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Food/Nutrition Columnist Author: Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN, Food & Nutrition Columnist - Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

Food Facts to Keep You Healthy

By Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN, Food & Nutrition Columnist -
Apr 1, 2017 - 9:20:45 AM

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( - I love odd fun facts about food and nutrition that can provide you with a healthy nugget of information in a couple of sentences. Here are some you might enjoy, use, and pass along.

Is fish brain food? Eating fish won’t make you smart but scientific evidence shows fish can help you retain your wits. Those who ate fish, at least once a week, had a significantly lower risk of being diagnosed with dementia. Plus, many varieties of fish are rich in heart healthy omega-3 fats.

Just 64 calories can make your child fat. The difference between how many calories children eat each day and how many calories they use up is known as the energy-gap. On average, it is only 64 calories, which equals about 6 animal crackers. If these 64 unused calories happen day in and day out the results are added pounds. Once a child gains weight, they become less active and the energy gap gets bigger. Close the gap – feed child-size portions and keep kids moving.

Eat a rainbow every day. Fruits and vegetables are nature’s rainbow of nutrients and powerful phytochemicals that protect your body and promote health. Instead of worrying about which food has what vitamin or mineral, just pick a colorful variety. Every fruit and vegetable, even a dab of salsa or a slice of avocado contributes to your overall nutrient intake for the day. You should know – every additional serving of fruits and vegetables, eaten regularly, lowers your risk for heart disease by 4%.

Refilling plastic water bottles is common but not wise. A study found re-used water bottles carry enough bacteria to risk your health. When in doubt – throw them out! Better yet, recycle.

Walnuts win. Walnuts have more antioxidants, with greater potency to protect cells against oxidative damage than any other nut commonly eaten. You only need to eat 7 walnuts a day (14 halves or 1 ounce) to get the health benefit.

Family meals are on the endangered species list. Sadly, 76% of all adult eating is not tied to a family meal. Moms are buying and stocking the kitchen with grab-and-go, 24/7 food choices which fit each family member’s preference and schedules. This is too bad because family meals shape more than food habits. Eat together today. It is more important than you think.

Sparkling water may do more than tickle your tongue and make your nose twitch. A study from Italy showed sparkling water eases indigestion and constipation. The researchers were not sure if it was the bubbles or the small amount of extra minerals in the sparkling water, but it does work.

Another reason to go easy on saturated (animal) fats – they are more likely to be stored in the body than burned as energy after exercising. A small study showed that fats like olive oil were used up or burned off by exercise. Fats, like butter, were more likely to be stored as body fat.

Walk your blood sugar down. Walking for just 15 minutes after a meal can lower blood sugar for 24 hours. Short bouts of walking are an easy way to help control blood sugar, especially for older adults at greater risk of type 2 diabetes. Take a walk after lunch.

Couch potatoes beware – for each hour you spend in front of the TV each day you increase your risk of dying from all causes by 11%, a 9% increased risk of dying from cancer, and an 18% increased risk of dying from heart disease. Get off your seat and on your feet!

White bread is not a killer. A comprehensive review of research showed that eating refined grains – white bread, pasta and white flour – did not increase your risk of disease, as long as the refined grains did not come with added fat, sugar and sodium. Refined grains are fortified with B vitamins, iron and folic acid.

Eat potassium-rich foods every day. Getting enough potassium, and most Americans don’t, may lower blood pressure more effectively than reducing your salt (sodium) intake. Foods high in potassium include: white and sweet potatoes, oranges and orange juice, tomatoes and tomato juice, milk, yogurt, beans, bananas, avocados and spinach. All are good-for-you choices.

Whatever makes you eat something in the AM is a good choice. A survey conducted for Kellogg’s showed that 8% of breakfast eaters put juice on their morning cereal, 4% topped it with cream, 3% added melted chocolate, and 2% mixed their cereal. The key is to break the fast from the long period without food overnight.

© NRH Nutrition Consultants, Inc.
Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian and the author of 30 books. Available as eBooks from iTunes and Kindle/Amazon:

Diabetes Counter

Calorie Counter                                                                                       

Protein Counter

Healthy Wholefoods Counter

Complete Food Counter

Fat and Cholesterol Counter

Available in print from Gallery Books:

Most Complete Food Counter, 3rd Ed.

Your Complete Food Counter App:

For more information on Jo-Ann and her books, go to:


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