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Think Healthy Thursday: Veggiecation

veggiecationEveryone needs a good advocate! Vegetables seem to have a great advocate in Veggication – a website and program that strives to…

promote and educate communities on the health benefits of vegetables and how to prepare them in simple, unique, affordable, and most importantly, delicious ways.

We ran across it recently and were very impressed. It started with one person – certified nutritionist and school food specialist – with a drive to help kids learn about nutrition. The program includes a range of services such as presentations, curricular materials and app!

Our favorite part of the website is the recipe section. Who can turn down a Shamrock Smoothie as a way to fit a little extra kale and bananas into your diet.

Think Healthy Thursday: Want to reduce heart attacks? Think Mediterranean

mediterranean posterWe have some unusual and pretty positive news to share from a recent report highlighted in The New York Times

About 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented in people at high risk if they switch to a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables, and even drink wine with meals, a large and rigorous new study has found.

It’s a potential game changer for folk in high risk categories. The results were recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine of a study that tracked 7,447 people in Spain who were overweight, were smokers, or had diabetes or other risk factors for heart disease to follow the Mediterranean diet or a low-fat one…

One group assigned to a Mediterranean diet was given extra-virgin olive oil each week and was instructed to use at least 4 four tablespoons a day. The other group got a combination of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts and was instructed to eat about an ounce of the mix each day. An ounce of walnuts, for example, is about a quarter cup — a generous handful. The mainstays of the diet consisted of at least three servings a day of fruits and at least two servings of vegetables. Participants were to eat fish at least three times a week and legumes, which include beans, peas and lentils, at least three times a week. They were to eat white meat instead of red, and, for those accustomed to drinking, to have at least seven glasses of wine a week with meals.

They were encouraged to avoid commercially made cookies, cakes and pastries and to limit their consumption of dairy products and processed meats.

The scientists were measuring basic results: heart attacks and strokes and death. Again the New York Times reports…

The study ended early, after almost five years, because the results were so clear it was considered unethical to continue.

At Learning ZoneXpress, we’re pleased to report that we’ve been fans of the Mediterranean diet for a while now. In fact we have a colorful poster that promotes and explains the Mediterranean Diet. It’s a great addition to a lunchroom, classroom, staff room – even a Mediterranean Restaurant!

Think Healthy Thursday: Breakfast Week Party

Before work this morning, the Learning ZoneXpress team gathered for a breakfast potluck in honor of Breakfast Week. Complete with baked oatmeal, egg bake, fresh fruit and more, our breakfast energized and prepared us for a full and fun work day! How are you celebrating this week? Send photos of your celebration to, and we’ll share them on our blog and send you a gift!

If you’re looking for celebration ideas, check out our last blog post “Celebrate Breakfast Week with Free Activities from FreeMyPlate” for free downloadable breakfast activities to share with your children, students, clients or friends!

National School Breakfast Week with Learning ZoneXpress

Supporting Worksite Wellness – HealthSource Solutions

Wellness is at the center of living a quality and productive life. By spending time with others who share in this belief and support healthy behaviors, wellness can become a natural way of life for everyone!

People spend a significant amount of time at the workplace and companies who create a culture around wellness see employees who are healthier, happier and more productive. An environment that supports healthy behaviors creates healthy people. A strategic wellness plan will improve employee wellness and companies can play a significant role in helping employees’ live healthy lives!

The HealthSource Solutions team is dedicated to helping companies create a culture of wellness. They offer health awareness programs and services and help companies support employees in achieving a healthy lifestyle. HealthSource Solutions understands the value of employee wellness. The solutions they offer help impact company healthcare costs. By reducing health risk factors, a reduction in costs tends to follow.

The HealthSource Solutions team practices what they preach. In October of 2012, they piloted their newest behavior change campaign, Stand Up For Health. The goal of the program is to decrease sitting time and increase standing time. The program really changed the way they work! Some invested in an adjustable device for their computers, allowing them to elevate or lower their work station throughout the day, while most just rustled up some cardboard boxes to plunk monitor, keyboard and mouse on, creating a make-shift standing work station. The results: more energy, better concentration and an improved feeling of well being overall. Even when the program ended, everyone continued the new standing habits!

Check out the HealthSource Solutions website to see what services and programs are best suited for your work environment.

Think Healthy Thursday: Seasonal Affective Disorder and Vitamin D

super foodsWe are celebrating the fact that the days are stretching – but in Minnesota nights still seem long and cold. Many of us are feeling the drag ofso much darkness – some more than others. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can take its toll at this time of year. According to Wikipedia, SAD…

is a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or summer, spring or autumn year after year. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), SAD is not a unique mood disorder, but is “a specifier of major depression”

Wikipedia also details symptoms…

Symptoms of SAD may consist of difficulty waking up in the morning, morning sickness, tendency to oversleep and over eat, especially a craving for carbohydrates, which leads to weight gain. Other symptoms include a lack of energy, difficulty concentrating on or completing tasks, and withdrawal from friends, family, and social activities and decreased sex drive. All of this leads to depression, pessimistic feelings of hopelessness, and lack of pleasure which characterize a person suffering from this disorder.People who experience spring and summer depression show symptoms of classic depression including insomnia, anxiety, irritability, decreased appetite, weight loss, social withdrawal, decreased sex drive  and suicide.

I think many of us feel some of those symptoms, whether we feel we have SAD or not. It turns out there’s a nutritional answer to help ward against and alleviate SAD – Vitamin D. A study out of The Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore compared the results of vitamin D and light therapy and found that vitamin D was better at warding off depression.

According to WebMD (via the Huffington Post) there are only a handful of foods that contain the nutrient naturally, which is part of the reason why only about 20 percent of our vitamin D comes from our diet. And apparently most of the vitamin D that we do get from the foods we eat comes from fortified foods, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements, like orange juice, milk and cereal. But there are some natural food that contain Vitamin D:

  • Salmon
  • Canned Tuna
  • Sardines
  • Mushrooms
  • Beef liver
  • Cheese
  • Egg Yolks

So next time you’re feeling blue, it might help to find a little cheese or cook up some salmon.