Ariana Cerro, University of St. Joseph, DI ’17

As dietetic interns, we are constantly facing a fast-paced, often stressful
environment with answers that are expected of us instantaneously. Preparation
and education leading up to the internship will help us to become better
Registered Dietitians, but it is also helpful to have resources at our disposal for
use throughout the learning process. The future of dietetics involves integrating
technology into our practice as a benefit to our patients, as well as ourselves to
further our education and knowledge. Mobile applications are a convenient and
simplified mode of nutrition information that can help us as clinicians to be able
to continue to learn throughout our internship and to provide better care. Here’s
a list of ten different mobile applications that may facilitate learning throughout
your internship:

# 1   USDA DRI : This free app features the daily
allowance for vitamins and minerals based on gender, age, weight and height. As an added bonus, this app will also calculate BMI and estimated energy needs.Ariana blog #5


# 2  Nutriguides: Nutriguides is an easy way to see #2 summaries of medical nutrition therapies for specific disease states. It is presented by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is evidence-based, which we as dietitians live by. There are a variety of topics covered, such as diabetes, Celiac disease, and HIV, and it includes the nutrition care process for each disease. This app costs $1.99,
but is an easily accessible form of the Evidence
Analysis Library (EAL) without having to remember
your Academy login credentials.ariana blog #6




# 3 Epocrates: Do you find yourself struggling
with food and drug interactions? FDIs or defining
medications can be a real challenge in the beginning of your clinical experience. Epocrates
simplifies adverse effects and FDIs of medicationsAriana blog #4
in their free application. This app also has a calculator for corrected serum calcium and various other features, check it out!



# 4 Stop, Breathe, & Think: Internships
are stressful and we all need to stop, breathe, and think. Guided meditations can be used when stressed on
the job, when commuting to your location, or even to
improve your sleep. It is important that we take care of
ourselves during this time, so that we can absorb all thatAriana blog #1
there is to learn. Feeling stressed? Use this free app to take a
step back from the chaos and relax.





 # 5 Tube Feed Calculator: The tube feed calculator is a helpful tool to help you double check your tube feed calculations. ***Important*** You still NEED to learn how to calculate tube feeds manually!ariana blog #7


# 6 Calorie Calculator: A super helpful tool if
you use the calories per kilogram method, Mifflin St.
Jeor, or Breton Jones 2002 equations. You can
calculate energy needs in seconds by inputting
gender, age, weight, height, and specifying an activity
factor. Again, you should learn how to manually
calculate these before resorting to an app to do all of
the work for you.

# 7 Nestle/Abbott Product Guide: Depending
on your facility formulary, either/both of these apps are
a quick way to look up the indications for use of oral
nutrition supplements or enteral formulas along with
their nutrition contents. This is especially helpful for
times when you don’t have your paper formulary handy.

# 8 Daily Quote: Set your app to schedule daily
motivational quotes! A little bit of extra inspiration or
words of wisdom can keep us on track during the
internship, especially when overwhelmed or stressed.

# 9  Registered Dietitian Exam Prep 2016 Ariana blog #2
Edition: It is never too early to start studying for the RD
exam! This app sends notifications for ‘questions of the day’ to help prepare for the exam one day at a time. Each question has a comprehensive explanation for the correct answer and a reference source.


# 10  Journal of the Academy of
Nutrition and Dietetics: This is
another great resource from the Academy of
Nutrition and Dietetics. It allows you to view the
latest research articles right from yourAriana blog #3
smartphone to keep up with the most current research and recommendations.



Technology is helping us advance the practice of dietetics and the way that
interns can learn and have resources at the tips of our fingers. Add your
favorite apps to your ‘pocket’ as your dietetic internship journey continues.
All images found on the Apple App Store.


Shane Gamble, University of St. Joseph, DI’ 17

Can fruits and vegetables serve other benefits besides eating them to stay healthy? Calling all foodies, gardeners, nutrition fanatics, and those who just want to learn more about this trendy subject! Well then I will tell you all about an amazing nutrition program called, The Garden Project which launched in 1992 out of the hilly city of San Francisco, California.

We’ll first start off with some basic background info and move into more specific content later. Back in the 1980s, there was a push for keeping inmates out of trouble and reducing the likelihood of criminal behavior relapse or recidivism in many parts of the USA especially California. So from 1982 to 1992 a woman named Catherine Sneed created a program for inmates called the San Francisco County Jail Horticulture Project. It provided inmates with the opportunity to grow vegetables and give them away to individuals that were in need. Her program was such a success, but then there was the question of what’s next? These inmates get out of jail and then how can we encourage this same giving back and positive behavior aspect?  shane blog 1 jpeg (3)

Well, that’s exactly how The Garden Project was created! Without Catherine Sneed this program would not have been here today. So we must thank her for her hard work and time dedicated to this cause. The Garden Project started off as a program to provide support and employment opportunities for former inmates or offenders of the law. It also involved the same idea of growing organic vegetables to give away to people, but also did other great things such as planting more than 10,000 street trees in the city of San Francisco! The idea was to incorporate exercise trying to make a difference by providing the opportunity of a second chance.

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Its mission was to help offenders of the law by: providing job training, counseling, continuing education, and evolving their community into a more positive one. At this time, they were the only organization that had a focus on this particular mission. Nowadays, The Garden Project not only helps former inmates, but also youth in high school and young adults in college. In addition, they are able to transform the urban environment that they live in. The United States Department of Agriculture hailed The Garden Project as “one of the most innovative and successful community-based crime prevention programs in the country.” So they must be doing something right if the government is on board and an avid supporter am I right?

Within The Garden Project there is a program called, The Earth Steward’s Program. In order to participate, the individual must be 18 to 24 years old, a resident of San Francisco, and enrolled in college. Program participants can work daily throughout the entire year and are also enrolled in a mentoring program. They must be enrolled in the program for at least 3 years. This program provides individuals with experience in horticulture and teaches them how to grow organic produce that can be shared with families throughout San Francisco. Zucchini, collard greens, potatoes, garlic, Swiss Chard, kale, and broccoli are all grown throughout the 15 acres of land that the program resides on. Program participants become involved in neighborhood greening projects, construct and take care of gardens at police stations, housing developments, and support their community clean-up efforts. Other skills taught include: planting techniques, composting, propagation, and weeding.

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The Garden Project brings the community together through meetings, fairs, and projects. They are also a partnership of more than 25 public and private organizations including the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, the San Francisco Police Department, and the California Department of Forestry to name just a few. The program educates the community about their nutrition by providing quick, easy, and fun recipes that encourage healthy eating habits. So it’s not a surprise that people from all over the world come to visit and learn firsthand why The Garden Project is so successful at crime prevention.

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Now you know that The Garden Project is very popular, powerful, and successful. It’s a program that has kick started a new perspective regarding nutrition and education. It allows offenders and the at-risk youth to make the choice to turn their lives around and get back on the right path. What I found most surprising about The Garden Project was that it allows its participants to grow into more successful people through the use of nutrition education. Who knew that learning to grow vegetables could have such beneficial effects regarding crime?






Matthew Harmon,  USJ Dietetic Intern, ’17

About a month ago, a supplement rep came to my school to talk about the company’s catalog of products, and given my long history of working with supplements, I was very excited about the lecture. The rep explained to the class about all of their various wonderful products, such as nutrition formulas for pediatrics that contain real food ingredients, specialized tube feeding formulas and many others. As the rep was explaining about this next supplement, my ears immediately perked up because this product continues to use L-arginine as an active ingredient in their wound healing supplement. Most researchers in the sports nutrition world have already taken their attention off of L-arginine and redirected their work onto L-citrulline. Athletes, both the runner and the weight lifter, now recognize its benefits in decreasing fatigue and enhance endurance. So, it begs the following question: If sports nutrition supplement companies are making the switch, is it warranted for medical nutrition supplement companies to follow?

L-Arginine and Wound Healing

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Image source

Here is a quick overview of L-arginine: It is a conditional amino acid, manufactured endogenously in the body, and it can be consumed from various foods, turkey has the highest amount. The main benefits include the stimulation and release of growth hormones and insulin. But it really made its mark in the health world for its nitric oxide (NO) producing ability. Studies have demonstrated that NO is a key player in many biological processes, such as vasodilation, brain health and the immune system.

NO is a vasodilator. Vasodilation is a critical step in the recovery/wound healing process. NO participates in antimicrobial activities and allows for more blood flow into tissues and organs, which allows the inflamed/injured site to receive an increasing demand of nutrients and oxygen for optimal repair (1). In addition, ornithine plasma is increased, and it serves as an active player in collagen development and increases the wound integrity from breaking (2).

It is manufactured in the body and can be obtained from some fruits and vegetables, watermelon being the highest source. Like L-arginine, L-citrulline possesses the same ability to assist in the stimulation of growth hormones, insulin and NO. This is accomplished by the kidneys by converting L-citrulline into arginine. In other words, health benefits are similar in a lot of ways due to the fact that it is a precursor to the amino acid, L-arginine.

matt Blog pic 2 (3)

Image source

L-Arginine versus L-Citrulline


Oral consumption of L-arginine poses several problems: The primary concern lies within absorption. Research has indicated its bioavailability ranges of 57–77% at a 6-gram dose, and 20% at 10 grams (3,4). Moreover, in the same study conducted by Tangphao O, et al., noted a range as low as 5–50% absorption (4). The other possible concern, if taken with food, the absorption of the amino acid can decrease, making it cumbersome for consumers/patients that may follow a random eating schedule. Therefore, in order to maximize L-arginine absorption, it is best recommended that the amino acid should be taken on an empty stomach. Furthermore, large doses of L-arginine have been reported to cause gastrointestinal distress and diarrhea.


For athletes, it seems that the research suggests the effective dosage is 6 grams of L-citrulline, and compounded to a malate molecule. It does not trigger gastric distress or diarrhea when taken at 15grams (5). It is absorbed at a higher amount in the gut than L-arginine (6). Studies suggest that approximately 83% of the supplement is absorbed by the kidneys (7). Moreover, L-citrulline consumed at 0.18g/kg produces an increase and a sustainable plasma level of arginine than arginine itself (8). It also produces a higher plasma count of ornithine by approximately 200 percent (9), which has been demonstrated in studies as one of the key amino acids involved in the healing process (2).


Although the athlete’s motivation is a lot different than the patient, both consumers can still receive L-citrulline’s benefits. As stated earlier, it does not cause any issues with intestinal distress. It is better absorbed and outputs a higher arginine and ornithine serum count in the body over L-arginine supplementation itself. Therefore, in theory, a higher increase of arginine and ornithine in the human body should result in a better wound healing supplement. So, back to my question: if sports nutrition supplement companies are making the switch, is it warranted for medical nutrition supplement companies to follow?

I think the answer is yes.


  1. Stechmiller JK, Childress B, Cowan L. Arginine Supplementation and wound healing. Nutr Clin Pract. 2005;20(1):52–61. doi:10.1177/011542650502000152. http://ncp.sagepub.com/content/20/1/52.long. Accessed October 21, 2016.
  1. Shi HP, Fishel RS, Efron DT, Williams JZ, Fishel MH, Barbul A. Effect of supplemental Ornithine on wound healing ☆☆☆. Journal of Surgical Research. 2002;106(2):299–302. doi:10.1006/jsre.2002.6471. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022480402964711. Accessed October 21, 2016.
  1. Bode-Böger SM, Böger RH, Galland A, Tsikas D, Frölich JC. L-arginine-induced vasodilation in healthy humans: pharmacokinetic–pharmacodynamic relationship. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 1998;46(5):489-497. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2125.1998.00803.x. Accessed October 21, 2016.
  1. Tangphao O, Grossmann M, Chalon S, Hoffman BB, Blaschke TF. Pharmacokinetics of intravenous and oral l-arginine in normal volunteers. 1999;47(3). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2014227/. Accessed October 21, 2016.
  1. Moinard C, Descartes UP, Nicolis I, et al. Dose-ranging effects of citrulline administration on plasma amino acids and hormonal patterns in healthy subjects: The Citrudose pharmacokinetic study | British journal of nutrition | Cambridge core. British Journal of Nutrition. 2008;99(4):855–862. doi:10.1017/S0007114507841110. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/dose-ranging-effects-of-citrulline-administration-on-plasma-amino-acids-and-hormonal-patterns-in-healthy-subjects-the-citrudose-pharmacokinetic-study/914C4C4EA85887DC2935740ACF8E36DE. Accessed October 21, 2016.
  1. Curis E, Crenn P, Cynober L. Citrulline and the gut: Current opinion in clinical nutrition & metabolic care. September 2007. doi:10.1097/MCO.0b013e32829fb38d. http://journals.lww.com/co-clinicalnutrition/pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=2007&issue=09000&article=00010&type=abstract. Accessed October 21, 2016.
  2. Windmueller HG, Spaeth AE. Source and fate of circulating citrulline. Article. 1981;241(6):473–480. http://ajpendo.physiology.org/content/241/6/E473.abstract. Accessed October 21, 2016.
  1. Rougé C, Robert CD, Robins A, et al. Manipulation of citrulline availability in humans. MUCOSAL BIOLOGY. 2007;293(5):1061–1067. doi:10.1152/ajpgi.00289.2007. http://ajpgi.physiology.org/content/293/5/G1061.long. Accessed October 21, 2016.
  1. Demura S, Yamada T, Yamaji S, Komatsu M, Morishita K. European journal of clinical nutrition – abstract of article: The effect of L-ornithine hydrochloride ingestion on performance during incremental exhaustive ergometer bicycle exercise and ammonia metabolism during and after exercise. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010;64(10):1166–1171. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2010.149. http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v64/n10/pdf/ejcn2010149a.pdf. Accessed October 21, 2016.

by Ewelina Borkowska-Coghlan MS, DTR/Dietetic Intern at the University of Saint Joseph

Have you ever heard the word ‘pulse” and instantly though that the information you were about receive, or a conversation you were about to carry, will regard a heartbeat? If you had that experience you were probably surprised to learn that ‘pulse’ is also a food and not just a vital sign measurement. As a dietetic student, with broad exposure to various foods and diets, I thought I had a good understanding of the nutritional benefits of pulses. However, looking back I can admit that I wasn’t fully aware how much pulses have to offer, and how important these “ancient grains” are to our health and well-being. My recent visit to FNCE, Boston 2016, and particularly a presentation by John Sievenpiper (Associate Professor and a Faculty of Medicine in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto) helped me realize that I, as a future dietetic professional, need to reinforce the need of including pulses in my diet, but most importantly in the diet of my future clients.

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Ó http://www.youbeauty.com/nutrition/healthy-beans/

Before I start explaining why we all should put more effort into including these often overlooked nutrition reservoirs in our everyday living…

What exactly are pulses?  

Most of us are probably more familiar with the word “legumes” and often think of pulses as legumes. Well, you are right! Pulses belong to the legume family, but there is a distinction between these two. Legumes include plants which fruit/seeds grow in an enclosed case, called a pod, and include fresh beans, fresh peas and other fresh seeds, while pulses only include the dried seeds (1,2). There are 11 types of pulses that have been recognized by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which include: dry beans, dry broad beans, dry peas, chickpeas, cow peas, pigeon peas, lentils, Bambara beans, vetches, lupins and pulses NES (Not Elsewhere Specified) (2).  The legume species that are used as vegetables (i.e. green beans) or used for oil detractions (i.e. soybean) and sowing (i.e. alfalfa) are not considered pulses, by FAO. However, this selection is only a small representative of hundreds of pulse varieties grown and consumed by humans and animals around the world.

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Ó http://www.pulsecanada.com/about-us/what-is-a-pulse

 What about the nutrition?

What makes pulses such a great addition to our meals is their variety of colors, shapes and sizes along with the form they can be consumed in (whole, split or ground as flour). Moreover, pulses are packed with proteins, fiber and high levels of vitamins and minerals such as: zinc, phosphorus, iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium, as well as folic acid and other B vitamins, potent phytochemicals and antioxidants (3,4,5). As we know pulses are a key part of any vegetarian or Mediterranean diet, but they can be used in any diet or meal: including salads, side dishes, soups or as snacks. Combining pulses with other foods i.e. grains or foods rich in Vitamin C, and using appropriate preparation and cooking techniques, can contribute to better bioavailability of its nutrients, and lower activity of the anti-nutrients such as phytic acid, lectins and other compounds (4,5).

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Ó http://www.cookinglight.com/cooking-101/what-are-pulses

Turns out, this so called Protein for the poor”, can provide us with a wealth of nutrients.

and finally the health benefits

Considering a multitude of vitamins and minerals present in pulses, it should not be surprising that they possess a spectrum of health benefits. One of the recognized health benefits mentioned by Dr. Sievenpiper is the ability of pulses to offer better glycemic control. As mentioned before pulses are high in fiber, plant proteins and slowly digestible carbohydrates. A study conducted by Dr. Sievenpiper et al, based on meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, investigating the effect of pulses on the glycemic control in people with or without diabetes, demonstrated that pulses contributed to improved markers of long term glycemic control (5). Additionally, the research shows clinically meaningful improvements of blood pressure, blood lipids and weight, which is strongly associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, obesity and other chronic diseases. Considering the multifaceted benefits, it is important to encourage consumption of pulses amongst communities and slow down the onset, and progression of these highly mortal diseases.

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Ó https://foodal.com/knowledge/how-to/pinto-beans-cheap-nutritious-meal/

Wait! There is more…

It is also important to mention that pulses are considered one of the most sustainable crops in agriculture. Nitrogen is an essential nutrient in crop production. Legumes, including pulses, have the ability to fix the nitrogen into the soil, because of their relationship with the bacteria living in the soil, therefore improving the quality of the soil and reducing the need for additional fertilizers (6). The water usage estimates suggest that it takes approximately 43 gallons of water to grow a pound of pulses, compared to 216 gallons for soybeans, and 368 gallons for peanuts (2). This can result in decreased greenhouse gases, improved soil health and less water usage. Therefore…

Let’s allow these “ancient grains” to lead us into a healthy and sustainable future!!

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Tips on how to shop for healthy, affordable food for one person!

by: Erika Grover, USJ Dietetic Intern, ’17

As a person who is new at “adulting” I have had to learn how to go grocery shopping for just me while also trying to keep it low cost and mostly healthy (chocolate can be good for you!). Here are some tips that I have come up with to become a master solo shopper!

  1. Plan your meals! – Pick a few meals to cook each week and eat leftovers for the other nights. How many meals you make will depend on how much food you have left over and how many meals you eat from home. If you still have a lot of food left, then wait another day or so to cook again.  You can also cook multiple meals on one day and eat leftovers throughout the week.  This is a good idea if you have a full schedule but be careful not to make too much.1. Shopping Meal planning (3)
  2. Make a list! – Write down anything you need for recipes and any staple items that you are getting low on, like bread or milk. This keeps you on track and prevents you from buying food you don’t need. I have the items I need in red and items I already have in blue, find a system that works for you. Remember: You must bring the list with you to the store!
  3. Become a coupon queen or king! – Look for weekly circulars, find them online or get an app for coupons. Search for them after making your list and only clip coupons for items you need. Make sure to keep an eye on the expiration date, some coupons are good for a week and some are good for months. If you don’t need a product right now but could use the coupon before it expires then clip it just in case. Weekly circulars will also tell you what items are on sale and you may want to make substitutions to your meal if a similar option is on sale, like buying fresh green beans instead of broccoli.2. Coupons (3)
  4. Watch the dates! – Look for the “use by” or “sell by” date and pick one that is reasonable for you. Items at the back of the shelf usually have a date that is further away. Remember that you don’t have to throw away food on the use by date, you can if want to but you can also use your best judgement and keep eating it for few more days. You may also want to write the date on containers, like milk or cereal, when you open them so you know how long it has been open and if you need to use it up.3. Check dates (3)
  5. Your freezer is your friend! – Buying in bulk is cheaper but only if you are actually eating the food you buy. If you buy in bulk or if one package is just too big for you, you can section out the food you will use for the week and freeze the rest in plastic baggies. This is good for meat, bread, vegetables, pretty much anything can go in the freezer. Freeze the food into single servings so you only have to take out one baggie at a time. It’s a good idea to label and date the food so you know what it is and how long it has been there.4. Freezer (3)
  6. Cut out the junk! – It’s easy to avoid cookies and chips when you are on a budget. Do you really need ice cream for $4.99 when you could buy 3 bags of carrots for a similar price? That ice cream may last a few days but those carrots could last for months (in the freezer, of course). I know you’re not going to completely get rid of the less healthy stuff, at least I know I’m not, so instead watch for these items to be on sale and make them a special treat.5. Cut out the junk (3)

    By using these tips I have been able to reduce my food waste which makes me feel better and helps me to save money. Now, I’m still figuring this all out for myself but I hope these tips can get you going in the right direction and help you begin the process of becoming a master solo shopper!

By: Megan Beyer,  USJ Dietetic Intern, ’17

We have all seen how much criticism that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) gets, but do we really know why it is getting all this attention? We are told that we need to stay away from it and it is bad for our health.  It is confusing to look at a package and recognize if a product has high fructose corn syrup in it. I think at this point it is important for consumers to be able to get these questions answered without bias of companies dominating the food industry!


In order to crack this case, we need to go back to the basics of what exactly is high fructose corn syrup to make a better a more educated decision.  High fructose corn syrup is corn syrup that undergoes enzymatic processing where it is converting glucose into fructose and then mixed with pure corn syrup to reach the desired sweetness. Okay, so simply put it is a liquid sweetener that is similar to sugar.  Traditionally high fructose is modified to exist as HFCS 42% which is composed of 58% glucose and 42% fructose.  HFCS 42% is found in processed foods, cereals and baked goods and then HFCS 55% is composed of 45% glucose and 55% fructose is used soft drink beverages. There was a huge increase in adding high fructose corn syrup to carbonated beverages in the 1960’s and 1970’s due to the way in which it is stable in acidic foods and beverages. And unfortunately, high fructose corn syrup has become one of the most successful food ingredients in modern history. What is the common trend here, most processed food contains high fructose corn syrup and most of us don’t know it is in there. And on top of people being unaware that HFCS is in our products, it is causing detrimental effects on the health of our nation.

The next thing that that makes me think, is if HFCS is simply a type of liquid sugar that is used to sweeten our food, why is it so harmful to our bodies.  When normal glucose, or table sugar is digested in our bodies it has two options to be converted and used as energy if needed or it can be converted to be stored as fat.  When we compare glucose to fructose and evaluate the digestion, absorption, and metabolism in the body we see a lot of differences.  When fructose is digested in the liver the chemical composition does not stimulate certain hormones that control hunger and blood sugar levels in the body.  Although some of us may understand the science behind, is it most important to recognize that HFCS is stored because it bypasses the steps that glucose goes through.


Although there is a lot of contradicting information on studies done and what doctors have found, the bottom line is simply that HFCS is bad because of the effect it is having on the obesity epidemic of the United States and for that matter, around the world. As we know, added sugar to processed food is added calories, and no matter if we recognize it or not, a few hundred calories extra a day from having a soda, can result in a 3-pound weight gain in a month. Also for most individuals they are not going to drink only one soda a day, but instead have two or three where we see caloric over-consumption which is what we see lead to weight gain.

There are ways in which we are able to avoid HFCS, but that would include reading the label of a product.  If you are really trying to cut back on the amount of HFCS in your food depending on your diet would be reducing the amount of processed food you eat.  If this is not an option for your life style, it would be a great start to read the ingredient label. When reading the label most of the time it will not say “high fructose corn syrup” since food companies are trying to trick the customer and therefore put ingredients such as maize syrup, tapioca syrup, glucose/ fructose syrup, glucose syrup, dahlia syrup, fructose… but when it all boils down these are all the same as high fructose corn syrup, so stay away! Since we are not always able to avoid it, the best thing to do as a consumer is to moderate it.  If you are not eating a ton of highly processed foods and every one in a while have these foods, it is okay in moderation, but be sure to read the label so you know exactly what you are putting inside of your body.

After doing extensive research on the topic of HFCS I have learned there are a lot of misconceptions about it and why it could kill you and why you can never eat it and so on.  Always make sure that you are receiving information from a reputable scientific source to ensure the information is correct. Through further understanding I think we can all agree that at one point or another the foods we eat are going to have HFCS in them, and the best thing to do is simply reduce and monitor how much you are consuming!



It is less than one week until Valentine’s Day and many of you are preparing for a day of sweet gestures, cupid-shaped cards and chocolate.

February often elicits thoughts of romantic evenings, flowers and candy conversation hearts…but not often heart health.

It is important to know that not only is February the “month of love”, but also American Heart Month. What could be more romantic than focusing on improving your health?

According to the CDC, “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Around 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year, which is 1 in every 4 deaths (CDC, 2015).” Although those statistics are staggering, there are actions you can take today to decrease your chances of developing heart disease. Heart disease is preventable.

 What are the risk factors for heart disease?

  • Overweight and obesity
  • Poor diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Age
  • Family history
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol levels
  • Stress

What heart healthy habits will assist in lowering the chances of developing heart disease?

  • Maintain a healthy weight. If you are currently at a healthy body weight, keep up the great work! If not, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), even a modest weight loss of 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight may produce improvements in blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugars.
  • Decrease intake of saturated fats, refined sugars and sodium. Limit intake of sugary beverages, fast foods, full fat dairy products, sweets, treats and processed foods. Hint: when you go to the grocery store, stick to the perimeter. Instead of buying out at lunch or dinner, pack your meals for work and trips.
  • Increase physical activity. Current recommendations state that moderate aerobic activity for 150 minutes per week or 30 minutes, 5 days a week, has heart health benefits.
  • Increase intake of plant-based foods. Including more fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains means more heart healthy fiber (the cholesterol lowering kind) and health protective vitamins and minerals as well as less saturated fat and refined sugar.
  • Quit smoking. There are many resources available to assist you in smoking cessation. Reach out today to start your journey towards better health.
  • Take time to breathe. Stress is known as the “silent killer”. Find ways to take mini breaks and practice self-care each and every day. That may include: taking a walk, reading a book, meditation, deep breathing, exercise and speaking with a close friend.


Healthy Valentine’s Day Recipes:

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