While most vitamins and minerals are identified individually, B-complex vitamins are often referred to as a group of nutrients. These eight distinct water-soluble vitamins assist with converting food to energy, controlling appetite and forming red blood cells.
Each B vitamin has two or more names. These are the most commonly used:
B1 - Thiamin
B2 - Riboflavin
B3 - Niacin
B5 - Pantothenic Acid
B6 - Pyridoxine
B7 - Biotin
B12 - Cobalamin
Folic Acid - Folate
Because these vitamins are water-soluble, the body does not store large quantities. Foods that contain B vitamins should be a regular part of your eating plan to ensure these nutrients are readily available in the body.
B vitamins are found in cereals and grains, meats, poultry, eggs, fish, dairy, legumes and fresh vegetables. If you eat a balanced diet, it’s likely you get the B vitamins you need. If you avoid any of the major food groups that supply B vitamins, it’s wise to check with your doctor or dietician to ensure you are getting appropriate levels. For example, B12 deficiencies are common in those who eliminate animal products, and the symptoms are often not evident right away.
Food is the best source for vitamins, but if you choose to take a supplement, it is wise to avoid mega-doses. Even though the body does not store water-soluble vitamins, there are still risks of toxicity with high doses.
Berries are loaded with fiber to keep you feeling full and vitamin C and phytonutrients that protect against disease. Go beyond the standard strawberries and blueberries, and add one of these varieties to your eating plan.
Currants are related to gooseberries. The tiny, round fruits grow on shrubs in bunches similar to grapes. Common varieties include red currants, white currants and black currants. White currants have a lower acidity, making them better for eating fresh. Red and black currants can be used in juices and sauces.
A boysenberry is a large, deep red-purple fruit that looks similar to a blackberry. It’s a juicy, delicate fruit that is sweet, not tart. Eat these berries fresh, or try adding them to your breakfast cereal.
Olallieberry is often considered a variety of blackberry, but it’s actually a cross between a loganberry and a youngberry. The fruit takes on characteristics of a blackberry both in its looks and its slightly tart flavor. These berries can be mixed with other sweet berries to balance the tartness, and they can be used to make sauces or low-sugar jam.
Golden raspberries have the same sweet flavor and shape as red raspberries, but they range in color from a beautiful golden yellow to a slightly pink-yellow. These berries are best eaten fresh and are fun to use in fruit salads for a splash of gold color.
Loganberries are a cross between blackberries and raspberries, but their bright red color takes on more characteristics of a raspberry. The fruit is sweet and juicy when picked ripe from the vine, making it perfect for topping yogurt or oatmeal.
The gooseberry is a small, round fruit with a skin that resembles a grape. American varieties can range in color from light green to pink to deep purple. Gooseberries are often tart. They can be cooked down to make sauces or added to baked goods.
Huckleberries are similar to blueberries, but they’re larger with darker, shinier skins and seeds. While the fruit can be sweet, many varieties are more tart than blueberries. Huckleberries are best eaten after they are slightly sweetened and cooked down into a sauce or jam.
Low-carb snacks are often higher in protein and lower in calories and sugar than high-carbohydrate snacks. This combination of nutrients allows you to control hunger and maintain energy without gaining weight.
While there is no specific definition for labeling a food “low-carb,” these snacks get the majority of their calories from lean protein, dietary fiber and heart-healthy fat. Prep these easy low-carb snacks so you can grab one quickly when hunger hits.
¼ cup of part-skim ricotta topped with ¼ of a chopped avocado and a pinch of salt and pepper. Carbohydrates: 6.9 grams
¼ cup chickpeas mixed with 1 sliced green onion and 1 tablespoon of celery. Drizzle with lemon juice. Carbohydrates: 17.1 grams
½ cup plain yogurt blended with 1 tablespoon of unsweetened peanut butter, 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder and few drops of vanilla extract. Carbohydrates: 13 grams
Picnic and cookout season is here! When it comes to healthy outdoor meals, how you prepare and store your foods is just as important as what you serve. These tips will help you host an outdoor gathering that will keep everyone healthy and happy.
Give your guests options.
Help guests stick to their eating plans by providing a variety of options. Large leaves of romaine lettuce can be used to make wraps for those who want to enjoy their burgers without a bun. Marinate vegetable kabobs or mushrooms to grill for guests who don’t want meat. Vegetable sticks with a bean dip are a good option for those who want to avoid munching on potato chips.
Keep track of the time.
Foods can spoil quickly in summer temperatures, so keep track of how long they have been sitting on the serving table. Don’t keep them out of refrigeration for longer than 2 hours. If the temperature outside is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, then this time limit drops to 1 hour. Don’t allow the temperature of foods to fall in the danger zone between 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Bacteria can grow rapidly in this temperature range. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold by using warming trays, slow cookers, ice packs and coolers.
Make food swaps.
Mayonnaise and cream don’t hold up well in warm temperatures. By swapping them out for other ingredients, you can also make your favorite picnic foods healthier. Choose oil and vinegar based dressings for potato salads. Get creative with fresh salads and skip cream-based baked casseroles. If you can’t do without with your favorite dishes, try recipes that reduce the amount of mayonnaise used like this Pasta Salad with Grapes and Pecans.
Take advantage of the season.
There is no better time of year for fresh foods than picnic season. Leave the cookies and cakes for the holidays, and make fruit your dessert. Grill fruits for a special treat. You can also turn fresh fruit purees into frozen yogurt or popsicles.
Recommended water intake for healthy adults is 8 to 12 cups per day (64 to 96 ounces). Make sure you drink enough water by finding a way to track your intake that works for you.
Tracking with MyFoodDiary
If you are logging your foods with MyFoodDiary, you can add a water tracker to the dashboard. Once you’ve logged into your account, simply click the gear icon in the top right, select “settings,” and then choose “goals.” Once you’ve set a water consumption goal, you will see a progress bar on the dashboard page.
Use a designated water bottle
Designate a water bottle to use everyday, and know how many ounces it holds. For example, you can keep a 32-ounce bottle with you to sip from all day, keeping in mind you will need to drink two bottles to reach 64 ounces. To make sure you get the water you need, set goals for the ounces you will drink by certain times. For example, drink 12 ounces by lunch or a full bottle before your evening workout.
If keeping track of every ounce you drink is challenging, align your intake with specific times of the day. First, select an 8-ounce glass that you will use for your water. If you drink one glass at the top of every hour of an 8-hour work day, you will consume 64 ounces. You can also plan your water consumption with your meals and snacks. Drink two glasses at breakfast, lunch and dinner. To reach 64 ounces, add a glass mid-morning and one in the afternoon. A reminder alarm on your phone may be helpful.
A more creative way to track water intake can be fun for the whole family. First, select 8 to 12 dried beans from the pantry, depending on how many glasses of water you need each day. Keep two small bowls on the countertop or on your desk where you will see them. Each morning, place all of your beans in one bowl. Every time you drink a cup (8 ounces) of water, take a bean out of the first bowl and place it into the second bowl. By the end of the day, you’ll know you have reached your goal if you have transferred all of your beans to the second bowl.