Cognition

Two important nutrients for brain health and cognition are found in eggs: choline and lutein. Choline plays a role in early brain development during pregnancy and infancy, particularly in areas of the brain that are used for memory and learning. Lutein has long been associated with eye health but research has discovered lutein’s role in cognition as well. For example:

  • Researchers at the University of Illinois published two studies looking at the relationship between brain lutein, as measured using a non-invasive eye test called Macular Pigment Optical Density (MPOD), and cognition in children. They found that MPOD concentration was positively associated with academic performance.
  • The American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates recommended the addition of choline to prenatal vitamins because of its essentiality in promoting cognitive development of the offspring.
  • There is evidence that infants exposed to higher levels of maternal choline (930 mg/day) during the third trimester have improved information processing speed during the first year of life, an indicator of cognition and intelligence.

Foods and My Baby: Perspectives from a Pregnant Mom

NCU Oct 2017 Editorial Website Image

Featured article in the Fall 2017 Issue of Nutrition Close-Up; written by Rachel Bassler, RDN, CSSD, LDN

Most pregnant women are bombarded with health and nutrition information via handouts from their doctor, advice from friends and family, or pregnancy smartphone apps (confession: I have three). Many times, information is geared towards what foods to avoid like raw meat, fish with mercury, unpasteurized cheeses and alcohol. While this information is extremely important for the health and safety of both mother and baby, it’s also crucial to focus on foods and nutrients that are beneficial during pregnancy.

Continue reading “Foods and My Baby: Perspectives from a Pregnant Mom”

Healthy Aging Month

Healthy Aging Blog Post

September is Healthy Aging Month, a time to focus on the positive aspects of growing older and encourage responsibility for one’s health (physical, social, mental and financial). One way to promote healthy aging is through sound nutrition. Following a balanced diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein can help prolong a healthy life. Additionally, some foods contain specific nutrients that have been shown to benefit older adults. Continue reading “Healthy Aging Month”

School Nutrition Professionals Think Outside the Shell

Donna Martin, EdS, RD, LD, SNS and Director School Nutrition Program for the Burke County Board of Education, and I spoke to a group of energetic school nutrition professionals at the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) Annual National Conference (ANC) last week. The room was at capacity with 240 people coming to hear our talk, “Thinking Outside the Shell for Exceptional School Meals and Performance” (sorry to those who couldn’t fit in the room).

How exactly do you think outside of the shell? Start with breakfast, of course! I started out by talking about the new nutrition standards for school meals. In addition, I reviewed the fact that childhood hunger is prevalent, and that if children miss breakfast, it can be hard for them to make up key vitamins and minerals the rest of the day.

Donna went on to explain her efforts with the program providing breakfast in the classroom in her district. She has been very successful in her Georgia schools. Below are some key points from her presentation.

How does breakfast in the classroom affect student performance?

  • More positive attitude towards school
  • Less likely to be tardy
  • Less likely to miss class
  • Improved math and reading scores
  • Fewer reported  discipline problems

What makes a great breakfast for schools?

  • Offers a variety of foods students like
  • Easy to prepare
  • Increases participation
  • Meets National School Breakfast Guidelines
  • Affordable to produce

Donna also showed many photos of breakfast successes, like Sunny Face Eggs (above), and the audience had wonderful questions regarding implementing breakfast in the classroom.

SNA ANC was a great experience. I was able to sit in on sessions and see what school nutrition professionals were doing to improve school meals even more. Plus, the exhibit hall was full of products to sample that met the new school nutrition guidelines. I was able to try a Homestyle French Toast that used eggs to provide 1 meat/meat alternative as well as 1 grain from whole wheat flour.