Is Oat Milk Healthier Than Regular Milk?

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

In addition to writing for Fill Your Plate, I also work full-time at a local coffee shop. I always find it interesting to see each customer’s coffee order, as some like it nice and basic, while others create quite an elaborate drink with all their different flavor and milk additives. One coffee additive that I’ve noticed is incredibly popular nowadays is oat milk. While it’s obviously not truly milk, it’s plant-based and dairy-free, making it great for those with food sensitivities. But just because it is plant-based and dairy-free doesn’t necessarily mean that it is healthier than regular milk.

According to registered dieticians Suzanne Fisher and Trista Best, besides being a great option for those with diet restrictions, it is also very high in fiber and is cholesterol-free. However, it is significantly lacking in protein content, especially when compared to regular milk and other alternative milks such as flax milk. Also, depending on the brand, some oat milks are full of excess oils and sugars.

With that being said, there is nothing wrong with consuming oat milk at all. It is just important to keep in mind that just because it is plant-based, dairy-free, and trendy doesn’t make it automatically healthier. If you do choose to use oat milk, make sure to keep an eye on the nutritional label to ensure that you’re avoiding the kinds with unhealthy additives!

For more health-related articles, check out the Fill Your Plate blog!

 

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Fiber Does More Than Promote Gut Health and Regularity

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

Fiber has long been known to be a nutrient that is very important for gut health and maintaining regularity. But, fiber actually does a whole lot more than just keeping our guts healthy!

According to registered dietician Caroline Susie, fiber also helps to regulate blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and weight management, all of which are risk factors for more serious heart conditions or strokes. Specifically, the American Heart Association says that a person’s first-time stroke risk drops by 7% with every 7 grams of fiber they consume in their diets.

Unfortunately, however, only about 5% of Americans are getting enough fiber in their daily diets. The Mayo Clinic advises that men under the age of 50 aim to get about 38 grams of fiber per day, and women under 50 should aim for about 25 grams per day.

Getting more fiber in your diet doesn’t mean that you’ll just be munching on dry bran muffins or eating bowl upon bowl of oatmeal. While those are good sources of fiber, there are plenty of other delicious foods that are high in fiber content! Consider the following:

  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Fresh fruits
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Corn
  • Avocados
  • Oatmeal
  • Barley
  • Peas
  • Chia seeds

Many of the foods listed are ones that farmers produce right here in Arizona! Check them out next time that you’re grocery shopping!

For more health-related articles or for some delicious recipes that use many of these fiber-filled foods, check out the Fill Your Plate website!

 

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Calcium Does More Than Build Strong Bones

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

We’ve long known that calcium is an incredibly important nutrient when it comes to bone health. Regardless of the stage of life that you’re in, calcium helps to maintain bone density, meaning they’re stronger and healthier rather than brittle and weak. But protecting and maintaining bone health isn’t the only benefit that calcium has to offer.

According to registered dietician Beth Czerwony, calcium also benefits our body’s blood clotting, muscle contractions, nerve function, tooth and gum health, regulates blood pressure, can reduce cancer risk, and potentially lower cholesterol. Czerwony recommends that adults consume about 1,000 milligrams per day.

When it comes to getting this calcium in your diet, there are many different options, whether it be supplements or food. Czerwony says that the best and most abundant source of calcium is actually dairy products such as milk, cheese, or yogurt. Other sources include beans, and spinach.

Arizona is full of dairies that produce fresh, local milk and other milk products! More than 90% of the dairy you see in your local grocery case are coming from our Arizona dairies. Dairies throughout the United States need to be co-located to major population centers due to the freshness and perishability of liquid milk. So be confident about buying that gallon of milk from your family. It’s coming from local family dairies adhering to strict protocols for you to get the healhiest and freshest dairy.

For more health-related articles, check out the Fill Your Plate blog!

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Agua Frescas Are a Healthy Summer Beverage!

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

Water with lemon slices by Charlotte May

There is nothing like a nice glass of cold lemonade or sweet tea on a hot summer day. While it definitely tastes great and is very refreshing, oftentimes these kinds of drinks are full of sugar and not much else when it comes to nutrition. Looking for a healthier alternative that is still sweet and cold? Give agua frescas a try!

Agua frescas are drinks that are very popular in Latin countries. The name translates to “freshwater” or “cool water.”

Agua frescas are basically water mixed with fruit pulp, and occasionally grains or seeds. The result is a naturally sweet, refreshing drink that has a lot more nutrients and a lot less sugar than other beverages. Besides being much healthier than other drinks, another perk to agua frescas is that they are very versatile, you can make them using any fruit or other flavoring that you would like. Below is a very basic recipe for agua fresca as well as some ideas on what flavors to make!

Agua Fresca Basic Recipe:

  • 4 C. Water
  • 2 C. Fruit – Any kind works, so choose your favorites!
  • ¼ C. Sweetener – Not necessary, use only if desired.
  • 2 Tsp. Lime juice
  • Chia seeds, or other grains if desired
  • Optional ice and garnishes

Now all you have to do is combine the first 3 ingredients in a blender, stir in the lime juice and grains or seeds if used, and you’re done!

Some fruit combinations you might consider trying include:

  • Cucumber and lime
  • Cantaloupe
  • Hibiscus
  • Watermelon and lime
  • Blackberry and basil
  • Strawberry
  • Watermelon and cucumber
  • Tamarind
  • Dragon fruit
  • Pineapple and cucumber

Those are just a few ideas! The flavors and combination of flavors is truly endless! So instead of reaching for a sweet tea or soda the next time you’re looking for a refreshing drink, try making a batch of agua fresca!

For more articles on healthy beverages, check out the Fill Your Plate blog!

 

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Treat Your Allergies with Honey!

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

 

Seasonal allergies can be the absolute worst. Your eyes get itchy and watery, your nose gets stuffy, and you can’t stop sneezing, coughing, or both. Typically, our first move when our allergies get bad is to reach for some Benadryl, Zyrtec, nasal spray, or other allergy medicine. But did you know that these standard allergy medicines aren’t the only remedy for your allergy symptoms?

Honey has long been touted as an amazing natural remedy to alleviate allergy symptoms. This sweet and sticky syrup has anti-inflammatory properties that can mitigate some of the unpleasant effects of seasonal allergies. If your airways are congested or if you’re experiencing a rash or other skin irritation, the anti-inflammatory effects of honey can help to reduce some of that irritation.

Additionally, honey is used for immunotherapy, which is an allergy treatment method where the patient is exposed to small amounts of the allergen to build up an immunity to it. Since bees collect pollen as well as nectar, some amounts of pollen from local trees and flowers inevitably get into the honey that they make. Raw, local honey is the best way to expose yourself to the pollen that is in your area since the bees get their pollen and nectar from the surrounding plants that are responsible for your allergies.

Besides being a delicious way to sweeten foods and drinks or to just be eaten by itself, honey offers quite a few health benefits when it comes to relieving allergies and doing so naturally! We have lots of local beekeepers around the state of Arizona, my little brother is one of them! Remember, local honey is the best for treating allergies, as the pollen it contains is the same that surrounds you and causes your allergies!

For more information on local honey, check out the following resources!

Grande Honey Company | Casa Grande AZ | Facebook

Fill Your Plate – Find a Farm Product – Honey

The Healing Power of Honey – Fill Your Plate Blog

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