Monday, August 30, 2010

Myth: All canned salmon has calcium.

Answer: Busted!

Canned salmon comes 2 ways at the grocery store – canned and in foil packages. Canned salmon with bones is a source of calcium in the diet – ¾ cup has the same amount of calcium as a cup of milk. (Adults need 3 cups of milk or the equivalent and children 2-8 years old need 3 cups.) But look closely at packages of salmon in foil packages – they are labeled as boneless. The calcium is in the bones. If you read the Nutrition Facts label you will see that there is 0% calcium in this kind of salmon.

For more information, see the MissouriFamilies article on calcium.

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist,, 573-882-1933

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Myth: Greek yogurt is healthier than other yogurts.

cup of yogurt
Answer: Busted!

I have seen more Greek yogurts popping up on food shelves recently. They are more expensive than other yogurts. But are they healthier? Greek yogurt has almost twice as much protein as regular yogurt. Is this better for you? Most of us get enough protein so this is not a “plus.” All yogurts are a great way to get the calcium you need although regular yogurt has more calcium. Greek yogurts are lower in sugar, carbohydrates and sodium. (The yogurt is strained to remove the whey which has lactose, a kind of sugar.) The thickness and creamier texture of Greek yogurt may be just what you need to become a yogurt lover.

Whatever your yogurt choice – there are so many ways to use yogurt:
  • Replace some or all of the mayo in pasta, tuna or other salads with yogurt
  • Use yogurt in dips instead of sour cream
  • Top a baked potato with yogurt instead of sour cream
  • Use with fresh fruit to make your own smoothie

Visit the MissouriFamilies website for more information about nutrition and health.

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist,, 573-882-1933

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Myth: When I see nutrition information in the news I should change what I eat.

newspaper article and green apple
Answer: Busted!

Nutrition and health information changes over time. Some of what I learned as a graduate student no longer applies. Other advice hasn’t changed much. I don’t suggest that we all try to become nutritionists and know all of the current and available nutrition research. That’s impossible. Instead, choose sources of nutrition information that give you a balanced, credible perspective. The University of Missouri Extension is one such source. I also find Medpage Today has good information about studies in the news. Why do I say this? Their reviews of studies discuss the quality of the data. Or they point out that the study results may not apply to you especially if the study was done with only one gender or in another country.

I’ve found another website that you might find interesting if you want to monitor health in the news - HealthNewsReview. It provides independent expert reviews of news stories or as its tagline states: holding health and medical journalism accountable.

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist,, 573-882-1933

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Myth: Coconut water can help me lose weight.

Answer: Busted!

No, there is no proof that coconut water can help you lose weight. Although low in calories – 46 calories for a cup – there is nothing special about coconut water that helps with weight loss. As in the previous blog, if you choose to drink coconut water, read the label! Make sure there is no added sugar or fruit purée. These ingredients would make coconut water higher in calories. (Coconut water has about a teaspoon and a half of natural sugar.) By the way, coconut water doesn’t cleanse your kidneys or help your mental clarity either as some websites claim.
coconut and glass of coconut water

Want more information about weight gain? See Conquer Weight Gain with Small Changes. Visit the MissouriFamilies website for more information about nutrition and health.

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist,, 573-882-1933

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Myth: Coconut water is a healthy drink.

Answer: Well, it depends on your definition of “healthy”

Coconut water (not to be confused with high-fat coconut milk) has been on the grocery shelves and the Internet and in magazines for about 3 years. Let’s dig a little deeper. Just what is coconut water? It comes from inside young green coconuts and it has a lot of potassium along with some calcium, magnesium, sodium, and sugar. Coconut water also has a small amount of fiber. What you need to watch out for is that some coconut water has added sugar or fruit purée – this adds calories and unnecessary sugar. A cup of coconut water with no “extras” added to it has 46 calories. Coconut water has a lot of sodium (salt) – 252 mg. in 8 ounces – that’s more than twice the sodium in milk and way more than what is in orange juice. Lastly, coconut water is pretty pricey.

Looking for information on nutrition and health topics? Visit the Missouri Families website.

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist,, 573-882-1933

Monday, August 9, 2010

Myth: Spices don’t really contribute to good health.

Answer: Busted!

The other day this headline caught my eye, “U.S. is a spicier nation since 1970’s” and I say, Amen! Maybe not for the reasons you think. You may have read that spices such as cinnamon and turmeric contain antioxidants like polyphenols which may have anticancer and antiflammatory effects. In other words – they may help tamp down the inflammation associated with chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer. Studies are still not definitive.

So why do I applaud the headline? Herbs and spices are a welcome substitution for too much salt in our food. When stir frying batches of vegetables that I freeze for future use, I use curry, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves and other spices. I don’t miss the salt. In fact, when I do find myself eating processed, fast/restaurant or canned food, I don’t enjoy the salty food.

What spices do you use? Let’s celebrate our spicier nation! To learn more, refer to the MU Extension publication Herbs and spices.

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist,, 573-882-1933

Friday, August 6, 2010

Myth: Food packages are shrinking and some of these foods cost more.

Answer: Confirmed

Call it what you want, downsized products abound! I first noticed it when my yogurt container went from 8 ounces (1 cup) to 6 ounces. Interestingly, the price of the yogurt didn’t decrease. This trend has been popularly reported in Time Magazine and Consumer Reports.

If you haven’t used unit price shelf labels at your grocery store, start using these labels. They help you compare the cost per unit (ounce, pound) to get the best deal. Check out the article Squeezed by rising food prices? for other cost saving ideas. Do you have some downsized product stories to share?

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist,, 573-882-1933.