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The holidays are a time for eating delicious food and spending time with friends and family. Studies show the average American gains one pound during the holiday season.  If you are on a special diet due to elevated blood pressure or high cholesterol, holiday foods can be tricky.  No one food or beverage is good or bad, but some have more health properties than others.

Review the following five holiday foods to indulge in this year (and the seven to limit consumption of) to ensure a healthy holiday season.

NICE Holiday Foods

  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Tangerines
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Nuts

Eat these lighter, nutrient rich foods more often during the holiday season. Make it a challenge to try and get the healthiest version of each dish available.

NAUGHTY Holiday Foods

  • Egg Nog
  • Pecan Pie
  • Gravy/Sauces/Dips
  • Cheese Cake
  • Fudge
  • Croissants
  • Coffee Beverages

These foods and drinks are special occasion foods to enjoy on a limited basis. Reach for these foods less often or modify the recipes to make the dishes healthier.  Choose wisely during the holidays.  Plan ahead for holiday parties, drink water prior to eating out, and eat the “naughty foods” in moderation.

Take care of yourself this holiday season, and remember that fitness, stress management and sleep also play important roles during the holidays!

Written by: Beth Stefura, RD,LD, Ohio State University, Extension Educator, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Donna Green, Ohio State University, Extension Educator, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Resources: http://www.webmd.com/doet/healthy-holidays-8/holiday-food

Healthandwellness.vanderbilt.edu/files/hpHTSHolidayTips.pdf

 

 

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Walk into any convenience store, and you’ll see a wide variety of energy drinks to choose from. In recent years, news reports have brought attention to some of the consequences of their overuse. Some of these reports document emergency room visits related to mixing energy drinks and alcohol or teens having heart palpitations and dizziness. Some high schools around the nation have banned these products because so many students were “wired” on caffeine and many becoming ill. Are energy drinks as popular and as dangerous as the media portrays them to be? A factsheet from the University of California Cooperative Extension service explores the facts behind these popular products.

  • The term energy drink refers to beverages that contain caffeine in combination with other ingredients such as taurine, guarana, and B vitamins purported to supply consumers with extra energy.
  • Limited research suggests that energy drinks can improve physical and mental performance, improve driving ability when tired, and decrease mental fatigue after long periods of concentration. However, researchers do not know if these improvements are due to caffeine, herbal ingredients, or a combination of both.
  • An 8 ounce serving of energy drink can contain anywhere from 80 to 150 mg of caffeine. The caffeine content is more than that of sodas (22-46 mg per 8 oz serving) but more comparable to tea (48 to 175 mg per 8 oz serving) and brewed coffee (134-240 mg per 8 oz serving). The problem is that most cans contain 2-3 servings, often raising the caffeine intake to over 300 mg per can! Assuming that an adolescent consumes 3 cans per day, caffeine intake can easily exceed over 900 mg (comparable to 9 cups of coffee!)
  • Research has suggested that 400 mg or more of caffeine per day can result in nervousness, irritability, sleeplessness, increased urination, abnormal heart rhythms, decreased bone levels, and upset stomach.
  • Herbs such as guarana and ginseng can enhance the effects of caffeine. Guarana actually contains caffeine and adds to the total amount. Many of the herbs added to the energy drinks do not have the research based evidence to back up their functional claims.
  • Mixing alcohol and energy drinks can be a dangerous combination. Individuals on this mix are more alert but just as intoxicated. In addition, caffeine and alcohol are both diuretics, increasing the likelihood of dehydration and cardiovascular problems.
  • A study in the Journal of College Health suggests that energy drink consumption is associated with risk taking behavior such as unprotected sex, substance abuse and violence. Researchers point out that the findings don’t mean the drinks cause the behaviors, rather over consumption should be a red flag for parents that their children might be more likely to take risks.
  • A study of 78 youth (11-18 years) found that 42.3% of participants consumed energy drinks.
  • Although some beverages are sugar-free, in many the sugar content is comparable to soft drinks (30 g per 8 oz serving). However, since cans often contain 2-3 servings, sugar content could be as high as 90 g per can (equivalent to about 22.5 teaspoons of sugar)! Considering the high rates of obesity, this is another reason to moderate consumption.

Source: Nutrition and Health Info Sheet, produced by Karrie Heneman, and Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr, Nutrition Science Specialist, Cooperative Extension, University of California- Davis at http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/pdf/8265.pdf

Writer: Dan Remley, Assistant Professor, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness

Reviewer: Susan Zies, Assistant Professor, Extension Educator

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We all love a cold refreshing drink with a meal, after physical activity or as a snack.  Sodas, sweet tea, energy drinks and other sugary drinks taste great; yet contain a lot of calories and no nutrients.  What you drink makes an impact on your health.  Do we stop and think about how much sugar we drink daily?  Do we really want to drink these extra calories daily?

Americans consume 200 to 300 more calories each day than we did 20 years ago.  Nearly 50% of this increased calorie consumption is from sugar-sweetened beverages, Drinking one soda a day can equal an extra 25 pounds per year.

Sodas are getting bigger.  Super-sized sodas can be as large as 4-5 regular cans.

  • 20 oz. soda contains 17 teaspoons of sugar
  • 16 oz. Iced Mocha contains 14 teaspoons of sugar
  • 16 oz. Apple Juice contains 13 teaspoons of sugar
  • 20 oz. Sports Drink contains 12 teaspoons of sugar
  • Water contains 0 teaspoons of sugar

Next time you pour yourself a drink, don’t pour on the pounds!  Drink plenty of water and add cut up fresh fruit for added flavor.  If you drink juice, add some water or seltzer to cut calories and sugars.  Skip sports or energy drinks and choose water.  This will quench your thirst.  Read labels and menu boards to learn how many calories and sugars are in your favorite drinks.

Written by:  Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension

Sources:  nyc.gov/health

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