Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Food insecurity in Philadelphia and the US: Kids are going hungry

My new blog about food insecurity in the Philly area and around the U.S.--and a simple idea on how to help.

Minus equals plus.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sending a healthy gift

Out of the Box Thinking for a Healthy Gift

A sudden heart attack? Knee surgery? When you learn a family member, friend or colleague has a health issue, you probably want to be supportive. Choosing a healthy gift sends a positive message about your concern and helps you stand out of the crowd.

Flowers are the old standby, along with prepackaged gift baskets. But if you want to be a little more creative and send a genuinely healthy gift, here are some suggestions:

From CNN Health, a story about how giving a spa/health club membership or even a single visit can improve stress and fitness: http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/12/10/hm.gift.of.health/index.html

Another great article, this one from Newsweek, mentions unusual ways to give a healthy gift. A tooth cleaning visit to the dentist or paying for a doctor's visit can start recipients on the road to wellness. (An added bonus to the dentist's visit: dentists routinely check for oral diseases these days.) Check the article out here: http://www.newsweek.com/id/172161/page/1

If you know the recipient has specific nutrition and health issues, go to the government's nutrition site. Learn more about food allergies, heart health, digestive disorders and more from the Food and Drug Administration:

Next time, we'll analyze what makes a legitimately healthy food basket, when a gift basket is your best choice.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Berry Good Idea

They're happy little do-gooders, with their health saving ways, and their bright and cheery image. Just seeing them in the morning can lift your spirits. Blueberries and cranberries are pleasing fruits, whether you eat them plain, sprinkle them on your cereal or use them in a low-fat dessert.

But tasty as they are, their real benefit is to your health. Loaded with antioxidants, which keep dangerous free radicals in check, the blueberry has been shown to be beneficial to health. Researchers know that antioxidants help thwart some cancers and heart disease. And researchers at Tufts University found that feeding blueberry extract to animals helped improve their memory and mental agility.

It's probably the anthocyanin and other natural plant compounds called phytochemicals that make blueberries so healthy. Wild Blueberries, like their European cousins, bilberries, have very high concentrations of anthocyanin.

Once the season is over for fresh blueberries, you can still find the frozen version at your grocer's. Or you can use dried blueberries (The Healthy Basket.com includes dried blueberries from Wisconsin in its gourmet food baskets). And bilberries are available in an extract available in most health food stores.

Cranberries also are beneficial to health... known for their ability to help protect the urinary tract from infection. Compounds in the cranberry, called proanthocyanidins or condensed tannins, prevent certain bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract and causing those painful infections. The Healthy Basket also includes dried cranberry fruit/nut mixes in baskets, too.

For healthy gifting, sending tasty products with blueberries will put send a happy, healthy message to lucky recipients.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Transcend the trans fats....give a healthy get well gift

Giving someone with heart disease a fried snack food with trans fats in it is like handing a big sugar donut to a person with diabetes.

The foods may taste good for a moment, but the health effects can leave a bad taste in your mouth. And send a bad message to someone who is fighting a serious condition.

The dangers of trans fats
Scientists know that trans fats can raise the risk of coronary heart disease. That's because trans fat raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the "bad cholesterol." Higher LDL levels increase the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). More than 12.5 million Americans have CHD, and it's one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

So trans fat is bad. But what the heck is it?

Trans fat is created when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil (hydrogenation) to increase shelf life. That's why you see trans fat in foods like crackers, cookies and snack foods that can be on grocery shelves for some time.

There are alternatives
Fortunately, there are many alternatives to fried snacks dripping in trans fat. If you are sending a gift basket, check the web site or ask the store owner about the contents of any snack items like cookies, crackers or chips for trans fats. Good substitutions are no-fat organic cookies and crackers (they taste just as good), baked chips or pretzels, plus soy snacks.

Your gift will not only send a cheerful message but a healthy one as well.