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Posts Tagged ‘Nutrition’

 

Fruits & Veggies

We are entering that wonderful time of the year when local farmers’ markets are open, roadside stands pop up and even local grocery stores offer plentiful displays of fresh, local fruits and vegetables. With all of this bounty, sometimes the question arises on how to choose the most flavorful, ripe product. You will want to choose fruits and vegetables at the peak of their freshness for the best flavor and nutritional value.

Here are some helpful hints to remember when you are shopping:

  • Look for fruits or vegetables that have the shape, size and color that are usually thought of for the item. Remember though, they don’t have to be perfect to be good! That tomato or pepper that is slightly misshapen should be just as tasty and nutritious as its perfect neighbor.
  • Avoid fruits/vegetables with obvious bruises or discoloration. These spots will spoil quickly. If you notice a spot after you bring the produce home, cut out the bad spot and use as soon as possible.
  • Feel the item. If it is very soft it may be overripe; if it is too hard, it hasn’t ripened enough to eat yet. Melons can be especially difficult to choose. Here is great information on choosing ripe melons.
  • Smell! Fruits/vegetables that have the characteristic aroma associated with the item should be ready to eat. Think fresh peaches!

Not all vegetables and fruits will continue to ripen once they have been harvested.

  • Tomatoes, unripe melons, and tree fruits such as pears, peaches and nectarines should be kept at room temperature to ripen. They will get sweeter and more delicious.
  • Grapes, berries, and cherries won’t get better while sitting out, so they should go into the refrigerator right away.
  • Other fruits, like citrus, could sit out for a day or two but then should also be put in the refrigerator.
  • Most vegetables should be refrigerated when harvested or purchased. Some exceptions would be onions, garlic and potatoes.

Don’t forget about food safety with your fresh produce!

  • Always wash your fresh produce before using.
  • Some fruits and vegetables are better stored in the refrigerator before you wash them. Items such as beans and berries are more likely to spoil if stored damp. Be sure and brush off as much dirt as possible before storing. Place them in bags to keep them from contaminating other food in your refrigerator and them wash well when you are ready to eat them.
  • All produce should be rinsed under cool running water. Do not use soap or bleach as the residue left on the produce could make you ill.

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. By buying fresh, seasonal items at the peak of their freshness and having them available to eat makes it easier to incorporate them into our daily diet.

Written by:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County. Rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Michelle Treber Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Pickaway County. treber.1@osu.edu

https://articles.extension.org/pages/19886/storing-fruits-and-vegetables

http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5523

https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/washing-food-does-it-promote-food-safety/washing-food

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What do the grapefruit, tapeworm, cotton ball, and baby food diets all have in common? They do not work long-term and some of these diets can be extremely dangerous.  With fad diets quick and hefty weight loss may be experienced, but the pounds tend to come back and lead to greater gain.  A healthy lifestyle need not be difficult and not cause additional stress.  One healthy eating pattern that is not a “diet,” is the Mediterranean diet, and it can become a positive lifestyle.

med1

May is International Mediterranean Diet Month, a promotional campaign since 2009, and was started by the Oldways Mediterranean Foods Alliance. Unlike fad diets, the Mediterranean diet is good for you, and it can help reduce the risk for heart disease and high blood pressure.medppyramid

The image shows that being physically active is an important part of this diet.  In addition, the base of the pyramid includes: fruits, vegetables, grains (mostly whole), beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, herbs and spices and olive oil. Every meal should include foods from this section.

Fish and seafood have heart healthy benefits and are an important part of the Mediterranean diet as well.  The diet calls for fish and seafood at least twice a week.  Poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt can be consumed anywhere from daily to weekly.  Red meats and poultry are at the top of the pyramid indicating they should be consumed less often.  Water and wine are also a part of the diet.  Wine can be consumed in moderation; however, it is not recommended that a person who does not currently consume alcohol start.  Wine can have some health benefits that include heart health and cancer prevention.  Foods at the top of the pyramid should be eaten less, because they may have higher fat, sugar, and sodium. med3

Healthy fats from fish, seafood, and oils are a big part of the Mediterranean diet.  Opinions on the consumption of fats and oils are always changing. We hear, “Saturated fat is good. Saturated fat is bad. Coconut oil is the perfect fat.”  The science changes so often it is hard to keep up with recommendations.  While recent research shows that saturated fat, including coconut oil, may not be strongly linked to heart disease, it is still suggested that we do not overconsume it.  It does not have any health benefits, and it is low in nutrients. The Mediterranean diet’s recommendation of olive oil relates to its low saturated fat level and being high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats we need.

As with any eating pattern, it is best to start slow. If this healthy plan sounds good, start by making small changes.  Make Monday meatless and consume smaller portions of the meat you do eat.  Choose healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts or seeds.  Eat more fruits and vegetables, and add other healthy options each day or week. After all, an apple a day keeps the doctor away!

Sources:

Oldways: Inspiring Good Health through Cultural Food Traditions. International Mediterranean Diet Month. https://oldwayspt.org/programs/mediterranean-foods-alliance/international-mediterranean-diet-month

Today’s Dietitian. Heart-Healthy Oils: They’re Not All Created Equal. http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/021115p24.shtml

Image: flickr.com

Written by: Jessica Wright, Intern with Wood County Extension FCS, BGSU Graduate Student in Food and Nutrition, and Susan Zies, FCS Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Wood County.

Reviewed by: Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D. L.D, Program Specialist, SNAP- Ed , OSU Extension Northwest Region Office

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Vitamin D is well known for contributing to strong, healthy bones. Did you know that it also contributes to the health of many other parts of the body? Vitamin D is important to your immune system, muscles, heart, brain and respiratory system. It can help fight infection, keep your cells communicating properly and even fight cancer. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with aches and pains, tiredness and frequent infections, and it has been linked to a number of health problems including:

  • Bone Conditions (e.g. rickets and osteomalacia)
  • Cancer
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Crohn’s disease

While most vitamins are obtained through the diet, the best way to get Vitamin D is by exposing your skin to sunlight.  Your body can produce 10,000 to 25,000 IU of vitamin D each day with 15 minutes-2 hours of exposure to sunlight. The daily amount of sunlight needed for your body to produce Vitamin D varies by:

  • Skin tone – pale skin makes Vitamin D more quickly than dark skin
  • Age – our bodies have a harder time producing Vitamin D as we age
  • Location – the closer you live to the equator, the easier it is for your body to produce Vitamin D
  • Altitude –Vitamin D is produced more quickly at high altitudes when you’re closer to the sun
  • Weather – our bodies produce less Vitamin D on cloudy days than on sunny days
  • Air pollution – your body will make less Vitamin D if you live in a highly polluted area
  • Time of day – your body makes more Vitamin D if when your skin is exposed in the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest point
  • Skin Exposure – the more skin you expose, the more Vitamin D you produce

Keep in mind that high sun exposure can increase risks for skin cancer.  Sun screen and protective clothing/hats are recommended for protection from the sun, even though reduced sun exposure may inhibit the body from producing Vitamin D as quickly.

In the fast-paced world we live in today, the average American does not consistently get exposure to the amount of sunlight needed to produce optimal levels of Vitamin D.  If you suspect you’re not getting enough sun exposure for your body to produce Vitamin D, you can get vitamin D through diet and supplementation.  The recommended dietary allowance (i.e. the average daily intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all healthy people) is 600 IU. Foods high in Vitamin D include milk (120 IU per 8 ounce serving), salmon (450 IU per 3 ounce serving), canned tuna (150 IU per 3 ounce serving) and fortified orange juice (140 IU per 8 ounce serving).

Additionally, the Vitamin D Council recommends Vitamin D supplementation as described in the chart below:

Vitamin D recommendations Vitamin D Council
Infants 1,000 IU/day
Children 1,000 IU/day per 25 lbs of body weight
Adults 5,000 IU/day

According to the Vitamin D Council, Vitamin D toxicity can occur, but it is rare and unlikely: for example, a person would need to take a daily dose of 40,000 IU for a couple of months or longer to experience toxicity, or take a very large one-time dose such as 70,000 + IU. If you’re concerned about Vitamin D deficiency or toxicity, ask your doctor to test the level in your body.

Author: Brooke Distel, DTR, Dietetic Intern and graduate student

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, MPH, RD, LD, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Sources:

Brinkman, P. (2016). Keeping Sun Safe. Ohioline. http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hsc-7. 

National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements (2016). Vitamin D. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/.

Vitamin D Council (2017). About Vitamin D. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/.

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Have you ever finished eating your lunch or dinner and could barely remember what you had just eaten? Could you identify the tastes and textures?  Has your stomach ever felt uncomfortable after you quickly gobbled down a sandwich or meal? Do you eat in the car or in front of the television or computer screen?

Many of us are often are distracted or in a hurry when eating and don’t give the simple act of chewing much thought. Does proper chewing of our food lead to better digestion?  Yes!  Healthy digestion and absorption of nutrients starts with the basic act of chewing our food. As you chew your food, digestive enzymes are released into the stomach to help your body convert the food into energy.

There are many benefits of chewing your food properly:

  • Absorb more nutrients – smaller particles are easier for our bodies to digest.
  • Enjoy and taste your food – proper chewing forces you to slow down and enjoy the flavors.
  • Maintain a healthy weight – it takes time for your brain to tell your stomach that you are full, so taking longer to chew each bite may help you control how much you eat.
  • Care for your teeth – the saliva that is produced from chewing helps wash away bacteria from your teeth and it gives the bones holding your teeth in place some exercise.
  • Reduce the risk of bacterial overgrowth in the colon – this can help prevent bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and other digestive problems.

 

So, how many times should you chew your food? That depends on what you are eating!

Its common sense that soft food like fruits and some vegetables break down more easily than a steak. Some experts suggest 5-10 chews for soft food and up to 30 for denser foods.

Here are some more specific guidelines for proper chewing:

  • Start with smaller bites
  • Chew slowly
    • Most of the food should be liquefied in your mouth
  • Swallow completely before the next bite
  • Limit the amount of liquids you consume while eating

The Harvard Health Letter discusses the concept of “mindful eating” where you can apply some of the ideas above to help prevent health issues and increase your enjoyment of food. This method also emphasizes the importance of limiting your distractions!  Turn off the TV and computer while eating and enjoy your food!

 

Author:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County

Reviewed by:  Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County

Cavuto, K. (2015). 5 Reasons You Should Chew Your Food. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2015/03/10/5-reasons-you-should-chew-your-food

Mercola (2013). 7 Important Reasons to Properly Chew Your Food. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/07/31/chewing-foods.aspx

Harvard Health Letter (2011). Mindful Eating. http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/mindful-eating

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Having a sandwich for lunch is so common that we tend to get in a rut when it comes to our choices. Ham and cheese, turkey, and/or peanut butter and jelly are staples for a reason—they taste good!  One of my personal favorites is unsalted peanut butter with sliced banana and a drizzle of honey on sprouted grain bread.  Sometimes I even skip the bread and just put my sandwich fillings like turkey and cheese in a large lettuce leaf for a lower carbohydrate “Turkey Wrap”.

sandwich

A sandwich can be a quick, portable, nutritious meal if thought out properly. The first suggestion I would make, however, is to check the nutrition facts label of your usual breads and wraps. Grains are the foundation of a healthy sandwich, and as the foundation, they should provide your body with the appropriate nutrients. Some may be high calorie and/or not the nutrient powerhouses we expect them to be.

In honor of National Sandwich Day on November 3rd, spend a little time this month to “up your game” when it comes to improving your sandwich choices.  This can be accomplished by incorporating some of the following suggestions:

  1. To add crunch and nutrition, try sliced red pepper, onions, snow peas, lettuce, spinach, kale, sliced cucumbers, shredded carrots, dill pickles, kimchi, apple or other fruit slices
  2. Instead of high calorie spreads, try hummus, salsa, light mayo, flavored mustards or a small avocado smashed
  3. For the protein source, use water packed tuna or chicken, nut butters (almond, peanut, cashew), diced or sliced hard boiled eggs, or leftovers like fried eggs, burgers, meatloaf, sliced chicken breast, and beans (whole or mashed)
  4. And for holding it all together, think outside the box with low calorie wraps, corn tortillas, flatbreads, whole grain or sprouted grain breads, pita, naan or large lettuce leaves

Feeling bold? Try this Chick Pea Sandwich or Pesto Grilled Cheese. Feeding a crowd? Easy BBQ Pork will be a snap!

Did you know you can freeze sandwiches? This makes prep time even easier. Just grab and go in the morning and enjoy!

Sources:

http://food.unl.edu/#sandwich

http://www.allrecipes.com

Written by:  Melissa Welker M.Ed., B.S., Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County, Maumee Valley EERA, welker.87@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Donna Green, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, Erie Basin EERA, green.308@osu.edu

 

 

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As the air cools in the fall we often lean towards fixing those comfort foods for our family. Things like: mac and cheese, chili soup, spaghetti sauce and pasta, chicken and noodles all taste good to us. Many of us are also concerned with making our meals as healthy as possible to prevent chronic disease risk, or just improve our health in general. Here are some ideas to “Soup UP” your next pot of chili:chili-2

  • Ground meats – Switch your regular ground chuck out for a ground sirloin or lean ground turkey (even turkey sausage). Look at the fat or % lean and go as lean as you can for the price. Another protein option could be meatless veggie protein crumbles – they will reduce the fat, but still have the same texture as other ground meats. This product is typically found in the freezer section of stores.
  • Beans – Instead of using just red kidney beans, try 2 different kinds of beans. Beans that are brighter color will have higher antioxidant properties (red, black or brown). Some research studies have found diets rich in the antioxidants in beans to result in lower cancer risks for breast, stomach, colorectal, kidney and prostate cancer. By combining the types of beans you can pick up the benefits from several different varieties.
  • Diced Vegetables – Replace your chopped onion with a variety of chopped vegetables. Choose from onions, peppers, sweet potatoes, corn, celery, pumpkin, and/or butternut squash. This is a great way to clean out the crisper drawer in your refrigerator and to ramp up the vegetables in your pot. I recently peeled and cubed a small sweet potato into a pot of chili – it tasted great and helped thicken it up too.
  • Tomato Products – Most chili is a combination of tomato products – sauce, paste, juice, and stewed or diced. Tomatoes are packed with vitamins A, C, B6, potassium, and even fiber. Research studies support the consumption of tomatoes with heart health benefits and even skin health. With tomato products look to “No Salt Added” products when purchasing canned.
  • Seasonings – Combine a variety of spices and herbs to suit your own taste preferences – cumin, black and cayenne pepper, oregano, and chili powder are all good choices. Keep your salt to a minimum. For some people higher sodium intake is linked with higher blood pressure.

A few other perks for a big pot of chili soup are that it is almost a one dish meal; by adding a dairy, fruit, and bread you can have a tasty meal. Soups also freeze well for left-over meals or to carry for lunch. And last-but-not-least you can use up left-overs in chili soup by switching ground meat for pulled chicken or pork, and almost any vegetable can be dumped in the pot. I can’t wait to hear your favorite chili combination.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fayette County.

Sources:

American Heart Association, (2016). Myths About High Blood Pressure, http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/AboutHighBloodPressure/Myths-About-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_430836_Article.jsp#.WApYz4MrLct

North Dakota State University, “All About Beans Nutrition, Health Benefits, Preparation and Use in Menus”, Garden-Robinson, J. and McNeal, K., https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/food-nutrition/all-about-beans-nutrition-health-benefits-preparation-and-use-in-menus#section-3.

Penn State Extension, “Eating Tomatoes May Very Well Save Your Life”, Kralj, R., http://extension.psu.edu/health/news/2014/eating-tomatoes-may-very-well-safe-your-life.

 

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Back to school means back to packing school lunches. Children need a healthy lunch with the right calories and nutrients to help them learn, grow, and play. Not only do we want to pack our kids a healthy lunch, we want them to eat it, too! Sometimes we need some new ideas to keep lunch interesting. Here are some tips for packing a school lunch:

Plan ahead. Just a little planning time to get the right foods on the grocery list, in the cart, and in the fridge is the right place to start.

Plan together. Sit down with your child weekly to talk about lunch menu options. Allow your child to help plan the menu. He will be more excited about lunch and more likely to eat it.

Try something new. We all tend to get tired of the same foods every day. Change up the menu. Look up some new ideas together.

Try a different shape. Food that looks fun is more fun to eat. Try cutting a sandwich in a different direction or use cookie cutters. Sliced cheese and fruit (especially melon) will also cut nicely with cookie cutters.

lunchBuild in some color. Research shows the more colorful the food, the more appetizing it is. One of the easiest and healthiest ways to do this is with fresh vegetables and fruits. See if you can ‘pack a rainbow’ of color in your child’s lunch throughout the week.

Use MyPlate for your Lunch Bag! This fact sheet from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach gives a variety of ideas from every food group! Aim for at least 4 out of the 5 food groups for health and variety.

Rethink the drink. Water and low-fat milk are the best options for lunch. Sugary drinks are considered ‘empty calories.’ Calories but no nutrients.

Invest in “cool” lunch packs. Ice packs, insulated thermoses and insulated lunch bags allow for more varied menu options by keeping food at the right temperature.

Pack the night before. If you’re pressed for time, mornings can run more smoothly when there is less to do. Pack lunches in the evening right after dinner clean up. Or you could even try prepping lunches for the week on Sunday and refrigerate or freeze for later use.

For more ideas on packing a healthy and safe lunch, check out What’s for Lunch? It’s in the Bag!

Sources:

Iowa State University Extension

https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/13900

https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/13919

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County

 

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