Eating Well: for Anti-Aging - #125

BURT WOLF: What's the best eating pattern for a pregnant woman to follow? And how do you choose foods if you want to reduce the effects of aging? Two of the most important diet questions now being answered by scientists. We'll check on their progress by visiting the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park, New York and see how they're dealing with this challenge.

We'll discover the methods used by super- model / super-mom Kim Alexis. And uncover the techniques now being tested all over the world. Plus some fabulous recipes. Join me ... Burt Wolf ... Eating Well.

We start by looking at the history of a charitable organization that is devoted to helping mothers have healthier babies.


In 1921 Franklin D. Roosevelt was stricken the the crippling disease of polio ... but he struggled back. He found comfort in exercise. He rebuilt his strength and through hard work assumed the Presidency of the United States. 

In 1938 he addressed this national health crisis by founding the March of Dimes to raise money for research that would eventually lead to the prevention of polio.

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT: It is a glorious thing to have one's birthday associated with a work like this.

BURT WOLF: FDR's own birthday parties were the main fundraising events for the March of Dimes, until comedian Eddie Cantor coined the unique idea for a mass public appeal. He asked everyone in the country to send in one dime.

EDDIE CANTOR: Chief, give me the use of your name and your address ... and someday ... you can't tell ... you might lick infantile paralysis with the March of Dimes.

BURT WOLF: By 1958, polio had been virtually eliminated in the Untied States ... and the March of Dimes turned its energies toward the prevention of birth defects. 

Recently I joined the March of Dimes campaign for healthier babies and helped develop a series of recipes to show pregnant women how to eat properly. It's really a very important program because it's never too early to start meeting the nutritional needs of your baby.

Being pregnant is a wonderful time for a food lover. I mean, when else in our society is a woman actually encouraged to gain weight? But when you're pregnant you don't just want to double the calorie content of your meals; what you actually want to do is double the nutritional content of your meals. 

Your health care professional will show you how to do that in your case ... but there are a couple of general rules that you should always remember.

No alcohol ... reduce your caffeine intake ... increase your intake of low-fat protein from meat, fish, poultry and dairy products. Get more vitamin C in orange juice, broccoli and green leafy vegetables. Take in more calcium from milk products like skim milk or ice milk. Or iron from red meat and shellfish. More folic acid from green vegetables. And consult regularly with your health care professional.

A group of leading chefs in the Culinary Institute of America have joined together with the March of Dimes to create a series of recipes that are simple, easy, great tasting and meet the nutritional needs of pregnancy.

First one comes from Felidia. The restaurant Felidia, in New York City, is well known for its fine northern Italian cooking. The executive chef is Lidia Bastianich. Born on the Adriatic Coast of Italy, she has devoted her life to good cooking. Besides the work in her restaurant, she teaches, writes cookbooks, and studies nutrition at Hunter College. She graciously offered to share her recipe for a delicious, nutritionally well balanced rice and potato soup.

Two tablespoons of olive oil go into a sauce pan. Then two potatoes that have been peeled and diced. Cook and stir them around for about seven minutes until they brown. Then add in two shredded carrots ... two tablespoons of tomato paste ... two bay leaves ... two stalks of celery, cut into small pieces ... and ten cups of chicken stock. All that cooks together for about forty minutes. A little pepper to taste, and you add in a cup of long grain rice ... and cook about twelve minutes more ... or until the rice is tender. A few tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese ... and little chopped parsley and you're ready to serve. But remember, take out the bay leaves before you serve the soup.

Let's take a look at the nutrition in this recipe. The potatoes provide a moderate amount of vitamin C and they are a good complex carbohydrate. Olive oil, a traditional Italian cooking oil, is a good mono-unsaturated fat. But keep in mind that a healthy diet should include no more than three tablespoons of fat per day per person. So cut down on that oil and just use a little bit in the bottom of the pan as you start this recipe.

The carrots not only add a bright color to the soup ... but they also contribute a fair amount of folic acid and vitamin A. Remember, any fresh vegetable such as carrots should not be kept out any longer than necessary ... or cooked too long. Excessive exposure to air destroys folic acid ... so preserve this star nutrient and don't leave your carrots hanging around.

The celery stalks provide a wonderful taste and texture, as well as some important fiber to the diet. 

The tomato paste, a staple of Italian cooking, provides a small amount of vitamin A. 

The parmesan cheese will add a small amount of calcium ... but these small amounts add up. It's worthwhile to keep the overall nutritional balance of the meal in mind. Every little bit counts!

The long grain rice is the complex carbohydrate in the soup ... and if you want to vary carbohydrates, try brown rice or any kind of pasta instead.

The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York is one of the leading schools for the training of professional chefs. Each year their graduates are taken into the kitchens of great restaurants throughout the world. 

Francis Lopez is a chef-instructor at the Institute ... with an excellent family recipe for rice pudding with fresh fruit.

Three cups of water go into a saucepan ... then one cup of converted rice that's uncooked ... a couple raisins ... a third of a cup of sugar ... a little cinnamon ... ground nutmeg ... and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Stir that together ... place it over the heat ... bring it to a boil ... cover ... and simmer for thirty minutes. 

When the rice is done, take the pot off the stove ... blend in three-quarters of a cup of part skim milk ricotta cheese ... and two tablespoons of vanilla extract. Chef Lopez molds the rice into a form ... turns it out onto a serving dish ... and garnishes it with bananas, strawberries, cantaloupe, blackberries ... and a puree of raspberry. 

Let's take a look at what's happening with the nutrition in this recipe. The complex carbohydrate at work here is rice. It contains small amounts of iron, calcium and folic acid. Raisins add a source of iron. Try to buy ricotta cheese that is part skim milk. Most grocery stores should carry it in their dairy department ... and if you’re having any difficulty locating it ... just ask your grocer. Ricotta cheese is a good source of calcium, protein and vitamin A.

Another healthful recipe that was developed with the help of the March of Dimes is Cornelius O'Donnell's beef stew. I originally met Cornelius O'Donnell in 1970 when we were both cooking at a charity event. Corny works for the Corning Glassworks ... and he's one of the world's leading authorities on cooking in glass. He writes a monthly magazine column and has produced an award winning cookbook called Cooking with Cornelius ... which is exactly what we're going to do today. And his award-winning recipe is the basic recipe for beef stew.

Cut the fat off a three-pound piece of lean beef round. Cut the meat into one-and-a-half-inch cubes and dry their surfaces with a paper towel. A tablespoon of vegetable oil goes into a non-stick saucepan. And in goes the meat ... just a few pieces at a time ... and don't let them touch. Brown them well on all sides. They should look like this. When they're brown, transfer them to a casserole. A little flour ... stir ... then in goes some minced garlic ... chopped carrots ... chopped onions ... turnip ... mix that together ... a few strips of orange peel ... nice flavor ... a bay leaf ... and beef broth to cover. 

Bring that to a simmer on top of the range ... then into a three hundred and fifty degree fahrenheit oven for two hours ... and you're ready to go. 

We are not adding any red wine, which is a common ingredient in many stews. Alcohol should be avoided completely during pregnancy since it increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and a birth defect known as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Even moderate amounts of alcohol can lead to problems known as fetal alcohol effects. This includes learning disorders, and physical problems in some babies. No alcohol.

And don't forget that vitamin C increases the absorption of iron, so try to add a side dish of oranges or drink a glass of fresh orange juice along with your meal when you know it contains iron.

A good accompaniment to this meal is cabbage salad and corn muffins, which are easy to prepare and nutritious as well. 

To give you an idea how easy it is to make these muffins, let's turn to one of America's most famous faces.

This fabulous face has graced the covers of over four hundred magazines ... but super-model / actress Kim Alexis is more than just a pretty face. She's the fashion commentator for Good Morning America ... and the host of her own television program, Healthy Kids. But for Kim Alexis, giving birth and mothering her two small sons has been her most challenging and rewarding role.

KIM ALEXIS: I remember when I was first pregnant with Jamie and I was walking through an airport ... and I travel a lot all by myself. And it was having someone else with me. I mean, it was a one-way conversation ... .but I'd say ... what do you want to eat ... and I'd have little tears in my eyes ... I thought it was just so wonderful that I had this little thing to talk to. And ... then ... you know ... you feel them kicking ... and it's such a wonderful part of being pregnant ... and they get very active near the end. 

And I remember right after I had the baby, I went out for my first time without the baby ... and I turned on the radio saying, what do you want to hear ... and it was not there anymore ... and I remember feeling such a detachment from that. So it had become such a big part of my being ... myself.

BURT WOLF: Tell me about your children.

KIM ALEXIS: I have two boys ... Jamie, who's four and a half ... and Bobby who's sixteen months.

BURT WOLF: Wow! Well, what's it like to around all those kids?

KIM ALEXIS: Well, there's only two ... but ... they're great ... it's a lot of fun ... it keeps me young ... uh ... I sort of have to call myself and ... and ... make sure that I'm being a good mom ... (LAUGHS) ... you have to set a good example. And I think that it keeps us ... as parents it keeps us good people, I think.

BURT WOLF: When you were pregnant what was your diet like ... what did you eat to make sure that your child grew well?

KIM ALEXIS: I was very aware of what I ate from the very beginning ... and it's a funny story ... when my husband was with me at Lamaze ... that's when you're seven and a half months pregnant ... with our first child ... he turned around ‘cause he's just now learning about all this pregnancy stuff ... and he realized how important food was ... and he says, have you been doing that? ... and I said, yes, I've been conscious of eating my greens and my calcium and ... and you know the fruits and meats ... and all that stuff. And he's like, oh, good. 


With the first baby I was always craving reubens ... which are a sandwich with corn beef and ... uh ... what is it ... sauerkraut ...


KIM ALEXIS: ... all that stuff ... and ketchup ... they had to have ketchup on them. With the second baby I was a little more healthy ... I wanted pineapples and grapefruits all the time. 

I've always been interested in nutrition ... it's an important part of my life ... it just makes a lot of sense. It can make you either feel really good or really rotten. And it's as simple as just eating things that are good for you. I've always been worried about my weight ... it's something that I want to watch out for ... but I love to eat food. So I eat food ... lots of food ... but low in calories or low in fat.

BURT WOLF: One of Kim's favorite recipes is for apple corn muffins. They contain vitamin B ... folic acid ... and fiber. And they're jam-packed with flavor.

Mix together two-thirds of a cup of ground cornmeal ... one and a third cups of unbleached flour ... three teaspoons of baking powder ... and a half teaspoon of salt ... two eggs that have been lightly beaten ... a third of a cup of honey ... a third of a cup of melted margarine ... one cup of grated apple with the peel on ... two tablespoons of sugar ... and one teaspoon of powdered cinnamon.

The batter is poured into a muffin tin that's been lined with paper cups. And into a four hundred and twenty-five degree pre-heated oven for twenty-five minutes. When they come out, they're ready to serve. 

Cornmeal is rich in vitamin B. Try to buy stone-ground cornmeal if possible. The eggs are an easy source of protein. Scientists feel that you don't have to be concerned with you cholesterol during pregnancy because your body uses cholesterol to make the cells necessary to produce a new life. 

The grated apple will contribute fiber and folic aid. If you're enjoying a corn muffin as a snack ... consider having it with a glass of low-fat milk. That will add valuable calcium.

We're all concerned about how we feed our children, both as a nation and as individuals. I remember what went on when my kids were first born. I had questions about when it was the right time to feed them solid food ... were they getting enough vitamin C ... were they getting enough calcium.

I saw a four-thousand-year-old Chinese manuscript telling you how to feed an infant ... so we've been looking at this subject for a long time ... and we got it pretty well covered.

But what about our nutrition as we get older? I find it hard to believe that the food that was perfect for me at thirty is just as perfect now that I am over fifty. So I looked into the subject.

I interviewed a number of the leading scientists and reviewed the research. And I was pleased to find out that there's some very interesting information that's quite reliable. 

Scientists in large corporations are very concerned about how our meal modifies as we shift our concerns from Mickey Mouse to Modern Maturity. 

And there is really only one major reason for this new interest in how people should eat as they get older. For the first time in history there are enough people living past their forties to make the subject important. There is, for the first time, a large group of people living long enough to want to look and feel younger.

One of the first industries to feel the impact was cosmetics. More women and women are spending a fortune on products to make themselves feel younger, and look younger. 

During the 1990's millions of baby-boomers will celebrate their fiftieth birthday. They're demanding reliable information on reducing the negative aspects of aging. They want to know how the Rolling Stone generation can keep from gathering moss.

Well, we certainly can’t turn back the clock, but we can make an effort to rewind it. The scientists who were studying anti-aging techniques are really working in four areas. They're trying to figure out how to slow down the process of aging ... how to keep us all functioning on a younger level longer. They're also trying to figure out how to postpone, or in some cases, permanently avoid the diseases that are associated with old age. And they're trying to get our bodies to function to the hundred and twenty years that some scientists think these bodies are capable of functioning to.

All there recommendations are quite specific and quite do-able.

For a healthier life: don't smoke. Stay at your proper weight. Eat a low-fat diet. Eat a low- sodium diet. Eat a diet rich in vitamins A, B-6, C, D and E. Niacin, folicin, iron and low-fat protein; and very important -- have a positive attitude about life.

Let's take a look at some of the recipes that can have a positive impact on your appetite ... and are also rich in the nutrients you need to help rewind your clock. 

Let's start in Canada. Old Fort William. It was constructed during the early 1800's near Thunder Bay, Ontario. For a time it was a major fur trading spot used by Canadian trappers. The hunters would often come in from the forest by boat and land their skins at the dock. 

Employees of the Northwest company would keep track of their arrival ... and the disposition of their goods.

(MIMICKING OLD MAN) ... Here come The Norton Boys -- by gum, it's good to see 'em ... nice lads.

(BACK TO NORMAL) The old trading buildings face the open square. Most of the fur trading here was beaver, which was in great demand in Europe for men's beaver hats. Today, the fort is a living museum with all the individual facilities that exited almost two hundred years ago. Members of the Old Fort William historical staff dress up in period costume ... and go about the same tasks that occupy the original residents of this area.

They told me that if I dressed up with them like an old frontiersman, they would give me their original recipe for pea soup. Peas are high in niacin which is an important nutrient ... and may become more important as we get older.

It's a strange price to pay for a recipe, but somebody's gotta do it. Okay ... we start with equal amounts of water and dried peas into the pot. A couple of chopped carrots ... a chopped onion ... and a chopped potato. 

You let that cook at a rolling boil for about an hour and a half ... and you turn your logs down to a lower heat ... and let it cook for another hour to simmer. Finally, a little dry mustard. 

The soup gets served in an authentic period bowl which was obviously designed for an authentic period dishwasher ... the river.

That pea soup is packed with vitamin E ... and some scientists are telling us that foods rich in vitamin E as well as foods rich in vitamin C can help protect our eyesight as we get older. 

I had a nice observation on aging the other day. As we get older we move more slowly. But as a result of the reduction in speed ... we get to see a lot more. (LAUGHS) Nice thought. 

One of the things I'm seeing a lot more of is research on vitamin B-6 ... how important it is ... and how we need more of it in our diet as we get older. So I thought we'd pop over to the beautiful city of Bergen in Norway ... and take a look at a recipe for a halibut fillet that is packed with vitamin B-6.

One of Europe's most picturesque towns is Bergen, Norway. It's been around for over a thousand years ... and for all of those years it's been involved in the fish trade. Which is quite logical since it sits at the head of a great Nordic fjord that opens out to the fish-filled fathoms of the North Atlantic.

During the 13th Century these ancient buildings were the local headquarters of the Hanseatic merchants. Interesting guys, the Hanseatics; over seven hundred years ago they formed an international corporation for the sale of fish. And the salt which was used to preserve that fish. They had a virtual monopoly on the business. And made the towns they lived in quite rich. Their power lasted for well over a hundred years. 

I'm trying to last for a hundred years or so myself. And researchers are telling me that a diet rich in vitamin B-6 might help. Good source of B-6 is halibut. So I've asked the chef at the Hotel Norge in Bergen to cook up a low-fat dish of grilled halibut.

He starts by taking two small fillets and grilling them for about five minutes on each side. Simple. Meanwhile, a little vegetable oil is heated in a saute pan ... and some fresh vegetables that have been cut up into small pieces are cooked.

Today, the chef is using onions and red bell peppers ... eggplant ... zucchini ... some spinach ... and a little garlic. Fresh vegetables are extremely important to your health. Try and get three or four servings of them into your diet every day.

Now, you're ready to set your plate. The halibut goes on. The mixed vegetables ... a few carrots ... and a couple of steamed potatoes. Good dish for mature munchers. Try it ... just for the halibut.

This is the Sea Grill Restaurant at Rockefeller Center in New York City. As its name implies ... the restaurant's specialty is food from the sea ... and it does a great job with it too. For over twenty years its head chef, Seppe Reglei, has been creating outstanding recipes ... many with an eye toward good health. Today he's sauteing shrimps with peppers and snow peas.

Shrimp are America's favorite shellfish ... we eat all the shrimp that we can catch in our own waters ... and import quite a bit from Latin America. They are an excellent source of low-fat protein. And they contain much less cholesterol than we used to think. They are a perfectly acceptable part of a healthful diet.

A little olive oil goes into a saute pan. Some sliced garlic. A few shallots, or if shallots are hard to come by, onions. The shrimp. Some yellow and red bell peppers. Mushrooms. Snow peas. Some chopped fresh ginger. Basil. And some low-sodium soy sauce. Let that all cook for a few minutes. Three or four minutes should do the trick. And now you're ready to serve this wonderful dish.

In addition to vitamin E and vitamin B-6 and iron, there are a number of other nutrients that we should be careful to get into our diet as we get older.

We keep hearing that most women in America could use more calcium in their diet. Many doctors feel that we are in the middle of an epidemic of osteoporosis ... a disease that attacks the bones of older people ... especially women.

Low-fat milk and low-fat milk products are good sources of calcium ... and so is canned salmon with the bones in. And here's another good tip. It looks like the effects of aging on your skin may be reduced by an adequate intake of foods rich in vitamins A and D. You'll get the D from low-fat milk and milk products ... and the A is taken care of with broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots and potatoes. 

Vitamin C is also an important part of a healthy diet. Oranges, orange juice, strawberries, red peppers and cauliflower are good sources of vitamin C. 

A Duke University report tells us that not only diet but attitude can have a big effect on how long you live. It appears that if you have a negative, hostile or aggressive attitude for a long period of time ... it can do as much damage as high cholesterol.

And now it's off the Wycoff, New Jersey to pay a visit to Aldo's Restaurant. Aldo came to the United States from Italy. He's the kind of chef every neighborhood should have. His dishes are basic and simple ... and they remind an Italian of his childhood kitchen. It's like eatin' ma's cookin'.

Today he's making linguini in clam sauce. Clams contain the mineral iron, which could help remind all of us of our youthful strength. Iron is definitely a nutrient for aging eaters like me. And clams are a nice way to get it. The word “clam” comes from an Old English word that means “bonded together” ... like a clam shell. There are about two thousand different kids of clams, and they're found all over the world. People have been eating clams for tens of thousands of years.

Aldo starts this recipe by putting two ounces of olive oil into a saute pan. Two cloves of sliced garlic are added ... and cooked until they're golden. That'll take about two minutes. Some parsley ... a few red pepper flakes ... a little oregano ... and some black pepper. Then two ounces of chopped clams ... and eight whole clams. Finally, two ounces of your favorite tomato sauce. That's what makes red clam sauce red. The cover goes on and everything cooks for five minutes.

When the dish is cooked, check to make sure that all of the clams have opened. Any clam that hasn't opened from the cooking heat may be a bad clam, in which case you just want to toss it out.

Then the pasta, which is a flat strip called linguini, is cooked and added to the sauce. It's served with a little parsley on top. A well-seasoned and delicious recipe that could help you stay younger.

In researching the statistics on longevity I came upon an interesting fact. Where you live can affect how long you live. There are certain states where people live much longer than in other states. The longest livers are in Hawaii. Then North Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. The shortest life spans are in the states of Louisiana, West Virginia, Kentucky and Alaska. So to a certain extent, geography is destiny.

But you can really have a dramatic impact on how long you live and how healthy you are during that lifetime by controlling your lifestyle. Let me recap the key points on anti-aging.

Eat foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D from low-fat milk products. Get your vitamin A from carrots, B-6 from halibut ... C from orange juice ... E from whole-grain cereals ... niacin from peas ... folicin from cabbage ... iron from chicken breasts ... and low-fat protein from low-fat meat, fish and poultry. 

That's Eating Well! Please join us next time as we travel around the world looking for things that taste good ... and make it easier to eat well. I'm Burt Wolf.