March is National Nutrition Month®, and Christian Health Care Center (CHCC) dietitians encourage everyone to experiment with new combinations of herbs and spices as you “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.” The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics sponsors National Nutrition Month and chooses a new theme every year. National Nutrition Month became a month-long observance in 1980 in response to growing public interest in nutrition.
Today’s popular cuisine embraces a wide world of flavors that can be enjoyed in all sorts of combinations, while still following a healthful eating pattern. There is a difference between herbs and spices, but all are healthy alternatives to adding salt and sugar to food for flavoring. Innovative use of herbs and spices offers a real flavor advantage, especially if the goal is to cook with less fat and sodium.
Joan Katz, RD, Chief Dietitian at CHCC, is a strong proponent of a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods. Underlying chronic inflammation may play a role in heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
“We know that some foods have the capacity to suppress inflammation, but it’s unclear how often and how much is needed for this benefit,” said Ms. Katz. “Though there’s promising research for the impact of foods such as fatty fish, berries, and tart cherry juice, beware of anything touted as an anti-inflammatory miracle.”
Healthy fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, reduce inflammation and help regulate membrane function. These types of fats should be included in a healthy diet. Remove fats that turn on inflammatory processes, such as saturated fat from meats, butter, cream sauces, fried foods, and trans-fat found in many processed foods.
Ms. Katz recommends that fruits and vegetables should make up at least half your plate at meals. Take care to regularly fit in fresh, frozen, or dried berries and cherries. Be sure to eat a variety of vegetables, including leafy greens such as kale, chard, and Brussels sprouts. Opt for plant-based sources of protein including beans, nuts, and seeds. Choose whole grains instead of refined ones. Give up white rice and replace it with brown, black or wild rice; whole oats or barley for cream of wheat; and whole-wheat bread instead of white. Pick heart-healthy fats as opposed to not-so-healthy ones. Olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds are a few delicious choices. Choose fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and anchovies to get a heart-healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Season your meals with fresh herbs and spices since they pack a flavorful and antioxidant-rich punch!
CHCC’s registered dietitians lead a number of educational sessions for CHCC’s patients, residents, clients, and consumers, including monthly Post-acute Care Unit Nutrition Notes, Heritage Manor Nursing Home Dining Diary, and Nutrition Notes for residents at The Longview Assisted Living Residence, Hillcrest Residence, and Christian Health Care Adult Day Services of Wayne and Wyckoff. Weekly Nutrition Groups are held for patients at Ramapo Ridge Psychiatric Hospital and consumers at Ramapo Ridge Partial-hospitalization Program. They also provide a number of staff education opportunities.
In addition, Ms. Katz has participated in a large number of speaking engagements in the community, including senior centers in Fair Lawn, Haworth, Midland Park, and Hawthorne; YJCC of Washington Township; area churches and synagogues, and Montclair State University Undergraduate Dietetic Program.
During National Nutrition Month® and throughout the year, the CHCC registered dietitians encourage you to build an eating plan with your unique lifestyle and nutritional needs in mind. So whether you’re a nurse, housekeeper, painter, or a resident, it’s important to make good nutrition a priority.