The Secret Behind Supplements

After being diagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia, I started to take an Iron + Vitamin C supplement every day.  I also started to eat foods with a higher iron content more often. So, this makes me wonder:  how much do people spend on supplements compared to their grocery bill? According to the National Institutes of Health, $33.9 billion was spent on alternative medicine in the year 2008. That is more than what the National Football League (NFL) is worth! Also, more than half of Americans are popping multivitamin pills daily and about one-third are using some sort of alternative medicine (vitamins or herbs in a pill form).

Whether you choose to take dietary supplements or not, it is vital to eat foods packed with various vitamins and minerals, such as fruits and vegetables, every day.  Even though it may be possible to save money when buying a supplement to take place of food, this is not always the case.  Plus with food you get more than just the particular nutrient listed on the label.

So how much does the cost of a dietary supplement compare to a similar food?  Check out this table.  Prices are from central Iowa in June 2012.

Supplement Price per serving Nutritional value per serving Food item with comparable nutrients Price per serving Nutritional value per serving
Muscle Milk, Ready to Drink Chocolate Flavor $3.99 20g protein 3oz chicken breast $.60 25g protein
Nature Made Fish Oil 1000mg $.29 900mg Omega 3 ¼ cup of walnuts $.87 2,500mg of Omega 3
Benefiber Powder, Sugar Free, Orange Flavor + Calcium $.48 3g fiber 1 medium apple $.40 4.4g of fiber
Viactiv Milk Chocolate Soft Chews + Vitamin D $.20 1000mg calcium 8oz skim milk $.17 300mg of calcium

If you decide to buy a dietary supplement, you should do your research on the supplement first. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does NOT regulate dietary supplements. Visit the manufacturer’s website for product information or the FDA’s website for more information on dietary supplements:

                                                ~ Missy Anker, Dietetic Intern

Nut milk, rice milk – Really?

I grew up on a farm and from what I know, milk comes from a cow.  It is that white liquid farmers “milk” for us humans before the baby calves get to it.  Cow’s milk is a good source of protein calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D (since all cow’s milk is fortified).

The “milk” from nuts, rice, and soy is not nutritionally equivalent to cow’s milk. These types of milk are also more expensive. On the other hand, if they are fortified, they can be a good choice, especially if you are lactose intolerant or allergic to milk protein.

Here are some good things to know about the different types of milk you can find in the grocery store:

Soy Milk/Drink/Beverage: Produced by soaking dry soybeans and grinding them with water. Soy milk has about the same amount of protein and fat as cow’s milk and provides B vitamins, but it does not have calcium unless it is fortified.  Most soy milks are fortified, but some are not (you have to read the label).

The American Academy of Pediatrics considers fortified soy milk a suitable alternative for children who cannot tolerate human or cow’s milk or whose parents opt for a vegan diet. They find no medical benefit to using soy milk instead of human or cow’s milk.

Nut Milk: Almond or hazelnut milk are not similar to cow’s milk from a nutritional stand point.  They have little protein and almost no calcium.  They provide similar nutrients as nuts and are low in calories.

Rice Milk: Mostly made from brown rice and usually unsweetened.  Compared to cow’s milk, rice milk contains more carbohydrates, but does not contain significant amounts of calcium or protein, and no cholesterol.

Coconut Milk: Made from grated and squeezed coconut.  It is high in calories – a half cup has around 200 calories.  It can also be used in small amounts for cooking or on cereal rather than for drinking.

What’s the bottom line? If you drink non-dairy milk, be sure to find one that is fortified with calcium and Vitamin D.  Most of these beverages have lots of sugar, especially if they are flavored, so read the nutrition labels closely. These beverages should not be used as replacements for infant formula.

What is Greek Yogurt?

Greek yogurt is becoming more popular. Last week one of my friends asked me what Greek yogurt was…was it yogurt from Greece?

No, rather it is a type of yogurt that is more concentrated that what we are used to.  Manufacturers strain the yogurt and remove some of the whey which produces a thicker, creamier yogurt with more fat, protein, and calcium. Just like regular yogurt, reduced fat and fat-free versions are available.

Greek yogurt is more expensive than regular yogurt because it takes twice as much milk to make it. There are several varieties in larger supermarkets and specialty shops with Greek sounding names like Voskos, Oikos, Fage, etc. Yoplait also sells plain and flavored Greek yogurt for around $1.20 for a 6-ounce cup, and I read that AE Dairy is going to start distributing it this fall.

Yogurt is sometimes used instead of cream cheese or sour cream to reduce fat and calories.  Greek yogurt would be a good choice for substitutions because it is thicker. 

You can make your own “Greek” yogurt by straining regular yogurt. Just set a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth, a coffee filter, or a plain white paper towel over a bowl and spoon plain yogurt into the sieve. Refrigerate and allow the liquid to drain off for at least 2 hours. One cup of yogurt yields about ½ cup of Greek yogurt.

– pointers from Peggy

Gourmet Salsa is a hit!

My entire family enjoys snacking on baked taco chips and salsa for an easy snack. We usually just eat tomato salsa that I buy at the store until our home grown tomatoes are ready from the garden. But, for something a little different, I tried adding some plain yogurt to it along with some fat free sour cream. It was a big hit with my son and husband – the yogurt was cool but there was still the spiciness of the salsa for a great flavor combination. It couldn’t be any easier to make – equal parts of salsa, fat free sour cream and nonfat plain yogurt. Just a 2 tablespoon serving yields 2% of the daily value for calcium and it only costs $ .15 a serving. I also liked the fact that it tasted great with vegetables. There was just enough spice to make you keep eating and that IS what I need – ideas to keep me eating more nutrient rich vegetables. At only 25 calories for a 2 tablespoon serving of this South of the Border Dip, you can enjoy this guilt free, inexpensive snack.

-contributed by Jan Temple

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