A spoonful of nutrition

Nutrition Notes: March is National Nutrition Month

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition and Wellness Educator

This coming weekend marks the beginning of National Nutrition Month. This campaign was launched in 1973 when it was initially recognized as National Nutrition Week. This week provided an opportunity to promote and educate the public about health and wellness. By its fourth year, National Nutrition Week had grown immensely in the number of people it reached and in response to the campaign’s growth; it was expanded to National Nutrition Month in 1980. Every year, the month of March encompasses a different nutrition-focused theme to encourage nutritious choices. This year’s theme is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.” Research shows that taste is a driving force when making food choices, so learning ways to make healthy and tasty meals is an important step to healthy eating. Challenging lifelong eating habits may be hard, although with the right tools it can be easy to modify your habits to start on a new path to a happy, healthy you!

Here are a few tips to make sure nutrient-dense choices are always an easy go-to option anywhere, anytime!

- Choose whole grain bread over white or enriched wheat flour when making sandwiches.
- Avoid fried or battered foods and instead look for bakes or broiled options.
- Choose low-fat plain Greek yogurt and top with frozen fruit and granola for a delicious, pre-made parfait.
- Adopt ‘Meatless Mondays’ in your home and try new colorful vegetable-based recipes.
- Cut up fruits and vegetables right after you bring them home from the store, so they are an easy-to-grab snack.

“Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right” by consuming meals that pack the most nutrients for their punch, try to eat a meal full of color. So this month, try a new fruit or vegetable, or better yet try a fun new recipe! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Spaghetti Squash Primavera                                           Lemony Kale Salad
How to Prepare an Artichoke                                          Mashed Cauliflower

American Heart Health Month

Nutrition Notes: Heart Health

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

In honor of American Heart Health Month, this week’s blog post has a few tips on how to revive poor eating habits and get them on a heart-healthy track. According to the American Heart Association, nine out of ten Americans consume too much sodium. On average, Americans consume more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium on a daily basis, which is well over the recommended amount of 1,500 milligrams. So, where does all the sodium come from? The majority of the sodium consumed by Americans is found in packaged store bought foods along with restaurant meals.

Excess sodium consumption increases a person’s risk for high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and stroke later on in life. In order to lower your risk of developing health problems like the ones previously mentioned, try to choose low-sodium options when possible.

Here are some tips to help you keep your heart pumping:

1. Choose low-sodium foods when shopping at the store by taking time to read the Nutrition Facts label.
- Try to choose individual food items that have 200 milligrams of sodium or less.
- Try to choose meal options that have 650 milligrams of sodium or less.

2. Try to incorporate new spices and herbs when cooking like the one below:
- All-Purpose Seasoning

3. Take the salt shaker off the kitchen table.
- If it is out of sight, it is less likely to be used.

Try out a few of these heart-healthy recipes from eatFresh.org that will help get you in the spirit of Heart Health Month!

Quick Stir-Fry

Quick and Easy Quinoa

BBQ Turkey in Pepper Shells

How much sugar do you think is in a soda?

Nutrition Notes: Sugar, How Much is Too Much?

by Jenna Olson, RD Nutrition & Wellness Educator

February marks the beginning of the American Heart Health Month and with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, how much sugar is too much? A recent article in the Jama Internal Medicine found that most adults consume about 10% of their recommended daily calories from added sugar alone. So, what is the recommended daily limit for added sugar consumption? For men, it is recommended to keep added sugar limited to nine teaspoons per day, which breaks down to 36 grams or 145 calories. Then, when it comes to women, they should keep it to six teaspoons a day, which the equivalent of 24 grams or 100 calories.

With these recommendations, it should be noted that sugar can be found in two forms within the diet, either it is produced naturally or it is added. Natural sugars are found in fruits and dairy products and they provide us with additional nutrients our bodies need to stay healthy. On the other hand, added sugars are sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup and white sugar that are added to products during the manufacturing process. These added sugars provide the body with ‘empty’ calories, meaning that they provide little to no nutritional value.

So, how do we determine the sugar content of food items at the store? Take your favorite snack bar for example, look at the nutrition facts label. How many grams of sugar does it contain? If you take the total grams of sugar and divide that number by four, that will equal how many teaspoons or sugar cubes your snack bar contains per serving. (Note: 1 teaspoon = 1 sugar cube.) This exercise not only provides a great visual, but also an understanding of how much added sugar is hiding in foods consumed on a daily basis. So, when it is time for an afternoon snack, be sure to check the label! How does the sugar content stack up?

Here are a few examples of sugar content in common foods:

- Snack bar: 21g of total sugar = 5 sugar cube
- 20 oz. bottle of soda: 65g of total sugar = 16 sugar cubes
- Breakfast pastries (2): 34g of total sugar = 8.5 sugar cubes