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Tag: nutrition

Sodium and Your Health

Reading Nutrition Facts label information can help control sodium intake.

While sodium helps make food taste good, for some consumers, sodium imbalance can be a serious health issue. It helps regulate blood pressure, water content in the body, and many other factors.

If sodium levels in the blood are low, this can be the result of diarrhea, vomiting, kidney disease, heart failure, diuretic medications, liver cirrhosis, and other factors. The symptoms the body gives include confusion, fatigue, loss of appetite, irritability, muscle weakness, and other symptoms.

Consulting a medical professional is a priority. There are many issues that can lead to low sodium. Treatments can include medication, fluids through the vein, or limited liquid intake.

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Alternative Proteins

Traditionally, when consumers think about consuming protein, they choose animal protein sources such as meat, poultry or fish products. In today’s cuisine, the sources of protein have changed.

Plant protein foods are becoming mainstream to take up space at some dinner tables. Soy foods have been around for years. Other plant sources include peas, wheat and others. New ground products include soy leghemoglobin or beet juice to give them the red color and “bleed” like animal meat. In some products, methylcellulose is used to bind the ingredients together to be made into “meat-like” shapes. There are many ingredients in these products and vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

These products give consumers choice. They still need to meet food safety regulations and still must be handled safely by the consumer. Learn more at


It’s Not the Turkey!

Turkey gets a bad rap for causing the post Thanksgiving meal nap. Give the poor bird a break!

Tryptophan is an amino acid in turkey and many other foods. The body uses it to make serotonin, which triggers happy and calm feelings, and is a precursor to melatonin, which controls wake/sleep cycles. But there’s not a lot of tryptophan in turkey to impact melatonin.

What is it then? It’s how much food you eat. We tend to overeat at the holidays which includes high carbohydrate foods, then include energy spent interacting with guests, extra time cooking and more. So, the reason to take a nap can be due to many reasons. Give the turkey a break!

Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition, Nov. 2019

Outsmart Your Cravings!

We all crave certain foods from time to time. The psychology behind cravings show that hormones, memories and other triggers create a sensory signal of craving a food. This intensifies with hunger or dieting.

So how can you outsmart these cravings? Here are some tips.

  • Take a walk! Some sort of physical activity can redirect your craving, thus putting mind over matter.
  • Your nose picks up on food odors, so try smelling a nonfood, such as a scented candle, to redirect your brain.
  • You’ve heard the saying, “my eyes were bigger than my stomach.” So keep healthful snacks in your vision.
  • Do you crave sweets? Grab naturally sweet fruit to curb that craving.
  • Thanksgiving is about comfort food. Enjoy in moderation, smaller portions, or do a healthier makeover to classic recipes.


Set the Table to Eat Healthy

In an effort to teach consumers about the new Nutrition Facts label and to help them make healthy food choices, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a toolkit to help make nutrition education easier.

The Health Educator’s Nutrition Toolkit includes tips for making healthy food choices when grocery shopping; how to bring nutrition home; how to select healthier foods when eating out; and how to read the Nutrition Facts panel. It also includes evaluation tools and presentation tools that are ready to use.

Learn more at

Social media messages and graphics are also available to help encourage consumers to make healthier food choices.


Kansas Healthy Food Initiative Grants

The Kansas Healthy Food Initiative has funds (grants/loans) available to produce growers, farmers markets, grocery stores, etc. who are selling produce and other healthy foods in an under-served and low resource area of Kansas.   For example, one farmer has received funds to pay for building/equipping a packing shed that will be used to sell produce in one of these target areas (and will also be used to sell produce to other areas).

Eligible food retail projects must expand healthy food offerings in low-resource, underserved neighborhoods and fit local community needs. Grocery chains, neighborhood food and grocery stores, co-ops, farmers markets, production and distribution operations, and other food projects are eligible. Applicant eligibility for underserved and low-resource areas is determined during the eligibility review.

Learn more at or contact the Center for Engagement and Community Development at 785-532-6868 or


2020 Urban Food Systems Symposium

Save the date for the 2020 Urban Food System Symposium! This event will be June 4-6, 2020 at the Marriott Country Club Plaza, Kansas City, MO.

The symposium brings together researchers, not-for-profit administrators, community organizers, extension professionals, students, and others, to share and gain knowledge on urban food systems and agriculture and their role in global food security. The focus is on climate change; nutrition and human health; food production and distribution in cities; urban planning and development; food security; food policy and advocacy; international perspectives; community engagement; and urban planning and economic development.

Learn more about this event at


Eating Fish During Pregnancy Advice Updated

Tuna is listed as a best choice by the FDA. Photo: USDA Flickr

The Food and Drug Administration has updated their advice in regards to consuming fish while pregnant, breastfeeding, young children, and women planning to become pregnant. While the concern about consuming mercury is still valid, the advice now includes the importance of consuming fish as part of a healthy diet.

The nutritional composition of fish is beneficial to women during pregnancy and for young children. This includes heart health benefits and lower risks of obesity. The nutrients include protein, omega-3 fats, more vitamin B12 and vitamin D than any other food, iron, and other minerals like selenium, zinc, and iodine. A serving size for adults is 4 ounces and to consume two to three servings a week.

The FDA guidance includes charts and information in English and Spanish. There are lists of different types of fish categorized by best choices, good choices, and choices to avoid.

Learn more at


Eat Some Nuts! Improve Your Mind!

Nuts have been touted as beneficial with healthy fats, protein, and fiber. New research from the University of South Australia shows that they can also help adults have better mental function, improved thinking, reasoning, and memory.

The study followed 4,822 Chinese adults aged 55-plus from 1991-2006. They consumed 10 grams (two teaspoons) of nuts a day. They mostly ate peanuts. The results showed an improvement in cognitive function up to 60% compared to those who did not eat nuts.

Age is the biggest risk factor for cognitive health. Eating a few nuts each day is worth the effort!



Frying with Hot Air

Finger foods are popular foods to cook in an air fryer.

Instead of frying in oil, maybe an air fryer is for you! Reducing oil in foods is one way to make foods healthier. So how does a hot air fryer work?

Extremely hot air circulates around food with a fan. It creates a crispy surface layer and the inside stays moist. This is similar to convection oven cooking. Only a small amount of oil is brushed on the food surface to aid the crisping process. Cook in small batches for even and complete cooking.

When shopping for an air fryer, first consider your kitchen counters and storage space. Do you have room? If the appliance is not visible, it is less likely to be used. There is no oil to dispose of or lingering oily odors. But does the food taste the same with similar crunch? Maybe, maybe not. Just remember to consider making healthier meals for you and your family to reap the rewards.