Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Improve Your Memory With Salmon

A recent study published in the December 2005 issue of the Archives of Neurology, reports that fish can improve cognitive function later in life. In following nearly 3,718 individuals ages 65 and older for a period of six years, researchers found that participants who ate fish once a week slowed the decline of mental function by 10% while those who consumed fish twice a week or more reduced the decline by 13%, correlating to 4 years in mental age. Lead researchers hoped to determine whether ‘healthy’ omega-3 fatty acids played a significant role in slowing cognitive decline. Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), are crucial in brain development early in life and have also been found to lower the risk heart disease, Alzheimers and stroke. Though the study found no distinct association between fish rich in omega-3s and cognitive function, researchers intend to continue to examine the potential correlation. The protective qualities of fish could stem from omega-3s or simply from fish’s healthy nutrient profile, which is extremely low in saturated fat.

So what’s the take-home message? Stock up on fish on your trip to the grocery store and do something good for your health. Incorporate fish at least 1-2 times per week into your diet. Try fish high in omega-3 fatty acids like wild salmon, tuna and halibut as well as low-fat, high-protein ‘white’ fish like cod, tilapia, and monkfish to name just a few.

Seared Citrus Wild Salmon w. White Wine & Herbs

Cooking spray
4-4oz salmon fillets
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons grated orange rind
4 fresh chives
2 thyme sprigs
2 oregano sprigs
2 tarragon sprigs
¼ cup dry white wine
4 (1/8-inch-thick) slices fresh lemon

Preheat oven to 450°. Line a shallow roasting pan with foil; coat foil with cooking spray. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper. Place fish on prepared pan. Combine rinds; spread over fish. Arrange chives, thyme, oregano, and tarragon horizontally across fish. Arrange lemon slices on top of herbs and pour white wine over fillets. Cover with foil; seal. Bake at 450° for 8-10 minutes or until fish flakes easily.

Makes 4 4oz servings. Recipe adapted from

Nutrient Analysis:
Calories 253; Fat 9.8g (sat 2.3g,mono 4.3g,poly 2.3g); Protein 28.9g; Cholesterol 75mg; Sodium 292mg; Carbohydrate 0.4g

Crunching the Numbers to Reach Your Daily Calcium Need

Where do you now get your daily need of calcium from? Surprisingly, it may be a lot easier than you think.

True, the recent findings of the nationwide Women’s Health Initiative study saw no broad benefit form calcium and vitamin D supplements in preventing bones fractures and osteoporosis. After following over 36,000 women ages 50 to 79 for 7 years, the study found that supplements may provide many individuals, males and females, a false sense of security. What are you to do? Turn to your daily diet for the answer, we know that calcium is best absorbed by your body from food itself. But before you start making a calcium-rich grocery list, let’s breakdown the facts.

Why is calcium so important? Calcium is one of the most essential minerals for growth and reproduction and bone density maintenance. It allows for the development of strong, healthy teeth and bones. Calcium also plays a key role in blood flow, hormone secretion, muscle contraction and ensuring a normal heartbeat.

Who needs it most? The daily recommendation of calcium varies depending on age and gender. Growing infants, children and adolescents as well as pregnant and lactating women and post-menopausal women all have additional calcium needs.

Daily Calcium Requirements:

Lifestage Daily Requirement
1-3 years


5-8 years 800mg
9-18 years 1300mg
Pregnancy & Lactation 1000mg (1300 mg if <18yrs)
19-50 years 1000mg
>50 years 1200mg

Where You’ll Find it in Common Foods
You’ll easily find calcium in many foods and beverages you commonly consume on daily basis. A variety of calcium-fortified products are also popping up on shelves these days. Aim for 3-4 servings of some of the items listed below and you’ll hit your calcium goal in no time! A sample day of eating to get your calcium requirement could look like: yogurt at breakfast, salad with canned salmon for lunch, a glass of skim milk & a handful of almonds for snack and you’re there!

Item Portion Size Calcium (mg)
Plain low-fat yogurt 1 cup (8oz) 415 mg
Skim Plus milk 1 cup (8oz) 400 mg
Canned salmon with bones 3oz 345 mg
Skim & low-fat milk 1 cup (8oz) 302 mg
Low-fat soy, rice, almond milk 1 cup (8oz) 300 – 330 mg (by brand)
Fortified orange juice 1 cup (8oz) 300 mg
Swiss cheese 1 oz 272 mg
Cheddar cheese 1 oz 204 mg
Dark leafy greens, cooked (kale, spinach, collards, bok choy) ½ cup 179 mg *calcium may not be as well absorbed due to fiber content
Almonds 2 oz 150 mg
Black beans 1 cup 120 mg
Blackstrap molasses 1 tbsp 137 mg

Should you Toss those Supplements?
Don’t throw your calcium supplements in the trash just yet. Try to get as much of your calcium from your diet as possible, but in the case you need to take a supplement every now and then, look for the following…
Between Viactiv, calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate, and calcium citrate…what’s what and what will best suite your needs? Narrow your choices and opt for calcium citrate which can be taken at anytime, with or without food, and doesn’t interfere with iron absorption. Calcium carbonate, also a good choice, must be taken with food and shouldn’t be taken along with an iron supplement. Keep in mind that the body best absorbs calcium when taken multiple times a day in amounts of 500mg or less -- most brand name supplements are 500 mg per pill. Remember, a supplement is just that; try to consume the majority of your daily calcium needs from quality dietary sources as listed above.

The Dynamic Duo: Calcium & Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential in enhancing the absorption of calcium. Conveniently, many calcium supplements come in combination with vitamin D. Vitamin D is also found in many foods including cheese, fortified milk and orange juice, butter, fish and fortified cereals. Even better, exposure to sunshine causes the body to produce vitamin D on its own. Just 10-15 minutes of sun 3 times a week is adequate to produce the body’s required amount of vitamin D.

Farmer’s Market Fresh – Why & When to Choose Organic

You’ve heard all the talk, ‘organic this’, ‘hormone-free that’. Does buying organic as opposed to conventional foods really make a difference? Should you be concerned?

Organic foods are grown and produced under strict government regulations and are stamped with a ‘USDA Organic’ seal. Farmers and organic food and beverage companies follow specific standards -- fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains are grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides; free-range poultry, wild fish and grass-fed beef are raised in their natural environments without added hormones or antibiotics; eggs and dairy products follow suit. In addition, when you purchase items from your local farmers market, you’re supporting community growers and environment-friendly farming methods.

So what’s the benefit to you and your health? Eating seasonal, natural foods, means you’re consuming less potential toxins and contaminants over the long-term. At the same time, you’re nourishing your body with quality nutrients and decreasing disease risk. A study published by the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry found that organic produce contains higher levels of disease-fighting antioxidants than conventional produce – in particular, corn 59% greater, blackberries 50% greater, and strawberries 19% greater. Another study conducted by the University of California-Davis reviewed 41 research trials and found that the nutritional quality of organic produce was superior to that of its conventional counterparts. On average, organic produce contains 29% more magnesium, 27% vitamin C, 21% more iron, and 14% more phosphorus.

As nutrient-rich as they are, organic produce and grocery items can also be a bit steeper when it comes to the price tag. We’ve come up with a quick list of ‘best bets’, try to purchase these items organically whenever possible, as they may be more permeable to pesticides and hormones. So take a trip to your local farmer’s market sometime soon, it’s a great way to recharge your body’s battery, kiss toxins goodbye and ‘reset your clock’ just in time for spring!

Berries, all varieties
Dark leafy greens, lettuces Grapes, green and red
Broccoli & cauliflower Apples, all varieties
Bell peppers Corn Cucumbers
Potatoes, rice Peaches, nectarines, plums Green beans
Milk & eggs Free-range chicken, wild salmon & fish Grass-fed beef & bison

Quick tip: Though organic foods do indeed have great health benefits, remember to watch calories, fat content and portion sizes with certain organic items like cookies, chips, desserts, pastas and rices, marinades, sauces and more.