The Farmer Behind Your Milk

Posted by Abigail Copenhaver, RDN, CDN @ 8:33 AM


By the time many of us wake up in the morning and stumble to our coffee cups, dairy farmers have been up for hours working hard to bring people that milk for their coffee or yogurt to start their day.

As a registered dietitian and a dairy farmer’s wife, I hold a unique perspective on food and agriculture. My husband and his business partner operate our 900 dairy cow farm. I love to share my credentialed background and hands-on experience with fellow health and wellness professionals and the public to help them understand the farm to table process, especially when it comes to dairy foods.


Many people don’t know the details behind their nutritious dairy foods. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, farm and ranch families make up only 2 percent of the U.S. population, but they help feed all of us. Read the rest of this entry »

Dairy Foods and Blood Pressure: Putting the Pieces Together

Posted by Christopher Cifelli, PhD @ 7:28 AM


Here’s a statistic that may make you pause – according to the American Heart Association, one out of every three adults has high blood pressure and only half have it under control. What’s equally surprising is that high blood pressure is one of the most predictive risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD).

As a health and wellness professional, you know that consuming excess sodium is associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, especially in those who are salt sensitive. For years, the primary strategy for managing high blood pressure through what people eat was to reduce sodium consumption. Then, the original DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) meal plan published over a decade ago — pioneered research supporting a link between increased consumption of certain foods to help manage high blood pressure. This fresh approach emphasized foods to eat more of versus individual nutrients to avoid, such as sodium.E1002DMILo

Both observational and clinical studies have shown a beneficial relationship between the consumption of dairy foods and blood pressure in adults – but, you may wonder, how can the addition of dairy foods to the diet help contribute to a healthy blood pressure? Read the rest of this entry »

Greek Yogurt 101: 3 Things You Need to Know

Posted by Judith Jarvis, MS, RDN @ 8:07 AM


Greek yogurt has become a staple on my weekly grocery shopping list, as it has for my grown kids and their families. That may be the case for many families, since over the last year, 60 percent of households bought Greek yogurt. Since the popularity of Greek yogurt continues to grow, I am guessing you may be getting questions about it from clients, friends, or family. Here are three things you need to know:

What is Greek yogurt and did it originate in Greece?

Greek yogurt is yogurt which has been strained to remove much of its whey, making it thicker, richer, and tangier than traditional yogurt. The term “Greek” refers more to the process for making it than it does country of origin. The exact country of origin is unclear – since Africa, India, Greece, and Arab countries all have traditional cultured milk dishes created by straining.


Read the rest of this entry »

Feeding America Network Helps Fight Hunger, Promotes Health

Posted by Christine Rivera, RDN @ 8:48 AM


As a registered dietitian working at a food bank, I saw how imperative it was to provide nutritious foods, such as vegetables, fruit, lean meats and low-fat dairy, and include health-promoting education to food insecure individuals and families.

While many community organizations may not initially think of food banks as potential health partners, more and more food banks in the Feeding America network play a leading role in promoting healthy communities. Food banks and their member agencies (food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and after-school feeding programs) are trusted sources for food and education by food-insecure community members. As food banks begin collaborations with their community health partners, Feeding America is committed to supporting these connections – and one way Feeding America is doing that is through its Healthy Food Bank Hub.


The Healthy Food Bank Hub, developed in partnership with National Dairy Council, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation and Feeding America’s network of 200 food banks, was designed to allow public health and wellness professionals to connect with their local food banks to learn more about: Read the rest of this entry »

Join the New Conversation Around Food: Sustainable Nutrition

Posted by Jean Ragalie-Carr, RDN, LDN, FAND @ 8:10 AM


“Eating is an agricultural act,” said American author and farmer Wendell Berry.

2015 is a new year and a broader — I would classify as new — conversation around food is happening right now. What I mean by this is that nutrition, agriculture and sustainability are no longer separate conversations. Americans want more than just taste, value and nutrition from their food. One in three adults say that they take into account the effect their purchases will have on the health and sustainability of the planet and people. More people want to know where their food comes from than ever before; they’re asking questions about everything from sustainability and a food’s carbon footprint to locally grown and organic foods.


Peoples’ needs are changing and our world is changing, too. By 2050, the population will expand to over 9 billion people, requiring about 70 percent more food. To nourish a growing and hungry world we not only need more food, we need more high-quality food. That’s why it’s important to grow more nutrient-rich food in a sustainable and affordable way. Read the rest of this entry »

Taking a Closer Look at Cheese

Posted by Gregory Miller, PhD, FACN @ 7:57 AM


I love cheese! And I am not alone. In fact, virtually all households buy cheese because they love how it tastes, alone or with other dishes. My favorite is sharp Cheddar paired with crackers, fruit, and a good wine – but I like all types of cheese – Swiss, Gouda, mozzarella, provolone, blue… The more I learn about cheese – its variety, versatility, nutritional benefits, and those who make it – the more I appreciate it.

According to archaeological experts, people have been making cheese in Northern Europe for up to 7,500 years, likely using fermentation in cheese as a way to preserve and transport milk. Since the first cheese making company opened in the U.S. in 1851, the amount and variety of cheeses eaten by Americans has continued to grow – with more than 400 varieties, types, and styles now available. American artisanal cheeses easily stand on equal footing with their counterparts in Europe, winning top prizes in international competitions.


While some may discourage cheese consumption based on its fat content, we should keep in mind that cheese in moderation can be part of a healthy eating plan meeting total fat, saturated fat, and sodium recommendations. Cheeses of varied fat content are available, allowing people to make trade-offs in the amount and source of fat in their eating plans. Read the rest of this entry »

Why Do People Drink Milk?

Posted by Gregory Miller, PhD, FACN @ 7:50 AM


I am mystified when I hear people question why we humans drink the milk of other animals. Yet a simple search of the Internet reveals that this is a sentiment many share. But is the belief that people shouldn’t drink cow, sheep, or goat’s milk consistent with human history? With human physiology?

Milk for Centuries

When we delve into this subject a bit deeper, we find that milk has been an important source of human nutrition for thousands of years. Milk drinking is not just a practice of Western culture, but a shared part of human existence around the world, as archaeologists and anthropologists have found: Read the rest of this entry »

School Breakfast: Helping More Students Make the Grade!

Posted by Emily Mannel @ 1:43 PM


The benefits of a healthy breakfast served at school aren’t just tied to physical health, but academic success as well. In fact, students who eat breakfast show better attention and memory than those who don’t, according to the 2013 Wellness Impact Report.

There’s more good news on the horizon, which is building positive buzz for the school breakfast program. The Food Research and Action Center’s (FRAC) 2014 breakfast reports show that more than 11.2 million low-income children ate a healthy school breakfast, an increase of 320,000 children from the previous school year.

Schools nationwide will be celebrating the importance and impact of school breakfast during National School Breakfast Week, March 2-6. This year’s campaign theme “Make the Grade with School Breakfast” capitalizes on the growing research into the critical learning connection between a healthy school breakfast and improved academic performance.


Many school districts are also recognizing National School Breakfast Week with special menu items, activities for students, nutrition education programming, and marketing and media relations efforts. Read the rest of this entry »

Cooking Up New Ways to Educate

Posted by Christine Cliff, MPH, RDN, LDN @ 8:30 AM


You may be familiar with the age-old idiom “A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” meaning cooking is a way to win one’s affection. This got me thinking: What if we as health and wellness professionals use cooking as a way to win over our patients or clients on nutrition and health-related topics like heart disease or lactose intolerance?

As you likely know, people learn differently. Some are visual learners. Some do better when they hear (auditory) information, while others learn best through hands-on experiences. Cooking demonstrations typically encompass several of these styles. While the audience watches how a recipe is made, the chef or moderator can educate about the recipe process and tie in nutrition and health messages throughout the demo. This thought came to me after I attended two culinary demos, which were particularly engaging.

Fortuna and Christine with Chix sldChef Fortuna Arai provided such an experience during the Heart Disease Symposium at the National Medical Association’s Annual Convention this past July. Top-notch African American physicians who attended were interested in learning not only about implications of heart disease, but also about helpful nutrition strategies to offer their cardiac and lactose intolerant patients. Given that African Americans have a higher prevalence for lactose maldigestion, the Chef’s tips were quite helpful to this audience.  While she demonstrated two simple and tasty recipes including Tarragon Chicken Yogurt Salad and Vegetarian Taco Salad, Chef Fortuna tied in nutrition nuggets. She noted that these recipes can  fit within an overall heart healthy eating plan since they contain reduced fat dairy and herbs and spices instead of added salt. Read the rest of this entry »

Help Clients Knock Out a Serving a Day with a Savory Parfait

Posted by Keecha Harris, DrPH, RD @ 9:41 AM


Since February is Lactose Intolerance Awareness and Heart Health Month, it’s the perfect month to creatively help people add more dairy foods to their meals so they can get their recommended three servings per day. So, let’s all take some steps this month not only to improve our own health outcomes, but also help the public with tips to add more dairy to their daily routine.

It’s the perfect time to bone up on the importance of a nutrient-rich eating plan and dairy foods can help — milk provides nine essential nutrients, including calcium, potassium, vitamin D and protein.

Since it’s also Black History Month, here’s some news-you-can-use as fellow health and wellness experts with your clients and patients. About 20 percent of African Americans self-report that they are lactose intolerant and almost half of African Americans are directly impacted by some form of cardiovascular disease. Consuming three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products are linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, as noted in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. So, why not eat more dairy-based foods that are nutritious, delicious, and easy to make? Read the rest of this entry »