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Water Is Key to Life

July 2nd, 2014

water glasses drinksWater is the key to life — every system in our body depends on it. Water helps carry nutrients to our cells, helps rid toxins from our organs, and keeps our nose, ears, and throat moist. If we don’t drink enough water, we become dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to dizziness, fatigue, and confusion. We lose water on a daily basis by breathing, urinating, and sweating. Because we constantly lose water, we must repeatedly replace what we lose.

The Institute of Medicine states that an adequate daily intake of water for men is about 13 cups and about 9 cups for women. Water comes from more than just fluids; it is a major component of many foods. In fact, it is estimated that 20 percent of our water needs are met through food.

Foods with high water content add volume but minimal calories to the diet. Eating foods high in water can promote a feeling of fullness. Fruits and vegetables are two food groups that have generally high water content. Fruits, vegetables, and dairy products like milk and yogurt can help you reach your daily water recommendations.

Fruits and vegetables high in water

Fruit: Watermelon, citrus fruits, grapes, apples, papaya, strawberries, apricots, cherries

Vegetables: Carrots, bell peppers, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, squash, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach

Use these helpful resources to better understand the role water plays in your health.

Eat to Compete: What You Should Know about Fluids
https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/Eat-to-Compete-What-You-Should-Know-About-Fluids

Bottled Water—Know the Facts
https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/Bottled-Water-Know-the-Facts

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Milk Myths Busted!

June 4th, 2014

pitcher and glass milk drinks dairyJune is Dairy Month — a good time to consider the benefits of drinking milk and eating other dairy foods for calcium and Vitamin D. Drinking milk increases bone health, reduces risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and blood pressure. Despite these benefits, some milk myths prevent some people from drinking milk. Our ISU Extension and Outreach myth busters have “busted” a few of these myths below.

Milk Myth 1: Milk causes mucus
Myth Buster: For some, drinking milk may make mucus thicker than it is normally. However drinking milk for most people does not make your body produce more phlegm and will not worsen a cold.

Milk Myth 2: Organic milk is much healthier than conventional milk
Myth Buster: Cup for cup, organic and conventionally-produced milk contain the same nine essential nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, and potassium. Both conventionally-produced and organic milk are routinely tested for antibiotics and pesticides and must comply with very stringent safety standards, ensuring that both organic milk and conventional milk are pure, safe, and nutritious.

Milk Myth 3: Fat-free milk has almost no nutritional value.
Myth Buster: Fat-free milk has the same amount of calcium, vitamin D, and protein as whole, 2%, and 1% milk. The only nutritional difference among the varieties of milk is the amount of fat and calories per serving. Another difference is that fat-free milk is often cheaper than the other varieties. A family of four changing from whole milk to fat-free milk could save $8 to $11 per week and shave off 5,040 calories and 518
grams of fat!

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GREEN—It’s the Color of the Season!

May 7th, 2014

spring saladAfter a long winter, the first, fresh vegetables of spring taste wonderful, whether from your garden, a farmer’s market, food co-op, or local grocery store! Lettuce is plentiful, being a fairly easy vegetable to grow, but many kinds of leafy greens are available.

Many people make iceberg lettuce the base of a fresh salad, but spring and summer bring many more options! This summer, try something new like arugula, frisée, kale, or spinach. The different colors, flavors, and textures make an attractive salad and the fresh greens are loaded with nutrients.

Arugula: This leafy green offers a spicy, peppery flavor which gives a zesty “punch” when added raw to salads. Arugula is rich in phytonutrients, which may reduce the risk of several kinds of cancers, including breast, stomach and colon.

Frisée: This frilly, funky-looking green adds fun to a fresh salad! It contains many vitamins and minerals and is especially high in folate, and vitamins A and K. The feathery leaves also can give a touch of elegance to a fresh salad.

Kale: Kale is considered a “powerhouse of nutrition,” with beautiful leaves that provide an earthy flavor. It is an excellent source for vitamin K, and helps lower cholesterol.

Spinach: This dark green leafy vegetable is fairly mild in flavor overall. It is one of the most nutrient-dense foods available, being packed with vitamins (especially A and C) and minerals (especially iron).

Jazz up your fresh salad by adding:
• Fruits: Use fresh or dried berries, apples, and oranges. Fruit juice could be part of the dressing.
• Grains: Try adding cooked whole grain pastas, brown rice, quinoa, barley, wheat berries, or bulgur.
• Protein: Include proteins like nuts, seeds, beans, tofu, lean fish, and meats.
• Dressing: Keep it light in both calories and saturated fat, yet high in
flavor with small amounts of juices, spices, herbs, flavored oils, and flavored vinegars.

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MARCH into Spring

March 5th, 2014

family eatingMARCH into spring armed with habits that help you become your healthiest self. Consider these tips:

Move every day – Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily for better blood pressure, stress reduction, and weight control. This can include three 10-minute bouts of physical activity throughout the day. Choose activities you enjoy, raise your heart rate, build strength, and increase flexibility. An activity buddy can help you stay faithful to your plan.

Avoid Skipping Meals – When making a shopping list and planning meals, consider MyPlate (http://www.choosemyplate.gov/). Include healthy snacks (e.g., low fat yogurt, vegetables with low fat dip, whole grain bread with peanut butter) to meet your family’s nutritional needs. Healthy snacks sustain energy levels between meals and help you stay on track with your health goals.

Read food labels – Aim high (20% or more) for vitamins, minerals and fiber. Aim low (5% or less) for total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. For more information on how to read a food label, watch the “Label Reading for Health” video at http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/page/online-lessons.

Choose foods carefully – Become a smart shopper by reducing the amount of convenience foods eaten, choosing fruit canned in juice, and buying no salt added canned vegetables. When you are choosing foods, make half your plate fruits and vegetables and watch portion sizes.

Have family meals – Make family meal time a priority. Research shows family meals promote healthier eating. Eat as a family a few times each week. Set a regular mealtime and turn off the TV, computers, and phones. Have all family members help in meal planning and cooking.

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A Halloween Treat for Fall – Roasted Pumpkin

October 8th, 2013

When jack o’ lanterns were first used as holiday decorations in Britain, they were made out of carved turnips. In the United States, the pumpkin—native to North America—is carved into roasted pumpkinscary faces for Halloween.

The type of squash we call pumpkin is so well associated with jack o’ lanterns and holiday pies that not everyone realizes it is a nutritious vegetable that makes a spectacular side dish. One cup of cooked pumpkin provides 245 percent of your daily need for Vitamin A for only 49 calories!

Why not “treat” your family to savory roasted pumpkin throughout the fall? Sweet “pie” pumpkins are best for roasting…

  1. Scrub the pumpkin thoroughly, dry it, and cut it in half.
  2. Scrape out the seeds and membrane.
  3. Cut each pumpkin into eighths, to make wedges.
  4. Put a tablespoon of vegetable oil or olive oil in a shallow baking pan. Turn the wedges in the oil until lightly coated. Sprinkle with salt.
  5. Place the wedges evenly spaced, skin side down, on the sheet. Roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes or until fork tender. The edge of the wedges should be caramelized.
  6. Serve with a sprinkle of parsley.

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“Added Sugars” Add Up in Our Diets!

September 28th, 2013

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that Americans reduce their intake of “added sugars.” About 16 percent of the total calories in the American diet comes from added sugars. The leading sources of these added sugars include soda/energy/sports drinks, grain-based desserts, sugar-sweetened fruit drinks, dairy-based desserts, and candy.sugars

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that men consume more calories per day from added sugars (335 calorie average) than women (239 calorie average). Also, this study reported that young adults ages 20 to 39 consumed the most calories from added sugars compared to other age groups.

Added sugars are sugars added to foods during processing, preparation, and when eating. Natural sugars, on the other hand, are those found in fruit or white milk. Both are digested and used by the body in the same way. The difference is foods containing natural sugars typically have other health-promoting nutrients whereas foods with added sugars provide extra calories with few to no health-promoting nutrients.

By limiting your intake of foods with added sugars you will also decrease the amount of calories in your diet.

Examples of added sugars on food labels include:

  • anhydrous dextrose
  • brown sugar
  • confectioner’s powdered sugar
  • corn syrup
  • corn syrup solids
  • dextrose
  • fructose
  • fructose sweetener
  • high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • honey
  • invert sugar
  • lactose
  • liquid fructose
  • malt syrup
  • maltose
  • maple syrup
  • molasses
  • nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar)
  • pancake syrup
  • raw sugar
  • sucrose
  • sugar
  • white granulated sugar

nutrition

Storing Whole Grains Safely

February 19th, 2013

Because whole grains retain their healthful oils, they are more susceptible to oxidation and need to be stored to prevent deterioration. Heat, light, and air can trigger storing grainsoxidation of the oil in the germ of whole grains.

If you’re shopping in the bulk section, don’t be afraid to sniff the grains, which should have a light sweet scent or no scent at all. If the bin smells oily or moldy, the grains may be rancid.

Once you bring your whole grain home, store it directly in the refrigerator or freezer. You can either keep it in its unopened package or transfer it into an airtight container or plastic zip-top bag.

Since different grains vary in fat content (from about 1.7% for wheat to about 6.9% for oats), the shelf life of the flours made from them varies. In general, most whole grain flours keep well in the refrigerator for 2-3 months, and in the freezer for 6-8 months. It is recommended to keep flour in a sealed container to prevent picking up stray odors and tastes from the refrigerator or freezer.

Grains, because their oil is sealed in the original grain kernel and cannot easily oxidize, can keep much longer than flour. Most will keep for several months in a room- temperature cupboard, and for a year in the freezer. Commercially processed whole grain products such as breads, crackers, and pasta are commercially processed to be shelf stable and can be stored in the same manner as those that are not whole grain. General advice on grains and flour: try to buy what you’ll use in 2-3 months.

Safe Storage, Grain by Grain

Whole Wheat Flour – airtight seal, freezer, 6 months
Oats – airtight seal, freezer, 3 months
Oat Flour – airtight seal, freezer, 2 months Cornmeal – airtight seal, freezer 4-6 months Kernels or Popcorn – airtight seal, freezer, 1 year Rye Flour – airtight seal, freezer, 6 months
Spelt Flour – airtight seal, freezer, 6 months Buckwheat Flour – airtight seal, freezer, 2 months Barley Flour – airtight seal, freezer, 4 months
Brown Rice – airtight seal, cupboard, 5-6 months; freezer, up to a year
Brown Rice Flour – airtight seal, refrigerator, 4-5 months; freezer, up to a year

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Whole Grains: Give Them the 3-step Test

February 11th, 2013

Less than 5 percent of Americans consume the minimum recommended amount of whole grains. Although Americans generally eat enough total grains, most of the grains consumed are refined grains rather than whole grains. Unfortunately, many refined grain foods also are high in solid fats and added sugars. There is evidence that suggests whole grain intake may reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer (e.g., colon) as well as help control body weight. Whole grains are a source of nutrients such as iron, magnesium, selenium, B vitamins, and dietary fiber. At least half of recommended total grain intake should be whole grains, which for many is about 3 ounce equivalents per day.

Not sure if a food is actually a whole grain? Use these three steps to help you decide:

  1. Front of package—Check the front of the package for key terms such as “100% whole grain,” “whole oats,” “made with whole wheat.”
  2. Ingredients—Read the list of ingredients; one of the first three should contain key terms such as “100% whole wheat,” “whole wheat flour,” “whole oats,” or “brown rice.”
  3. Extra claims and logos—Examine the other panels for extra whole grain health claims or whole grain stamps/symbols that will support your decision.

A new publication Whole Grains is now available. Whole Grains includes a wide variety of information about whole grains including how to use some of the newer whole grains such as quinoa, teef, and steel cut oats. An extensive whole grain chart includes nutritional and cooking information on many whole grains.

healthy living, nutrition

Tips for Healthier Holiday Meals

December 12th, 2012
Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit. Select a variety of vegetables for a great way to add color to the meal. Dish up smaller portions of meat on your plate.
Cut back on sugar. Use non-nutritive sweeteners in place of sugar for pie fillings, puddings, and cranberry sauces. You can usually reduce the amount of sugar by 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 in recipes that are high in sugar.
Lower the fat.
  • Use egg whites or a nonfat egg substitute instead of whole eggs.
  • Substitute a nutty cereal for half the amount of pecans in pecan pie.
  • Substitute chopped vegetables for some of the bread in stuffing.
  • Omit butter and margarine from stuffing recipes.

Be dessert smart. Cut pies in smaller pieces. Serve a large platter of fresh fruit along with traditional desserts. Try the Hurry-up Baked Apples for dessert. Bake fewer varieties of
cookies and bars and make them smaller. Use fat free whipped topping.

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Hurry-Up Baked Apples

December 5th, 2012

Serves: 4hurry-up apple recipe
Serving Size: 1 apple half
Per Serving: $.45

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium-size tart apples (Granny Smith, Braeburn, Cortland, Jonathan, Fuji)
  • 1 teaspoon white or brown packed sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons oatmeal
  • 2 tablespoons (total) raisins, sweetened dried cranberries, chopped walnuts or other nuts
  • 1 (6-ounce) container lowfat vanilla yogurt

Directions:

  1. Cut apples in half lengthwise. Use spoon to remove cores and hollow out a space 1 inch or more deep.  Arrange apple halves, cut sides up, in microwavable dish.  Cut thin slices off bottoms to keep from tipping.
  2. Combine sugar, cinnamon, oatmeal, raisins, and nuts.  Fill each apple half.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap. Fold back one edge ¼ inch to vent steam.
  4. Microwave 3 to 3 ½ minutes, or until apples can be cut easily. Take from microwave. Let sit a few minutes.
  5. Spoon yogurt over the top.

Cooking Tips:

  • Great as a dessert, snack, or for breakfast.
  • Storage tip for raw apples: They keep best in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

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