Wednesday, November 25, 2009

MYTH - Thanksgiving dinner gets more expensive every year.

Answer: Busted.

The American Farm Bureau Federation has monitored the cost of Thanksgiving dinner for the past 23 years, and compared to 2008, this year the national average decreased $1.70 for a dinner feeding 10 people. In Missouri, the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 totaled $42.57, which comes out to $4.26 per person. Want to lower the cost even more? Take advantage of special offers and sales during the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Also, include more vegetables in your Turkey Day meal, as prices of all vegetables in this survey dropped in 2009. Saving money while eating more nutritiously! That’s something we can all be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

See Cost of Thanksgiving Meal Decreases in 2009 for more information.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Myth- Eating turkey at your Thanksgiving meal makes you sleepy.

Answer: Not exactly.

It is true that turkey contains an amino acid called tryptophan that is converted to serotonin and melatonin in your body, which can have an effect on mood and sleep. However, the amount of serotonin and melatonin that is produced from the tryptophan in the average Thanksgiving meal is not enough to cause a significant increase in sleepiness. In fact, many of your favorite protein foods such as chicken, eggs, and cheese also contain tryptophan.

So why do you feel so sleepy after a Thanksgiving meal? It is most likely due to the high amount of carbohydrate foods that you eat at a Thanksgiving meal. Foods like mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls, and pies all contain carbohydrates. Your body has to work harder to digest all of these carbohydrate foods which can make you feel tired. If you drink wine or other alcoholic beverages on Thanksgiving, this may also contribute to your sleepiness, since alcohol can have a sedative effect.

To prevent your annual afternoon nap this Thanksgiving, try having smaller portions of those high carbohydrate foods or go for a walk. Keeping active will help you feel better and more awake.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Myth: Disaster kits should include only water and whatever canned foods you like


November 18th is Winter Awareness Day, so this is a good time to start thinking about your personal or family disaster plan. Assembling a disaster kit is an important step in the planning process, and it should include a lot more than simply food and water. Your kit should include supplies for everyone in your house, including your pets. See the document, Recommended Contents for Family Disaster Supplies Kit for more suggestions about first aid supplies, clothing, water, tools, and documents to include in the kit.

Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation, or cooking, and little or no water. Stay away from commercially dehydrated foods, as they can require a significant amount of water to prepare. Meal-sized canned foods are also usually bulky and heavy. Remember, you might need to carry this kit with you if you have to leave the house. Finally, avoid whole grains and pasta because preparation could be complicated under the circumstances of a disaster.

Recommended foods include:
· Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables (but don’t forget the can opener!)
· Canned juices, milk, and soup (if using dried milk, be sure to pack extra water)
· High-energy foods, such as peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, and trail mix.
· Foods for infants, the elderly, or people on special diets if necessary.
· Prepackaged beverages in foil packets and foil-lined boxes are good because they are tightly sealed and will keep for a long time.
· Familiar foods can lift morale and give a feeling of security in times of stress.

Finally, check for an “expiration” or “best if used by” date on the products. If there is no date listed on the product, the general recommendation is to store food for 6 months and then replace.

Monday, November 16, 2009

MYTH - The best way to thaw your Thanksgiving Day turkey is to leave it out on the counter.

Answer: BUSTED!!!!

NEVER leave your turkey (or any meat, for that matter) out on the counter to thaw! Not only will you be giving thanks next Thursday, but you’ll also be giving your closest friends and family members a nasty food borne illness. As the bird continues to thaw on the inside, the outside of the turkey will be at room temperature – prime temperature for bacteria to thrive.

The easiest way to thaw a turkey, or any other type of meat, is in the refrigerator. For every five pounds of turkey, allow 1 day of thawing in the refrigerator. Another option is the cold water bath. Using this method, keep the turkey wrapped and completely submerge it in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes, and for every pound of turkey, allow 30 minutes in the cold bath. Therefore, using the cold water bath method will take about 4 hours to thaw an 8 lb turkey.

If you want to avoid thawing a turkey all together, purchase a fresh turkey, but no more than 3 days before you plan to cook it. Make sure it is stored at 40°F or below.

For more helpful tips on selecting and cooking your holiday bird, check out: USDA’s Let’s Talk Turkey is another great resource for keeping your turkey safe this Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

MYTH - French women don't get fat

Answer: BUSTED!

A study published in 2008 finally puts this myth to rest. Weight, height, and waist circumference measurements were recorded for all adults in 20,000 French households. From 1997 to 2006, obesity increased from 8.6% to 13.1%. Furthermore, a follow-up study released this week showed that 15.1% of French women and 13.9% of French men are clinically obese. While these rates are still significantly lower than those of the United States (33.2% of women and 31.1% of men are obese), the trend is the same: waistlines are expanding.

How do we stop this trend that’s sweeping the globe? Simple - either decrease the number of calories you eat in a day or increase the amount of exercise, or do both. Easier said than done, right? Think baby steps. Try wearing a pedometer and simply increase the number of steps taken daily. Then, cut down the portion sizes of your favorite foods and make lower-calorie choices that you can stick with.

Check out The Latest On What Works for Weight Loss for more helpful tips. Also find your local MU Extension Office and see what nutrition and health programs are being offered in your area.

Monday, November 9, 2009

MYTH: The Acai Berry is a miracle food that can promote weight loss, reduce wrinkles, and even cure cancer!

Answer: BUSTED!

The Acai (pronounced ah-sah-EE) berry is a fruit, grown in Central and South America, which has been credited for everything from preventing aging to curing cancer. Like its cousins, the blueberry and cranberry, the acai berry is also high in antioxidants. However, very few studies have been conducted to investigate the berry’s antioxidant content or health benefits, and none of these studies support the outlandish health claims touted by many of the companies selling the acai berry and its extracts. Not only are most of the health claims exaggerated, but you’ll pay a hefty price for the product. For example, approximately 25 ounces of acai juice sells for $40. Additionally, in March 2009, the Center for Science in the Public Interest issued a scam alert about fake blogs, fake endorsements, credit card scams, and exaggerated health claims related to some acai products.

The acai berry is not a miracle food, but it can be part of a well-balanced diet. However, most berries are naturally rich in antioxidants and they don’t cost $40 for 25 ounces. Eat the recommended number of fruits and vegetables daily and you’ll get plenty of antioxidants, as well as thoroughly researched health benefits such as a decreased risk for heart disease and cancer.

For more information about the acai berry and other hot topics in nutrition visit

Thursday, November 5, 2009

MYTH: Eating certain cereals will boost your immune system

Answer: Not Likely!

In the last few weeks you may have noticed some flashy new boxes while walking down the cereal aisle. Several of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal boxes are now sporting a bright yellow banner stating “Now Helps Support Your Child’s Immunity.” How can a cereal boost immunity, you ask? Kellogg’s claims that because they increased the amount of vitamins A, C, and E from 10% Daily Value per serving to 25% Daily Value, and since studies have shown that these antioxidant vitamins play an important role in the immune system, the statement is warranted . . . but not for long. Just announced on 11/5/09, Kellogg’s will discontinue the statement on the Rice Krispies boxes due to criticism that the new immunity claim was created to capitalize on the current H1N1 flu outbreak. The new packaging will be phased out over the next few months.

Sure, breakfast is the most important meal of the day but don’t be fooled into thinking it can prevent you or your children from catching the seasonal flu or H1N1 virus. If you really want to boost your immune system, eat a balance diet and choose foods that are naturally high in vitamins A, C, and E. You’ll get the antioxidants you are looking for, plus so much more! Studies consistently show that eating whole foods is a better way of protecting against disease than taking the same vitamins and minerals in supplement form. Choose brightly colored fruits and vegetables for the highest amounts of vitamins A and C. If you’re seeking vitamin E, seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils provide good sources. Finally, regular exercise will also keep your immune system strong.

Check out “Four Ways to Stay Healthy This Winter” and don't be fooled by flashy advertising techniques.