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: http://www.fda.gov/food/dietarysupplements/default.htm

                                                ~ Missy Anker, Dietetic Intern

Featured Recipe: Jicama and Black Bean Dip

If you are looking for a great tasting, very healthy dip that can also be served as a salad, check out our Jicama and Black Bean Dip. This recipe is very easy to transport and keeps for several days in the refrigerator. Baked tortilla chips taste great with it.

One of the ingredients of this recipe might be a new one to your family. Jicama [HEE-kah-mah] is often referred to as the Mexican potato. Jicama is a large tuberous root. It has a thin brown skin that should be removed with a peeler or knife. The flesh is white, crisp, juicy and slightly sweet. Because the tuber requires a very long and warm growing season, most of the jicama available in the United States is imported from Mexico and South America. Jicama may be eaten raw in salads or as part of a vegetable platter; cooked, it works well in stir-frying, soups or stews.

Jicama and Black Bean Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 small jicama, peeled and chopped (about 1/2 cup)*
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1/2 medium green or red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup light Itailan dressing
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or 1 teaspoon dried cilantro
    *Jicama – Somthing new to try! This dip tastes fine without jicama, but it adds a nice crunch. This also can be served as a salad.

Instructions

  1. In large bowl, combine jicama, beans, corn, pepper, onion, and dressing. If desired, add cilantro.
  2. Stir to coat all vegetables with dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate several hours for flavors to blend.

A half cup of Jicama has only 25 calories, but supplies 22% of your need for Vitamin C and 3 grams of fiber.

Luscious, Juicy, Sweet Strawberries!

Strawberries are a great buy right now in grocery stores. The best prices I have seen are $1/pound, but most places are under $1.50/pound. According to the news, this is because Florida and California strawberries are hitting the stores at the same time this year. In a few weeks the local berries will be in season also. Get ready for some good eating!

Strawberries are naturally high in fiber, vitamin C, folate, potassium, and antioxidants, and they’re low in calories and practically fat- and sodium-free. Ounce for ounce, strawberries have more vitamin C than citrus fruit.

Strawberries are perishable so you have to choose carefully and protect your investment once you get them home.

For more information and recipes, check out the tip sheet.

-pointers from Peggy

Tropical Cabbage Slaw

During the month of March, grocery stores may run really good sales on cabbage – whole heads as well as the bags of slaw. This is super news because such healthy foods aren’t always THIS cheap! Cabbage is a great source of vitamin C as well as fiber AND is low in calories – or at least is CAN be unless you go drowning it in mayo by making it into coleslaw. Here is a flavorful tip to try – use lemon or pina colada flavored yogurt for the dressing INSTEAD of mayo. It adds great flavor and a little bit of calcium to your diet. Rather than mixing up a big bowl, stir together what you can eat at one meal or snack. If you use fat free yogurt, you have a side dish that is very inexpensive AND easy on your waistline. To make it more fun, add some fruit and nuts (small amounts since they are higher in fat and more expensive). Here are some combinations I like:

  • Diced apple, raisins and walnuts with vanilla yogurt
  • Canned mandarin oranges and canned pineapple with sliced almonds and pina colada yogurt.

For a specific recipe, check out Tropical Cabbage Slaw.

-contributed by Jan Temple

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