Nutrition Education

A popular whole-grain snack explodes in popularity.

Say goodbye to cupcakes and hello to all-natural, whole-grain popcorn. According to the Popcorn Board, Americans consume about 51 quarts of popcorn per person each year. Beyond movie theaters, popcorn is replacing nuts as a pub snack and can be found as an ingredient in savory and sweet foods including soups and desserts. Gourmet flavor options range from traditional caramel to wasabi, bacon, kale and Sriracha.

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Turns out that the old saying “you are what you eat” is true, especially in relation to food and mood. Over the past several years, many evidence-based studies have been published detailing how some foods help improve your mood while others make it worse. Important nutrients affect brain chemistry, impacting mood, memory and cognitive function.  However, if you’re eating a healthy balance of whole foods that contain a variety of nutrients, you’re more likely to feel calmer, more content and generally in a better mood.

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We’re bombarded with advertisements for foods, beverages, and supplements to improve energy levels, increase focus and attention span, and get us through a mid-afternoon slump. Understanding the difference between the hype and the truth is key for optimum energy levels and good health.

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If you're feeling forgetful, it could be due to a lack of sleep or a number of other reasons including genetics, level of physical activity, and lifestyle and environmental factors. However, there's no doubt that diet plays a major role in brain health.

The best menu for boosting memory and brain function encourages good blood flow to the brain — much like what you'd eat to nourish and protect your heart. A recent study found that the Mediterranean Diet helps in keeping aging brains sharp, and a growing body of evidence links foods like those in the Mediterranean Diet with better cognitive function, memory and alertness.

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Flu outbreaks have been severe this year, with the Centers for Disease Control reporting cases in every state and urging residents to take precautions.

Whether it’s the flu or a common cold, many of us are searching for ways to relieve symptoms. Various home remedies have been used for years. Apple cider vinegar, chicken soup, honey and onions are the most common – but do any of these things help?

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How Caffeine Affects Your Body

Caffeine has long been known to elevate blood pressure acutely. A well-designed study examined the impact of 250 mg of caffeine in subjects who consumed no coffee in the previous 3 weeks. These researchers found that the average blood pressure increased by 14/10 mmHg one hour after the caffeine was consumed.

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Waking up tired? Feeling fatigued and you don't know why? Dragging through the afternoon, looking for caffeine and a snack as a pick-me-up? Craving carbohydrates for a relaxing treat? For any of these complaints, it is wise to assess eating patterns since they influence energy levels gained through sleep. Influences on sleep range widely and include mood, stress levels, health, and daily routines. Diet is only one influence, but a potent and multifaceted one. Conversely, the way we sleep influences food patterns.

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The dairy aisle might seem more crowded lately. Soy milk has been around for years, but “milk” made from nuts, seeds, grains, and coconut are gaining shelf space—and capturing the interest of consumers.

Twenty-one percent of Americans report picking up more milk alternatives, and 15 percent say they’re buying less milk or none at all, according to a report from the market research firm Mintel. Those alternatives make life easier for vegans and people with dairy allergies and lactose intolerance, but how do they stack up nutritionally compared with milk? See what an 8-ounce glass of milk and milk alternatives give you.

Read More about Milk substitutes: Should you sip or skip? How almond, coconut, hemp, rice, and soy milks compare with dairy.

It seems like we’ll eat or drink anything that will increase our lagging energy levels. Put the phrase “boost your energy” on a food or beverage, and we think, “Hey, I need that!”

Marketed to improve energy, promote weight loss, increase stamina, and boost athletic performance/mental concentration, energy drink sales are expected to reach $52 billion by 2016. Energy drinks are most popular with teens and young adults — 30-50% of them frequently consume energy drinks.

Read More about The Lowdown on Energy Drinks