Did You Know...?
...green bell peppers are actually unripened red or yellow peppers? Red and yellow peppers are sweeter, higher in vitamin C, and taste better raw. When choosing green peppers, pick the ones with red streaks as they will be sweeter.
...when celery is too green, it tends to be bitter; but if it's too white, the nutrient value is low. Try to pick stalks that are in between.
...asparagus becomes tougher the longer it sits. For the best flavor consume as soon as possible after harvesting.
...avocados should yield slightly to gentle pressure when ripe. Store unripe avocados in a closed paper bag on the counter. When ripened, remove from bag and refrigerate immediately.
...green grape stems indicate fresh grapes, while those that are old will be dark.
...pineapples do not ripen after they have been picked.
May is National Osteoporosis Awareness Month
In mid May I had already planned to write about this topic for my monthly newsletter. But today it becomes very personal as an elderly relative fell this week and fractured a vertebrae in her neck. Fortunately she did not suffer any paralysis, but because her bones are so porous and brittle from osteoporosis, she cannot have surgery and will need to wear an uncomfortable neck brace at all times for the rest of her life. There's much we can do to prevent this devastating condition so please continue reading.
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become thin and weak, making them susceptible to fractures, especially as people age. It is estimated that approximately half of all women older than 50 years of age, and as many as one in four men, will suffer broken bones due to osteoporosis. And this is a big deal because one fourth of hip fracture patients 50+ die in the year following their fracture!
Approximately 10 million Americans already have osteoporosis, and 34 million people have low bone mass and are at risk of developing the disease. By 2025, experts predict that osteoporosis will be responsible for approximately 3 million bone fractures and $25.3 billion in health care costs annually. You can find out more about the risk factors for osteoporosis at The National Osteoporosis Foundation.
Although some loss of bone mass is expected as people get older, osteoporosis and health problems associated with weak bones are not a normal part of the aging process. The best protection against osteoporosis is prevention....this is especially important for our kids since 85% of adult bone mass is acquired by age 18 in girls and age 20 in boys. But healthy lifestyle choices for everyone can help promote strong bones for life.
- Eat a diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Get enough daily calcium from foods and/or supplements
- young children need 400-800 mg
- teens need 1,300 mg
- adults 19-50 need 1,000 mg
- adults 50+ need 1,200 mg
- Helpful Hint: On the Nutrition Facts labels of food packages, calcium content is shown as a percent of the daily value (%DV). To quickly learn the number of milligrams of calcium per serving, add a zero to the %DV number. For example, a food with 20 percent of the daily value provides 200 mg of calcium.
- Important Note about calcium supplements: a recent study indicated calcium supplements may slightly increase the risk of heart attacks in women. Until more definitive research confirms or denies this link, err on the safe side and aim for no more than the recommended amounts listed above.
- Eat a wide variety of foods since other nutrients such as magnesium, boron, zinc and vitamin K play a role in building and maintaining strong bones. Magnesium is found in halibut, almonds, spinach and beans. Boron is found in dates, raisins, prunes, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts and apples. Zinc is found in oysters, beef, pork, baked beans and yogurt. Vitamin K is found in leafy greens, such as kale, broccoli and spinach. (If you are on Coumadin or another blood-thinning medication, remember that maintaining a consistent intake of vitamin K-rich foods, such as leafy greens, is important).
- Minimize intake of sodas (cola beverages appear to be worse than other flavors), especially for children who may substitute these for milk
- Get the recommended amount of vitamin D which may require a supplement. (The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends 800-1000 IU/day for adults 50+.)
- Engage in weight bearing exercise every day through routine activities such as walking, climbing stairs, or dancing and strengthening exercises 2-3 times per week.
- Don't smoke and limit alcohol use to 1 drink/day for women and 2 drinks/day for men.
- Take safety precautions to avoid falls.
- Discuss bone health with a health care provider and ask for a bone mineral density test if you are at high risk for osteoporosis.
Animal sources of calcium
Organic milk, yogurt, and cheese
Canned salmon with bones
Canned sardines with bones
Soft shell crabs
Mineral-rich broths and stews made with bones *
Plant-based sources of calcium
Greens: bok choy, dandelion, kale, mustard, turnip, watercress
Fortified foods like cereal and orange juice
If you would like help improving your diet to reduce your risk for osteoporosis, please click here to contact me
* Mineral-rich Broths and Stews
This is a wonderful tip: when making broths or stews that contain any kind of bones (chicken, turkey, beef, etc), add 1 tbsp of vinegar (apple cider, balsamic, or brown rice vinegars work well) or 1/2 cup wine with every 2 quarts of water. Cook the broth for at least 1-1/2 to 2 hours. This helps leach the calcium and other minerals out of the bones.
1 can (~4.5 oz) sardines, drained
1 tbsp grated onion
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1/4 tsp kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Serve with assorted veggies and rye or whole grain crackers.
Adapted from The Whole-Food Guide to Strong Bones: A Holistic Approach by Annamarie Colbin, PhD
Cheeseburger Pizza Muffins
This makes a great quick dinner. And it's so easy you can enlist the help of your kids to get it made in minutes. (You can substitute soy crumbles for the ground beef if you want to make a veggie version.)
Makes 6 Servings
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 15 min
- 1 (12-ounce) package of whole grain English muffins
- 3/4 pound grass fed lean ground beef
- 1 red or orange bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 cup low sodium pasta sauce
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the English muffins in half and place on a baking sheet. Toast lightly in the oven if desired and set aside. Place the beef, bell pepper, and oregano in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and cook, breaking up the large pieces, until the meat is no longer pink, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain excess fat, add the pasta sauce and mix well.
To assemble the pizzas, top each muffin half with a twelfth of the meat mixture. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top of each. Bake until the cheese melts, 5 to 7 minutes. Serve hot.
Adapted from a recipe on www.nationaldairycouncil.org
Calories ~310, Total Fat 10 g, Saturated Fat 5 g, Cholesterol 50 mg, Sodium ~400mg, Calcium 35% Daily Value, Protein 24 g, Carbohydrates 30 g, Dietary Fiber ~9 g