Ask the RD!
Have a nutrition question? You’re in the right place! Send questions to Ayla: firstname.lastname@example.org with the email subject “Ask the RD”
Question: I have a question for you about flax seed. I have read that there are numerous benefits to adding flax seed to one’s diet, but it seems that some people think that flax seeds need to be ground before eating for any real benefit. Can you help clarify this – whether it is better to each them ground, or if it makes any difference at all?
Answer: It is true that flaxseed is a healthy addition to any diet. They are a good source of fiber, antioxidants and omega-3-fatty acids which are good fats that are anti-inflammatory. If eaten in their whole form (not ground) then your body will simply treat it like an insoluble fiber, and not digest it. While there are benefits to insoluble fiber, you really are wasting all of that good nutrition within the flaxseed if you do not grind them first. So, to answer your question, it is best to grind flaxseed before eating. Note here that it is OK to buy flaxseed pre-ground, however, once ground flaxseed is exposed to the air, it will go rancid quickly. So, be sure to store your ground flaxseeds in the refrigerator. If you want to grind your flaxseeds fresh, a coffee grinder set on the “fine” setting, should do the trick.
Question: I read online today that there is a practice commonly used in India of lacing apples with calcium carbide to speed up the ripening process. Calcium Carbide is considered carcinogenic – causes cancer. Is there any risk of this in the United States?
Answer: Calcium carbide is a chemical compound that is used in some countries to artificially ripen fruit. It is indeed carcinogenic and can make people quite sick if consumed. Industrial grade calcium carbide may contain arsenic and phosphorus and for this reason, it is illegal in most countries, including the United States. I am unable to find any data on whether or not calcium carbide is being illegally used in the United States, how or if its use is monitored. The root of the problem, in my opinion, is consuming fruit out of season. Choose fruits that are in season or purchase frozen or canned fruits to avoid risk of such practices.
Question: One thing I struggle with is feeling hungry all of the time when I am trying to lose weight. My husband says that “It’s great to feel hungry because you are losing weight”, but it makes me miserable and then it makes me want to pig out later. I end up eating a lot of unhealthy stuff. How can I lose weight at a reasonable pace, but not feel miserably hungry in the process?
Answer: This is a great question and one that I think many people can relate to. It is a myth that one must feel hungry to lose weight. The trick is eating high volume, low calorie foods that will fill you up on fewer calories. The first place that I like to start with my clients who are trying to lose weight is by increasing their fruit and vegetables. By eating more fruits and vegetables, you can “crowd-out” other, more high calorie foods. Start with how you plate your food- make half of the plate fruits or vegetables, seasoned with spices instead of high calorie sauces or sugar, and you will immediately bring the total calories for that plate of food down without eating less food. Bottom line: more of the right stuff to crowd out the wrong stuff.
Question: Canola vs. olive oil, what is the difference?
Answer: Both types of oils a great choice for unsaturated fats but if I had to choose one, it would be canola. There are a couple of reasons: 1. It contains more Omega-3 Fatty Acids than Olive oil and half the saturated fat 2. It can withstand high temperatures making it a great choice for pan-frying 3. It has a more neutral taste so it takes on the flavor of things you add to it 4. It is usually a lot less expensive!
My husband claims he doesn’t like vegetables. Do you have any suggestions of dishes I could make for my husband and our 20-month old baby that would help my husband change his mind about veggies and my baby learn to love them?
This is a great question because I suspect that there are many more people reading that are wondering what to do with the picky eaters in their household.
The first question that comes to mind is whether it’s all veggies that your husband doesn’t like or are there in fact a few that he does? Start with the veggies that he does like and make those the highlight of the recipes you choose. Then, incorporate one or two new ones into the recipe as well. Dips and sauces are also a great way to get kids and adults alike to eat veggies. Rather then high-fat ranch dressing, try adding spices like Mrs. Dash and/or dill to plain greek yogurt. Also, adding a bit of salt and butter to veggies to make them more appealing to the palate is better then eating no veggies at all. An additional consideration is that it often is a texture issue, or a negative association with the food. Keep trying different recipes, and ways of preparing vegetables (raw, steamed, blanched, grilled, etc.). For kids, the more a food often a food is offered to them, the more likely they are to eat it. They also need positive role modeling when it comes to eating healthy so perhaps that can be used as an incentive for your husband!
I highly recommend The Mom’s Guide to Meal Makeovers by Janice Newell Bissez, MS, RD, and Liz Weiss, MS, RD for recipes that creatively incorporate vegetables and other healthy ingredients into recipes that everyone love (think macaroni and cheese).
Apoligize if this topic has already been addressed. It seems clear the benefits of drinking green tea outweigh any negative effects, but is it possible to have too much green tea? I have read mostly positive benefits of drinking green tea and have occasionally read that it can sometimes have negative effects if too much is consumed. The problem is most of the articles reference studies that basically range from now to anywhere in the last 15 years. One article goes on and on about the negative effects it may cause, but then at the bottom of the article it states the study was based on a small group of people that consumed upwards of 15-20 cups of green tea a day. 15-20 Cups seems abit rediculous to me. So I guess my question is do you think 3 to 5 cups is fine?
Good question. Based on the current evidence available, there is no reason to believe that 3-5 cups of green tea a day will have a negative affect on a healthy individual. In fact, the numerous health benefits are quite clear in the research. So drink away!
I do not recommend any green tea supplements because they deliver extremely high, concentrated doses of green tea compounds. Anything can be dangerous when taken out of its original context and consumed in high doses.
Also, green tea naturally contains vitamin K and caffeine. Individuals on blood thinners should talk to their doctor about their green tea intake because Vitamin K has a blood thinning affect (fine for the average person, but concerning when combined with blood thinning medication). Additionally, pregnant women, infants and children should limit caffeine consumption.
I was severly anemic when i was pregnant with my baby. Is there anything I should worry about now that she’s 1 1/2 yrs? Should I assume that since she is now out of me my body is getting enough iron?
It is very likely that the pregnancy itself caused your anemia because in order to support the baby, a mother’s body must produce about 3 times as much blood. If you feel run down (which having a 1 1/2 year old will do on it’s own!) you might want to consider getting tested again at your next check-up. Also, it is a smart idea to incorporate iron-rich foods in your diet anyway. Here are some examples: Soy, spinach, white beans, hummus (the tahini in hummus contains iron), lentils, oysters, clams, mussels, dried apricots, pumpkin seeds or squash seeds (check out my salt and vinegar pumpkin seed recipe!). Hope that helps.
I have been convinced to eat less meat. I started to eat beans instead of meat. Now I have a gas problem. I have tried everything that people recommend… drain the water that you use to soak the beans, chew a lot, etc. My wife is mad at me and the dogs can’t sleep in the bed anymore because of the gas. Please help!
Beans are an incredibly healthy source of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. I commend you for trying to eat more! Unfortunately, beans are known for their unpleasant and uncomfortable side effects. The reason they cause gas is because they contain the raffinose, a carbohydrate that the beneficial bacteria naturally present in your intestines, love. They ferment the carbohydrate and the result is hydrogen and methane (gas). Unfortunately, chewing beans better doesn’t make a huge difference.
What you can do to help is 1. Give your body some time to adjust to the increased amounts of beans in your diet (don’t over do it at first, slowly increase the amount in your diet). 2. Drink plenty of water when you are eating beans to aid digestion. 3. Take a walk after eating 4. Try Beano or activated charcoal (both over the counter) 5. Sip chamomile or peppermint tea
So today is day 1 of my diet overhaul so I’m looking for easy healthy meals…curious what are you having for lunch today?
I am so glad you asked me because I literally just made lunch.
• Applegate Farms Organic Uncured Ham with Applegate Farms Organic Muenster Kase Cheese –Love this brand because they don’t use antibiotics, hormones, nitrites or nitrates in their products. It’s important to limit processed meat in your diet so when you do eat it, make it the good stuff.
• Olivia’s Organic Spring Mix
• Sliced Vidalia onion (my favorite for sandwiches because they are so sweet)
• Whole Foods Organic Honey Mustard
• 2 slices of Whole Foods Organic 100% Whole Wheat Bread (I would have preferred my favorite whole wheat bread from the Farmer’s Market but that goes too fast in my house)
Sliced organic peaches because they are in season (an therefore cheap), sprinkled with cinnamon
And ice water with a lime because I am sick of plain water ☺ You could also try lemons, oranges or cucumbers.