With weight loss on many a woman's brain, limiting calories and certain types of food can mean not getting your fill of essential vitamins and minerals. While maintaining a healthy weight is important for optimum health, make sure your diet includes these important nutrients as well.
The FDA approved a new birth control this Fall that's identical to Yaz (made by the same company) with one difference: it contains folate, the prenatal must have for "women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant."
It's called Beyaz, which sounds like a verb or a SFW way to write b*tch. Putting prenatal vitamins in birth control makes perfect sense from a public health standpoint. The Center for Disease Control estimates half of all pregnancies in the US are unplanned (though only 20 percent of those women are on the pill), and 50 to 70 percent of neural tube birth defects could be prevented if women took folate.
So while this all sounds great, a big step forward for women not planning their pregnancies, it doesn't particularly instill my confidence as a consumer. How do you feel about taking a pill prepared to fail?
Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin found naturally in many foods. If you've heard of folic acid, it's the synthetic version of it, found in dietary supplements and fortified foods. Not only is folate essential for expecting mothers, but it's necessary for all people since it's needed to make DNA and RNA, the building blocks of the cells in our bodies. It's also needed to make red blood cells, to prevent anemia, and may also help prevent cancerous cells from forming.
The RDI of folate for women over 19 is 400 micrograms (mcg). If you're pregnant or trying to conceive, you need 600 mcg of folate. If you're nursing, you need 500 mcg. You can find folate in the food you eat without having to take supplements. Here are 10 excellent sources.
- 1/4 cup peanuts: 207 mcg
- 3 oz. beef liver: 185 mcg
- 1/2 cup garbanzo beans: 134 mcg
- 1 cup navy beans: 129 mcg
- 1/2 cup pinto beans: 117 mcg
- 1/2 cup lentils, split peas, black beans, or kidney beans: 114 mcg
- 1/2 cup black-eyed peas: 105 mcg
- 1/2 cup cooked spinach: 100 mcg
- 1/2 cup corn: 88 mcg
- 4 spears of asparagus: 85 mcg
If you're expecting, you may want to indulge in some chocolate covered strawberries this Valentine's Day.
Since the juicy fruit contains both vitamin B and folate, they are a perfect snack for pregnant women.
A California Strawberry Commission press release said:
The good news for strawberry lovers is that a serving of eight medium berries provides nearly 9 per cent of the daily requirement of folate,"says Chris Christian, vice president trade and nutrition of the California
Strawberry Commission. "Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, which is especially important for women of child-bearing age because it reducesthe chance of some birth defects, such as spina bifida."
Time at college is often looked back on as the good ol' days, but new reports indicate new trends in college aged kids might be making them old before their time.
A recent survey of 800 University of New Hampshire undergraduates found some unhealthy traits in the students surveyed. More than two-thirds of the women were not meeting their RDI's of iron, calcium or folate. While well over 50 percent of the male students had high blood pressure and 8% had metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of symptoms used as predictors for future heart disease and type 2 diabetes. In essence, those undergrads would be getting a low grade for overall health.
Public health experts fear that if this trend continues, this age group will begin to experience chronic diseases at earlier ages than previous generations.
So if you are in college and feel like you are missing those three vital nutrients, you should know the RDI for iron is 18 mg and you can find iron in beef, tofu and sun dried tomatoes. Look for folate in leafy greens and beans. Remember to eat your calcium since it is more effective at strengthening your bones if the mineral comes to you as a food source not a supplement.
Fit's Tip: Take advantage of the free gym your college has to offer. Facilities at colleges and universities are great, and when you graduate, trust me, you are going to miss having access to the free fitness center on campus.
I have heard so many bad things about beets that I feel I must defend one of my favorite veggies. This root is sweet in taste despite its tough looking skin.
The guys over at Men's Health say we should think of beets as red spinach since they are loaded with nutrition. They are high in folate an important nutrient for expectant mothers, even before they conceive! It is also high in betaine, which works with folate to help reduce inflammatory compounds that can damage your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease. Plus, the pigment that gives beets their crimson color has been identified as a potent cancer fighter in laboratory mice.
Beets are tasty roasted and make a great topping for a salad. You can also peel them and grate them for a salad topping. Plus the leaves can be used just like you would chard!
So how do you feel about this controversial veggie? Do you love it or hate it — tell me in the comment section below.
The folks at Fitness, the magazine that is, are savvy to our changing nutritional needs. As we age our bodies and our lifestyles change. Curious if you are meeting the nutritional challenges of your generation? If you're a 30 something here's some food for thought.
More and more women are waiting to have children in their 30's, making folate an important nutrient for your diet since it is critical for supporting a healthy pregnancy. Folate, or folic acid if it is synthesized, prevents neural-tube defects and helps your body make new cells. The RDI of folate is 400 micrograms for adult women, but up it by 100 micrograms if you are prego or breast feeding. You can find it in leafy green and beans, as well as many fortified cereals.
Phytonutrients contain antioxidant which can aid heart health and possibly help prevent cancer. They help to slow down the aging process, something I can tell you from experience becomes apparent during this decade. Red grapes and red wine are high in antioxidants, as are coffee and chocolate, not to mentions berries of all kinds.
Lack of iron in your diet can leave you feeling drained both mentally and physically. Monthly visits from Aunt Ruby, pregnancy and breastfeeding all make women susceptible to anemia. Your daily requirement of this vital mineral is 18 milligrams. Keep your eye on your iron intake with lean red meat, chick peas, potatoes with the skin on, and beans. To maximize your absorption of iron, pair foods high in Iron with foods high in Vitamin C, like bell peppers since the vitamin C helps absorb more iron into your body. Also, cooking with cast iron skillet can increase the amount of iron in acidic foods like tomatoes. Isn't it time to invest in a new frying pan?
If you are still in your 20's, read Food for Thought: 20 something for tips on how to eat for your decade.
Here's another friendly reminded to get make sure you're getting enough folic acid.
Researchers at the University of York and Hull York Medical School have confirmed that that while low folate does not cause depression, the two are linked.
The reason behind it is that folate is linked to the production of some of the "feel good" chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, and some people with depression commonly have a gene that processes folate less efficiently.
The current RDA for folate is 400 micrograms in women (and men) 19 and older, though its higher for those pregnant and breastfeeding. Foods high in folic acid: Leafy vegetables such as spinach and turnip greens, dried beans and peas, fortified cereal products, sunflower seeds and certain other fruits and vegetables are rich sources of folate, as well as liver.
Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate and it can reduce certain birth defects of the brain and spinal cord by more than 70 percent. These birth defects are called neural tube defects (NTDs). NTDs happen when the neural tube (located along the back of an embryo that later develops into the spinal cord and brain) fails to close properly.
The most common NTD is spina bifida, where the spinal cord and the bones of the spine (vertebrae) don't fully form. This can cause the baby's legs to be paralyzed and they may later develop bladder and bowel control problems. The most serious NTD is called anencephaly, when the baby is born without part of its skull and brain, and eventually dies.
I know it's heartbreaking to think about — that's why it's so important to get your folic acid. If you are pregnant, or trying to conceive, take 600 mcg. If you are nursing, you'll need 500 mcg. It's a good idea for all women over 19 years old to get 400 mcg as well since folic acid is necessary for the production and maintenance of new cells.
You can take a supplement containing folic acid or eat fortified breakfast cereals and pastas that contain 100 percent of the RDI of folic acid. Foods like orange juice, asparagus, broccoli, beans, peas, and leafy green vegetables like spinach are great sources too.
Fit's Tips: Even if you are not actively trying to get pregnant but are still sexually active, it is a good idea to make sure you are getting enough folic acid just in case.
For me, the word snack is synonymous with crunch. I find snacks more satisfying if they have some snap to them. Needless to say I am a chip lover, but they are not the most nutritious food on the planet and can be rather fattening too.
Luckily, my love affair with chips is cooling now that I have found jicama. It is a Spanish word; so pronounce the "j" with the sound of "h".
Native to the Americas and sometimes called the Mexican potato, and a mix between a potato and a pear. You can also compare it in texture to a water chestnut, and in fact jicama is made up of almost 90 percent water. A cup of jicama has almost 6 grams of fiber and only 50 calories. It is also high in vitamin C, potassium and folate.
Peel the coarse, papery skin and julienne the white flesh, into carrot stick size pieces, and squeeze some lime juice on it to keep it from browning. Add a pinch of chili to the lime juice and you have an excellent treat right there. It is also great in salad. I like to use jicama as a vehicle for salsa, and that is why I call it a chip substitute.