Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Why Should We Even Care About Vitamin A?

Does the thought of having night blindness, called nyctalopia, scare you? Basically night blindness is having difficulty seeing when lights are low. I wouldn't want that and I'm sure you wouldn't either. We want to see! You also would not want this, having foamy patches on the conjunctiva of your eye. There is a fancy name for this condition called Bitot's Spots. In addition, there is another situation of the eye that would be uncomfortable to have, that would be having dry eyes. Can you prevent all this from happening? There is a good possibility you can.

Vitamin A deficiency can place you in any of the above conditions. In order to prevent yourself from being deficient in vitamin A, indulge in pre-formed vitamin A called beta carotene. Beta carotene is the precursor to vitamin A. Your eye health will be in tip top shape when you have an adequate daily intake of beta-carotene rich foods such as pumpkin (tis the season!), carrots, dark leafy greens, spinach, orange juice, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe. The beta carotene will be better absorbed well in your body when you don't dip down too low in your fat intake. Without adequate fat, you won't be able to absorb vitamin A as well as the other fat soluble vitamins that our bodies need.

So as you are enjoying your pumpkin soup this season, just know that your eyes are thanking you, so that you can see the world clearly!

Mahan, L. K., Escott-Stump, S, & Raymond, J. L. (2012). Krause's Food and the Nutrition Care Process, 13th Edition. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier

Wedner, S. H., & D. A. Ross (2008). Vitamin D and Its Prevention. International Encyclopedia of Public Health. P. 526-632.

What is your favorite pumpkin dessert or entree? 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Not a Fan of the Word "Superfood"

Image courtesy of worradmu @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
There are so many articles calling certain food items "superfoods". If any of those foods were truly "super", then really...that particular food item should completely prevent...heal...or even cure...medical conditions.The reality is that when any one food item is featured in the "super" light, it is because it is rich in two or three nutrients..not all vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, and phytonutrients known to man all in one package.

When articles call certain items "superfood", this can lead some individuals to think that he or she should eat that particular food item every day or at least in most of their meals to reap the benefits of that particular food item. This can drive someone to limit their intake of eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, and beans. Limiting food intake to the same food choices day in and day out will keep many from gaining the benefits other food items have to offer.

The key is to venture out on a daily basis when it comes to choosing food for your meals. Eating different food items from day to day...or at least from week to week...can certainly add "spice" to your life and keep your health in check.

For the fun of it, what has been your favorite "superfood"?