10/18/11

Take a Dip!

I am excited to share my latest article on the NEW USA triathlon website. Did you know that over 140,000 individuals are members of USA triathlon? It is so fantastic to see our sport growing so quickly. I don't believe that you have to be a triathlete, runner or cyclist in order to live a long and healthy life but I do believe in goal setting and challenging yourself to become a smarter, more balanced, stronger and more productive YOU.

Two of my recipes that I feature in the article contain yogurt which is a great source of calcium and protein. Eight ounces of Plain, low-fat yogurt contains 415mg of calcium and 1 cup of low or non fat milk contains 300 mg. According to the recommended daily allowance of calcium, it is suggested that adults 19-50 years consume 1000 mg of daily calcium whereas people over the age of 50 should consume 1,200 mg and it is noted that women after menopause need more calcium to prevent osteoporosis. Individuals 9-18 years should consume 1300 mg and pregnant and lactating women between 19 and 50 should consume 1000 mg calcium.

I am a big proponent of dairy in the diet, specifically the double bonus of obtaining both calcium and protein from one single food source. There is a lot of hype about dairy being harmful for the body and my thoughts, backed by research, is that much of the GI issues of the average American, is due to lack of vegetable and fruit consumption and too much processed food. Additionally, for those who do consume a wholesome diet, rich in fruits and veggies, my fear is that long-term, individuals who restrict dietary calcium will encourage gradual bone loss, thus increasing the risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis, much sooner in life. Because calcium is also a wonderful source of protein, the thought to skip on a glass of skim milk post workout or eating yogurt as a snack, may encourage the risk of stress fractures as well as not increasing the change for regular performance gains and encouragement of an increase in lean muscle mass to support physical activity. If you are an athlete/fitness enthusiast who chooses to consume calcium from non-dairy sources, it is encouraged that you meet with a Registered Dietitian and possible get blood work, to assess whether or not you are meeting calcium and protein needs from your current diet. Remember, every time you eliminate a food (for whatever reason) you should not overlook the importance of making sure the diet is balanced and not too heavy (or light) in any one food group.

Regardless of your individual dietary preferences, protein and calcium should not be overlooked as two key nutrients to help our fitness and reach optimal performance gains. Because we never want to "avoid" a food that is proved to improve health and just because a food is good for us, we don't need to overdo-it, recognize that calcium and protein is beneficial not only for our bones (both short AND long term) but for weight loss, health and performance.

Although individuals are recommend to take supplemental calcium if calcium can not be obtained through food, but research is showing that dietary calcium may be more beneficial than pills.
A few popular sources of calcium:
(from Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter: Sept 2009)

Dairy:
Part skim ricotta cheese: 1 cup, 669 mg
Swiss cheese: 1 ounces, 272 mg
Low-fat cottage cheese: 1 cup 207 mg
Part-skim mozzarella: 1 ounce, 207 mg
Cheddar cheese: 1 ounce, 204 mg

Veggies:
Collard Greens: 1 cup, 357mg
Spinach, frozen: 1 cup 277 mg
Soybeans, green (Edamame): 1 cup, 261 mg.





I hope you enjoy my latest article!
Take a Dip: One Way to Enjoy Fruits and Vegetables | USA Triathlon