What is Niacin?
• Niacin is also known as vitamin B3 and is one of the eight B vitamins. It’s water-soluble so any extra amounts can be flushed out of your body through urine.
• Like other B vitamins, niacin helps to break down carbs, fat, and protein into usable energy.
• It plays other important roles in your body including cleansing your liver, ensuring proper hormone and adrenal production, keeping skin healthy, and reducing inflammation in your digestive system.
• Most people can get the needed amount of niacin from a healthy diet.
• Doctors may prescribe higher amounts of niacin as supplements to lower cholesterol and ease arthritis pain, but there are possible side effects.
• It can be found in a variety of foods but chicken, tuna, beef, salmon, peanuts, and lentils have the highest amounts of niacin.
While they certainly have their uses, vitamin supplements aren’t a magic pill that equal perfect health. That being said, they do have their uses. Let’s take a look:
• Supplements are no replacement for a healthy diet. Nutrients from whole foods are always more beneficial.
• Here are some things foods can provide that supplements can’t:
- Greater range of nutrition since food is more complex and contains macro- and micro-nutrients
- Protective compounds such as phytochemicals and antioxidants
- Easier absorption of nutrients because they’re more bioavailable
• There are definitely times that supplementation is necessary though:
- Calcium, especially for women over 35
- Folic acid for pregnant women
- If you have a deficiency and have trouble absorbing/converting certain vitamins
- Restricted diets that may have nutrition gaps
• Excess vitamins are usually eliminated from your body when you go to the bathroom, but some accumulate in your body and can actually be harmful including vitamins A, D, E, and K and iron.
Baking soda and baking powder are both leavening agents that cause baked goods to rise, but they are chemically different and should be used differently.
• Baking Soda
- one ingredient: sodium bicarbonate
- contains only base
- requires addition of an acid (lemon juice, buttermilk, cream of tartar, brown sugar) to activate bubbling and rising (like the volcano experiment you did in school...nothing happened until you added vinegar)
• Baking Powder
- mixture of baking soda, cream of tartar, and cornstarch
- contains acid and base
- only requires addition of moisture to start reacting
- has a second reaction when heated in the oven
• Why do some recipes call for both?
- Sometimes additional lift is needed and you want to balance flavors differently where the taste from the acidic ingredients still comes through.
• Can you substitute one for the other?
- Technically, yes. But it can be tricky and the taste can be thrown off by requiring an increase in the amount of powder or acid for the leavening to happen.
• Don’t forget that they expire!
- Either one can lose their ability to make things rise if past the expiration date. The leavening reaction won’t be as strong and your results could literally fall flat.
An easy way to increase your vitamin D levels is to simply get some sun, but that can be tough in Winter as temperatures hang around single digits. Another way to keep levels up is with food. Here are some foods that can help:
• Wild-Caught Salmon
• Free-Range Eggs
• Beef Liver
• Herring and Sardines
• Mushrooms (UV treated)
• Fortified Foods: Milk, orange juice, cereal, oatmeal
If you ordered some of our chocolate-covered strawberries, you made a great choice. Not only are you helping benefit YMCA Camp Carson, you also have a healthier Valentine’s Day treat! Strawberries pack a wide variety of health benefits including:
• Vitamin C
Eight strawberries have as much vitamin C as an orange and can help boost your immune system and keep skin healthy.
The antioxidant plant compounds in strawberries give them their bright red color but can also help improve your heart health, regulate blood sugar, and fight bacteria.
You can get both soluble and insoluble fiber from strawberries, which helps to feed and support good bacteria in your digestive system.
• Folate (Vitamin B9)
This vitamin is crucial for healthy tissue growth and cell function and is especially important for pregnant women and older adults.
Potassium can help lower blood pressure and support healthy nerve and muscle functions and strawberries are a great source of it.
Facts About Mushrooms
Mushrooms come in all shapes, sizes, and colors and can add unique flavors to meals. They also offer some interesting benefits for your health.
• Fat free and cholesterol free
• Low in sodium and calories
• High in fiber and vitamins and minerals
Mushrooms are rich in the antioxidant selenium and have some of the highest values you can find in produce items. Selenium is good for your immune system and proper thyroid function.
• B Vitamins
There are 3 different B vitamins found in most mushrooms and they can help protect your heart, improve digestion, and generate needed hormones.
There’s as much potassium in a cooked Portobello mushroom as there is in a large banana. Potassium helps your heart, muscles, and nerves.
Copper helps with the creation of red blood cells and also keeps bones and nerves healthy. One cup of mushrooms can provide you with one-third of your daily copper requirement.
• Beta Glucan
A type of soluble dietary fiber called beta glucan can be found in mushrooms. It could help you regulate your blood sugar, improve cholesterol levels, and boost heart health.
Shallots may look like onions and, while they’re from the same family of plants, they offer plenty of unique qualities and are part of what makes one of our recent menu items (pork loin with mushrooms and shallots) taste great. Let’s take a look:
More delicate and mild than the flavors onions typically bring, shallots are loved for their subtle sweetness. They can add mellow flavor to a dish without watering it down.
Shallots are similar in texture to onions but they break down easier when cooked and almost melt when caramelized, making them a great base for sauces.
While onions can be white, yellow, green, or purple, shallots are typically pale purple with coppery-pink skin. There is a variety of highly regarded French shallots that are gray, but they’re hard to find.
• Size and Shape
Shallots look like a smaller, oblong-shaped onion and grow in clusters like garlic. There is a variety known as “banana” shallots that are much longer and straighter.
Health Benefits of Onions
Onions have been recognized for thousands of years for the myriad of health benefits they offer. They were even used as forms of payment in the Middle Ages and considered an object of worship by the Egyptians.
Here’s a quick look at what they have to offer:
Onions are low in calories but high in nutrients such as vitamins C and B as well as potassium.
There are over 25 varieties of flavonoid antioxidants in onions that can help protect your cells from damage that leads to disease.
• Heart Health
Research has shown that onions may contribute to decreasing your risk of heart disease factors including high blood pressure, blood clots, inflammation, and high cholesterol.
• Blood Sugar Control
Compounds in onions such as quercetin may have antidiabetic effects and have been shown to help regulate and lower blood sugar levels.
Another perk of the quercetin found in onions is its ability to fight bacteria such as E. coli and MRSA, among others.
• Bone Health
The combination of boosting antioxidant levels and reducing oxidative stress from eating onions may reduce bone loss and even increase bone density.
Onions are a good source of fiber and prebiotics that can help improve digestion and boost healthy gut bacteria.