Yay, it’s March! I even heard birds chirping this morning. And it is also National Nutrition Month, an annual campaign created by the largest organization of nutrition professionals in the world — the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This year’s theme: “Eat Right, Bite by Bite.” Let’s concentrate on that as I clean out my inbox this month to address your questions and comments:
Chuck in Albany, Oregon, writes: “I read your column in the Democrat-Herald and look forward to seeing it. I like reading recipes and frequently see unsalted butter as an ingredient. My wife says there’s no difference between salted and unsalted. Can you clarify this for us?”
Dear Chuck, According to the butter experts at landolakes.com, the only difference between salted and unsalted butter is salt. Salted butter has 90 milligrams of sodium per tablespoon; unsalted butter has none. You can use both interchangeably in recipes but some recipes specify unsalted butter to better control the flavor of the final product. Unsalted butter also lets the natural taste of food come through, say some experts.
Marilyn writes: “I am having a smoothie every day to boost my protein intake for my aging years. There are so many different types of protein powder, I’d like to know what the best choice is for someone who is not vegetarian or vegan. I’ve just been using the one with the most protein but is there a quality I should consider? Thank you.”
You’re right, Marilyn. Protein is available from a variety of sources. And their quality differs as well. Whey protein from milk, for example, was once discarded as a useless byproduct of cheese production. It is now recognized as a rich and highly digestible source of essential amino acids (building blocks of muscle and other proteins in the body). Several studies have shown that whey protein — along with resistance exercise — can help prevent age-related muscle loss. That might be a good choice for you.
Nic D. writes: “I put a pinch of green tea in my smoothie every morning. However, I have been unable to learn if green tea must be brewed in order to receive its benefits. All of the references I have found on-line only refer to brewed green tea. Thanks much if you can answer this question.”
Dear Nic, I, too, found most of the health information is about brewed tea. But I did find that green tea leaves themselves contain several minerals and the same antioxidants and other beneficial substances we find in brewed green tea. Also, the popular drink, matcha, is made from finely pulverized green tea leaves. Just make sure you are using a high quality product with no contaminants.
Thanks for writing.
Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator affiliated with Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in California. She is the author of “Quinn-Essential Nutrition” (Westbow Press, 2015). Email her at to firstname.lastname@example.org.