Category: healthy living

June 14, 2022

Fuel for Men’s Health

Written by Kerri Napoleon, Registered Dietitian

Skipping meals, not eating enough during the day, snacking at night, not eating enough fruits and vegetables. These are the most common habits I see my male patients do. When we talk about men’s health, men’s needs are not that different than those of women. Men need to incorporate anti-inflammatory foods that protect the mind and body. They need to eat often to ensure that they are getting all the nutrients their body needs and to increase vegetables and fruits for disease prevention.

Below are some ideas to include in your diet to help ensure you are getting the nutrients your body needs for a healthy body.

Start with breakfast. Try the Overnight Chocolate Peanut Butter Oats as a grab and go option. Packed with soluble fiber, protein, and good fat, this breakfast will keep you satisfied till lunch. Try to incorporate a salad a day to increase your vegetable intake. Try the Everyday Lunch Salad – packed with a variety of vegetables, fiber and good fat – this salad will help you reach your vegetable goals. For an anti-inflammatory punch try the Bacon Mushroom Kale Salad. Consuming dark leafy vegetables is key to a heart-healthy diet.

 

Overnight Chocolate Peanut Butter Oats

  • ½ cup oats
  • 5 oz Fairlife Protein Shake – Chocolate
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter
  • ¼ cup raspberries or strawberries

In a jar, add the oats, peanut butter, and protein shake. Top with berries. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 72 hours. Serve cold or warm in the microwave for 30-60 seconds.

1 serving: 345 calories, 12.5 g fat, 39 g carbohydrates, 9 g fiber, 23 g protein


Everyday Lunch Salad

  • 3 cups spring mix
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, chopped
  • 1/3 cup grape tomatoes
  • 6 baby carrots, chopped
  • 1/3 cup yellow bell pepper
  • ¼ cup sprouts
  • 1/3 avocado
  • ½ cup chickpeas
  • ¼ cup feta cheese
  • 2 Tbsp Bolthouse Farms Ranch Dressing
  • Optional – add grilled chicken or shrimp

Mix together all ingredients.

1 serving: 428 calories, 23 g fat, 45 g carbs, 16 g fiber, 18 g protein


Bacon Mushroom Kale Salad

  • 6 cups very thinly sliced kale (tough stems removed)
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
  • 2 slices center cut bacon
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 cup green peas (frozen)
  • 1 ½ cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp whole grain mustard
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Place kale and eggs in a large bowl. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Leaving the bacon fat in the pan, transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Chop when cool enough to handle. Add oil, onion and peas to the pan and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar, mustard, pepper and salt. Pour the mushroom mixture over the kale and eggs. Add the bacon and toss to combine.

4 servings: 211 calories, 12 g fat, 19 g carbs, 11 g protein, 5 g fiber


Written By: Kerri Napoleon, RDN, CSSD
knapoleon@fcymca.org

For more ideas on how to achieve a healthier lifestyle, visit our Nutrition Services page to contact one of our Registered Dietitians.

Written by Kerri Napoleon, Registered Dietitian Skipping meals, not eating enough during the day, snacking at night, not eating enough fruits and vegetables. These are the most common habits I see my male patients do. When we talk about men’s health, men’s needs are not that different than those of…


June 6, 2022

Boost your brainpower with the MIND diet!

Did you know that eating certain foods and skipping others has the power to slow brain aging by 7.5 years and even reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s? With June being Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, it is the perfect time to learn how to protect and even sharpen our brains through what we put in our bodies.


The MIND diet, or Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, was developed by medical researchers with the goal to reduce the risk of dementia and loss of brain function as you age. These medical researchers developed the MIND diet by combining two well-known diets, the DASH diet and Mediterranean diet, to create a way of eating the helped combat inflammation markers in the body while protecting and boosting overall brain health. They found that the food we eat has a major role in combatting oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. A diet high in antioxidants and polyphenols was most effective at fighting inflammation and providing a protective environment to support brain health. With that in mind, what exactly should we be focusing on when adopting the MIND diet?

Leafy greens like kale, collard greens, and spinach are packed with vitamin E, carotenoids, and flavonoids. Even just one serving a day has been shown to slow brain aging – time to order that kale salad!

Berries like strawberries and blueberries are great sources of flavonoids. Flavonoids are the natural plant pigments that give berries their beautiful hues. Those who consume two or more servings per week showed the slowest rates of cognitive decline. Savor these sweet treats by the handful or in a brain-boosting smoothie!

Nuts like almonds and walnuts are rich in vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin, which is known for its brain boosting qualities. When you reach for nuts to snack on, be sure to check the ingredients panel and grab dry-roasted or raw nuts to steer clear of excess sodium, sugars, and oils. Same goes for nut butters – look for lists that only include the nut and salt, skip the hydrogenated oils.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – you’ve heard it time and time again, but this is not only the go-to oil for heart health but also for brain health! When shopping for a quality extra virgin olive oil, look for an opaque or dark glass bottle to avoid any additional light oxidation. Also skip any options that are labeled as ‘light’ – that means the oil went through refining processes due to an off odor or even low-quality fruit therefore decreasing the overall quality of the final oil!

Meat-free meals like eating legumes and lentils in place of beef or pork has been shown to be quite beneficial for the brain. Not only do these meat-free protein alternatives pack a fiber punch but they also slow the rate of digestion and support a health GI tract (mind gut connection anyone?) and studies have shown that those who had the lowest intake of legumes had the highest rates of cognitive decline. Maybe the old jingle ‘beans, beans, the magical fruit’ was really onto something…

Fatty Fish like salmon or tuna are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA. These healthy unsaturated fats have been linked to lower blood levels of beta-amyloid – or the proteins that form damaging clumps in the brains of those suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Wine – Another Mediterranean trend coming through here but light to moderate drinking could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by two to three years. How so? Alcohol affects blood flow making it less ‘sticky’ and in turn less prone to dangerous clotting. With the risks associated with alcohol, don’t pick up a drinking habit in hopes of benefiting your brain. But if you do enjoy a drink with dinner, limit yourself to that one drink and you could be doing your brain and future mind a favor.


Be sure to check out all of our Healthy Living programs to help you live better in spirit, mind and body.

Did you know that eating certain foods and skipping others has the power to slow brain aging by 7.5 years and even reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s? With June being Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, it is the perfect time to learn how to protect and even sharpen our…


January 5, 2022

22 Tips for a Healthier YOU in 2022

Each year, we wrestle with setting resolutions for a better New Year. An effective and healthier way to approach New Year’s resolutions is to consider small lifestyle changes that reflect healthy living instead of setting a general resolution such as “eat healthier,” “lose weight,” or “workout more.”

Take your pick of the 22 tips below to set yourself (and your family) up for a successful and healthier you in 2022!

  1. Move More: Commit to 20 minutes of movement a day.
  2. Quality Sleep: Try reading a book, listening to a podcast, or meditating to help get restful sleep.
  3. Drink MORE Water: Generally speaking, men should drink 3.7 liters a day and women, 2.7 liters a day. Of course this will vary based on your size, needs and level of physical activity.
  4. Incorporate Fluids + Fiber: Prevents constipation, helps lower cholesterol, improves blood sugar levels and helps keep you fuller longer.
  5. Don’t “Diet:” Restrictive diets may cause changes in your hunger and satiety hormones, which may also cause stronger cravings for high caloric and sugary foods.
  6. Incorporate Healthier Options: Instead of “dieting,” identify new foods to incorporate into your diet that are healthy, fulfilling, and have added benefits. The MIND diet recommends including whole grains, leafy greens, berries, nuts, beans, colorful vegetables, wine, fish, lean poultry and olive oil in your diet.
  7. Change It Up: Instead of sandwiches for lunch, try making grain or legume bowls like a MexiCali bowl or Mediterranean Bowl, which incorporates fresh veggies, healthy grains and protein.
  8. Try a Seaweed Salad: Seaweed is rich in antioxidants like carotenoids and flavonoids, which are known to combat disease-causing free-radicals.
  9. Try Plant-based Proteins: Protein-rich foods include tofu, tempeh, edamame, lentils, chickpeas, peanuts, quinoa, chia seeds, hemp seeds and beans.
  10. Ask About Available Alternatives: Dairy-based sauces can be swapped out for alternatives made with cashews, which are a nutritional powerhouse nut packed with protein, monounsaturated fat, iron and magnesium.
  11. Lessen Alcohol: Eliminating alcohol intake all together has proven to provide better sleep, weight loss, reduced risk of certain cancers and diseases.
  12. Spice It Up: Spices not only add flavor to your food, but many, like ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and sage, offer health benefits too!
  13. Supplement: Collagen is the new supplement to consider adding to your diet if you’re looking for some added protein and joint health benefits. It’s easy to add in to your coffee or smoothies each morning.
  14. Add Oats: Increase your whole grain consumption and fiber intake by adding oats to your smoothies.
  15. Allulose: A new, natural alternative sweetener that tastes like table sugar. Allulose is a monosaccharide absorbed by the body but not metabolized. It is around 1/10 of the calories compared to table sugar and is considered diabetes-friendly.
  16. Mindful Cooking Methods: How you cook your food affects the overall nutrition consumed. Healthy cooking methods include: steaming, stir-frying, roasting, poaching, blanching and grilling.
  17. Make Your Sweets Count: Switch out milk chocolate for dark, which is high in antioxidants. Or try turning to fruit-based desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth.
  18. Get Your Gut Health In Check: There is a direct correlation between our gastrointestinal system and the brain. Foods for better brain function include: nuts and seeds, coconut, fatty fish, dark chocolate and fermented foods.
  19. Focus on the Positive: A positive mindset will help you feel more at ease and appreciate all the good around you.
  20. Mood-Booster Foods: Try “happy brain” snacks to boost serotonin and dopamine. Probiotic-rich yogurt with berries or a trail mix with cashews and dried tart cherries make for great snacks.
  21. Know Your Numbers: Don’t forget to schedule physicals and regular checkups with your healthcare provider to stay informed of your current health.
  22. Join the YMCA! We are here to help you make 2022 your best year yet! We support individuals and families by offering a holistic wellness experience that fits your personal goals, lifestyle, needs and preferences. Whether that means a gym with childcare availability, a variety of group fitness classes, personal training, team sports, access to state-of-the art equipment, pools, tennis courts and more, the Y is here to help. We also offer healthy living programs that cater to specific needs such as weight loss, blood pressure monitoring, diabetes, cancer support and adaptive wellness to name a few. See a list of our healthy living offerings by clicking here. Some are complimentary services and open to the public. Just ask us how we can help!

Each year, we wrestle with setting resolutions for a better New Year. An effective and healthier way to approach New Year’s resolutions is to consider small lifestyle changes that reflect healthy living instead of setting a general resolution such as “eat healthier,” “lose weight,” or “workout more.” Take your pick…


December 14, 2021

How to Recover from that “Blah” Feeling

Recently you may have heard the term languishing. It’s that kind of “blah” feeling. Maybe you remember a time when you felt unmotivated, stagnant, not sad, but not-happy-either feeling. That is languishing and more and more people are expressing this feeling.

Languishing, What Is It?

The word languish means to fail to advance or make progress; the failure to be successful.  Think of a project that you put off or something you placed on the self that has just been sitting there. That’s languish. It’s a real valid emotion that may affect how you function in the world.

According to PyschCentral here are some signs:

  • Moods that are not too high or too low (you’re not happy, but you wouldn’t say you’re sad either)
  • Feeling unmotivated more often than usual
  • Feeling unsettled but not highly anxious
  • Difficulty focusing on certain tasks, especially some days more than others
  • Feeling detached from life, tasks, or people but not experiencing negative emotions toward them
  • Apathy toward life and difficulty getting excited about anything
  • Fatigue and burnout
  • Loss of interest in passions and hobbies
  • Feelings of stagnation
  • Feeling disconnected from your purpose in life

It’s extremely important to note that not everyone who is languishing will experience it in the same way or with the same intensity. In general, languishing may affect some of your decisions, behaviors, and emotions toward yourself, others, and the world.

How to Thrive in Languish

Now that we know what languishing is, how can we live to thrive or flourish instead?

In an article written on VeryWellHealth.com researchers Corey Keyes, PhD & Matthew Iasiello, MA look at mental health as multi dimensional.  That life satisfaction – a sense of earning, interactions with society & positive relationships – are all concepts that are tied to our sense of mental well-being.

So what can we do? Here are a few practices to consider:

  • Mindfulness. Mindfulness involves intense focus and awareness of what you’re sensing and feeling, moment by moment, without judgment. It has been shown to help people relax and reduce stress.
  • Physical well-being.  Moving our body for enjoyment, eating nutrient dense food, and allowing our body to have plenty of quality sleep are important for both physical and mental well-being.
  • Journaling. The practice of keeping a journal can help you express your thoughts and see patterns in daily behavior. It can also be a space to focus on what you’re grateful for and what positive moments happened during your day. It may even help you identify signs of languishing early.
  • Be creative. Exploring your creative side can help engage your mind and encourage focus in other areas of your life. Identifying a hobby that brings you joy can help to release your mind when it is feeling stressed. Many studies have shown that art therapy also helps to explore emotions without having to verbalize them.
  • Maintain relationships. Languishing may make you want to shy away from social settings and isolate yourself. Keeping in touch with community, family and friends can be an important part of feeling connected and can help you feel supported.
  • Change of scenery. Sometimes your environment may influence how you feel. A change of scenery could come in the form of time away for vacation, a walk outside, or heading to your favorite quiet spot to read a book. Maybe you need to switch up the environment of your daily routine. If you feel that your home or work environment may be contributing to languishing, try decluttering, changing the color of the walls, adding artwork, rearranging furniture, switching your workspace to a new room, or adding some fresh flowers or plants. As you introduce these small changes, notice how they affect how you feel.
  • Volunteer for community service.  Socialization can be an important part of mental wellness for some people. Providing your community with a service, such as working at a food pantry, may not only help you feel connected to a higher purpose, but also improve the lives of people in your community.
  • Learn new skills. Learning something new affects your brain and also helps you improve focus. It may even help you feel motivated and establish small goals that could build up a sense of accomplishment. This, in turn, could improve how you feel. Try out a new recipe, practice sewing, tend to your garden, pick up an instrument, learn to woodwork, the list goes on and on.
  • Seek professional help. If you feel you’re doing a few things but your mood doesn’t improve, consider reaching out to a mental health professional.

While anyone can use any of the practices above in any setting. Here are a few more to consider at the workplace with your colleagues and managers:

  • Set clear goals and responsibilities for team members that you all agree on.
  • Inquire about flexibility in work schedules.
  • Ask for resources available to you as an employee.
  • Give praise and acknowledgement to others.
  • Be clear on how you like to receive constructive feedback, praise, and acknowledgement.

Taking the time to put these practices in place can take some time. Have grace and patience for yourself and those you are working with.


The Y is here for you. Talk with us to let us know what you are searching for and what you would like to accomplish as you venture on your well-being journey. And be sure to check out our resource page and programs to see what services we have to offer you. If there is something you are looking for but don’t see, please let us know.

Recently you may have heard the term languishing. It’s that kind of “blah” feeling. Maybe you remember a time when you felt unmotivated, stagnant, not sad, but not-happy-either feeling. That is languishing and more and more people are expressing this feeling. Languishing, What Is It? The word languish means to fail…


December 10, 2021

Resiliency – Overcoming & Growing from Setbacks

We all face setbacks in our life. The term resilience (or resiliency) is our ability to adapt and bounce back when things may not go exactly as we had planned. Some of us may appear as if we handle those situations with more grace than others. We may even find ourselves admiring those who are resilient, wishing we could be too. What is important to know is that resilience isn’t necessarily a personality trait that only some people possess. Rather resiliency involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that anyone can learn and develop. This post is to help you learn more about resiliency and how you too, have the grace of resiliency living in you.

What is Resilience?

Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. As much as resilience involves “bouncing back” from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth.

Those with high resilience may not spend a lot of time dwelling on the failure or set back; they acknowledge the situation, learn from their mistakes, and move forward. Being resilient doesn’t mean that a person won’t experience difficulty or distress. People who have suffered major adversity or trauma in their lives commonly experience emotional pain and stress. In fact, the road to resilience is likely to involve considerable emotional distress.

According to the research of psychologist, Susan Kobasa, there are three elements that are essential to resilience.  You can find her full quote and descriptions in an article on www.mindtools.com:

  1. View Difficulty as a Challenge – People who are resilient look at their failures and mistakes as lessons to be learned from, and as opportunities for growth, not as a negative reflection on their abilities or self-worth.
  2. Commitment & Purpose – Those who are resilient are committed to their lives and their goals, and feel they have purpose and a compelling reason to get out of bed in the morning. They commit to their relationships, their friendships, the causes they care about, their religious or spiritual beliefs, and to their work.
  3. Personal Control – Resilient people spend their time and energy focusing on situations and events that they have control over. Because they put their efforts where they can have the most impact, they feel empowered and confident.

10 Ways to Build Your Resilience

The good news is you can learn to develop a resilient mindset and attitude.  Here are some ways to incorporate some resilient behaviors into your daily life:

  1. Learn to relax. When you take care of your mind and body, you’re better able to cope effectively with challenges in your life. Develop a good sleep routine, try out a new exercise or use physical relaxation techniques, like deep breathing or meditation.
  2. Practice thought awareness. Resilient people don’t let negative thoughts derail their efforts. Instead, they consistently practice positive thinking. This means listening to how you talk to yourself when something goes wrong – if you find yourself making statements that are permanent, pervasive or personalized, correct these thoughts in your mind.
  3. Edit your outlook. Practice cognitive restructuring to change the way that you think about negative situations and bad events.
  4. Learn from your mistakes and failures. Every mistake has the power to teach you something important, so look for the lesson in every situation. Also, make sure that you understand the idea of “post-traumatic growth” – often people find that crisis situations, such as a job loss or the breakdown of a relationship, allow them to re-evaluate their lives and make positive changes.
  5. Choose your response. Remember, we all experience bad days and we all go through our share of crises. But we have a choice in how we respond: we can choose to react with panic and negativity, or we can choose to remain calm and logical to find a solution. Your reaction is always up to you.
  6. Maintain perspective. Resilient people understand that, although a situation or crisis may seem overwhelming in the moment, it may not make that much of an impact over the long-term. Try to avoid blowing events out of proportion.
  7. Set some goals for yourself. If you don’t already, learn to set SMART, effective personal goals that match your values, and that can help you to learn from your experiences.
  8. Build your self-confidence. Remember, resilient people are confident that they’re going to succeed eventually, despite the setbacks or stresses that they might be facing. This belief in themselves also enables them to take risks: when you develop confidence and a strong sense of self, you have the strength to keep moving forward, and to take the risks you need to get ahead.
  9. Develop strong relationships. People who have strong connections at work are more resistant to stress, and they’re happier in their role. This also goes for your personal life: the more real friendships you develop, the more resilient you’re going to be, because you have a strong support network to fall back on. (Remember that treating people with compassion and empathy is very important here.)
  10. Be flexible. Resilient people understand that things change, and that carefully-made plans may, occasionally, need to be amended or scrapped.

Building your resilience takes time and practice, like anything else. The Y is here for you on this journey.  Please check out our listing of local resources available as well as give our Y VirtuWell Coaches a call to help you set and establish SMART goals that fit your health priorities.

We all face setbacks in our life. The term resilience (or resiliency) is our ability to adapt and bounce back when things may not go exactly as we had planned. Some of us may appear as if we handle those situations with more grace than others. We may even find ourselves…


November 22, 2021

Recipe: Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili

Butternut Squash, among other root vegetables are in season this time of year. You can use ground turkey as specified, or add leftover Thanksgiving turkey at the end of the recipe. Try adding some radish as a garnish for an added crunch and a bit more spice.


Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili

Prep/Cook Time:  1 hour          Serves: 6

Nutrition Information:

PER SERVING SIZE
Calories: 310     Protein: 22g     Carbohydrates: 31g  (Fiber: 10g)     Fats:12

Ingredients:

  • 3 teaspoons olive oil 
  • 1 pound 99 percent fat-free ground turkey 
  • 1 medium onion, diced 
  • cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1/4 cup chili powder 
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin 
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander 
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste 
  • Kosher salt 
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2inch cubes (about 3 1/2 cups) ** 
  • ripe plum tomatoes, chopped 
  • Two 14-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinse
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds 
  • Freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped 
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream 

Instructions:

  1. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons of the oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven.
  2. Add the turkey and cook, breaking up chunks with the side of a wooden spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes. Push the turkey to the edges of the pan, leaving the middle empty.  
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, then the onion and garlic to the center of the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 3 minutes.  
  4. Add the chili powder, cumin and coriander and stir about 30 seconds.
  5. Add the tomato paste and 1 teaspoon salt and stir until the paste begins to darken in color, about 30 seconds.
  6. Add the squash**, tomatoes and 4 cups water, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any stuck bits.  
  7. Bring to a simmer, adjust the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the chili has thickened and the squash is tender, 35 to 40 minutes.** 
  8. Stir the beans and chia seeds into chili and heat through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Spoon chili into bowls and top with cilantro and a dollop of sour cream. 

**To decrease time of cooking- cook butternut squash in a microwave safe bowl with ½ inch of water covered in plastic wrap. Microwave 5-7 minutes until tender. Add squash to chili. You can also chop or pull leftover Thanksgiving turkey and add to finished chili until heated through.

Butternut Squash, among other root vegetables are in season this time of year. You can use ground turkey as specified, or add leftover Thanksgiving turkey at the end of the recipe. Try adding some radish as a garnish for an added crunch and a bit more spice. Butternut Squash and…


October 14, 2021

Recipe: Pumpkin Mousse

When fall hits in Florida, you may start to feel a cool breeze and change in the air. You may also start feeling the urge to visit those picturesque pumpkin patches. Pumpkins are a symbol that fall is here, not to mention they are in season August through October, so there is no better time to enjoy your favorite pumpkin treat.

If you are craving that pumpkin flavor, check out this easy crowd-pleasing pumpkin mousse recipe.


Pumpkin Mousse

Serves: 8          Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 small packages of instant sugar-free vanilla pudding
  • 2 cups of no-fat (skim) milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 15 ounce can of pumpkin
  • 8 ounces of fat-free Cool Whip

Preparation

  1. Prepare instant pudding according to package directions.
  2. Stir in pumpkin spice.
  3. Fold in cool whip and pumpkin.
  4. Serve chilled and garnish with an extra dash of pumpkin spice!

When fall hits in Florida, you may start to feel a cool breeze and change in the air. You may also start feeling the urge to visit those picturesque pumpkin patches. Pumpkins are a symbol that fall is here, not to mention they are in season August through October, so there…


September 30, 2021

What’s Really In Your Pumpkin Spice Latte

“I’ll have a pumpkin spice latte, please.”
If you frequent coffee shops, you’ll probably hear this phrase more than a few times over the next several months. The infamous “PSL” is the most popular seasonal drink around, but do you know what is really in it?

According to How Stuff Works, your favorite caffeinated beverage could be loaded with calories. If you drink black coffee or coffee with low-fat milk only, you don’t need to worry much about calorie intake. But, if you regularly consume some of the “fancier” coffee beverages, you may want to take a closer look at the calorie count. Any beverages with whole milk, whipped cream or flavored syrups will add lot of calories. Here are some examples:

  • A McDonald’s large mocha has 400 calories.
  • The Venti White Chocolate Mocha at Starbucks contains 580 calories.
  • A Dunkin’ Donuts frozen cappuccino with whole milk has a whopping 610 calories.

Serving Size Matters

Let’s take a closer look at our beloved pumpkin spice latte. First thing to decide on is the size of our drink. The size will affect calories, sugar and caffeine consumed. At Starbucks, did you know you can order a 8oz (called a ‘Short’), 12oz (called a ‘Tall’), 16oz (called a ‘Grande’), and a 20oz (called a ‘Venti’)?

Now, let’s compare Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte to a regular flavored latte from your local coffee house. For this we will go straight to the source, Starbucks. For comparisons sake, we will choose the Short Pumpkin Spice Latte, which is 8oz, contains 210 calories, 27 grams of sugar and 75 mg of caffeine. This is in comparison to other flavored lattes that have an average of 134 calories and 63 mg of caffeine.

If you are concerned about calories or sugar content, you may want to treat those specialty drinks as an occasional indulgence. For your daily cup of joe, opt for skim milk and “just say no” to whipped cream and flavored sugary syrups.

Coffee Characteristics

Not all coffees are created equal. The caffeine content of coffee can vary depending on several characteristics. If you are drinking your favorite flavored beverage for the jolt of caffeine you may want to check out these factors:

  • Type of coffee beans: There are many varieties of coffee beans available, which may naturally contain different amounts of caffeine.
  • Roasting: Lighter roasts have more caffeine than darker roasts, although the darker roasts have a deeper flavor.
  • Type of coffee: The caffeine content can vary significantly between regularly brewed coffee, espresso, instant coffee and decaf coffee.
  • Serving size: “One cup of coffee” can range anywhere from 30–700 ml (1–24 oz), greatly affecting the total caffeine content.

Regardless of your choice when you step up to the counter to order, we most importantly want you to be aware of what you are consuming. And if all this talk about pumpkin spice lattes has created the urge to have one, check out this article from Health and learn how to create your very own PSL at home.


Want to learn more?

Check out How Many Calories Are In Coffee? and How Much Caffeine in a Cup of Coffee? A Detailed Guide from Healthline to see the breakdown of both caffeine and calorie content in your favorite flavored specialty coffee drinks.

“I’ll have a pumpkin spice latte, please.” If you frequent coffee shops, you’ll probably hear this phrase more than a few times over the next several months. The infamous “PSL” is the most popular seasonal drink around, but do you know what is really in it? According to How Stuff…


September 23, 2021

What’s Your Number?

Do you know what your cholesterol number is? Do you know what your cholesterol numbers mean?

If your answer is no or you aren’t that sure, then you have come to the right place. Numbers regarding our health can be confusing, but it’s also important to know some basics. At the Y, we want to help you feel knowledgeable and confident about your health, including your numbers. In honor of Cholesterol Education Month, let’s learn some truths about cholesterol.


The Importance of Managing Cholesterol

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the number one leading cause of death in the U.S. More than one million Americans have a heart attack each year and about 500,000 die of heart disease. High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease, causing heart attack and stroke.

So what is Cholesterol anyway?

Cholesterol is a type of fat found in your blood. Your liver makes cholesterol for your body. You also can get cholesterol from the foods you eat. Meat, fish, eggs, butter, cheese, and milk all have cholesterol in them. Fruits, vegetables, and grains (like oatmeal) don’t have any cholesterol.

Cholesterol is in every cell in your body. You need cholesterol to help your brain, skin, and other organs do their jobs. But eating too much isn’t good. Cholesterol floats around in your blood and can get into the walls of the blood vessels. This can cause the blood vessels to get stiffer, narrower, or clogged. If the clogging gets worse over many years, it can cause a heart attack or stroke in adults.

Now that you know the basics, let’s learn the difference between cholesterol myth and fact. The CDC has come up with some commonly asked questions and myths and helped us to set the record straight.


Cholesterol: Myth vs. Fact

Myth: All cholesterol is bad for you.

Fact: Some types of cholesterol are essential for good health. Your body needs cholesterol to perform important jobs, such as making hormones and building cells.

Cholesterol travels through the blood on proteins called lipoproteins. Two types of lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout the body:

  • LDL (low-density lipoprotein), sometimes called “bad” cholesterol, makes up most of your body’s cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol raise your risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or “good” cholesterol, carries cholesterol back to the liver. The liver then flushes it from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.

When your body has too much LDL cholesterol, it can build up in the walls of your blood vessels. This buildup is called plaque. As your blood vessels build up plaque over time, the insides of the vessels narrow. This narrowing can restrict and eventually block blood flow to and from your heart and other organs. When blood flow to the heart is blocked, it can cause angina (chest pain) or a heart attack.

Myth: I would be able to feel it if I had high cholesterol.

Fact: High cholesterol usually has no signs or symptoms. You may not know you have unhealthy cholesterol levels until it is too late—when you have a heart attack or stroke. That’s why it’s so important to get your cholesterol levels checked at least every 5 years.1,2

Occasionally, some people develop yellowish growths on their skin called xanthomas, which are cholesterol-rich deposits. People with xanthomas may have high cholesterol levels. Learn more about getting your cholesterol checked.

Myth: Eating foods with a lot of cholesterol will not make my cholesterol levels go up.

Fact: It can be complicated. We know that foods with a lot of cholesterol usually also have a lot of saturated fat. Saturated fats can make your cholesterol numbers higher, so it’s best to choose foods that are lower in saturated fats.

Foods made from animals, including red meat, butter, and cheese, have a lot of saturated fats. Instead, aim to eat foods with plenty of fiber, such as oatmeal and beans, and healthy unsaturated fats, such as avocados, olive oil, and nuts. Learn more about healthy diets and nutrition at CDC’s nutrition, physical activity, and obesity website.

Myth: I can’t do anything to change my cholesterol levels.

Fact: You can do many things to improve your cholesterol levels and keep them in a healthy range!

  • Get tested at least every 5 years (unless told otherwise by your doctor).1,2 Learn more about cholesterol screenings.
  • Make healthy food choices. Limit foods high in saturated fats. Choose foods naturally high in fiber and unsaturated fats. Learn more about healthy diets and nutrition at CDC’s nutrition, physical activity, and obesity website.
  • Be active every day. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. Learn more about physical activity basics and tips.
  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco products. Smoking damages your blood vessels, speeds up the hardening of the arteries, and greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Learn more about tobacco use and ways to quit at CDC’s smoking and tobacco use website.
  • Talk with your health care provider about ways to manage your cholesterol; if any medicines are given to you to manage your cholesterol, take them as they are prescribed. Learn more about medicines to lower cholesterol.
  • Know your family history. If your parents or other immediate family members have high cholesterol, you probably should be tested more often. You could have a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH).

Myth: I don’t need statins or other medicines for my cholesterol. I can manage my cholesterol with diet and exercise.

Fact: Although many people can achieve good cholesterol levels by making healthy food choices and getting enough physical activity, some people may also need medicines called statins to lower their cholesterol levels. Million Hearts also suggest that other medicines in addition to statins may be needed to help control cholesterol.

It’s important to communicate with your Health Care Provider and see what options are available as well as what medications may work best for you.


Let’s all commit to getting our cholesterol checked this year so we know our numbers and our risk for heart disease and stroke. Find your closest Healthy Living Center and have your numbers checked for free.

Learn more about Healthy Living Centers


References

Centers for Disease Control. Getting Your Cholesterol Checked. https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/cholesterol_screening.htm; 2020.

  1. Grundy SM, Stone NJ, Bailey AL, Beam C, Birtcher KK, Blumenthal RS, et al. 2018 ACC/AHA/AACVPR/AAPA/ ABC/ACPM/ADA/AGS/APhA/ASPC/NLA/PCNA guideline on the management of blood cholesterol: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guideline. Circulation. 2018;0:CIR.0000000000000625.
  2. National Cholesterol Education Program. Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III) Final Report. NIH Pub. No. 02-5215. Bethesda, MD: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; 2002.
  3. HealthFinder.gov. Get Your Cholesterol Checked. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2018.

Do you know what your cholesterol number is? Do you know what your cholesterol numbers mean? If your answer is no or you aren’t that sure, then you have come to the right place. Numbers regarding our health can be confusing, but it’s also important to know some basics. At…


September 7, 2021

Eat Fresh Eat Local

Florida’s warm climate means we have a variety of fresh foods that have the ability to be grown year round. Florida’s First Coast is full of farm land, local seasonal fresh produce, and an abundance of farmers markets and food delivery services that offer locally farm fresh food options.

What are some benefits to eating locally grown fresh foods?

According to Michigan State University Extension Offices buying locally grown food has the following benefits:

  • Local food has more nutrients. Local food has a shorter time between harvest and your table, maximizing the amount of vitamins and minerals in your local produce.
  • Locally grown food is full of flavor. When grown locally, the crops are picked at their peak of ripeness. Providing us with a product packed full of flavor and nutrients.
  • Eating local food is eating seasonally. We are blessed to live in Florida where many of our crops can be grown year round. However, when we do eat seasonally, it provides us with a variety of nutrients and an opportunity to try new things.
  • Local food supports the local economy. The money that is spent with local farmers and growers all stays close to home and is reinvested with businesses and services in your community.
  • Local food benefits the environment. By purchasing locally grown foods, you help maintain farmland and green and/or open space in your community.
  • Local foods promote a safer food supply. The more steps there are between you and your food’s source, the more chances there are for contamination. Food grown in distant locations has the potential for food safety issues at harvesting, washing, shipping and distribution.
  • Local growers can tell you how the food was grown. You can ask what practices they use to raise and harvest the crops. When you know where your food comes from and who grew it, you know a lot more about that food.
Resource: Annual Peak Produce Chart

Interested in growing your own vegetables?

Get started with this article from Blue Zones on 7 easy-to-grow plants.

Read the article

Want to learn more about what’s right for your specific body needs? Try out our VirtuWell Coaching or consult with one of our Registered Dietitians.

Florida’s warm climate means we have a variety of fresh foods that have the ability to be grown year round. Florida’s First Coast is full of farm land, local seasonal fresh produce, and an abundance of farmers markets and food delivery services that offer locally farm fresh food options. What are…