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Seeds of Change

by Jennifer Benedetto RD,LD,CNSC at LMC

Frozen fruit and protein powder aren’t the only popular ingredients in smoothies. Seeds, which have been promoted as nutritional powerhouses, are frequently added. Two of the most popular seeds, chia and flax, are now easily found on grocery store shelves. What are the benefits of these tiny seeds and is one seed more beneficial than the other?

Chia Seeds

Chia Seeds

Chia is an edible seed from the desert plant Salvia hispanica. Chia seeds contain high concentrations of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Chia seeds are able to be digested as a whole seed with no pre-processing necessary. Two tablespoons of chia seeds (~ 1 ounce) contains 139 calories, 4 g protein, 9 g fat (5 grams of heart healthy omega-3’s) and 11 g of fiber. An effortless and mostly undetectable food additive, chia seeds can simply be sprinkled on yogurt, hot cereals, sauces, vegetables and rice dishes or added to smoothies or baked goods. There are a few preliminary studies suggesting possible health benefits (heart health, cancer prevention) from the consumption of chia seeds, but no benefits have been conclusively established.

Flax Seeds

Flax Seeds

Flaxseeds, unlike chia seeds, can pass through the digestive tract undigested if consumed whole. To absorb the nutrients found in flaxseeds, they should be ground prior to consumption. Pre-ground flaxseeds are available in most grocery stores as “ground flaxseed”, “milled flaxseed”, or “flaxseed meal”. Ground flaxseed is best stored in the freezer to prevent oxidation. One tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains 4 g of fat and 2 grams of fiber. Over half of the fat is alpha-linolenic acid which the body can convert to anti-inflammatory and heart healthy mediators. Flaxseeds also contain 100 to 800 times more lignans than other seeds. Lignans are a type of phytoestrogen that have antioxidant, antitumor, and antiestrogenic properties. Despite their promising nutrient profile, experts on flaxseed point out that none of the proposed health benefits have been conclusively established.

Both chia and flaxseeds have a promising nutrient composition when it comes to promoting health. Unfortunately, conclusive studies are lacking at this time. But be on the look out for more definitive research. For the time being, choose either seed based on your taste preference. But since both contain fiber, introduce them gradually to your diet and be sure to consume adequate fluid daily.

Pineapple Green Smoothie

LMC Dietitian Donna Quirk says this smoothie recipe is great for a breakfast on the go. It combines lean protein, fiber, fruits and vegetables to power you through a busy morning.

She talked about it today on WLTX with morning news anchor Lionel Moise.


News co-anchors Lionel and Ashley liked them so much that they drank them on set.

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 cup baby spinach
1 cup frozen banana slices (about 1 medium banana)
1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1-2 teaspoons pure maple syrup or honey (optional)

Mix together in blender. Enjoy!

Serving Size: about 1 1/2 cups

Active Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

New Year, New You?

By Laura Stepp, MA RD LD CDE at LMC

Every New Year’s Eve. millions of people think about or make a resolution. But, what is a resolution? According to the Merrian-Webster dictionary, a resolution is “the act of resolving” something. Resolving is further described as “the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones”.

new yearOften when people make a New Year’s Resolution, they resolve to change something big or do something great, better, or more. While everyone’s resolutions are genuine and meant to be helpful to either self or community, a resolution to do something big such as: run a marathon, do a triathlon, walk 10,000 steps a day or the #1 resolution – to Lose Weight or Be Healthier, often ends up unachieved. What starts out with so much enthusiasm at the beginning of the year, general fades by February or March. We see it all the time; the health clubs are crowded so you wait in line for the treadmill or stationary bike and the exercise classes are full.

Unfortunately by February and definitely by March the health club is almost empty. Why do we see this? What happened? Did everyone just give up on all those resolutions? Did they decide losing weight or being healthier isn’t important? Of course not! They likely forgot the definition of resolution: “The act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones”.

We have to be SMART about our resolutions in order to achieve them. Like everything we do there are steps to achievement.

group exerciseSMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic/Relevant and Time Bound

Here is an example. You resolve to Change your Diet to Be Healthier:

Specific: What about your diet do you want to change or improve? Decide what this means for you. It could mean:
• Cut back on portion sizes
• Eat less processed food
• Eat out less often
• Eat less fast food
• Eat more vegetables and/or fruit?

Then state exactly what you want to change. For example:

“I will switch my chips at lunch for vegetables”.

“I will eat fruit versus something sweet/candy for a snack.”

Measurable: Give your goal a number value. For example,

“Daily, I will consume ½ cup chopped vegetables with my sandwich.”

“I will add one extra serving of vegetables to my dinner.”

“I will bring my lunch to work three times a week.”

Attainable: Think small – one change at a time. Work on one meal at a time, one day at a time. Making more than one change every 3-4 days can become overwhelming which can lead to all good intentions being abandoned.

Realistic: Honestly ask your self – Can I do this? And, state your change, your new habit in a positive manner. For example:

berries2“I am going to eat one piece of fruit once a day for lunch or afternoon for a snack instead of chips or cookies.”

“I am going to add one new vegetable weekly.

“Every week I am going to experiment with one new vegetable preparing it in different ways to see how many ways I can enjoy it.”

Time Bound: Set a firm time limit to achieve a goal and gauge your progress. For instance, consider making one change a week. You could keep a food log for one week to check your progress. When you have accomplished the initial goal then set a new goal to building on the one you have accomplished.

Changing one’s lifestyle is a journey and must be treated like a long term adventure. Breaking down a goal into manageable parts makes it easier to see progress and stay motivated. It also allows to adjustments when necessary.

Be SMART and have a Happy New Year!