Made with for a healthy lifestyle

What’s In Season: Blueberries

Blueberry season in the United States typically starts in mid-May and ends in September/October.  The peak of harvest is in July – aptly dubbed “National Blueberry Month.”  These deep-color fruits are rich are rich in nutrients and flavor, low in calories, and are very beneficial to health.

The blueberry is the fruit of a family of shrubs that include the cranberry and bilberry.  Interestingly, the berries are also related to non-edible plants such as the azalea and mountain laurel.  They are native to North America where they grow in clusters and range in color from blue to a purple-black.  It is this deep coloring that provides much of the berries nutritional value.

The coloring of blueberries is due to an antioxidant phytonutrient called anthocyanidin.  These nutrients neutralize free radical damage from oxidative stress, a cause of heart disease, cancer, and eye diseases such as cataracts and glaucoma.  Anthocyanins also enhance the effects of vitamin C making them a positive force in the immune system.

In addition to antioxidant nutrients, blueberries are also rich in vitamin C (25% of the recommended daily value), manganese, both soluble and insoluble fiber, and vitamin E.  One cup contains about 80 calories.

When purchasing blueberries, choose those that are firm and have a uniform hue – avoid those that look dull in color.  Shake the container to ensure they move around freely.  If they do not, this may indicate that they are damaged or moldy.  Look for moisture in the package which can cause faster spoilage.

Store blueberries in a covered container in the refrigerator, where they will keep for about a week.   Ripe berries can also be frozen, but be sure to wash, drain, and remove any damaged berries before placing in the freezer.  Frozen, they should last for about a year.

Before eating or using in recipes, be sure to wash them carefully, but thoroughly.  Berries are among the 12 foods on which pesticide residues are most frequently found.  If you can, choose organic, but still be sure to wash before eating.

Try some of these ideas for incorporating blueberries into your diet (from the US Highbush Blueberry Council:

  • Whirl fresh or frozen blueberries in your morning smoothie and sprinkle them on cereal.
  • Heat blueberries in maple syrup to pour on pancakes or waffles.
  • Sprinkle dried blueberries on chicken salad.
  • Perk up your yogurt snack with a handful of blueberries.
  • Shake up your trail mix with dried blueberries.
  • Substitute dried blueberries when a recipe calls for raisins.
  • Add blueberries to a peanut butter sandwich and call it a PB-and-BB.
  • Stir blueberry juice into iced tea or lemonade.
  • Freeze blueberries and blueberry juice in ice cube trays to add to juice.’s Southern Food Guide Diana Rattray also has some wonderful blueberry recipes to try here.

Resources for this article include:


Whole Foods:  The World’s Healthiest Foods

US Highbush Blueberry Council back link check . server ip Mughgitriorospho .

Nutrition 101: All About the Energy Nutrients

The word “energy” is splattered across food labels and dietary supplement products as an enticement to buy the product and instantly be transformed from a couch potato into a marathon runner.  But what does the word energy actually mean in terms of nutrition?

The true definition of energy is a force that moves an object.  In biology, energy is an attribute of all biological systems that keeps the organism functioning properly.   When we talk about energy as a general term, we are usually referring to the opposite of fatigue – as in “I have a lot of energy today!”   The source of our energy that creates our ability to do work – from the kind we are aware of like walking and running to the stuff that happens behind the scenes, like digestion and heart beating – is food kilocalories (often shortened to just “calories”), provided by carbohydrate, protein, and fat.

Over the course of a day, a body needs a specific number of kilocalories in order to survive.  Too few calories and our body will shut down some functions in order to conserve energy.  Too many calories and the body will store the excess for future use, such as during times when adequate calories are not available.  The number of calories a person needs is based on a variety of factors, including gender, age, and activity level.

Carbohydrates contribute 4 calories per gram.  In biochemistry, a carbohydrate is an organic compound that consists of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.   The basic form of a carbohydrate is a saccharide or sugar.  You will sometimes hear table sugar called a “disaccharide” or a starch called a “polysaccharide”.  This describes how they are chemically put together, but the basic molecule is the same.  That is why when someone says “carb” it means anything made with a basic sugar molecule – from simple sugars in candies and simple starches in potatoes to the more complex carbohydrates in whole grains and fiber.

Proteins also provide 4 calories per gram.  The most basic part of a protein is an amino acid, which are grouped together to form different types of “peptides.”  Proteins for the most part are building blocks for structures inside the body, including virtually every cell such as muscle, bone, and even blood cells.  Proteins are also used for cells that carry out chemical reactions in the body, called enzymes, that is part of our metabolism.  If protein is taken in based on needs, it will be used to repair the daily damage that occurs in a functioning being.  Too much protein is not stored in muscle, contrary to popular belief; it is converted and stored as fat.

Fats are essential components of the diet, but contribute more calories per gram (9) than either protein or carbohydrate, which is why they are often suggested to be avoided when trying to cut calories to lose weight.   Chemically, fats (or oils or lipids) are composed of smaller fatty acids that can be grouped in such a way that they are considered “saturated” or “unsaturated”.  Fat is used for important body functions, like protein, in the skin, hair, and body organs.  Fat can also be stored for energy when the body is in need of an extra fuel source.

Alcohol is a compound that also contributes energy, but it is not frequently referred to as a nutrient because it interferes with the growth, maintenance, and repair of the body.  However, it does contribute 7 calories per gram, and can be stored as fat just like the other energy nutrients.

Products such as dietary supplements or “energy” drinks usually do not actually contribute true fuel to the body, unless they contain calories.  Energy supplements usually contain B vitamins, which are used as assistants in the process of metabolism, but do not actually provide energy on their own.  Many energy drinks contain caffeine, which produce a feeling of stimulation, but also does not provide any actual energy for bodily functions.  That’s not to say that these products don’t have their place in an overall healthy diet – but hopefully this will help squash some of the confusion around the use of the term “energy”. web archive . Loilafinworkme

Bits and Bites for May 21, 2010

Bits and Bites will feature some of today’s food and nutrition related news and tips from around the world.

Top Cancer-Fighting Foods (WebMD)

Of course, no single food can eliminate cancer, but a diet pattern of certain healthful nutrients can put the ball in your court for reducing the risk.  Topping the list of this 20 page slideshow are fruits and vegetables (of course), particularly those colorful ones such as dark leafy greens and antioxidant rich berries.

10 Ways to Save at the Supermarket (Eat This, Not That)

One of the top reasons people give for not eating healthy is the cost of fresh foods.  While I completely understand the need for budgeting, keep in mind that the average American spends 10% of their income on food, but may spend as much as 15-20% on medical expenses related to chronic disease treatment.  Use this guide to help navigate the grocery store for the best deals.

Top Ten Reasons to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables (Fruits & Veggies More Matters)

While we are encouraged to eat between 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, only about a third of Americans actually meet this goal.  This website offers tips on how to get in more fruits and veggies every day and about the importance of “eating the rainbow”.

Beware of the 100-Calorie Snack Pack (EmpowHER)

The 100-calorie packs were introduced in an effort to actually make portioning out an appropriate amount of food easier.  However, there still are reasons to avoid these convenience foods.  For one, junk food is junk food, even if it is in a cute little package.

Food of the Week:  Spinach (The World’s Healthiest Foods)

Popeye can’t be wrong – spinach is a superfood!  Learn all about the nutritional benefits of this leafy green.  Also try out this Warm Spinach Salad with Tuna recipe.

10 Things Not to Say to Someone Who is Trying to Lose Weight (MSN Health and Fitness)

We know that you are trying to be supportive and helpful, but sometimes words can hurt even if they weren’t meant to.  Use this guide from to choose words appropriately.

Nutrition Stories in the News Today:

Autism Diet May Not Improve Symptoms

Food Manufacturers to Cut Calories by 2015

Using Nature’s Bounty to Feed the Hungry

Peanut and Tree Nut Allergies May be on the Rise language conversion check broken links language conversion . Castro soromenho .

Why Do We Eat?

Have you ever really thought about it before?  Why do we eat?  It is not always because our bodies send us a signal that it requires fuel for daily activity.  If it were, no one would be overweight, because we would know when to eat and when to stop.  If the need to eat were purely biological, we likely would eat healthful foods, knowing that the body needed certain nutrients to survive.

Each day, several times a day, we are presented with a variety of “food opportunities”.  People decide what to eat based on multiple factors.  As they say, knowledge is power, so knowing why you eat is the first step toward creating a better, healthier diet.

Personal Preference/Taste

Of course, when faced with two food choices, say rice cakes or chocolate cakes, most people will go with the one that tastes the best.  But for each person this is very individual.  Some people have a sweet tooth, and some prefer a salty snack.  Some people love hot and spicy foods, while some people can only tolerate mild.  Some research indicates that much of our food preferences are influenced by genetics, but obviously environment has an influence.  If you grew up in the South, for example, you probably choose grits over cream of wheat for breakfast in the morning.


Have you ever been faced with a bowl of fruit (for example) and always go for the apple?  Or perhaps you always have cereal for breakfast each morning, or you always eat certain foods together – like meat loaf and mashed potatoes (one of my favorite combinations).  Some foods are selected out of habit and not really given much thought.  Eating familiar foods can also be a source of comfort, but keep in mind that eating a variety of food is the best way to ensure you receive all (or most) of the essential vitamins and minerals.

Social Interactions

Social events almost always involve food.  When you call friends for a get-together, isn’t it almost always centered on food somehow?  Many people have a difficult time losing weight during the holidays, for example, because Thanksgiving and Christmas meals usually involve large family dinners.   Even sad events may involve food – a southern tradition when someone passes away is for people to provide the family with meals for several days.  The key for social situations is to have a strategy for how you will eat once you are there.

Availability, Convenience and Economy

Especially in today’s economy, people may make food choices based on cost.  (Brand name or generic?  Do I have a coupon?)  Buying foods in certain seasons may affect your food choices.  Strawberries in the spring cost about half as much as strawberries in the winter, for example, so budget-conscious shoppers may not get enough fresh vitamin C foods in the winter.  People also consider convenience when making purchases, especially busy families with working parents.  Fast food and packaged foods are common during chaotic days; however the health implications of these types of food can void the time and money savings.

Positive and Negative Associations

Have you noticed that when you experience an upset stomach after eating a food that it may be some time before you separate the negative feelings from that food?  For example, if you get food poisoning from a tuna sandwich (as I did), even just the smell of fish may bring back the memory of being sick.  Foods are also associated with positive emotions, like the smell of hot cocoa brings back fond winter memories of ski trips or coconut makes you think of the beach.

Emotional Comfort

One of the most common reasons people give for overeating is that the food brings them emotional comfort.  People eat out of stress, depression, to relieve boredom, or to fill a void.  Unfortunately, this reaction to food can lead to excess calorie intake and obesity.  It is best to disassociate food as your “friend” in these cases and deal with the actual issue at hand.


Spiritual beliefs can lead to particular food choices, or the avoidance of certain foods.  Muslims, for example, do not eat pork, and some strict Jewish people follow Kosher dietary laws, including the separation of meat and milk.  Other belief systems can also lead to certain food choices, such as those who value the lives of animals may decide to become vegetarian, or those who are environmentally conscious will choose only organic or locally grown foods.  As long as the dietary practice isn’t dangerous, such as long fasting periods or eating foods that could be toxic, these choices can make you feel fulfilled and probably more likely to follow a healthier lifestyle overall.

Body Image

We often eat foods that we believe will lead us to a particular body shape, such as low calorie foods for weight loss or high protein foods for body-building.  When planned appropriately for optimal nutrition, dietary choices to reach a goal can be beneficial to health.  However, sometimes choices can be based on faddism, such as the latest weight loss trend (which hardly ever works, by the way), or could be a symptom of an eating disorder, such as anorexia.  These can be harmful and lead to malnutrition.

Nutrition and Health

Of course, food is also chosen based on its nutritional value, particularly for someone with a health condition such as choosing appropriate carbohydrates in diabetes or unsaturated fats in heart disease.  Planning a well-balanced meal is also important for children, who need a wide range of nutrients for optimal growth.

Hello world!

Welcome to Healthy Intake, a blog all about how to make healthy eating a part of your life.

My name is Denise and I am a Registered Dietitian.  I graduated from Winthrop University in South Carolina with a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition and have completed a national exam through the Commission on Dietetic Registration, the credentialing agency of the American Dietetic Association.  I have over 10 years of experience in a clinical setting with counseling patients for many types of nutritionally-related conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy, and obesity.

On Healthy Intake, I will relay only the most accurate information about foods and their benefits.  I do not believe in fad diets, excessive dietary supplementation, or quick-fixes.  Nutrition is one part of an overall healthy lifestyle that includes physical activity and basic self-care.

I do, however, believe that even small changes make a difference.  Too many people give up before they even get started because healthy eating seems daunting.  It doesn’t have to be.  Even if you cannot follow all of the advice I give, I know there are bits and pieces that can work in your life if you just give them a try.

I hope you enjoy reading Healthy Intake, and please feel free to ask questions, leave comments, or otherwise let me know how I can improve the site to make it most useful to you.

Yours in Good Health,