Federal Guidelines Call for More Beef

 

Beef Producers Asked To Submit Public Comments

By Rick Worthington with AgInfo.net

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) announced the launch of a nationwide campaign on July 22 to encourage cattle producers to submit public comments supporting beef’s role in updated federal dietary guidelines.

Americans have until Aug. 13 to submit official comments as the USDA and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) work to finalize the 2020-2025 guidelines.

“Study after study shows that beef plays an important role in a balanced, healthy diet across the lifespan,” said Marty Smith, president of NCBA. “NCBA has made it a priority to protect the scientific credibility of Dietary Guidelines and promote accurate information about the nutritional advantages of beef as part of a balanced diet.”

Along with making comments, NCBA plans to reach out to cattle producers via e-mail, text messages, social media and traditional media outlets between now and the deadline. It will also start the Twitter campaign of #BenefitsofBeef.

Want Better Health—Consume More Produce!

Eating More Produce Is Always Good Advice

The advice to eat more fruits and vegetables for better health is always welcome and appropriate.  Registered dietitians and nutritionists as well as other medical professionals universally recommend eating more to help prevent illness and disease, especially since only 1 in 10 Americans consume the recommended amount of fruits and veggies each day

But in today’s environment, there is even more emphasis on maintaining a healthy immune system. Dietitians and nutritionists are regularly being asked for their input on staying healthy and most are reiterating the need for appropriate hydration, adequate sleep and a diet that is rich in fruits and veggies.  This video featuring Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN, Maya Feller Nutrition, provides some simple advice for consumers on what foods and practices contribute to healthy immune function.

And, here are just a few quick reminders of the health-promoting attributes of fruits and veggies.

Apples:  In addition to the many disease-fighting nutrients in an apple, red apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin, which can help fortify your immune system, especially when you’re under stress.  And remember to eat the peel, which is rich in fiber and antioxidants.
Berries:  Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are rich in vitamins and antioxidants.  Eat them together for a powerful nutrient-rich punch.
Broccoli:  A multi-vitamin approach in every bite, broccoli provides Vitamin A and C, and the antioxidant glutathione as well.
Citrus:  During cold and flu season, everyone knows to reach for some citrus fruit because it is high in Vitamin C.  Studies have shown that Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells, which help defend the body against viruses and diseases.
Red Bell Peppers:  Most people don’t realize that red bell peppers are an amazing source of Vitamin C as well as beta carotene, which are both important in boosting your immune system.
Spinach: Often referred to as a superfood, spinach is not only high in vitamin C but it is also rich in antioxidants and beta carotene, which positively impacts the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems.
Watermelon:  Like broccoli, watermelon contains the antioxidant glutathione, which has been shown to strengthen immunity.

While these are just some examples, reaching for any fruit and veggie will provide a nutrient-dense snack or meal component.  Plus, peer reviewed studies have also shown that people who eat more fruits and veggies each day are happier and their mood is enhanced.  And, we can all benefit from a little mood improvement about now.

March is National Nutrition Month

Celebrate National Nutrition Month – Eat More Produce!

March is National Nutrition Month!  And, what is the only food group health experts everywhere agree we should eat more of?  Fruits and vegetables of course. While there are decades of peer reviewed studies that show the benefits of a diet rich in these healthy foods, here are just a few examples as we head into March.

  • A study published in PLOS Medicinedetermined that “prescriptions” for healthy foods could save more than $100 billion in healthcare costs.  The healthy foods include fruits and veggies plus seafood, whole grains and plant oils.
  • A study published in Science Dailyfound that one in seven cardiovascular deaths could be attributed to not eating enough fruit while one in 12 of these deaths could be attributed to not eating enough vegetables. Put another way, low fruit and veggie consumption resulted in an estimated three million deaths from heart disease or stroke.
  • A University College of London studyshowed that people who ate seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day reduced their risk of premature death by 42%. Consuming that many servings of produce each day reduced the risk of death from cancer by 25% and heart disease by 31%.

A plant rich diet may also positively influence fertility.  A 2018 study in human reproduction found females under 35 undergoing in vitro fertilization had a 65% to 68% increased chance of success with a stronger adherence to the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes eating lots of fruits and veggies each day.
Studies have shown that eating enough fruits and veggies has other positive benefits too like improving your mood, better sleep, shinier hair and whiter teeth.  It’s true!  Visit the Alliance for Food and Farming’s “A Dozen Reasons” section to learn more.

The Key to Healthy Living

Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables with Dr. Joan Salge Blake

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

“Eat your fruits and vegetables!” is a phrase all too often heard by children as their parents’ attempt to instill healthy living and the importance of a balanced diet from a young age. However, as they mature, it becomes just as important to make sure they stay true to the mantra. Dr. Joan Salge Blake—clinical associate professor at Boston University’s Department of Health Sciences program, registered dietitian, published author, and host of the health and wellness podcast “Spot On!”—is continuing to advocate for this message in an era surrounded by food trends and alternatives.

Joan Salge Blake

“The recommendation is to have a minimum of two-and-a-half cups of vegetables a day and two cups of fruit a day for a combination of four-and-a-half cups … and [people] are not meeting those minimum requirements,” Blake said.

The biggest reason that most miss their opportunity to complete their daily balanced diet is due to their meal group priorities throughout the day. According to Blake, “The issue is that a lot of people wait until nighttime, and if you do that, it’s going to be really hard for you to have two and a half cups of vegetables at dinner … so I think that people just forget that we need to incorporate these throughout the day.”

Aside from vegetables, she stresses the importance of incorporating all five food groups throughout your day. “What we want to do is make sure that the diet is balanced,” Blake explained. “What you don’t want to do is just eat fruits and vegetables all day long, because then you don’t have a balanced diet. Ensuring that you receive protein or calcium from dairy products is key to maintaining a diet that is balanced and proportional.”

For more science-based, useful information about health and wellness, join the already 9,000 listeners of Blake’s podcast “Spot On!”

Vegetables Are the Key to Great Nutrition

How to Increase Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

By Laurie Greene, Editor

In honor of National Eat Your Veggies Day, we spoke with Francene Steinberg, department chair and professor of nutrition at UC Davis, and director of the UC Davis Dietetics Education Program for undergrads. She encouraged the importance of leaning on vegetables for optimum nutrition and health benefits.

Francene Steinberg, department chair and professor of nutrition at UC Davis
Francene Steinberg, department chair and professor of nutrition at UC Davis

“A varied diet of fruits and vegetables, along with grains and some protein sources is extremely valuable to give everybody the best energy for them to grow,” Steinberg said. “It really is so important to get the full spectrum of all the nutrients in these foods, particularly the vegetables.”

“In addition to all the required nutrients,” she explained, “we know the required vitamins and minerals—those that we know about and for which we have the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), the “average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97%-98%) healthy people.” (Source: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine)

Continuing, Steinberg said, “There are also quite a few other nutrients and compounds in those foods that are good for usthat have biologic effects. Not only just fibers, but also phytochemicals, phytonutrients, they are really part of what helps to promote overall health. It’s not just the vitamins and minerals in a vitamin pill. You really need to eat the whole fruits and vegetables and grains, and so forth, to get the full effects,” noted Steinberg.

There is a new approach to how much produce people should eat on a daily basis. Steinberg noted the importance of eating the rainbow; fruits and vegetables of every color. Previous nutrition campaigns used to stress the importance of consuming five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

“Most people don’t even come near to eating the amount of vegetables they need. Rather than focusing on a specific number, an easier goal is just eat more than you currently do, in terms of vegetables. Eat one more serving each day. Try a new vegetable each week. See if you like them,” said Steinberg.

Eat The Rainbow

In particular, Steinberg recommended red beets which are a wonderful vegetable to add to your eating list. “Beets are delicious. These deeply colored fruits and vegetableswhether they’re red, or green, or orangethat really denotes they have more nutrients in them. There are all these colored compounds that are often bioactive in the body. They really are good for you. You can, as you say, eat the rainbow by choosing these brightly colored fruits and vegetables.” noted Steinberg.

Steinberg encourages consumers to 'eat the rainbow'.
Steinberg encourages consumers to ‘”eat the rainbow.”

By consuming more vegetables, consumers can more avoid many chronic diseases. “I think that certainly most of the chronic diseases we suffer from today stem from obesity, diabetes, heart disease, that sort of thing,” Steinberg commented. “They’re often a combination of overconsumption of overall calories and empty nutrients, and not enough consumption of some of these fruits and vegetables that hold such valuable nutrients for us,” said Steinberg.

“It really is a matter of trying to make your diet as nutrient-rich as possible, and really avoiding those empty calories that seem to provide us lots of extra calories without any added benefit,” she stated. “If folks can cut down on some of the sugary and highly fatty snacks, chips and that sort of thing, and eat a piece of fruit or an extra vegetable serving per day they’re really much better off.”

Steinberg suggested one way to stimulate the desire to eat more vegetables is by making them readily available. “I think sometimes when people buy some of the produce, then they put it away in the refrigerator, it’s not visible. It’s hidden and they go to the cupboard and look and there’s a bag of chips that’s very easy to grab.”

She also recommended ways to make sure produce is not left behind. Consumers can purchase “fruits and vegetables that are already pre-washed and cut up, and put them in a little baggie or bowl on the counter, if they’re not perishable, or just a baggie in the refrigerator. It’s a quick grab and go. You can take it and have it as a quick snack. Things that are appealing to children are small bites that are easily consumed, bright and colorful.”

Steinberg recommended consumers “try to find those fruits and vegetables that are very fresh. Sometimes the ones we find in the grocery stores are not as flavorful as [backyard-grown], from the farmer’s market, or even just knowing which vegetables are in season. At the grocery store, the best things that are in season are usually going to be the freshest and tastiest. ” said Steinberg.

Fresh is not the only way consumers can enjoy the benefits of produce since frozen varieties are easy to come by. “Some of the frozen whole vegetables and fruits are highly nutritious,” said Steinberg. “They’re very affordable and available year round.”

Steinberg also mentioned the availability of low calorie dips such as hummus can easily be found in grocery and convenience stores which encourages more fresh vegetable consumption. In fact, hummus is primarily chickpeas, another great vegetable. “Dipping fresh vegetables in hummus. That’s delicious,” she said.

USDA Observes Kick Off of the International Year of Soils

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began its celebration of the International Year of Soils to highlight the importance of healthy soils for food security, ecosystem functions and resilient farms and ranches.

“Healthy soil is the foundation that ensures working farms and ranches become more productive, resilient to climate change and better prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said during an event today at USDA headquarters. “We join the world in celebrating this living and life-giving resource.”

With an increasing global population, a shrinking agricultural land base, climate change and extreme weather events, the nations of the world are focusing their collective attention to the primary resource essential to food production-the soil. The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), working within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership, spearheaded the adoption of a resolution by the UN General Assembly designating 2015 as the International Year of Soils. The year of awareness aims to increase global understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions.

“Most people don’t realize that just beneath our feet lies a diverse, complex, life-giving ecosystem that sustains our entire existence,” said Jason Weller, chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “We are helping producers unlock the power of soil health as part of an important and very successful national campaign. Our campaign demonstrates our renewed commitment to soil conservation and soil health.”

NRCS is coordinating activities to mark USDA’s involvement in the International Year of Soils. Nearly 80 years ago, NRCS, formerly the Soil Conservation Service, was created to improve the health and sustainability of our nation’s soils. The agency’s original mission continues to this day – providing assistance to producers looking to improve the health of the soil on their land.

Conservation that works to improve soil health is one of the best tools NRCS has to help landowners face these impending challenges – and maintain and improve their productivity with the use of soil management systems that includes cover crops, conservation tillage and no-till and crop rotations. These systems reduce sediment loss from farms and ranches, buffer the effects of drought, flood and other severe weather; sequester carbon and create biodiversity in our rural landscape.

“International Year of Soils provides an opportunity for us to learn about the critical role soil conservation and improved soil health play in the economic and environmental sustainability of agriculture,” Weller said.

Working with the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) and other partners, NRCS will be showcasing the importance of soil with monthly themes created by SSSA:

January: Soils Sustain Life

February: Soils Support Urban Life

March: Soils Support Agriculture

April: Soils Clean and Capture Water

May: Soils Support Buildings/Infrastructure

June: Soils Support Recreation

July: Soils Are Living

August: Soils Support Health

September: Soils Protect the Natural Environment

October: Soils and Products We Use

November: Soils and Climate

December: Soils, Culture and People

For more information, visit NRCS’s soil health webpage or the International Year of Soils webpage.

Why Almonds Belong in Your Diet

Almond Nutrition

Source: Alissa Fleck, Demand Media

Natural, unsalted almonds are a tasty and nutritious snack with plenty of health benefits. Loaded with minerals, they are also among the healthiest of tree nuts. Just a handful of nutrient-rich almonds a day helps promote heart health and prevent weight gain, and it may even help fight diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

Nutrition

Eating about 23 almonds a day is an easy way to incorporate many crucial nutrients into your diet. Almonds are rich in vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, minerals and potassium. Additionally, almonds are a significant source of protein and fiber, while being naturally low in sugar. One 23-almond serving packs 13 grams of healthy unsaturated fats, 1 gram of saturated fat and no cholesterol or salt. Of all tree nuts, almonds rank highest in protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin content by weight. There are 160 calories in 23 almonds. While many of these calories come from fat, it is primarily the healthy unsaturated fats and not the unhealthy saturated kind.

Almond Hull-split
Almond Hull-split

Heart Health

According to the FDA, eating 1.5 ounces a day of most nuts, like almonds, may reduce the risk of heart disease. Many of the nutrients in almonds help contribute to increased heart health. For one, almonds are rich in magnesium, which is critical in preventing heart attacks and hypertension. Several clinical studies have also shown almonds can be effective in reducing bad cholesterol and preserving healthy cholesterol, which plays a major role in heart health.

Weight Maintenance

Nuts, like almonds, are also beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight. The fiber, protein and fat content of almonds means it only takes a handful to keep you feeling full and satisfied so you won’t have the urge to overeat. According to “Fitness” magazine, the magnesium in almonds helps regulate blood sugar, which is key in reducing food cravings. Almonds may even be able to block the body’s absorption of calories, making them the ultimate weight-loss-friendly snack. Because almonds are naturally high in calories, it’s important to limit your serving size to the recommended 1 ounce, or 23 nuts.

Other Health Benefits

Almonds may also promote gastrointestinal health and even combat diabetes. The high fiber content of almonds gives them prebiotic properties, which contributes to health in the gastrointestinal tract. Prebiotics are non-digestible food substances, which serve as food for the good bacteria in the intestinal tract and help maintain a healthy balance. According to a study by the American Diabetes Association, a Mediterranean diet incorporating nuts, such as almonds, helps fight diabetes even without significant changes to weight, physical activity or caloric intake.

Lactose Intolerance: 11 Ways to Still Love Dairy

Source: Brunilda Nazario, MD; WebMD

If you’re lactose intolerant, you can still eat foods with lactose — in moderation. The key is to know your limit. Keep a food diary, write down when, what, and how much you ate, and how it made you feel. You should see a pattern emerge and you will learn how much or how little lactose you can have. Then, stick to your limit.

Consider Lactose-Free Milk and Other Dairy

For regular milk drinkers, most supermarkets have lactose-free or low-lactose milk in their dairy case or specialty foods sections. You can also find lactose-free cheese, lactose-free yogurt, and other dairy products. It can be hard to get enough calcium when you are lactose intolerant. Lactose-free milk, however, has the same amount of calcium as regular milk.

Take Control of Your Diet

Take control of your meals by brown bagging it rather than struggling to find something that you can eat on a menu. When cooking at home, you can replace milk in recipes with lactose-free milk. You can also buy a cookbook that features lactose-free recipes and start trying them. Many classic recipes can be adapted to fit a lactose-intolerant diet. Control the ingredients that go in the meal and you may be surprised at how much variety you can eat.

lactose intolerance, milkConsider Lactase Supplements

It’s not a cure, but taking lactase enzyme supplements can help you eat foods containing lactose. Supplements are found in many forms, including caplets and chewable tablets. They may be particularly helpful if you don’t know the exact ingredients in your meal. If supplements do not help your symptoms, be sure to check with your doctor.

Hunting for Hidden Lactose

Lactose is found in most dairy products, except those marked “lactose-free,” such as lactose-free milk or cheese. It also can be in packaged foods such as dried mixes, frozen meals, and baked goods. Read food labels carefully, and watch out for ingredients such as “milk solids,” “dried milk,” and “curd.” If you choose to eat these foods, you may need to take a lactase supplement to help prevent symptoms.

Ask the Experts

Learning a new way of eating isn’t easy, but you don’t have to do it alone. Ask your doctor to suggest a nutritionist or dietitian to help you manage your diet. She can teach you how to read food labels, share healthy eating tips, learn how much dairy you can eat or drink without symptoms, and come up with reduced-lactose or lactose-free foods to provide a well-balanced diet.

Smaller Portions, Fewer Symptoms

Maybe you can’t enjoy a big glass of milk with cookies, but you can try a smaller serving. Start with a 4-ounce glass instead of a full 8 ounces. Gradually increase the amount of dairy you eat until you begin to notice unpleasant symptoms. Listen to your body. It will tell you when you’ve reached your limit. If you want to avoid lactose completely, try lactose-free dairy milk or non-dairy drinks, such as soy milk.

Enjoy Dairy on the Side

Instead of eating or drinking dairy products by themselves, try having them with food that doesn’t contain lactose. For some people, combining dairy with other food may reduce or even get rid of their usual symptoms. So don’t just drink a glass of milk in the morning. Pour it over cereal or have a piece of toast on the side.

Make Better Cheese Choices

With lactose intolerance, you can still eat cheese, but choose carefully. Hard, aged cheeses like Swiss, parmesan, and cheddars are lower in lactose. Other low-lactose cheese options include cottage cheese or feta cheese made from goat or sheep’s milk. Certain types of cheeses — especially soft or creamy ones like Brie — are higher in lactose. If you want to avoid dairy completely, try lactose-free and dairy-free cheeses.

Learn to Love Yogurt

Look for yogurt with live and active bacterial cultures. When you eat this type of yogurt, the bacterial cultures can help break down the lactose. Plus just 1 cup of plain, low-fat yogurt provides 415 mg of calcium. But forget frozen yogurt. It doesn’t contain enough live cultures, which means it may cause problems for people who are lactose intolerant. To be safe, you can always choose lactose-free yogurt.

Probiotics for Lactose Intolerance

For some people, probiotics can ease symptoms of lactose intolerance. Probiotics are live microorganisms, usually bacteria, that restore the balance of “good” bacteria in your digestive system. They can be found in foods like yogurt or kefir — probiotic-rich milk — as well as dietary supplements. Check with your doctor to see if probiotics might help you.

Low-Lactose Home Cooking

Cooking low-lactose requires a change of thinking. The simpler you cook, the better. Use herbs and seasonings to flavor meat, fish, and vegetables. Stick to fresh ingredients and use fewer prepared foods. Experiment with chicken stock or lactose-free milks to make sauces. Use low-lactose cheeses for baking. Explore cuisines — such as Mediterranean or Asian — that don’t rely very much on dairy products.

Head, Heart, Hands & Health – The 4-H Pledge

The 4-H Pledge Means Dedication

By: Monique Bienvenue; Cal Ag Today Social Media Manager/Reporter

 

At a glance, one might not think twice about that four-word pledge. But to countless individuals, that short, simple phrase represents dedication to 4-H, a prestigious organization devoted to teaching America’s youth the skills necessary to become successful outside the classroom.

UCANR 4H Pledge
UCANR 4H Pledge

Agriculturally-based, 4-H began in the 1800s as a way for students to communicate new and innovative farming techniques to those who were disconnected from university campuses. Eventually, this education trend caught on and in 1902 the first 4-H club was formed.

4h-pledge, 4-H Head Heart Hands HealthThe Cooperative Extension System was later created in 1914, and in partnership with the National Institute of Food and Agriculture under the United States Department of Agriculture, 4-H was officially nationalized. Clubs were established all across the United States.

4-H

 

Today, there are hundreds of children involved in 4-H. From health issues to food security, there isn’t an issue that these young, energetic individuals aren’t taking on.

For more information about 4-H, visit their website at http://www.4-h.org.

President/CEO Westside Produce on Food Safety

Stephen Patricio, President and CEO of Westside Produce, a grower, packer and shipper of cantaloupe for California and Arizona, talks about food safety of our locally grown foods.

“The Center for Produce Safety is a 7 year-old organization that facilitates science-based actionable research to improve the quality as well as the safety of the healthy fruits, vegetables and tree nuts we are so proud of,” said Patricio.

Patricio commented that in general, growers have a great understanding of food safety. “There’s been a tremendous awareness over the years I’ve been actively involved, and we’re maturing everyday. Realistically, the industry matures, the workers mature, because the elements of food safety don’t exist in an ivory tower or in an office, or in a tractor or in a shop; they exist everywhere on the farm,” said Patricio.

“From the absolute beginnings on the dirt all the way through the packing houses to the shipping docks to the sales offices; it’s a culture. Food Safety is a culture, not just an action,” he added.

And for those consumers worried about the nutrition and safety of their produce, Patricio reassures that everyone involved in produce cares just as much as they do. “What I continue to tell people is that there is not a farmer, producer, or grower anywhere who doesn’t eat the product that they produced themselves. And, they feed it to their family, their children, their grandchildren. And they’re proud of it, they’re happy with it.”

Patricio continued, “If that’s the approach that people simply take to their daily actions and activities, well, I don’t have to worry about the safety of food. We just have to use our heads and manage temperature and everything from spoilage to cross-contamination that can happen anywhere. But you do a good job of creating a safe product,” said Patricio.

The beauty of California produce, according to Patricio is that it is “not a sterile environment. Everything isn’t produced in a factory, taken off a shelf, or torn out of a plastic container. It’s all healthy and from nature. It’s in God’s container and we just have to do our job of not contaminating it.”