How to Get More Vitamin D From Your Food

healthy bagel with vitamin D rich salmon on top

Vitamin D is an essential component of health. This hailed vitamin is most famously responsible for bone health, but some data suggests this vitamin may also play a role in protecting you from diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer and even depression.

And vitamin D deficiency is no joke. It can cause osteoporosis, osteomalacia, brittle bones and increase your risk of fractures. A lack of vitamin D can even affect your immune and nervous system.

Luckily, sunlight (in moderation), supplements and food sources can help get your numbers up to where they should be.

“Many people are able to meet their daily requirement of vitamin D from sun exposure and a balanced diet,” says registered dietitian Anna Taylor, MS, RD, LD, CDE. “But certain groups of people are more likely to develop a deficiency.”

Those most at risk for vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Older adults.
  • People with limited sun exposure.
  • People who are obese or who have had gastric bypass surgery.
  • Those with dark skin.
  • Infants who are exclusively breastfed without vitamin D supplementation.
  • People with certain digestive diseases that result in malabsorption.

For most children and adults, about 600 international units per day is recommended, however it can range up to 4,000 international units per day depending on health needs. (Most supplements offer about 2,000 international units of vitamin D per pill.)

Vitamin D: Whole foods vs. fortified foods

Fortified foods are meant to help boost vitamin and mineral intake. They’re designed to add nutrients that don’t naturally occur in the product. Sometimes iron, fiber, zinc or vitamin A is added. For instance, most milk is fortified with vitamin D and calcium is sometimes added to orange juice.

“Since so few foods found in nature are good sources of vitamin D, fortified foods provide most of the vitamin D found in the American diet,” explains Taylor.

But she warns that some fortified foods can contain added ingredients that make the product less healthy, like sugar or hydrogenated fats. Cow’s milk and most plant alternative milks are typically fortified with vitamin D, but it’s important to look for products with no added sugar.

Many types of yogurt and cereal are also fortified with vitamin D, but could contain excessive added sugar or saturated fat. Margarine is often fortified as well, but some products contain partially hydrogenated oils, which should be avoided. Read labels to choose the best product for your family.

Vitamin D foods

One of the best ways to get enough vitamin D in your diet is to eat a variety of healthy foods from all of the food groups, including some fortified foods. Also aim for about 15 minutes of mid-day sun exposure at least twice per week.

Foods that provide vitamin D include:

International units per serving.

  • Beef liver (cooked). 3 ounces: 42 IU.
  • Cereal, fortified with 10% of the daily value of vitamin D. 0.75 to 1 cup: 40 IU.
  • Cod liver oil. 1 tablespoon: 1360 IU.
  • Egg yolk. 1 large egg: 41 IU.
  • Margarine, fortified. 1 tablespoon: 60 IU.
  • Milk, fortified. 1 cup: 115-124 IU.
  • Orange juice, fortified. 1 cup: 137 IU.
  • Salmon (sockeye, cooked). 3 ounces: 447 IU.
  • Sardines (canned in oil, drained). 2 sardines: 46 IU.
  • Swiss cheese. 1 ounce: 6 IU.
  • Swordfish (cooked). 3 ounces: 566 IU.
  • Tuna (canned in water, drained). 3 ounces: 154 IU.
  • Yogurt, fortified with 20% of the daily value of vitamin D. 6 ounces: 80 IU.

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Is Sucralose (Splenda) Bad for You?

sucrolose substitute

You know that too much sugar is the enemy of a healthy diet. So low-calorie sugar substitutes might seem like the perfect solution.

But is sucralose — aka Splenda®, aka the sweetener in the yellow packet — a healthy swap for the real thing? To find out if this popular artificial sweetener has a sour side, we spoke with registered dietician Kate Patton, RD, to get the low-down.

What is sucralose?

There are a variety of artificial sweeteners available, all of which mimic the sweet taste of sugar (sucrose) without the calories. Sucralose is unique among artificial sweeteners because it’s made from real sugar. A chemical process tweaks its chemical structure, making it 600 times sweeter than sugar — and essentially calorie-free.

Fans like sucralose because it doesn’t have a bitter aftertaste, as some fake sugars do. That may be why it’s so hard to avoid. Sucralose is in everything from sugar-free gum and soda to ice cream and yogurt. And because it remains stable in heat, you can swap it for sugar in baked goods.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reviewed more than 110 safety studies before approving it as a sweetener in 1998. But since then, research has raised questions about the safety of sucralose. “Although it’s generally considered safe, there are some reasons for caution,” says Patton.

Sucralose and weight gain

Lots of people reach for diet soda and calorie-free sweeteners to keep their weight in check. But the jury is still out on whether artificial sweeteners actually help you keep off the pounds.

Some studies have found no link between body weight and low-calorie sweeteners. Others have found that people who replace sugar with low-calorie sweeteners weigh ever-so-slightly less, on average — a difference, the researchers found, of fewer than two pounds.

On the other hand, some research suggests that people who drink diet soda might end up eating more calories in food than people who drink sugar-sweetened soda. In other words, sucralose isn’t a slam dunk when it comes to weight loss.

Sucralose and the microbiome

Your gut is home to an entire community of helpful bacteria. The microbiome has several important jobs, including helping with digestion and aiding your immune system. But some studies have found that sucralose might not be so great for those tiny helpers.

Research in rodents shows that sucralose upsets the microbiome balance, and that can lead to increased inflammation.

“We know long-term inflammation can contribute to a variety of problems, including obesity and diabetes,” says Patton. “But we need more research to find out if sucralose causes the same changes in human microbiomes as it does in animals.”

Sucralose and blood sugar

When you eat a sugary treat, your body produces the hormone insulin to help stabilize the sugar in your blood. People thought that artificial sweeteners wouldn’t have the same effect. That makes sugar-free sweeteners popular among people with diabetes, who need to monitor blood sugar levels closely.

But exactly how sucralose affects blood sugar and insulin levels is an open question. Some research suggests sucralose doesn’t raise blood sugar and insulin levels in healthy people.

But at least one study found that in people with obesity who didn’t normally eat artificial sweeteners, sucralose could raise both blood sugar and insulin levels. “We need more research to tease this out,” says Patton. “But instead of replacing sugar with sucralose, it’s a good idea to find other ways to cut back on sugar.”

Taming a sweet tooth

“Sugar is addictive — and artificial sweeteners may be, too,” says Patton. Some studies hint that using a lot of sugar or artificial sweeteners just makes you crave more sugary foods and drinks.

It might seem daunting to cut back on the sweet treats you’re used to. But once your tastebuds adjust, you’ll reset your sweet tooth and start to appreciate the natural sweetness of foods like fruits.

Is sucralose safe?

So what’s the verdict on sucralose? It’s complicated.

It’s true that research has raised some concerns. Yet scientists haven’t found any direct negative health effects in people who consume sucralose long-term. That’s true both for healthy people and those with diabetes.

“While sucralose may cause problems at higher doses, most people consume nowhere near that amount,” says Patton. “If you enjoy sucralose occasionally and in moderation, it isn’t likely to have a major effect on your health.”

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Does What You Eat Affect Your Mood?

food and mood woman eating brownies

If dreary weather or another day of staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic has you feeling a case of the blahs, what you choose to eat can make a difference.

Certain foods and nutrients help your brain to make chemicals that can impact your mood, attention and focus, while other foods can zap your energy, says registered dietitian Sarah Thomsen Ferreira, MS, MPH, RD, LD, IFNCP, CHWC.

Food and your mood

The best meal to enhance your mood is one that combines complex carbohydrates with lean proteins and colorful produce. For example, complex carbohydrates from whole foods (like sweet potatoes, rolled oats, beans and quinoa) can increase availability of the feel-good chemical serotonin in your brain.

Protein consumption (from foods like fish, beef, chicken, turkey, tofu, beans, eggs and unsweetened yogurt) has been linked to higher levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, which are brain chemicals that play a role in your mood, motivation and concentration.

Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that nourish your body and have also been shown to boost happiness.

“The Mediterranean diet has gained significant attention for decreasing symptoms of depression, with key components being increased intake of vegetables, fruit, omega-3-rich fish, nuts, legumes and olive oil,” Ferreira says. Consuming a diet based on whole, unrefined foods with enough protein, healthy fat and fiber also helps to keep blood sugar stable after meals, which has been linked to improvements in mood and anxiety.

Over time, eating foods without a lot of nutrients can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Nutrients important to a healthy mood include:

  • Folate.
  • Iron.
  • Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA).
  • Magnesium.
  • Potassium.
  • Selenium.
  • Thiamine.
  • Vitamin A.
  • Vitamin B6.
  • Vitamin B12.
  • Vitamin C.
  • Zinc.

What to eat and avoid

Examples of meals which combine protein, fat, fiber, colorful produce, mood-supportive nutrients and whole-food carbohydrates include:

  • Egg quiche with quinoa crust, olive tapenade and balsamic-marinated tomatoes.
  • Quinoa salad with chicken, grapes and almonds.
  • Salmon salad with sundried tomatoes and artichoke hearts in a brown rice wrap.
  • Mediterranean bean and veggie soup with pesto.
  • Coconut chicken with purple rice and sautéed kale.
  • Grass-fed beef with herbed sweet potatoes and roasted broccoli.

Meanwhile, avoid foods that could leave you feeling mentally drained. “Some foods with low nutritional value may give you a quick energy boost but could leave you with low energy and mood later on,” Ferreira says. Those include:

  • Flour-based foods such as breads, crackers and baked goods.
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages and snacks, such as soda and cookies.

If you’ll be making changes in your diet, be patient. It may take two to three weeks to see an improvement in your mood.

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The 6 Best Seeds to Eat

chia seeds

Plant a seed. Watch it grow. Eat a seed. Reap the health benefits.

“Seeds are good sources of plant-based, healthy fats, fiber and minerals,” says registered dietitian Kate Patton,RD. And for such a tiny package, the impacts on your body are massive. Seeds are loaded with:

  • Iron – Which helps you make proteins that carry oxygen-rich blood throughout your body.
  • Calcium – Critical for bone health.
  • Magnesium – A mineral that helps with hydration and bowel and brain health — and one we often don’t have enough of.
  • Phosphorus – Important for many body functions, including repairing cells and filtering waste.

The best seeds to eat for your diet

Patton says these six seeds are a great addition to a healthy diet:

  • Flaxseeds.
  • Chia seeds.
  • Pumpkin seeds.
  • Sunflower seeds.
  • Hemp seeds.
  • Sesame seeds.

Why flaxseeds are good for you

Flaxseed, or flax, is the seed of the flax plant. It’s loaded with fiber, protein and potassium. It’s also a great source of lignans. “Lignans are a polyphenol, which is a type of antioxidant. While lignans are in other plant sources, flaxseed contains 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods,” says Patton.

Research has shown that the anti-inflammatory properties of lignans help prevent heart disease and cancer.

How to eat flaxseeds

Patton says flaxseeds are best eaten ground up. “Our bodies have a hard time digesting and absorbing the nutritional benefits of the actual seed.”

Mixed into hot cereals, yogurts and smoothies or use as a substitute for some of the flour in a muffin or bread recipe.

“Flax is definitely high in fiber, so introduce it slowly, or it could affect your bowel regularity,” adds Patton. You also don’t need much — some studies showed health benefits with just 1 tablespoon of flaxseed a day.

Why chia seeds are good for you

Like flaxseeds, chia seeds are an excellent plant-based source of omega-3 fats, or alpha linolenic acid. So if you’re not a big fish eater, chia seeds can help you fill the void.

“Another benefit of chia seeds is that they absorb up to 10 times the amount of water that they’re put in. So you can turn them into a gel and use it as a vegan egg substitute,” says Patton. “It can also help you stay full because of this liquid-absorption ability and its high fiber count.”

How to eat chia seeds

To make a chia gel, combine 1/4 cup of water with 1 tablespoon of chia seeds. Let them sit for about 10 minutes. This serving size would be equal to one egg if you’re using it as an egg substitute.

Patton says you can also make a vegan pudding with almond milk and chia seeds. “Again, I would start with just a tablespoon or two because of their fiber content.”

Why pumpkin seeds are good for you

Patton says pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are a great source for lots of minerals, including zinc. “Zinc is known for helping our immunity.”

Studies have also shown that pumpkin seeds can help lower your LDL, or bad cholesterol, and prevent muscle weakness.

How to eat pumpkin seeds

Whether you grab them off the shelf or carve them right out of the pumpkin, pumpkin seeds are incredibly versatile. You can eat them shelled or unshelled (pro tip: Unshelled seeds have more fiber). Snack on them on their own or mix them into salads or vegetables for some texture.

“Roasted pumpkin seeds are also popular,” says Patton. “Simply bake them in the oven and add whatever seasonings you like. You can make them spicy or add turmeric or salt.”

It’s also important to be portion smart. Pumpkin seeds are high in fiber, calories and fat — just one cup has 285 calories, 12 grams of fiber and 12 grams of fat. Too many in one sitting may cause gas and bloating. And too many too often can lead to weight gain.

Why sunflower seeds are good for you

Sunflower seeds have a good amount of minerals, B vitamins and antioxidants like vitamin E and selenium. “Antioxidants help reduce free radicals in your body. Free radicals are harmful chemicals that can increase our risk of diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer,” Patton says.

How to eat sunflower seeds

You can buy sunflower seeds with or without the shells. If they’re in shells, just bite them off and throw them away.

Choose unsalted or lightly salted to control sodium intake. “Sodium is one of those sneaky minerals. It’s easy to get too much,” says Patton. “Excess sodium contributes to high blood pressure and other health problems.”

Why hemp seeds are good for you

Hemp seeds, also called hemp hearts, are rich in vitamin E and potassium. They also have the most protein of all the seeds and are a great source for healthy omega-6 and omega-3 fats.

How to eat hemp seeds

Hemp seeds are bigger and crunchier than flaxseeds and chia seeds. That’s why they make a good texture addition to cereal, yogurt and salad, says Patton. You can also try them sprinkled on rice or veggies.

Why sesame seeds are good for you

In addition to minerals and fiber, sesame seeds are high in selenium, an antioxidant shown to decrease the risk of chronic disease.

How to eat sesame seeds

When making Asian-inspired meals, use sesame oil or sprinkle the seeds as a garnish. They also make a great accent in salads and quinoa or rice dishes. You can also bread chicken or eggplant with crushed sesame seeds.

The potential risks of seed-eating

If you have diverticulitis, you should avoid eating seeds. Patton says they can irritate the condition because they’re packed with fiber. Seeds can also get stuck in the polyps (small growths also known as diverticula) in your colon.

“They may be small, but they’re calorie-dense, tooA little bit each day is enough to reap the benefits — or else those calories will add up.”

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Why You Should No Longer Worry About Cholesterol in Food

man peeling an egg cholesterol

High levels of “bad” cholesterol in the blood, which have been linked to heart disease, are still a health concern.

But evidence shows people no longer have to be concerned about eating foods that are high in cholesterol. What’s changed is that many researchers and physicians believe that eating cholesterol-rich foods such as eggs may not affect the cholesterol that is in your blood.

“However, people with certain health problems, such as diabetes, should continue to avoid cholesterol-rich foods,” says cardiologist Steven Nissen, MD.

It’s complicated

Is cholesterol good for you? Is cholesterol bad for you? It’s complicated.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that ultimately ends up in the walls of arteries. It causes plaque that leads to heart attacks and strokes. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines call for a daily cholesterol limit of 300 milligrams.

The relationship between cholesterol and the body is extremely complicated. Some of the ways its complicated are:

  • The body regulates how much cholesterol is in your blood.
  • There are different kinds of cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein or LDL (bad) cholesterol contributes to plaque buildup along with triglycerides, another lipid. High-density lipoprotein or HDL (good) cholesterol discourages plaque buildup.
  • LDL is the bad cholesterol that you should avoid because it can increase your risk of heart disease.
  • The way people process cholesterol differs. Some people appear to be more vulnerable to cholesterol-rich diets.

“Your genetic makeup – not diet – is the driving force behind cholesterol levels, says Dr. Nissen. “The body creates cholesterol in amounts much larger than what you can eat, so avoiding foods that are high in cholesterol won’t affect your blood cholesterol levels very much.”

About 85% of the cholesterol in the circulation is manufactured by the body in the liver. It isn’t coming directly from the cholesterol that you eat, according to Dr. Nissen.

It’s also likely that people with family history of heart disease share common environments that may increase their risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What you should worry about

Should you actually worry about cholesterol in food? The greater danger for everyone is in foods that are high in trans fats.

“Those often appear on food labels as hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil,” he says. “Those types of fats do tend to raise cholesterol and do tend to increase the risk of heart disease.”

All in all, look for trans fat and saturated fat on labels at the grocery store. The American Heart Association recommends limiting dietary saturated fat intake and focusing more on eating fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean animal protein or plant protein sources.​

Honey and Diabetes: Is It Safe?

honey and diabetes

Some people add honey to their coffee and tea or use it as a sweetener when baking. But is honey safe for people with diabetes? The short answer is yes, but only under certain conditions.

People living with diabetes have to control and manage their carbohydrate and sugar intake. This doesn’t mean they have to avoid sweets altogether.

In moderation, honey isn’t only safe, but it has anti-inflammatory properties that might also reduce diabetes complications.

What is honey?

Honey is a thick, golden-colored liquid produced by honeybees and other insects, like some bumblebees and wasps.

It comes from the nectar within flowers, which bees collect and store in their stomachs until back at the hive.

Nectar is made up of sucrose (sugar), water, and other substances. It’s roughly 80 percent carbohydrate and 20 percent water. Bees produce honey by ingesting and regurgitating the nectar over and over again. This process removes the water.

Afterward, bees store the honey in honeycombs to be used as an energy source during the winter when it’s harder to find food.

Although it’s a natural sweetener, honey has a bit more carbohydrates and calories per teaspoon than table sugar.

According to the United States Department of AgricultureTrusted Source, 1 tablespoon of raw honey has about 60 calories and 17 grams of carbohydrates.

Honey also contains many vitamins and minerals, including iron, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. It’s also an antioxidant, which are substances that prevent and slow cell damage.

Honey can be raw or processed

honey dipper on honey comb

Raw honey is also known as unfiltered honey. This honey is extracted from a beehive and then strained to remove impurities.

Processed honey, on the other hand, undergoes a filtration process. It’s also pasteurized (exposed to high heat) to destroy yeast and create a longer shelf life.

Processed honey is smoother, but the filtration and pasteurizing process does remove some of its nutrients and antioxidants.

There are about 300 different types of honey in the United States. These types are determined by the source of the nectar, or more simply, what the bees eat.

For example, blueberry honey is retrieved from the flowers of the blueberry bush, whereas avocado honey comes from avocado blossoms.

The source of the nectar affects the taste of the honey and its color.

How does honey affect blood sugar?

Because honey is a natural sugar and a carbohydrate, it’s only natural for it to affect your blood sugar in some way. When compared to table sugar, however, it appears that honey has a smaller effect.

A 2004 study evaluated the effects of honey and table sugar on blood sugar levels. This study involved individuals with and without type 1 diabetes.

Researchers found that in the group of people with diabetes, honey caused an initial increase in blood sugar 30 minutes after consumption. However, the participant’s blood sugar levels later decreased and remained at lower levels for two hours.

This leads researchers to believe that honey, unlike table sugar, may cause an increase in insulin, which is an important hormone for controlling blood sugar. More research is needed.

Can honey prevent diabetes?

Even though honey may increase insulin levels and help people with diabetes control their blood sugar, there doesn’t appear to be any conclusive research supporting honey as a preventive factor for diabetes. This might be plausible, however.

Researchers have found a possible connection between honey and a lower glycemic index.

In a study of 50 people with type 1 diabetes and 30 people without type 1 diabetes, researchers found that, compared to sugar, honey had a lower glycemic effect on all participants.

It also raised their levels of C-peptide, a substance released into the bloodstream when the body produces insulin.

A normal level of C-peptide means the body is making sufficient insulin. More studies are needed to determine whether honey can be used for the prevention and treatment of diabetes.

Are there risks to eating honey if you have diabetes?

Keep in mind that honey is sweeter than sugar. If you substitute honey for sugar, you only need a little.

Because honey can affect blood sugar, avoid it and other sweeteners until your diabetes is under control.

Honey should be consumed in moderation. Speak with your healthcare provider before using it as an added sweetener.

If your diabetes is well-controlled and you want to add honey to your diet, choose pure, organic, or raw natural honey. These types are safer for people with diabetes because all-natural honey doesn’t have any added sugar.

However, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems shouldn’t consume raw honey, as it’s not pasteurized.

If you purchase processed honey from a grocery store, it may also contain sugar or syrup. The added sweetener can affect your blood sugar differently.

Are there benefits to eating honey if you have diabetes?

One benefit of eating honey is that it could increase your insulin level and help control your blood sugar.

Replacing sugar with honey can also be beneficial, considering how honey is a source of antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.

A diet rich in antioxidants can improve how your body metabolizes sugar, and the anti-inflammatory properties in honey could potentially reduce diabetes complications.

Inflammation can lead to insulin resistance, which is when the body doesn’t respond properly to insulin.

The takeaway

Honey is a natural sweetener that could have a positive effect on your glycemic index. But as with any type of sweetener, moderation is key.

Talk to your doctor before adding honey to your diet. Honey isn’t right for everyone, including people who need to lower their blood sugar levels. If you eat honey, make sure it’s organic, raw, or pure honey that doesn’t contain added sugars.

Health benefits of Microgreens

Scientists see microgreens as a functional food, which means that they can provide key nutrients in a practical way. Some people call them a superfood.

People have long grown mustard and cress on their kitchen window ledges and in classrooms. They are fun to grow, tasty to eat, and healthful. However, other types of sprout and microgreen have recently become popular as health foods.

Microgreens can play a role in both sweet and savory dishes.

In addition to their nutritional value, they can add flavor, texture, and color to salads and sandwiches. People can also add them to smoothies or use them as a garnish.

They are suitable for eating raw, which means that they retain their vitamin and mineral content.

In this article, we look at the benefits of microgreens, how to add them to the diet, how to grow them, and any potential health risks.

What are microgreens?

Micro Greens Close Up on White Background

Like sprouts, microgreens are a young vegetable. However, sprouts and microgreens are not the same.

Sprouts are newly germinated seeds that people harvest just as the seed begins to grow and before their leaves develop. Conversely, microgreens grow from sprouts, and they have leaves.

When the cotyledon leaves — the embryonic leaves — have fully developed, and the first true leaves have emerged, the plant becomes a microgreen.

People usually grow sprouts in water and harvest them within 2–3 days.

Microgreens can grow either in soil or hydroponically, but they need sunlight. People harvest them after 1–3 weeks, depending on the type.

People can grow microgreens from any herb or vegetable. The flavor will depend on the plant.

Popular microgreens include:

  • amaranth
  • basil
  • kale
  • broccoli
  • mustard
  • tatsoi
  • orach
  • borage
  • beet
  • parsley
  • pea
  • red pak choi
  • kohlrabi
  • Swiss chard
  • rocket

 

Possible health benefits

Microgreens might offer several benefits as an addition to the diet.

Rich in nutrients

Many fresh plant products provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

These nutrients can help with:

  • preventing a range of diseases
  • managing weight
  • boosting both mental and physical health and well-being

Microgreens can offer all of these benefits and possibly more.

Antioxidant content

Many plant based foods are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Vitamins and minerals play hundreds of roles in essential bodily processes.

Antioxidants help the body eliminate unstable waste molecules known as free radicals.

Free radicals result from both natural bodily processes and environmental pressures, such as pollution. As they build up, they can lead to cell damage. Eventually, this damage may contribute to the development of diseases, such as cancer.

The body can remove some free radicals, but they can still accumulate. Antioxidants from foods can help remove more of them. Plant based foods can provide antioxidants.

There is evidence to suggest that microgreens have a high antioxidant content, which means that they may help prevent a range of diseases. The exact types of antioxidant will depend on the plant.

Microgreens from the Brassica family, which include broccoli, contain high levels of vitamin E, a phenolic antioxidant. Asteraceae microgreens, such as chicory and lettuce, appear to be high in vitamin A, or carotenoid antioxidants.

Details about using microgreens to treat or prevent specific diseases are not yet available, but scientists are looking into their possible benefits

Specific groups

Some researchers have suggested that microgreens may be suitable for tailoring to provide additional nutrients to specific groups of people.

For example, one group of scientists produced chicory and lettuce microgreens with high levels of the nutrients that green, leafy vegetables usually contain but a lower potassium content. This nutrient profile, they said, could be useful for people with kidney disease.

Tailored microgreens could also be beneficial for people who follow a vegan, vegetarian, or raw food diet and for those who cannot access or consume fresh vegetables due to issues of availability, cost, or health.

Sustainability

There is a growing interest in sustainability, and microgreens could be a good way to provide city dwelling families with locally produced seasonal vegetables at a low cost.

Microgreens are easy to grow at home in a confined space. A small outlay can provide a significant return in terms of bulk, variety, and nutrients.

As they take just a few weeks to grow, it is possible to have an ongoing source of microgreens. By rotating three crops, for example, people could have fresh microgreens every week. Hydroponically grown microgreens do not even need soil.

Experts have suggested that microgreens could even provide fresh and healthful food for astronauts.

Nutrition

The nutritional value of microgreens varies according to type, as with conventional vegetables.

However, there is also evidence that some may contain a higher concentration of many nutrients than their mature, fully grown counterparts.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 100 grams (g) of kale microgreens provides only 29 calories.

Other research has indicated that Brassica microgreens, which include kale, may be an especially good source of antioxidant vitamins and the minerals potassium and calcium.

A 100 g serving of sunflower and basil microgreen mix will provide:

  • 28 calories
  • 2.2 g of protein
  • 4.4 g of carbohydrate
  • 2.2 g of fiber
  • 88 milligrams (mg) of calcium
  • 15.9 mg of iron
  • 66 mg of magnesium
  • 66 mg of phosphorus
  • 298 mg of potassium
  • 11 mg of sodium
  • 0.7 mg of zinc
  • 6.6 mg of vitamin C
  • 79.6 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin A
  • 66 mcg of folate

The greens also contain selenium, manganese, and a range of B vitamins.

The same size serving of sunflower and beet micrograms contains similar amounts of each nutrient but provides more iron, at 23.9 mg.

A 2012 study looked at the nutrient content of 25 different microgreens. The researchers found the highest concentrations of four different vitamins and carotenoids in the following items:

  • red cabbage
  • green daikon radish
  • cilantro
  • garnet amaranth

The key benefits of each microgreen varied. Red cabbage microgreens, for example, were rich in vitamin C but low in vitamin E. Green daikon radish microgreens were rich in vitamin E but relatively low in lutein in comparison with cabbage, cilantro, and amaranth.

Eating a variety of vegetables and microgreens will supply more of these helpful nutrients.

How to grow microgreens

Microgreens are relatively easy to grow on a small scale and can thrive indoors if sunlight is available.

People wishing to grow their own microgreens can follow these steps:

  1. Scatter seeds over an inch of potting soil in a planter dish or tray and cover with another thin layer of soil.
  2. Mist the soil with water and place near a source of sunlight or a grow light.
  3. Continue to mist the seeds daily to keep the soil moist.

The microgreens will be ready to harvest in 2–3 weeks. People should take care to cut their greens above the soil line and rinse them well before using them.

You can purchase kits for growing microgreens online

Dietary tips

As well as adding nutritional content, microgreens can boost color, enhance flavor, and add texture to any dish.

People can add microgreens to meals in the following ways:

  • as a garnish for salads, soups, flatbreads, or pizzas
  • to add nutritional value to a juice or smoothie
  • as a side to any main dish
  • to add flavor and color to an omelet or frittata
  • as an alternative to lettuce in tacos or a burger or sandwich

Herb microgreens can also add flavor to sweet dishes. People can sprinkle a pinch of mint, for example, on a fruit based mousse or on strawberries with yogurt.

Risks

Some experts have raised concerns about the risk of contamination of microgreens, for example, with Escherichia coli. The risk increases with the storage time, and it will depend partly on the type and composition of the microgreen. Some are more susceptible than others.

As with sprouts and other vegetables, sources of contamination can include:

  • the soil or other medium in which they grow
  • the irrigation water
  • the type of microgreen

Some people who grow sprouts and microgreens commercially use disinfectant products, such as chlorinated water, to prevent contamination. Others rinse the plants frequently, up to 50 times before a sprout is ready to harvest, to keep them clean.

People can also spritz microgreens with chlorinated water from the tap just before eating them to minimize the risk.

The shelf life of microgreens varies from 10–14 days after harvesting.

People who buy microgreens from the grocery store should:

  • ensure that they come from a reputable supplier
  • check the sell-by date
  • keep them refrigerated at a maximum of 5°C and eat them within 10 days

People who grow microgreens at home will be better able to manage these risks. Tips for producing microgreens safely at home include:

  • using clean soil or hydroponic materials
  • irrigating with clean water
  • harvesting and consuming microgreens as soon as possible when they are ready
  • keeping them refrigerated at no more than at 5 °C, if necessary, and eating them within 10 days

Takeaway

Microgreens can be a fun and practical way to add fresh, nutritious produce to meals, even for city dwellers. They can be a tasty addition to sweet and savory dishes, and they may have more nutrients than their conventional counterparts.

Parents and caregivers who invite their children to help them plant, water, and harvest microgreens on a window ledge might find that their children become more excited about eating greens.

In terms of cost and sustainability, growing microgreens can be a practical and economical way of putting fresh food on the table.

Type 2 Diabetes: 5 Simple Prevention Tips for Families

Active family exercise

Diabetes is a worldwide epidemic. As more people develop diabetes each year, you may worry about the risks for you and your family. But, here’s the good news: You can do something about those risks.

A recent study shows that choosing healthy habits can make a big difference in the long run.

Researchers analyzed data from 14 studies that included about 1 million people. They found that people who had the healthiest lifestyle had a 75% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared to those who had the least healthy lifestyle, explains diabetes nurse educator, Sue Cotey.

The takeaway? Taking some simple steps now can help you avoid type 2 diabetes. In fact, making healthy lifestyle changes now can head off nearly three-quarters of all cases.

Those who had the best chances of avoiding type 2 diabetes:

  • Didn’t smoke.
  • Didn’t drink alcohol.
  • Exercised regularly.
  • Ate a healthy diet.
  • Weren’t overweight.

Having someone cheering you on at home makes it easier to make positive lifestyle changes. And, as a parent, spouse or caregiver, you can keep yourself and your family healthy by understanding your diabetes risk and making better choices for everyone.

Here are five ways to reduce your family’s risk of type 2 diabetes:

1. Know your family’s unique risks

The American Diabetes Association offers an online risk test to help you estimate your risk for type 2 diabetes.

It’s higher for those who:

  • Are overweight.
  • Have a family history of diabetes.
  • Are age 45 or older.+ Have high blood pressure.
  • Have high cholesterol.
  • Have had gestational diabetes.
  • Have had heart disease.
  • Are African-American, Alaskan or Hawaiian, native American, or Hispanic.

2. Get moving

You don’t need to run miles a day to reduce your diabetes risk. Simply moving around — and including your family in the activity — will help you lose weight and lower your risk.

Taking the dog for a walk, walking around the mall, playing catch or joining a sports league are all good ways to get your family up and moving around. The goal is to work in some kind of physical activity for at least 150 minutes each week.

3. Fix your diet

Here are some simple tips for improving your nutrition:

  • Reduce your intake of foods that are high in calories, sugar and fat. ChooseMyPlate.gov offers easy-to-follow guidelines about what to eat at every meal.
  • Replace sugary drinks and fruit juice with water.
  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Eat plenty of whole grains.
  • Keep your pantry stocked. Having healthy food at home helps you avoid eating out too much.
  • Include your family in planning and preparing meals. If you can, sit down to enjoy them together.

4. Lose a little weight

If you or your family have some weight to lose, you’re not alone. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends cutting the calories you consume by 500 to 1,000 a day to lose one to two pounds a week.

Eating a diet that’s high in whole grains and fiber but low in refined sugars is key when it comes to dropping your diabetes risk, Cotey says.

“Fiber helps to slow down absorption,” she says. “For people who have diabetes, or even prediabetes, fiber can help keep blood sugars more stable when added to your diet.”

Consuming too many refined sugars, such as white bread, pasta, rice and sweet drinks, can cause insulin levels to spike very quickly and result in changes in blood sugar levels.If you’re diagnosed with prediabetes, that does not necessarily mean that diabetes is on the horizon, Cotey says — but it does mean that you need to take action to turn things around.

“You can definitely prevent progression to diabetes,” she says. “Importantly, we’ve found that even losing 5% to 7% of your weight can substantially reduce your risk to develop diabetes.”

These healthy lifestyle changes will also improve other risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It can feel overwhelming to have to make multiple changes to your lifestyle to achieve health goals. But Cotey recommends taking baby steps and tackling one new healthy habit at a time.

5. Don’t go it alone

There are many programs available across the country to help you and your family lower your diabetes risk.

More than 200 YMCA programs nationwide offer 25 one-hour sessions over a year for people with prediabetes (where blood glucose levels are high, but not yet in the range of diabetes).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also offers a year-long lifestyle change program with education, a lifestyle coach and support groups.

If you suspect that someone in your family is at risk for type 2 diabetes, talk with your healthcare provider. Your doctor can either provide information or direct you to resources to help you make important lifestyle changes.

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These Lemon Lozenges that can control sugar craving

​ A natural, fruity lemon lozenge with our clinically-proven formulation, made from the plant- Gymnema Sylvestre.

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5 Vague Cancer Signs You Should Never Ignore

weighing self on scale

Ovarian and cervical cancers cause a host of different symptoms. Many are vague or similar to other conditions. There are several, however, that should send you straight to your gynecologist for a checkup.

While they can mean many things besides cancer, they definitely need to be checked out, according to Ob/Gyn Mariam AlHilli, MD.

These include:

1. Vaginal bleeding after menopause

In most of cases, doctors identify a benign reason for post-menopausal bleeding. However, this type of bleeding is linked to endometrial cancer. More than 90% of women with endometrial cancer will have postmenopausal bleeding as the first sign. Any abnormal bleeding or postmenopausal bleeding should be evaluated. It could also be a sign of cervical cancer.

2. Abnormal vaginal bleeding before menopause

Any bleeding that is outside what’s normal for you should raise a red flag for either endometrial or cervical cancer.

“Bleeding that is heavier than your normal period or irregular is concerning in some cases and may need to be investigated,” says Dr. AlHilli. “You should also see your doctor about bleeding after intercourse or bleeding between your periods.”

3. Pelvic pain

Persistent abdominal pain and discomfort can also be a potential sign of ovarian cancer. Gas, indigestion, pressure, bloating and cramps can indicate ovarian cancer.

4. Unexpected weight loss/gain

For women with ovarian cancer, there are many reasons for weight gain. Tumor size is one factor since tumors frequently go undiagnosed until they’re relatively large. Sometimes fluid builds up in the abdomen.

5. Appetite loss

With ovarian cancer, women sometimes lose their appetite. If you suddenly lose more than 10 pounds without changing your diet or increasing exercise, consult your doctor. In many cases, the lack of desire is a result of how cancer impacts your metabolism.

Vague symptoms make diagnosis a challenge

“Overall, symptoms that indicate ovarian cancer are often difficult to diagnose,” says Dr. AlHilli.

For example, vague abdominal pain, upper abdominal discomfort or indigestion, nausea or vomiting, and constipation can also indicate a problem. Many symptoms are similar to those from other conditions.

To diagnose whether your symptoms are benign or cancerous, your doctor will likely perform a series of tests.

Here’s what you should know about possible tests:

  • Expect a pelvic exam.
  • An endometrial biopsy is also possible, as well as a Pap smear.
  • Depending on what those tests find, your doctor may order a CT scan for more detailed results.

“Many of these signs and symptoms are temporary and won’t amount to anything,” she says. “But it’s best to let your doctor examine you to make sure. Early treatment is critical for these types of cancer, so it’s dangerous to ignore the signs.”

______________________________________________

These Lemon Lozenges that can control sugar craving

​ A natural, fruity lemon lozenge with our clinically-proven formulation, made from the plant- Gymnema Sylvestre.

Convenient and discrete to use in any situation. The lozenge dissolves on the tongue in 2-3 minutes and works instantly.

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6 Food Tips to Help Prevent Stroke

woman eating fruit salad

Up to 80% of strokes can be prevented. What you eat each day can play a big role not just in weight control, but also in protecting you against stroke.

“Food, as it relates to stroke, is all about prevention,” says certified nurse practitioner Susan Jaeger. “Your food choices can reduce the risk of cholesterol buildup in the arteries, and these blockages are a major cause of stroke.”

Think of it this way: Stroke is often referred to as a “brain attack” because it’s affecting your brain as a heart attack would your heart. One American dies every four minutes because of stroke, and to help offset your risk, a heart-healthy diet is imperative.

Jaegar offers advice on how you can can make the right food choices to stave off stroke:

1. Increase the amount of fruits and veggies in your diet

It’s a way of reducing your intake of cholesterol, “bad” fats and sodium while still filling you up. Some foods can be deceiving, though.

“You may think you’re doing a healthy thing by ordering a salad at a restaurant,” says Jaeger. “But if it’s loaded with lunch meats, cheese and ranch dressing, you’re really eating a large amount of calories, fat and salt, which can all raise your risk of stroke.”

Not only that, but one study reported that artificial sweeteners can actually increase your risk of stroke, too. And yes, that includes your beloved diet soda.

The Mediterranean diet is the best for helping increase your intake of fruits and veggies since it’s shown to be the best for your heart. Put a few Mediterranean diet-friendly recipes in your weekly recipe cycle to reap the benefits of lean meat, fish, fruits, veggies and whole grains.

2. Avoid high cholesterol foods like red meat, fried food and butter

Red meat, butter and fried food are notorious for increasing your risk of stroke. Instead, try baking, broiling and steaming your food instead of frying it.

Unfortunately, that means nixing your favorite Alfredo or heavy cream sauces from your diet, too. When choosing meat, be sure to choose white meats like skinless chicken instead of red meat. If you want to try meat substitutes, include beans, peas, lentils or tofu in your diet.

3. Eat foods rich in omega-3

Omega-3 is a polyunsaturated fat — the healthy kind of fat — that raises your level of “good” cholesterol. It has also been shown to help prevent stroke.

“Find it in fish, flaxseed and omega-3 rich eggs,” she says. “Omega-3 also lowers bad cholesterol, which helps to reduce the risk of stroke.”

The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fatty fish each week, which can include salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring. Consult with your doctor or dietitian to figure out how much omega-3 you need in your diet.

4. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink

Alcohol can raise blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for stroke. If you want to have a drink, keep it to no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women. Stick to red wine, too, since it has heart and brain-protecting properties.

5. Cut down your salt intake

While we crave salty food sometimes, it’s important to watch how much sodium we actually eat. According to the American Heart Association, the average American eats about 3,400 mg of sodium each day. The AHA recommends no more than 1,500 mg a day, and if you have certain medical conditions, you should consume even less.

“Reduce its use in your cooking and don’t even touch the salt shaker during your meal,” says Jaeger. “Try replacing salt with herbs in your cooking to enhance the natural flavor of the food without raising blood pressure.”

Salt can be hiding in your favorite food, too. High sodium levels can be found in fan favorites like pizza, canned soup, bread, sandwiches, sauces and deli meat. When shopping, look at the label to make sure you’re buying items with the least amount of sodium possible. If you’re heading out to a nice dinner (socially distanced, of course), don’t be afraid to ask the server if the chef can reduce sodium levels in your meal.

______________________________________________

These Lemon Lozenges that can control sugar craving

​ A natural, fruity lemon lozenge with our clinically-proven formulation, made from the plant- Gymnema Sylvestre.

Convenient and discrete to use in any situation. The lozenge dissolves on the tongue in 2-3 minutes and works instantly.

______________________________________________