September 2011 | | 1-888-376-7136

[Volume 2, Issue 5]

Visiting a Farmers Market

Shopping at a Farmers Market is a nice way to support local agriculture and find some really delicious and healthy foods while you’re there. It could be a great learning experience for kids too. I just read an article about a Farmers Market in Simi Valley, California about a Farmers Market that gives school-age kids the opportunity to visit the market and learn about healthy foods.

Healthy nutrition at farmers market

I love this idea and it would be wonderful if more schools could make arrangements with farmers markets, health food coops, local farms, or maybe even local greenhouses to learn about how our food plants grow, how they’re harvested and (most importantly) how healthy foods are good for everyone.
Kids may not be drinking enough low-fat milk, the CDC reports,0,570371.story

Milk is an excellent source of calcium and protein, plus it’s fortified with the vitamin D you need to be able to absorb calcium. But whole or 2% milk also contain fat, including saturated fat. Low- or non-fat milk contains all the calcium, but has less fat and calories.

What you can do to help:

  • Teach kids why calcium is important – it’s needed for strong bones, healthy teeth, normal blood clotting and for nerves and muscles to function properly.
  • Explain why milk is a better choice than sugary soft drinks that are high in calories but poor in nutrition.
  • Recommend low- and non-fat milk to students, or if they can’t or don’t want to drink milk, offer calcium-fortified soy or rice beverages.
The Best Medicine for Lowering Cholesterol…

Just may be the foods you eat. A diet with more soy proteins, nuts and seeds, plus ample amounts of fruits and vegetables along with less red meat may be the most important factor in how high your cholesterol levels are.

Certain foods may be the best medicine for lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol,0,7258520.story

This article gives talks about recent studies that indicate diet the importance of diet in lowering cholesterol. According to the study (and many other experts) adopting a more plant-based diet can lower cholesterol. Why? Part of the reason may be due to consuming less saturated fat by cutting down on red and processed meats that can increase cholesterol levels. And plants contain natural substances that can reduce cholesterol too, such as sterols and polyunsaturated fats. The foods with the most of these sterols and healthy fats include legumes, nuts and seeds.


Feeding Kids’ Brains

Nutritious foods are good for your whole body, but some foods seem to have an impact on kids’ brains and on how they learn (or how they don’t learn). Growing brains need nutrients like choline, omega-3 fatty acids, and B-vitamins. Staying away from sugar and white flour may help too.

Brain foods health send kids to the head of the class

This article talks about some of the foods that are good for growing brains. Some have specific nutrients that support thinking and memory, while others are just good food that keeps a kid’s whole body fueled during a busy school day.

Talk to your students about foods and their brains:
  • Have your students pick out one of the eight foods mentioned in the article and do a report on that food.
  • Teach kids to focus on fruits and vegetables – they’re the cornerstone of any healthy diet.
  • Kids may not want to give up the sugary snacks, but at least help them to cut down on sugary sodas and snacks that don’t have any additional nutritional value.
Eggs as a Healthy After-School Snack

Eggs are a good source of protein and 14 vitamins and minerals, plus an antioxidant called lutein that may be good for your eyes. Although we tend to think of them as breakfast food, they can make a convenient and nutritious snack for after school.

Eggs a portable after-school snack that is also high in nutrients

But what about the fat and cholesterol? The yolk of an egg does contain some fat and a lot of cholesterol, but it’s also high in protein and an egg can help a kid feel full until the next meal. And despite the fat and cholesterol, one egg has only about 70 calories, which isn’t much for a snack, especially if you compare it to a 300-calorie candy bar or a super-sized soda from the fast food restaurant.
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Is Chocolate Really Good for Your Heart?

Some experts say that chocolate is good for your heart because has antioxidants that can lower blood pressure and reduce elevated cholesterol levels. But how valid is that claim? Maybe not.

Research studies on large populations found there was a correlation between eating chocolate and having a lower risk of heart diseases. Population studies can be a little tricky to interpret, though, because there could be another reason or reasons that people who ate chocolate also happened to have a lower risk for heart disease.

It's better to have randomized control trials (RCTs), which are studies in which a specific therapy (in this case chocolate or cocoa) is studied in such a way that confounding factors are eliminated or at least minimized. Several RTC studies on chocolate's effect on blood pressure (a risk factor for heart disease) have been completed and many (but not all) of them showed that chocolate reduced high blood pressure a little bit.

Unfortunately there were a couple of problems. The studies that showed deceases in blood pressure were mostly open-label studies, which means the subjects and researchers knew what they were taking and why they were taking it. When study participants know they are getting the substance being studied, some will have positive results that aren’t actually caused by the thing being studied. Some of the studies were double-blinded, which means neither the researchers or the subjects knew who was getting the chocolate and who was getting a placebo that didn’t have the antioxidants in it. Those studies didn’t show any changes in blood pressured.

It’s also possible that the antioxidants found in chocolate may be able to lower cholesterol too. Research in that area has indicated a little benefit, but the studies were small and more research is needed to reach a final conclusion.

Maybe eating a small amount of chocolate may help reduce your blood pressure (if you have high blood pressure), but the evidence isn’t all that strong. So when you balance that small possibility with the fact that chocolate has added fat and sugar, it’s probably not the best way to improve your heart health. So, you love your chocolate, just stick with a small amount of chocolate (less than 100 to 200 calories based upon your daily need), and it enjoy it as an occasional treat.
More About School Lunches and Healthy Kids

Mathematical Model Predicts Weight With Varying Diet, Exercise Changes; Findings Challenge One-Size-Fits-All Weight Assumptions

Hog Dogs: Good Choices, Bad Choices

Vitamin A Supplements For Children - 600,000 Lives Could Be Saved Per Year

Meal Making Mistakes - What Parents Do Wrong

About Shereen Jegtvig

Shereen Jegtvig is a health and nutrition writer with two decades of experience counseling people on nutrition and diet. She has a master’s degree in human nutrition and is a member of the American Dietetic Association and the Association of Health Car Journalists.   Shereen writes about nutrition for the large website (, is co-author of Superfoods for Dummies (, and teaches Evidence Based Nutrition to nutrition graduate students at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.