4 food lessons from FNCE

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The world of real food showed up at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) in Philadelphia on October 5 – 9, 2012.  Whether you wanted to learn about and taste blueberries, strawberries, pears, avocados, soy, raisins, whole grains, lentils, almonds, pistachios, walnuts or cocoa, the representation on the expo floor was amazing.   Nutrition experts know that we need to add more of these plant-based foods to our plates – but what  about fun facts to put in your hip pocket? Use these top 4 FNCE lessons in your media sound bites, counseling, writing and corporate wellness talks!

Wild Blueberries – Not only do the “wild” ones sound more fun, but they are good for you in so many ways. Exciting research shows that you can get a powerful dose of antioxidants, fend off inflammation, and promote the health of your brain, heart, and cells, as well as keep your insulin levels in check -- all by eating wild blueberries. Plus, wild blueberries have prebiotic properties by increasing beneficial bacteria called Bifidobacteria in the gut.  Frozen wild blueberries are just as good all year round, if not better! Want to delve into the research?  All of the studies are housed on the Wild Blueberry Research Library - just go to wildblueberries.com/researchdatabase.

Raisins – They are sun-dried and naturally sweet (aka no-sugar-added), unlike some of their dried fruit counterparts. I can feel good about putting them in my kids’ lunchboxes, since the research shows that raisin’s natural sugars are easily converted into the energy that my kids need!  I was thrilled to hear that raisins can be good for teeth, as their phytochemical make-up has been show to suppress the “sugar bugs” that can lead to gum-disease and tooth decay.  Plus, you can count raisins as a good source of fiber, potassium, and antioxidants.

Lentils – These little legumes are jammed with protein and fiber and can fit into any type of culinary endeavor – savory or sweet; soup, salad, or main dish.  Did you know lentils can be baked into chocolate cake, stuffed into cheesy lentil spreads, put into orzo salads, and sprinkled onto pizza?  If you are a lentil-phile (like me!) and have delicious way to use lentils – share your lentil recipes on the Canadian Lentils Facebook page and you may be featured in the Big Book of Little Lentils or on Canadian Lentils website.

Cocoa – This seed of the theobroma cacao plant is dried and fermented before we can eat it.  It's heart-healthy and has been shown to keep your blood vessels clear and open. As a result of a session from the Hershey Center for Health & Nutrition, I learned that when cocoa is processed (aka Dutch processed) it loses a large share of its antioxidant flavonoids. Go for the natural, unprocessed cocoa for baking, cooking, and drinking. You may be wondering what “cocoa liquor” means on a food label - it’s just the cocoa and cocoa butter from the roasted cocoa bean. So feel good enjoying an ounce of natural cocoa or dark chocolate every day!

By Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, LDN, author of The Essential Guide to Healthy Healing Foods

Victoria covered the best sessions at FNCE, too.

(The author has no affiliation with any of the companies or products mentioned.)

For a tour of the FNCE food expo, click here.

You can find even more FNCE resources at FoodandHealth.com. Check out the top 50 lessons from FNCE and get an inside look at the gluten-free workshop.

Want a Mediterranean perspective? Elena Paravantes-Hargitt , RD, a Greek American dietitian based in Greece wrote a lovely article in her blog about Mediterranean ingredients in the FNCE expo.

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