Category Archives: Healthy Tips

Living Healthy on a Vegetarian Diet

By Caroline Pak, DTR, CSUN Dietetic Intern

Image: Lisovskaya Natalia/Shutterstock

Individuals choose to adopt a vegetarian diet due to environmental interests, animal rights, or health concerns. Whatever the reason, vegetarians should be aware of how to customize their meals to meet their nutrient needs.

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Stevia: The Zero-Calorie Natural Sweetener

By: Mariah Haroon, CSUN Dietetic Intern

Image: TatianaMishina/Shutterstock

Keeping caloric intake balanced and blood sugar levels steady are part of a diabetic individual’s daily routine. Diabetes affects about 30.3 million people in the United States.1 That is 9.4% of the US population.1 As the number of products containing artificial sugar substitutes flood the markets, Stevia enjoys its own niche as a zero-calorie natural sugar substitute. It is extracted and purified from a plant called Stevia rebaudiana.2 This plant is native to South America.2 The leaves of this plant contain a substance called steviol glycoside. According to FDA, the highly purified and safe form of stevia should contain ≥95% of pure steviol glycoside.3 FDA granted stevia the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status in 2008, as long as it is sold in its highly purified form.4 This form is called rebiana and is sold under brand names such as Truvia®, PureVia® and Enliten®3. It is used as a sugar substitute and as an ingredient in packaged foods.

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The Sweet Facts About Sweet Potatoes

By: Talia Bondelli, DTR

Raw Sweet Potato on a Wooden Table
Image: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

What does it mean to eat the rainbow? Eating the rainbow signifies eating a variety of fruits and vegetables.1 All of the colors of fruits and vegetables have different health benefits that may reduce your risk of diseases.Sweet potatoes have a deep orange color, which is the pigment called beta-carotene.3 They are very nutritious and they are also fat free, which means they also have no saturated fat or trans-fat.4 Furthermore, they are low in calories and sodium, with about 100 calories and 70 milligrams of sodium for one medium sweet potato.4 Sweet potatoes can definitely sweeten up your life, and in a healthy way!

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Apple Cider Vinegar to Keep the Doctor Away

By Talia Bondelli, DTR

Image 9dream studio/shutterstock

I’ve been drinking apple cider vinegar for years and it seems to keep the doctor away! Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is well-known as a home remedy with many health benefits, but what exactly is it? ACV is basically apple juice with yeast in it.1 The yeast goes through fermentation and turns the apple’s sugar into alcohol and then bacteria turns the alcohol into acetic acid.2 Acetic acid gives vinegar the strong smell and bitter taste!It is popular to add ACV to a glass of water, tea, or salad dressing to reap the health benefits. There are some health benefits but there are also some myths about ACV with no scientific evidence. 

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Load up on Antioxidants

By: Tania Menachegani Khachatourians, B.S., CSUN Dietetic Intern


Inside the human body, there is a constant battle to keep the “bad” out and keep the “good” in. Antioxidants are the “soldiers” that fight this battle inside our body.

What are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are substances that protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.1 Free radicals are substances that attack healthy cells and are produced through normal body functions including food consumption, breathing, exercise, and lifestyle choices.1 These are the “unstable molecules made by the process of oxidation during normal metabolism” that may play a role in cancer, stroke, and disease development.2 Free radicals damage cell components such as DNA, proteins, and the cell membrane.3 Free radicals may be increased through toxins found in cigarette smoke, metals, and high-oxygen atmospheres. Whether the antioxidants are naturally found in food or synthesized, they neutralize free radicals in the body and prevent or delay the cell damage.4

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What’s The Scoop On Gluten?

Bread Gluten

Image: Margouillat Photo/Shutterstock

By Maddie Hoeks, BS, CSUN Dietetic Intern

Gluten has become a very popular topic in the past couple of years, and has had quite an impact on diet culture in the United States. As of 2015, gluten free versions of foods have made around $1.6 billion in the market.1 Interestingly, the majority of these consumers were individuals who were not required to be on a gluten free diet for medical reasons.1 A market research study estimated that 30% of Americans either eliminated or reduced gluten from their diet.2 Though it is no question that gluten free products are highly valued and being sought after, what is of question is the consumer’s knowledge of what exactly gluten is, and what the gluten free diet is capable of, even more so, what it is not capable of. Continue reading

Protein Timing and Muscle Growth

Image: Seasontime/Shutterstock

By: Sophia A. Lopez, DTR, CSUN Dietetic Intern

The fitness world has blown up through social media. You can now easily access and follow any insta-famous trainer to learn their techniques on staying healthy within the realms of exercise and nutrition. However, it is difficult to know if the fitness celebrities you follow have enough experience to give appropriate fitness advice. Whether you associate yourself as an athlete, bodybuilder, powerlifter, crossfitter, or just a regular gym-goer, the mission for workout advice is generally the same: get stronger and stay in shape. Continue reading

What’s With All the Protein Powder Hype?

nutrition experts protein powder

Image: Room 76/Shutterstock

By: Joey Gerardi, M.S. in Human Nutrition Candidate, CSUN Dietetic Intern

I began my journey in fitness and nutrition over ten years ago when my father started bringing me with him to the gym. Although I have grown up an athlete, mostly playing soccer and baseball throughout my childhood, weightlifting brought a new joy and challenge to my life that I had never before experienced. I have realized throughout the years that the food and nutrients I put into my body are just as, if not more important than the work I put in at the gym. Utilizing protein in my diet has served as an extremely beneficial tool in assisting me to in achieve my health and fitness goals through these past ten years. Continue reading

Heart Health for Life

Heart Shaped Bowl

Image: udra11/shutterstock

By Sonia Ramirez-Rivera, BS, CSUN Dietetic Intern

As any doctor will tell you, taking care of your health is one of the most important things you can do in life. Eating well, exercise, and drinking plenty of water are all needed for health. What about taking of your heart? Not in an “achy breaky heart” as Billy Ray Cyrus may say when you heart is broken from you long lasting love, but in general taking care of your heart health. Continue reading

Foods for Brain Health

Brain shaped with fresh vegetables

Image: TijanaM/Shutterstock

By: Griseida Ruiz, DTR, CSUN Dietetic Intern

Our brain is one of the hardest working organs in our body. It is “on” every moment of the day, taking care of our thoughts, movements, breathing, and heartbeat. Until recently, it was believed that food could not influence the brain structure and its cognitive, intellectual and mental functions.1 However, new research has proven otherwise. While we experience a noticeable decline in our brain function with age, there is a lot we can do to prevent disease, protect it from oxidative damage and hinder the premature aging process. In the United States, Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death with over 5.7 million Americans living with it and that number expected to increase to 14 million by the year 2050.2 These statistics are alarming and although the amounts do not look promising, we each have the ability to do something to improve them. Eating foods high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants will ensure we do just that! Continue reading