Friday, September 30, 2011

Myth: All yogurts are created equal.

plain yogurt with fresh blueberries on top
Answer: BUSTED!

Walking down the yogurt aisle can be confusing and overwhelming. There are so many brands and types of yogurt that it can be frustrating trying to pick the best option for you and your family.

Recently, Greek yogurt has become a popular item in the U.S. even though it has been around since the 1920s. Greek yogurt is yogurt that has been strained to remove whey. Whey is the excess liquid left after milk has been curdled. Removing the whey from yogurt provides a rich and creamy texture.

Benefits of Greek yogurt include more protein, less sodium and less carbohydrate. Less carbohydrate means that there is less lactose which could be easier for people with lactose intolerance to digest. Greek yogurt makes a great substitute in recipes. Substitute it for milk or sour cream for a lower calorie and higher protein dish.

Low-fat yogurt is another common choice and it has lower amounts of fat and more calcium. Calcium is important for many people and most Americans need low-fat sources of calcium in their diet. It is also less expensive than Greek yogurt and there are many brands to choose from.

Both Greek yogurts and regular yogurts have many flavors to choose from. Fruit or vanilla flavoring in both Greek yogurt and regular yogurt add sugar and therefore more calories. One option would be to buy the plain yogurt and add your own fruit to give it flavor. Even the yogurts with added flavor can still be good options. The key is to read the food label and compare calories, fat and sugar content.

When you go to the store be sure to look for two things: price and food labels. Comparing food labels can help you make the best choice for your needs. Calories, fat, sugar, calcium and protein are all important things to look for. Price is another helpful comparison to make. Nutrition and price can vary from brand to brand so always double check!

Additional health and nutrition information can be found at

Contributors: Jenna Silverthorne, Dietetic Intern, KU Med; Denise Schmitz, M.A., R.D., Nutrition & Health Education Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, 816-482-5854,

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Myth: Enriched grains are as good for my heart as whole grains.

Answer: Busted!

whole grain stamp
Enriched grains do provide you with some B vitamins, iron and carbohydrates, but they have not been proven to be as successful in helping your heart as whole grains have been. Whole grains help your heart by clearing out plaque that may be in your arteries. This plaque is typically known as blood cholesterol. Whole grains also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease due to the soluble fiber in the whole grains. A study that was reported in the Tufts University’s Health and Nutrition Letter, showed that by “eating an average of one additional serving of whole grain per day, participants (14,000 people in four different communities in the USA) were 7 percent less likely to suffer heart failure (a condition where the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs) over the course of the (13 year) study.”

Foods with whole grains are fairly easy to find. You want to make sure that the first ingredient listed on the food package by the Nutrition Label indicates “whole grain” or “whole wheat.” The MyPlate website suggests that at least half of the grains we eat should be whole grains.

The ingredients list on your food package will list the ingredients in order based on what is used most (by weight) in that food item. You want to find the word “whole” in front of any grain ingredient that is in the food item, or look for the “100% Whole Grain” stamp on the front of the package. If the words “enriched” or “fortified” are in front of the word “grain” then you will know that the food is not a whole grain item, but in fact a processed grain. A whole grain product includes all three parts of the original grain: bran, germ and endosperm. Together, these three parts provide fiber, vitamins and minerals. The enriched grain product does not contain the bran or germ. So, the next time that you’re purchasing food, try choosing the whole grain foods in order to help protect your heart.

Additional health and nutrition information can be found at

Contributors: TeNeal Minks, Dietetic Intern, MO DHSS; Denise Schmitz, M.A., R.D., Nutrition & Health Education Specialist, University of Missouri Extension,, 816-482-5854

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Myth: There is nothing I can do about my picky eater!

boy upset about meal
Answer: BUSTED!

Many parents believe there is no solution to their child’s picky eating habits, but the good news is there are many strategies to teach children to eat a well-rounded and healthy diet. If children are taught good nutrition at a young age, they will most likely carry these healthy habits into adulthood.

The best place to start is letting your child help you plan the menu, grocery shop and prepare meals. Research shows that if children are involved in this process, they are more likely to eat the foods they worked so hard to plan and prepare.

Modeling is another great strategy to get your child to eat new foods. Watching a parent role model healthy eating increases a child’s food acceptance. If the parent is eating their broccoli at dinner, most children will follow in their footsteps!

It can take 10 to 12 experiences with a new food before a child will accept it. Try different ways of presenting the food and keep in mind that repeated exposure to foods is key to gaining a child’s approval. Read books about fruits and vegetables and use outings like going to the grocery store as an opportunity to teach nutrition. Go on a fun day trip to an orchard or farm to show kids where their food comes from before the grocery store.

Sometimes no matter what you do, your child still refuses to eat! This can be frustrating, but forcing your child to eat can actually teach them to overeat. We have to trust that our children’s bodies know when they are hungry and full. Put their meal in the refrigerator for when they are hungry. Remember, don’t replace a healthy meal or snack with an alternative if the child isn’t eating, simply save it for later.

Additional health and nutrition information can be found at

Contributors: Jenna Silverthorne, Dietetic Intern, KU Med, & Denise Schmitz, M.A., R.D., Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, University of Missouri Extension,

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Myth: Gaining the “freshman 15” can’t be avoided.

Answer: BUSTED!

The fear of gaining the “freshman 15” can be intimidating for first time college students. Fortunately most freshmen do not gain 15 pounds during their first year. The amount of weight gain is actually closer to 3 to 10 pounds.

College is a new lifestyle and environment for many students which can lead to stress and pressure to excel. Eating for comfort or stress relief become common habits for college freshman. There is also an increase in food exposure through buffet style cafeterias, restaurants on campus and vending machines in the dorms. Most students also become involved in many social events where food is usually readily offered.

Adjusting to a new environment can be both exciting and difficult but it is important to maintain healthy eating habits which will help prevent weight gain in college.

Tips to avoid the freshman 15:
  • Watch portion sizes
    • Don’t think of the cafeteria as an all-you-can-eat buffet!
    • Eat well rounded meals that include all of the food groups.
  • Exercise
    • College campuses are a great place to walk or ride your bike.
    • Regular exercise will also help relieve stress.
  • Get plenty of sleep
    • Irregular sleep patterns make it hard for your body to adjust.
    • Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
  • Watch your drinks
    • Soda, sports drinks and many other beverages can pack in lots of extra calories.
    • Choose water as often as possible and limit other drinks to 1 a day.
  • Listen for hunger cues
    • Eat slowly so you recognize when you are full.
    • Just because there is food there doesn’t mean you have to eat it!
  • Eat smart snacks
    • Keep healthy snacks such as fruits and vegetables handy so you always have a backup plan.
    • Many times we confuse thirst with hunger. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can prevent unnecessary snacking.

Additional health and nutrition information can be found at

Contributor: Jenna Silverthorne, Dietetic Intern, KU Med & Denise Schmitz, M.A., R.D., Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, University of Missouri Extension,