Energy Drinks: Friend or Foe?

Energy drinks and energy shots have become very popular to reportedly keep us energized and alert. According to market researcher Packaged Facts, the United Stated energy drink market was worth $12.5 billion in 2012 and is expected to continue to grow. However the long-term safety of the energy drinks or shots is unknown, and there have been documented accounts of negative side effects from excessive intake of these products. The biggest questions then are, are they safe and should we consume them?

What exactly are energy drinks or shots? They are flavored beverages containing different amounts of caffeine in addition to other additives such as herbal supplements, vitamins, minerals, sugar, or guarana, a plant product that contains naturally concentrated caffeine. Many claim to improve concentration, alertness, and help with mental or physical performance. They are readily available at many different locations and some of the most popular brand names include: Red Bull, 5 Hour Energy, Monster, Rock Star Energy, or Full Throttle.

Many of these energy drinks or shots contain high amounts of caffeine. Some contain up to 150 mg per serving, however, many energy drinks contain two or three servings per container which can quickly add up throughout the day. In healthy adults, a caffeine intake of 400 mg/day or less is considered safe. In reference, 400 mg is the equivalent of 4 cups of coffee or 10 regular sodas. However, some researchers have found that doses greater than 300 mg can cause negative side effects. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends an upper limit of 300 mg/day for pregnant women, and caffeine is not recommended for children and adolescents.

Adults who consume low to moderate amounts of caffeine may have improved exercise endurance, cognition, reaction time, and mood, however, many of the claims related to the products in energy drinks have not been backed up by science. Consuming higher amounts of caffeine has been linked to anxiety, jitteriness, restlessness, headache, and fatigue. Caffeine intoxication can cause insomnia, tremors, heart palpitations, and upset stomach and at the highest levels, can cause vomiting, abdominal pain, hallucinations, muscle tremors, rapid heartbeat, stroke, paralysis, altered consciousness, seizures, arrhythmias, and even death.

Nutritional concerns with these products include labeling issues. Many companies are not required to disclose information related to the caffeine content, although some voluntarily do so. In addition, many energy drinks contain excess calories and sugar which can lead to obesity and high blood sugar over time. Some cans contain as much as 60 grams of sugar or the equivalent of about 15 teaspoons of sugar! Energy drinks can also contain higher levels of sodium. Some are even as high as 400 mg of sodium per can.

The bottom line? If you are going to consume caffeine or energy drinks, as with anything, moderation is always key. Keep tabs on how much you are drinking throughout the day. Cut back gradually if you exceed the 400 mg/day upper limit. Try decaf instead of regular, as it typically has the same taste without all of the caffeine, or choose an energy drink that is a smaller size or only drink half of a can. If being treated for high blood pressure, energy drinks are not recommended. Remember to get plenty of sleep, eat healthy, and exercise, all of which can give you healthy energy without needing to take a supplement or energy drink!

Happy Healthy Halloween

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Halloween is just around the corner, and you may be wondering how to maintain a healthy diet this year. Halloween is a great opportunity to discuss the importance of moderation with your children. All foods, even candy, can fit into a balanced and nutritious diet as long as you watch portion sizes.

First, it is important to agree upon limits with your children, and discuss how much candy they will be able to enjoy per day. Some parents may say that candy should be limited to two pieces a day. Be sure to have this conversation with your children ahead of time and come to an agreement that works for your family.

Before you go out trick-or-treating on Halloween, make sure to provide your children with a healthy, well balanced meal. This will help to limit overindulgence on candy on Halloween night since your children will not be too hungry. Consider being somewhat lenient on Halloween night and let your kids have a few pieces of extra candy, since it is a special occasion. After that, however, it is important to reiterate moderation and portion sizes and to be a healthy role model by following a balanced diet yourself.

As a general rule of thumb, make sure sweets are offered with healthy foods. For example, a piece of Halloween candy with an apple and a glass of milk could be served for an afternoon snack. Or, a piece of candy could be offered as a dessert after a healthy dinner. As long as your children are eating nutritious, balanced meals, Halloween candy in moderation can be incorporated. The key is that the majority of what your children eat should be nutritious and balanced.

You may be considering passing out healthier alternatives to candy this year. Here are a few ideas to add to your candy bowl:
• Goldfish crackers
• Animal crackers
• Cereal bars
• Pudding cups
• Pretzels
• Box of raisins
• Small box of cereal
• Halloween stickers, pencils, or temporary tattoos.

Halloween is a great opportunity to discuss healthy nutrition and portion sizes with your children. Have a healthy, happy Halloween this year!

Popcorn Ballspile of popcorn balls like snow
Ingredients
3 cups popcorn
½ cup honey
1 cup honey-nut toasted oat cereal
1 ounce pretzel sticks, broken into pieces
¼ cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg

Preparation
1. Melt honey, cinnamon and nutmeg in a pan over low heat until the honey is thin. Remove from heat.
2. Combine popcorn, cereal, pretzels and peanuts; stir.
3. Pour honey over the popcorn mixture and stir to coat with a wooden spoon. Cool 2 minutes.
4. Form into 10 (3-inch) balls. Cool 5 minutes.

Nutrition facts per serving: 106 calories, 2 g protein, 2 g fat, 1 g fiber, 83 mg sodium

Raspberries

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Looking for a sweet and tangy fall fruit? Try fresh raspberries! Ever-bearing raspberries have two crops per year, one in the summer and one in the fall. Raspberries are actually a relatively easy fruit to grow here in Wisconsin because they prefer a cooler climate. There are over 200 raspberry varieties in the world and come in a variety of colors, not just red, but also black, purple, and gold. Most raspberry plants, if cared for properly, can live for up to 10 years.

Raspberries also provide an abundance of nutrients, making it a perfect snack or addition to your favorite recipe. Raspberries are high in dietary fiber and vitamin C, in fact one cup of raspberries has 8 grams of fiber and 53% of your daily vitamin C needs for only 65 calories! Raspberries are cholesterol free, fat free, and low in sodium. Raspberries are also high in antioxidants, a compound that may prevent or delay cell damage that might lead to the prevention of certain types of diseases and cancers.

When purchasing raspberries, choose dry, plump, and firm berries; avoid berries that appear wet or moldy. After purchasing raspberries, do not wash or rinse until ready to eat. Raspberries can be stored in the refrigerator for use within 1-2 days. Raspberries can be purchased fresh from your local farmer or grocery store.

Try this recipe below for a tasty raspberry treat!

Lemon-Raspberry Muffinslemon raspberry muffin
Ingredients:
1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup nonfat buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white whole-wheat flour, or whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) raspberries

Makes 12 Muffins

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 12 large (1/2-cup) muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the lemon in long strips. Combine the zest and sugar in a food processor; pulse until the zest is very finely chopped into the sugar. Add buttermilk, oil, egg and vanilla and pulse until blended.
3. Combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add the buttermilk mixture and fold until almost blended. Gently fold in raspberries. Divide the batter among the muffin cups.
4. Bake the muffins until the edges and tops are golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Serve warm.

Nutrition Information:
Per Muffin: 185 calories; 7 g fat; 18 mg cholesterol; 27 g carbohydrates; 4 g protein; 2 g fiber; 245 mg sodium; 42 mg potassium.
Recipes Source: http://www.eatingwell.com

Slow Food Movement

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Have you heard of the Slow Food movement? It is international movement founded in Italy in 1986 and encourages food that is tasty, seasonal, locally grown, fresh and wholesome. At the heart of this concept is taking pleasure in cooking, eating, and sharing meals with others. Slow food is an alternative to fast food, and is healthy, good for the environment, and good for the farmers and people who prepare our food. There are many benefits to eating food that is locally grown. Because crops are picked at their peak of ripeness, locally grown produce is flavorful, fresh, and high in nutrients. Purchasing local food in season is good for your budget as well, because food does not have to travel thousands of miles to get to you. Furthermore, you are helping your local economy by supporting local farmers and growers. What can you do to make sure the food you are eating is healthy and wholesome? Here are some tips from Slow Food USA:

  1. Buy whole ingredients and prepare your meals at home rather than purchasing fast food.
  2. Avoid processed foods with a long list of ingredients.
  3. Grow your own food in a backyard garden or even on a windowsill.
  4. Choose meat that is grass-fed and poultry that is free-range.
  5. Know the story behind your food. Purchase food from your local farmer whenever possible. Shop at the farmers market, or buy shares of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

Upland Hills Health purchases 23% of the food that is served to patients, residents, and visitors from local vendors. These vendors include: Bryson’s Dairy, Lonesome Stone Milling, Quality Bakery, Cates Family Farm, Avon Locker Plant, Pan-O-Gold, Bryson’s Dairy, Innovative Kitchen, and Heartland Fruit and Produce. If you are interested in purchasing more locally grown foods, visit your local farmer’s market, join a CSA, or check out The REAP Food Group website (www.reapfoodgroup.org). REAP Food Group Partners include farms and businesses that promote building and sustaining a local food system that supports small family farms and locally owned business, sustainable agriculture practices, and access to fresh and healthy food. Some of the REAP partners in our area include: Bleu Mont Dairy, Botham Vineyards, Bures Berry Patch, Campo di Bella Farm, Crossroads Community Farm, Dancing Bee Honey Farm, Dorothy’s Grange, Double Ewe Farm, Dreamfarm, Dreamy 280 Farm Fresh Meats, Future Fruit Farm, Gentle Breeze Honey, Hook’s Cheese Company, King’s Hill Farm CSA, Ruegsegger Farms, Seven Seeds Farm, Singing Fawn Gardens, Sunborn, Sutter’s Ridge Farm, Uplands Cheese Co and Grass Dairy, Valley View Emus, and Vermont Valley Community Farm.