Revitalize your spring meal routine with ancient grains and seeds.

Thousands of years ago, whole grains and seeds were a vital part of the food supply across the globe (see map below). Over millennia they were replaced by modern wheat, corn and soy but recently the winds have changed.

Featured in fitness magazines and social media, these ‘ancient grains’ and ‘super seeds’ have suddenly become the secret to beauty and weight-loss…. So you ask, what’s all the hype and  how do I add ancient grains and seeds to my spring meal routine?

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Q&A: Is sunflower oil okay?

Q: Is sunflower oil OK to use if not heating it, just using on a salad? “Anne in Cincinnati”

A: First a little background on dietary fats. Consuming too much omega-6 and too little omega-3 leads to an imbalance of signaling molecules (prostaglandins) that causes inflammation.

National surveys show that Americans are consuming too much omega-6 fatty acids from soy, corn, safflower, and other vegetable oils.

So the key is to find a balance and for the average American that means replacing oils rich in omega-6 fatty acids with oils rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Back to your question.

Sunflower oil is rich in omega-6 fatty acids so it is okay to have in moderation and I encourage you to dress your salad with other oils that are rich in anti-inflammatory and heart healthy fatty acids.

The most nutritious oils for salads are rich in oleic acid (omega-9) or alpha linoleic acid (omega-3), are unrefined and unfiltered (look for cold pressed on the label). I would recommend dressing your salad with extra virgin olive oil (75 percent heart-healthy oleic acid), flaxseed oil (57 percent anti-inflammatory alpha linoleic acid), fresh avocado or avocado oil (71 percent oleic acid), or almonds (30 percent oleic).

A note about unrefined oils: They should be kept in a dark, cool spot and should not be used for sautéing.

Heartburn Relief through Diet & Lifestyle

Q: Is it just me, or does adding ginger to my diet – either in food, tea or eating a small piece each day – help with digestion and symptoms of acid reflux? I’m trying to avoid having to take Nexium, which has been linked to kidney damage, or any medication for the symptoms. What else can I do?

A: Occasional indigestion happens to all of us, but if you experience indigestion frequently (several times during the week or daily) you may have acid reflux — also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

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Fun, Healthy Alternatives to Easter Candy

According to the National Confectioners Association, Americans buy more than 700 million pieces — about 120 million pounds — of Easter candy annually. That is nearly half a pound of candy for every man, woman and child in the country! And as a nation, it is estimated that we consume 16 billion jelly beans during the Easter season. If those jelly beans were placed end to end, they would circle the globe almost three times.

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Q & A: Are Dextrose and Stevia Safe?

Q: After buying Organic Stevia Blend, I noticed when I got home that it contained dextrose. Because it is organic, I am hoping that the dextrose won’t be problematic. But isn’t it one of the sugars we shouldn’t eat?

A: Dextrose is a simple sugar that is made from corn. Consuming added sugar like dextrose is OK in moderation.

Remember small amounts of concentrated sugar from brown sugar, granulated sugar or honey are okay too!

But consuming excess calories from simple sugar is associated with higher body mass index and the development of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Did you know the average adult in America consumes about 400-500 calories of added sugar in one day? Added sugar is hiding in so many foods! Click here to “eat” virtual meals and find out how much added sugar you consume on an average day.

Children 2-18 years old and adults should limit added sugar to no more than 100 calories (25 grams, or 6 teaspoons) per day.

A note on Stevia: The stevia plant has been used a for thousands of years in other cultures and it is on the FDA’s Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list.

Decreasing Colon Cancer Risk through Diet and Lifestyle

According to researchers at the National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society younger Americans are at a greater risk of getting colon cancer. If you were born in 1990, your risk of colon cancer is actually twice as great as someone born in 1950. 

It’s difficult to pinpoint why colon and rectal cancer rates have spiked for Americans younger than 55, but the increase parallels a similar spike in obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and poor eating habits.

Each five-point increase in body mass index corresponds to a 10 percent increased risk for colon cancer, according to a 2014 study.

The eating pattern outlined below, combined with regular exercise, supports weight loss and can reduce the odds that your first routine colorectal screening will show any signs of cancer.

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Preventing Vitamin D Deficiency through Diet and Lifestyle

Q: I am Vitamin D deficient and should be taking 2,000 IU’s a day. Without taking vitamin supplements or drinking milk, what else can I eat or drink organically to make up for the deficit that would be equivalent to taking 2,000 IU’s a day?

A:  The best way to avoid deficiency is to consume foods rich in vitamin D3, get some sunshine and take a supplement.

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Creating Umami: How to cook with less salt

Many ingredients besides salt can give dishes rich satisfying flavor. The following tips will help you transition to a lower sodium diet without sacrificing flavor by creating what is called umami. Often called the “fifth taste” umami suppresses bitter compounds (in foods like kale and broccoli), heightens the existing flavor of dishes and increases the perception of saltiness.

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How to Handle Your Next Snack Attack

Nutrition and eating healthfully have a direct impact on your energy, motivation, and productivity. To keep energy levels up, eat nutrient dense snacks at regular intervals throughout the day—about two hours before, and two hours after a meal. A nutrient-dense snack provides: protein, healthy fat, fiber, and about 150 calories. The following snacks will silence cravings and keep you from overeating in the evening.

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