Whole Grains Health Shift For School Lunches

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School’s in session and more kids are learning, growing, and playing fueled by good-tasting whole grains!

Lately, there have been big wins in the movement to improve school lunches, and Community Grains is proud to be doing their part.

Oakland Unified School District has decided to go all in with Community Grains’ California-grown, 100% whole grain pastas,now on cafeteria lunch menus in 85 Oakland public schools!

And in yet another fantastic move, OUSD is set to adopt a Good Food Purchasing Policy — a purchasing standard that demonstrates its commitment to better sourcing, sustainability, fair labor, and quality whole foods.

On the national front, the USDA recently formalized new school nutrition rules under the groundbreaking Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act. There’s much work to be done, but it seems clear that the local school wellness policies are making a big difference.

Parents who remember their school lunches may be jealous but this is great news for kids. We’re so pleased and encouraged, we could hit the playground ourselves!

Astaxanthin 6000 Times More Powerful Than Vitamin C

Stay In The Pink With Astaxanthin

From Our Friends At Peak Health Advocate

In a test that specifically measures the ability to neutralize a particularly unstable and destructive type of free radical called singlet oxygen, astaxanthin proved to be up to:

  • 40 times stronger than beta-carotene
  • 100 times stronger than vitamin E
  • 800 times stronger than CoQ10
  • and 6,000 times stronger than vitamin C!

What else can astaxanthin do for you? Check out Nutrition News “In The Pink With Astaxanthin”

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Antioxidants Of Interest For Infertility, Erectile Dysfunction

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If oxidative stress is an underlying factor causing infertility, which we think the evidence points to, we should be able to do something about it.

As many as 50 percent of conceptions fail and about 20 percent of clinical pregnancies end in miscarriage.


Infertility, Erectile Dysfunction and Antioxidant Connection


CORVALLIS, Ore. – A growing body of evidence suggests that antioxidants may have significant value in addressing infertility issues in both women and men. This includes erectile dysfunction, yeah!

Researchers say that large, specific clinical studies are merited to determine how much they could help.

A new analysis, published online in the journal Pharmacological Research, noted that previous studies on the potential for antioxidants to help address this serious and growing problem have been inconclusive, but that other data indicates nutritional therapies may have significant potential.

The researchers also observed that infertility problems are often an early indicator of other degenerative disease issues such as atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. The same approaches that may help treat infertility could also be of value to head off those problems, they said.

The findings were made by Tory Hagen, in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, and Francesco Visioli, lead author of the study at the Madrid Institute for Advanced Studies in Spain.

“If oxidative stress is an underlying factor causing infertility, which we think the evidence points to, we should be able to do something about it,” said Hagen, the Jamieson Chair of Healthspan Research in the Linus Pauling Institute. “This might help prevent other critical health problems as well, at an early stage when nutritional therapies often work best.”

The results from early research have been equivocal, Hagen said, but that may be because they were too small or did not focus on antioxidants. Laboratory and in-vitro studies have been very promising, especially with some newer antioxidants such as lipoic acid that have received much less attention.

“The jury is still out on this,” Hagen said. “But the problem is huge, and the data from laboratory studies is very robust, it all fits. There is evidence this might work, and the potential benefits could be enormous.”

The researchers from Oregon and Spain point, in particular, to inadequate production of nitric oxide, an agent that relaxes and dilates blood vessels. This is often caused, in turn, by free radicals that destroy nitric oxide and reduce its function. Antioxidants can help control free radicals. Some existing medical treatments for erectile dysfunction work, in part, by increasing production of nitric oxide.

Aging, which is often associated with erectile dysfunction problems, is also a time when nitric oxide synthesis begins to falter. And infertility problems in general are increasing, scientists say, as more people delay having children until older ages.

“Infertility is multifactorial and we still don’t know the precise nature of this phenomenon,” Visioli said.

If new approaches were developed successfully, the researchers said, they might help treat erectile dysfunction in men, egg implantation and endometriosis in women, and reduce the often serious and sometimes fatal condition of pre-eclampsia in pregnancy. The quality and health of semen and eggs might be improved.

As many as 50 percent of conceptions fail and about 20 percent of clinical pregnancies end in miscarriage, the researchers noted in their report. Both male and female reproductive dysfunction is believed to contribute to this high level of reproductive failure, they said, but few real causes have been identified.

“Some people and physicians are already using antioxidants to help with fertility problems, but we don’t have the real scientific evidence yet to prove its efficacy,” Hagen said. “It’s time to change that.”

Some commonly used antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, could help, Hagen said. But others, such as lipoic acid, are a little more cutting-edge and set up a biological chain reaction that has a more sustained impact on vasomotor function and health.

Polyphenols, the phytochemicals that often give vegetables their intense color and are also found in chocolate and tea, are also of considerable interest. But many claims are being made and products marketed, the researchers said, before the appropriate science is completed – actions that have actually delayed doing the proper studies.

“There’s a large market of plant-based supplements that requires hard data,” Visioli said. “Most claims are not backed by scientific evidence and human trials. We still need to obtain proof of efficacy before people invest money and hope in preparations of doubtful efficacy.”

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Schools Find Physical Education Improves Academics

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Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School

National Institute of Health

It seems like common sense that exercise helps every body function, including cognitive brain function. Scientists may agree with common sense, but they tend to like evidence.

That means lots of experiments to test and verify their assumptions. When it comes to physical activity and academic performance, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that maybe we should be spending more school time working the body instead of constantly testing the brain to see how well it withstands boredom.

Evidence suggests that increasing physical activity and physical fitness may improve academic performance. Additionally, Available evidence suggests that mathematics and reading are the academic topics that are most influenced by physical activity.

Basic cognitive functions related to attention and memory facilitate learning, and these functions are enhanced by physical activity and higher aerobic fitness.

Single sessions of and long-term participation in physical activity improve cognitive performance and brain health. Children who participate in vigorous- or moderate-intensity physical activity benefit the most.

These and tons of other research results can be found in:

Committee on Physical Activity and Physical Education in the School Environment; Food and Nutrition Board; Institute of Medicine; Kohl HW III, Cook HD, editors.
Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2013 Oct 30.
Move it or lose it remains our best guideline for cognitive function, health and longevity.

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How To Pick A Ripe Watermelon Everytime

A ripe watermelon will take about 9 milliseconds to go through one cycle of oscillation. The equivalent vibration mode for Earth takes 54 minutes, but the principle is exactly the same.  Helen Czerski, WSJ

Can You Really Tell If A Watermelon Is Ripe By Rapping On It?

I’ve always relied on the rapping sound. If it sings to me, it’s mine. Up to three at a time usually. I first look for the melons that have bee stings with sap bubbles. Then I look for the ones that look like they’re ready to burst. Not very scientific, but it works for me.

You probably don’t know this about me, but I have an uncanny super power when it comes to picking a ripe watermelon. (I can also delay Summer or extend it by when I decide to make the first or last melon purchase of the year, but that’s a story for another time. Ask my wife.)

When I find a candidate, I pick it up and cradle it in my palm, holding the melon next to my ear. Then I give it a knock with my knuckles. If the sound has a ring to it, I know it’s perfect.

I’ve never been wrong. It’s a gift. As I said. I’ll often buy three at a time and by the time I’m loaded, there’s usually one or two shoppers who either ask me how I pick, or they ask me to pick for them. It always takes me longer to buy watermelons than anything else. When I write the definitive ode to watermelons, I’ll make sure the book signings match the season. Buy the book, get a perfect watermelon.

It turns out that there’s actually science behind my super power. As soon as you learn the secret, you’ll begin to develop your own watermelon ring and never be disappointed again. One word of caution: Don’t go rapping on a pile of watermelons in a crate. You have to isolate the melon or the sound waves won’t give you accurate data. You’ll get lucky occasionally, buy mostly you’ll be disappointed and start blaming the watermelon.

The Science of a Ripe Watermelon

The first test for watermelon quality is whether it has an unwanted air gap inside it. When you tap on a nice, clean shape like a mug, what you hear is close to a pure note—the structure is symmetrical, and it rings like a bell. The same is true for watermelons. If you get a note with an identifiable pitch, the fruit is probably solid all the way through. A dull thud indicates that it’s asymmetrical on the inside, and best avoided.

The next question is ripeness. As watermelons ripen, their flesh becomes more dense but less elastic, and the combination means that a riper watermelon will ring with a lower note. What you hear also depends on how big the fruit is. There is no perfect note, but there is a perfect note for a fixed size of fruit. You need experience with lots of ripe watermelons to make the correct diagnosis, so this isn’t a quick fix. But not to worry, nobody said Jedi training was easy. Practice makes perfect.

Your Watermelon Nutritional I.Q.

Beyond the zillions of ways to serve watermelon, I’m old school. I rarely take the time to do anything else to a watermelon other than to cut a fat, full round slab, cut off the rind and savor the tastes as my belly starts go grow. Not recommended for before bedtime on hot Summer nights in Southern California.  Watermelon has lots of wonderful nutritional benefits beyond that perfect, fresh, ripe taste. Note the serving size – 1 cup. Who’s kidding who here?

Watermelons are mostly water — about 92 percent — but this refreshing fruit is soaked with nutrients. Each juicy bite has significant levels of vitamins A, B6 and C, lots of lycopene, antioxidants and amino acids. There’s even a modest amount of potassium. Plus, this quintessential summer snack is fat-free, very low in sodium and has only 40 calories per cup. Learn more about the health benefits of watermelon.

Watermelon Care and Handling

Watermelon isn’t just for summer picnics anymore. This deliciously sweet fruit is available year-round. And it’s perfect for every meal occasion from breakfast, lunch, appetizer and entree to dessert. It’s healthy and nutritious, but most importantly it tastes great. It’s perfect for people who are trying to eat healthier, but don’t want to give up great taste – just about everybody!

Store Watermelon on the Warm Side Compared to most fruits, watermelons need a more “tropical” climate – a thermometer reading of 55˚ F is ideal. However, whole melons will keep for 7 to 10 days at room temperature. Store them too long, and they’ll lose flavor and texture.

Lower Temperatures Cause Chill Injury After two days at 32˚ F, watermelons develop an off-fl avor, become pitted and lose color. Freezing causes the rind to break down and produces a mealy, mushy texture. Once a melon is cut, it should be wrapped and stored at 36˚ – 39˚F.

Removing Seeds Is A Breeze Although a majority of the watermelons available are seedless, these instructions will remove seeds quickly and easily: Wash and quarter a whole melon, then cut each quarter into three or four wedges. Cut lengthwise along the seed line with a paring knife, and lift off piece. Using a fork, scrape seeds both from the removed piece and the remaining fl esh on the rind. Use for cubes or continue with recipe.

Safe Handling Practices According to the FDA, you should wash all fruits and vegetables, including all melons, in clean, running water before eating them. This is true of all fruits and vegetables, rinds or not. You should also use clean knives and cutting surfaces.

Additionally, persons preparing melons, fruits, vegetables or other foodstuffs should thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water prior to preparing the food for eating. That’s food handling 101.

Yield Wedges: The average watermelon yields about 90 6-ounce wedges, each 3/4 inch thick.

Cups: There are approximately 3.2 cups per pound, so the yield is approximately 11⁄2 two-cup servings per pound.

Yield by Percentage of Weight: 100% whole watermelon = 70% edible watermelon + 30% rind. For example, the average 20-pound watermelon yields 14 pounds of edible fruit, leaving 6 pounds of rind.

Availability Top quality watermelon is available 12 months out of the year in today’s global market, and is especially plentiful during the peak season of April through October.

Creative Ideas and lots of great recipes, garnishing tips and carving ideas at www.watermelon.org



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