March is National Nutrition Month. This year the focus is “Celebrate a World of Flavors.” While food patterns are influenced by family traditions and ethnic or cultural groups, it is also wonderful to try and explore new foods. Here are four reasons to try new foods.
Gain Appreciation for Other Cultures. Trying foods from other areas of the country or world can give you a greater appreciation and understanding of a different culture. Try nearby restaurants that serve cuisine you’ve never tried before. Go to a specialty grocery store (such as an Asian market or bodega) to buy something to try at home. Cook a new recipe. Explore the USDA Culture and Food website, https://bitly/3AR0Bek.
Expand Your Options. By being adventurous and trying new foods, you’ll increase your meal options. This will help stop meal prep boredom of cooking the same meals or going to the same restaurants.
Improve Nutrition. Eating and enjoying a wider variety of food also means that you’ll get more nutritional variety. This means finding new sources of essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in which your current food patterns may be lower.
Find Common Ground. A common social activity across nearly all cultures is eating. Mealtime is an opportunity for people to gather lowering feelings of loneliness and enhancing happiness.
March is National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme is “Personalize Your Plate.” There is no one-size-fts-all when it comes to nutrition. Everyone is unique! Each of us has different tastes, traditions, and budgets.
Personalize your plate to make sure every bite counts by choosing “nutrient-dense” foods. Nutrient-dense foods are those that are high in nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, but not very high in calories. The 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests the following:
Start with personal preferences. When choosing nutrient-dense foods, be sure to think about the healthy foods you and your family truly enjoy. If you and your family enjoy the food you eat, you will be more likely to retain your healthy eating habits over time.
Celebrate your food traditions! For example, if your family traditionally enjoys eating spaghetti and meatballs, make the same dish using less sodium and saturated fat. Use low-sodium sauce. Use leaner beef or ground turkey for the meatballs. Choose whole grain pasta. With a few small changes, you can still enjoy any traditional dish.
Consider your budget. Healthy eating can be budget friendly and delicious. The ISU Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu, is a great source for easy, low-cost recipes.
Lunch provides the midday boost that you and your child need for afternoon brainpower. Packing lunch with your child is also a great way to stay connected. What if your child is a choosy eater? This can be a sign your child is searching for more independence. Your child might benefit from packing their own lunch, while you have the opportunity to serve as a model for good nutrition behaviors. Use the five main food groups for you and your child to pack your lunch.
If you read Nutrition Facts labels, you may have noticed they now list the potassium content of foods. So why is potassium a mineral we need to pay attention to?
For starters, potassium controls your heartbeat, builds muscle, and helps your body make proteins. Potassium can protect you from heart disease, stroke, muscle wasting, osteoporosis, and kidney stones. If you get enough of it, you can lower your blood pressure and cut your risk of dying from all causes by 20%!
Potassium is in many common foods, such as bananas, citrus fruits, potatoes, broccoli, milk, yogurt, beans, and leafy greens. However, fewer than 2% of adults meet their daily recommended potassium requirement. Adults should aim for 4,700 mg of potassium a day.
For example, this is one potassium-rich meal that would fulfill 40% of that requirement:
1/2 cup Swiss chard
1 baked potato
3 ounces turkey breast
1 cup low-fat milk
1 cup fruit cocktail
Please do not rush out to buy potassium pills. High-dose potassium supplements can disrupt heart rhythm. They are also dangerous for those who have undetected kidney disease. Enjoy your potassium by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables!
To find out more about potassium-rich foods, visit MedlinePlus (medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002413.htm)