Saturday, May 7, 2016

5 Best Snacks; A Nurses Perspective

Five Best Snacks To Get You Through Those 12-hour Shifts BY SCRUBS STAFF • FEBRUARY 1, 2016

As a nurse, you’re probably working long shifts. Whether you love them or hate them, one thing is for sure: 12-hour shifts make for a long day or night. To get through your shift, proper nutrition is essential to maintain the energy and mental sharpness. In addition to eating a healthy lunch or dinner, snacks also play an important role in helping you have the stamina you need. Snacking also can prevent you from overeating at meals and help keep your metabolism fired up, but choosing the right snacks is the key. Although soda, candy, and surgery coffee drinks may give you a quick boost, they are not your best bet when it comes to keeping your blood sugar levels steady and getting the right nutrients. Consider some of the following snacks to get you through your next 12-hour shift:

Nuts: There may be times when you crave a salty snack, but chips and pretzels are high in carbohydrates and low in nutritional value. A better choice is a one-ounce serving of nuts. Nuts, such as almonds, contain potassium, magnesium and vitamin E, which is an antioxidant. Walnuts are also a great choice. They are rich in omega-3-fatty acids, folate, and vitamin E. Just pay attention to portion size! Nuts also contain a lot of calories, so stick to a one-ounce serving, which is about a handful.

Hard-boiled eggs: Eggs used to get a bad rap for being high in cholesterol, but research has indicated that saturated fat is more to blame for poor heart health than dietary cholesterol. Plus, eggs are high in protein and packed full of vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, iron, and riboflavin. A medium sized hard-boiled egg also contains about 75 calories, which makes it a low-cal snack.

Protein Bars: A protein bar is a convenient and easy snack to take with you to work, but not all protein bars are created equal. One good choice is GoMacro Bars, which contain 12 grams of plant-based protein and high-quality organic ingredients. With flavors such as peanut butter chocolate chip and cashew caramel, you can’t go wrong!

Low-Fat Greek Yogurt: If you are craving something sweet, reaching for a surgery treat may backfire during a long shift. Sure, you may get a quick boost, but you’ll also crash shortly after. Greek yogurt will satisfy your sweet tooth, but it also provides a healthy dose of calcium and protein. Keep in mind, different brands of Greek yogurt contain varied amounts of sugar and calories, so checking food labels is a good idea.

Peanut Butter and Apple Slices: If you’re low on sleep, your body may crave carbohydrates for energy. Certain carbs, such as bread and pastries, have a relaxing effect and may contribute to weight gain. A better choice is a snack of apple slices topped with peanut butter, which supplies you with the right mix of carbs, protein and fiber. As nurses, we sometimes overlook our own well-being. Make sure that your body has the nutrition it needs, especially for those long shifts. What is your favorite snack to keep you moving?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Benefits of Chocolate


Calling all chocolate lovers: chocolate offers sweet benefits besides satisfying a craving. We've created a list of six benefits you get from eating chocolate.

There are compounds in cocoa beans known as flavonoids; these are plant metabolites that have antioxidant effects in the body. The flavonoids found in chocolate are called flavanols. There are multiple types of flavanols, each offering different antioxidant effects. Dark chocolate has the highest content of flavanols with 40-80 percent, and milk chocolate much less with 5-7 percent. The loss of flavanols in chocolate is due to the amount of processing the chocolate goes through.

Dark chocolate has the highest content of flavanols with 40-80 percent, and milk chocolate much less with 5-7 percent.The more processed the chocolate — the less benefits it has.

Before moving into the benefits, there are a couple of basic ideas to keep in mind before you consume.

The darker the better-milk chocolate has a lot of added sugar and ingredients that will dilute the healthy properties. A good idea of how dark is 70 percent or higher, anything less has a higher chance of being diluted.Moderation-while eating chocolate has health benefits, consuming in excess will be counterproductive. Recommended serving sizes from studies vary from 6g a day to no more than 20g a day, both very different in comparison. A normal serving size that fits into your daily diet would be a safe bet.Not every form of chocolate has beneficial properties-liquid forms and white chocolate do not possess health benefits. This is due to their heavy processing and end cocoa content.

Now...on to the benefits! 
1. Blood flow and circulation: There's a compound found in cocoa known as a polyphenol (a compound similar to a flavonoid) that has been shown to promote better blood flow. This is due to polyphenols promoting your body's effort to mediate oxidative stress.

2. Mood and immune health: Dark chocolate helps produce serotonin, the feel good neurotransmitter in the brain. This increase can promote endorphin production, which may elevate your mood and possibly increase immune system health.

3. Stress levels: Researchers found that chocolate helped lower stress by improving oxidative stress as mentioned above. Oxidative stress is when there is an imbalance of free radicals in the body and our body's ability to fend them off.

4. Weight management: Moderation is important here; consuming dark chocolate in small amounts may help satiation (fullness) and happiness in a diet. This may help prevent binge eating from overwhelming cravings.

5. Mineral content: Dark chocolate contains favorable amounts of minerals such as potassium, selenium, zinc and iron.

6. Skin health: Flavanols in chocolate may help protect the skin from free radicals because of their antioxidant like properties.

When making your next chocolate choice make sure you opt for dark chocolate to relish the health benefits cocoa has to offer.

References(1) Sunni, A. A. & Latif, R. (2014). Effects of chocolate intake on Perceived Stress; a Controlled Clinical Study. International Journal of Health Sciences, 8(4): 393-401(2) Sorenson, L. B. & Astrup, A. (2011). Eating dark and milk chocolate: A randomized crossover study of effects on appetite and energy intake. Nutrition and Diabetes, 1(12): 21(3) Aubrey, A. (2016, Jan 26th) How Dark Chocolate, Not Milk Chocolate, May Help Blood Flow Univ of Michigan, (2016, Jan 26th) Healing Foods Pyramid, Dark Chocolate.