Drinking more water can mean less calories for some kids

I’m trying to incorporate more water into my kids’ daily meals. What are some ways to encourage them to drink more water?

According to a new study released this week in JAMA Pediatrics, drinking more water and fewer sugary drinks is associated with lower caloric intake in kids, teens, and young adults.

The study, which was released Monday, was based on data collected from 8,400 youths ages 2–19 nationwide. The data was reported in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveysfrom 2011–2012 and from 2015–2016. The youths reported whether they drank water daily, and they reported the number of sugar-sweetened beverages they routinely drank.

The study found that about one in five of those youths said they didn’t drink any water on any given day. Skipping water was associated with drinking an extra 100 calories per day from sugary drinks including sports drinks, juices, and sodas, the researchers found.

While the study’s researchers say that the data doesn’t prove causality, they do recommend that children and young adults drink water daily to help avoid consuming extra calories from sugary drinks.

Another reason why water and other nonsugary drinks are the best options for kids and young adults is that sugary drinks have been linked to a host of health problems in both children and adults. Cavities, obesity, heart disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes have all been associated with the consumption of sugary drinks.

As such, the American Heart Association says that children and young adults shouldn’t consume more than 100 calories of added sugar per day. The group further recommends that children limit their consumption of sugary drinks to 8 ounces—less than one soda can—per week.

Also, according to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people should consume less than 10% of their daily calories from added sugars. That same source recommends that people either avoid sugar-sweetened drinks overall, or at the very least, limit the amount of sugary drinks they consume.

This is important considering that many youths are drinking too many sugary drinks on any given day. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics reports that about two-thirds of kids drink at least one sugary drink on any given day. Nearly 30% drink two or more sugary drinks per day, according to a January 2017 study.

So, how can you incorporate more nonsugary drinks such as water and milk into your children’s diets? Cincinnati Children’s Hospital offers these tips:

  • Limit their choices to water and milk.
  • Have water or milk readily available to drink.
  • Drink water or milk yourself. That way, your children will be more likely to do so as well.
  • Add fresh fruits such as lemons, oranges, strawberries, kiwi, blackberries, or blueberries to your children’s water. You can add the fruits to the water for taste or freeze them in ice cubes to put into the water.

Chow Line is a service of the The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Editor: This column was reviewed by Carol Smathers, field specialist in youth nutrition and wellness for Ohio State University Extension.

Hard-boiled eggs safer choice than soft-boiled eggs for Easter

I prefer the texture of soft-boiled eggs versus hard-boiled eggs. Is it OK to use soft-boiled eggs for dyeing Easter eggs?

Cooking time and degree of readiness of boiled eggs. Photo: Getty Images.

Well, that really depends on whether you plan to eat the Easter eggs or just use them for decoration.

Eggs are an important source of protein and are delicious to eat. However, they must be handled safely to prevent the chance of contracting a foodborne illness.

While it’s understandable that some people prefer the taste of soft-boiled eggs versus hard-boiled eggs, from a food safety standpoint, it is safer to use hard-boiled eggs for dyeing Easter eggs that you plan to eat. In fact, you should cook the eggs until both the yolk and the white are firm, not runny.

This is because eggs can contain salmonella, which is an organism that causes foodborne illness, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Salmonella can be found on both the outside and inside of eggs, and it can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and fever, which can last for a couple of days to a week, the USDA says.

The symptoms can be worse for people with weakened immune systems, young children, and older adults, and they can result in severe illness, including death, said Kate Shumaker, an Ohio State University Extension educator and registered dietitian. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

To help lessen your chances of developing a foodborne illness, it’s best to cook eggs before eating them, as cooking reduces the number of bacteria present in an egg. However, a lightly or softly cooked egg with a runny egg white or yolk poses a greater risk than a thoroughly or hard-cooked egg, the USDA says.

Lightly cooked egg whites and yolks have both caused outbreaks of salmonella infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s because partially cooking an egg can result in some harmful bacteria surviving the cooking process, which can cause illness.

Likewise, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates that 79,000 cases of foodborne illnesses and 30 deaths each year are caused by eating eggs contaminated with salmonella.

While the chances of foodborne illnesses are small, you still need to practice safe food handling when dealing with raw eggs in preparation for dyeing and eating Easter eggs,Shumaker said.

If you are making Easter eggs that will be eaten, it is important that you make sure the eggs are thoroughly cooked. This can be done by placing fresh eggs with intact shells—never use eggs with cracked shells—in a saucepan and covering them with at least 1 inch of water.

Cook the eggs until the yolks and whites are firm: Cooking times can vary based on the sizes of the eggs. Then, run cold water over the eggs and store them in the refrigerator until you are ready to decorate them.

Here are some other safety tips from the USDA to keep in mind:

  • Be sure to use only food-grade dye if you plan to eat the eggs you decorate.
  • The USDA recommends making two sets of eggs: one for decorating and hiding, and another for eating. You could also use plastic eggs for hiding.
  • If you plan to eat the eggs, after hard-boiling them, dye them and return them to the refrigerator within two hours.
  • If you plan to use the eggs for decorations and they will be out of the refrigerator for more than two hours, it’s best not to eat them.

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Editor:This column was reviewed by Kate Shumaker, OSU Extension educator and registered dietitian.

Springtime in Ohio is a good time for strawberries, asparagus, other in-season produce

Which fruits and vegetables are in season in the spring?

Strawberries and asparagus in an open air market. Photo: Getty Images.

Rain and bright sunny days make spring a good time to indulge in a wide range of plentiful produce such as asparagus, cabbage, kale, spinach, and strawberries. Not only are these items extremely fresh and flavorful because they’re currently in season, but they’re also widely discounted because of the abundance of supply based on this time of year.

Because fruits and vegetables grow in cycles and ripen during certain seasons, produce typically is fresher and tastes best when ripe. And while most fruits and vegetables are available to consumers year-round thanks to agricultural innovations, seasonal fruits and vegetables are typically cheaper to buy because they are easier to produce than fruits and vegetables that are grown out of season.

For example, the top advertised items on sale in local grocery stores this week were fruits, comprising 48% of all ads, and vegetables, accounting for 41% of all supermarket sale ads, according to the April 5edition of the National Retail Report, a weekly roundup of advertised retail pricing information compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

While this is not an all-inclusive list, generally speaking, the following produce (among others) is in season in Ohio during the spring, according to the Ohio Farm Bureau:

  • Asparagus
  • Cabbage
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Radishes
  • Rhubarb
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Turnip greens

While eating fruits and vegetables is an important part of a healthy diet, it’s also important to remember to incorporate food safety when preparing and eating them. This is because some raw fruits and vegetables can contain foodborne pathogens such as E. coli, listeria, and salmonella, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As such, nearly half of all foodborne diseases are caused by germs on fresh produce, the CDC says.

While cooking produce is one of the best ways to lessen the potential for developing a foodborne illness, here are some other tips from the CDC to keep in mind when choosing and consuming raw fruits and vegetables:

  • Always choose produce that isn’t bruised or damaged.
  • When shopping, choose pre-cut fruits and vegetables that are refrigerated or are kept on ice.
  • Keep fruits and vegetables separated from raw meat, poultry, and seafood in your shopping cart and in your grocery bags.
  • Wash or scrub fruits and vegetables under running water, even if you do not plan to eat the peel, so that dirt and germs on the surface do not get inside during slicing.
  • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating.
  • Refrigerate within two hours any fruits and vegetables that you have cut. Store them in a clean container at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.
  • Store fruits and vegetables away from, and not next to or below, raw meat, poultry, and seafood. These items can drip juices that might contain germs.
  • Use a separate cutting board for fruits and vegetables than what is used for cutting or preparing raw meats, poultry, or seafood.
  • Wash cutting boards, counter tops, and utensils with hot, soapy water before and after preparing fruits and vegetables.

Chow Line is a service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Editor: This column was reviewed by Shari Gallup, educator, family and consumer sciences, OSU Extension.

When to throw out moldy food

When is it ok to consume food that mold has grown on, and when should one throw the food away?

Photo: Getty Images.

That depends, in part, on the type of food.

First, it’s important to understand what mold is.

Mold and yeast are generally considered spoilage organisms, as they cause undesirable changes to the appearance, texture, smell, and taste of the product, explains Abigail Snyder, an assistant professor and food safety field specialist for The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

However, some instances of mold growth on food introduces food safety concerns, Snyder wrote in Mold Has Grown on Your Food: What Should You Do, a recent Ohioline fact sheet.

Ohioline is Ohio State University Extension’s free online information resource and can be found at ohioline.osu.edu. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of CFAES.

“Determining the difference between when food with mold growth should be discarded, or when the damaged portion can be removed and the rest of the food consumed, is the challenge,” she wrote. The specific food safety risk posed by mold growth varies by product.

Determining the specific food safety risk associated with mold growth in a given product is essential in determining what to do with the food. In some cases, there are concerns that mold might cause allergic reactions or illness due to mycotoxin production.

Generally speaking, canned food and beverages that have mold growth should be thrown out, while foods such as fermented vegetables, hard cheeses, hard meats, and firm vegetables can be eaten if you remove the molded portion of the food before consuming, Snyder said.

For example, in the case of canned food, the issue of mold is one of food safety.

Some molds will digest the acid in the canned product. This increases the pH levels of the canned food. This is important because some canned goods rely on acid to control the growth of Clostridium botulinum spores and to prevent botulism, she said

Mold in canned goods can also indicate incorrect heat processing, a poor vacuum, a weak seal, contamination along the jar rim, too little headspace, or under-processing of the food—all of which are potential concerns regarding the quality and safety of the product over its shelf life, Snyder said.

In beverages, mold growth can lead to mycotoxin formation, which diffuses through the product. Mold growth can occur when opened juice is left too long in the refrigerator, when coffee has been left out, or in canned juices due to growth of heat-resistant molds, for example. In these cases, the beverages should be thrown out.

In the case of mold on hard cheeses, hard meats, and firm vegetables, generally speaking, you can remove the molded portion of the food and use the rest of the product, she said.

“Some cheeses and dried meats utilize mold as part of their normal fermentation and development,” Snyder said. “As such, mold-ripened products are safe to consume.

“However, spoilage molds on soft cheeses that are not a part of manufacturing, such as blue mold growing on feta, should be discarded.”

If spoilage molds are found growing on hard cheeses such as cheddar; hard meats such as dry-cured salami; and firm vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, and peppers, then the affected portion can be cut off and the rest of the product consumed, she said.

“Be generous in determining how much of the affected portion to remove,” Snyder said. “You should cut at least 1 inch outside of where the mold is growing in order to remove all hyphae, which may not be visible.”

Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or turner.490@osu.edu.

Editor: This column was reviewed by Abigail Snyder, an assistant professor and food safety field specialist for CFAES.