Now more than ever there’s an abundance of information at our fingertips. As new foods become available and research grows about how nutrients in foods affect us, some still have questions about foods and how they impact our health. Here’s a few commonly asked questions I get from my patients:
Water tastes boring, so I struggle to drink it. Can I use one of those water enhancers for flavor?
Hydration is key to health. Dehydration can cause fatigue and dry out the skin. So drinking enough water daily is important. Most individuals do not need the additional salt from sports drinks, however the added potassium and magnesium may be of benefit. Dietitian’s tip: look for water enhancers that don’t have artificial sweeteners like sucralose, acesulfame or aspartame as they can cause increased cravings for sweets. Instead look for flavored beverages or enhancers that use non-calorie sweeteners like stevia, xylitol or erythritol. You can use a few ounces of a flavored beverage added to water to reduce calories or add in some fresh fruit slices like oranges, lemons or limes to pack some natural vitamins in your water.
Is almond milk good to drink?
As a substitute for dairy milk, almond milk has some nutritional variation. It is not a good source of protein, as it usually only packs 1 gram per 8 oz serving and has a small amount of unsaturated fat from the almonds. It can be a bit lower in calories (and sugar) than dairy milk and it is also cholesterol free. Most almond milk brands are fortified with vitamins and minerals like Calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 but each brand is different (so check your label for specifics). Overall, as a part of your smoothie or morning cereal, almond milk can be a great alternative to dairy milk!
What’s the difference between quick cooking and steel cut oats? Are quick cooking (packages) healthy?
Oat groats are the completely whole, intact version of steel cut oats; the grain is simply cut into small pieces that can be cooked a bit quicker and are then known as steel cut oats. The oats are then rolled to get the various versions of the grain in extra thick, thick or thin versions of rolled oats, which can decrease cooking time and can be useful in many different recipes. Each type can offer a very nutritious, healthy breakfast option full of fiber. Just watch the added sugars in the packages and limit the added fats (like nuts)! If you’re cooking your own (or picking up a grab and go), try adding different kinds of fresh fruit or spices like cinnamon for added flavor.
Is butter good to use?
The connection between saturated fat and heart health is pretty clear: the more saturated fat in a diet, the greater the likelihood of developing plaque buildup and heart disease over time. Butter is largely saturated fat, and should be used very minimally. Saturated fats are drivers of our “bad” cholesterol and weight. Butter (and butter substitutes) can be hidden in foods like baked goods, ice creams and snack foods, so limiting intake of those foods can be helpful in lowering your saturated fat intake overall. Liquid oils are best to use when cooking, as they have more unsaturated fats which are a better alternative. Saturated fats of all kinds (butter or those that come from animal meats) should be limited to no more than 10% of your calories.
What questions do you have?
For more information on health and nutrition, contact registered dietitian Erica Weinandy at email@example.com.