post

3 Foods Surprisingly Rich in Potassium

If I said “you need to eat more potassium,” I bet the first food that pops into your head is a banana.  Nothing wrong with that, bananas do have a substantial amount of potassium – about 420 mg per medium banana, to be specific.

For now, forget the banana, it gets enough attention already.

I wanna shine the spotlight on three oft-forgotten foods that provide a good amount of potassium:

chicken, potato, avocado...3 not-so-obvious sources of potassium

Chicken, Potato, Avocado…3 not-so-obvious sources of Potassium

Enter…Chicken Breast, White Potato, and Avocado

  • 4 oz cooked chicken breast has about 300 mg of potassium.

So not only is chicken breast a great source of low-fat protein, it’s also a good source of potassium…pretty cool.

  • 4 oz cooked white potato has over 600 mg of potassium.

Just so happens, chicken breast and white potatoes make a great, protein-and-carb-rich post-workout meal…one that’ll provide a hefty amount of potassium, too…extra cool.

  • 1/2 an Avocado has almost 500 mg of potassium.

If you’re familiar with my (nutrition) work, you know that I recommend having some low-carb meals that are rich in protein and healthy fat.  Sticking with chicken breast as our protein, you could opt for half of an avocado as your source of fat.  Not only would that provide you with a good dose of monounsaturated fatty acids, it’d also provide a nice dose of potassium…Flippin’ Sweet!

Related Reading: Simple Way to Add Potassium to Your Diet

Your friend in fitness,

Dr Clay

post

4 Reasons You Should Eat More Veggies

If there’s one piece of nutrition advice that’s applicable to practically everyone, it’s “you should eat more vegetables.”

For more health, try eating more veggies.

For more health, try eating more veggies.

There are so many reasons why we benefit from eating vegetables…I’m going to highlight four today.

1. Veggies Help Prevent Hunger…with Few Calories

Vegetables tend to rather voluminous per Calorie.  In other words, they take up a lot of space in your stomach, which helps reduce hunger, while not providing all that many calories.  It’s the fiber and water content that’s primarily responsible here.  Speaking of the fiber, it also tends to slow the overall rate of digestion (i.e. gastric emptying), which is good as this, too, helps you feel full longer.

If you tend to get hungry between meals, try eating more veggies.

2. Eating Vegetables (and Fruits) Helps Lower Blood Pressure

Numerous studies have shown that consuming copious amounts of fruits and vegetables tends to reduce blood pressure in those with hypertension (aka high blood pressure).

Given our propensity toward salty diets and high-stress living, having high blood pressure is ridiculously common these days.  Problem is, hypertension often leads to kidney damage, aneurysms and strokes, artery disease, and so on.  Not good to say the least.

Safe to say…you’ll be doing your body’s health a favor by keeping your blood pressure within normal limits.  So do your arteriovenous system a favor and eat more veggies…and fruits, for that matter.

3. Veggies may Help Prevent Cancer

It’d be borderline impossible to prove definitely that eating lotsa veggies helps prevent different types of cancer, but it’s still a safe bet.  And for the record, some studies have shown a reduction in cancer risk among those who eat ample vegetables.

One thing we do know for sure, many vegetables do contain nutrients that we know to help protect us from certain types of cancers…like the glucosinolates in cruciferous veggies, like broccoli.

To help give your body the nutrients it needs to help fight off cancer, eat ample amounts of a variety of vegetables.

4. Vegetables tend to Promote Alkalinity…Reducing Acidity

The average diet these days tends to make us more acidic than we should be.  To help restore an optimal pH level, it’s important to eat foods that promote alkalinity.  That’s where vegetables come into play.

Even lean meat and whole grains tend to promote acidity, thus, we’re somewhat reliant on vegetables to help restore an optimal, more neutral pH.  So make sure to eat plenty of veggies…spinach, broccoli, and kale, for example, are quite neutralizing.

Although we’re gonna stop at four, there are slews of reasons to eat more vegetables.  But they could all be summarized by saying “eating a variety of vegetables helps provide a variety of nutrients that will help your body function optimally.” 

Your friend in fitness,

Dr Clay

post

Cocoa Flavanols Reduce Age-Related Cognitive Decline says New Study

In other words, there’s a nutrient in cocoa that’s really good for your brain…as in it’ll help prevent you from losing your mind (& keys) as you get older.

A Few More Details of the Study

It’s a sad fact that we tend to lose cognitive abilities, particularly those related to learning and memory, as we get older.  Typically the effects begin to show up in one’s 50’s or 60’s.

cocoa powder does the brain good

cocoa powder does the brain good

Previous research has shown that it’s a specific part of the brain called the dentate gyrus that’s responsible for age-related memory loss.

A new study found that specific nutrients in cocoa called flavanols help produce favorable results in the dentate gyrus as well as improvements on a memory test.

The study used a specific blend of flavanols extracted from cocoa by Mars, Inc., who also funded the study.

Although it’s just one study, it is pretty exciting that nutrients that can/do protect us from aging already exist in nature.

This is yet another study that illustrates that food and exercise are good medicine!

Oh, speaking of exercise…you know what else has been shown to help the dentate gyrus and memory?…..yep, exercise :)

Your friend in fitness,

Dr Clay

post

Simple Way to Add Potassium to your Diet

We tend to eat way too much sodium…and not nearly enough potassium.  This can, and often does, lead to water retention and/or hypertension (aka high blood pressure).

No Salt

It seems that it’s not just the amounts of each of these electrolytes that’s important, but the ratio of potassium:sodium that we ingest is as, if not more important.

I’m always a proponent of trying to get your nutrients from natural food when possible.  So to boost your potassium intake you should definitely focus on consuming potassium-rich foods like chicken breast, potatoes, cantaloupe, kiwi, etc.

But even still, it can sometimes be tough to consume enough of these foods to get your potassium:sodium ratio to at least 2:1.  That’s where a supplement, of sorts, can come in handy….enter No Salt.

Flavor your Food, Boost your Potassium Intake

A simple way to supplement your diet with potassium (without choking down tons of pills) is to add some No Salt to some meals.  If you use too much it can have a bit of an aftertaste, but if you don’t put too much, it’ll taste fine (or you won’t even notice it).

Instead of having regular sodium chloride (aka table salt), No Salt uses potassium chloride.  Although it doesn’t taste as good as table salt, it does give you some additional potassium.  Just 1/4 teaspoon has 650 mg of potassium.  That’s about 50% more than a banana!

Don’t Get Carried Away…Check with Your Doc

Although most people would arguably be ‘healthier’ by adding even a couple thousand milligrams of potassium to their diet, in some extreme cases that could be lethal…seriously.

Let’s say a good approximate target intake would be ~ 4,000 to 5,000 mg potassium per day and ~ 2,000 to 2,500 mg sodium per day, for some this could be dangerously high in terms of potassium.

For example, people on potassium-sparing diuretics may end up with too much potassium relative to their sodium status (because the diuretic ‘kicks the sodium out’ so-to-speak).

Long story short, if you’re gonna add more than ~ 1/4 tsp of No Salt to your meals per day, or if you have kidney problems, diabetes, hyperkalemia, dehydration, take diuretics, etc., you should consult with your doctor first.  Seriously, if you take meds or have a medical condition at all…or just when in doubt…talk with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you to bump up your potassium intake and/or reduce your sodium intake (especially if you’re gonna reduce it to less than ~ 1,500 mg per day).

One More Idea

Perhaps try implementing No Salt like I do…when I’d typically flavor a food with table salt (NaCl), I’ll use about half No Salt and half regular salt.  I can’t even tell the difference, but at least I’m taking a step in the right direction in terms of normalizing my sodium and potassium intake.

Your friend in fitness,

Dr Clay

PS  Of course any type of sodium-free, potassium-chloride-based salt will work. I just refer to No Salt as it seems to be the most readily available brand.

post

Soda May Shorten Life Span via DNA Damage – New Study

We already knew soda wasn’t good for us, but we didn’t have evidence of it accelerating DNA damage…until now.sodas

A new study by researchers at UCSF (University of California San Francisco) found that people who drink at least 20 oz of sugary soda per day have DNA damage comparable to cigarette smoking.  In fact, based on their DNA, they appear to be about 4 1/2 years older than they really are.

Sugar May Shorten Your Telomeres…which is NOT Good!

Telomeres are essentially a type of protective DNA.  Past research has found that telomeres shorten as we age and in the presence of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, etc.  In other words, you want long telomeres, NOT short ones!

Well, if it’s long telomeres (and long life) you want, then you evidently shouldn’t drink much soda!

Subjects in this study who reported drinking at least 20 oz of sugary soda per day had shorter telomeres than their non-soda-drinking counterparts.  Researchers didn’t find the same with diet soda drinkers.  So it’s apparently the sugar that’s the DNA-damaging culprit.

Here’s what lead researcher, Elissa Epel, had to say:

“Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas might influence disease development, not only by straining the body’s metabolic control of sugars, but also through accelerated cellular aging of tissues.”

What You Should Know….and Do

My recommendation is to avoid drinking your calories.  In other words, only drink beverages that have no calories – water, green tea, and coffee, for example, like I wrote about in Set Your Metabolism on Fire.  (Liquid meals like protein shakes or beverages you’ve ‘juiced’ don’t count in my don’t-drink-your-calories rule, btw.)

If you don’t drink soda, don’t think for a minute that it’s ok to drink other sugary beverages.  I’m quite certain the deleterious effects of any sugar-laden drink would be pretty much the same.

Make sure to read the nutrition value and the ingredients on anything you drink…it’ll do your DNA good.  :)

Your friend in fitness,

Dr Clay