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Archive for July, 2011

Confused about conflicting nutrition information?  Know where to find reliable nutrition facts based on sound research, or do you feel like you’re swimming in a sea of sharks?

With the advancement of technology, consumers face a daily barage of  “scientific” discoveries, ancient remedies, and miracle weight-loss diets from various media outlets. But how is a person able to identify credible information from false claims?  Overall, how do you stay up-to-date on nutrition and how it affects health?

If you’re like most people, you rely on poplular media – newspapers, television, magazines and the internet – to provide you with the latest nutrition news.  Many people even rely on these channels of information over their health care professional.  For your own good health, it’s worth your time to locate credible sources of information and be able to judge for yourself the value of sound nutrition advice.

When Do We Need Nutrition Advice?  Every day!  However, there are times when you need more information, such as if you…

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Have trouble with infant or child feeding
  • Are an “extreme” athlete
  • Have struggled trying to lose or gain weight
  • Are caring for an older parent
  • Want to change your eating habits to help prevent diesease
  • Would like to eat smart to stay healthy

If you’re frequently on the internet, you know how much misinformation proliferates in cyberspace.  Nutrition is no exception; thousands of new blogs, chat rooms, and nutrition-related Web sites appear each year.  Some may be credible and provide sound eating advice, but others may not be science-based.  How can you identify a Web site you can trust?  Ask youself the following:

  1. Who is the sponsor or owner of the site?  Look at the three-letter suffix on the Web address.  If it ends in .edu, it is an educational institution.  A site that ends in .gov is a government agency and a site that is owned by a non-profit organization will have .org  at the end.  These three sites tend to the most credible.  Those sites that end in .com are commerical sites; be sure to scrutinize information from these sites with care.
  2. Does the site have have regular updates?  How current is the information?  Credible sites reflect current research.  Be cautious; being current doesn’t make it totally accurate.
  3. Is the site trying to sell you something?  Is it promoting a specific product?  These can be warning signs for bias.
  4. Does the Web site provide cited sources, or is it based on opinions?  Scientific findings should support the information provided for consumers.

Learn how to be your own judge of nutrition information.  When reading a book or the newspaper, identify the author and his or her qualifications.  Are they affiliated with an accredited institution that offers research?  Ask yourself why the information was published, and if the advice is credible.  Was a study conducted that led to the recommendations?  If so, learn more about the study itself  – was it a long-term study with a large group of people?  What were the characteristics (age, gender, etc.) of the people?  Do other studies support these findings?  Become familiar with the meaning of words used in research.  For example,  “contributes to” does not mean that it “causes”.

When in doubt, check with your health care professional, registered dietitian, or your local library or university.  Hospitals, public health, and your Extension office are other reliable resources.  Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Submitted by:  Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.

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What’s more important in helping you lose weight:  How much you eat or what you eat?  Portion control and food choices both count.

On one hand, lack of portion control is increasingly being blamed for the “fattening of America.”  Extra large or “biggie” portions at fast-food restaurants, “big grab” snack-size potato chip bags, and giant-size candy bars all pack in many more calories than more traditionally sized portions.  But, consumers go for these bigger portions — partly because these foods taste good and people like to eat a lot of them, and partly because as a consumer, you get a better deal by buying the larger size.

There’s also the behavior that has been drilled into our minds during childhood known as the “clean plate club.”  Ignore all these cues and concentrate on one thing that counts the most.  STOP EATING WHEN YOU ARE NO LONGER HUNGRY — even if those french fries were a bargain, even if all your food isn’t gone.

It’s important to learn what a service size really is.  For example, a three-ounce portion of meat — one serving — is about the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand.  And, one slice of bread or a half-cup of pasta counts as a serving.  Some other foods such as fruits and vegetables can allow you to fill up your plate and eat to your heart’s content without over-indulging.  Include more fruits, vegetables and fiber in your meals and you will feel fuller on fewer calories.

How much you eat is important, but so is what you eat.  Pay attention to both and you will be one “biggie” step ahead.

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Blended fruit smoothies are available at almost any restaurant, café, or drive through today. While they are not super expensive, they can cost up to $3 or $4 for something you can make yourself for under $1. Most smoothies include fruit, fruit juice, yogurt or milk, and crushed ice – all of which are easily available in the summer.

Smoothies are a tasty way to up your fruit intake and typically your dairy servings too. Most smoothies are low in fat, sodium, and cholesterol; while being a good source of vitamins, potassium, calcium, and fiber. To keep fat grams at a minimum – leave off the whipped cream and use skim milk and lite yogurt.

Smoothie tips:

  • Start with ripe, quality fruit for the best flavor. To prepare it – wash fruit, and cut into slices or chunks for more even blending. Fruit can be frozen before blending to thicken smoothies. While almost any fruit can be used, popular choices are: bananas, strawberries, pineapple, peaches, blueberries, melon, and mango. Some people like pears, oranges, raspberries, or blackberries. Personally I don’t like raspberries or blackberries in my home-made smoothie – they become very seedy!
  • Always use at least one cup of liquid – usually skim milk or fruit juice – when blending smoothies to prevent blender damage. Flavored/low calorie waters also make a good smoothie.
  • I always use a regular size container of lite yogurt to up my dairy and calcium. Children’s yogurt tubes freeze well and can be a great quick addition to your smoothie.
  •  If you want to try a veggie – consider a little romaine lettuce, a few spinach leaves, a couple carrots, or a little broccoli. You may end up with a greenish tinge to your smoothie – so you might want to put it in a cup you can’t see through.
  • To sweeten up your smoothie without adding sugar try a little vanilla extract, a dusting of cinnamon, a tablespoon of honey, or one packet of sugar free sweetener.

A friend and co-worker shared this recipe for a different type of smoothie – the Funky Monkey – Mix 2 Tablespoons peanut butter, 1 banana, 2 Tablespoons chocolate syrup, ½ cup skim milk, and ½ cup ice. Using blender, blend until smooth.  Enjoy! (Thanks to Cindy Shuster, Perry County, FCS Educator, OSU Extension for this tasty treat.)

Smoothie Recipes can be found at:

http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Site, in the Beverages Section of the Recipes.

http://www.nationaldairycouncil.org/Recipes – The National Dairy Council’s Recipe Site, in the Beverage Section of the Recipes.

Author: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

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