Healthy Take

Portion Control 

Sometimes simple ideas work best. That seems to be the case with a plate and cereal bowl equipped with markers for proper portion sizes when it comes to helping people lose weight.

Researchers at the University of Calgary conducted a six-month study of commercially available portion-control plates and bowls. The plates were divided into sections for carbohydrates, proteins, cheese and sauce, with the rest left open for vegetables. The plates provided for appropriate calorie intake for men (approximately 800 calories) and women (approximately 650 calories). The cereal bowl held a 200-calorie meal of cereal and milk.

Half of the study participants used the plates; the other half received the usual care of being instructed by dietitians. Those using the plates and bowls lost an average of 1.8 percent of their body weight as compared to those not using the plates, who lost an average of 0.1 percent of their body weight. Significantly, 16.9 percent of those using the portion-control plates lost 5 percent of their body weight, as opposed to 4.6 percent of those who did not use the plates. Researchers say this is important, because a 5 percent weight loss has been shown to decrease morbidity and mortality associated with obesity-linked disorders such as cancer and heart attack.

For information about portion-control plates and bowls used in this study, browse The Diet Plate Web site at

Are You Dentally Aware?

Are snacks like yogurt and fruit harmless? Not when it comes to your teeth, say members of the Academy of General Dentistry. Improper consumption and overuse may lead to devastating and permanent damage to teeth. What happens is known as tooth erosion — the breakdown of tooth structure caused by the effects of acid — which leads to decay.

Dental enamel is the thin, outer layer of hard tissue that helps maintain the tooth’s structure and shape while protecting it from decay.

To prevent tooth erosion, wait at least 20 minutes after consuming acidic food or drink before brushing, so as not to destroy the weakened enamel. It is preferable to snack on acidic foods quickly — within five minutes — rather than stringing out the snacks the entire day, and also to eat these types of foods at mealtimes, to minimize the time the acid is on the teeth. Here are some foods and practices that can cause irreversible tooth erosion:

• Fresh fruit

• Fruit juices

• Pickles

• Yogurt

• Honey

• Raisins

• Sucking on lemons

• Swishing soda

When it comes to tooth erosion, it’s really not what you eat — but how you eat it — that can potentially cause a problem.

Make sure the eyes have it!

According to nutritional expert Andrew Weil, as you age, you might want to consider eating a diet rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. These compounds form the yellow pigment of the retina and absorb blue light, believed to be a potentially harmful component of sunlight. Research shows that lutein may fight against macular degeneration and cataracts. These compounds are often found in orange and yellow vegetables. Here are some of the best foods for getting enough lutein and zeaxanthin, according to the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sci­ences, University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston :

• corn

• egg yolk

• oranges

• peppers

• kiwi fruit

• grapes

• spinach

• orange juice

• zucchini  (and other kinds of squash)  


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