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Curcumin―the active form of turmeric―has shown promise in the prevention and therapeutic management of Alzheimer’s Disease. While much research remains to be done for conclusive evidence, adding turmeric in food preparation may show some benefits. The appropriate amounts of curcumin supplements remain unclear. Without more definitive research, it is wise to avoid these supplements and rely on its use in foods.

While the use of curcumin supplements remains uncertain, a little turmeric added into your dishes can provide one more step toward healthy eating. I recall as a child my mother sprinkling this distinct flavored spice on coleslaw. Occasionally, I do the same. Curious as to how I could use this spice that has been advocated for several years as affecting memory, I sought new recipes. You can find a few online, but I stayed with the tried-and-true, a Green Tomato Relish. This recipe has been handed down in my family from generation to generation for about 100 years.tomatoes green

 

Green Tomato Relish

1 gallon ground green tomatoes

5 green sweet peppers

1 hot red pepper

6-8 small white onions

1 stalk celery

1 medium head cabbage

½ cup salt (not iodized)TURMERIC .jpg

4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon mustard seed

2 teaspoons turmeric

1 quart vinegar (5 percent acidity)

juice of 4 lemons

Grind vegetables together. Add salt. Put into a cheesecloth bag and drip (several hours or overnight). Mix spices, sugar, lemon juice, and vinegar. Heat to dissolve sugar. Add vegetable mixture gradually, combining with vinegar mixture, and heat thoroughly. Pack into hot, sterile jars and seal. (I water bath for about 20 minutes to make sure no microbes remain). This can remain sealed and stored for several months.

Another choice is to use curry. How does curry compare to turmeric? Curry is a combination of spices; turmeric, chili powder, and cumin. Because it has turmeric in it, it has similar qualities and nutritive values but in smaller quantities. Include this spice as well not only to enhance flavor of favorite dishes, but as a bonus to a healthy diet. Below is another family favorite, Chicken Asparagus Casserole, that began with my generation.

Chicken Asparagus Casserole 

8-10 frozen chicken breasts stripsCURRY

¼  cup olive oil

1 can asparagus pieces (15 ounce)

1 can asparagus spears (15 ounce)

1 can (10 1/2 ounce) low-fat cream of chicken soup

½ cup calorie reduced salad dressing (Miracle Whip)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon curry powder

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Defrost 8-10 chicken breast strips. Place in a microwavable dish, cover and cook until tender (or brown lightly on both sides in a skillet with cooking olive oil). Drain asparagus (or peas) and place in bottom of 9″ X 9″ X 2″ baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. (I often use 2 (15 ounce) cans of Lesueur sweet peas instead of asparagus or one can of peas and one can of asparagus spears). Top with chicken strips. Mix together soup, salad dressing, lemon juice and curry powder. Pour over chicken and asparagus. Top with shredded cheese. Cover and bake at 375o F. for 30 minutes. Leftovers freeze well.

How do you use turmeric or curry? Please share some of your favorite healthy dishes. We all want new ways to keep our memories intact.

 

Most describe 2020 as an extraordinary year they are happy to see end. We look forward to new beginnings. Perhaps we have set new goals or revised old one for 2021. One thing is sure, most of us had no idea at the close of 2019 how much 2020 would impact our lives. As we reflect on a year of illness and death, we also remember riots and national chaos. And who can forget a divided nation enduring the conflict of a contentious election.

Horse jumping to New Year 2021 - Wallpaper and Background • PixyPen

But was there anything good to remember? Some of our family members contracted Covid-19 yet sustained mild symptoms and rapid recovery. Thousands of people weren’t so fortunate. I recall a pantry stocked full of abundant food supplies, ever mindful of many who went hungry because of limited funds to feed their families. With multiple reasons for caution, I worship in a different way. Inspiring spiritual messages from social media or television have replaced attendance within church walls. Hopefully, the pandemic has caused others to take advantage of alternate means to worship God if unable to visit with local congregations.

And how does all this relate to my blog title of Food from the Garden? We live within city limits on a rather large lot where we attempt to grow a few fruits and vegetables. Although we are poor farmers by most standards, a few plants survive. Kale and mustard greens, highly nutritious foods, seem to thrive in our poor soil. Whether a city dweller or otherwise, in the new year, try your hand a placing seeds or plants in flower beds or pots if you lack space for a small garden. As shoots of varied greens grow several inches, break off a few tender leaves for a salad or to cook. Check a few days later for more fresh shoots. They will produce throughout the summer.

From time to time, other foods do well, especially strawberries. They make nice borders or ground covers in sunny areas. The list of fresh fruits and vegetable to grow in unusual places is limitless.

But new beginnings are about more than food. Assess your personal situation for a healthier happier new year.

Christian new year clip art - Christian new year clipart photo -  NiceClipart.com
  • If you lost loved ones this past year, think of ways you can honor their memory. What did they cherish that can bring fond recollections? Maybe a sunset/sunrise, smelling the scent of special flowers, preparing or enjoying a special food, and endless opportunities and activities can bring pleasant thoughts for which you can be grateful they were a part of your life. Be positive instead of sad or negative.
  • Evaluate your own health. If you haven’t contracted Covid-19, consider ways you may help keep it at bay. Take the vaccine, eat healthier foods, lose weight appropriately (yes, weight is a major factor in the disease), and many other ways to get or stay healthier.
  • Keep a positive attitude. That’s hard when you have lost a job (I know), but look around to help others, even with an encouraging word. Focus on the future, and always consider those things for which you can be thankful.
  • Get to know the God who loves you and cares about your well-being. Talk to Him and contemplate what He may want you to learn from this experience. Seek to rely on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Don’t expect a revelation overnight. That may or may not happen but, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” Proverbs 3:5-6.

None of us knows what tomorrow will bring, but God reassures us by His words in Jeremiah 29:11, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”

January 1, 2021 begins a new year. With divine help, make a good start and maintain hope whatever the year brings.           

A happy new year to all and God bless!

religious new years clip art - Clip Art Library

Sweet potatoes, a traditional fall favorite, are delicious year-round. This versatile autumn vegetable is a mainstay for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, especially in the southern United States. While its history extends back 5,000 years to warm climates, it is recognized and grown throughout most of the world. It’s believed to have originated along the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and the mouth of the Orinoco River in Venezuela.

100+ Free Sweet Potatoes & Sweet Potato Photos - Pixabay
Sweet Potato Plant stock photos and royalty-free images, vectors and  illustrations | Adobe Stock

Sweet potatoes are not the same as yams or white potatoes. Sweet potatoes belong to the morning glory family, and its flowers look similar. True yams, related to the lily family, are starchy, dry tubers grown in Africa. Their bark-like skin is black or brown with white, purple, or reddish flesh. Grocery stores often identify sweet potatoes with deep orange flesh and copper skin (those we most commonly eat) as yams, but they are not.

Unlike sweet potatoes, white or Irish potatoes are members of the nightshade family (eggplant, tomato, capsicum, petunia). They are indigenous to the Andes region of South America and date back to 7,000 to 10,000 BC. The first known potato crop in North America was grown in Londonderry, New Hampshire in 1719, and the potatoes were known as Irish potatoes because the plants were from Ireland.

Sweet potatoes start mostly from cuttings of small pieces of tuber from the sweet potato known as slips. A single potato can produce fifteen or more slips. Plants produce long stems, five to 20 inches, that grow along the ground. This vegetable grows best in temperatures with abundant sunshine and warm nights.

            China leads in the harvest of sweet potatoes, but it will remain popular in the deep south of the US. Traditionally, sweet potatoes in the Southern US are cured to improve storage, flavor, and nutritional value. Potatoes are dug from the ground and left in the field for two to three hours and then stored in relative high humidity at temperatures of 35 to 90o F. for five to fourteen days. Properly cured and stored, sweet potatoes will keep for a year at temperatures of 55o to 60o F. Storing at refrigerated temperatures or below 50o F. will injure the root.

            Sweet potatoes are considered one of the vegetables highest in nutritional content. They are high in complex carbohydrates (starches) and a great source of dietary fiber and vitamin A (beta carotene, carotenoid). Sweet potatoes with darker orange flesh have a higher nutritional value than those with lighter color.

            Sweet potatoes can be cooked in a variety of ways. A great way to retain nutrients and enjoy eating is by baking. As they bake, the high starch level in the potatoes tends to caramelize. Not only are they great to eat straight from the oven, but they can also be refrigerated or frozen and used later in preparing other recipes. To bake these simple tasty vegetables, wash potatoes, spray with cooking spray and rub into the outer skin.  Place on a large baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Space potatoes so they do not overlap or pile on top of each other. Bake at 325o F. in a preheated oven for 60 to 90 minutes, depending on size of potatoes. Make sure they are barely soft when squeezed lightly. Overcooking will cause potatoes to dry out and lose flavor. Serve immediately or refrigerate and reheat later. While sweet potatoes have a higher calorie count than many vegetables, and I choose to eat them plain, many prefer to slit the potato down the center and add brown sugar and butter.

While fall and winter holidays find sweet potato casseroles as a must for dinners, their goodness extends year-round. Below is a sweet potato bread recipe I acquired from my sister-in-law. This is just one more way to enjoy this healthful and delectable vegetable.

SWEET POTATO BREAD

3 1/3                cups sifted all-purpose flour

1                      teaspoon cinnamon

2 2/3                cups sugar

2/3                   cup vegetable oil

4                      eggs

1 ½                  cups sweet potatoes, mashed

2/3                   cup water

2                      cups raisins

2                      cups pecans, chopped

Combine flour and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix sugar, oil, and sweet potatoes. Beat in 1 egg at a time. Dredge raisins and nuts in 1/3 cup flour. Add water and flour alternately to potato mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Spray loaf pans with cooking spray. Fill half full of mixture. Bake at 325o F. for 1 hour or until bread pulls away from side of pan.

Note: I cut the raisins and nuts to one cup each. It’s your choice.

Pumpkins are a favorite for indoor and outdoor decorating in the fall. My daughter often saves those in her fall décor for me to salvage and use in many savory dishes. While pumpkins add a festive touch at Halloween and throughout the fall, some of us think more about eating them.

Pumpkins are a member of the winter squash family. Their name evolved from the Ancient Greek word pepon meaning melon. After a few derivations, the English colonies called them pumpkins. Most are deep yellow or orange although recent varieties may range from white to dark green. They are one of the oldest known domesticated plants dating back as early as 7,500 to 5,000 BC. While pumpkins are grown almost worldwide, they are native to northeastern Mexico and the southern United States. Today, Illinois produces about 95 percent of the annual US crop with Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California also top pumpkin-producing states.

Pumpkins are loaded with nutrients. Although 92 percent water, they are great sources of fiber and vitamin A. They also contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which are thought to help prevent cataracts.

When I don’t receive these colorful decorations from my daughter, I find large selections at cheap, cheap prices after Halloween. Pumpkin can readily be cooked and frozen for many dishes. When they are long gone on the market, pull a package from the freezer and use in many tasty recipes.

Don’t be intimidated by cooking this large vegetable. Wash the outside of the pumpkin thoroughly. We don’t know how many hands and other things have touched it. For best results, follow these guidelines.

  • Preheat oven to 350oF.
  • Place pumpkin, stem end up, on a steady flat surface.
  • With a sharp kitchen knife, cut pumpkin down from the stem all around.
  • Divide pumpkin into halves and scoop out seeds and pulp. Seeds can be saved for toasting.
  • When cleaned, rub inside and cut surfaces lightly with olive oil.
  • Place pieces face down on a roasting pan. Add about ½ to 1 inch of water to the pan to prevent drying.
  • Bake for about 90 minutes or until flesh is tender when pricked with a fork.
  • Remove from oven and cool.
  • Scrape pulp into a bowl. Use a stick blender or regular blender to make flesh smooth and free of lumps.
  • Refrigerate and allow to drain in the container for about two hours. Because of its high-water content, baked food products may have better quality if thoroughly drained. After using the amount desired for your cooking spree, freeze any remaining pumpkin within a few days.
  • Use fresh pumpkin in the same proportion as canned. One 15-ounce purchased can is equivalent to about 1 ¾ cup.

Thanksgiving is noted for its pumpkin pie. Compared to the competition of pecan pie and other calorie laden desserts, it is much lower in calories. We prefer pumpkin pie with such additions as almonds, whipped cream, or other ingredients that add calories. Many, like my daughter, prefer it plain, which makes it much lower in calories than most any holiday dessert .

We enjoy baked pumpkin pie, but the family favorite is my pumpkin bread. I bake loaves and freeze them for future use. However, should we run low, we have a backup of frozen to make more. Below is the recipe.

PUMPKIN BREAD

1 ½                  cup brown sugar

1 ½                  cup white sugar

1                      cup vegetable oil

¾                     cup orange juice

4                      eggs

2                      cups canned or fresh pumpkin

3 ½                  cups all-purpose flour

2                      teaspoons soda

1 ½                  teaspoons salt

1                      teaspoon nutmeg

1                      teaspoon cinnamon

1                      cup raisins

1                      cup pecans, chopped

Combine all dry ingredients. Mix oil and sugars thoroughly, add eggs one at a time, mixing after each. Add pumpkin. Beginning with dry ingredients, add alternately with orange juice to pumpkin mixture. Fold in raisins and pecans. Spray loaf pans with cooking spray and fill half full of mixture. Bake at 350o F. for 45 minutes or until done.

Hint: Measure several batches of dry ingredients (flour, soda, salt, spices) and place each in a Ziploc or plastic sandwich bag. Close tightly, label, and date. I do this even days or weeks before I plan to bake. Saves so much time when collecting and combining ingredients.

If you haven’t already, try cooking a fresh pumpkin this fall. It’s such a versatile vegetable to include in many recipes, and it’s great heated plain with a little butter and brown sugar or sorghum molasses added. Yummy!

Free happy thanksgiving clipart - Clipartix

When corn stalks, pumpkins, and goblins appear, we know fall is in full bloom with winter on its way. On this day, October 31, kids chant the well-known “trick or treat” while they look forward to all the goodies collected from neighbors.

Most would agree that the year 2020 hasn’t been a treat. Halloween may look a little different this year, but why do we celebrate? While some claim the occasion is a good thing, others—usually predicated on religious beliefs—consider it bad.

Historians tell us this day of celebration probably began 2,000 years ago with the Celtics or Druids in and around Ireland. The people gathered on November 1 for the festival of Samhain (sow in) to celebrate a new year and mark the end of summer harvest and the beginning of dreaded winter. The night before, October 31, pagans believed boundaries between the heavens and earth became thin and those in the otherworld transcended to earth. Ghost of the dead returned to family homes.

13 Free Halloween Vector Clip Art Images - Halloween Movie, Free Halloween  Banner Clip Art and Halloween Clip Art Free / Newdesignfile.com

The rise of Christianity in the area by the 9th century, interjected different views. By the 12th century, the day following Halloween had evolved into a holy day known as All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. Now called All Saints’ Day from the All-hallows or All-hallowmas, the night before, in the tradition of the Samhain, became called All-Hallows Eve and eventually Halloween.

Celtic Cross Clipart | Cross Clipart

Locals observed the holiday with “Souling,” the custom of making soul cakes with currents and spices and often marked with a cross, and giving to poor souls. Poor people went from house-to-house seeking food and offering prayers for the giver in exchange for cakes. Thus may have evolved our current practice of “trick or treat.” By the 16th century, young people appeared in costumes, based on ancient cultures, and demanded food or face misdeeds if rejected.

While the predominantly Protestant colonial New England frowned on the holiday, the influx of many cultures to American shores created a distinct American flavor in the observance of Halloween. Earlier in the 20th century, the holiday seemed more about tricks—mischief— than treats.

But as early as the 1930s, The Curtiss Candy Company—Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, and others—marketed Buddie or Junior sizes of candy bars. Hershey’s Miniatures surfaced in 1939, and Mars came along much later in the early 1960s. World War II resulted in the rationing of sugar. Afterward, the candy and Halloween market boom began. Candy manufacturers latched on to the idea of marketing small candies, easy for little goblins to place in baskets or sacks. By the late 1960s, Mars stopped producing “junior” bars in favor of “fun-size” varieties targeted toward Halloween customers.

Today, one-fourth of all candy sold annually in the US is purchased during the Halloween season. While this is good for the candy industry, it is difficult as a registered dietitian nutritionist to remain neutral. I much prefer to allow children their pick from a basket of assorted fruits or small boxes of raisins and other tasty nutritious treats.

Whatever you choose to do, today’s world is tricky. Please wear masks, stay a safe distance apart, and avoid crowds. That’s a tall order for this special night. But it is not nearly as special as you and all the kiddies. Have a safe Halloween.

Halloween clip art black and white free clipart 2 - ClipartBarn

In March 2020 at the onset of Covid-19 within the US, 14 states reported that about 90 percent of patients hospitalized with Covid-19 had one or more underlying conditions. The most common health problem was hypertension (49.7%), while obesity (48.3%) ranked second. Obesity is a major risk factor for contracting Covid-19, but why?

Hand Lettering, Paper, Watercolour

To comprehend the relationship between obesity and Covid-19, it’s important to understand the hormone leptin. Leptin, from the Greek word “leptoes” which means thin, is a hormone that regulates the appetite by reducing hunger and helps to regulate energy balance.

The relationship of obesity to leptin surfaced in the mid-1990s. Leptin signals the brain when we are full and to stop eating, and possibly at the same time, it increases energy expenditure. At first, it seemed a possible panacea for the treatment of obesity. Although a slight increase in leptin reduces the appetite and can be a major factor in weight loss, excessive leptin doesn’t have the same effect.

Most leptin is produced in fat cells, but some are also produced in lung tissues. In diet-induced obesity, fat cells produce leptin in large quantities. The more obese a person, the higher the levels of leptin. However, a quirk within the cells not completely understood, results in a detrimental effect from too much leptin and causes the obese to become “leptin resistant.” Therefore, they lose little if any weight. How does leptin-resistance impact the obese in this pandemic virus?

Not only does leptin regulate energy balance within the body, interactions between the nervous and endocrine systems, and metabolism (chemical reactions within cells to maintain and sustain life), it is involved in regulating cells that fight infection—our immune system. Molecules of the hormone leptin are trapped in the fat cells. These highly ineffective leptin levels can result in chronic inflammation thereby increasing susceptibility to infections and autoimmunity including Covid-19. 

Individuals with obesity also are prone to hypoventilation (inadequate oxygen levels caused by breathing at an abnormally slow rate) which results in high carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the blood and not enough oxygen. High leptin levels in the obese cause the body to produce more blood CO2 levels during the day that cannot be attributed to other factors or conditions.

Usa, America, United States, Corona

Covid-19 has proven once again that medical issues more frequently arise in those with diet-induced obesity. Statistics show that in the US, nonwhites have higher rates of obesity. While many consider this a societal problem, it is also an individual issue. With nearly seventy percent of Americans overweight and more than half of those obese, each of us is responsible for maintaining a healthy weight. Eating healthier foods helps deter obesity and is a win-win for everyone. Educating society, especially those with obesity, to consume fewer calories and make wise choices when eating may well be a good option to combat Covid-19.

         

Corona, Coronavirus, Virus, Blood

If we look back on eating patterns during the past five years, we recognize several changes in our food choices and lifestyles. Until Covid-19 came along, we ate out more and adapted to more cultural and ethnic varieties of dishes. Even prior to the pandemic, we witnessed changes in health issues related to food consumption. Research continues to confirm the relationship between health and mortality. People who consume diets with fewer animal products have lower mortality risks. Seafood is a healthy protein choice as are the plant sources of whole grains and legumes.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, tasked with updating the guidelines, found strong evidence of reduced risks of all-cause mortality (all deaths that occur in a population) when individuals consumed a dietary pattern higher in vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, lean meats and seafood, appropriate dairy foods, and unsaturated vegetable oils and consumed fewer red and processed meats, saturated fatty acids and cholesterol, and beverages and foods with added sugar.

All you need for the Summer 2020 Healthy Diet Plan - BBC Good Food

Many consumers have come to believe plant-based diets are healthier, and that is true when compared to diets higher in food components that increase mortality rates. Sales of plant-based foods increased 11.4 percent in 2019. Plant-based meat sales increased 18 percent, and 45 percent of consumers felt plant-based meat was healthier than that coming from an animal. For the first half of 2020, the sale of plant-based meat increased 148 percent compared to 2019.

The meat industry has countered by pointing out the extensive processing and addition of ingredients, such as salt, may make plant-based meats less healthy.

Guidelines for added sugar have also changed. Whereas the 2015-2020 guidelines suggested consuming no more than 10 percent of all calories from added sugars, the new guidelines lower that recommendation to no more than 6 percent. Some studies indicate that consumers prefer to cut back on consumption of added sugars rather than switch to other sweeteners.

Alcohol has little health value, and the committee notes that drinking less results in better long-term health. Millennials tend to lead the way with changes in consumption. With a decline in beer volume sales, bottled low- and no-alcohol beverages in the US are projected to increase by 32 percent by 2022. Breweries have latched on to this trend of producing nonalcoholic beverages.

Health, Disease, Stethoscope, Heart, Frequency, Rhythm

Health Impact

With the many modifications and projected changes, what are the anticipated effects on health? Chronic health conditions are more prevalent among the older population, certain racial and ethnic groups, and those with lower income levels.

Statistics for overweight and obesity continue to climb in all stages of life. On average, 42 percent of adults are obese with slightly higher levels for men than women. Independently, obesity can result in several serious health issues. Directly or indirectly, it increases the risks of obesity-related complications such as coronary heart disease, end-stage renal disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic disease, some types of cancer, and other conditions. More recent research finds that obesity impacts our immune system, thus putting the obese at greater risks of infections such as influenza and Covid-19. For influenza, obesity makes adult vaccinations more difficult and possibly less effective.

The overall highest incidence of cancer is female breast cancer followed by prostate cancer. Lung and bronchus cancer cause the highest mortality rate of any cancer. For those who drink alcohol, smaller amounts result in a lower risk of this disease and all-cause mortality compared to those who consume higher amounts. Dietary patterns recommended by the committee were generally associated with decreased risks of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.

Based on reports of wellness and diet, we as a nation do not fare well. With so much evidence to support the ill-effects of unwise diet patterns, why do we continue to make risky choices? While the dietary guidelines provide suggestions based on scientific evidence, the choice is ours. Do we want good health, or do we prefer to choose a pattern of unhealthy eating? If the latter, then whether or not intended, we place the burden of escalating healthcare costs on others as well as ourselves.  

Every five years since 1980, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in conjunction with the Health and Human Services (HHS) revises the recommended dietary guidelines for Americans. The new committee, made up of physicians, dietitians, scientists, and other medical professionals, has pored through current research in nutrition to develop undated guidelines. What changes can we expect from those previously published?

According to the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, more than half the people in the US have one or more a preventable chronic disease. Many of these conditions relate to unhealthy dietary practices. Therefore, a major goal of the committee is to summarize and synthesize scientific evidence to reduce risks “of chronic disease while meeting nutrient requirement and promoting health for all Americans.”

ExRx.net : Dietary Guidelines

The committee amplified or expanded the five principles from the 2015-2020 guidelines with more emphasis on pregnant women, infants, and toddlers. Below are the current guidelines with a few suggested changes.

1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan.

The committed suggests revised guidelines include dietary patterns for each life stage by incorporating, following, and modifying the pattern for different life stages for specific nutritional needs.

The committee recognizes three acceptable dietary patterns that share core components but allow for key differences to tailor for individual preferences: Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern, Healthy Mediterranean-Style Pattern, and Healthy Vegetarian. These three patterns all 1) obtain most of needed energy from plant-based foods, 2) provide protein and fats from nutrient-rich food sources, and 3) limit intakes of added sugars, solid fats, and sodium. All use the 2,000-kcal level as a reference for serving size and nutrient content.

The USDA Food Pattern includes five major food groups, and in some cases, subgroups.

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  • Fruits
  • Vegetables: Dark green, red and orange, beans and peas, starchy, and other
  • Dairy, including calcium-fortified soy beverages
  • Grains: Whole grains and refined grains
  • Protein Foods: Meats, poultry, and eggs; seafood; nuts, seeds, and soy products
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The Mediterranean diet includes more fruits and protein foods than the Healthy U. S.-Style Pattern. It also includes more omega-3 fatty acids because of emphasis on seafood and contains less sodium. However, the Mediterranean diet is lower in calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin A primarily because it includes two cup-equivalents of dairy instead of the three cup-equivalents in the U. S.-Style Pattern.

2. Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount.

 The proposed guidelines focus on breastfeeding and human milk for optimal nutrition for infants. For all ages, the authors reiterate variety, portion size, and frequency of eating based on nutritional quality of food choices,

3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake.

The committee recommends limiting foods and beverages that are sources of added sugars, saturated fats, salt, and alcohol to reduce excessive calories and replace those food components with more healthful choices. For alcoholic beverages, they state “current evidence indicates that lower intakes are better than higher intakes and some groups should not drink alcoholic beverages.”

4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.

The consumer’s take-home message from the guidelines is that it is never too late to start improving their dietary pattern. That begins with recognizing which foods and beverages to modify or exchange. Changes should include a shift in the dietary pattern to foods and beverages with higher nutrient-to-energy ratios.

5. Support healthy eating patterns for all.

The committee advocates food accessibility for all Americans while considering cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic factors that influence food preferences and support healthful eating patterns for all ages.

Although the information included in this blog is core to the revisions, the committee, in 835 pages, expounds on the many issues considered in adapting the 2020-2025 guidelines for healthier Americans. These recommendations were open for public response and can be accessed online. While many will choose to ignore suggestions, the prudent will take note to make needed changes in their diets to live a healthier— and thereby— longer life.

Nutrition In The Go | Healthy living, Free clip art, Clip art

What is milk? The answer seems a no-brainer until we consider all the products on the market today labeled milk. In the past decade or so, the definition seems to have blurred. With plant beverages emulating traditional dairy products, identity has become confusing.

Black and white cow eating green meadow grass | Premium Photo

The standard government identity of milk from animal sources has become embroiled in controversy. Younger generations express concern over cow milk’s carbon footprints on the environment, and thus the push for more plant-based foods in the diet. Heavy advertising and support from organizations like the Plant Based Food Organization (PBFO) have changed the landscape for consumption of cow’s milk. However, the PBFO identifies the Certified Plant Based seal this way. “The most important thing to understand is that for PBFA, “plant-based” means 100% free from animal ingredients. We make no exceptions to this rule.” Evidently, they don’t feel the same toward animal milk.

The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Standard of Identity protects most products on the market. The FDA defines “milk” as “the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows.” According to this standard, “milk” must come from animal origin. Why have standards for cow’s milk become compromised by using the term “milk” to describe plant-based alternatives? “Plant-based products that resemble dairy foods, such as milk, cultured milk, yogurt, and cheese do not have standards of identity.” These products, therefore, are non-standardized foods.

Animal milk sales have plummeted because of mistaken assumptions that plants are healthier. By 2018, sales of cow’s milk dropped six percent while plant-based sales increased nine percent. Many professionals in the field of nutrition are alarmed as households choose more expensive plant milks without understanding all the nuances behind its popularity and its missing health properties. How different are animal milks and plant-based alternatives?

Market research in 2018 showed that consumers believed animal and plant milks were comparable in nutrients. Seventy-seven percent of respondents thought plant sources had the same or more protein. Cow’s milk typically has about nine grams of protein per cup compared to one gram in eight ounces of almond milk. All forms of cow’s milk contain comparable major nutrients but vary in fat content.

Milk is a significant source of vitamins and minerals including riboflavin, niacin, vitamins A and D, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and others. All cow’s milk must be fortified with 400 I. U. per quart for vitamin D and 2,000 I. U. per quart for vitamin A. Even whole milk with some natural vitamins A and D must be fortified to these standards.

As consumers see more and more non-dairy milk alternatives on the market such as almond, coconut, oat, pea, hemp, and other plant “milks,” how can they become more informed about nutritional content? Here is how the top three plant-based milks fare.

Soy Milk, Spilt Milk? FDA's Next Free Speech Conundrum - Food and ...
  • Soy milk is closer in nutritional content than most plant-based sources. It originated thousands of years ago in Asia. On the US market since the early 1900s, it is a viable alternative to those with allergies or sensitivities to cow’s milk. Made with ground soybeans and water, it is often fortified with B-vitamins, calcium, and vitamin D. Soy milk is a good source of protein, but not the quality protein found in cow’s milk.
  • Almond milk contains few almonds, sometimes no more than the equivalent of three to four whole almonds. The nuts are ground and added to water. Drinks may contain some vitamin E and are often fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Whereas cow’s milk never has sugar added, this drink often does plus possibly other additives. In 2014, before the recent alternative milk craze, Tom Philpott in “Lay Off the Almond Milk, You Ignorant Hipsters” wrote “The almond-milk industry is selling you a jug of filtered water clouded by a handful of ground almonds.” He continued by comparing the typical one-ounce serving of almonds with an eight-ounce serving of one brand of almond milk. Whereas the almond serving contained six grams of protein, three grams of fiber, and 12 grams of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, an eight-ounce serving of almond milk had one gram each of protein and fiber and five grams of fat. Maybe we would be better off to eat a handful of almonds and drink a glass of water. It’s much less expensive.
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  • Coconut milk on the dairy aisle is not the same as coconut milk found in cans. The drink is watered down to match the consistency of dairy milk. Protein content is negligible, but added nutrients may include calcium and vitamin D, and some may have B12.

While legislation is pending on Capitol Hill and the FDA investigates the issue, the Federal Register lists several questions regarding the identity of cow’s milk and plant-based products. Below are samplings of questions.

  • What do consumers understand about the basic nature and characteristics of plant-based products? Do they perceive them as comparable in meeting Dietary Guidelines for Americans? 1
  • Are consumers more prone to purchase plant-based products that use the term “milk” than if they are referred to as beverages or drinks? Do consumers assume that products placed in the dairy section alongside dairy products are comparable?
  • Why do consumers without cow’s milk sensitivity buy plant-based milks? Do they perceive plant-based products as healthier? Do consumers believe they are more nutritious, or equal to dairy counterparts?
  • Do consumers believe properties of plant-based “milks” perform in the same manner as dairy when used in food preparation?
  • Do consumers understand or know the many added ingredients in plant-based “milks” such as added emulsifiers, nutrients, sweeteners, and thickeners? Are they aware that contents vary according to the different plant source? Non-dairy milks have no federal standards and may contain as much as ten different added ingredients including salt and sugar plus stabilizers and emulsifiers like locust bean gum, lecithin, and other gums.

So, how do you define “milk?” Should plant-based alternatives use the term milk in their products? What is your response to other questions posed in the Federal Register?

Today’s, consumers don’t always know what they are eating. Food labels help, but remember as you make food selections, they don’t always tell us everything. Choose reliable sources for your nutrition information. For starters, try those listed on my website http://www.cindryn.com. Keep dairy products in your diet for healthier eating.

         

All Milk Is Antibiotic Free! - The Farmer's Daughter USA

June is National Dairy Month. After a campaign by grocers in 1937 to promote use of milk during summer months, June became the official “dairy month.” The Dairy Alliance, a nonprofit organization in the Southeast, works with dairy farmers and community and public groups to promote their industry, especially during the month of June. The dairy alliance points out that:

  • The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans reinforces the importance of dairy products in the diet.
  • Dairy foods contain nine essential nutrients, including three of the four nutrients typically lacking in the American diet: calcium, potassium, and vitamin D.
  • Nutrients in dairy products provide combinations of nutrients, key in reducing risks of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
  • Cow’s milk has more potassium and almost twice as much protein as found in alternative milks. Whether skim, reduced fat, whole, organic, or inorganic, dairy contains the same amount of protein, about 1 gram per ounce (or 8 grams in 8-ounce servings). Coconut and rice milks have the lowest amount of protein among plant beverages with 0 grams, while almond has 1 gram and soy 7 grams.
  •  Most beverages made from alternative plant sources cost more and have about half the nutrients of cow’s milk.
  • Lactose is a sugar found only in milk. Lactose-reduced and lactose-free milks are available for the lactose intolerant.

The amount of fat in cow’s milk depends on whether it is skim (with minimal fat), whole (full-fat content), or somewhere in between. Coconut milk, with 4.5 grams per serving of mostly saturated fat, has the highest fat content, and soy milk contains about 4 grams per serving. Cow’s milk with one percent fat, or 2.5 grams per 8-ounce serving, has about the same amount of fat as almond and rice beverages. Research confirms that saturated fat is less healthy than unsaturated fats whether from animal or plant sources.

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) belabors the issue of how to label and what to call plant-based alternative milks, the International Food Information Council (IFIC) believes consumers know what they are drinking. In a 2018 survey, at least 75 percent of consumers recognized whole milk, chocolate milk, non-fat, and skim milk (90%, 85%, 78%, 74% respectively) contain cow’s milk. But less than one-half understood that lactose-free milk is also from cow’s milk.

Nearly three-quarters of participants understood that plant-based “milks” do not contain any cow’s milk. Of those who bought milk, sixty-two percent purchased only diary milk while thirty-eight percent chose to purchase non-dairy milk. Consumers more likely to purchase plant alternatives lived in the western US (45%), were under forty-five years of age (43%), were people of color (48%), and were college educated (44%).

Controversy continues over naming these non-dairy products and whether they are as wholesome in the diet as cow’s milk. The FDA extended the time for consumer’s responses to these issues. Check part 2 of this topic for greater insight into what choices are best for you and your family.

Recipes to Celebrate National Dairy Month | Atkins

Among the apprehensions of aging comes challenges and fears about warding off dementia. Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), a severe form of dementia, affects approximately 5.8 million Americans. Every 65 seconds, someone in the United States develops AD. Are there ways we can prevent or slow the ravages of this and lesser brain diseases? Research continues to find ways to combat cognitive concerns and their debilitating consequences. The following five guidelines may help keep memory intact longer.

  • Go nuts

Nuts may prevent or slow cognitive issues. Research substantiates benefits of walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, and almonds. They are high in healthy nutrients that help brain functions. Nuts contain polyphenols, tocopherols, and polyunsaturated fatty acids that can protect against the effects of aging including improved cognitive function. In addition to healthy fats, nuts are high in protein and fiber and provide excellent sources of vitamins E and B6. They also contain good amounts of magnesium and folate. Those who follow a healthy diet which includes nuts may improve memory and delay onset or progression of AD. Nuts will not replace other healthy foods and lifestyles, but they are a good substitute for less nutritious choices. Adding an ounce of nuts several times weekly can improve cognitive health.

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  • Nix trans fats

Individuals who eat trans fats may increase their risk of AD by 50 percent to 75 percent. Trans fats occur when hydrogen is added to liquid oils to cause them to solidify. They are inexpensive to produce, give longevity to food, and provide a great taste and texture. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned use of trans fats in 2015 with some products receiving extensions. However, according to the FDA, labels can list zero when the amount of trans fats is under 0.5 grams. Even small servings add up. To help prevent dementia worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends eliminating trans fats in foods by 2023. The FDA identifies the following foods likely to have trans fats but unlikely to show on the label since they contain less than 0.5 grams: Crackers, cookies, cakes, frozen pies, and other baked goods; snack foods (such as microwave popcorn); frozen pizza; fast-foods; vegetable shortenings and some stick margarines; coffee creamer; and refrigerated dough products (such as biscuits and cinnamon rolls).

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  • Watch the waistline            

The body mass index (BMI), a long-rated standard for weight management especially obesity, can predict risks for numerous illnesses. However, BMI doesn’t discern between body fat and muscle content. Now researchers have found a link between waist circumference and health conditions including cognitive function. In a study of nearly 900,000 participants, aged 65 and over, those with a waist circumference equal to or greater than 35 inches for men and about 34 inches for women were more susceptible to dementia. Results of the study showed that both men and women were at increased risk, and individuals of normal weight with large waistlines are as susceptible to dementia as those with obesity.

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  • Jog your brain

Any exercise routine is better than none. It helps the body in several ways including changes in the brain that preserve brain structure and protect memory and thinking skills. Exercise increases the size of part of the brain (hippocampus) that protects verbal memory and learning. One study found that those who moved faster and farther on a two-minute walking test could think better than those who were less fit. Exercise also decreases inflammation which benefits brain cells. It promotes better nerve-fiber insulation and greater growth, and it improves vascular health. However, the caveat is, those who exercise may already have better lifestyles than couch-potatoes. Regardless, exercise is a win-win when it comes to positive brain health and activity.

Sports Athlete Workout - Free vector graphic on Pixabay

  • Berries, a berry good choice

Blueberries plus other fruits and vegetables help maintain function and retain memory in the aging brain. Therefore, eating more fruits and vegetables reduces risks of developing dementia. Blueberries, sometimes called “brain food,” have one of the highest antioxidant levels in the form of flavonoids. The anthocyanins in the flavonoid group seem the most responsible for beneficial health effects on aging neurons. Consumption of blueberries and strawberries may delay mental aging by as much as 2 ½ years. What’s not to like about this choice?

1,000+ Free Blueberry & Blueberries Images - Pixabay

Genetics, nutrition, level of physical activity, and exposure to health risks impact longevity. Whatever our lifespan, we want our brains to remain functional. These few guidelines may slow progression of memory loss and in some cases, may improve mental performance. The longer we retain brain functions, the greater our quality of life.