test food, like white bread, with the effects on blood sugar of the consumption of 50 grams of pure glucose. It is also necessary to recognize that other factors affect the glycemic index. Fat, fiber, and protein contribute to lowering the glycemic index. Whole milk, for example, has a low GI of 27, due to high amounts of fat. This can be misleading to those who choose to adopt a low-glycemic diet. One problem with the GI, however, is that it doesn’t take into account typical serving sizes that people consume. For example, while it’s easy to consume 50 grams of carbohydrate from white rice – less than a cup of rice would do it – you would need to eat 60 baby carrots to consume 50 grams of carbohydrate from carrots. To adjust for these discrepancies, the concept of glycemic load was developed.

carbohydrates in a particular food on blood sugar levels; lower glycemic index foods generally allow the body to maintain energy levels for a longer time

what is the glycemic load?

why use the glycemic index? Carbohydrates are usually classified as simple (including sugar, maple syrup, and honey) or complex (such as whole grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables). In the past, it was generally advised to eat complex carbohydrates that lead to smaller increases in blood glucose levels, as opposed to simple sugars that cause rapid spikes. Quick elevations in glucose levels lead to an increased secretion of insulin — a hormone released by the pancreas to stabilize blood sugar levels. This increased secretion can lead to a rapid drop in blood sugar levels, sending a message to the body that there is not enough energy, prompting a subsequent feeling of hunger and loss of energy. In fact, a 2010 study in The Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that consumption of high GI foods causes

The glycemic load (GL) may be a more practical application of the concept of GI. The glycemic load numerically classifies carbohydrates, taking into consideration the glycemic index as well as the typical serving size. The glycemic load is acquired by dividing the GI by 100 and then multiplying by the number of grams of carbohydrates consumed in a serving. This factors in both qualitative and quantitative measures for carbohydrates. For example, carrots are considered to have a high glycemic index (71) but a low glycemic load of only 6. That’s because a typical serving of carrots actually contains a relatively small amount of total carbohydrate. Generally, a food with a GL of 20 or more is considered a high GL food, values between 11 and 19 are considered medium GL, and a GL of 10 or less is low.

Common Foods and Their Glycemic Measurements



rice crisp cereal


ice cream

glycemic index







glycemic load









The glycemic index (GI) and its derivative, the glycemic load (GL), give an overall account of foods that raise our blood glucose levels – the higher the number, the faster the rate. Note that items such as watermelon have a high GI (72) but a low glycemic load (5), whereas items such as rice crisp cereal have a high GI (82) and high GL (72). Even though the GI of watermelon is high, its low GL indicates that a typical serving size will not contribute to a large spike in blood sugar levels.


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Chart from:

glycemic index and health There is ongoing debate as to whether or not utilizing the glycemic index can enhance methods of weight loss. A 2010 case study published in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that a modest increase in protein content along with a low glycemic load diet improved weight loss. Although a study like this may show that a diet that incorporates lower GI or GL foods is useful, it is important to recognize that a low-glycemic food does not necessarily imply that it is healthier for the body. Dr. Christian Roberts, a researcher and assistant professor at the UCLA School of Nursing states that “the glycemic index is not something long-term that is going to make a dramatic impact by itself on body weight, but rather is making an impact on some of the other markers of health.” A 2002 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that the consistent intake of a high GL diet is independently associated with an increased risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and various cancers. Additionally, the Archives of Internal Medicine found in a 2010 study that women who had the most high-glycemic carbohydrates in their diets had twice the risk of heart disease compared to those who ate low-glycemic carbohydrates. Taken together, these studies suggest that eschewing a high glycemic diet in favor of a low glycemic diet may proffer benefits.


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Using the GI has its benefits: it gives a numerical breakdown of how blood glucose levels vary after eating a certain food. But it’s more useful to look at the overall GL of the diet. Research seems to suggest that eating a low GL diet is associated with a lower incidence of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and weight gain. Although the GI is useful, it is important to understand its limitations. The GI should not be the only basis for one’s overall diet because it does not account for details such as the amount of calories, nutritional value, or fiber content of a particular food. So, while it is important to incorporate low-glycemic foods into your diet, keep in mind that the GI is just one of the many aspects to consider in a well-balanced diet. tw

9: aragami123345/istockphoto; circle dish: robyn mackenzie/istockphoto;

take-home message:



ways to spice up your life // by trang tj nguyen | design by trang tj nguyen Spices are much more than flavor enhancers – most are recommended for good health and have been used to treat ailments for thousands of years. Containing more disease-fighting antioxidants than many fruits and vegetables, spices offer both culinary and medicinal benefits. Chosen for their versatility and wide use in cooking, here are nine spices that can add spice to your health and your life – literally.

1. Cinnamon

Commonly used in: Baked goods, breads, hot chocolate, cereal

2. Turmeric

Traditionally called Indian saffron because of its mustard yellow color, turmeric, a warm, slightly bitter spice, is native to South Asia and can be used as a condiment, healing remedy, or a coloring agent for textile dyes. With 10.4% DV of iron and 18% DV of manganese, turmeric boasts a large variety of medicinal properties, and is used to alleviate symptoms of conditions such as flatulence, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, hemorrhage, toothache, bruises, chest pain, and acne. Curcumin, the yellow pigment of turmeric, is considered its primary pharmacological agent, possessing antioxidant properties that may help reduce the risk of many types of cancer, such as skin and colorectal cancers. Curcumin has also been suggested as a helpful treatment for symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and high cholesterol, and aids in liver function and cardiovascular protection. For example, a 2009 study published in the International Journal of Cardiology found that the effects of curcumin in decreasing cholesterol levels may protect against the pathological changes associated with atherosclerosis, a condition in which artery walls thicken due to the build-up of fats. Commonly used in: Curry, chutney, marinades

3. Ginger

Colored white, yellow, or red, ginger is known for its citrusy and aromatic scent, popular for its versatility in recipes ranging from zesty Asian dishes to traditional baked goods. Also available in several forms such as crystallized, candied, and pickled, ginger contains 3.4% DV of potassium and 3% DV of magnesium. Ginger is commonly used to alleviate symptoms of gastrointestinal distress such as an upset stomach and diarrhea, and acts as a natural alternative to Dramamine, a commonly used nonprescription medication for motion sickness. Ginger also possesses a number of therapeutic properties such as antioxidant effects, anti-inflammatory effects, and immune boosting actions. For example, as discovered in a 2005 study in the Journal of Medicinal Food, ginger extract was found to inhibit the induction of several inflammationinvolved genes, modulating biochemical pathways activated in chronic inflammation. Additionally, a 2010 study published in the International Journal of Women’s Health found that the use of ginger is helpful in the management of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. A 2000 study published in The Journal of Nutrition suggests ginger may have blood-thinning propertes and reduce blood cholesterol. Commonly used in: Baked goods, sushi, stir-fry, tea


total wellness ▪ spring 2011

Available in either its whole quill form or as a ground powder, cinnamon has a long history as both a medicine and a spice. Approximately one hundred varieties of cinnamon exist, such as Saigon and Korintje cinnamon, each characterized by the warm, musty tastes commonly associated with the fall and winter seasons. Helpful in digestion, gas relief, and battling colds, cinnamon is packed with 38% DV* of manganese, important in the manufacturing of enzymes necessary for the metabolism of proteins and fats, 5.6% DV of calcium, and 9.9% DV of fiber. The combination of calcium and fiber found in cinnamon can improve colon health and protect against heart disease by binding and removing bile salts from the body. Additionally, cinnamon qualifies as an antimicrobial food with antioxidant activity that aids in anti-clotting actions, boosts brain function, and helps in blood sugar control. For example, a 2007 study published in Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism found that after the ingestion of cinnamon spice, seven healthy male subjects displayed reduced total plasma glucose responses and improved sensitivity to insulin (a hormone that causes glucose uptake from the blood), suggesting beneficial effects on glucose homeostasis.

5. Black pepper

Commonly used in: Pasta sauces, pesto, marinades

Commonly used in: Almost any recipe!

With over 60 varieties available, basil is a highly fragrant, minty herb prominently featured in Italian and Southeast Asian cuisine. Packed with 60% DV of vitamin K, 7% DV of iron, and 6.3% DV of calcium, basil contains many of the nutrients essential for the upkeep of cardiovascular health. Basil also offers a diverse array of flavonoids, a group of phytochemicals high in antioxidant activity, protecting cell structures from radiation and oxygenbased damage. A member of the mint family, basil has been used to alleviate digestive problems such as vomiting, stomach cramps, and constipation, and is also known to have mild sedative action helpful in relieving headaches and anxiety.

total wellness ▪ spring 2011

7. Garlic

Long used for culinary, medicinal, and spiritual purposes, garlic is a species of the onion family affectionately called “the stinking rose” for its pungent flavor that sweetens substantially with cooking. Helpful in strengthening the body’s immune system and improving cardiovascular health, garlic provides 23.5% DV of manganese, 17.5% DV of vitamin B6, and 14.8% DV of vitamin C. In addition to slowing the progression of heart disease, garlic holds antibacterial and antiviral properties and can help prevent common colds. In fact, a 2001 study published by Advances in Therapy found that a group treated with allicin-containing garlic supplements was less likely to catch a cold over the study’s 12-week period than a group receiving a placebo. Furthermore, a 2010 study published in Oncology Reports found that allicin possesses antitumor properties that can lower the risk of gastric cancer development. Commonly used in: Garlic bread, guacamole, pasta sauces, marinades


Currently the world’s most traded spice, black pepper is a sharp, pungent spice that can be added to almost any type of recipe. Black pepper supplies 12% DV of manganese and 6.9% DV of iron, and is recognized as a carminitive, a substance that helps prevent the formation of intestinal gases. As well as possessing antibacterial and antioxidant properties, black pepper promotes digestive health by stimulating taste buds and alerting the stomach to increase hydrochloric acid secretion. Furthermore, a 2010 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that piperine, a chemical compound found in pepper, is helpful in the treatment of gastrointestinal motility disorders such as constipation and diarrhea.

8. Cayenne

Cayenne originates from South and Central America, regions known for their spicy, flavorful dishes. Available as a powder, in its whole form, or as a vinegar-based sauce, cayenne contains a high concentration of capsaicin, a substance known to effectively open congested nasal passages, fight inflammation, and increase metabolic activity. Containing 29.4% DV of vitamin A, cayenne has various cardiovascular benefits such as reducing blood cholesterol and platelet aggregation, plus lowering rates of heart attack or stroke when used liberally. A 2009 study published in Clinical Nutrition found that when combined with green tea, capsaicin is helpful in reducing energy intake to prevent weight gain, suppressing hunger and promoting a feeling of fullness. In addition to hunger suppression, capsaicin was found to have an anti-proliferative effect on prostate cancer cells in a 2006 study published in Cancer Research. Commonly used in: Hummus, soups, guacamole, falafel, kimchi

6. Cumin

Cumin not only boasts a distinctive musty, earthy taste in many Indian, Middle Eastern, and Mexican dishes, but it has also served as a common medicinal tool in many cultures. Cumin supplies 5% DV of iron and can help with flatulence, indigestion, diarrhea, and nausea, and is also helpful in alleviating common cold symptoms. It is believed to help stimulate the secretion of pancreatic enzymes that absorb nutrients into the body and are essential for proper digestion. A 2010 study published by Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found that cumin may also reduce blood glucose levels, preventing complications from diabetes, and contains antioxidant activity that may induce anti-carcinogenic properties. Commonly used in: Curry, lentil soup, chili

9. Oregano

Signifying “mountain joy” in Greek, oregano, also known as wild marjoram, is a fragrant herb with a warm, balsamic taste especially familiar in Italian dishes. It is a nutrientdense spice, providing 23.3% DV of vitamin K, 8% DV of manganese, and 7.3% DV of iron. As well as possessing antioxidant properties, oregano is also an effective anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory agent, shown to be more effective against the small intestine infection, giardiasis, than tinidazole, a commonly used prescription drug. A 2007 study published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology found that thymol and carvacrol, oregano’s volatile oils, inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause skin and wound infections. Commonly used in: Italian dishes, marinades, casseroles t w *%DV refers to the daily value percentage of nutrients a certain serving of spice provides

oregano, cumin, and garlic: sylwia kachel/istockphoto; basil: alina solovyova-vincent; right: girl: jacob wackerhausen/istockphoto; fork: bernd jürgens/istockphoto; cow: eric isselée/istockphoto

4. Basil

MEET YOUR MEAT // by nicole lew | design by trang tj nguyen With the rise of documentary films and books exposing the many

surprising ills of the meat industry, it is difficult not to question the production and consumption of meat. Still, there is a different story and a different health situation behind every piece of meat that is consumed, whether it is a McDonald’s hamburger, Chipotle carnitas burrito, or fivestar filet mignon dinner. But before swearing off meat altogether and searching for soy substitutes and Tofurkey, here are the facts about the origins, health and environmental factors, and labeling issues of the meat, specifically beef, that we eat.

total wellness â–Ş spring 2011


meat label lingo Here are some common labels often seen on meat packaging in the supermarket and a guide to distinguish the reliable ones from the unreliable ones.

the truth about red meat The fact that red meat has both health benefits and health risks has led to much debate over the healthiest amount of red meat to consume, if any. A 2010 study published in Public Health Nutrition concluded that 58% of meat consumed in the U.S. was red meat – all the more reason to learn the truth about this staple of many people’s diets.

the reliable labels The following labels are third-party verified and are only assigned to products that meet certain high standards. “USDA Organic”Prohibits use of hormones, antibiotics, genetic engineering, radiation, synthetic pesticides or fertilizers; animals must be allowed to be actively grazing, not confined, for at least 120 days of the grazing season

“Animal Welfare Approved” – For this label, the non-profit organization, Animal Welfare Approved (AWA), requires that animals spend most of their life in a pasture, prohibits growth hormones, and allows antibiotics only for sick animals the semi-reliable labels The following labels are not third-party verified, yet have clear standards. “Certified Humane” – Prohibits growth hormones; allows antibiotics only for sick animals

total wellness ▪ spring 2011

“Food Alliance Certified” – Requires low or no pesticide use, attention to worker welfare, habitat protection, well-managed agriculture, and humane care of livestock Others: “Grass-Fed”, “No Antibiotics Administered”, “No Hormones Administered”, “Raised on Small Family Farms” the unreliable labels The following labels are vague or have unverified meanings. “Natural”, “Free Roaming”, “GMO-Free”, “No Chemicals”, “No Animal By-Products” Source: Natural Resources Defense Council


cardiovascular disease

the benefits protein

Red meat is an excellent source of protein, one of the most important components of cells. Protein serves the body in many ways, from comprising hair and nails to building and repairing tissues. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests seven ounces of protein daily for active men and six ounces of protein daily for active women. Other sources of protein: chicken, milk, eggs, beans


Vitamin B12 is vital in cell formation, especially red blood cells and myelin (the covering of nerve cells), and plays an important role in neurological function and DNA synthesis. Other sources of B12: clams, salmon, yogurt, eggs, milk


Zinc, another valuable component of meat, plays a vital role in the human body. Its most prominent role is in strengthening the immune system, joints, and tissues. Because zinc is involved in many aspects of cellular metabolism, it also plays a role in wound healing, growth and development, and maintenance of sensory functions. Other sources of zinc: seafood, beans, nuts


Meat in general is a very good source of iron. Iron is important in transporting oxygen in hemoglobin to the body and building red blood cells, muscle proteins, and healthy bones. A severe lack of iron results in a condition called anemia, characterized by fatigue and weakness. Other sources of iron: whole grains, poultry, eggs, and fish

Red meat intake can contribute to high cholesterol, one of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. In 2009, the National Cancer Institute completed a tenyear analysis of the cause-specific mortality of men and women who consumed high amounts of red or processed meat. The study showed that the risk for cardiovascular disease was elevated for those who consumed large amounts of red or processed meat. Though a causal relationship was not definite, a correlation between red meats and cardiovascular disease-related deaths was found.


A 2007 study published in PLoS Medicine found a direct relationship between red and processed meat consumption and colorectal, lung, esophageal, and liver cancers. The study surveyed 500,000 members of the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP). Specifically, the study showed a 20% elevated risk for colorectal cancer and a 16% elevated risk for lung cancer in those who consumed high amounts of red meat. In addition, according to Alona Zerlin, MS, RD, from the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, malondialdehyde, a toxin found in the fat of red meat, is carcinogenic; however, adding spices to the meat has the power to neutralize the cancer-causing radicals.

the recommendation For those die-hard red meat lovers, Zerlin recommends consuming red meat, at most, three times a week and suggests grass-fed beef for those who do consume red meat. Grass-fed beef is higher in omega-3 and lower in omega-6 than beef from animals that do not graze. Omega-3 fatty acids are good for heart health, whereas “omega-6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory, meaning that they lead to disease”, according to Zerlin. Still, the suggestion differs for each person and depends on an individual’s health situation. The take-home message? Zerlin says, “Maintain a balanced diet and eat everything (including red meat) in moderation.”

steak: robyn mackenzie/istockphoto; labels (in order):;;;; right: usda; hamburger:; burrito:; book:

“American Grassfed” – American Grassfed Association (AGA) certifies products with this label for animals that are only fed grass and do not receive antibiotics or growth hormones

the risks

beef grades What is the meaning behind the USDA quality grades on supermarket beef packaging? Here is a breakdown of the different grades, from highest to lowest, of beef based on tenderness, juiciness, and flavor. Note: Not all meat receives a grade. Producers and processors must request to have their products graded for quality by the FDA. Prime Grade – highest quality; abundant marbling*; produced from well-fed beef cattle; excellent for dry-heat cooking Choice Grade – high quality; less marbling than Prime; suitable for dry-heat cooking Select Grade – leaner than higher grades; tender but lacks juiciness and flavor Standard and Commercial Grades – “store brand” or ungraded meat Utility, Cutter, and Canner Grades – used to make ground beef or processed products

A good grade for meat does not mean a good grade for health. Though the meats with the highest grade may make tasty meals, they definitely do not make the healthiest ones. Because higher-graded meats have a higher amount of fat, these meats are not necessarily the best ones to eat. A main concern about the beef grading system is that by encouraging the production of meats with abundant marbling, producers are motivated to increase the growth hormones and corn in animals’ diets and thus increase the fat in the product.

The effects that consuming meat have on personal health are widely researched, but what about the impacts that it has on the Earth? Here are some of the oftenunacknowledged environmental issues that arise from the vastly commercialized production of meat. issue 1: raising livestock has led to deforestation With livestock grazing occupying 26% of the Earth’s terrestrial surface, deforestation has become the major way to make room for grazing. According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in Latin America alone, about 70% of previously forested land is now used as pasture space for cattle. This demolition of trees to make space for pastures is detrimental to the Earth, since trees absorb CO2 when they are alive but release it back into the air when they are burned and removed.

What is the difference between the meat in a McDonald’s Happy Meal hamburger and the meat in a Chipotle burrito? To truly notice a difference, the meat must be traced all the way back to its origins: the farm.

mcdonald’s hamburger The farm: Conventional Diet: Some grass, but mostly corn A corn-heavy diet causes the cows to gain weight faster and allows them to be slaughtered sooner. However, the corn diet also makes the beef higher in fat.

*Marbling = intramuscular fat

environmental issues

the not-so-happy meal

issue 2: livestock farming generates greenhouse gases According the United Nation’s FAO, livestock farming generates 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Comparing this to the 13% generated by the world’s transportation (cars, boats, trains, and planes), the impact that livestock has on global warming is devastating. A large source of these greenhouse gases is the animal manure that generates and releases nitrous oxide into the environment. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), N2O is approximately 310 times more powerful than CO2 as a greenhouse gas.

literature recommendation For more information about the origin of the food that is readily consumed check out Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. In this investigative book, Pollan provides insight into the path that food takes from a farm to a plate and the health and environmental impacts it makes along the way.

Supplements: Antibiotics and growth hormones Because the feedlots are overpopulated, disease spreads fast, so cows are given antibiotics to prevent illness. Some are also given growth hormones to increase their size.

chipotle burrito The farm: Organic Diet: Grass Grass is the normal, healthy diet for cows. Living quarters: Grass pastures for grazing As opposed to being confined in feedlots where disease spreads quickly, these cows are allowed to openly graze the land. Supplements: None Cows from organic farms are not given any growth supplements or antibiotics, which makes for all-around healthier meat.


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issue 3: livestock production requires and taints the earth’s water resources Water is necessary mainly for the irrigation of crops that feed the livestock. According to the United Nation’s FAO, more than 8% of global human water use is for livestock production. Additionally, livestock production leads to water pollutants – animal wastes, antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides – all of which are used to maintain livestock. t w

Living quarters: Tight quarters of the feedlot Though the cattle begin life in grass pastures, after only a few months they are forced into confined, over-populated feedlots, allowing for mass production but negatively affecting the health of the cows.


navigating the frozen food aisle // by danna zhang| design by elizabeth wang It’s a colorful world out there in the frozen food aisle. While the sheer abundance and variety of food items is surely tempting, students purchasing frozen meals or frozen fruits and vegetables should beware of the nutritional quality of their choices. A look into some issues to consider:

When selecting frozen meals, it is important to read the nutrition label to determine potential health benefits, or lack thereof. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the nutrition facts label provides a percent daily value based on a 2,000 calorie diet for each of the major nutrients listed, and on a per-serving basis, a daily value of 5% or less is considered low, while a daily value of 20% or more is viewed as high. Using this guideline, aim for choices that are high in fiber but low in calories, fat and sodium, and also be conscious of the serving size. Oftentimes a package contains multiple servings, which can easily lead to the consumption of excess calories. Labels can also be misleading: entreés tagged as “vegetarian” or “organic” entice health-conscious consumers, but these products might still include refined grains, a whole day’s worth of salt, and an abundant amount of fat. For example, while a Weight Watchers Smart Ones Chicken Mirabella entrée is relatively low in salt (480 milligrams) and saturated fat (1 gram), a Seeds of Change “Certified Organic” Spinach Lasagna di Parma option has 750 milligrams of sodium and six times the saturated fat (6 grams). Remember to always use the nutritional label to determine whether the product fits your health needs.

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In addition to the nutrition facts, make sure to always consider the ingredients list. Look out for undesirable contents such as partially hydrogenated oils, which contain trans-fats that increase LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), high LDL cholesterol levels are linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

picking fruits and veggies

During the off-season when fresh produce becomes limited and expensive, frozen fruits and vegetables become an excellent substitute for providing a high concentration of nutrients. While some studies suggest that frozen fruits and vegetables are not as nutritious as when they are fresh (some studies report decreases in vitamin C in frozen produce), others argue that frozen produce might actually offer more nutrition than fresh options, since fruits and vegetables that are headed for the freezer are usually picked at peak ripeness. This


may not apply to all fruits in all cases, however, as underripe fruit do not necessarily offer less nutrition, according to Jennifer Wilkins, PhD, RD of the division of Nutritional Sciences of the Cornell University College of Human Ecology. When it comes to purchasing frozen fruits and vegetables, keep it pure and simple. Avoid vegetables with cheese sauce, and stay away from fruits that are packed in syrup. For example, a cup of plain frozen broccoli has 30 calories, no fat, and 20 milligrams of sodium, but packaging that same vegetable in a cheese sauce instantly doubles the calories and brings the sodium content to 600 milligrams. Likewise, frozen strawberries in syrup can contain up to 11 times as much sugar as natural, unsweetened ones, countering the health benefits of the fruit. Also, as with fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen fruits and vegetables should always be carefully washed and prepared before consumption.

What about freezer burn?

Freezer burn refers to the grayish, frosty spots that appear on the surface of frozen foods, and usually occurs in improperly wrapped items that have been exposed to too much oxygen. Although freezer burns do not cause foods to rot or become unsafe, they do toughen the texture of foods. Freezer burn can be prevented by tightly covering food with freezer-safe wraps and containers, and making sure to squeeze out as much excess air as possible. While heavily freezer-burned foods may have to be discarded for quality reasons, small freezer-burned portions can be cut away either before or after cooking the food.

the take-home:

When shopping for frozen foods, keep the goal of maintaining a healthy and balanced diet in mind. In addition, note how long certain foods can be stored in the freezer. Knowing how to choose and utilize frozen foods maximizes the benefits of convenient cooking without jeopardizing your arteries or your waistline.

top: kelly cline/istockphoto; organic bistro:; kashi:; amy’s:; mon cuisine:

Eyeing the Entrees


the guide ❯❯ the best of frozen entrées ❯❯ The Organic Bistro

Wild Alaskan Salmon is a low sodium (65 milligrams) dish that provides 390 calories, 6 grams of fiber and 2 grams of saturated fat. While it does contain 70 milligrams of cholesterol (23% of the recommended daily value), this entrée is a wonderful source of potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. In addition, the dinner also supplies 1380 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids and 50% recommended daily value of vitamin B-12, both of which have great health benefits.

❯❯ Kashi Black Bean Mango is a delicious, healthy choice of frozen dinner wellsuited for vegans. With no cholesterol and just 1 gram of saturated fat, the meal provides 7 grams of dietary fiber, 8 grams of protein, and a plentiful supply of vitamins A and C, with only 340 calories and 380 milligrams of sodium.

❯❯ Mon Cuisine

❯❯ Kashi Mayan Harvest Bake is definitely a valuable selection. With fairly low sodium (380 milligrams) and saturated fat (2 grams) content, it provides 8 grams of dietary fiber, 400 milligrams of potassium, and serves as a source of vitamin A, vitamin C and iron. For 340 calories, the dinner is made with whole grain pilaf, a source of complex carbohydrates. To top it off, the dish is cholesterol-free. ❯❯ Amy’s Light in Sodium Brown Rice and Vegetable Bowl is another choice to be considered, with 260 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and low sodium content (270 milligrams). In addition, the meal provides 9 grams of protein, 100% the recommended daily value of vitamin A, and 35% for vitamin C. With iron and calcium, this meal makes for a healthy choice among frozen entrées. ❯❯ Amy’s Light in Sodium Black Bean Vegetable Enchiladas meal is also an appealing option. With just 190 milligrams of sodium, this dish also provides 4 grams of fiber per serving – 16% of the recommended daily value of fiber. It contains no trans fat, only a half a gram of saturated fat, and supplies 8% of the recommended daily value for calcium and iron. However, do take note of the serving size, as one box contains two servings, so the whole entrée is 320 calories. t w

Tips and Tricks for Freezing Food 1. Make sure to use containers and wraps that are thick enough to keep moisture in and odors out. 2. Before freezing eggs, crack the shells and beat them, and then store the liquid. 3. Avoid freezing fresh, water-rich vegetables such as celery, lettuce and cucumbers, because they become soggy when the ice crystals melt during thawing. Instead, freeze other vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and peas. 4. Freeze chunks of fruits (e.g. peaches, mangoes and bananas) that are in danger of becoming overripe, and use them to make smoothies. 5. To prevent small, malleable items from clumping together, spread the pieces out on a baking sheet and freeze until solid, then transfer them to a re-sealable plastic bag. 6. Use ice cube trays to freeze leftover broth and other liquids. Once solid, the cubes can be transferred to a bag for safekeeping and usage. 7. Always completely cool baked goods before freezing them so they don’t become soggy.


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Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage, with 13 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, makes for a rather alluring and convenient vegetarian option. In addition to its low calorie (220) and sodium (260 milligrams) content, the dish is free of saturated fat and cholesterol. to top it off, it offers 35% of the recommended daily value of vitamin a, 45% of vitamin c, and 20% of iron.

❯❯ The Organic Bistro Savory Turkey is a golden pick among the variety of frozen entrées. In addition to being a great source of fiber (7 grams), the dish also supplies 31 grams protein, all of which encompass 370 calories. While the meal does contain 60 milligrams of cholesterol (20% of recommended daily value intake), the low sodium (240 milligrams) and saturated fat (1.5 grams) content is quite satisfactory.

vegetarian protein

getting protein without the meat

// by sandeep dhillon| design by karin yuen and elizabeth wang Proteins are essential macromolecules, making up the body’s cells, organs, and tissues. Because the human body cannot produce all of the amino acids (building blocks of protein) that it needs, it relies on protein-rich foods. These foods provide what are called essential amino acids (“essential” because they are crucial to our diets, and we cannot produce them ourselves). While the protein in some foods contains all of the necessary amino acids (and is thus called a “complete” protein), other protein sources lack at least one of the nine “essential” amino acids (and are therefore “incomplete” proteins). This is an important distinction for vegetarians, since protein from meat and other animal sources tends to be “complete.” Fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts usually provide incomplete proteins (although soybeans are a complete plant protein), but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintain that certain foods eaten in conjunction with each other provide adequate amounts of all essential amino acids. For instance, grains lack an essential amino acid that is present in legumes, and legumes lack an essential amino acid that is present in grains. Consequently, combining grains with legumes provides all of the essential amino acids. Examples of such combinations include beans with tortilla or rice, a peanut butter sandwich, and hummus with pita bread. However, it is not necessary to eat complementary proteins at the same time to fulfill protein recommendations. The ADA asserts that “complementary proteins do not need to be consumed at the same meal” and that “an assortment of plant foods eaten over the course of a day can provide all essential amino acids.”

consider iron

➺ In the past decade,

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vegetarian diets have become increasingly more popular. As more and more individuals adopt a meat-free lifestyle, the question persists: do vegetarians meet the nutritional recommendations of a healthy and balanced diet? The American Dietetic Association (ADA) maintains that “appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.” In fact, a 2003 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition comparing the health of vegetarians to that of non-vegetarians revealed that those who opt for a meat-free existence enjoy diets lower in total fat (including saturated fat) and cholesterol. These folks also consume more fiber through vegetables than their meat-eating counterparts. However, while the merits of a vegetarian diet are numerous, many individuals worry that vegetarians run the risk of protein deficiency, since meats provide such a rich source of protein. Read on to learn some facts about protein and the scoop on how to be a vegetarian the healthy way.


The American Academy of Pediatrics claims that the nutrient vegetarians are most deficient in is iron. This is because the structure of plant-based iron (non-heme iron) differs from the iron found in animal products (heme iron), and non-heme iron is harder for the human digestive system to absorb than heme iron. Due to the low level of intestinal absorption of the iron found in plant foods, vegetarians require higher quantities of iron than their meat-eating counterparts. Some good sources of iron include dried pumpkin seeds, tofu, cooked soybeans, lentils, oatmeal, black beans, spinach, and quinoa. According to the ADA, eating iron-rich foods in conjunction with foods rich in vitamin C (such as citrus fruits) helps improve absorption of non-heme iron. It is also important to remember that excess consumption of dairy (such as milk, cheese, and yogurt) may inhibit the absorption of iron, since calcium has been linked with the interference of non-heme iron absorption. Because of this, it is a good idea to reduce dairy intake at main meals or at meals that provide a large dose of dietary iron, especially if your iron requirements are high (which is usually pertinent to teenagers and women of childbearing age).

left: fotografiabasica/istockphoto; right images: soy: norman chan/istockphoto; yeast, chickpeas, grains: alasdair thomson/istockphoto

what, exactly, is protein?

feature how to get your protein fix

The ADA recommends the consumption of a wide variety of foods and sufficient daily caloric intake to satisfy the body’s protein needs, while the CDC suggests that 10-35% of daily calories should come from protein. It is commonly known that dairy products (such as milk, yogurt, and cheese) and eggs are good sources of protein for vegetarians, but a well-balanced diet that incorporates a wide variety of food is critical. Such a diet is especially important for vegans, who choose not to consume any animal products, including dairy and eggs. Here are some tips on other foods that can provide a healthy dose of this essential nutrient:



Believe it or not, grains (the seeds of grasses) can be a good source of protein. Usually eaten in conjunction with a complementary protein (such as legumes) to create a complete protein (for example, beans and brown rice or peanut butter on whole wheat toast), grains come in all forms, including barley, brown rice, popcorn, oatmeal, and buckwheat. Opt for whole grain flours and wheat and rye breads over heavily processed grains to avoid the fat, sugar, and additives that are introduced with processing. A typical slice of whole grain bread offers 4 grams of protein, while a serving of cooked rice can provide up to 5 grams. Quinoa is a particularly versatile grain and contains a large amount of protein. It actually has all nine essential amino acids (and is therefore a complete protein) and has a protein content of about 12-18%. Quinoa can be found at local supermarkets or health food stores. It’s important to note that when it comes to relying on grains as substitutes for animal protein, variety is key, and mixing complex carbohydrates is advisable (for instance, consuming legumes with whole grain cereals and eating an assortment of starchy vegetables).



Legumes are a class of vegetables with seed pods that split into two halves. About 6-9% of the cooked weight of most legumes comes from protein (about 6-9 grams per serving), though some have much more. Edible seeds include lentils, beans, and peas (edamame, or soybeans in a pod, are actually legumes). These healthy alternatives to meat are high in potassium, iron, and magnesium and contain no cholesterol, in addition to having very low levels of fat. Chickpeas (which are used in hummus), lentils (which go well with rice), kidney beans, and split peas are all members of the legume family. Keep in mind that some legumes need to be soaked before being cooked (to shorten cooking time and make them more digestible). t w

Complementary protein combinations: ▪ Hummus and pita bread ▪ Nut butter on whole grain bread (for those with nut allergies, sunflower seed butter on whole grain crackers is a satisfying alternative) ▪ Rice and beans, peas, or lentils ▪ Split pea soup with rye (or whole grain) bread or seeded crackers ▪ Tortillas with beans ▪ Veggie burgers on bread (or whole grain buns) ▪ Cereals with milk (dairy, soy, or almond milk)


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Food yeast (which is different from the type used in making bread) yields about 50% of its calories to protein, according to the USDA. Though by no means a complete protein, food yeast is extremely nutritious — it provides nutrients like riboflavin and vitamin B-12, important for energy metabolism and the formation of blood cells, respectively. Food yeast can be added to a variety of dishes, including soups, casseroles, dips, and gravies; you can even sprinkle it on some popcorn!

Soybeans tend to be popular amongst the vegetarian population because they contain all of the essential amino acids and are the richest plant source for high-quality protein; according to the ADA, soy contains as much complete protein as meat . A one-ounce serving of soy nuts or cooked green soybeans contains a whopping 11 grams of protein, while a half-cup serving of tofu provides about 10 grams. As an excellent source of protein, soy also provides a good source of B vitamins and essential fatty acids, including omega-3s. A recent 2010 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that soy is associated with reduced serum cholesterol (the total amount of cholesterol in the blood), and the American Heart Association (AHA) categorizes soy as a healthy alternative to other protein sources, such as red meat. The AHA suggests that soy foods are good for the heart and blood vessels, are low in saturated fats, and deliver substantial quantities of polyunsaturated fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Soy is found in soy milk, tofu, soy protein powders that can be used in smoothies, and meat substitutes, such as soy burgers and even soy bacon.

bare necessities food essentials to keep stocked in your fridge or pantry

For the health-and budget–conscious, grocery shopping can sometimes be a staggering hurdle. These days, grocery stores have have tagged on enough “fortified”, “all-natural,” and “low-fat” labels to confuse even the savviest of eaters. Especially for students on a budget, it is crucial, and challenging, to maximize nutritional quality while minimizing cost. Here, we’ve narrowed down a list for the top ten essential foods that both pack a dietary punch and can be considered staples for any grocery list.


Serving suggestion: Sauté and serve as a side dish or stuff fresh spinach into a hot or cold sandwich.

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When it comes to versatility, spinach tops most vegetables. You can blanch it, steam it, sauté it, bake it, or have it fresh in your favorite salad. As an annual plant, spinach is always in season and therefore retains its optimal flavor and stays within your budget yearlong. Like all leafy green vegetables, spinach is high in potassium, magnesium, and fiber. Spinach is also exceptionally high in iron, necessary for the formation of red blood cells and oxygen transport throughout the body. Though spinach tends to be a vegetable superstar, it is important to note that other vegetable players are just as important to your health. According to Dr. William McCarthy, a professor of health sciences at the UCLA School of Public Health, eating only one type of vegetable is suboptimal because there is no single vegetable that provides all the necessary nutrients. Keep in mind that yellow and orange vegetables are rich in nutrients not found in green ones. A multicolored salad with a variety of vegetables will keep your dinner both healthy and easy on the eyes.



Serving suggestion: Use to make fruit smoothies creamier or top oatmeal. We’ve all seen the ads: “Drinking a glass of milk daily can help you lose weight.” According to a 2010 article from the New York Times, however, there have been no conclusive studies supporting this fact. Furthermore, too much consumption of milk and milk-based products, with the exception of nonfat milk, has been linked to obesity and high cholesterol. So instead of picking up a gallon of dairy the next time you’re at the supermarket, opt for beans – soy beans, that is. Not only is soymilk lower in fat than regular milk but it is also higher in amino acids needed by the human body to create protein. Studies published in Cancer Causes & Control in 2010 support the notion that a diet high in fruit and vegetables enhanced with soy intake, as occurs in China, reduces the risk of breast cancer in some women.

left to right: dny59/istockphoto; frans rombout/istockphoto; masaltof/istockphoto. grapefruit: joe biafore/istockphoto; next page: oats: beata becla/istockphoto; chicken: joe biafore/istockphoto; lentils: floortje/istockphoto; tea: pashaIgnatov/istockphoto

// by jenny hong| design by elizabeth wang


Serving suggestion: Crumble on top of salads and baked goods, or simply enjoy as a crunchy snack. Walnuts are both delicious and nutritious: with their high omega-3 fatty acid content and amazing crunch factor, walnuts make popular study snacks. According to a 2004 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Aging, dietary fatty acids such as omega-3s, with their anti-inflammatory properties, play a key role in preventing aspects of cardiovascular aging and maintaining proper brain function with artery flexibility. In addition, “it might be noted that nuts, despite being high in fat, are associated with lower heart disease risk and have not been associated with weight gain the way other high-fat foods have been,” says Dr. McCarthy. And if that’s not enough to convince you to always keep walnuts in stock, walnuts also have high vitamin E content – a necessary nutrient for healthy hair, skin and nails. As with all foods high in fats, though, it is important not to overeat. The suggested serving size is 1/3 cup of nuts four to five times a week. If the flavor of walnuts isn’t your favorite, almonds and pistachios are healthy options that confer similar benefits.


Serving suggestion: Enjoy as a whole piece of fruit, in fruit salads, and as juice; lemon slices in water can make drinking the suggested eight glasses a day more enjoyable. The exceedingly high content of vitamin C in citrus fruits was first discovered in the late 15th century as part of an effort to battle scurvy during long sea voyages. Since then, citrus fruits such as oranges, limes, lemons, and grapefruits have become some of the most common fruit varieties in households everywhere. For their ubiquity in supermarkets as both produce and juice, and their relatively long shelf lives, citrus fruits should always be kept in stock. Citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C, and they also contain a little bit of vitamins E and B, and minerals like phosphorous, magnesium, and copper.



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What makes grape seed oil stand out compared to other cooking oils is its exceptionally high smoke point, meaning it can be heated up to high temperatures without breaking down and giving off carcinogenic free radicals in the process. Grapeseed oil is also high in one of the essential fatty acids (linoleic acid), members of the vitamin E family (tocotrienol content), and antioxidant activity (polyphenolics). In a 2010 study in Food Science and Biotechnology, grapeseed oil was found to reduce cholesterol and improve plasma lipid profiles in rats when compared to soybean oil or lard. Furthermore, grapeseed oil has a clean and nutty flavor, allowing it to complement a wider variety of foods than olive oil.


Serving suggestion: Go for baked, broiled or grilled. Serve with steamed vegetables, chop into salads, or slice to make a delicious sandwich.

6. TEA

Serving suggestion: Enjoy hot or cold. Add a wedge of fruit to cold tea for a delightful afternoon treat!

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The British have a designated time in the day to enjoy this particular beverage. The Chinese have indulged in it for thousands of years. Brimming with large concentrations of antioxidant micronutrients known as polyphenols, it is no wonder why tea, the second most popular drink in the world, has evoked so much enthusiasm in major parts of the world. According to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, polyphenols such as those found in green tea act as anti-inflammatory agents that have painreducing properties. Enjoy a cup of tea and reap some other benefits of tea whose repertoire includes stronger cardiovascular health, mental health, and cancer prevention. For those who want to keep jitters at bay, try white tea, which contains less caffeine than green and black tea variants.



Serving suggestion: Top with fruit to eat as a healthy snack, or use as a dip for a creamy, tangy kick. Recently touted as a “superfood” in popular media, Greek yogurt, strained from the regular kind, boasts all the same benefits of traditional yogurt, without the added sugar. Loaded with calcium, phosphorous and vitamin B2, yogurt is known to promote intestinal and vaginal health, improve lactose intolerance, build stronger bones, enhance immunity, lower blood pressure, and have anticancer effects. Moreover, according to a 2005 article published in the International Journal of Obesity, eating yogurt can supplement weight loss strategies in obese people. Greek yogurt has 25% more protein per serving than regular yogurt and boasts the thick consistency of full-fat yogurt even when it is fat-free.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 ounces of lean meat per day, and not every day. In addition, it has begun to suggest a Mediterranean diet which is characteristically low in meat and higher in fruits and vegetables. Because “less is more” seems to be the mantra of recommended meat consumption, it is important to select lean meats with a good balance of nutrients. Not only is chicken the leanest of all meats, it is also rich in complete protein. According to a 2005 review article published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, opting for lean meats over red meats can reduce intake of saturated fats and risk of heart disease. In order to reap the full benefits of lean meats and improve heart health, free-range chicken is recommended. Although higher in price, the difference between conventional and free-range chicken is that free-range chickens are allowed to roam in open spaces as opposed to being cooped up in henhouses. As a result, free-range chickens tend to store less fat in their bodies and provide less omega-6 fatty acids in their meat – which in excessive amounts relative to omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to higher risk of heart disease. Chicken can be combined with an extensive array of herbs and spices to make a delectable and nutritious meal for any occasion.


Serving suggestion: Eat as a side with any dish or add to soup or casserole for fuller texture. Shown to help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of obesity, cereal grains – an excellent source of complex carbohydrates and fiber– are a must-have in the pantry. A few of the types of grain include: Quinoa. Technically a seed and not a grain, quinoa was once considered a sacred food by the Incas. Research has found that this impressive pseudo-grain contains all nine essential amino acids and can decrease LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and prevent reduction of HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. Brown rice. The brown husk on brown rice is what differentiates it from its more processed counterpart, white rice. Although white rice is a favorite of many, because it is stripped of its bran and germ layer, it is essentially stripped of much of its nutritional content, including vitamins and minerals such as riboflavin, niacin, and thiamin. The bran layer itself is also a good source of fiber.


Serving suggestion: Serve up your favorite legume in a hearty soup (i.e., lentil soup, split pea soup, bean soup) with a crust of whole wheat bread.

Oats. High in insoluble fiber, oats also have more soluble fiber than any other kind of grain which, according to the American Heart Association, can help lower blood cholesterol as well as help you feel fuller longer – an important asset for people trying to manage their weight. tw


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Legumes such as beans and lentils are low in fat, have zero cholesterol, and are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber. They are also high in protein, which makes them an excellent food group for vegans and vegetarians. According to a 2006 study published in Food Chemistry, legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, cowpeas and green peas are hearty providers of mineral matter, particularly potassium, phosphorus, calcium, copper, iron and zinc. Paired with grain, these two plant sources provide all the essential amino acids necessary for a healthy, balanced diet. In many cultures, rice is often served with beans, lentils, or tofu, where the combination of foods provides a complete protein source.


revamping the food pyramid “

A healthy diet as one that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk products; includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts; and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars. – USDA Dietary Guidelines

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Food pyramids play a rather large role in the American population: they’re taught in schools, propagated by the media, and incorporated into practically all food labels. If you’ve seen the current food pyramid, named MyPyramid by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), you’ll notice that it’s different than the one taught during our elementary school years. In fact, the 2005 MyPyramid food guidance system is an update of the original 1992 Food Guide Pyramid, which was the product of a long line of government recommendations on daily diet.

// by grace lee | design by karin yuen 44

left:; right:

evolution of the food pyramid

Over the last century, scientific advancements have demanded constant dietary guideline restructuring. Though federal nutritional guidelines have been around the block, the food pyramid is relatively new. The function of a food pyramid is straightforward: to translate the latest nutritional recommendations to the general public in one simple graphic. This, of course, has proved easier said than done. The first USDA food pyramid was actually taken from Sweden at an international conference in 1988. Since then, food pyramids have been remodeled again and again by governmental and nongovernmental organizations alike. Federally-created food pyramids are designed to be consistent with the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, recommendations that are reviewed and updated every five years. With the newest Dietary Guidelines issued in 2010, the USDA joined forces with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide advice regarding good diet habits to promote health and well-being.

understanding MyPyramid

Dr. Walter Willett, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard University, deemed the original Food Guide Pyramid to be flawed and misleading on several points. For one, the original pyramid made a number of generalized false claims, such as “all fats are bad” (what about fats from fish, nuts, and olive oil?) or “all complex carbohydrates are good” (refined carbohydrates such as white bread need to be differentiated from the true complex carbs such as whole grain cereals and bread). The original food pyramid also lacked guidance on weight, exercise, alcohol consumption and vitamins. Plus, several USDA studies, particularly the 1996 phone survey study, found that over 40% of Americans agreed “there are so many recommendations about healthy ways to eat, it’s hard to know what to believe.” The 2005 MyPyramid addresses such criticisms by providing a much simpler graphic, encouraging the public to go online and create an individualized diet plan. “One size doesn’t fit all” is USDA’s new motto. Online, you can customize a menu planner based on your age, gender, weight, height and level of physical activity. Food quantity recommendations are now also given in common household measurements (cups and ounces) as opposed to “servings.”

MyPyramid categories

MyPyramid is intentionally simple, divided into eight parts: ❯❯ Physical activity: daily exercise encouraged ❯❯ Grains: whole grains recommended ❯❯ Vegetables: dark greens, orange vegetables, dry beans and peas recommended ❯❯ Fruits: variety emphasized and minimizing fruit juices recommended ❯❯ Oils: fish, nut, and vegetable sources recommended ❯❯ Milk: fat-free or low-fat fluid milk and other milk-based products recommended ❯❯ Meat and beans: low-fat and lean meats emphasized ❯❯ Discretionary calories: sweets and alcoholic beverages included Visit to learn more.


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The gist of the USDA healthy dietary advice is conveyed in several important themes incorporated into the MyPyramid design: ❯❯ Personalization: visit to attain a personalized dietary recommendation ❯❯ Gradual improvement: represented by the MyPyramid slogan “Steps to a Healthier You” ❯❯ Physical activity: represented by the person climbing the steps on the side of the pyramid ❯❯ Variety: symbolized by six colored bands representing the five food groups ❯❯ Moderation: represented by narrowing of each food group from bottom to top. The wide base stands for foods with little fat and added sugar. ❯❯ Proportionality: shown in the general width of the food group bands.

alternative pyramids Leading nutrition experts at the Harvard School of Public Health find the new pyramid to be flawed. With no text or numbers explaining the colored bands and food group choices, MyPyramid might just be too simple. Requiring individuals to go online makes it difficult for consumers to get the facts, not to mention virtually inaccessible without internet access. Additionally, controversies have risen regarding the political pressure from the food industry that may have influenced the USDA’s recommendations. A look into alternative pyramids that have come to the fore: healthy eating pyramid


left:; right:;

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The Harvard School of Public Health created the Healthy Eating Pyramid in 2008 to fix what they claimed were “fundamental flaws in the USDA pyramid,” such as the USDA’s suggestion to limit all fats and oils (as opposed to endorsing healthy fats) and giving too much importance to dairy products. Harvard’s Healthy Eating Pyramid offers more detailed recommendations than the vague MyPyramid graphic, and is based on up-to-date research on preventing certain diseases and health risks. However, it is still based on the one-size-fits-all approach. Founded on daily exercise and weight control, the Healthy Eating Pyramid recommends plenty of vegetables and whole grains (at the pyramid bottom), and minimizing red meat, refined grains, sugary drinks and salt. Visit to learn more.

oldways ethnic food pyramids

The Harvard School of Public Health also recommends Traditional Diet Pyramids (Mediterranean, Asian, Latino and vegetarian) offered by Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust, a nonprofit education organization dedicated to combating a rising prevalence of what they call “pseudo foods.” In other words, Oldways aims to counter the mounting processed food trend and restore the “old ways” of growing, preparing, eating and enjoying food. Traditional diets refer to foods from cultures that have been around for thousands of years, traditionally grown, raised, produced and cooked in a local region. Foods from such diets are minimally processed, and for the most part, free of chemical preservatives and additives. The traditional diets offer largely plant-based cultural models for healthy eating, and the Oldways ethnic pyramids can be found online at

Dr. Weil’s anti-inflammatory food pyramid


total wellness ▪ spring 2011

World-renowned pioneer of integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D. proposed the Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid as a practical eating guide for all ages to counteract chronic inflammation. As the body’s healing response, inflammation serves an important role in bringing nourishment and immune activity to a site of injury or infection. Chronic inflammation, however, persists for an unknown reason, damaging the body and causing many serious diseases including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Along with stress, genetics, and exercise, diet choices are a major contributor to chronic inflammation. The Anti-inflammatory Food Pyramid provides a visual reference pertaining specifically to anti-inflammatory foods, beverages and spices such as colorful fruits and vegetables, oily fish, nuts, seeds, and ginger. An antiinflammatory diet is typically well-balanced and varied, high in vegetables and low in refined carbohydrates and undesirable fats (saturated and trans fats). Go to to learn more. tw.

becoming a fish connoisseur // by fritz batiller |design by trang tj nguyen

Ami, Tengu, Tomodachi, and Yamato are

just a few of the many sushi establishments around UCLA. Sushi has become a regular grocery item for some students and a favorite dining indulgence for others. However, this popular dish is only one of many ways to eat fish. Fish is known to be a significant source of omega-3 fatty acids, which, according to a 2010 study in Current Treatment Options for Cardiovascular Medicine, support and protect the heart through several mechanisms, including the reduction of erratic heart rhythm disturbances and the improvement of blood vessel function. Fish is also a good source of protein, with much less saturated fat compared to red meat. Although fish is an integral part of a balanced diet, there are a few things to consider in making the proper choices, such as paying attention to food safety.

total wellness ▪ spring 2011

fish are friends… According to Dr. Andrew Weil, founder of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and integrative medicine pioneer, “most Americans are deficient in omega-3s and as a result are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, cancer, inflammatory disorders, and mental and emotional problems.” In fact, a 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that consuming one to two servings of fish with high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids reduces the risk of coronary death by 36% and total mortality by 17%.


Fish oil is rich in two omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Research suggests that these omega-3 fatty acids serve as support and protection for the cardiovascular system through multiple mechanisms: the reduction of arrhythmias (irregular electric activity in the heart) and the alteration of the production of prostaglandins (lipid compounds derived from omega-3 fatty acids), which improves blood vessel function and eases inflammation. In populations such as that of Japan, the consumption of a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids, coupled with regular physical activity, has been linked with increased longevity. Recently, EPA has been added to treatments for mental conditions, such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease, due to its antiinflammatory and neuroprotective characteristics. DHA is beneficial for early neurodevelopment, and is the most abundant omega-3 fatty acid in the brain. According to a 2005 study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, a deficiency in DHA is associated with neural mediated cell death and cognitive decline. Thus, omega-3s definitely have a lot to offer, and like Dr. Weil says, “fish is, indeed, a brain food.” In addition to fatty acids, fish are a significant source of protein, without the high percentage of saturated fat that red meat and poultry offer. A high intake of saturated fat correlates with a shorter life expectancy and an increased cancer and heart disease risk. Fish also contain selenium, a trace element essential to antioxidant defense systems, and sometimes linked to the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

joe biafore/istockphoto; right: stawomir przybytkowicz/istockphoto; top: saiko3p/istockphoto

a guide on how to have your fish and eat it too

how to cook fresh fish at home

Here are some quick tips on buying fresh fish, how to store it, and how soon to cook it once it has been purchased:

buying fresh fish

1. Fish, fresh or frozen, should be one of the last things purchased before leaving your local grocery store so that it is exposed to unsafe room temperatures for the shortest amount of time. 2. Inspect the fish by smelling for distinct odors of briny or clean water, feeling for firm flesh, and looking for bright eyes and bright red gills. These are some specific characteristics of fresh fish; fish that have been stocked for a while will either have a pungent aroma, dull eyes, or faded red gills. 3. Check the packaging for any dents, scratches, or any punctures. Then, place it in a separate plastic bag from other groceries, to prevent cross contamination with other foods. 4. Do not let the fish sit in warm temperatures for too long. Quickly refrigerate it or cook it as soon as possible.

freezing fresh fish

1. Instead of refrigerating fresh fish, you can freeze to extend its shelf life, especially if you want to keep it past three days. 2. Wrap the fish tightly and carefully with two individual layers of plastic wrap. 3. Place these in a sealable freezer bag, or aluminum foil, and press and flatten them to push out excess air from the bag. 4. Do not put too much fish in one bag, and spread out the bags in the freezer, so that they will freeze quicker.

cooking fresh fish

refrigerating fresh fish

1. Remove the fish from its packaging, and rinse the fish thoroughly in cold water. 2. Freshly caught fish should be gutted and cleaned as soon as possible, or have it done for you at your local grocery store. 3. Pat it dry with paper towels, then cover them tightly with wrap, aluminum foil, or place in Tupperware in the back of the top shelf of your refrigerator, which is the coldest part. 4. Fresh fish is best eaten within 24 hours of catching or purchasing, but can be safe to eat, if properly stored, for two to three days.

1. Before cooking the fish, it is optional to scale, clean, fillet, skin, or bone; it all depends on how you want to eat your fish. 2. However, it is important to thoroughly and completely cook the fish to eliminate parasites and bacteria that cause food poisoning. Do this by maintaining an internal temperature of at least 140°F. 3. While cooking, use a meat thermometer or try tiny pieces of your fish to see if the texture and tenderness is to your liking. Use a fork or knife to examine the appearance of the fish inside to make sure it has cooked all the way through.

...not food?

the final verdict Although fish consumption may seem to pose potential risks, experts agree that the benefits of fish intake far outweigh them. The key is adequate preparation and selection, as well as a healthy moderate intake. According to an article from The Nutrition Source by the Harvard School of Public Health article that reviewed data from the Environmental Protection Agency, “they calculated that if 100,000 people ate farmed salmon twice a week for 70 years, the extra PCB intake could potentially cause 24 extra deaths from cancerbut would prevent at least 7,000 deaths from heart disease.” t w


total wellness ▪ spring 2011

Some species of fish contain high concentrations of mercury, which detrimentally affect the developing nervous system of children and can cause both chronic and acute poisoning of adults. This can lead to many developmental deficits, such as decreased performance in language skills, lower memory function, and sensory and mental retardation. Fish that are higher in the food chain, such as tuna, swordfish, tilefish, and king mackerel, contain higher concentrations of mercury, due to a process called biological magnification. Toxic substances do not readily leave the body, so the accumulation of mercury increases exponentially up the food chain. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends, for pregnant and nursing women and children, at most, 6 ounces of predatory fish per week, which is estimated to be a little more than one order of sushi, depending on the serving size, and, at most, 12 ounces of other fish per week. Fish that have the lowest concentrations of mercury include eel, scallops, trout, and salmon. Those who like to take a cautionary approach can opt to restrict consumption of predatory fish. Dr. Andrew Weil suggests “avoiding species of fish known to contain

high levels of mercury and opt instead for wild Alaskan salmon (especially sockeye), sardines, herring and black cod (sablefish), which generally have lower levels.” Also, if buying fish at the supermarket, consumers should purchase wild-caught fish instead of farmed fish whenever possible, since farmed fish are raised on a diet of corn and grain. As a result of this poor diet, farmed fish do not confer the same omega-3 fatty acid benefits as wild-caught fish. Canned fish, like canned salmon, is wild-caught, and a convenient way to incorporate more fish into the diet.

food pick


❯❯ picking your mushrooms

// by anna wong | design by karin yuen Mushrooms are a fungus, which means they have the ability to absorb nutrients and eliminate toxins – sounds like something useful for our bodies. Mushrooms have been used in Eastern medicine for centuries, and now Western medicine is starting to catch on. According to the American Dietetic Association, mushrooms are up to 90% water, so they serve as an excellent low-calorie source of B-vitamins, selenium, and potassium. And these are only some of its many benefits. Find out more on what this fungus has to offer:

from the cookbook Maitake Rice Pilaf

2 cups washed, uncooked long grain brown rice 4 cups chicken or bean stock 1 cup lentils, cooked 2-3 cups chopped Maitake mushrooms 1 cup coarsely chopped onions 1 cup coarsely chopped celery 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 cup chopped peanuts or almonds 1 tbsp parsley 1 tbsp allspice 3 tbsp olive oil salt, pepper, cayenne pepper to taste

v 100 grams of shiitake mushrooms provide: 46% of your daily value of dietary fiber, 10g of protein, 13.0mg of omega-3 fatty acids, and 75% of your daily value of riboflavin, a B vitamin important for body growth and red blood cell production. Shiitake mushrooms contain all eight essential amino acids, a rare find amongst plants; they also have linoleic acid, one of the essential fatty acids important for brain function.

In a large saucepan, sauté mushrooms and garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat for 15 minutes, adding parsley, onions, celery and pepper after 10 minutes. Add rice and stir, then add stock, lentils, allspice and salt. Reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes, then check mixture. If all of the liquid has cooked out by that time, add 1/2 cup extra liquid (extra stock, some sherry, some soy sauce, etc.), salt, cayenne pepper to taste, peanuts/almonds, and cook for 15 more minutes. Let cool uncovered for 5 minutes and serve with a dollop of plain yogurt on top.

v Maitake and shiitake mushrooms are rich in betaglucans. These polysaccharides help stimulate the immune system once they bind to our immune system cells like T-cells, natural killer cells, and macrophages. In addition to having an immunity-stimulating effect, betaglucans may have a role in the metabolism of fats in the human body.

Shiitake Mushroom and Miso Soup



total wellness ▪ spring 2011

v One cup of diced maitake mushrooms provides 36g of choline, an essential nutrient for proper nerve signaling and fat breakdown. These mushrooms also contain important minerals such as phosphorous and copper, which are vital for bone and tooth formation. t w

In a large soup pot over medium heat add the scallion white parts, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil. Cook for 1 minute and add 8 cups water. Rinse the kombu and add it to the pot along with the bonito flakes. Bring it to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes - do not let it boil. Remove the kombu and set it aside. Add the dried mushrooms and miso to the pot and let it simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes.Add the bok choy – simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the tofu and cook for another 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the reserved green parts of scallions.

kevin dyer/istockphoto; right: monia33/istockphoto

1 bunch scallions, sliced thin, white and green parts separated 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, chopped 3 cloves garlic, chopped 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil 8 cups water 3 (6-inch) pieces dried kelp (kombu) 1/4 cup bonito flakes 3 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms 1/2 cup light miso 1 pound baby bok choy, cut in quarters 8 ounces firm tofu, cut into cubes

v Reishi mushrooms contain ganodermic acids, which may lower blood pressure and decrease LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. Since they tend to be relatively bitter, reishi mushrooms can be purchased dried and used to make teas. v Mushrooms in general contain a powerful antioxidant called L-ergothioneine, which neutralizes hazardous free radicals that can damage the DNA. L-ergothioneine also increases the amount of enzymes that possess antioxidant activity. In addition, according to a 2009 study in Free Radical Biology and Medicine, L-ergothioneine may protect against UV radiation damage and may also enable DNA repair. Skin cells and tissue are capable of using L-ergothioneine as an integral component of their antioxidant defense system.

If you have the choice, choose more exotic species of mushrooms over white button mushrooms, which do not provide the immune boost from beta-glucans that their siblings do.



We would like to acknowledge the following people for their contributions to this edition. We would also like to make special mention of the following UCLA physicians, professors and faculty members who donated their time and expertise to ensuring the accuracy of content published in the following articles:


James Dragan, REHS, Chief Environmental Health Specialist, County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health/ Environmental Health Eve Lahijani, MS, RD, Nutrition Health Educator, UCLA Bruin Resource Center Rena Orenstein, MPH, Assistant Director, Student Health Education, UCLA Bruin Resource Center •

reasons to love broccoli

Marc Reidl, MD, MS, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Clinical Immunology and Allergy, UCLA School of Medicine

workout foods for every level

Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, Assistant Director, UCLA Center for Human Nutrition Elisa Terry, NSCA-CSCS, UCLA Recreation FITWELL Services Program Director Becci Twombley, RD, Director of Sports Nutrition at UCLA •

five diet myths debunked

Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, Assistant Director, UCLA Center for Human Nutrition

five nutrients for better memory Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, PhD, Professor, Departments of Neurosurgery and Integrative Biology and Physiology at UCLA

becoming a fish connoisseur

9 ways to spice up your life

Zhaoping Li, MD, PhD, Professor of Clinical Medicine, Clinical Nutrition, UCLA School of Medicine

Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, Assistant Director, UCLA Center for Human Nutrition

meet your meat

Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, Assistant Director, UCLA Center for Human Nutrition

Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, Assistant Director, UCLA Center for Human Nutrition Alona Zerlin, MS, RD, Research Dietitian, UCLA Department of Medicine, UCLA Center for Human Nutrition •

navigating the frozen food aisle Alona Zerlin, MS, RD, Research Dietitian, UCLA Department of Medicine, UCLA Center for Human Nutrition

how to: color your diet

Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, Assistant Director, UCLA Center for Human Nutrition

does organic really matter?

bare necessities

Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, Assistant Director, UCLA Center for Human Nutrition

William McCarthy, PhD, Adjunct Professor, UCLA School of Public Health

get a load of the glycemic index

revamping the food pyramid

Leigh Goodrich, Anna Wong, and Elizabeth Wang

layout revisions

Karin Yuen and Elizabeth Wang

cover & table of contents

Eve Lahijani, MS, RD, Nutrition Health Educator, UCLA Bruin Resource Center Rena Orenstein, MPH, Assistant Director, Student Health Education, UCLA Bruin Resource Center •


total wellness ▪ spring 2011

copy-edits and review

Designed by Elizabeth Wang

vegetarian protein

Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, Assistant Director, UCLA Center for Human Nutrition Dena Herman, PhD, MPH, RD, Adjunct Assistant Professor, UCLA School of Public Health

Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, Assistant Director, UCLA Center for Human Nutrition Christian Roberts, PhD, Assistant Professor, UCLA School of Nursing

food pick: mushrooms

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The Ultimate Food Guide  
The Ultimate Food Guide  

Spring 2011. Issue 3, Volume 11. Produced by UCLA's Student Wellness Commission.