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What You Need To Know About Energy Drinks, Shots, and Everything Else

Posted by Joan Salge Blake January 30, 2013 01:05 PM

First there were energy drinks, then energy shots, now there is gum and other food items with caffeine added to them.  These products are touted to make you feel more alert and increase your energy level. The question that we all need to ask ourselves is, “have we gone over the energy edge?”  The answer is “yes.”    Here’s what you need to know about these caffeinated products: 

Fact No. 1:  Too Much Can Cause Adverse Effects

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, consuming too much caffeine can cause:

  • An increased heart rate
  • Irregular heart rate and palpitations
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia
  • Diuresis (increased production of urine)
  • Increased level of sugar in the blood (if the caffeinated product, such as an energy drink, is sweetened with sugar)

If you think the above are benign, think again.  A recent government survey uncovered that visits to hospital emergency rooms due to the consumption of energy drinks have increased steadily since 2005 and have doubled from 2007 to 2011:

Fact No. 2:  Kids Shouldn’t Consume Energy Drinks or Shots

According to the Academy of Pediatrics, young children should not consume any caffeinated products.  Adolescents should not consume more than 100 mg of caffeine daily, and adults should not consume more than 500 mg of caffeine daily from all sources.  In addition to energy drinks and shots, soda, ice tea and of course, coffee, contain caffeine.  Unfortunately, many caffeinated products don’t list the amount of caffeine per serving. This table may help:

Source:  JAMA
 Fact No. 3:  Energy Beverages are NOT regulated by the FDA

Because they are designated as “dietary supplements,” these products can side-step FDA regulations.  Also, caffeine may not be the only ingredient you have to worry about.  Some products contain additives such as guarana, a plant that contains caffeine.  Each gram of guarana contains 40 to 80 mg of caffeine.

Fact No. 4:  Alcohol and Energy Beverages are a Bad Combo

Since caffeine acts a stimulant and alcohol acts as a depressant, consuming the two together can make you feel less intoxicated even though your psychomotor skills are impaired.  This not only can perpetuate further drinking but also the false sense of being able to perform skills such as driving or operating other equipment, which can have deadly consequences under the influence of alcohol. 

Fact No. 5:  You Get Energy from Foods

Your body runs on the energy, measured in calories, in the foods and beverages you consume.  While these energy drinks made their debut in the United States in 1997, we must keep in mind that we have been fairly energetic (when we want to be) before these products made their way onto our supermarkets and convenience stores shelves. If you want energy, eat a well-balanced, healthy diet. The side effects are numerous and positive:  you can possibly reduce your risk of heart disease, certain cancers, stroke, and developing an expanding waist.   Not bad.

Follow Joan on Twitter at:  joansalgeblake

Originally published on the blog Nutrition and You!.

Ideas for healthy, weekday dinners

Posted by Joan Salge Blake January 23, 2013 08:00 AM

Do you find it challenging to create a healthy weekday dinner that doesn’t require a lot of time slicing, dicing, and sautéing in the kitchen? Here are 5 healthy and quick cuisines designed for those who are time impaired.

Mid-Week Meal No. 1: Turkey Pizza Cutlets
For the ultimate Italian night, try these easy Turkey Pizza Cutlets (see recipe below). Since the lean turkey cutlets are baked rather than pan fried, you're no longer a sautéing slave to your stove. This not only reduces the fat in the cutlets, but also frees up your time for more important things, like washing the breakfast dishes that are still stacked in the kitchen sink. Add some cooked pasta and green beans with sun dried tomatoes for a dinner Italiano-style.

Mid-Week Meal No. 2: Ziti with Chicken and Broccoli in a Creamy Sauce
Since this mock Alfredo-type cream sauce is made with low-fat evaporated milk, it's guaranteed to be kind to your bathroom scale. But here's the best part of the dinner: The broccoli is cooked along with the pasta, which means that there is one less pot to scour. Just add a tossed salad with this easy ziti with chicken and broccoli in a creamy sauce dinner.

Mid-Week Meal No. 3: Grilled Salmon with Ranch Sauce
Yes, you can make fish during the week with this easy Grilled Salmon with Ranch Sauce (see recipe below). Add the quick brown rice & shredded carrots sauté for any easy side. You will fall in love with this fish dish -- hook, line, and sinker.

Mid-Week Meal No. 4: Marvelous Microwave Meatballs
With only four ingredients, these marvelous microwave meatballs are not only a snap to make but the microwave does all the work. Leftovers can be frozen for a quick thaw and dinner for next week. If you are feeding a crowd, double the recipe to guarantee leftovers for another meal. While the turkey meatballs are cooking in microwave, boil some water for pasta. Serve the meal with a side of baby carrots and a light dressing for dunking.

Mid-Week Meal No. 5: Mexican Macaroni and Cheese
By the end of the week, the refrigerator is likely to be bare so head to the cupboard for your dinner fixings. Add a can of lower sodium black beans to a lonely box of macaroni and cheese along with some chunky salsa, and you'll have mexican macaroni & cheese. If you can't find the lower-sodium canned beans, spoon regular canned beans into a colander and rinse under running cold water to reduce the sodium content by over 40 percent.

Turkey Pizza Cutlets
• 1 pound turkey breast cutlets
• 2 egg whites, slightly beaten
• 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
• 3/4 cup spaghetti sauce
• 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
• vegetable oil spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray baking pan with vegetable oil spray and set aside. Place egg whites in a shallow bowl. Spoon bread crumbs onto a small plate. Dip each cutlet into egg whites and then coat with bread crumbs. Place on baking pan. Bake for approximately 18 to 20 minutes or until cooked thoroughly. Remove pan from oven. Carefully spoon on sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for an additional 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Makes 4 cutlets.
Nutrition Information:
Per cutlet:
Calories: 216
Fat: 7.5 grams
Saturated Fat: 2.5 grams
Cholesterol: 52 milligrams
Sodium: 444 milligrams
Fiber: 1 gram
Copyright © Joan Salge Blake

Grilled Salmon with Ranch Sauce
• 3 tablespoons light ranch salad dressing
• 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
• 5 scallions, chopped
• 1 pound salmon fillets
• 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
• vegetable oil spray

Heat grill or broiler. Combine salad dressing, yogurt, and scallions in small container. Cover and refrigerate. Spray salmon with vegetable oil spray and sprinkle with pepper. Broil or grill for 6 minutes. Turn and grill for an additional 4 minutes or until salmon is flaky and thoroughly cooked. Remove from grill and divide among four plates. Top with ranch sauce.
Makes 4 servings.
Kitchen Shortcut: Ranch sauce can be made the night before or early in the morning. Refrigerate in a covered container until ready to use.
Nutrition Information:
Per serving:
Calories: 190
Fat: 9.5 grams
Saturated Fat: 1.5 grams
Cholesterol: 61 milligrams
Sodium: 157 milligrams
Dietary Fiber: 0
Copyright © Joan Salge Blake

Myths and Facts: What to Eat To Beat The Common Cold

Posted by Joan Salge Blake January 10, 2013 11:21 AM
Photo Source: CDC
You know you have a cold when you catch it.  Your nose begins to run like a leaky faucet, and your nostrils are beet red from constantly wiping the nasal drip.  Your stuffy head feels like you inhaled a wade of cotton, and your throat is sore because of the continual coughing.

Unfortunately, you were unlucky enough to inhale at least one of  200 or more viruses that cause Americans to suffer with more than a billion colds annually.   The common cold is the leading cause of work and school absenteeism, which can make you feel miserable for up to two weeks.   Kids are walking Petri dishes as they not only infect each other but also are the likely cause of infecting adults around them.

Can you eat to beat the common cold?  Here are some myths and facts:

MYTH:  Vitamin C Wards Off Colds

In the 1970s, the scientist Linus Pauling theorized that consuming vitamin C would prevent a person from catching a cold.  However, the latest extensive review of almost 30 controlled studies of over 11,000 individuals, who popped 200 milligrams or more of vitamin C daily, suggests that the regular ingestion of a supplement doesn’t prevent healthy individuals from getting a cold.  However, research did show that individuals who are involved in short periods of heavy physical stress such as marathon runners and skiers, may gain some protection against the common cold when routinely taking a supplement.

Photo Source:  CDC
FACT:  Vitamin C May Help Reduce the Duration and Severity of a Cold

Research does suggest that regularly consuming vitamin C may reduce the severity of symptoms and decrease the duration of a cold should you catch it.  While it is very individualizes, the reduction is only about a day annually, and the jury is still out on the amount needed to reap this small benefit.  The good news is that Americans, on average, are not only meeting their daily need of 75 to 90 milligrams but you can easily rack up more than this amount through your diet. A cup of OJ contains 124 milligrams, a red pepper slices up 226 milligrams, and a cup of broccoli provides 100 milligrams of vitamin C.  Supplement users beware: taking too much vitamin C can cause diarrhea, nausea, and kidney stones in those with a history of kidney disease.

MYTH:  Echinacea Can Prevent a Cold

A study of over 700 individuals in the Annals of Internal Medicine failed to prove that the herb, Echinacea, prevented getting a cold compared to those getting a placebo or no treatment.  Results are mixed as to whether the herb can reduce the duration or the severity of cold symptoms.  A big problem with using Echinacea is that the available supplements on the market vary greatly between the nine different types of the herb as well as the various parts of the plant used in the product.   Some individuals may also experience side effects such as intestinal discomfort, rashes, increased asthma, and a life-threatening allergic reaction after consuming Echinacea.

FACT:  Zinc Can Be Helpful

In a review of 15 controlled trials, zinc lozenges or syrup were shown to help reduce the duration and severity of colds in healthy people, when consumed within the first 24 hours of the first sniffle.  But there is a catch.  Those taking zinc lozenges may experience nausea and a bad aftertaste in their mouth.  More research is needed to determine the correct dosage and usage for the general population, especially those with chronic illnesses.  Check with your health care provider before you pop a lozenge or take a dose of zinc syrup.

MYTH:  Garlic Can Reduce the Length of a Cold

While garlic has been believed to treat the common cold, the research is less than robust.  In a study of over 145 individuals, those who took garlic daily for three months suffered with cold the same length of time as those taking a placebo.  However, if you want to add it to chicken soup (see below) for a little flavor, feel free.

Photo Source:   Cooking Light
FACT:  Chicken Soup Can Help

Never question your mother and her chicken soup.  According to Dave Grotto, RD, the author of The Best Things To Eat (2013), “in the 1200s, the Jewish scholar, Maimoides claimed that colds should be treated with a warm “brew,” which we have come to know as chicken soup.”   Maimoides may be on to something.  The heat, salt, and fluid in the soup can help you feel better and fight infection.  Also, according to Grotto, research suggests that chicken soup may have an anti-inflammatory effect on the upper respiratory tract, which can reduce the duration of the cold.

Here's to a cold-free winter.

                                                          Follow Joan on Twitter at:  joansalgeblake 

Originally published on the blog Nutrition and You!.

The Top 10 Dining Out Trends in 2013

Posted by Joan Salge Blake January 9, 2013 11:22 AM
If you have avoided dining out in order to keep to your resolution to eat more healthfully in the New Year, the restaurant industry wants you to know that they are here to help.

According to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), many restaurants are going to be serving up nutrition and health on the menu this year.  “We have seen an increasing interest in health and nutrition among consumers over the last several years, and these consumers' needs and desires are being reflected in many of our restaurants’ offerings," said Joy Dubost, Ph.D, R.D., director of Nutrition and Healthy Living for the NRA.

Based on the NRA’s survey of more than 1,800 professional chefs, these are the top 10 trends that will be on the menu in 2013:

1.  Locally sourced meats and seafood
2.  Locally grown produce
3.  Healthful kids' meals
4.  Environmental sustainability as a culinary theme
5.  Children's nutrition as a culinary theme
6.  New cuts of meat (e.g. Denver steak, pork flat iron)
7.  Hyper-local sourcing (e.g. restaurant gardens)
8.  Gluten-free cuisine
9.  Sustainable seafood
10. Whole grain items in kids' meals

 “It is encouraging to see that children’s nutrition remains a top priority for chefs and that they continue to put their creativity in healthful kids' meals to work on restaurant menus, ” adds Dubost.
“Local sourcing is another macro-trend that will maintain its momentum in the restaurant community in 2013. Whether purchased from local farms or grown in onsite gardens, many chefs make use of seasonal ingredients to showcase their menus.”

Many restaurants are offering these trends.  The Healthy Dining Finder makes it a cinch to a locate a restaurant that meets your dining and health needs. 

Follow Joan on Twitter at: joansalgeblake 

Originally published on the blog Nutrition and You!.

The 5 Best Diet Changes to Make in 2013

Posted by Joan Salge Blake January 2, 2013 11:41 AM

If you want to lose weight, increase your longevity, lower you blood pressure and fight against heart disease and diabetes in the New Year, here are 5 tips on what and how to eat every time you sit down to a meal:    
1)  Eat Off a Smaller Plate at Dinner

You may not have noticed but the size of your dinner plate has morphed over the past century.   
According to research, the size of the standard dinner plate has increased 22 percent in diameter, from  about 10 inches in 1900 to almost 12 inches in 2010.  Let’s face it: the bigger the plate, the more you will heap on and eat.   Join the Smaller Plate Movement and commit to eating off a plate that is only 9 to 10 inches in diameter at your largest meal of the day.  Do this for a month and you will be shocked as to how effective this one small change can make in shrinking your waist.

2)      Load Up on Waist-Friendly Veggies and Fruit

According to research, one of the best strategies for losing weight is to make sure that half of your plate is loaded with low calorie, high-volume veggies and fruit to crowd out more calorically-dense foods such as fatty meats and fried foods:

By adding tons of low calorie veggies such roasted peppers and onions and sliced fruit such as pears and pineapple to your plate, you will reduce the calories but not the sizeor the satisfaction of your meal.   Veggies and fruit fill you up before they fill you out.  If you do this daily, you could be a smaller size by spring.

3)  Go for the Whole Grains

Researchsuggests that a healthy diet that contains high fiber, nutrient- and phytochemical-rich whole grains can help fight against heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.  While at least half of your grain servings daily should be whole grains, less than 5 percent of Americans consume this recommended amount.  Choose whole grain cereal and oats in the morning, whole wheat bread at lunch, and quick cook brown rice, whole grain couscous, or whole grain pasta at dinner.  Even though whole grains are healthier for you than refined grains, you need to make sure that only about ¼ of your plate is devoted to grains in order to control calories.

4) Eat Fish for Longevity

Want to live longer?  Studies show that consuming 8 ounces of fish weekly, especially omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish such as salmon and sardines, can reduce the risk of heart disease, the number one killer of Americans, slow the accumulation of artery-clogging plague, and even slightly lower high blood pressure.  Consider having at least two 4-ounce fish meals weekly.  Get in the habit of cooking once and eating twice:  Grill a large piece of salmon for dinner and take the leftovers for lunch the next day. 

5)  Drink Your Milk

Nonfat and low fat milk and yogurt are not only excellent sources of bone-strengthening calcium and vitamin D but also potassium, which can help prevent high blood pressure. Most Americans are falling short of all three of these nutrients, which can wreak havoc with their bones and blood pressure.   To meet the recommended three servings of dairy daily, add low fat milk to your morning java, add a slice of cheese to your lunchtime sandwich, and reach for a vitamin D fortified nonfat yogurt for a daily snack.  Since full-fat cheese is a major source of heart-unhealthy saturated fat in the American diet, choose only reduced or low fat varieties.  

                                          Follow Joan on Twitter at: joansalgeblake

Originally published on the blog Nutrition and You!.

About the author

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, LDN, is a clinical associate professor and registered dietitian at Boston University in the Nutrition Program. Joan is the author of Nutrition &You, 2nd Edition, More »

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