The Organic Label is the Gold Standard [Infographic]

(BPT) – A new USDA study affirms that the organic label is the most comprehensive, most transparent and most tightly regulated food certification in the world, and points to the flaws in single label claims causing consumer confusion. With the proliferation of label claims over the past three decades, consumers’ misunderstanding continues to escalate. For organic dairy pioneer Straus Family Creamery of Northern California, which became the first 100 percent certified organic creamery in the United States in 1994, and is an innovative organic leader to this day, the organic label stands unequivocally for integrity in sustainable agriculture and organic food production.

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Healthy eating at holiday parties? It’s possible

(BPT) – The holidays bring a lot of temptations from every direction if dieting or watching your weight. Holiday parties and get-togethers can be a healthful-eating challenge. Caught up in conversation among friends and family, surrounded by tasty food and drinks, it’s easy to lose track of what and how much is being eaten. Registered Dietitian Sarah Galicki offers tips for staying the course through the holidays.

“There are a lot of calories packed into this time of year. You’re doing your holiday baking, people are dropping off candy and treats, there are parties with all-you-can-eat buffets and creamy drinks like eggnog, so it’s important to be prepared. It is possible to navigate the holidays without gaining weight by doing these things.”

Eat first. Never go to a party hungry. If you do, chances are you’ll wind up eating too much, too fast. Eat a snack before you go, such as some Greek yogurt, which is loaded with protein and calcium. Add fruit for extra taste and nutrients, and top with pistachios for crunch and good fats.

Drink wisely. If you want to indulge a little bit, have some champagne or white wine. A 4-ounce glass has approximately 100 calories. By comparison, a cup of traditional eggnog has 344 calories and 19 grams of fat (11 grams saturated fat). Skip the creamy drinks. The best bet is to avoid alcohol altogether if possible. Drink a spritzer made with sparkling water, cranberry and a lime instead. It looks festive, tastes great and has hardly any calories.

Fill up on finger foods. Bite-size appetizers limit the calorie impact. A good option? Pistachios. They’re great to snack on; 49 have exactly 150 calories, and they satisfy that crunchy craving. Plus, they’re full of nutrients and fill you up. The healthy fats will help regulate your blood-sugar level throughout the night, which is helpful if you’re drinking. Wrap some up decoratively and take along for a hostess gift to be sure there’s a healthy choice on hand.

Survey your options. Mindful eating is always key in any situation. Once the buffet table opens, take a visual sweep past it before jumping in line and making your selections. This way you’ll avoid piling one of everything onto your plate needlessly when you eventually pass through.

Don’t be first in line. The food in a buffet line looks pretty in the beginning. Once people serve themselves, it’s not as appealing and you’ll eat less.

Get a small plate. This trick helps limit portion size.

Avoid the white stuff. Given other options, skip the white rice, white pasta and white bread. They’re loaded with calories but no nutrients. Choose items with whole grains instead. They’re full of nutrients and have fiber, which will fill you up so you won’t eat as much.

Delight in dessert. Dessert is probably the toughest temptation of all. But there’s no reason to skip. Most of us have a sweet tooth. Satisfy that sweet craving with some fresh fruit. To make sure it’s available, bring some as a hostess gift; it’s always welcome.

“Overall, pace yourself,” advises Galicki. “Enjoy the food and festivities.”

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A cup of tea can be the best solution for everyday wellness

(BPT) – Before medicine and pharmaceuticals filled our remedy box, food and food ingredients were considered healing agents. Hippocrates was wise in his understanding of the special powers of food, beyond satisfying our appetites: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

There are many cultures that rely on herbal remedies and natural foods for everything from soothing an upset stomach to lifting our spirits when we’re down, to calming jittery nerves and even fending off colds and flu. Many of the best cosmetics tout ingredients to smooth skin, prevent aging, block the sun, reduce inflammation and minimize puffiness. There are four common herbs that have been used by many cultures and that are found in many of our kitchens.

1) Turmeric is a commonly used ingredient in Ayurvedic practices. In Hindu, the bright yellow color of turmeric is associated with the sun. In India, turmeric is used in wedding and religious ceremonies and is thought to bring good fortune. Not only is it said to brighten our spirits, but it has also been found to have some anti-inflammatory properties, which are healing for the body

2) Ginger, a relatively inexpensive and easy-to-find root, is considered a very healthful spice in the same family as turmeric. It is rich in many healthy components and has a strong aroma caused by the compound gingerol. Ginger has a long history of use in traditional and alternative medicine. It is most commonly used to soothe a stomach ache and combat nausea, and is frequently used by women to prevent morning sickness during pregnancy. Like turmeric it also has anti-inflammatory properties and can be helpful in reducing pain caused by osteoarthritis and menstruation.

3) Another popular spice is cinnamon, which is known for its healthy antioxidant properties and delicious sweet taste. It may help to reduce inflammation and be heart healthy. It may also be helpful in regulating blood sugar levels within the body, and even have some protective effect against developing colds.

4) Chamomile is a flower that has historically been associated with relaxation and calming. Many different cultures have used it alongside lavender as a soothing beverage to enjoy before bedtime.

Many of these ingredients can be found in our pantries, and including them in our diets is as simple as incorporating them into recipes or brewing up a delicious cup of tea. Herbal teas are a delicious and probably the easiest way to introduce these ingredients into our daily lives. Sipping tea throughout the day provides a natural break. Many tea drinkers proudly sport their mugs to stay hydrated, refreshed and alert.

Tea itself (from the plant Camellia sinensis) contains many healthy compounds such as polyphenols, which are great antioxidant compounds. Studies with this phenomenal beverage are linked to many areas of health and wellness. It’s no wonder that tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world. People drink tea proudly knowing they are not only enjoying something delicious, but also giving their well-being a boost.

Bigelow Tea has long understood the art of blending top-quality ingredients in their teas and has recently introduced a new line called Bigelow Benefits, which takes the concept of herbal tea one step further by carefully crafting a tea bag with an enticing mix of beneficial herbs, flowers and fruits that supports your daily health. The flavorful combinations include Cinnamon & Blackberry, Peach & Ginger, Chamomile & Lavender and Turmeric Chili Matcha to name a few.

Designed to add everyday value to a regular healthy lifestyle, each contains ingredients that are commonly thought to help safely support and enhance life’s everyday moments and bring the wellness benefits of ancient civilizations to your teacup. For more information about Bigelow Benefits, visit bigelowtea.com/benefits.

So next time you are looking to have a more healthful lifestyle, or just a good night’s sleep, look no further than your tea cup.

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Moms-to-be: Forget pickles and reach for pistachios

(BPT) – Results of a new study among pregnant women with impaired glucose intolerance during gestation (GIGT) or gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) — commonly known as gestational diabetes — show that eating pistachios may help manage blood sugar levels. The study is the first to evaluate the glucose response after consumption of pistachios in pregnant women with GDM or GIGT.

Diabetes is a chronic illness that affects more than 422 million people around the world. GDM develops in a pregnant woman who did not previously have diabetes. Like other types of diabetes, it affects how the body uses blood sugar. GIGT occurs when, during pregnancy, the body is unable to regulate blood glucose levels normally because of hormonal changes. The blood glucose levels rise beyond normal levels after a glucose challenge, but not high enough to warrant a diabetes diagnosis. While resolved after the baby is born, women with either GDM or GIGT have a greater risk of developing diabetes.

According to the latest diagnostic criteria established by the International Association of Diabetes and Pregnancy Study Groups (IADPSG) in 2010, GDM prevalence was estimated at 9.8 to 25.5 percent worldwide.

“Our study is the first to show that eating pistachios may help women with gestational diabetes control their blood sugar levels after eating,” said Sheng Ge, M.D., lead investigator, Chief Physician and Director of Clinical Nutrition at the Sixth People’s Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, China, where the study was conducted. “The results highlight pistachios as a smart food choice for women with gestational diabetes as they aim to manage their illness.”

In the study, 30 women with gestational diabetes (all between 24 and 28 gestational weeks) were randomly assigned to eat a breakfast of either 42 grams of pistachios (about 1/3 of a cup, or 1.5 servings) or 100 grams of whole wheat bread (two slices) after an overnight fast. The pistachios and whole wheat bread were matched for calories. Blood sugar and GLP-1, a key insulin-producing hormone, were measured every 30 minutes after the meal, up to 120 minutes. After seven days, the groups switched.

Blood sugar levels were significantly lower after consuming pistachios than they were after consuming whole wheat bread after 30 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes and 120 minutes. In fact, blood sugar levels after eating pistachios were comparable to baseline levels. In addition, GLP-1 levels were significantly higher after consumption of pistachios compared to whole wheat bread after 60 minutes, 90 minutes and 120 minutes.

The effect on insulin levels was even more dramatic. Blood insulin levels did not increase during the two hours after eating the pistachios. Again, both groups of women had a significantly lower rise in blood insulin levels at every time point measured after eating the pistachios than they did after eating whole wheat bread.

“Elevated blood sugar during pregnancy not only impacts the mother’s health, but it may also increase the baby’s risk of developing diabetes,” said Zhaoping Li, M.D., another study investigator and Professor of Medicine, Chief of the Division of Clinical Nutrition, University of California, Los Angeles. “This study shows pistachios can be a useful addition to the diet in order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels while providing essential nutrients to the mother and baby during this critical time.”

Dr. Li added, “It’s exciting to see solutions from whole foods that are also palatable to patients. They’re much more likely to comply with a prescribed diet as a result of a diabetes diagnosis when the food is something they enjoy.”

Pistachios have a low Glycemic Index (GI), are relatively high in fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, all of which can benefit people with diabetes. Eating pistachios has a minimal effect on blood sugar levels after eating a meal and, when added to a carbohydrate-rich meal, they help minimize any spike in blood sugar.

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Try this protein-packed substitute to make lunchtime more nutritious

(BPT) – Cottage cheese is having a moment.

Nutritionists and health-minded individuals have discovered that the dairy case staple can actually unlock a lot of mealtime solutions, especially when it comes to remaking recipes with a creamy base, such as tuna salad and veggie dip.

Simply swap the mayonnaise, cream cheese or sour cream with high-protein cottage cheese, and it’s pretty easy to pull off a higher-protein and lower-calorie version of your lunchtime favorites, says Amy Gorin, a registered dietitian nutritionist and writer in New York City.

“In many of these recipes, cottage cheese works beautifully, because it helps these delicious foods keep that creamy texture while decreasing the calories and saturated fat — and adding filling protein,” Gorin says. “It’s one of those foods that was hiding in plain sight all these years.”

For best results, start with a protein-packed brand of cottage cheese. Gorin always recommends Muuna Cottage Cheese to her clients, because its Lowfat Plain variety delivers a rich and creamy texture, plus it’s high in protein (14-19g per serving), is a good source of calcium and also contains potassium.

So look at your go-to breakfast, lunch and snack recipes with new eyes, grab your blender and get creative. To get you inspired, here are five easy ways you can make the cottage cheese swap and give yourself a protein boost without going hungry.

Lunch salad update

Many of us have said no to delicious and classic lunch salads we love, because mayo can add fat and calories. Turn to cottage cheese to make over your favorite lunches, and you can start enjoying things like tuna salad and potato salad, plus you’ll love that boost of protein.

On toast

Simplify your lunch hour and use cottage cheese as a creamy base for your favorite whole-grain toast, and then stack on yummy, vitamin-packed extras, like salad greens and sliced mangos, or even strawberries and avocado.

A Greek yogurt-cup alternative

For a quick on-the-go snack or lunch side, Muuna has reimagined cottage cheese into single-serve cups with real pieces of fruit on the bottom, packed with 15 grams of protein, including strawberry, blueberry, pineapple, peach and mango.

Smoothies reimagined

Swap out the yogurt and try using cottage cheese as a protein base for your favorite smoothie recipe. What you’ll have is a thick and creamy breakfast, likely with more protein than sugar.

Dip without the guilt

Kids and adults love how flavorful, creamy dips and dressings can liven up cut-up vegetables like carrots and broccoli. Sub in cottage cheese for mayo or sour cream to lower the calories and fat — and to amp up the protein and make the snack more filling and fueling. This super-simple, reimagined ranch dressing not only adds flavor to your crudites, it brings protein power to your lunchbox or your child’s.

For recipes and more inspiration, visit http://muuna.com/recipes/.

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5 nutritionist-approved tips for better holiday baking

(BPT) – ‘Tis the season for sweet and savory treats. The holidays bring loads of goodies, but the problem is these temptations can put a big strain on your nutrition goals.

If you’re whipping up some tasty holiday dishes this season, you don’t have to choose between your health and favorite indulgences. Transform any recipe into a healthier version simply by following these smart tricks from registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN CSSD.

Flour: Swap 25 percent of the white flour for specialty flours such as almond or oat flour. Since specialty flours do not act the same in baking as white flour, you can’t do a full 100 percent swap, but even just a little will provide more nutrition.

Butter: Try swapping 25 percent of the butter in a recipe with something else creamy such as pureed white beans, mashed banana, pumpkin puree, Greek yogurt, mashed avocado or nut butter. It shouldn’t affect the recipe results and cuts down on fat and calories.

Eggs: Not all eggs are created equal. Eggland’s Best eggs have double the omega-3s than ordinary eggs, an “essential” fatty acid that’s important for maintaining good health. Since the body cannot make them on its own, you must eat them. Omega-3s also lead to a better baking recipe, as they improve emulsifying qualities. Blatner says Eggland’s Best eggs are the only eggs she recommends to her clients and family for that added nutrition.

Sugar: Decrease the sugar in recipes by 25 percent and add nothing in its place. Recipes will turn out just fine if you pull back some of the sugar, even if you aren’t swapping in something else.

Half-batch: You want Grandma’s famous cookies, but you don’t need four dozen tempting you for weeks on end. Instead, make a half batch by halving all ingredients in the recipe. Then you can enjoy the food memories without having too much lingering around.

Want some holiday baking inspiration that uses these smart baking tips? Whip up some cute and scrumptious Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars and make your entire crew happy.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 20 min
Yield: 25 cookies

Ingredients:

Cookie Bars
2 Eggland’s Best Eggs (large)
1 (14 ounces) bag sweetened coconut flakes, plus more for topping
2 cups dark chocolate chips
2 cups almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

Glaze
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
6 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Cookie Bars

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 13-by-9 baking sheet with aluminum foil.

In a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, stir together the coconut flakes and chocolate chips.

Add in the almond milk, vanilla extract, flour, salt, melted butter, brown sugar and eggs and beat until combined.

Pour batter into the prepared baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the bars begin turning golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Glaze

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, heavy cream and vanilla until smooth.

Gently spread over the cooling bars.

Top with toasted coconut and allow to cool completely before eating.

Tip: Try cutting the bars up and placing them in the refrigerator, they taste even better cold!

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Feeling fatigued? 3 ways women can boost iron intake

(BPT) –

If you’re a woman who feels like you’re constantly fighting fatigue, there could be a physical reason for that sluggishness.

In the US, 1 in 10 women, between 12 and 49 years old, are dealing with the results of low iron, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and that can easily lead to extra fatigue and muscle weakness. Unfortunately, iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), particularly affecting menstruating women, pregnant women, vegans and vegetarians, athletes (especially women) and recent blood donors.

“Many women have low iron levels and simply don’t know it,” reports Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, an internationally recognized expert in the fields of integrative medicine, herbal medicine and dietary supplementation, and author of National Geographic’s “Fortify Your Life: Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals and More.” “Iron is absolutely critical to some of our most basic functions, like energy production, oxygen circulation and healthy brain function.”

The good news is, low iron stores can be easy to correct. Scientists at Mayo Clinic suggest the following remedies:

* Eat more foods rich in iron; these include meat, eggs, soybeans, seafood, beans, peas, peanuts, dark-green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, oatmeal and/or iron-fortified breads, cereals and pastas.

* In conjunction with high-iron foods, eat foods high in vitamin C that promote iron absorption. This group includes citrus fruits and juices, melons, strawberries, kiwi, broccoli, leafy greens, peppers and tomatoes.

* After talking to your doctor, choose an iron-boosting supplement that doesn’t cause unpleasant side effects such as nausea, diarrhea or constipation. Blood Builder, made by MegaFood using nutrients with farm-fresh whole foods, is clinically proven to increase iron stores in women without upsetting your stomach and digestive tract. To support healthy red blood cell production and iron bioavailability, Blood Builder also includes food state folate, B12 and vitamin C delivered through Uncle Matt’s Organic whole oranges.

In addition to fatigue, the most common symptom of low iron, symptoms can also include muscle weakness upon exertion; heart palpitations; pale skin; decreased focus; occasional sadness and/or an inability to stay warm.

Seeking more information about addressing an iron deficiency? Learn more at BloodBuilder.com.

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Every single person needs this essential nutrient. Are you getting enough?

(BPT) – We’ve all heard the saying “knowledge is power.” When it comes to good health, most people recognize the important role nutrition plays in a healthy lifestyle. However, according to a recent study by the Global Nutrition and Health Alliance (GNHA), despite efforts to eat a balanced diet, 98 percent of people do not get enough omega-3 (O3) to reach the optimal range. People should take action to ensure they are consuming enough omega-3 fatty acids to help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and help support brain, joint and eye health.

This National Health Education Week (Oct. 16–20, 2017), empower yourself with practical tips and knowledge to help ensure you are getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.

1. Get to know the basics

Every human has a basic nutritional need for omega-3 fatty acids. Considered “essential” because the body needs them to function but can’t create them on its own, O3 must come from dietary sources. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA), have been associated with overall heart health and improving eye, brain and joint performance as we age. You can find out your O3 levels with the Omega-3 Index test.

2. Eat right

A growing number of expert bodies and health professionals recommend up to 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA per day. Since our bodies don’t produce omega-3 fatty acids naturally, you can increase your daily intake of this essential nutrient by eating at least two fatty fish meals per week, as well as fortified food and beverages, such as milk and eggs. Sources of fatty fish include coldwater fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring or sardines.

3. Bridge the gap

In reality, diet alone may not be enough. Study findings show that 82 percent of people believed they didn’t need to take a supplement to have a balanced diet, yet almost none of them had an O3 level in the optimal range. Whether it’s due to limited access to fresh, quality foods or dietary preferences, if you are like many others who do not consume significant amounts of fish on a regular basis, O3 supplements may be the key to ensuring optimal nutrition.

The GNHA is a group of doctors, scientists, dietitians and health and medical experts focused on educating consumers and health care professionals about optimal nutrition as part of a healthy lifestyle. To learn more about the GNHA study findings, visit http://www.globalnutritionhealth.org/.

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Organic is always non-GMO, but is non-GMO organic?

(BPT) – If you’re a parent, you’ve probably come across ongoing debates regarding the term “organic” and what should go into your child’s body. But, what about organic versus non-GMO? A recent study from Perrigo Nutritionals revealed that more than half of moms didn’t know that organic is inherently non-GMO.

So, what’s the real difference? Organic is always non-GMO, but, unlike non-GMO, products labeled organic also guarantee:

* No use of toxic pesticides or chemical/synthetic fertilizers.

* No use of antibiotics or synthetic hormones, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.

* Support for organic farming practices and animal health and welfare.

* Regulated by the federal government under the USDA.

“It’s important to understand the difference between these labels so you can make the right nutritional decisions for you family,” says Jessica Turner, best-selling author and founder of the Mom Creative blog.

Looking beyond the non-GMO label doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach, especially since purchasing all organic can add up. As a mother of three, Turner believes the following products are worth the extra splurge for organic instead of just non-GMO for your child.

Baby food

As a child starts eating solids, many organizations recommend going organic when it comes to the “dirty dozen,” such as apples, bell peppers, peaches, etc., to avoid pesticides. Purchasing baby food? Make sure you look for the USDA Certified Organic label, not just a non-GMO certified label, to avoid all those chemicals.

Milk

Milk is a nutrient powerhouse when it comes to your child’s nutrition with vitamin D, calcium and protein, but it can sometimes contain not-so-good ingredients. Organic milk brands have no antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides or GMO anything. Going organic also supports a better life for the cows since they have access to pastures.

Infant formula

The Perrigo Nutritionals study said 43 percent of moms purchased organic foods for their babies when they started eating solids, but only 10 percent purchased organic infant formula. So why not choose organic for your baby from the very beginning? Choosing organic brands may be worth the extra investment since it will ensure you are avoiding pesticides and hormones.

Skin care

Skin care products, like lotion, diaper cream, shampoo and soap, are being absorbed into a baby’s bloodstream. Since their skin is more porous than adults’ skin, products from organic/natural lines may be worth the extra splurge to ensure your child is being exposed to the fewest chemicals.

At the end of the day, if you’re not sure, err on the side of buying organic since organic is always non-GMO, plus more. For more information on organic versus non-GMO, visit www.choose-organic.com.

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