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Nutrition 101: Is Beet Juice the Next Super Food?




When I saw a new report last week about the benefits of beet juice, I thought it was worth looking into further. It was only after I did a little more investigating that I discovered, beet juice just might become the next marketing focus right behind pomegranates as a potential super food you should be including in your diet.


As we continue to look at some nutrition basics in our ongoing Nutrition 101 series, let’s look at beets and see whether the benefits are real or nothing more than propaganda and if this is a super food worthy of marketing hype.


Posted 8/20/2009  6:13:16 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 119 comments   67,557 views
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Nutrition 101: What Is Crystalline Fructose?


Recently, some of you asked about crystalline fructose, a sweetener that is used in plenty of drinks, even some that call themselves "health drinks." We decided to do some research into this corn-based sweetener to help you better understand what you're sipping.

Fructose is a naturally occurring simple sugar found in fruits and vegetables. Many of us consume it regularly as part of our healthy diet. We also know that fructose is 55% of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) with glucose making up the other 45%.

What about the crystalline form of fructose that is being used in carbonated beverages, enhanced or flavored waters, sports and energy drinks, and nutrition bars as well as baked goods, frozen foods, cereal, dairy products, reduced-calorie foods, canned fruits, and drink mixes?
Posted 5/25/2009  7:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 41 comments   36,382 views
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Folic Acid Important for Health




Folate is a water soluble B vitamin (B9) that is naturally found in food.

Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate found in supplements and fortified foods.

Folate plays a vital role in good health.


  • It helps make normal red blood cells and aids in preventing anemia in both adults as well as children.
  • Is vital for production and maintenance of new cells and necessary to make DNA and RNA.
  • Is essential for the metabolism of homocysteine and maintaining normal levels of amino acids in the body.


Because this nutrient is so important, in 1996 the FDA regulated the addition of folic acid to enriched breads, cereals, flour, corn meals, pastas, rice and other grain products. Because cereals and grains are widely consumed in the U.S., they are leading contributors of folic acid to the American diet.

The RDA for folate is expressed as Dietary Folate Equivalent or DFE. The DFE takes into account the differences in absorption of the naturally occurring dietary folate and the more bioavailable synthetic folic acid. The RDA is expressed as micrograms (ug) of DFE and 1 DFE = 1 ug food folate = 0.6 ug folic acid from supplements and fortified foods. The RDA for folate for adults is 400 ug/day for both males and females with an increase for woman who are of child bearing age to a minimum of 600 ug/day.

Why the education on folate?
Posted 5/14/2009  1:00:09 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 48 comments   27,493 views
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Nutrition 101: Are You Overdoing the Zinc?


Zinc is a lustrous bluish-white metal found in group IIb of the periodic table. It is also one of the most important minerals used by the body. Just 2-3 grams, about the weight of a penny, is found in the body and serves as a key building block for about 100 enzymes which are necessary for cell growth, reproduction and repair and regulating the body's immune response, insulin metabolism and wound healing. The RDA for zinc for adults is about 11 mg per day for men and 8 mg per day for women (12 mg if you are pregnant or breastfeeding). Zinc is found in water and food and should be included in the diet each day since the body does not have a storage mechanism for zinc.

Oysters are the richest source of zinc and the other best sources including beef, lamb, pork, crabmeat, turkey, chicken, lobster, clams and salmon. Good sources of zinc include dairy such as milk, yogurt and cheese as well as yeast, peanuts, beans, whole grain cereals, brown rice, whole wheat bread and potato. Pumpkin seeds offer one of the most concentrated non-meat food sources of zinc but the zinc from meat sources is four times more bio-available than the zinc from grain sources.

If you are healthy and eating a well-balanced diet, supplements are generally not needed to meet your body's zinc needs. However, many multivitamin supplements include zinc and provide 11-15 mg themselves which is the daily recommended intake. Safe upper intake levels of zinc are set at 40 mg per day for adults.

So why am I focusing on zinc?
Posted 5/7/2009  1:00:00 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 63 comments   24,959 views
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Nutrition 101: How Smart is the New 'Smart Choices' Program


A new voluntary "front-of-package" nutrition labeling system called the Smart Choices Program was introduced at last month's Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association). And, to compound confusion, this isn't the only label you'll soon see on food in supermarkets. So what is the Smart Choices Program and how can it help you?
Posted 11/10/2008  6:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 54 comments   4,033 views
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Nutrition 101: There's a New Super Food in Town!


Move over green tea and red wine, there is a new antioxidant-rich super food that's becoming more and more popular. The pomegranate used to be nothing more than a seasonal novelty--even though it is a fruit that has been around for centuries, as referenced in Persephone, Homer's Odyssey and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Over the last few years, however, there have been more and more products containing pomegranate popping up on store shelves. You can find pomegranate flavor or scent in everything from hand soap and body wash to ice cream and lollipops. So what is a pomegranate?
Posted 11/5/2008  6:00:30 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 98 comments   7,341 views
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Nutrition 101: Cranberries – Full of Health Benefits or Just a Holiday Tradition?


As holiday time approaches, many of us will be planning our menus for the dinner table. Cranberries are a favorite in many families. Have you ever wondered whether cranberries are as nutritious as some say or if they are just part of the tradition? Let's take a closer look and find out.
Posted 10/27/2008  6:30:06 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 61 comments   6,211 views
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How Misleading is the Term 'Processed Food'?


We hear over and over that we should cut back on processed foods to have a more healthful diet. On the surface that sounds good but is that really accurate? When you review a time line of How America Grew related to food trends over the last 50 years in America, it is easy to see that processed foods were a central part of the growth. The FDA terms processed food as "any food other than a raw agricultural commodity and includes any raw agricultural commodity that has been subject to processing, such as canning, cooking, freezing, dehydration, or milling."

The last time I checked, staples like bread and soy milk are processed foods since I can't really make a sandwich out of a pile of grain or drink soy beans. The process of turning wheat into bread is about an eight step process while turning soy beans into soy milk takes about 12 steps.

So are these the types of processed foods I should be limiting?
Posted 10/13/2008  11:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 41 comments   3,730 views
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Nutrition 101: How a Fat-Free Diet is Keeping You from Getting the Most from Your Food


Dietitians and health professionals have known for a long time that a certain amount of healthy fats are necessary in the diet. We regularly hear in the media about The Mega Benefits of Omega-3's. I have blogged previously about including Omega 9’s in your diet.

At the same time we hear about the importance of healthy fats, many people are told to limit fat intake as part of their plan for Eating for a Healthy Heart. So if you are selecting healthy fats, how much is enough and why?
Posted 9/22/2008  1:24:34 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 48 comments   9,080 views
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What Do the Dates on Food Packages Mean?


When you go to the grocery store, you probably check several labels and tags. First, you check the shelf price tag and look for any specials. You might also compare the cost per ounce, which is also listed on the shelf tag. Many of us check the nutrition facts label as well.

But what about the dates on the packages you select? Do you check those, too? Why not? Is it because you don’t know what they really mean? If so, you're not alone.
Posted 9/15/2008  1:00:00 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 50 comments   6,189 views
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Nutrition 101: What’s the Shake on Sea Salt?


I remember my mother buying something called rock salt when I was young. My brothers and I were always excited to see the large bag because that meant we were going to crank up (and I mean crank!) the homemade ice cream maker for Labor Day or another summer picnic. Rock salt is great for ice cream or decorating foods but because of its larger size, not so great for actual cooking.

Some recipes call for kosher, seasoned, or sea salt. The biggest difference between these different types of salt is usually taste and texture. For instance, kosher salts are known to have a more course grain and to give a cleaner taste to foods. Seasoned salt on the other hand is flavored with herbs and other ingredients and therefore contains less sodium than other types of salt. But sea salt seems to be everywhere lately, from canned soups to hair products. So what's so great about it? Should you be using sea salt instead of "regular" salt?
Posted 9/1/2008  9:51:39 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 107 comments   9,663 views
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Nutrition 101: What are Omega 9's?


In 1992, “Lorenzo’s Oil” was a heart warming hit at the box office starring Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon, who portrayed sympathetic parents who searched for a treatment for their son Lorenzo, who suffered from ALD (adrenoleukodystrophy), a genetic disease that progressively destroys the myelin sheath of the brain in young boys. In 1996, Phil Collins recorded the song “Lorenzo” for his “Dance Into the Light” album using words written by Lorenzo’s mother Michaela out of her love and commitment to her little boy.

Lorenzo’s parents studied medical research and learned that the brain damage caused by the genetic disorder ALD was linked to a build up of dangerous long chained fatty acids in the blood. They learned that oil containing oleic acid (Omega 9's) was able to destroy the fatty acid build up and slow the progression of the disease, and in the late 80’s, Lorenzo’s Oil was discovered.

So what is oleic acid?
Posted 8/18/2008  7:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 41 comments   12,421 views
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