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Back Clinic Diets. The sum of food consumed by any living organism. The word diet is the use of specific intake of nutrition for health or weight management. Food provides people with the necessary energy and nutrients to be healthy. By eating various healthy foods, including good quality vegetables, fruits, whole-grain products, and lean meats, the body can replenish itself with the essential proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals to function effectively.

Having a healthy diet is one of the best things to prevent and control various health problems, i.e., types of cancers, heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Dr. Alex Jimenez offers nutritional examples and describes the importance of balanced nutrition throughout this series of articles. In addition, Dr. Jimenez emphasizes how a proper diet combined with physical activity can help individuals reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, and ultimately promote overall health and wellness.

A Nutritional Overview of Sunflower Seeds

A Nutritional Overview of Sunflower Seeds

For individuals looking for a quick healthy snack, can adding sunflower seeds to one’s diet provide health benefits?

A Nutritional Overview of Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are the fruit of the sunflower plant. They have been found to contain antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which can help maintain immune system health, heart health, and more. Regularly grabbing a handful as a snack or adding to salads, oatmeal, baked goods, tuna salad, pasta, and vegetable toppings can help increase energy levels, reduce inflammation, and support general body health.


Sunflower seeds are beneficial for various bodily functions and protect against certain chronic health conditions. They can help with the following: (Bartholomew Saanu Adeleke, Olubukola Oluranti Babalola. 2020) (Ancuţa Petraru, Florin Ursachi, Sonia Amariei. 2021)


  • The seed’s high vitamin E value, combined with flavonoids and various plant compounds, can help reduce inflammation.
  • Research suggests that eating seeds at least five times a week may reduce inflammation and lower the risk of developing certain diseases. (Rui Jiang et al., 2006)

Heart Health

  • They are high in healthy fats, like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
  • Plant sterols, or the natural compounds in sunflower seeds, are recommended for their cholesterol-lowering properties. (University of Wisconsin Health. 2023)
  • Data show sunflower and other seeds consumption may lower rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.


  • The seeds contain vitamin B, selenium, and protein, which can help energize the body throughout the day.
  • These nutrients support blood circulation, oxygen delivery, and food conversion into energy.

Immune System Support

  • Sunflower seeds contain minerals and nutrients like zinc and selenium that help the body’s natural ability to defend against viruses and bacteria.
  • These minerals translate into benefits like immune cell maintenance, inflammation reduction, infection protection, and an overall increase in immunity.


Individuals don’t need to consume a lot of sunflower seeds to gain the nutritional benefits. Inside is a well-rounded mix of healthy fats, antioxidants, and other nutrients. Inside a 1-ounce portion of roasted sunflower seeds/without salt: (U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2018)

  • Calories – 165
  • Carbohydrates – 7 grams
  • Fiber – 3 grams
  • Sugar – 1 grams
  • Protein – 5.5 grams
  • Total fat – 14 grams
  • Sodium – 1 milligrams
  • Iron – 1 milligram
  • Vitamin E – 7.5 milligrams
  • Zinc – 1.5 milligrams
  • Folate – 67 micrograms

Female Health

  • When it comes to female reproductive health, there are aspects that the seeds may be able to help support.
  • The seed’s rich amounts of vitamin E, folate, phosphorus, and healthy fats are crucial for fetal development and maternal health.
  • In addition, the seeds’ phytochemicals can support digestion and the immune system, which can be beneficial during pregnancy. (National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. 2021)

Male Health

  • Sunflower seeds can help males acquire protein for muscle-building.
  • As an alternative to meat, these seeds contain a healthy amount of plant-based protein without the additional saturated fat or cholesterol of meat.
  • A handful provides this nutrient for those who don’t get the daily potassium requirement. (Ancuţa Petraru, Florin Ursachi, Sonia Amariei. 2021)

Shelled Seeds and Salt Intake

  • Sunflower seeds naturally do not contain high amounts of sodium, but they are often packaged with added salt that can potentially sabotage their nutritional benefits.
  • The shells are usually coated in salt for flavor, as much as 70 milligrams for every 1 ounce of seeds.
  • High in calories, individuals should consider moderating portions to one-quarter cup and eating the unsalted varieties. (U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2018)

Other Ways To Incorporate Seeds Into Meals

Other ways to add sunflower seeds to meals include:

  • Sprinkling them on chicken or a tuna salad.
  • Salad topping.
  • Topping for cereal and oatmeal.
  • Mixing them into batter for baked goods, like cookies.
  • Adding them to homemade or grocery store trail mix.
  • Grinding the seeds for a flour coating for meat or fish.
  • Sprinkling them into vegetable dishes, casseroles, stir-fries, and pasta.
  • Sunflower butter can be an alternative to peanut or other nut butters.

Sports Injury Rehabilitation


Adeleke, B. S., & Babalola, O. O. (2020). Oilseed crop sunflower (Helianthus annuus) as a source of food: Nutritional and health benefits. Food science & nutrition, 8(9), 4666–4684.

Petraru, A., Ursachi, F., & Amariei, S. (2021). Nutritional Characteristics Assessment of Sunflower Seeds, Oil and Cake. Perspective of Using Sunflower Oilcakes as a Functional Ingredient. Plants (Basel, Switzerland), 10(11), 2487.

Jiang, R., Jacobs, D. R., Jr, Mayer-Davis, E., Szklo, M., Herrington, D., Jenny, N. S., Kronmal, R., & Barr, R. G. (2006). Nut and seed consumption and inflammatory markers in the multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis. American journal of epidemiology, 163(3), 222–231.

University of Wisconsin Health. (2023). Health facts for you: Plant stanols and sterols.

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2018). Seeds, sunflower seed kernels, dry roasted, without salt.

National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. (2021). Vitamin E: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2018). Seeds, sunflower seed kernels, toasted, with salt added.

How to Choose the Right Protein Bars

How to Choose the Right Protein Bars

For individuals trying to make healthy lifestyle adjustments, can adding protein bars into their diet help achieve health goals?

How to Choose the Right Protein Bars

Protein Bar

Protein bars provide a quick energy boost between meals that can help curb appetite and avoid filling up on high-fat, sodium-packed snacks for individuals trying to lose weight. They can also increase calorie intake for individuals like athletes trying to increase muscle mass. Protein bars can vary in terms of factors like additives, calories, fat, sugars, and other ingredients. Labels need to be read carefully; otherwise, the bar can be more of a candy bar than a healthy, nutritious mini-meal or snack. It’s important to have a sense of how much protein is really needed each day, and the amount varies depending on individual factors.

How Much Protein Is Needed

Protein is vital to many body functions, but the body can’t produce this macronutrient, and it has to come from food. Dietary protein is broken down during digestion, and compounds known as amino acids are formed:

  • These are the building blocks the body uses to build and maintain muscles and organs.
  • It is vital to the production of blood, connective tissue, antibodies, enzymes, and hair. (Marta Lonnie, et al., 2018)
  • As protein is necessary for building muscle, athletes or individuals with physically demanding jobs are recommended to eat more.
  • The same is true of women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. (Trina V. Stephens, et al., 2015)
  • Bodybuilders eat even more protein than the average person to support muscle growth.

Protein Calculator


The richest sources of dietary protein include:

  • Meats
  • Poultry
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Milk and other dairy products

Plant sources include:

  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Whole grains

These are foods that are easy to include in a balanced diet, so eating a variety in ample quantities daily will equal the recommended amount of protein. Recommendations are to stick with those low in saturated fat and processed carbs and rich in nutrients. However, eating too much protein can cause kidney problems. Therefore, individuals who are predisposed to kidney disease are recommended to be careful over-protein intake. (Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh, Holly M. Kramer, Denis Fouque. 2020)

What To Look For

Incorporating protein bars into a diet, either as a between-meal snack, as a grab-and-go option when there is no time for a full meal, or as a part of a weight-loss or weight-gain strategy, individuals need to read and understand the ingredients on the different types of bars to choosing the healthiest options. Some general guidelines to consider:

Protein Content

  • For a between-meal or pre-post-workout snack, look for a bar with at least 20 grams of protein.
  • Meal replacement bars should have at least 30 grams of protein.
  • A less is more approach to these guidelines is recommended, as the body can digest only between 20 and 40 grams of protein in one sitting. (Brad Jon Schoenfeld, Alan Albert Aragon. 2018)

Protein Type

  • The protein usually comes from dairy or plant sources.
  • The most common include eggs, milk, rice, whey, soy, peas, and hemp.
  • Individuals with allergies or sensitivities need to choose a bar that is comprised of a type of protein that is safe to eat.


  • For a bar to eat between meals, recommendations are those with around 220 to 250 calories.
  • A protein bar that substitutes for a full meal can have 300 to 400 calories.


  • Ten to 15 grams of total fat and no more than two grams of saturated fat is ideal.
  • Steer clear of unhealthy trans fats found in partially hydrogenated oils.


  • Fiber is filling, so the more fiber, the more likely it is to keep hunger satisfied until the next snack or meal.
  • It is recommended to choose those that contain more than three to five grams of fiber.


  • Some protein bars have just as much sugar content as candy bars.
  • Some have as much as 30 grams of added sugar.
  • The ideal amount is around five grams or less.
  • Artificial sweeteners like erythritol, sorbitol, and maltitol are not better options as they can cause bloating and gas.

It is recommended to work with a nutritionist to figure out the most effective type so that they can be incorporated into an individual’s diet to achieve and maintain health goals.

Nutrition Fundamentals


Lonnie, M., Hooker, E., Brunstrom, J. M., Corfe, B. M., Green, M. A., Watson, A. W., Williams, E. A., Stevenson, E. J., Penson, S., & Johnstone, A. M. (2018). Protein for Life: Review of Optimal Protein Intake, Sustainable Dietary Sources and the Effect on Appetite in Ageing Adults. Nutrients, 10(3), 360.

Stephens, T. V., Payne, M., Ball, R. O., Pencharz, P. B., & Elango, R. (2015). Protein requirements of healthy pregnant women during early and late gestation are higher than current recommendations. The Journal of nutrition, 145(1), 73–78.

Arentson-Lantz, E., Clairmont, S., Paddon-Jones, D., Tremblay, A., & Elango, R. (2015). Protein: A nutrient in focus. Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism = Physiologie appliquee, nutrition et metabolisme, 40(8), 755–761.

Kalantar-Zadeh, K., Kramer, H. M., & Fouque, D. (2020). High-protein diet is bad for kidney health: unleashing the taboo. Nephrology, dialysis, transplantation : official publication of the European Dialysis and Transplant Association – European Renal Association, 35(1), 1–4.

Schoenfeld, B. J., & Aragon, A. A. (2018). How much protein can the body use in a single meal for muscle-building? Implications for daily protein distribution. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 15, 10.

The Benefits of Eating Onions – A Comprehensive Guide

The Benefits of Eating Onions – A Comprehensive Guide

For individuals looking to maintain wellness or begin their wellness journey like increasing antioxidants, protection against cancer, immune system support and other health benefits, can adding onions be a nutritious way to improve overall health?

The Benefits of Eating Onions - A Comprehensive Guide


Onions are nutritious vegetables like garlic, chives, leeks, and shallots. The most common types are red, white, yellow, and Spanish onions. They have antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and other healthful properties.

  • Whichever way they are prepared they do lose some of their nutritional value when cooked.
  • They contain flavonoids, glutathione, selenium compounds, vitamin E, and vitamin C.
  • When selecting onions, look for those without blemishes or discoloration, that are firm, and have dry, papery skins.


They contain phytochemicals – compounds plants produce to fight off harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi. These phytochemicals provide health benefits when consumed and provide the following properties: (Xin-Xin Zhao, et al., 2021)

  • Anti-obesity
  • Antioxidants
  • Antidiabetic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antimicrobial
  • Anticancer
  • Protect the cardiovascular, digestive, respiratory, reproductive, and neurological systems.
  • Protect against liver disease.
  • Support a healthy immune system.

Types and Varieties

They belong to the Allium plant genus which includes plants like garlic, leeks, and chives. (Oregon State University. 2022)

  • They vary in flavor and can be sweet, tangy, and sour.
  • Different varieties combined with farming practices contribute to the flavor profile of onions.
  • There are many varieties of onions.
  • The most common and widely available are red, white, yellow, and Spanish.
  • Other types include cipollini, pearl, and Vidalia.

Raw or Cooked

They are beneficial whether eaten raw or cooked, cooking them reduces the number of thiosulfinates – compounds that provide antimicrobial, antifungal, and antibiotic properties.

  • Research shows that onions that are crushed before cooking retain their health benefits. (Holly L. Nicastro, et al., 2015)
  • Boiling and frying onions has been shown to cause the most significant loss in nutritious value.
  • Other preparation methods that decrease health benefits include sautéing, steaming, and microwaving.
  • Baking onions is shown to increase flavonoid levels.
  • Consuming dried, powdered onions can also provide nutritious value to foods, especially if the powder is freeze-dried. (Damini Kothari, et al., 2020)

Nutrition Facts

Onions can contribute to a healthy diet. The flavonoids, glutathione, selenium compounds, vitamin E, and vitamin C, contribute to the antioxidant properties of the vegetable. (Holly L. Nicastro, et al., 2015) The nutrition information for one medium onion: (U.S. Department of Agriculture. N.D.)

  • Total calories: 44
  • Total fat: 0 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 10 grams
  • Dietary fiber: 2 grams
  • Total sugars: 5 grams
  • Protein: 1 grams
  • Calcium: 2 milligrams
  • Sodium: 4 milligrams
  • Iron: 1 milligrams
  • Vitamin D: 0 micrograms

When Selecting

Onions can contain pesticide residue, heavy metals, microbial contamination, and nitrate accumulation. Knowing where the onions come from can help ensure there was no incorrect use of pesticides or that the soil they were grown in was not enriched with heavy metals. When possible, purchase from reputable sources with transparent farming practices, like the farmers markets. (Xin-Xin Zhao, et al., 2021)

  • Onions found in environments that have not been effectively sterilized have an increased risk of growing harmful bacteria.
  • To avoid contamination of Escherichia. coli or E. coli, salmonella, and mold, it’s safest to purchase whole onions and cut them at home rather than purchasing pre-chopped onions. (Xin-Xin Zhao, et al., 2021)
  • Select those that feel firm, have little to no bruises or discolored spots, and have dry papery skin.
  • Avoid those that show evidence of mold, like white or black spots on the surface or inside the layers, and those with green shoots, which means the onion is still edible but won’t last that long.

Hypertension Diet


Zhao, X. X., Lin, F. J., Li, H., Li, H. B., Wu, D. T., Geng, F., Ma, W., Wang, Y., Miao, B. H., & Gan, R. Y. (2021). Recent Advances in Bioactive Compounds, Health Functions, and Safety Concerns of Onion (Allium cepa L.). Frontiers in nutrition, 8, 669805.

Oregon State University. Types of onions and varieties.

Nicastro, H. L., Ross, S. A., & Milner, J. A. (2015). Garlic and onions: their cancer prevention properties. Cancer prevention research (Philadelphia, Pa.), 8(3), 181–189.

Kothari, D., Lee, W. D., & Kim, S. K. (2020). Allium Flavonols: Health Benefits, Molecular Targets, and Bioavailability. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 9(9), 888.

U.S. Department of Agriculture. Onions.

Boost Gut Microbes With Avocado for Optimal Health

Boost Gut Microbes With Avocado for Optimal Health

Individuals need to eat more fiber for optimal gut health. Can adding avocado to their diet help improve the gut microbe diversity?

Boost Gut Microbes With Avocado for Optimal Health

Avocado Gut Support

A diverse gut microbiome is beneficial to overall health. According to a recent study, eating one avocado a day can help maintain the gut microbes healthy, diverse, and balanced. (Sharon V. Thompson, et al., 2021) The researchers observed positive changes in gut bacteria and increased bacterial diversity in individuals who consumed an avocado every day for 12 weeks. (Susanne M Henning, et al., 2019)

Gut Diversity

The gut microbiome refers to the microorganisms living in the intestines. There are around 100 trillion microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and more, exist in the gastrointestinal tract. (Ana M. Valdes, et al., 2018) Having a diverse microbiome means that the body has a range of different organisms that offer various health benefits. Not having enough bacterial diversity has been linked to: (Ana M. Valdes, et al., 2018)

  • Arthritis
  • Obesity
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Celiac disease
  • Arterial stiffness
  • Atopic eczema

Why Avocados?

  • The Institute of Medicine recommends a daily fiber intake ranging from 19 grams to 38 grams per day, depending on various factors like age. (Diane Quagliani, Patricia Felt-Gunderson. 2016)
  • Approximately 95% of adults and children do not consume the recommended amount of fiber. (Diane Quagliani, Patricia Felt-Gunderson. 2016)
  • Including foods like avocados in a healthy diet can help meet daily fiber requirements.
  • Fruit fiber like pectin, has been shown to promote a healthy gut microbiome as well. (Beukema M, et al., 2020)
  • Researchers suggest this could be because of pectin’s positive effect on beneficial probiotics.(Nadja Larsen, et al., 2018)
  • Although further research is needed fiber is believed to help protect the lining of the colon by increasing the bulk and weight of stool and expediting elimination.
  • Fiber also adds bulk to an individual’s diet and slows the speed of digestion, which makes the body feel fuller longer.

Improved Gut

Individuals can support a healthy microbiota by making small adjustments in their diet, including:

  • Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables with the skin, as this is where a majority of the nutrition is.
  • Fermented foods like yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir.
  • Limiting consumption of processed foods, sugar, and artificial sweeteners.
  • More whole-grain foods.

Ways to eat more avocados include adding them to:

  • Smoothies
  • Salads
  • Sandwichs
  • Guacamole
  • If there are more avocados that can be eaten before they overripen, they can be frozen.
  • Peel and slice them first, then place them in freezer bags to have year-round.
  • They are rich in healthy fat, however, in moderation, they are not likely to contribute to weight gain.

Individuals can work toward having a diverse gut microbiome by paying attention to the foods they eat. Specific foods and dietary patterns can influence the different types of bacterial diversity which can support health.

Smart Choices, Better Health


Thompson, S. V., Bailey, M. A., Taylor, A. M., Kaczmarek, J. L., Mysonhimer, A. R., Edwards, C. G., Reeser, G. E., Burd, N. A., Khan, N. A., & Holscher, H. D. (2021). Avocado Consumption Alters Gastrointestinal Bacteria Abundance and Microbial Metabolite Concentrations among Adults with Overweight or Obesity: A Randomized Controlled Trial. The Journal of nutrition, 151(4), 753–762.

Henning, S. M., Yang, J., Woo, S. L., Lee, R. P., Huang, J., Rasmusen, A., Carpenter, C. L., Thames, G., Gilbuena, I., Tseng, C. H., Heber, D., & Li, Z. (2019). Hass Avocado Inclusion in a Weight-Loss Diet Supported Weight Loss and Altered Gut Microbiota: A 12-Week Randomized, Parallel-Controlled Trial. Current developments in nutrition, 3(8), nzz068.

Valdes, A. M., Walter, J., Segal, E., & Spector, T. D. (2018). Role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 361, k2179.

Quagliani, D., & Felt-Gunderson, P. (2016). Closing America’s Fiber Intake Gap: Communication Strategies From a Food and Fiber Summit. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 11(1), 80–85.

Beukema, M., Faas, M. M., & de Vos, P. (2020). The effects of different dietary fiber pectin structures on the gastrointestinal immune barrier: impact via gut microbiota and direct effects on immune cells. Experimental & molecular medicine, 52(9), 1364–1376.

Larsen, N., Cahú, T. B., Isay Saad, S. M., Blennow, A., & Jespersen, L. (2018). The effect of pectins on survival of probiotic Lactobacillus spp. in gastrointestinal juices is related to their structure and physical properties. Food microbiology, 74, 11–20.

A Guide to Food Substitutions: Making Healthy Choices

A Guide to Food Substitutions: Making Healthy Choices

“For individuals looking to improve their quality of life, can substituting healthy meal ingredients be a simple step toward better health?”

Food Substitutions

Food Substitutions

Eating well does not mean having to give up favorite foods. Part of the enjoyment of home cooking is putting one’s own style on each dish. Individuals soon discover they prefer healthy food substitutions to the original high-fat, high-sugar, or high-sodium ingredients. Healthy swaps can be introduced gradually to allow the taste buds to adapt. It is possible to reduce:

  • Calories
  • Unhealthy fats
  • Sodium
  • Refined sugars

Simply making smart swaps that replace some ingredients with more beneficial ones.

Ingredients for Healthier Meals

Recipes are the sum of their parts. A dish made with multiple ingredients adds its own nutrition for healthy or unhealthy. Ingredients high in calories, saturated fat, added sugars, and/or sodium can make a dish less nutritious. By making strategic food substitutions, individuals can transform a high-calorie, high-fat, sugary dish into something more nutritious. When done regularly this adjustment leads to long-term healthy behavior changes. Making small adjustments leads to improvements in weight management, heart health, and risk of chronic diseases.

Substituting Unhealthy Fats and Oils

  1. Instead of baking with butter, try using applesauce, mashed avocados, or mashed bananas.
  2. These plant-based alternatives don’t overload the body with saturated fat.
  3. Try using half butter and half an alternative to cut calories and fats.
  4. For cooking, try sautéing, roasting, or pan-frying in olive or avocado oil.
  5. Both contain healthy monounsaturated fats.
  6. These oils can be used for dipping bread with dinner or for a quick snack.
  7. Fresh herbs or a dash of balsamic vinegar can add flavor.

Refined Sugars

Enjoying sweets can be healthy, but the objective is to be mindful of how much-refined sugar is consumed. Sweet flavors send signals to the reward centers in the brain, increasing positive associations with sugar. However, eating high amounts of sugar can lead to:

Try to control how much sugar goes in.

  1. Consider incrementally scaling back on sugar in baked goods by adding three-fourths or half of the sugar.
  2. Try using fresh fruit as a natural sweetener.
  3. Mashed dates add caramel-like flavor without spiking blood sugar like white sugar.
  4. Maple syrup is another alternative.
  5. Experiment with options and combinations to keep refined sugars to a minimum.
  6. For soda or other sweetened beverages, consider going half with sparkling water and soda or juice.
  7. Sweeten water with fruit by steeping it in an infusion pitcher or bottle.


Salt is another common excess in an individual diet. Sodium contributes to high rates of elevated blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

  • The CDC offers tips on how reducing sodium can improve health. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2018)
  • An array of other herbs and spices can amplify the flavor of meals.
  • Purchase or create various flavor blends.
  • For example, cumin, chili powder, oregano, and red pepper flakes can spice up a dish or a blend of thyme, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder can add savory notes.
  • A study found that adding lemon juice to recipes could reduce sodium content and add tanginess. (Sunkist Growers. 2014)

Whole Grains

Individuals don’t have to choose brown rice or whole wheat pasta for every meal but try to select whole grains half of the time. Food substitutions that can help achieve the halfway point include:

  • Popcorn or whole wheat crackers instead of refined flour crackers.
  • Whole wheat pizza crust instead of regular crust.
  • Substitute brown rice for white in stir-fries or casseroles.
  • Oatmeal instead of refined grain cereal.
  • Whole wheat pasta for spaghetti and meatballs or other pasta dishes.
  • Quinoa as a side dish instead of white rice or couscous.

More whole grains equals more fiber and B vitamins to help sustain energy, prevent blood sugar spikes, and promote digestive health. Eating more whole grains has been linked with a reduced risk of heart disease (Caleigh M Sawicki, et al. 2021) and a lower risk of colon cancer. (Glenn A. Gaesser. 2020)

Finding the right combination of each of these substitutions takes time. Go slow and taste often to see how each substitution affects a recipe’s taste and texture.

Boost Metabolism


Zong, G., Li, Y., Wanders, A. J., Alssema, M., Zock, P. L., Willett, W. C., Hu, F. B., & Sun, Q. (2016). Intake of individual saturated fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease in US men and women: two prospective longitudinal cohort studies. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 355, i5796.

American Heart Association. Saturated fat.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Different dietary fat, different risk of mortality.

Faruque, S., Tong, J., Lacmanovic, V., Agbonghae, C., Minaya, D. M., & Czaja, K. (2019). The Dose Makes the Poison: Sugar and Obesity in the United States – a Review. Polish journal of food and nutrition sciences, 69(3), 219–233.

Harvard Health Publishing. The sweet danger of sugar.

American Heart Association. How much sugar is too much?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How to Reduce Sodium Intake.

Sunkist Growers. Sunkist Growers and Chefs from Johnson & Wales University Release New S’alternative® Research.

Sawicki, C. M., Jacques, P. F., Lichtenstein, A. H., Rogers, G. T., Ma, J., Saltzman, E., & McKeown, N. M. (2021). Whole- and Refined-Grain Consumption and Longitudinal Changes in Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in the Framingham Offspring Cohort. The Journal of nutrition, 151(9), 2790–2799.

Gaesser G. A. (2020). Whole Grains, Refined Grains, and Cancer Risk: A Systematic Review of Meta-Analyses of Observational Studies. Nutrients, 12(12), 3756.

Peanut Butter Sandwich Alternatives

Peanut Butter Sandwich Alternatives

For individuals with peanut allergies, can finding a peanut alternative be as satisfying as a real creamy or crunchy peanut butter sandwich?

Peanut Butter Sandwich Alternatives

Peanut Butter Sandwich Alternatives

For individuals who are unable to have a peanut butter sandwich due to an allergy, there are healthy satisfying alternatives. Tree nut butter, seed butter, and deli meats can all satisfy sandwich cravings and provide nutrition. Here are a few healthy, nutritious alternatives to try out:

Sunflower Seed Butter and Jam, Jelly, or Preserves

Ham and Cheese, Grainy Mustard on Rye Bread

  • Getting ham and cheese from the deli can potentially have cross-contamination with allergens during slicing and packaging.
  • Prepackaged and sliced ham and cheese is a safer bet in terms of allergens.
  • It is recommended to read the ingredient label for potential allergens, as processing in facilities can have cross-contamination issues. (William J. Sheehan, et al., 2018)

Turkey, Tomato, Lettuce, and Hummus on Whole Grain Bread

  • The same is true for turkey and is recommended to buy prepackaged and sliced.
  • Check the ingredients for possible allergens.
  • Hummus is made from chickpeas/garbanzo beans and tahini/ground sesame seeds.
  • Hummus comes in a variety of flavors that can be used as a dip or spread.
  • Although chick peas’ are a member of the legume family, hummus can be tolerated with peanut allergies. (Mathias Cousin, et al., 2017)
  • Check with a healthcare provider if unsure.

Pita Pocket with Salad and Hummus

  • Pita pockets are great with hummus stuffed with vegetables.
  • This is a delicious crunchy pocket sandwich loaded with protein, fiber vitamins, and minerals.

Soy Butter and Banana Slices on Whole Wheat Bread

  • Soy butter is a popular alternative to peanut butter. (Kalyani Gorrepati, et al., 2014)
  • Made from soybeans, the butter is full of fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
  • The butter can be spread on whole wheat bread and topped with banana slices for breakfast or lunch.

Tahini Sesame Seed Butter On A Roll with Shredded Broccoli and Carrots

  • Tahini is made from sesame seeds.
  • It can be spread on a roll with shredded broccoli and carrots for a healthy crunchy, fiber-rich, protein-filled sandwich.

Almond Butter and Sliced Apples

  • Try a non-sandwich option for lunch or as a snack.
  • This butter is made from almonds, which are tree nuts.
  • Almond butter is rich in fiber, vitamin E, and healthy fats.
  • Almonds contain the most nutrients per calorie of tree nuts. (Almond Board of California. 2015)

Cashew Butter on an English Muffin with Raisins

  • This butter is made from cashews, a tree nut, so it is safe for individuals with peanut allergies but not for individuals with nut allergies. (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. 2020)
  • Cashew butter on a hot English muffin with raisins on top for a boost of iron is reminiscent of a cinnamon roll.

Pumpkin Seed Butter and Honey Sandwich

  • Pumpkin butter is made from the orange flesh of the pumpkin.
  • Pumpkin seed butter is made by roasting pumpkin seeds and grinding them to a butter consistency.
  • The seed butter can be spread on bread and drizzled with some honey on top for a nutritious and delicious snack.

There are tasty healthy peanut butter alternatives that can be mixed, matched, and reinvented into various satisfying sandwiches. Individuals are recommended to consult their healthcare provider or a dietician or nutritionist to find what works for them.

Smart Choices, Better Health


Lavine, E., & Ben-Shoshan, M. (2015). Allergy to sunflower seed and sunflower butter as a proposed vehicle for sensitization. Allergy, asthma, and clinical immunology: Official Journal of the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 11(1), 2.

U.S. Department of Agriculture: FoodData Central. Seeds, sunflower seed butter, with salt added (Includes foods for USDA’s Food Distribution Program).

Sheehan, W. J., Taylor, S. L., Phipatanakul, W., & Brough, H. A. (2018). Environmental Food Exposure: What Is the Risk of Clinical Reactivity From Cross-Contact and What Is the Risk of Sensitization. The journal of allergy and clinical immunology. In practice, 6(6), 1825–1832.

Gorrepati, K., Balasubramanian, S., & Chandra, P. (2015). Plant-based butters. Journal of food science and technology, 52(7), 3965–3976.

Cousin, M., Verdun, S., Seynave, M., Vilain, A. C., Lansiaux, A., Decoster, A., & Sauvage, C. (2017). Phenotypical characterization of peanut-allergic children with differences in cross-allergy to tree nuts and other legumes. Pediatric allergy and immunology: Official publication of the European Society of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, 28(3), 245–250.

Almond Board of California. Nutrient comparison chart for tree nuts.

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Everything you need to know about a tree nut allergy.

Food Energy Density: EP Back Clinic

Food Energy Density: EP Back Clinic

The brain and body need macronutrients that include carbohydrates, fats, and protein in the right amounts to energize the body. About half of the calories should come from carbohydrates, 30% from fat, and 20% from protein. Food energy density is the amount of energy, represented by the number of calories, in a specific weight measurement.

Food Energy Density: EP's Functional Chiropractic Team

Food Energy Density

Energy density is determined by the proportion of macronutrients – protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, and water.

  • Energy-dense foods are high in calories per serving.
  • Foods with large amounts of fiber and water have a lower density.
  • Foods high in fat have an increased energy density.
  • An example of a high-energy-density food is a donut because of the high-calorie count from the sugar, fat, and small serving size.
  • An example of a low-energy-density food is spinach because it only has a few calories in a whole plate of raw spinach leaves.

Energy Dense Foods

Energy-dense foods contain a high number of calories/energy per gram. They are typically higher in fat and lower in water. Examples of energy-dense foods include:

  • Full-fat dairy
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Nut butter
  • Fatty cuts of meat
  • Starchy vegetables
  • Thick sauces
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

Less nutrient-dense foods include:

  • Sweets
  • Deep-fried foods
  • French fries
  • Pasta
  • Crackers
  • Chips

Foods like soups and beverages can be either high or low energy density depending on the ingredients. Broth-based soups with vegetables usually have low density while creamed soups are energy-dense. Non-fat milk is less dense than regular milk, and diet soda is less dense than regular soda.

Low Energy Dense Foods

  • Foods with low energy density include high-fiber green and colorful vegetables.
  • Foods with low energy density are often nutrient-dense, which means they have plenty of nutrients per serving size.
  • Many fruits, berries, and vegetables are low in calories, high in fiber, and packed with vitamins and minerals.
  • Foods high in water content like citrus fruits and melons are usually less energy-dense.
  • Low-calorie foods often have a low energy density, but not always.
  • It’s important to read nutrition labels to know how many calories are being provided daily.

Weight Management

  • Weight management is about watching how many calories are taken in and how many calories are burned.
  • Filling up on foods with low energy density will cause the body to feel satisfied while eating fewer high-density calories.
  • Plan all meals so they include foods with a low energy density and high in nutrients.
  • However, the opposite can happen if individuals eat mostly low-energy-dense foods, will need a larger volume of food to fill up, and as a result, will take in more calories.
  • This is not ideal for losing weight, but it could be helpful if trying to gain weight.
  • High-energy-dense foods that are nutritious include avocados, nuts, and seeds.

Adjustment Recommendations

Add More Fruits and Vegetables To The Plate

  • At least half of a plate should be covered with low-calorie fruits and vegetables.
  • Berries are sweet and delicious and provide antioxidants
  • Leave a quarter of the plate for the protein, and the remaining quarter can hold a serving of starchy foods like pasta, potatoes, or rice.
  • Eating more fruits and vegetables will partially fill the body leading to eating less high-energy-dense foods.
  • Picky eaters should try various recipes, sooner or later, they will discover something they enjoy.

Start With Salad or a Bowl of Clear Broth Soup

  • Soups and salads will fill the body before the main energy-dense course like pasta, pizza, or another high-calorie food.
  • Avoid heavy cream-based salad dressings and creamed soups.
  • Water has zero calories and drinking a few glasses can help suppress the hunger until the next meal, or a low-density snack.

From Consultation to Transformation


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