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Choline – The Forgotten Nutrient

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There’s a growing buzz about choline and for good reason. Choline is essential for a healthy pregnancy and healthy brain development at all ages. And while choline was officially recognized as an essential nutrient in 1998, it’s only recently been added to the list of nutrients which can be voluntarily disclosed on Nutrition Facts Tables in both Canada and the USA.

Health Benefits of Choline
One of the main roles of choline is to produce a specific neurotransmitter called acetylcholine which plays a crucial role in sending messages from your brain to your muscles. During pregnancy, choline helps prevent the development of neural tube defects in the growing baby. Choline also helps to move fat out of your liver, which can prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. According to the National Institutes of Health, there may be a link between choline and better cognitive function and memory as we age. Ongoing research is exploring the connection between choline and heart health too.

How Much Choline Do You Need
The amount of choline needed depends on your age. High intakes of choline from supplements can cause a fishy body odour, vomiting, excessive sweating and salivation, low blood pressure as well as potential heart and liver problems.

choline DRI chart


Food Sources of Choline

Our bodies produce small amounts of choline, but not enough to meet our daily needs. Liver, eggs (more specifically, egg yolks), meat and tofu are among the best food sources of choline.

choline food sources 3

5 Ways to Up Your Protein

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Want to build those muscles? For optimal muscle protein synthesis, aim to have 20-30 grams of protein at every meal. For most of us, this means pumping up the protein at breakfast and dialing down the protein at dinner time.

Watch my TV interview to see if you’re getting enough protein at every meal.

Here are 5 easy ideas to help you get enough.

1. Egg Sandwich – Start with 2 large eggs and add 2 T of grated cheese. Whip up some scrambled eggs or an omelet with veggies. Roll it up in a whole wheat tortilla. 20 grams of protein.

2. Greek Yogurt Smoothie – Make your favourite smoothie with 1 cup of Greek yogurt. Easy! 20 grams of protein.

3. Soup and Sandwich – Warm up to a bowl of minestrone soup and 1/2 veggie sandwich. For the sandwich, try Canadiana Rustic Bean Bread (made by Country Harvest) with with 2 T hummus and your favourite fresh veggies. Add a slice of cheese to the sandwich or add 3/4 cup Greek yogurt for dessert. 30 grams of protein.

4. Super Salad – Fill at least half your plate with leafy salad greens and colourful veggies. Top it with 3 ounces of cooked lean meat (about the size of a deck of cards). 20 grams of protein

5. Protein Power – Grab a handful of nuts and team it up with a latte made with 1 cup of milk or fortified soy beverage. 20 grams of protein.

Spring clean your kitchen!

Spring is finally here! So I’m rolling up my sleeves to start cleaning out my kitchen and pantry. Here are 10 foods and ingredients that I ALWAYS have on hand:

1. Brown rice. It contains three times more fibre than white rice, plus it’s a whole grain. Other whole grains in my pantry are quinoa and whole wheat couscous.
2. Cinnamon. I’m a big fan of different spices. Cinnamon adds a wonderful hint of flavour to baked squash and French toast.
3. Healthy oils and margarine. In my pantry, I have different oils – Becel® oil for stir-frying and olive oil for grilling veggies. In my fridge, I have soft non-hydrogenated margarine (Becel® is my family’s favourite) – it’s great for cooking and baking.
4. Red lentils. They don’t need soaking and cook quicker than most other dried legumes.
5. Nuts. Filled with good fats, nuts are so versatile and yummy on their own as a snack. Dry roasted, unsalted almonds, peanuts and walnuts are all great choices.
6. Low-fat milk. To help me get enough calcium and vitamin D, I try to cook with low-fat milk whenever I can – in soups, lattes and even risotto.
7. Low-fat Greek yogurt. I make my own smoothies and love that it’s packed with extra protein.
8. Omega-3 enriched eggs. I’m willing to pay a bit more for the extra nutrition – vitamin D, omega-3 fat and lutein.
9. Tofu. I’ve been eating tofu since I was three years old. It’s my go-to protein on vegetarian nights.
10. Veggies and fruit. Here’s just a list of the 20 veggies and fruit that I have in my kitchen this week: apples, oranges, bananas, berries, pears, grapes, cantaloupe, broccoli, bok choy, butternut squash, spinach, asparagus, cauliflower, green beans, snap peas, sweet potatoes, kohlrabi, kale, mushrooms and zucchini!

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