Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Myth: Nuts are too fattening to be part of a healthy diet.

Answer: BUSTED!

variety of nuts
Nuts are a gold mine of nutrition and should be part of a healthy diet. In 2003 the FDA approved walnuts for a “qualified health claim” stating that walnuts may reduce the risk of heart disease. Since then other nuts have been added including pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, peanuts and pine nuts.

Ways nuts promote heart health:
  • Nuts contain L-arginine, an amino acid that helps make nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is an enzyme released in the arteries that relaxes the blood vessels.
  • Nuts contain good fats like mono and polyunsaturated fats. These fats help decrease inflammation, lower bad cholesterol and are anti-thrombogenic (reduces your risk of developing blood clots).
  • Nuts contain plant sterols and soluble fiber that bind with cholesterol and prevent its absorption in the intestines.
  • Nuts contain vitamin E, an antioxidant that stops the production of free radicals.
  • Nuts are among dietary plants with the highest content of antioxidants!

Ways nuts promote healthy weight:
  • Nuts contain fiber, fat and protein. All contribute to the feeling of satiety.
  • Nuts contain oleoylethanolamide, an appetite-suppressing compound found in tree nuts.
  • Nuts contain a variety of B vitamins and minerals that all work together to help promote healthy metabolism.

snack-size bag of nuts
Nuts are calorie dense. You only need a 1/4 cup or a handful to get the nutritional benefits without exceeding your calorie needs. To help with portion control, avoid eating salted nuts. Salted foods promote over-eating and excessive salt isn’t good for your arteries, even if you don’t have high blood pressure. Use nuts as a topper on salad, yogurt or cereal to help control portion size. You can also portion nuts into snack-size bags.

For information on selection and storage of nuts, review Harvest to Health: Nuts on the MissouriFamilies website.

Go ahead and GO NUTS!!

Contributors: Mary Keels, Dietetic Intern, MDHSS & Denise Schmitz, M.A., R.D., MU Extension Nutrition & Health Education Specialist,

Friday, January 13, 2012

Myth: Beverages aren't as important as food when trying to cut calories and lose weight.

Answer: BUSTED!

Variety of juices, sports drinks and sodas - be wary of the sugar and calories that may be in these and other beverages
Calories from beverages are just as important as calories from food. With the new year, many people are trying to lose weight, so it is important to be aware of the amount of calories you are getting from both food and beverages. Many beverages are referred to as “liquid candy” because of the amount of calories they contain.

It only takes consuming an extra 100 calories a day to gain 10 pounds in a year! That’s less than the amount of calories in one can of regular cola. Don’t forget the hidden calories in 100% juice. While 100% juice does give you nutrients that colas do not, it is a concentrated source of fruit sugars. An 8-ounce cup of orange juice has 112 calories. You get more nutrients and feeling of fullness from eating the whole fruit than drinking the fruit juice.

Warming up in the winter with hot beverages can also give you unwanted calories. Here are some common winter time drinks and the calorie punch they provide:
  • McCafe large peppermint hot chocolate with non-fat milk: 340 calories, 5g fat
  • McCafe large mocha: 400 calories, 14g fat
  • McCafe large mocha with non-fat milk: 330 calories, 6g fat
  • Starbucks venti white chocolate mocha: 580 calories, 22g fat
  • Starbucks venti pumpkin spiced latte: 470 calories, 15g fat
  • Starbucks grande white hot chocolate with whipped cream: 490 calories, 19g fat

The good news: It only takes 100 less calories per day to lose 10 pounds in a year.

For more information, check out these articles on coffee drinks or soft drinks on the MissouriFamilies website.

Contributors: Mary Keels, Dietetic Intern, MDHSS; Denise Schmitz, M.A., R.D., MU Extension Nutrition & Health Education Specialist,

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Myth: I can’t eat fresh fruits and vegetables in the winter.

Answer: BUSTED!

Our choices for fresh fruits and vegetables are more limited in the winter but it is still possible to enjoy them!!

New guidelines from USDA recommend making half your plate fruits and vegetables. Buying fruits and vegetables that are in season will taste better and cost less. Now is the time to try new recipes and sample produce that you haven’t tried before. Here are some fruits and vegetables that taste great in the winter…

Fruits: D’Anjou Pears, Kiwi, Naval Oranges, Red Grapefruit and Tangerines.

Vegetables: Dark Greens, Beets, Broccoli, Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Parsnips, Sweet Potatoes/Yams and Turnips.
root vegetables

Tips for incorporating more fruits and veggies in your diet during the winter:
  • Find new ways to eat root vegetables (potatoes, beets, carrots, turnips, rutabagas and celery root). Root vegetables take on a tender deep flavor when cooked slowly. Add root vegetables to stews, use them as a hearty side dish or shred them to top on a salad.
  • Winter greens are known for having a bitter taste but you can balance their flavor with cheese, pine nuts and walnuts.
  • Fruits and vegetables are the original fast food. You don’t need a recipe to enjoy them…just wash and go!
  • If you miss eating berries in the winter check out the frozen fruit section. Frozen berries, mango and cherries are perfect for making a smoothie, topping on cereal or mixing with other fresh fruit for a fruit salad.

For more ideas, check out the MU Extension publication Seasonal and Simple: A guide for enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables.

Contributors: Mary Keels, Dietetic Intern, MO DHSS & Denise Schmitz, M.A., R.D., Nutrition & Health Education Specialist, University of Missouri Extension,