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Nutrition

Healthy aging benefits may be associated with walnut consumption

Consuming walnuts and select other whole foods as part of a healthy diet may be associated with a reduced risk of physical function impairments throughout the aging process in women.

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A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that consuming 1-2 servings of walnuts per week (1/4 cup per serving) was associated with reduced risk of developing impairments in physical function, which helps enable older women to maintain independence throughout the aging process.

Walnut

This paper emphasized that overall diet quality, rather than individual foods, may have a greater impact on reducing risk of physical function impairments. Specifically, diet quality traits most associated with reduced rates of incident physical impairment were higher intake of fruits and vegetables; lower intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, trans fat, and sodium; and moderate alcohol intake. Among food components, the strongest relations were found for increased intakes of oranges, orange juice, apples, pears, romaine or leaf lettuce, and walnuts.

“There’s a lot of research that looks at specific health conditions in aging, such as diabetes and heart disease, but less attention to research on quality of life and ability to maintain independence with aging,” said Dr. Francine Grodstein, ScD, professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. “The simple message from this study is that eating an overall healthy diet, including certain foods, such as walnuts and other whole foods, may help women with the ability to do key everyday tasks as they age, like carrying groceries or dressing themselves.”

The researchers looked at data from 54,762 women in the Nurses’ Health Study, which tracked women for over 30 years. Between 1992 and 2008, the women were asked questions about their physical function, including their ability to perform basic activities of daily living. This new paper prospectively examined the association between the dietary habits of the participants and subsequent impairment in physical function. Diet was assessed using the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI-2010), a measure of diet quality that incorporates foods and nutrients predictive of chronic disease risk based on scientific evidence.

“These results add to the large body of evidence that outline the many benefits of a healthy diet for women. Additional research is needed to better understand how diet and lifestyle choices can help maintain our health and well-being as we age,” said Dr. Grodstein.

There are numerous possible active properties in walnuts that may be contributing factors in providing health benefits. Walnuts are unique among nuts in that they are primarily composed of polyunsaturated fat (13 grams per ounce), which includes alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid. They are the only nut to contain a significant amount of ALA with 2.5 grams per one ounce serving.

Some study limitations should be considered. The sample only included women, so these results may not be generalizable to men. Additionally, participants were not assigned to eat walnuts or other foods, and were just asked about their dietary choices. It is also possible that subjects may have misreported their dietary intake since this information was collected by questionnaires. In addition, because this is an observational study, residual confounding cannot be ruled out (i.e. that other lifestyle habits which are more common in adults who eat walnuts could contribute to the study findings); and, thus, the results should be interpreted with caution.

This research was supported in part by the California Walnut Commission (CWC). The CWC has supported health-related research on walnuts for more than 25 years. While the CWC does provide funds and/or walnuts for various projects, the actual studies are conducted independently by researchers who design the experiments, interpret the results and write the manuscripts.

Nutrition

Study shows orange peel extract may improve heart health

The orange peel non-polar fraction extract effectively inhibited the production of harmful chemicals. Researchers also identified a compound called feruloylputrescine in the orange peel polar fraction extract that also significantly inhibits the enzyme responsible for TMA production.

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Orange peels may hold a key to better cardiovascular health, new University of Florida-led research shows.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women and people of most racial and ethnic groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Recent research has shown that some gut bacteria help develop cardiovascular disease. When they feed on certain nutrients during digestion, gut bacteria produce trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). Levels of TMAO can help predict future cardiovascular disease, according to researchers at the Cleveland Clinic. With help from a $500,000 USDA grant, Yu Wang and her team investigated the potential of orange peel extracts — rich in beneficial phytochemicals — to reduce TMAO and trimethylamine (TMA) production. Scientists tested two types of extracts: a polar fraction and a non-polar fraction.

To get the polar fractions, scientists used polar and non-polar solvents to extract the orange peel, Wang said.

“If you imagine your salad dressing, anything in the water or vinegar part are the polar fraction; anything in the oil away from water is the non-polar fraction,” Wang said. “The solvents we used were not exactly like water and oil, but they possess similar polarity.”

Results from the study showed that the orange peel non-polar fraction extract effectively inhibited the production of harmful chemicals. Researchers also identified a compound called feruloylputrescine in the orange peel polar fraction extract that also significantly inhibits the enzyme responsible for TMA production.

“This is a novel finding that highlights the previously unrecognized health potential of feruloylputrescine in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease,” said Wang, a UF/IFAS associate professor of food science and human nutrition.

The orange peel finding is significant because 5 million tons of orange peels are produced each year in orange juice production nationwide. Nearly 95% of Florida oranges are used for juice. About half of the peels go to feed cattle. The rest goes to waste. But the Food and Drug Administration considers natural orange peel extracts safe for human consumption. So, Wang hope to put the peels to better use.

“These findings suggest that orange peels, often discarded as waste in the citrus industry, can be repurposed into valuable health-promoting ingredients, such as diet supplements or food ingredients,” said Wang, a faculty member at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center. “Our research paves the way for developing functional foods enriched with these bioactive compounds, providing new therapeutic strategies for heart health.”

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Nutrition

Dish up protein-packed sweet treats

Choosing health shouldn’t mean restricting yourself; everyone deserves a treat now and again.

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In a world of packed schedules and boring food, it can feel like doing the healthy thing means giving up some of what makes you happy – like treats and flavors you love. Choosing health shouldn’t mean restricting yourself; everyone deserves a treat now and again.

Try incorporating better-for-you ingredients into your favorite indulgences. Look for convenient, ready-to-use products, like Premier Protein High Protein Shakes, to help infuse the nutrition you need with the joy you deserve. With 30 grams of protein, 160 calories and 1 gram of sugar, the shakes make it easy to take the first step and keep that momentum going, adding nutrient-dense protein to nearly any recipe.

In addition to a smooth, creamy texture, each shake delivers 24 vitamins and minerals including vitamins C and E, which help support a healthy immune system as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. With 11 flavors – including strawberries & cream and chocolate – there’s an impossibly indulgent option for everyone to make a healthy life a happy endeavor through recipes like Peanut Butter Jelly Ice Cream and Chocolate Ice Cream with “Caramel” Sauce.

Find more information and recipes at PremierProtein.com or on Instagram.

Peanut Butter Jelly Ice Cream
Servings: 12

1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup Premier Protein Strawberries & Cream Protein Shake
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar-free strawberry jelly

In large, heavy saucepan, heat milk, protein shake, brown sugar and salt until bubbles form around sides of pan. Whisk small amount of hot mixture into egg. Return to pan, whisking constantly.

Cook and stir over low heat until mixture thickens and coats back of spoon. Remove from heat; whisk in peanut butter. Quickly transfer to bowl; place in ice water and stir 2 minutes. Stir in cream and vanilla. Press wax paper onto surface of custard. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Fill cylinder of ice cream freezer 2/3 full; freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

When ice cream is frozen, spoon into freezer container, layering with jelly; freeze 2-4 hours before serving.

Nutritional information per serving: 271 calories; 23 g total fat; 11 g saturated fat; 0 g trans fat; 72 mg cholesterol; 205 mg sodium; 13 g total carbohydrates; 1 g dietary fiber; 8 g total sugars; 6 g protein.

Chocolate Ice Cream with “Caramel” Sauce
Recipe courtesy of “Chelsea’s Messy Apron”
Servings: 8

1 large sweet potato
1 bag (10 ounces) dark chocolate chips, plus additional for topping (optional)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup coconut sugar
Premier Protein Chocolate Protein Shake

“Caramel” Sauce:
3 tablespoons coconut oil (measured when solid)
3 tablespoons real maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons almond butter
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Wash and scrub sweet potato. Pierce with fork several times. Place on microwave-safe plate and microwave 5 minutes; flip and microwave 5 minutes. Allow to cool.

In microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate chips in 20-second increments, stirring between each increment until smooth and melted. Set aside.

Remove sweet potato skin and thoroughly mash. Pack into 3/4 cup measuring cup. Place in large blender.

Add melted chocolate to blender along with vanilla, sea salt, coconut sugar and chocolate protein shake.

Place lid on blender and blend on high at least 1 minute, or until ingredients are smooth and incorporated.

Transfer to ice cream maker and prepare according to manufacturer’s directions then transfer to airtight container and freeze 2-3 hours.

To make “caramel” sauce: In microwave-safe bowl, microwave coconut oil and syrup 30 seconds. Stir and microwave 30 seconds, or until melted and smooth. Stir in almond butter and whisk until smooth. Add sea salt and vanilla extract; whisk to combine.

Set “caramel” sauce aside at room temperature about 30 minutes. Top ice cream with sauce and additional chocolate chips, if desired.

Nutritional information per serving: 346 calories; 18 g total fat; 11 g saturated fat; 5 mg cholesterol; 219 mg sodium; 40 g total carbohydrates; 4 g dietary fiber; 31 g total sugars; 7 g protein.

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Nutrition

Celebrate spring with brunch favorites

From sweet to savory and back again, you can turn your mid-morning meal into a full-blown feast with a menu made up of pleasing dishes.

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Few things go together quite like fresh spring air, warm sunshine and a menu made up of delicious brunch bites. Whether you’re hosting a crowd or simply gathering your loved ones around the family table for quality time together, a menu of morning favorites can appease appetites of all kinds.

From sweet to savory and back again, you can turn your mid-morning meal into a full-blown feast with a menu made up of pleasing dishes such as this French Toast Casserole, which can serve as a make-ahead twist on the breakfast classic; customizable Breakfast Burritos that pack a protein punch; and a bite-sized treat like Double Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins for a sweet finishing touch to any brunch occasion.

Find more recipes to inspire your next brunch menu at Culinary.net.

Warm Up with a Fresh Casserole

An exciting twist on a breakfast classic, it’s hard to beat this French Toast Casserole when putting together your brunch spread. Crisp on top while soft and moist in the middle, it comes fresh out of the oven with the aroma of maple syrup and pecans that will have the whole house eager for a bite. It’s easy enough to make fresh in the morning but can also be prepared the night before so all you have to do is add the topping and pop it in the oven.

French Toast Casserole

1          loaf French bread (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1-inch cubes
5          large eggs
1 1/2    cups unsweetened milk
2          tablespoons brown sugar
2          teaspoons vanilla extract
1          teaspoon cinnamon
1/4       teaspoon nutmeg
1/4       teaspoon sea salt
            maple syrup, for serving

Topping:
2          tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted
2          tablespoons brown sugar
1/2       cup chopped pecans
1          cup frozen strawberries
1          cup frozen blueberries
            confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Grease 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Place bread cubes in baking dish. In large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour mixture evenly over bread cubes.

If making casserole ahead, cover baking dish and refrigerate overnight. If baking immediately, let stand 30 minutes at room temperature to allow bread to soak up egg mixture.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

To make topping: Drizzle casserole with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar and pecans. Top with strawberries and blueberries.

Cover and bake 35 minutes then uncover and bake 10-20 minutes, or until topping is browned and egg mixture has mostly set.

Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil and let stand 10 minutes. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve with maple syrup.

Brunch with a Powerful Punch

When you’re craving something hearty and rich, switch up your brunch habits with wholesome and filling Breakfast Burritos. With protein to keep you full, veggies for a touch of added nutrition and hot sauce to pack a powerful punch of flavor in every bite, this hearty recipe will keep you full and bursting with energy until your next meal. Plus, they’re easy to make in a matter of minutes and totally customizable to accommodate every palate.

Breakfast Burritos
Servings: 4

2          teaspoons canola oil
1          small red onion, diced
1          red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1          can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4       teaspoon red pepper flakes
            salt, to taste
            pepper, to taste
4          eggs
4          egg whites
1/2       cup shredded pepper jack cheese
            nonstick cooking spray
4          flour tortillas
1/4       cup sour cream
1/4       cup salsa
1          large tomato, seeded and diced
1          avocado, sliced
            hot sauce (optional)

In large skillet, heat canola oil over medium heat. Add red onion and red bell pepper; cook 8 minutes. Add black beans and red pepper flakes; cook 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to dish.

In medium bowl, whisk eggs and egg whites. Stir in cheese until combined. Heat large skillet over low heat, add egg mixture and scramble 3 minutes, or until cooked through.

Spread sour cream over tortilla. Spread salsa over sour cream. Spoon 1/4 bean mixture over salsa. Spoon 1/4 scrambled eggs over bean mixture. Top with diced tomatoes and avocado. Drizzle with hot sauce, if desired. Roll-up burrito. Repeat three times with remaining ingredients and serve.

Bite-Sized Chocolate Delights

Flavorful French toast, filling breakfast burritos and favorite fruits make a feast to look forward to, but no brunch spread is complete without a chocolatey bite to cap off the meal. In fact, make it a double.

These Double Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins offer a combination of two kinds of rich chocolate complemented by the caramel notes of C&H Light Brown Sugar for an irresistible dessert in bite-sized form. Tiny, tasty treats are a perfect way to send guests off with one sweet final bite.

Visit chsugar.com to find more delectable dessert recipes.

Double Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

Muffin Batter:
2          cups all-purpose flour
1/2       cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1          teaspoon baking soda
1/2       teaspoon salt
1          package (10 ounces) mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
2          large eggs
1/2       cup C&H Light Brown Sugar, packed
1/2       cup C&H Granulated Sugar
3/4       cup sour cream
1/2       cup vegetable oil
1/2       cup whole milk
1/2       teaspoon instant espresso (optional)
2          teaspoons vanilla extract
2          tablespoons flaked sea salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line mini muffin pan with mini cupcake liners.

In large mixing bowl, use whisk to combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add chocolate chips and stir to ensure chocolate chips are coated in flour mixture.

In separate large mixing bowl, use wire whisk to whisk eggs and sugars until ingredients are combined and sugars are dissolved. Add sour cream, oil and milk. Whisk again to combine. If using espresso powder, add to vanilla then add to wet ingredients. Whisk vanilla espresso mixture into other liquid ingredients.

Pour liquid ingredients on top of dry ingredients. Using rubber spatula, mix until just combined, being careful to not overmix. Batter should be thick and shiny.

Using tablespoon or two spoons, spoon muffin batter into liners. Batter should be filled almost to top of each liner. Top each muffin with flaked sea salt before baking, if desired.

Bake muffins on center rack 6 minutes. Rotate pan and bake 6 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in muffin comes out clean. Once muffins finish baking, place muffin pan on cooling rack to cool completely.

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