Many professionals believe that Latin American foods are unhealthy and that they
contribute to obesity among the Latin American population. Sometimes, these studies do not take into consideration the socioeconomic factors that affect these populations. In fact, there are many Latin American dishes that are not only balanced, but nutritious as well. This is important to remember as future dietitians or health professionals so that we can give clients and/or patients a better experience when working with them. With that said, below are five popular Latin American dishes and their nutrients.
Ceviche is a popular dish all throughout Latin America. However, Peru is known to
have the best ceviche. This dish is made from marinating raw fish in citrus juice
(most often lime) and mixing it with diced vegetables such as tomato, cilantro, red
onion, and avocado. This plate is a good source of protein, however the amount
does vary depending on the fish used. The fresh vegetables and citrus juice also
provide a high amount of vitamin C to the dish.
2. Arroz con Gandules
This dish originates in Puerto Rico and is a rice dish with pigeon peas. This can
be considered a nutritious dish because when legumes and grains are paired
together, it makes a complete protein. Legumes also have fiber and a variety of B
vitamins such as thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin. The most important ingredient in
this dish is the sofrito, which is made from green peppers, onions, and garlic,
which are sources of vitamin C.
3. Huevos Rancheros
Huevos Rancheros is a Mexican dish in which fried eggs and beans are placed
over a corn tortilla and topped with a tomato-based salsa and vegetables. This
dish itself is a balancing meal as it contains carbohydrates in the tortilla, protein
in the eggs, and vitamins, as well as fiber, in the vegetables. One may choose to
add onions, cilantro, avocado and even cheese to add more flavor and nutrients to
Pozole is another traditional Mexican dish and is often consumed on big holidays
or celebrations. It is a soup that is traditionally made with pork, but a different
meat may be chosen such as chicken or beef as well as hominy kernels and garlic.
More spices and vegetables are added such as oregano, radish, cabbage, avocado
and lime juice. Pozole can be considered a balanced meal because the meat
provides a protein source and the hominy grains provide a good amount of
carbohydrates as well as some fiber. Radishes and cabbage both provide folate,
thiamine, niacin, and pantothenic acid (also in avocados).
Tacos are another dish originating in Mexico, however there are many varieties of
tacos all across Latin America. The reason this meal may be considered balanced
and nutritious is because it contains both a carbohydrate and protein source with
the tortilla and the choice of meat. No taco is complete without some form of
salsa, whether it is pico de gallo, a tomato-based sauce, or even a mango sauce for
fish tacos. Fresh vegetables such as cilantro, onions, tomatoes, and avocado are
always added to tacos, assuring that there are a variety of vitamins as well as
As fall time rolls around, starbucks releases the famous pumpkin spice latte and your local costco stocks up on all of the delicious pumpkin pies. You walk through a pumpkin patch feeling the crisp autumn air with pumpkins all around. Pumpkins are one of the most popular fall fruits during the holiday season. Not only do they taste great mixed with sugar and spices, roasted with a drizzle of honey and in savory dishes such as stews, they also provide a ton of amazing health benefits. Today we will be talking about all of the great health benefits that consuming pumpkin may provide. I will also be sharing a few ways you can add the flavorful fall fruit into your diet.
Tip: when shopping for pumpkins that you will be eating look for pumpkins labeled as “sugar pumpkins” or “pie pumpkins”.
Pumpkin provides a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Some of those vitamins and minerals are vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium and carotenoids.¹ The sources of carotenoids that pumpkin provides are beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.¹⁻⁴
The carotenoids in pumpkin are a form of antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress and fight off free radicals.¹ Free radicals in the body may cause mental health issues, brain health issues, promote aging, inflammatory diseases and cancer.⁴ Therefore, the antioxidants in pumpkin can aid in preventing chronic diseases.¹
Pumpkin packs a punch when it comes to fiber at 2.7g of soluble and insoluble fiber in 1 cup (245g).² Consuming adequate fiber is important to promote regularity and maintain a healthy gut.³ Pumpkin is a starchy carb that is lower in calories and contains a lot of fiber making it a filling carb source.³ The insoluble fiber in pumpkin can possibly prevent blood sugar from rising after eating.² This carb source may be helpful in managing or preventing type two diabetes mellitus.¹
Aside from being a fiber packed carb source, pumpkin seeds also contain healthy unsaturated fats such as omega - 3 fatty acids and protein in the pumpkin seeds. The healthy fats in pumpkin seeds can be a great way to add a healthier fat source into your daily diet.⁴ The unsaturated fats in the pumpkin seeds can play a role in promoting healthier skin, providing vitamin E, preventing chronic diseases and supporting inflammation.⁴
Just like the meat of the pumpkin, the seeds also contain plenty of vitamins and minerals such as choline, vitamin K, iron and zinc.¹ Pumpkin seeds also provide protein in an easy sustainable way. While the protein of pumpkin seeds is not a complete source of protein, it can be paired with other protein sources to be an addition to a balanced meal.¹
Healthier ways to add pumpkin into your diet!
There are many delicious ways to add pumpkin and the nutrient packed seeds into your diet. The options range from refreshing summer smoothies to comforting winter stews. While cooking your own pumpkin can be a fun activity, canned pumpkin puree can also be a great option. One thing to keep in mind is to look for labels that mention “pumpkin puree” or “natural pumpkin” instead of “pumpkin pie filling” as those options will not have any added sugar. The pumpkin seeds can also be roasted and used for salad toppings, yogurt toppings, smoothies and for snacking.
Overall pumpkin is a fall favorite for a reason. It is more affordable as it is in season and it packs a punch of micro and macronutrients. Aside from nutrition facts, it also always gives you that nostalgic and comforting feeling of fall.
Written by nutrition student Leslie Gonzalez
Your body naturally responds to excess acid by forming fat cells (in order to protect your internal organs from acidic damage). Other noticeable side effects of an acidic stomach environment include: acid reflux, yeast infections, skin problems, the cold cold, and headaches.
Some foods known to cause acidic environments: coffee, soda, alcohol, pasteurized dairy, refined sugars and excess meat/protein
Misconception: If I eat a food that is acidic, (has a low pH value & tastes sour) then it will cause an acidic reaction in my body.
Truth: This is where biochemistry comes into play. Not necessarily. It’s all about the chemical reaction that takes place in your body AFTER you digest it. You’d think that citric fruits with low pH values (lemons, oranges, and so on) would create an acidic environment in the digestive process. But actually, when you eat citric fruits, it causes a neutralizing, alkalinizing reaction since Na+, Ca+ and K+ ions are present.
The takeaway— Paying attention to how your body reacts to certain foods will make a powerful tool against unwanted chemical reactions. Foods that promote alkalinity counteract the uncomfortable and unhealthy effects of acid forming foods... think citrus fruits, veggies, soybeans, organic and grass-fed fairy products & nuts
Start fresh this week & limit your intake of processed foods as much as possible to avoid these dire consequences. Your body will thank you later!
Who wants to learn about new health/nutrition findings but doesn’t have the time to look? Who wants to be proactive about reducing mindless scrolling on social media? I got the solution for all of you, Listen to the “Nutrition Nerds” podcast! The Nutrition Nerds podcast is written and hosted by Jenn Baugh and Kelly Yates, who are dietetic students at Life University in Georgia You can find them on the Apple Podcast app, Stitcher, or SoundCloud. I discovered this podcast after stumbling upon their instagram. Ever since then, I’ve listened to about 20 episodes all in the time span of 2 weeks. I guess you can say I’m hooked?. Here are reasons why I’m a fan of this podcast:
1. The podcast doesn’t educate/inform you about basic nutrition information
As a upper division nutrition major, I don’t need to be re-taught basic nutrition concepts. I’ve tried to find several nutrition podcasts and some of them are focused towards teaching their listeners. Unfortunately, I’m not interested in that, sorry! Gimme them new research findings!! This podcast reviews new research, articles from popular health magazines, and debunks nutrition myths from social media.
2. They’re easy to listen to
Jenn and Kelly have a great dynamic with each other. Listening to their podcast makes it feel you’re included in their conversation. You can tell the podcast is meant to be casual, compared to other podcasts that make you feel like you’re listening to an audio textbook.
I interviewed the Nutrition Nerds to get an insight about what goes into making a podcast. Maybe sharing nutrition information and education through a podcast is your calling and a new hobby to take up. It can be a unique way to get involved, show leadership qualities, and educate the community. If you’re interested, here’s what they have to say:
1. Why did you want to start a podcast/what was the turning point that finally made you two pull through with the idea?
Kelli: “Jenn and I were always having these great conversations about nutrition and sharing new articles we had read with each other. I kept thinking about how our conversations reminded me of some of my favorite podcasts and brought up the idea to Jenn to start our own in December of 2017. Jenn was onboard and by January we had recorded our first episode!”
Jenn: “Kelli and I met in Chemistry class and have been lab partners ever since. We were usually talking about nutrition as we walked back and forth from classes. We texted each other articles that we found interesting all the time, early morning and even late at night! When Kelli asked me about co-hosting on a podcast, it just made sense. We were practically doing it already unrecorded. Also, we both struggled to find volunteer work that fit into our schedules. Our podcast is free as our way to give back. Podcasts are a great way to share information. I want to engage more people with nutrition and this reaches people outside my immediate social circle. The podcast challenges me to take what I learn from my classes and compare it to new research and media messages. Sometimes it helps me study and boosts my confidence to discuss nutrition.”
2. What is the most time-consuming part of creating an episode? Research, filming, commentary, etc?
Kelli: “For me, the most time-consuming part of each episode is editing. It takes me about 2.5 hours to edit a half-hour show! Second to that is choosing which articles to cover and writing out my notes.”
Jenn: “For me, I can go down a research hole pretty fast. I have to monitor myself for time. Some episodes will have topics on the lighter side so we can give ourselves time to study. I love it when I do have the time to dig deep into an issue, exploring both sides of an argument and finding points to make about a topic.”
3. How many hours does it take to develop 1 episode?
Kelli: “I spend about 8 hours a week on the podcast for 1 episode - this includes researching articles, recording the show, editing, creating the show notes, and posting on social media.”
Jenn: “I think our first episode took us 4 hours and the second one...just as long, ha! The beginning was a learning curve and we were also new to nutrition! Now we are a bit more seasoned. We are seniors and come prepared with a layout of notes for talking points. Now, an episode takes one to two hours depending on the depth of the topics. We probably could be faster, but I enjoy our laughter and interruptions from Jetta the cat.”
4. Do you have any advice for someone who wants to create their own podcast? (Ex: what to start with, equipment, etc.)
Kelli: “Starting a podcast can be super overwhelming! My advice would be to give yourself a month to research, record your first episode, learn how to edit, and put together your website. Don't take too much longer than that though - your first several episodes will NOT be perfect! We have improved so much and learned so much over this past year. Don't worry about having the perfect equipment - all you need is a computer, a free editing software like Audacity, and a pair of headphones with a microphone. The room your record in is probably most important - it helps to have a small space with a tapestry or curtains on the walls. And don't forget - you'll need a little bit of money set aside for website hosting and podcast file hosting!"
Jenn: ”You can spend whatever you want for a project, but for us, a quiet space, an apple headphones microphone, and free recording software has treated us well. Any project should have a mission statement so you can use it as a compass for how your time is spent. Always pick something that you are passionate about! Create small, reachable goals before you have big ones. And have fun!”
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year. Dinner is great - but it’s what my family does with the leftovers that makes my Thanksgiving special to me. My grandma has been using leftover thanksgiving turkey to make turkey tamales for as long as I can remember. As my siblings, cousins and I got older, my grandma started to let us join in the fun of preparing them!
Cooking tamales can be a difficult and time consuming process, but practice makes perfect. Follow this simple online recipe for directions on how to prepare traditional Mexican tamales. If you’d like to add a Thanksgiving twist like my family does, fill your tamales with turkey meat as opposed to beef or chicken :)
(pictured above: My grandma and cousin preparing tamales)
I am sure you have heard that you should be consuming probiotics daily, either through
supplements or through whole foods such as greek yogurt and kombucha. Probiotics have
developed a gleaming halo due to many health professionals recommending them for a variety of reasons and health benefits. We all know they are good for you, but what’s the deal? What are they? How do they work? Who should be taking them? Are all probiotics made the same? Let’s dive in.
To understand how probiotics do their job and their importance, we have to first
recognize the significance of gut health. It has been found that the microbiome (bacteria makeup) in our gut (large intestines) is a large determinate of our overall health as human beings. “It covers multiple positive aspects of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, such as the effective digestion and absorption of food, the absence of GI illness, normal and stable intestinal microbiota, effective immune status and a state of well-being.” (Bischoff, 2011) Not only does our gut microbiome play a role in immunity but there have also been studies revealing that there may be a link between gut health and brain function (crazy right? There is a lot more to be said about that, but we will stay on topic) Although we have uncovered substantial information, scientists have not developed a way in which to clearly define or measure gut health, however, we have found ways to improve it. Maintaining a healthy gut is a key objective in preventative medicine today. So how do we do that exactly?
Beyond a well balanced diet, fiber (prebiotic), and physical activity, probiotics are a
major way in which one can maintain a healthy gut microbiome. The word “probiotic” is derived from the greek language meaning “life.” Today, probiotics can be defined as, “‘A live microbial feed supplement which beneficially affects the host animal by improving its intestinal microbial balance” (Fuller, 1992). Probiotics are strains of “good” bacteria that will, in a sense, crowd out the “bad” bacteria. There are have been many postulated ideas of how exactly probiotics do their desired job. Some of which are: promoting a gut barrier, enhancement of the immunological barrier and reducing inflammation. “Data shows that probiotics can be used as innovative tools to alleviate intestinal inflammation, normalize gut mucosal dysfunction, and down-regulate hypersensitivity reactions.” (Salminem, 2001) Basically, it keeps your GI tract in check. So, does that mean everyone should be taking them?
YES, take them! Probiotics are a great way for every individual to maintain a healthy gut.
Some individuals may benefit from probiotics more due to an illness such as those with Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), chronic diarrhea, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). There has not been any negative side effects reported due to probiotic supplement intake. Whether you intake probiotics from supplements or foods, they are a good addition to your everyday. So are all probiotic supplements created equal?
Nope! If you search for a probiotic supplement, you may find that they can be quite
pricey and diverse. Some labels will read something like this: “3 billion cells,” “10 billion active cultures,” and “Bifidobacterium lactis.”...um what? Let me explain. The amount of living bacteria in the product are measured in CFU/ml or colony forming units. All you really need to know is, the higher the CFU’s, the higher the amount of living bacteria. This can be the major determinant when comparing prices. Take the amount of CFUs into account, this may sway your decision towards the pricier option after all. Some supplement brands may indicate the live bacteria with total weight or by the number of CFUs at time of production as opposed to the actual number in the supplement when you consume it, two very different numbers. I would just stick to the easy clear, CFU/ml in the probiotic supplement in your hand. No need to overcomplicate things. Remember you can get probiotics from some yummy greek yogurt as well.
The next crucial aspect of purchasing probiotics is the species in the product. Never buy a probiotic that does not tell you the bacteria composition, where’s the assurance in that? The most common bacteria you will find on a probiotic label are: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium, and Streptococcus thermophilus. Unless you have a condition that requires a certain strain of bacteria, I wouldn’t worry too much about these names. Also, be aware of fillers in the supplement (AKA things like glucose, wheat, or soy.) This goes for any supplement. If you have an allergy, stay clear.
There are many more things to be discussed circulating this topic such as prebiotics (food
for probiotics), shelf life, storage, and expiration. But we will end it there. I highly recommend taking probiotics daily! I hope this blog can help you take a step in the right direction.
Roy Fuller. (1992). History and Development of Probiotics. Retrieved from
Seppo Salminem. (2001). Probiotics: effects on immunity. Retrieved from
Stephan C Bischoff. (2011, March 14). 'Gut health': A new objective in medicine? Retrieved
What is diabetes? Diabetes is a deadly disease that is known to cause numerous health
complications and even death. Type 1 diabetes mellitus is characterized by the body’s
destruction of pancreatic beta-cells. Beta-cells are responsible for the production of insulin, a hormone that regulates serum glucose levels. Type 2 diabetes mellitus has a similar overall outcome but is caused by either a lack of insulin or faulty insulin receptors. Diabetes has been known to cause nerve damage resulting in amputations, blindness, or even death. When glucose is properly controlled by the intake of low glycemic foods and by the adaptation of a healthy lifestyle, these daunting complications can be avoided. Although this disease can be well controlled, no one true cure has been discovered, but current research may be heading in the right direction.
The article analyzed in this blog post looks closely at cell regeneration therapy as well as
other methods such as islet transplantation and gene therapy as a potential cure for diabetes. I want to focus on what I find to be the most intriguing cell generation. The three ways in which to potentially introduce/develop “new” fully functioning beta-cells is as follows: 1. “In vitro regeneration therapy using transplanted culture cells” 2. “In ex vivo regeneration therapy” 3. “In in vivo regeneration therapy.” Let’s dumb this idea down a bit. Basically, we can use cultured cells outside of the body to be implanted into one’s pancreas or cells from within the body to differentiate into beta-cells. There is a lot to consider with this type of therapy-immunosuppressive action to ensure your body doesn’t destroy it’s new cells (also can have some pretty scary side effects - yikes) or other therapies that can be coupled with the original regeneration such as “islet transplantation, cell-based therapy, or gene therapy.”
So this is a pretty big concept, but the overall big picture seems quite simple right? Cells
don’t work, so make cells that do? Can it be that easy? Here is what we know..
In in vitro regeneration therapy, differentiated cultured cells foreign to the individual are
in introduced into their body. This form of therapy requires immunosuppressive drugs for the entirety of one's lifespan. This alone opens the door to numerous health complications. Due to these adverse effects, this form of therapy has been limited to severe type 1 diabetics only. In other words, yes, diabetes can be an extremely difficult disease to live with, but so can nephrotoxicity and hypertension caused by immunosuppressive medications, would you trade one problem for another?
Ex vivo regeneration therapy involves the manipulation of an individual’s own cells
outside of the body, followed by reintroducing the cells in the body once treatment is complete. No immunosuppressive drugs are needed in this case since the cells are still recognized as “self.” Typically, this type of treatment extracts mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow to treat bone conditions, however, this mechanism is not likely to work with beta-cells and diabetic patients. Trials performed on mouses resulted in “brain, retina, lung, myocardium, skeletal muscle, liver, intestine, kidney, spleen, bone marrow, blood, and skin, but not pancreas.” Basically, the stem cells differentiated and formed every tissue besides the one we need in this circumstance, perfect. On to the next one.
In vivo regeneration therapy is the process of regeneration of one’s own impaired cells
within the body. This is done in numerous diseases today. For example, those with renal
anemia have been treated with granulocytopenia, erythropoietin and granulocyte-colony
stimulating factor. (G-CSF) Similarly, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) vectors have been injected into muscular tissue of those with occlusive peripheral artery disease
to promote neovascularization from remaining arteries.” If we can promote growth of cells and tissues needed to “fix” our disease so to speak, why not apply this mechanism to pancreatic beta-cells? Based on prior trials and studies, “in vivo generation therapy is, in general, more cost-effective, has fewer side effects, and is in addition more ethically and clinically acceptable than in vitro and ex vivo regeneration therapies.” Two main methods identified for this form of therapy are: “induction of beta-cell differentiation and stimulation of beta-cell growth.”
If scientist continue to research these methods and safe, reliable, effective protocols are mastered, we could have a cure for diabetes. BOOM.
Sure, there are tons of other cell therapies we could explore, but I will leave you with
that. If you are interested, I have attached an article to this post that I referenced. I have not found trials performing these exact therapies in diabetic patients, however, I have come across some non-scholarly articles about current cell regeneration trials in the UK. Only two patients have been tested thus far, but who knows what the future holds. It will be interesting to see how diabetes is treated five to ten years from now. We just might have a cure.
Hey SNO peeps, welcome to my first blog post! Today I’m going to be sharing cool and new study spots on campus. Let’s be honest, the library and Starbucks aren’t cutting it for me anymore! The library’s great, don’t get me wrong. I’m just tired of trying to find a decent sized desk amongst the loud crowd, find outlets that aren’t 50 feet away from my desk, and avoiding the stuffy food smell.
I’m going to share with you all my top study spaces with their pros and cons. Let the productive studying begin!!
Goodfriend Lounge, Prebys Student Union, 3rd floor
This quiet study area (good for naps!!) is the best for getting work done while being comfortable. There are comfy chairs and roll away desks that are good for small collaboration or relaxing.
Pros: Quiet, abundant outlets, close to food places
Cons: Quiet, lacks big table space, may get full b/c of how small it is (usually from 12-2PM)
Student Lounge, Prebys Student Union, Ground floor
This lounge is basically a notch up from the Goodfriend Lounge! It’s located on the left hand side of the Habit when you’re facing the main double doors. There are bean bags, whiteboard tables for math problems, booths, comfy chairs, soft overhead music, even big collaboration tables that have big TV screens to connect to your laptop.
Pros: OUTLETS EVERYWHERE, super comfy, close to parking structure and dorms, good place to hang out
Cons: Can get a little rowdy during lunch time (the peak of when everyone comes to hang out), wouldn’t recommend for super focused studying
Career Services Student Center, Student Services East, 1st floor
Career services is an awesome resource on campus. They have daily walk in appointments for resume proofreading or general career questions. They have a student center with plenty of tables, computers, printing (10c/page though :c), and a lot of helpful resources for career planning. It basically a little library!
Pros: SUPER quiet, close to GMCS, EBA, and Parking Structure 3+4 so you don’t need to haul yourself to the library to print, not crowded.
Cons: May be too quiet for some
Arts & Letters Patio, 6th floor
This patio is the perfect place to seclude yourself from the busy campus. Realistically, nobody would trot their way onto the west side of campus just to come all the way up to this patio. But, if you have a long break during classes, this patio would be great to get some fresh air, have a nice view, and a quiet area to have lunch.
Pros: Outdoor, quiet, great view of campus
Cons: No outlets
PSFA Basement Library, 1st floor
Who knew there was a library in PSFA?! It’s definitely not the biggest library, but it’s super quiet, has a relaxing vibe, and dimmed lighting. It would be a great place to study right before a Nutrition 302L or 405 exam!
Pros: Secluded from noise/disturbances, quiet
Cons: Not too many outlets
Student Services East, 2nd floor patio
Who ever comes to the 2nd floor of SSE, honestly?! Nobody does unless you have paperwork to take care of. With that in mind, it’s extremely peaceful. There are plenty of tables to study or just chill before your next class.
Pros: A lot of tables, sunshine, quiet
Cons: No outlets
Thomas B & Anne K Day Quad, Engineering Building
As a nutrition major, who has really stepped foot into the new Engineering building? I personally haven’t explored it until a couple days ago and it’s BEAUTIFUL. There are a bunch of tables, benches, and an amphitheater layout with concrete seating. It’s a great addition to campus!
Pros: Shade, plenty of seating
Cons: No outlets
Well there you have it, folks! I’ve exposed all of my secret study spot to you all. If your favorite study spot is full, refer back to my list for some good back up options. Happy studying!"
Dr. Hooshmand Interview
Recently I had the privilege to interview the successful Dr. Hooshmand, an undergraduate and graduate professor here at SDSU. Dr. Hooshmand has her B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in Nutrition as well as published many articles and presented her research at conferences around the world. I can honestly say, digging into Dr. Hooshmand’s background and experience at SDSU was inspiring! When I asked her about her research and time teaching, her fiery passion was undeniable. Anyone who has had the honor of having her as a professor has witnessed her love for nutrition. Personally, as an aspiring researcher and educator, it was motivating to speak to someone who has “made it.” The journey may be difficult and taxing, but Dr. Hooshmand has proven to me that it will all be worth it. Enjoy the interview below:
● Question 1: What drew Dr. Hooshmand to the subject of nutrition initially? She did not have a dying passion for nutrition originally, however, she did find it fascinating. Growing up in Iran, she was able to choose her undergrad and found nutrition to be suitable for her at the time. By her second year of college, she developed a strong interest in nutrition and knew she had chosen the correct path for herself when she began partaking in research with faculty members.
● Question 2: Was a career in nutrition always her goal for the future? No, but after her second year of undergrad it was. She truly believed there was nothing “cooler” to study at that time and “It still is so fascinating!!” Her backup plan was to be an artist, “I paint and dance.”
● Question 3: Did she always know she wanted to get her P.h.D.? She knew she wanted her P.h.D. her second year of undergrad after assisting in research with faculty members.
● Question 4: What made her interested in the area of bone health? When she started grad school she was assigned to a project by the faculty. Her advisor was working on bone and cartilage and had funding for that area of research. “After one year, it was something I did not want to change. Most people change areas after training in an area, but I stayed in it! There is not many people working in bone health and nutrition like there is with obesity, cancer, and inflammation.”
● Question 5: What is her favorite aspect of research? “The outcome that I see when I improve bone density and my subjects are so happy. Improving bone density when you are old is a big deal! Also, when I publish a study and I get emails from people that have read my study and they talk about how they appreciate the kind of research that I do, and putting perspective in what food to consume for their bone health. It makes me happy knowing someone who is in need of this information is reading it. It is so rewarding! But I love every part of the kind of research that I do. I do all human, animal, and cell culture. Cell is more mechanistic, human is more applied, but there are limitations on what research you can do with people.”
● Question 6: What is her least favorite aspect of research? “Struggling for funding. I get nervous when I can't get enough funding for research, which then puts my research on hold.” The process of funding is to first write a proposal then submit it to different agencies. “So many are submitted, maybe 20 per year that we submit, and only 1 of them get funded. Rate of funding is low so it is not easy to get research. But I enjoy writing my proposal.” Getting a rejection letter is always difficult.
● Question 7: What is the least favorite part of your job? “I love my job! It might sound cheesy to you! But Sunday nights I am excited that tomorrow is Monday and I get to go to work! I always have papers or presentations to work on or I am working with a student. There is nothing that makes me happier than my job. I feel like everyone should have a job like that! Sometimes I think I like research more than teaching, but then I get in the classroom and I am so happy! I wouldn't change it for anything! Seriously!”
● Question 8: What travels has her career brought her? “ALOT! Conferences and speaking that I do. Chile, France, UK, Canada, Hong Kong and more! All over the U.S. for conferences, 2-3 minimal each year. They don't pay for you to go, but as a faculty at a University we have a set amount of money to travel and we can apply for grants to travel. Even students can apply!”
● Question 9: What was her most challenging obstacle she has faced in her career/education? “Living far from my family. When you are 22 and leave your country and friends and family. I try to visit them in Canada or other countries when I can. I could not travel back and forth because as an Iranian student I only got one entry visa into the U.S. I feel like I was so young, I didn't know what to expect, it was so unknown for me. The first few months were hard. Aside from that, people have been really nice to me all throughout grad school, and my colleagues now are really like my family.”
● Question 10: What advice would she give to nutrition students? She encourages students to get to know about research in their undergrad. “As a person that is very aware of the field and to be a good RD, you HAVE to understand research and interpret it.”
● Question 11: Where does she see herself taking her career in the future? “Staying here in academics! I don’t think I would ever move locations, I love SDSU and San Diego.”
● Question 12: What advice does she have for those who are in the process of getting their degree/PhD? “Whatever training you are getting, you don’t have to stay in that area. You have to be open to the idea that you have learned how to learn and you can teach yourself! You can always start to go into a different area of research. Do not be afraid of that.”
● Question 13: What is an aspect of getting your PHD/research that was surprising to her? Something she wishes she had knew beforehand? “Your whole life is school during your PhD! Grad school is your life, you don’t have any extra time! All of it is devoted to education. After a few months I felt like I was so consumed with work and research, I didn't have time for anything else. It took a while to balance my life. The first thing to figure out is how to find that balance, learn to move things in a parallel, you can’t wait until the exam date. You have to study little by little throughout everyday! If you wait until the last minute, what if something else is going on? Move everything in parallel.”
I want to thank Dr. Hooshmand for her time and insight into her life as a nutrition professional. I would encourage anybody looking to explore research in this field to speak with her and learn from her guidance. I am so beyond thankful to have her as a professor and mentor.
Do you have a sweet tooth? But don’t always feel so good after consuming copious amounts of added sugar and calories? If you haven’t heard of her already, meet Stevia - your new best friend!
Unlike low-calorie artificial sweeteners such as Splenda, Equal, or Sweet ‘N Low, Stevia is plant-based (meaning it’s all natural!) as well as calorie-free! That’s right! You can purchase Stevia in the form of raw sugar packets or even in liquid form. And I have found that it is so sweet that even just a little bit goes a long way.
(I highly recommend purchasing Stevia in the liquid form because it is easy to stick into your backpack/purse and take along with you wherever you go, because you never know when you’re going to crave a little sweetness)
Here are 3 of my favorite treats that taste great with Stevia:
Order any drink unsweetened or with sugar free sweeteners… Iced coffees and teas taste just as amazing with stevia, and you will save yourself from a ton of extra calories by doing this!
Here are a few of my typical go-to orders:
Order your favorite Acai Bowl from Shake Smart but ask for no agave. As you can see from Shake Smart’s nutrition facts below, you will save so many calories just from removing agave!
The ultimate low-cal, high energy breakfast powerfood... Oatmeal!
Unsweetened Oatmeal can taste pretty bland when nothing is added to it, but once you add a couple drops of liquid Stevia, you are set!
Sometimes I like to mix it up and add toppings as well like fruits, nuts, or yogurt!
Visit https://www.stevia.com to learn more about this sweet leaf :)
Welcome back, SNO blog readers! This week I’ve been thinking a lot about holistic health. I don’t mean the stigmatized “hippie” naturopathic medicine that may come to mind for some; I mean the dictionary definition of holistic: “characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.” At this point in 2018, I think some of the lines in the health and nutrition community have been blurred. There is a definite difference between health foods that are holistically healthy, and health foods that are highly marketable. For example, I’m sitting in The Living Room Cafe right now, and I ordered an acai bowl and an iced coffee with almond milk. Those not so deeply submerged in analyzing nutritional aspects of food as are all of you future RD’s might assume that what I just put in my body was “healthy”. In reality, the bowl of sorbet and sugary granola I just consumed probably made my insulin levels skyrocket, and the stored energy it provided me with will most likely stick around in my body for a while, considering I’m sitting here writing this blog post and not hiking up a mountain. The acai bowl is a great example of a heavily marketed “health food” that is not necessarily healthy. Besides the obvious capitalistic dilemma of some foods being marketed as health foods for the profit of the companies selling them, there is another huge aspect of holistic nutrition that I think could be even more important.
There are a lot of health foods out there that, good for you or are not, negatively affect another aspect of our ecosystem. An example that comes to mind immediately is something I’ve seen in juice shops and health food stores countless times: bee pollen. Bee pollen is the pollen from plants collected by bees and subsequently collected from the bees by beekeepers. Bee pollen has long been celebrated for its allergy-reducing and immune-boosting properties, and has been linked to the idea that eating local honey when visiting a new place will help you adjust to the atmosphere and lessen any allergy symptoms due to exposure to new plants and pollen in the air. I had heard about bee pollen’s allergy-reducing properties many times, and worked in a couple of juice shops that used it heavily, but never looked into it. It turns out that the problem with bee pollen is that the process of collecting it involves putting a comb-like screen at the entrance/exit of the hive, causing the pollen to be pulled from the bees’ limbs, but often pulling off their limbs as well. I hate to reference the movie that is essentially one enormous meme, but we could have a Bee Movie situation on our hands at some point. Bees use “stiff hair-like structures” (beeculture.com) on their legs to collect pollen, so if extraction of bee pollen de-legs bees in the process, it can’t be good for pollination and environmental well being in general. Furthermore, the bees need that pollen for the health of their colony, so if beekeepers collect pollen, bees have to forage more often, putting stress on the hives. Pollination is also essential to the growth of flowers, fruits and other plants that we need to survive. According to pollinator.org, “Somewhere between 75% and 95%  of all flowering plants on the earth need help with pollination – they need pollinators.” (pollinator.org).
Now maybe some of you knew about the downsides of bee pollen, considering it comes directly from the bee, and more and more people are looking into the protection of animals and insects alike with practices like vegetarianism and veganism. What a lot of people might not think about is the negative effects of almonds on our little pollinators as well. Bees and almonds have a symbiotic relationship. The almond trees need pollination from the bees to flourish, and the bee hives become stronger after visiting almond orchards because “Almond orchards provide honey bees with their first natural source of food each spring.” (almonds.com) and almond pollen is very nutritious for the bees. With the almond and almond milk craze taking over in recent years, we have to be very careful which and how much almond product we buy. Almonds are a winter crop, but because of the year-round demand for almonds and almond milk, there is less genetic diversity in orchards, and there is less almond pollen for the bees to forage and subsist upon, making for a less productive relationship between the bees and the trees. When buying almonds and almond products, be mindful of when and how much, and look for pollinator friendly products like Whole Foods “365 Everyday Value® Pollinator Friendly” Almonds and Almond Butter, which, according to the Whole Foods website, are “sourced from an orchard that works with conservationists at The Xerces Society to create a welcoming environment for pollinators. The orchard planted diverse wildflowers around the almond trees to provide year-round sustenance for local bees.” (wholefoodsmarket.com).
Basically, food and nutrition doesn’t stop at food and nutrition. In my opinion, it is imperative to take a holistic approach to health, ours and the planet’s. As important as it is for people like us to know things like the USDA recommendation that 45-65% of your total daily calories come from carbohydrates, or that Omega-3 fatty acids are essential in your diet because your body doesn’t produce them on its own, it’s equally important to remember to assess the external aspects of the food we eat, aspects that indirectly affect all of us, like the effect on our very important pollinators.
Junior.SDSU.Foods and Nutrition Student.
Greek yogurt has been praised for years for being a miracle health food. A thick and creamy yogurt with more protein and less carbs than regular yogurt? Sign me up! Unfortunately, there is a dark side to the creamy Greek good-ness. Greek yogurt is actually a pretty wasteful and hazardous product to produce. The reason greek yogurt is so thick and protein rich is that it’s all curds and no whey, which means the curds and whey have to be seperated and the whey disposed of. For every 3 lbs of milk, only 1lb of Greek yogurt is produced. At first glance, this doesn’t seem that harmful, but after a looking into it a little I found that the whey that is separated is what's called “acid whey”. Acid whey can be used in very small amounts to fertilize land, which seems great but if it runs into water ways it is highly toxic, and lowers oxygen levels, which kills fish and other water and sea creatures. Greek yogurt is a $2 billion per year industry, so these companies aren’t just dumping a little bit of acid whey into the earth. Chobani alone dumps about 8,000 gallons, twice a day, 7 days a week (modernfarmer.com). The issue is with the scale, as it always is with the agricultural industry; supply and demand is what’s killing our environment. When you have so many people wanting greek yogurt, you have to increase dairy farm sizes to produce more milk, which means more resources consumed and more pollution produced (onegreenplanet.org). But it’s ok! Because there is always a solution! If we continue the way we are now, things are only going to get worse and we are straining our planet for resources as it is, but there’s no point in telling anyone about harmful industries or practices like it’s the end of the world, because it’s not. Lucky for us there are a million little sustainable practices we can all implement to keep mother earth alive, and well at that. If you’re an avid greek yogurt lover and consumer reading this, try regular yogurt, or a dairy-free option. Dairy-free options are delicious and require zero cows or dairy farms, which means no acid whey, no methane production, and less pollution! I hope this helped you realize that everything we do has an environmental impact, and how careful we have to be as consumers and (if you are one) omnivores. Stay happy, healthy, and green, everybody!
Junior. Foods and Nutrition Major.
This amazing, rich dark chocolate cake has been a staple of mine for the past three years, and I have made it for my sister’s birthday, my mom’s birthday, and my birthday throughout the years (yes, I make my own birthday cake)! This cake is by far one of richest, most decadent cakes I’ve ever tried, and all of my friends could not believe that it was vegan and refined sugar free! It also is relatively easy to make, and is healthy enough that in all honesty, you could actually eat cake for breakfast!
This recipe is also a combination of recipes from Veggie Primer and Wife Mama Foodie, with a few little twists! Okay, now on to the recipe!
recipe adapted from Veggie Primer & Wife Mama Foodie
Hi SNO friends, I’m back from my little hiatus. I hope everyone had a lovely winter break and a happy New Year celebration. I’m choosing to use this space and time on the SNO blog to talk about the fateful promise 99% of our population makes to themselves every year on January 1st. That’s right, I’m talking about the dreaded New Year’s resolution. Kacey touched on starting the New Year off right with her post about healthy tips for 2018, but I’m going to assume that a few of you out there are itching to know more about the phenomenon that is the New Year’s resolution and why it usually doesn’t work out.
As nutrition majors and/or future dietitians, I think we all understand the concepts of health and balance, but that means it’s our job to spread the knowledge to those people out there still deciding that “new year, new me” means losing 20 lbs in a month. Health is all about knowledge, moderation and mindfulness. Lack of moderation and mindfulness are exactly why extreme starts to the New Year don’t make good long-term plans, and lack of knowledge is why people keep doing it. So if you’re crashing and burning after cutting out all carbs and counting all calories, here are some tips to modify your resolution into a lifestyle.
I want to talk about one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions: to lose weight. Think about your plan in the long term, and make sure you start somewhere tangible and doable for you. Unless your goal is to lose ten pounds or less, you most likely won’t reach your goal weight in the first month, so you need to be thinking past January. Making a tangible, doable weight loss plan that fits your lifestyle is key for sustaining your goal. If at this point in February, you’re feeling like you can’t do another sit-up or you’ll die, try and adjust your workout schedule to fit the rest of your long-term schedule. If, like many others, you went for the extreme on January 1st, switching from a daily to to an every-other-day workout is a really good change to make. Pick days that fit your schedule, and go kill it those days, then don’t feel bad about relaxing on the days in between. It’s more effective to have general guidelines than hard and fast rules. You’re more likely to want to deviate or “cheat” if you have strict rules that aren’t easy to follow. Here’s an example of a helpful thought process for general guidance: You know that you don’t want to go more than three days without working out. Here’s an unrealistic plan that would be super easy to ditch because it’s so hard: Vow to work out 2 hours per day, 6 days per week and stick to a daily caloric intake of just 1500.
Beyond the gym, we all know the real work is done in the kitchen. Make sure you eat enough and stop eating when you’re not hungry. It’s super easy to find information on caloric needs on the Internet. Your number will be based on your body weight and lifestyle. From there, you can figure out how many you need to lose or gain weight. If counting calories works for you, make sure you stick to your number. Making drastic cuts will not help your weight loss journey because you need fuel to burn build muscle and therefore burn fat. In fact, it could lead to disordered eating like binging/restricting etc. Cutting calories and carbs will also cut fuel to your brain, which is no good for your productivity at work and school. And as we all know, refueling after workouts and staying hydrated are highly important, otherwise all that exertion in the gym or out and about won’t do you much good.
Hope you all are having a happy and healthy New Year! Eat well, live well and study hard y’all.
Junior. Foods and Nutrition Major.
I think every college student could agree with the statement that sleep is pretty hard to come by once the semester is in full swing...and if you don’t agree with that statement, then I salute you, for you must surely have some kind of superhuman sleeping powers. However, there is good news for sleep-deprived students: certain foods can help you sleep better! Incorporate these foods into your bedtime snack and get ready to snooze the night away.
Almonds make for an awesome late night snack, thanks to their high magnesium levels that assist in preserving the quality of sleep and building strong bones. Eat them on their own, in trail mix, or in your favorite snack bar.
Honey has been shown to aid tryptophan, a sleep-inducing amino acid, in entering the brain by slightly raising insulin levels. Try it mixed into your bedtime cup of tea for a soothing nighttime treat.
I don’t know about you, but hummus is always a go-to snack for me any time of the day. As it turns out, it is a good source of tryptophan, which is just another reason to break out the tub for a late night snack session. Try it with pita bread or veggies for a healthy and filling snack option.
It turns out oatmeal is not just for breakfast! Oatmeal is a carbohydrate-rich source that has been shown to aid in sleepiness, in addition to being a source of melatonin, that sleep-inducing hormone I mentioned earlier. Try it hot or bake it into a treat for a satisfying snack.
Walnuts also contain tryptophan, which helps produce serotonin and melatonin. Get creative in the kitchen and make a walnut-rich dessert to snack on before bed for a sweet sleep-inducing treat.
Turkey is infamous for its ability to cause drowsiness, due to its tryptophan content. It is also a great source of protein, which has been shown to promote a good night’s sleep. Eat it plain or pair it with some hummus to maximize its sleep-promoting potential!
I hope you find some bedtime snack inspiration from these amazing superfoods that can help you get the most out of your sleep. See the sources below for more information and to view the studies behind these fascinating findings.
Have a great week, sleepy SNO members!
ABOUT THE BLOG
Our goal is to present nutrition facts and advice in a fun and interesting way! We want to get our members involved in a healthy lifestyle as well as share articles that shine a light on nutrition and health.