Ask the Dietitian

linda professionalWith bicycling as the most popular form of transportation in Davis and so many healthy food options available through UC Davis Dining Services, it is already easy to live an active and healthy lifestyle in Davis. But wait, there’s more.

UC Davis Dining Services employs a team of nutrition students along with Registered Dietician Linda Adams (pictured right) to assist students with any questions or concerns they may have about health. During the school year Linda holds drop-in hours on Mondays at the Fitness & Wellness Center at the ARC. On Monday’s from 11am-1pm, stop in for a free 15-minute drop-in appointment and she will be delighted to answer any and every question you may have regarding nutrition! We decided to get a head start on healthy living this school year by asking her a few of our own:         

1. Seriously, is it worth paying more to buy organic milk? Isn’t the quality of milk already  regulated by the FDA?

According to the American Dietetic Association, there is no conclusive scientific evidence that organic food, including milk, is superior in regards to food safety or nutrition. Organic and regular milk both contain the same nine essential nutrients that make dairy products part of a healthy diet. So although it is generally advisable to buy locally grown and organic when possible, organic and regular milk provide the same health benefits. The benefit that comes from any organic product is the reassurance you get that it was raised under certain circumstances.  You can find information here. Pasture raised dairy and beef products contain more nutrients and a better fatty acid profile, whether or not they are certified organic.  Find more information here and here.

2. What about the almond milk trend? Is it supposed to be better for you than cow’s milk?

Almond milk is an increasingly popular milk substitute that is made by mixing finely-ground almonds with water. Almond milk and dairy milk are compared in the table below. While almond milk does provide calcium, it is lacking in protein and consequently doesn’t make a good substitute for dairy milk.

Product Calories Protein (g) Calcium (mg) Fat (g)
Milk, dairy non-fat 90 8.74 293 .61
Milk, dairy 2% fat (low-fat) 122 8 200 4.83
Almond milk, unsweetened 40 1 200 2.5
Almond milk, vanilla 90 1 315 3.0

3.  Are there any nutritional supplements that college students in specific could be taking to improve their health?

 Nutritional supplements are generally needed when someone is not able to ingest the appropriate amounts of healthy foods or for some reason is unable to absorb nutrients from food.   Active college students consuming a varied diet generally don’t need any supplementation.  An exception may be made for females with iron or calcium challenges.

 4. Is juicing fruits and vegetables a good way to get all of the servings that I need for that day?

Juicing is when a machine is used to grind fruits and vegetables into a pulp so that they can be consumed as a liquid. This technique is useful for people who do not like the texture of certain fruits and vegetables or people who want to mix a variety of flavors into one. While juicing is a convenient way to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, the juices of some fruits and vegetables such as carrots or beets contain a lot of sugar and the rate of ingestion increases when consuming juice as compared to the whole fruit or vegetable.  Keep an eye on the sugar content when you are juicing by including mostly vegetables and a small amount of fruit to enhance the taste. Another downside to juicing is that drinking juice will not cause you to feel full as long as if you were to consume whole fruits and vegetables, because it eliminates the period where you body is breaking the food down; liquids leave the stomach quicker than solids.  Therefore juicing should be used as a supplement to consuming whole fruits and vegetables.

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