Friday, November 12, 2010

Tasty Granola Bars

Alrighty here is a quick and easy recipe for healthy granola bars. I found it at the link below and made a couple of adjustments. Honestly, these bars have it all: protein, low glycemic index, omega-3's and tons of fibre. I make them, freeze them and them take them out one at a time. If you cut the recipe into about 20 bars they will be 150 calories each. This is a perfect amount of calories for a snack. Enjoy!

1 cup dried date pieces or 10 dates, diced
1 cup water, more or less
3/4 cup almond butter
1/2 cup walnuts chopped
1/2 cup of peptia seeds (shelled pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup Honey
1/2 cup old fashioned oats 
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup dried fruit, chopped (I used craisins)
1/4 cup flaxmeal (ground flaxseed)
1 Tbs of cocoa powder (full of antioxidants!)

In a saucepan over low heat, heat all the ingredients until they are thoroughly mixed. If it is too watery add more oats or almond butter, if it is too thick add applesauce or more water. 
Lay parchment paper in baking sheet and spread mixture over the paper. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake for 20-25 minutes and then put in the refrigerator for an hour. Then Enjoy... oh yeah and don't forget portion control. Although these have tons of nutrients they can be calorie dense if you overdo it. My advice cut them up and put them in the freezer. Happy Friday!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Red Wine and Health

Festive Fitness Challenge Day 6. I think our bodies are done going through sugar withdrawal after Halloween! Sticking to whole grains has not been hard. I have made a couple of throw together chicken and quinoa salads; the recipes are not worth posting at this point. In addition, I have made buckwheat and steal cut oats for breakfast. Yum.

Totally switching gears, a couple of weeks ago someone asked me about the benefits of red wine. The question was, "are these benefits just confined to red wine or can other types of alcohol be beneficial to your health?". So here is what I have found.


Up to this point researchers have claimed that red wine has the following health benefits: 
1.) Antioxidant
2.) Anti-inflammatory
4.) Tumor Supression and decrease in Colon cancer

The Latest:
1.) Antioxidant Properties: 
Ethanol: The main compent in all alchols, wine or other, actually increases oxidation in our bodies. Oxidation leads to an increase in free radicals which can damage our blood vessels and increase our risk of cardiovascular disease.

Why is wine different? Red wine in particular, contains polyphenols which have antioxidant properties.
Because alcohol increases the amount of oxidative stress the question becomes, does red wine have anti-oxidant properties above and beyond those that will reverse the oxidation they cause themselves?
The answer to this is not certain. Studies suggest that there are too many confounding variables to be certain. For example, people who drink red wine tend to have healthier diets and exercise more.

2.) Anti-inflammatory:
Ethanol increases the amount of HDL, good cholesterol. If too much alcohol is consumed in one sitting there is a decrease in HDL. In addition, ethanol will decrease oxidation of LDL; however, this will occur more for some ethnic groups more than others.  Ethanol has also been found to reduce other markers of inflammation and decrease clot formation.

3.) Tumor suppression and decrease in colon cancer:
This benefit is from red wine only. The polyphenols, in particular, resveratrol have been studied in the role of cancer suppression and prevention. Red wine has been shown to block carcinogens and inhibit the growth of tumours. This role however, cannot be contributed to the alcohol, but to the grape skins themselves.

So now that we are thoroughly confused about the health benefits vs health decrements of alcohol, lets summarize. Ethanol, independent of red wine, does have some anti-inflammatory properties that decrease risk of cardiovascular disease. Red wine on the other hand, may also have antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties.

So now the real question becomes how much should one drink? There is a J shaped relationship between alcohol consumption and decrements to ones health. This means if you drink more than what is recommended you decrease the health benefits of the alcohol. When one is intoxicated their body is actually in a toxic state. In particular, your liver cannot break down the alcohol as fast as you are ingesting it. In general, men should consume no more than two glasses of alcohol a day and women no more than one glass. In addition, one glass is equivalent to one shot, one beer or one 150mL glass of wine.  If too much alcohol is consumed you get an increase in blood pressure and inflammation in the body. An increase to just three drinks a day is associated with significant increase in adverese health effects: increased blood triglycerides, heart disease, hypertension and stroke. So if you currently don't consume alcohol or red wine should you start? I would say scientific evidence does not go that far. My best advice is to keep a healthy diet, active lifestyle and decrease your stress in a healthy way.