Vitamin D, “The Sunshine Vitamin”

By Angela Feng, UC Davis Healthy Aggie

What is the “Sunshine Vitamin” you may ask? It’s your friend vitamin D! You might be thinking, “Oh, now they are going to educate me on foods high in vitamin D.” Actually…not quite. The best way to get vitamin D is from the sun! By being exposed to the sun, our skin can make its own Vitamin D. How crazy is that?

Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium from the intestines. Vitamin D deficiency is widespread. Not enough vitamin D can result in poor bone mineralization, which is also known as, osteomalacia.

Foods that are high in vitamin D include salmon, tuna, mackerel, beef liver, and egg yolks. There are also many foods that are vitamin D fortified such as milk, cereal, and orange juice.

Make sure to still use protection against UV rays, like sunscreen, while in the sunshine. Now that summer is here, enjoy the outdoors and get some vitamin D.

What is your favorite way to spend some time in the sunshine?

Is coffee beneficial or detrimental to your health? 

By Elisha Aispuro, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

First off… let’s quickly discuss all the claims you may have heard about coffee in these last twenty years. Did you ever hear about a 2006 study that found drinking a mere two cups of black coffee every day increased your risk for heart attacks and high blood pressure! Did you also hear about a recent study that found drinking three cups of black coffee daily lowers your risk for stroke and death from cardiovascular disease!

I know what you’re thinking, these two research studies have contradictory results so what should you believe?

I’ll get to that…but let me start off by breaking down the widely researched health benefits associated with a daily cup of freshly brewed black coffee that’s consumed by over a billion people each day.

Health Benefits of Coffee

Drinking coffee has long been thought to have numerous health benefits, such as supplying energy, alertness, and increased concentration. Research has proven that coffee can ease headaches and combat depression. Additionally, recent studies suggest drinking a certain amount of coffee daily may reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, heart failure, Type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

Early Health Concerns of Coffee

Coffee certainly has health benefits, but for some, too much can induce anxiety, jitteriness, and insomnia. In addition, it was once thought that drinking coffee could make you more prone to cardiovascular disease (CVD). This was largely due to studies, such as one published in 2006, that found some individuals had an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart attack if they consumed over two cups of daily coffee, while others did not have this risk. Scientists in this study believed that there was an increased risk of CVD in individuals who carried a variant of the CYP1A2 gene, which made them less effective at metabolizing caffeine. However, a study in 2019 found there was no evidence for an interaction between the CYP1A2 genotype and coffee intake with respect to the risk of developing CVDs. The 2019 study did find that heavy coffee

consumption could lead to a modest increase in CVDs, but this association was unaffected by genetic variants influencing caffeine metabolism.

All of this is to say, many studies after 2006 found that coffee may actually have a neutral or beneficial effect on cardiovascular health. One interesting study in 2015 found that in populations without diagnosed disease, coffee drinkers had healthier sized and better functioning hearts, consistent with the suggested idea that coffee may aid in reversing the detrimental effects of aging on the heart. The study also found that drinking a moderate amount of coffee could lower the risk of clogged arteries that can lead to a heart attack.

How Much Is Too Much?

According to recent studies and dietary guidelines, it’s safe to consume up to five daily cups of black coffee with the average U.S. coffee drinker consuming about three cups of coffee every day. It’s important to mention that the nutritional value of your coffee will change depending on the amount of sugar, creamer, or other ingredients added to each cup so individual recommendations on how much is too much may differ based on how you like your coffee.

Ultimately, now you know that while your daily Starbucks coffee may put a dent in your wallet, it won’t affect your health when consumed in moderation.

Hope this information helps you feel more confident as you reach for your second cup of coffee as midterms approach.

Do you have any creative Starbucks coffee drink orders you think the Davis community should know of?

Let us know in the comments below!

Sustainable Vegetarian Diet

By Kimberly Oliva, UC Davis Healthy Aggies Intern

Under the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), my plate suggests a serving of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and protein for a balanced meal. But what comes to mind when “protein” is mentioned? Is it chicken, turkey, beef, pork? Or is it tofu, beans, nuts? Those who choose to consume no animal meat and just fuel up on plant-based sources may do so because of health concerns, moral values, animal welfare, or just personal preference. No matter the reason, having a well-planned vegetarian diet that meets daily nutritional needs is essential.

What is a vegetarian diet?

There are a variety of vegetarian diets. For instance, there is lacto-vegetarian which excludes meat, fish, poultry, and eggs but allows dairy products. There is also ovo-vegetarian that excludes meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products but allows eggs. A lacto-ovo vegetarian diet excludes meat, fish, and poultry but allows dairy products and eggs. Pescatarian diet excludes meat, poultry, dairy and eggs but allows fish. And lastly there is a vegan diet which excludes anything that comes from an animal.

Things to look out for on a vegetarian diet…

Major nutrients of concern in following a vegetarian diet includes getting adequate protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and iron. These nutrients play a role in building and repairing tissues, maintaining and promoting proper growth and development of bones and teeth, for prevention of anemia, etc. All these nutrients are vital for the human body to function well.

Planning a healthy vegetarian diet

So, how can you plan a healthy vegetarian plate without meat as a source of protein? It depends on the type of vegetarian diet you follow. For example, those who are vegetarian use tofu as a substitute for many dishes that have chicken or meat, as it is a complete source of protein containing all 9 essential amino acids. Most other plant-based proteins provide complete protein when combined with a grain. Examples include rice and beans, peanut butter with whole wheat toast, or a salad with sunflower seeds and chickpeas will get you complete plant-based protein.

Besides having adequate protein intake, making sure you are obtaining the other essential nutrients of concern. Many plant-based products or dairy products, provide you with these essential nutrients like iron (legumes), calcium (soybeans, milk), vitamin D (mushrooms, fortified dairy products), vitamin A (carrots, broccoli), zinc (soy products, nuts, and seeds), etc. A single food can only supply you with so many nutrients so a variety of foods is important. If you question nutrient adequacy, speak with a registered dietitian.

Example of a Lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet

              Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with toast

                             Ingredients: eggs, cheese, spinach, onion, tomatoes, avocado, little bit of olive oil, whole wheat bread🡪 season to taste with pepper and salt

              Lunch: Chili

                             Ingredients: beans (any type), onion, tomatoes, carrots, squash, eggplant, celery, cheese, water/vegetable stock 🡪 seasoned with salt, pepper, cayenne, pepper, paprika, cumin to taste

              Dinner: Crispy tofu with roasted vegetables and rice

                             Ingredients: firm tofu (seasoned to taste), olive oil, choice of vegetables, steamed rice

References

  1. Vegetarian diet: How to get the best nutrition – Mayo Clinic
  2. 7 Common Nutrient Deficiencies of a Vegetarian Diet – Dr. Clark Store (drclarkstore.com)
  3. A balanced diet for vegetarians | BBC Good Food
  4. Complementary Food – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics

Does Cooking Change the Nutrient Profile in Foods?

By Angela Feng, UC Davis Healthy Aggies Intern

This question has always been a mystery to me, and I’m sure many can relate. What happens when you cook food? Is there a specific cooking method preferred over the other?

Well, you’re in luck today! Because I will be diving into the cooking processes and how it affects the nutrient content of foods.

Boiling, Simmering, and Poaching

Water-based cooking consists of boiling, simmering, and poaching. Vitamin C is prone to lose its content when cooked in water because it’s water-soluble. Water-soluble means that it is able to dissolve in water. For example, broccoli, spinach, and lettuce may lose more than 50% of their vitamin C content when boiled.

Microwaving

Nutrients are more likely to be preserved in microwaved foods due to their short cooking times. 20-30% of Vitamin C in green vegetables is lost during microwaving. However, it is less than the majority of cooking methods.

Roasting and Baking

There is not a significant effect on vitamins and minerals when foods are roasted and baked in an oven with dry heat. B vitamins can lose their content up to 40% if meats are roasted for a long time at high temperatures.

Sautéing and Stir-frying

Sautéing and stir-frying on high heat with a small amount of oil improves the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, and K because these vitamins break down in fats. However, stir-frying has been shown to lower the vitamin C content in broccoli and red cabbage.

Frying

Not all foods are appropriate for frying, so it’s important to be mindful of the oils being used and to minimize reheating the oil. Frying can preserve vitamin C and B in potatoes. However, frying tuna has resulted in degraded omega-3 content up to 70-85%.

Steaming

Steaming is one of the best cooking methods for maintaining nutrients. It has been found that steaming broccoli, spinach, and lettuce reduces their vitamin C content by only 9–15%.

Now that we have learned about the different cooking methods and their different effects on foods, let’s switch gears and talk about how to maximize nutrient retention during cooking!

Here are some simple tips:

  1. Use a small amount of water when cooking to reduce the loss of vitamin C and B
  2. Consume the liquid leftover from cooking vegetables
  3. Cut food after cooking, rather than before, because foods are less exposed to heat and water when cooked whole
  4. Cook vegetables for only a few minutes
  5. Don’t peel vegetables before or after cooking. The peel has lots of nutrients like fiber!

Source: Healthline, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cooking-nutrient-content#tips

Mushroom Pasta with Goat Cheese

By: Angela, Healthy Aggie Intern

Date Night Mushroom Pasta with Goat Cheese Recipe - Pinch of Yum

Ingredients: 

8 ounces bowtie pasta 

8 ounces mixed mushrooms 

¼ cup finely chopped fresh thyme and oregano 

2 tablespoons olive oil 

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 

3 cups baby greens: baby kale or spinach 

¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated 

3 to 4 ounces soft goat cheese 

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper 

Directions: 

1. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain the pasta and save out ¼ cup pasta water. 2. Clean the mushrooms, then slice them. Chop the herbs. 

3. In a saute pan or skillet, heat the olive oil to medium high heat and cook the herbs, mushrooms, and several pinches of salt together for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. When mushrooms are cooked and tender, reduce heat to low, add lemon juice, greens and a few more pinches of salt. Cook for about 2 minutes until the greens are wilted. Add the Parmesan cheese and pasta water and stir until the cheese is melted. 

4. Add the drained pasta into the mushrooms. Add fresh ground black pepper to taste. Use your fingers to break off crumbles of the goat cheese and add it to the pasta; stir them in if desired. Serve immediately.

The Homemade Club Chia Pudding

Nutrition Analysis By: Hannah, Healthy Aggie Coordinator

Recipe By: Deepa, The Homemade Club Member

  • About 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup of oat milk (or of any milk you prefer)
  • Any other add-ins or topping you want (honey, matcha powder, fruit, sugar, cocoa powder, etc)

Mix all the ingredients together and leave covered in the refrigerator overnight (or for at least 3 hours). Enjoy with any toppings you would like!

Did you know that chia seeds are little powerhouses for polyunsaturated fats (like omega 3 fatty acids), fiber, protein, calcium, phosphorus, and zinc? Just 2 tablespoons of chia seeds contains 140 calories of 4 grams of complete protein protein, 7 grams of unsaturated fat, and 11 grams of dietary fiber. Complete protein means that this seed contains all 9 essential amino acids that are necessary for your body to build. The dietary fiber consists of soluble fiber, which is the type that assists in digestion, regulates blood sugar levels after eating a meal (for example the lactose in milk for chia seed pudding), and promotes the fullness hormone ‘leptin’ for a more satiating feeling. As for the unsaturated fat in these seeds, it contains omega 3 fatty acids which after thorough studies concluded that the highest intake of this nutrient in a sample is a 17% reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality rate compared to those that had the lowest intake. Overall, chia seeds are PACKED with lots of nutrients that benefit cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, digestion, and so much more!

Sweet Potato and Mushroom Chowder

Sarina, Healthy Aggie Intern

Chow Down on Chowder 

It’s fall! The foliage of trees is changing into beautiful colors and the weather is getting chillier. It’s time to get your favorite blanket and get warm.  Another way to warm up? Try a sweet potato an

d mushroom chowder! It’s easy to make and you could enjoy some fall produce like sweet potatoes! So the next time you see sweet potatoes in Trader Joes or Safeway, grab some to make this tasty soup! Here is the recipe!

Sweet Potato and Mushroom Chowder

2 servings 

(approx. 256 kcal/person)

  • Sweet potatoes: 3-5 oz
  • Beech mushrooms: 1.5 oz
  • Bacon: 3 pieces
  • Garlic: half clove
  • Butter: 1 tbsp
  • Flour: 2 tsp
  • Milk: 7 fluid oz
  • Salt : pinch
  • Pepper: 1 shake 

Directions:

  1. Cut the sweet potatoes in cubes, separate the mushrooms into individual pieces, and cut the bacon pieces in 1 cm width. Don’t forget to mince the garlic!
  2. Put the butter in a pot and heat the pot. Stir fry the garlic and bacon. Once you start smelling the aroma, combine the sweet potatoes and mushrooms and stir fry them. Sprinkle all of the flour onto the stir fried vegetables and add 5 oz of water. Once it’s boiled, turn the heat to low and continue cooking for 3 minutes. 
  3. Add the milk and let it cook for a bit. Add the salt and pepper 

I hope you enjoy this soup! All credits go to daidokolog, a Japanese recipe website. Original recipe in Japanese then translated into English. Conversions were changed to American standards. 

Coconut Chickpea Curry

By: Kalyn Concepcion, Healthy Aggie Intern

Ingredients:

1 medium yellow onion diced

1 cup potatoes roughly chopped

1 green or red bell pepper diced

1 can diced tomatoes

1 can lowfat coconut milk (I prefer Sprouts Lite Coconut Milk) drained and rinsed

1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans

Seasonings:

Garlic minced

Salt and pepper 

Cumin

Curry Powder

Tumeric

Ground ginger

Red chili flakes optional

Lime juice optional

Cilantro optional

Instructions: 

  1. In a medium saucepan, saute onion and garlic in oil until translucent. Stir in spices* until aromatic. 
  2. Add bell pepper** and cook until softened. 
  3. Meanwhile, boil potatoes in salted water for 5 minutes or until tender. 
  4. Add boiled potatoes and canned tomato. Stir and let cook for 1-2 minutes. 
  5. Stir in chickpeas and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and cook until chickpeas are soft, about 10-20 minutes. 
  6. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Suggestion: Serve with jasmine rice, topped with fresh lime juice and cilantro. 

*I don’t use specific measurements for the spices. Season to your liking!

**You can add/substitute any vegetables you prefer. I sometimes add chopped zucchini. 

H2O > SeAsONAl BeVErAgEs

By Sarina Lin, UC Davis Healthy Aggies Intern

Many of us know that we need to stay hydrated over the summer when it’s hot. We always hear, “Stay hydrated! Drink more water.” We get hot, we sweat, and we get thirsty easily in the summer. Right now, it isn’t hot outside and we don’t sweat as much during the winter. When it’s cold, we may opt for a warm drink. With a whole wide variety of seasonal hot drinks available to us during the winter, water almost seems unnecessary. Who needs water when you have all of these drinks? 

  • Water is necessary for our body to perform properly. Low levels of fluid could actually drop the body’s core temperature. This could be avoided by drinking enough water. How much is enough though? You should aim to drink “between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh, everyday.”  For example, if you are 150 pounds, you want to be drinking water somewhere between 75 to 150 ounces a day. That is around 4 to 9 single-use plastic water bottles. If you are going to work or school, carry a reusable water bottle to keep yourself hydrated and utilize the Hydration stations around campus to refill. 
  • Water is crucial for maintaining homeostasis, getting rid of waste products, keeping organs and tissues hydrated, and transporting nutrients. It could also reduce risks of getting sick. 
  • Signs of dehydration: “flushed skin, dark colored urine, dry or sticky mouth, headache, muscle cramps, dizziness, dry skin, and rapid breathing or heart rate.” 

Hot seasonal drinks do contain water, but these drinks could be high in added sugar and may contain a decent amount of caffeine. Enjoy these but don’t be dependent on them to give you all the water you need.