Fishing for Good Health

FDA FishPhoto Source: FDA

When folks ask me for a key diet change that will help them live a longer healthier life, the answer is simple.  Eat more fish.

Research shows that consuming at least 8 ounces of fish weekly, especially omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish such as salmon, anchovies, and sardines, can reduce the risk of heart disease, the number one killer of Americans, and even help in lowering high blood pressure.  When fish is on your dish, you are getting “two for the price of one” in the healthy diet department. You are not only enjoying those heart-healthy fats, but you are also displacing other sources of protein, such as fatty red meats, which can laden your plate with heart-unhealthy, saturated fat.  A diet high in saturated fat can raise your blood cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease.

Unfortunately, according to a study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Americans, on average, are eating only a measly four ounces of fish weekly.  What’s one of the barriers?  According to research in the journal, Appetite, it appears that one of the barriers holding people back from eating fish is that consumers don’t know how to quickly and easily prepare it.

My best tip for preparing salmon is to fire up the grill.  I brush the salmon steaks with a tad of olive oil and sprinkle them with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. The rule of thumb for cooking fish is to grill it “10 minutes to the inch.”  In other words, if the salmon is one inch thick, grill it for 5 minutes and then flip it over for another 5 minutes on the grill. I squeeze fresh lime juice over it before serving it.  The cleanup is a snap.

Here are other quick and easy ways to get more fish in your diet from my Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) pals:

No Preparation

Keri Gans, author of The Small Change Diet and the creator of The Keri Report buys about a dozen cooked, chilled shrimp from her local grocer and garnishes them with a little cocktail sauce and adds a pre-made salad to the meal to meet her weekly fish quota.  Gans enjoys this high protein dinner (3 grams of protein for each shrimp) without having to cook and mess up her kitchen.

Easy Preparation

For a high protein, healthy snack, Samantha Cassetty, nutrition and weight loss expert with a virtual counseling practice based in New York City, serves canned salmon on top of cucumber slices or a half red pepper.  For dinner, she seasons the salmon with sesame oil and soy sauce and then stuffs it into an avocado half.

Abbie Gellman, a NYC-based chef and owner of Culinary Nutrition Cuisine, routinely adds a can of drained tuna to a bowl of cooked quinoa and chopped vegetables for a quick and healthy lunch.  Gellman also uses canned salmon to make easy salmon cakes.  She mixes a can of salmon with some bread crumbs, an egg, some herbs, and salt and pepper.  She forms them into small patties, and cooks the cakes in a skillet with a little oil for approximately 3 minutes on each side.

A Little More Preparation, But Worth It

For a quick and easy way to incorporate fish into your diet, Toby Amidor, an award-winning nutrition expert and Wall Street Journal best-selling cookbook author, suggests using the “En Papillote” method, which is French for “in parchment” as the fish is baked in parchment paper. She combines coconut milk, lime zest, soy sauce, lime rounds, basil leaves, and shredded coconut in a sheet of parchment paper and tops these ingredients with flounder or cod filets. As the food bakes, steam is created, which cooks the food for an amazing dinner with little clean up.

Elizabeth Ward, the author of slaps one pound of breaded cod, haddock, or other white fish fillets in a baking dish and covers the fillets with a can of undrained fire-roasted tomatoes, two tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon dried or 2 tablespoons fresh parsley.  After cooking in a preheated 400˚F oven for 18-20 minutes, she serves her Italian-themed dinner with some crusty whole grain bread and a green salad.

Cod fish tacos are a go-to dinner for culinary dietitian Marisa Moore. She seasons the cod with spices, such as chili powder and cumin, along with lime juice before sautéing or grilling the spicy fish.  She then flakes the fish into soft corn tortillas and tops them with crunchy cabbage slaw, salsa, or avocado.

I hope these tips will help you meet your weekly fish quota and improve your diet.

This article originally appeared in U.S. News & World Report.

Why Kraft Salad Frosting Is a Wake Up Call For All Of Us

kraft frosting

Timing is everything in life.  I am in Padova, Italy, with Boston University students and faculty as part an intensive 4-week, Mediterranean Diet: Food, Culture & Health course offered from the College of Health and Rehabilitation: Sargent College.  This immersion course, in northern Italy, takes a deep dive into the original science-based, Mediterranean Diet and lifestyle that was studied in the early 1960s.   At that time, the life expectancy of the Mediterranean folks living in southern Italy, Greece, and the island of Crete was among the longest in the world and the incidence of heart disease, certain cancers, and other diseases was among the lowest.  My goal here is to mimic the habits of both the adults and children, by eating tons of fruit and veggies along with seafood, pasta, and drinking liters of aqua (water) to stay hydrated.

All was healthy and happy in Italy until I opened my Twitter feed only to find that Kraft Foods launched a new product that is marketed to American parents and kids, called Salad Frosting.   I soon learned that Salad Frosting wasn’t pureed tossed green salad in a pouch that can be used to frost cupcakes in an attempt to enhance the nutritional value of this treat for kids.  Rather, Kraft decided to put their classic ranch salad dressing in a pouch and rebrand it as frosting to trick American children into consuming more salad.  Luckily, at this point in time, this is just a social media marketing stunt as the salad “frosting” isn’t available in your local supermarket…yet.

My initial response to this media campaign is why do we have to covertly coerce American kids into eating Mother Nature’s finest when Italian children, which I have observed in outdoor cafes here, are eating caprese salad or tossed salads with radicchio, tuna, eggs, carrots, and olives on a regular basis?

Concerned that my eyes were deceiving me, I reached out to Gisele Flores, a dietitian who oversees the nutrition quality of lunches at 50 schools in Verona, Italy, to see if Italian children are truly eating salads.  “A fresh green salad with seasonal vegetables such as fennel, tomatoes, and carrots is served at least 3 times a week at school lunch.  The children douse it with vinegar and local olive oil before they gobble it up,” claims Flores. Because research supports that a diet high in fruits and veggies can help fight obesity, it’s no coincidence that childhood obesity in Italy is less than half of that found with American children.

So why do Italian kiddies eat salad but their American counterparts have to be tricked into eating Mother Nature’s Bounty?  Research supports that children will follow the food preferences of their culture and peer group, most importantly, their parents.  Monkey see, Monkey Do, Monkey eat.  If the parents eat salad, the kiddos will follow.

Eating salad is not unique to Italian children.   Researchers from the University of California and Univesite Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris compared the dinner quality of French and Americans families as childhood obesity is also lower in France than in the United States.  Not surprisingly, they found that French children ate more veggies than the American kids, and that the French children ate dinner in multiple courses with veggies often being first before the main course.  Translation: They ate the veggie or salad course first before the entrée.  In comparison, the American kids were served family-style, with the serving bowls or platters of meat, starchy carbohydrates such as pasta or rice, and vegetables placed on the table all at once.  This family-style dining creates a free-for-all, with kids picking what and how much they want, or don’t want, to heap on their plates.   Not surprisingly, produce wasn’t the main attraction on the dinner plate of the American kids.  The researchers concluded that habitually serving vegetables at the beginning of the meal, when folks are so hungry that they will eat anything that isn’t moving, will help the entire family develop healthy habits starting when the kids are in diapers and remaining on the menu through adulthood.  With over 70% of American adults overweight, we may want to take a tip from the European families and start eating salads before the main meal to improve both our diet and health and shrink our waists.

In my opinion, we don’t need to disguise salad dressing as frosting in order to get kids to eat salad or vegetables.  We just need to introduce produce early and often at all meals.  Because the most influential peer group among children is their parents, there is a wonderful opportunity here for adults to be healthy role models for their children.

If you don’t believe me, come to Italy (or Paris, for that matter) and see all the locales enjoying their wonderful food.

This article originally appear in BU Today.


Should I Be Worried About the EWG’s Dirty Dozen List?

US New DIrty dozen

Photo Source:  US News & World Report

Every year, the Environmental Working Group(EWG)  releases its list of the “Dirty Dozen,” or the 12 fruits and vegetables available in the U. S. with the most pesticide residues. The media publicizes the list, and unfortunately, scares the daylights out of some folks about enjoying Mother Nature’s finest once revered as uber-healthy.

As a registered dietitian, I beg you: Don’t let this list scare you from eating fruits and veggies.

For one, of course, there are so many health benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables (whether fresh, frozen, canned organic or conventional), from heart health to weight loss. Even the EWG admits that “the health benefits of eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure” and that “eating conventionally grown produce is far better than skipping fruits and vegetables.” I’d rather you stress over the weather or even more threatening, the Red Sox bullpen, than panic over produce.

What’s more, there’s already a robust process in place to make sure the produce that winds up on store shelves – even those landing in the “Dirty Dozen” – are safe for you to consume. It’s a science-based, four-step assessment conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program (PDP), which launched in 1991 and manages the sampling, testing and reporting of pesticide residues on both domestically grown and imported foods.

The organizations estimate how high a dose of each pesticide is potentially harmful for human health, consider all the ways a person could be exposed to the pesticide – such as eating, drinking and inhaling it, as well as absorbing it through the skin – and establishes a very liberal “reference dose,” which is an amount that is safe to consume daily even if you were exposed to it in multiple ways.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) applies very stringent criteria to ensure that pesticide residues on foods provide a “reasonable certainty of no harm” to consumers.  Such measures include considering exposure from food, drinking water, and the residential environment, considering the cumulative exposure for entire families of pesticides possessing a common toxicological mechanism, and applying additional safety measures in cases where infants and children may be more susceptible to pesticides than adults.  Only after such criteria are met does EPA allow pesticides to be used on specific crops,” says Carl K. Winter, a professor at the University of California at Davis whose research on how to detect pesticides in foods and evaluate their risk to humans is used to inform the PDP’s work.

Indeed, the latest PDP report uncovered that over 99 percent of the foods it tested, including produce, had pesticide residues well below the levels that the EPA has established as safe to consume. And get this: This is the very report the EWG used to create its “Dirty Dozen.”

So while, as the EWG points out, some produce is more likely to have pesticide residues than others, it’s virtually all safe to consume. The Dirty Dozen report misses that very important point.

So why is it released every year? According to an email response  from the EWG, it’s to support the organization’s recommendation to buy organic whenever possible for health and environmental issues. But, Winter says, “the worse thing for consumers is to be scared to feed produce to themselves and their family.”

I agree. Get the most amount of fruits and veggies for your buck when it comes to buying produce. Buy what is on sale and wash it before you eat it. Enjoy Mother Nature’s finest, in hefty amounts, no matter how it’s grown.

This article originally appeared in US News & World Report.


What’s With All These Food Recalls?

Food Recalls

Photo Source: Boston Globe

During the summer, romaine lettuce that was grown in Yuma, Ariz., was recalled as it was linked to a multistate outbreak of E.coli. (Well, there goes the lettuce on your hamburger.)

Then recently, another recall of this favorite leafy green, this time romaine grown at specific areas in California. (There goes that side Caesar salad you were going to have with your burger.)

This was followed by a recall about 12 million pounds of ground beef due to the potential of it being contaminated with salmonella. (Well, there goes the burger.)

The only thing you’re left with is the bun. (Which better be whole grain.)

We hear repeatedly that the United States has the safest food supply in the world. But with all these recalls, how can that possibly be true?

The answers is that it is indeed true, and all of these recalls prove it.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, the technology and the surveillance systems that are currently in place to respond to foodborne illness outbreaks are so sophisticated that they can detect potential outbreaks much more rapidly than we could decades ago. It is because of this increased sensitivity that we are experiencing more recalls. Undetected foodborne illnesses increase the risk of people eating unsafe food, getting sick, and even dying, so this rapid response protects consumers to a greater extent.

You can thank President Clinton for these surveillance systems: In 1997, the National Food Safety Initiative was established under his administration. The FSI coordinated the research, inspection, outbreak response, and educational activities that ensure that various government agencies work collaboratively and rapidly to safeguard our food supply and reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses. While the initiative has ended, the Food Safety and Inspection Service and its federal and state public health partners continue to have a surveillance system in place to protect the public from foodborne illness, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, which oversees the inspection service.

This is how it the system works: FoodNet is a surveillance network that works with state health department laboratories to monitor trends in foodborne illness in the United States. It is a collaborative project involving FSIS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration. PulseNet is a national laboratory network that uses DNA fingerprinting of bacteria obtained from federal and state health and agriculture  laboratories to identify similar strains of a foodborne pathogen in both a person and a food, suggesting a common source and potential connection between the two. If similar patterns emerge at the same time in different states, this could signal a potential outbreak, and these federal agencies all work together to pinpoint the source of the problem.

The system is set up to make sure government agencies are communicating. The swift, coordinated action of federal and state agencies helps curtail the outbreak and minimize the number of consumers who get sick. (Though sometimes the recalls cast their nets too far initially, in an abundance of caution that can hurt businesses that get caught up in them.)

The system works. Due to this technology and coordinated efforts, the number of infections from foodborne pathogens among Americans is 30 percent lower than it was in 1996.

So the next time you hear about a food recall, know that people are actively and constantly watching over the safety of the food you eat. Follow the advice of the recall and stay safe and healthy.

This article appeared in the Boston Globe.

The Hottest Food Trends in 2019, According to Dietitians


2018 was the year of keto, cauliflower and apple cider vinegar. What will 2019 bring? I asked my registered dietitian nutritionist colleagues to weigh in on what will be hot – and whether those trends are worth following. Here's what they said:

1. The Keto Diet

"The popularity of the keto diet continues to rise and will do so. In 2018, we saw the introduction of keto foods and products in order to help people snack and eat 'the keto way.' We will continue to see a rise in keto-friendly products. Because keto is not easy for most people to adhere to, we will also be seeing a modified keto in 2019. In other words, you can eat keto-like without being as strict."

Finish reading this story in US News & World Report.

Which is best: fresh, frozen, or canned produce? The answer may surprise you

Canned Veggies

This article originally appeared in the Boston Globe.

If I had a dollar for every person who asked me if eating only fresh fruits and veggies is needed for good health, I would be wealthy.  My answer is always the same.  The best produce to eat is the cheapest.  In other words, purchase (and eat) the most amount of produce you can get with your consumer dollar.

Why?  Because a diet rich in fruits and veggies can help you reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, and obesity, all forms will slice up healthy benefits.  Unfortunately, 90 percent of Americans are not chowing down enough produce to meet the minimum recommended 2.5 cups of veggies and 2 cups of fruit daily.

Why the produce shortfall? According to a survey by the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), the key barriers to eating enough of Mother Nature’s finest are costs, the perception that some forms of produce are less healthy than others, and the pesticide residues on traditionally grown fresh produce.

Let’s plow through these issues:

Canned Produce:

While nothing beats the taste of a fresh tomato plucked from your garden, diced canned tomatoes are my savior in the dead of winter.  Researchers at Michigan State University studied the cost and nutrient comparisons of canned, frozen, and fresh produce.  Depending on the vegetable, the canned versions were as much as 80 percent cheaper than fresh and 50 percent cheaper than frozen. Fruit, on average, was comparable no matter if it was fresh, frozen, or sealed in a can.

Here’s the shocker: the study also showed that canned produce provided similar nutrition comparisons to fresh and frozen.  While the heating process used in canning causes the loss of the less stable, water-soluble B vitamins and vitamin C, the remaining amount of these vitamins stays intact when it sits for months on your pantry shelf.  While fresh may provide more of these nutrients initially, if you allow your fresh produce to wilt away, oxidizing these vitamins, in the graveyard vegetable bin of your refrigerator for days before you finally get around to cooking and eating it, you might actually be better off with the canned variety.  When it came to vitamins A and E, minerals, and fiber, the researchers concluded that the canned variety is up-to-snuff with fresh or frozen.

OK, but what about the salt issue?  Draining the veggies before cooking them will reduce your sodium intake by about 35 percent.  Unfortunately, you will also be pouring these water-soluble vitamins down your sink drain.  The low sodium canned varieties may cost you more but are a less salty option.  Grab the canned fruit packed in juice to avoid the added sugars.


Picked at peak ripeness, frozen produce is cleaned, chopped, and ready to use.  It’s like having Rachel Ray tucked away in your freezer.  Keep in mind there isn’t any food waste with frozen so the price per edible portion may actually be cheaper than fresh. The freezing process is also kinder to preserving nutrients than the canning process.  The price per serving is typically less than fresh, unless there is a sale going on in the produce aisle.  (See below.)


I will admit that nothing beats the flavor of fresh, seasonal produce eaten at it’s peak quality.  To buy it on the cheap, check your weekly supermarket circular for “produce loss leaders,” which are veggies and fruits sold on sale at or even below costs just to lure you into the store.  (I take the bait weekly as this is the bargain of all bargains.)

When it comes to pesticide residues, studies suggest that organic produce typically has lower levels of detectable pesticide residues on the skin than traditionally grown.  However, the latest report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) showed that over 99 percent of the domestic and imported fruits and vegetables tested had pesticide residues well below the levels that would pose a health risk as established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Keep in mind that washing and scrubbing your produce with a vegetable brush under running water (which everyone should do no matter how the produce is grown) will help remove some of the pesticide residues as well as dirt and harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.

Take-Home Message:   When it comes to fruits and veggies, eat whatever form you like and can best afford.  Just eat at least 4 1/2 cups daily for the sake of your health.

Are You a Calorie Counting Connoisseur?


If you’ve ever followed a low-calorie diet, compared nutrition labels or scrutinized a menu with calorie counts stamped next to each item, you probably consider yourself pretty decent at estimating how many calories are in common foods. But according to a survey by market research and media company Morning Consult, consumers tend to miscalculate the amount of calories in the foods and beverages they order out or on the run by over 100 calories, on average. Can you do better? Test yourself by guessing the number of calories in the foods and beverages at these popular eateries.

Visit: USNews for this article.

The Return of Vintage Foods

Iceberg lettuce

[This article originally appeared on the Boston Globe.]

Matcha (green tea powder), beet juice, and probiotic drinks are just a sampling of the trendy, health foods muscling in on product real estate on the shelves of your supermarket.  While I am all for eating healthfully, it bothers me that the consumer thinks that they have to seek out these high priced, vogue foods costing up to $3 per serving, in order to ensure good health.

Not only is it unnecessary, it is not how the consumer wants to spend their money, according to the latest Food Marketing Institute (FMI).  In their latest grocery trends survey, FMI found that while consumers are interested in health, the real motivators when it comes to making a food selection are taste and price.  They want tasty, healthy foods but at an affordable price. Because of this, I predict that the foods in consumers’ grocery carts will soon going to be following the current hot vintage fashion market. In other words, what is old is new.

Let’s walk down memory lane and see why these vintage foods that your grandparents, parents, or yourself (depending upon your age) ate decades ago have stood the test of time for taste, health, and price:

Iceberg Lettuce:

I have always felt sorry for this lettuce as health enthusiasts often wrongfully labelled it as the greens that cover your plate with little, if any, nutrition.  Don’t believe it.  A 2-cup serving provides about 10 percent of your daily need for folic acid, a B-vitamin, which is needed to make the DNA in your cells, yet it is over 30 percent cheaper than kale.  Trendy restaurants are bringing the iceberg wedge salad back on the menu.  Adiós, kale.


At less than 25 cents each, eggs are an inexpensive source of protein. Eggs are also a robust source of choline, a compound needed for healthy cells and nerves, but which many Americans are falling short of in their diet. While the egg yolk contains a fair amount of cholesterol, research suggests that consuming up to one egg daily doesn’t increase the risk of heart disease in healthy people.  Best of all, you can eat them at any meal, day or night.


If you grew up eating yogurt, you were a probiotic trendsetter and didn’t even know it.  Probiotics are active bacterial cultures that, when consumed in adequate amounts, can promote a healthy gut, as well as other health benefits in the body.  Because yogurt is made with these active cultures, you can gain probiotic benefits for less a $1 per serving, much less than pricey probiotic drinks.  Stock up on yogurt.


You can’t get a more vintage food then bananas, which have been around for over 10,000 years.  A little known fact is that bananas are rich in various bioactive substances such as serotonin, which can contribute to feelings of happiness and fight depression, as well antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.  At 15 cents each, a banana is a sweet and inexpensive way to brighten your day.  Buy them by the bunch.

Cottage Cheese:

Who knew that the cottage cheese that grandma eats at lunch is also good for her muscles?  Eating adequate amounts of protein at each meal is important to for your body’s ability to make and maintain lean muscle mass during your day.  For a mere 70 cents for half-cup serving, cottage cheese not only scoops out a hefty 12 grams of protein, more than an ounce of meat or chicken, but it also contains a secret ingredient: leucine.   This important amino acid helps trigger the synthesis of muscle mass in the body.  Grandma is both smart and frugal.


At about 125 calories for a small baked potato, it’s myth that potatoes are “fattening.”  For the money, they’re a steal.  A small baked potato costs less than 45 cents, yet will provide more than 750 milligrams of blood pressure-lowering, potassium.   According to the American Heart Association, almost half of Americans have high blood pressure, increasing their risk of stroke, yet most folks aren’t consuming enough of this mineral.  Stuff a potato with cottage cheese (see above) and cooked veggies for a healthy, satisfying lean meal that won’t break the bank.

If you want tasty, healthy foods at bargain prices, eat vintage foods.

Here's to the old days, Joan

Fruit and Veggie Gadget That Can Save Your Life


Produce is one of those “halo” foods that truly deserves a halo.  Fruits and veggies are rich in fiber, nutrients, phytochemicals, and antioxidants that have been shown to fight everything from heart disease, cancers and stroke to diabetes and poor vision.  Yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 1 out of 10 adults are consuming the recommended minimum 2 1/2 cups of veggies and 2 cups of fruit daily.  Since the leaf doesn’t fall too far from the tree, it shouldn’t be surprising that kids are also coming up short in the produce-eating department.

So what’s the problem?  The latest survey by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) suggests that one of the barriers to consuming Mother Nature’s finest is time, or in this case, lack of it.  Many of us are looking for the fastest way to get dinner on the table, and the extra time to whip up plant-based side dishes, especially salads, have caused them to be chopped from the menu.

I feel your slicing and dicing pain so I have reached out to my registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) pals for the produce gadgets that they use to help them and their families eat better in less time.  My personal favorite is a Salad Slicer Bowl and Colander combo.  All you have to do is put the lettuce and veggies in the slotted colander, rinse them under running water, invert the colander on its stand, and with a big knife, slice through the slots in the colander to dice your salad all at once.  Since research shows that eating a salad prior to a meal can help curb your appetite, it’s a gadget I use daily to better manage my weight.

Here are the fruit and veggies gadgets that other RDNs use:

Joy Bauer, the host of NBC's new show, Health + Happiness, and also the nutrition expert for the TODAY Show, uses an immersion blender to make creamy vegetable soup without adding any heavy cream.  This hand held blender saves time by quickly pureeing the cooked veggies and thickening the soup in the pot without having to waste time transferring batches into a stand- alone blender.  The end result is a creamy soup that's low in calories, packed with filling fiber, and chock-full of vitamins and minerals.

Maye Musk, RDN, did such a good job making sure that her children devoured tons of produce when they were growing up, that her son, Kimbal (also brother of Elon Musk), started the Big Green.  This non-profit organization funds and installs vegetable and fruit gardens in schools.  Musk family’s favorite gadget is the Magic Bullet, which is an easy device that the kids can use to quickly make veggie and fruit smoothies from their garden bounty.

Kathleen Zelman, director of Nutrition at WebMD, looks to the spiralizer to twirl vegetables into the shape of spaghetti.  She then adds these strands of veggies to pasta dishes to beef up the produce.  Believe it or not, according to Zelman, kids love the shape of the veggies so often that they ask for seconds.

Toby Amidor, author of The Easy 5-Ingredient Healthy Cookbook, couldn’t live without a lightning-fast, vegetable chopper. According to Amidor, chopping veggies too far in advance can destroy some of the flavor and vitamins due to oxidation.  She and her daughter tag-team in the kitchen and use this gadget to quickly add tons of vegetables to soups, salads, and main dishes.

Amy Gorin hates food waste so much that she uses strawberry huller to remove the stem rather than cutting off the entire top of the strawberry and tossing out a good chunk of the fruit with it. One cup of hulled strawberries provides close to 100 percent of the daily value for immunity-boosting vitamin C.

Keri Gans, author of The Small Change Diet grew up using an apple and pear cutter and is still using it daily. Gans finds it easier and more enjoyable to eat the small wedges of fruit versus biting into them whole but doesn’t want to spend time cutting portions using a knife.  Apples and pears are good sources of fiber, and with a tablespoon of a nut butter, make a perfect filling snack.

This article originally appeared in The Boston Globe.

Make These 4 Diet Changes to Make Before Getting Botox

This post was originally feature on US News & World Report website:

Diet botox

Take one look at your high school yearbook picture and then look at your reflection in the mirror. What you are about to read is going to explain the differences in the two images – and how your diet may help you get closer to the younger you.

Your skin’s two major proteins, collagen and elastin, age over time, which causes them to function less youthfully than they did at your high school graduation. Over time, your body’s natural antioxidant fighting capabilities can get overwhelmed by damaging oxygen-containing free radical molecules, which are naturally being generated in your cells as you age.  These free radical molecules damage these two proteins causing aging structural and functional alternations in your skin cells.  To make matters worse, environmental issues such as exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, smoking and eating an unhealthy diet also generate additional free radical molecules that further damage your skin.

All this makes your skin look more frail and dry, and magnifies fine lines and wrinkles on your face.   Hence, the differences in your yearbook picture and the mirror.

Enter the field of nutricosmetics, an emerging area in dermatology referring to the use of nutrition and nutritional supplements for skin health. “There is research that suggests that a healthy diet with specific nutrients can help reduce the signs of aging,” says Dr. Patricia Farris, a dermatologist and clinical assistant professor at Tulane University School of Medicine and spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology.

In other words, you don’t have to see a plastic surgeon to achieve youthful-looking skin. Just take it from registered dietitian and nutritionist Maye Musk, who at 70 years old, is a supermodel in high demand on runways and magazine covers. Musk attributes her daily sensible plant-based eating plan, similar to that of the Mediterranean diet, for her youthful skin and high level of daily energy similar to models half her age. “My healthy diet has served me well over the years,” claims Musk.

If you are interesting in learning more about nutricosmetics, here's what the emerging research suggests:

  1. Pump up the vitamin C.

“Vitamin C is not only an antioxidant to fight free radicals, but is also needed to help enzymes make collagen,” Farris says. Research suggests vitamin C from foods can help regenerate skin cells, reduce wrinkles and fight against ultraviolet aging of your skin when exposed to sunlight.  Research shows that diets rich in fruits and veggies, which are the major contributors of vitamin C in foods, have been associated with healthier skin among women.

What to Add to Your Plate: Head to the produce aisle for vitamin C. Red and green peppers, broccoli, vegetable juice, strawberries, citrus fruit and kiwis are all vitamin C powerhouses.

  1. Lean on linoleic acid.

In a study of 4,000 women, those with a diet higher in linoleic acid – the most abundant fatty acid in the skin – were less likely to experience skin thinning, which magnifies the wrinkles on the face. The older women in the study who had lower dietary intakes of both linoleic acid and vitamin C also had dryer skin.

What to Add to Your Plate:  Since your body doesn’t make linoleic acid, you have to eat it. Soybean oil, canola oil, walnuts, almonds and edamame are chock-full of linoleic acid. Consume these with vitamin C-rich foods to get double the skin care effort.

  1. Eat less sugary foods.

Research confirms what you’ve probably noticed in yourself or others: A diet lower in added sugars and refined carbohydrates may help the skin look more youthful. By contrast, “a high-sugar diet can damage collagen and elastin fibers, causing them to lose their elasticity, leading to more wrinkles and sagging skin,” Farris says.

What to Add to Your Plate: Replace sugary treats and beverages with Mother Nature’s natural desserts: Watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes and pineapples. These foods also serve up antioxidants, which can squelch those ugly free radicals.

  1. Consider consuming more collagen.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body and can be found in animal foods such as poultry and meat.  When you eat protein, it is broken down to amino acids.  Once absorbed, your body reassembles these amino acids to meet all of your protein needs, such as creating specific hormones, enzymes, and the collagen in your bones, tendons, and skin.  So, having a diet adequate in protein is good for your overall health including your skin.

Emerging research using nutritional supplements containing hydrolyzed collagen is beginning to show additional anti-aging, collagen-boosting promise. Research has shown that this type of hydrolyzed collagen is not broken down to amino acids, but rather, is absorbed intact.  In this form, the hydrolyzed collagen can triggers cells to specifically generate more collagen and elastin in your skin.  Stay tuned as more research comes in about these supplements.

What to Add to Your Plate:  While a dietary protein deficiency is less likely in the American diet, you do need adequate protein to maintain good health. Choose lean sources of poultry, meat, fish and beans to meet your daily needs.

You may not be able to pass as a twin to your high school picture, but nutricosmetics is showing that your diet may help you slow down the aging process.