Nutrition Hacks and Myths Revealed! You Asked Your Questions, We Have Your Answers.

What are the best in-season fall foods for an energy boost?

Aurora Valley, Atascadero, CA
Given all the challenges of 2020, your health is a top priority. Let’s consider four foundational foods to keep your energy level up as the days get shorter. Brussels sprouts have been making a comeback in recent years. Their buds are rich in protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They may help protect against cardiovascular diseases, colon and prostate cancer. Pears are a healthy, sweet snack with fiber. They are perfect for a high-fiber diet, helping to maintain stable blood sugar, keeping cholesterol levels down and are linked to heart benefits. Cauliflower is versatile as a side dish, either steamed or served as a mash. It is an excellent source of vitamin C and antioxidants to boost immunity and prevent infections. Finally, one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes includes sweet potatoes without all the sugar. These spuds are packed with calcium, potassium, vitamins and antioxidants. The anti-inflammatory properties may be beneficial for people who have asthma or arthritis. 

Is coffee really a bad thing? Are there healthier drink options to help stimulate your mind?

Vanessa Reyes, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Actually, many health professionals believe that coffee is one of the healthiest beverages in the world. Coffee is one of the richest natural sources of caffeine and a source of antioxidants, making it very popular for the stimulation it provides. So, go ahead and enjoy your morning cup of joe and be mindful not to add too much sugar. However, if you are looking for some alternatives, here are a couple of options. Yerba Mate is made from naturally caffeinated holly tree leaves grown in the South American rainforest. It does not result in the heavy crash coffee can bring. Tea is another drink option to consider with all the different forms and blends available. Caffeine-free and naturally sweetened varieties make tea a pleasant alternative. In addition, many teas are a source of antioxidants, B vitamins and minerals. 

I’ve read that vitamin D can help my immune system. What are the best food sources for vitamin D?

Patricia Acosta, Huntington Beach, CA
Although your body produces vitamin D when the sun’s ultraviolet rays touch your skin, most people don’t get enough. Supplements can help such as those containing vitamin D3, which is found in animal sources or through plant-based vitamin D2. Another way to get vitamin D is through the foods you eat. Cold-water fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel or sardines are a good source of vitamin D, protein and omega-3s. Mushrooms don’t naturally offer a lot of vitamin D, but if they are treated with UV light they will produce vitamin D. Check packaging labels for information on UV exposure, then make veggie stuffed portabella or add the mushrooms to egg or fish-based dishes to increase your vitamin D intake.

By Marisa Gonzalez