Hannibal Regional Blog


Our blog offers content about healthcare, healthy living and the culture at Hannibal Regional.

grilled vegetablesChoose more fruit and vegetables! Portion out 1 cup portions of fruit and vegetables into Ziploc bags or 1-cup Tupperware containers for an easy and portable snack on the go.

Avoid using full fat mayo. Instead choose light miracle whip and plain nonfat yogurt for macaroni salads, chicken/tuna salad and spreads. Try fat free Italian dressing for pasta salads and marinades.

Make your own marinade for meats. Use vinegars, 100% fruit juice, herbs and spices to add flavor to meat without all the excess sauce. Oils should be used in very small amounts.

Drink cautiously! Juice, spritzers and alcoholic beverages pack a lot of calories with little nutritional value.

When dining out, do your homework first! Take advantage of online menus and nutritional facts. Choose baked, broiled, steamed and grilled entrees.

Restaurants often serve up large portions. Share your meal with a friend or spouse, ask for half portions or ask for a to-go box to take half your meal home for a later meal.

When ordering at a restaurant, don’t be afraid for ask! Ask for sauces, dressings and butter to be served on the side. Ask for them to not bring the rolls or chips and salsa to the table while you wait. Ask for steamed vegetables as a substitute for other sides.


Blog post provided by:
Katie Foster, RDN, LD,
Nutrition Services
Hannibal Regional

Food Myths and Facts - HannibalSea Salt is “Better” Than Other Salts.

MYTH- Sea salt has become very popular due to its “all natural” selling strategy but does this mean that it is better for you? Many believe that it is better as it contains more nutrients. However, the trace nutrients left behind in sea salt are very minimal and can easily be obtained from other healthy foods. In fact, there is one nutrient table salt has more of: iodine.  Sea salt contains less iodine than table salt, which can be a health concern. Iodine has been added to table salt since the 1920s to prevent iodine-deficiency disease. Getting adequate iodine during pregnancy is especially important.

Sea salt is lower in sodium than other salts.

MYTH- Salt gets a bad rap due to its sodium content and its effect on hypertension and congestive heart failure. It is very important to note, however, that there is usually little difference in sodium content. Kosher salt and some sea salts have larger crystal sizes than table salt, therefore they may have less sodium by volume but it is very minimal, and not enough to take into consideration if following a strict sodium restricted diet. 

There are health advantages to eating sea salt.

MYTH- Some characteristics of sea salt may seem healthier, but there are no real health advantages of using sea salts.

Sea salt is less processed.

True- Sea salt is obtained directly through the evaporation of seawater. It is usually not processed, or undergoes minimal processing, and retains trace levels of some minerals. Table salt, on the other hand, is mined from salt deposits and then broken down to give it a fine texture so it’s easier to mix and use in recipes. Potassium iodine and potassium iodate are often added to prevent deficiencies. 

Bottom line…

The next time you find yourself choosing between kosher salt, sea salt and table salt, remember that it’s probably a matter of letting your taste buds decide. But whichever option you choose, keep in mind that the sodium content is similar. When choosing between products made with or without sea salt, it is important to note the sodium content on the nutrition facts label. Choosing foods with <140mg sodium per serving is considered a low sodium food.

All Processed Food is Bad! 

Myth- Processed food catches a lot of negativity, but what exactly is processed food and is it really that bad for us? A food is considered “processed” when any change is made to a raw agricultural product after harvest. Many raw foods that come straight from the farm are an inedible product. Therefore most foods are processed before they reach our grocery stores and restaurants. “Processing” can be physical (such as sorting, washing, shelling/de-hulling, peeling, milling, and chopping);  thermal (such as freezing, cooking, drying, sterilizing/retorting, and pasteurizing); chemical (such as fermentation, salting, sweetening, and adding nutrients or preservative compounds); or transformative (where ingredients are combined to make prepared meals). Processing food can increase the convenience/functionality of food, improve taste and extend its shelf life. Some processed foods are very healthy and can be part of a healthful diet. Others should be eaten in small quantities and in moderation.

Some forms of processing can degrade nutritional value but others can actually enhance nutritional value. Fortification of refined flour and cereals has greatly reduced  neural tube defects in developing infants. Flash-freezing vegetables prevent the loss of nutrients which begins immediately after harvest.  Canning tomatoes improves the bio-availability of lycopene, a beneficial antioxidant. Treating corn with an alkaline solution makes the essential B3 vitamin niacin bio-available. So while potentially beneficial, processing can also involve additives such as sugar, salt, fat and other undesirable ingredients.  Highly processed foods are often nutritionally unbalanced such that they offer a lot of calories and fat, with little micronutrients. Chips, crackers, cookies, boxed prepared foods, and canned/ready-to eat meals, are just a few examples of processed foods that should be eaten in small quantities and in moderation.
Processing can be used to make nutrient-dense foods more convenient and accessible. Canned/frozen fruits and vegetables are faster to prepare than their fresh counterparts. By “processing” fruits and vegetables into more shelf-stable products, we can enjoy them year-round and have greater variation in our diets. Whole wheat pasta, instant brown rice, whole wheat cereal and even some frozen ready to eat meals can offer a whole lot of nutrition in a quick and convenient way.

It is important to note that every process we apply to food has its pros and cons.

The Whole Egg is Best!

The whole egg is often separated when it comes to nutrition talk. Many toss out the innocent yolk, claiming that it is not good for you. The yolk gets a bad rap particularly due to its cholesterol content. However, the cholesterol found in eggs is no longer a nutrient of concern (more on cholesterol later!)
Cholesterol may be the most scientifically studied nutrient in eggs, but it definitely does not deserve the spotlight! One large egg provides 6g of high-quality protein, and is perfectly balanced with the right amount of amino acids. The egg white is falsely advertised as containing “all the protein”. Although most of the protein is located in the egg white (3.6 g), a considerable amount (2.7g) is contained in the yolk.
Consuming eggs is particularly important for those who do not eat a lot of high-protein foods such as meat and dairy products, especially older adults since it can help stave off muscle loss and reduce the rate of protein breakdown (ref: 1,2) Eggs are inexpensive, low in calories, easy to prepare, and versatile which is make them a great choice for budget-conscious consumers and busy families.

More reason to eat the yolk- it is full of nutrients including:

• Lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids essential to eye health. These two compounds act as antioxidants, minimizing damage and reducing the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.(ref: 1,2,3)
• Choline, a component of egg lecithin, is essential for normal development and has been shown in animal studies to improve memory and performance. Eggs are one of the few foods that contain high concentrations of this nutrient. (ref: 2)
• Folate, known for reducing neural tube defects, plus vitamin B12, riboflavin, and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K.(ref: 1,2,3)

1. Celentano JC. Nutrition review: Where do eggs fit in a heart-healthy diet? Am J Lifestyle Med. 2009;3(4):274-278.
2. Herron KL, Fernandez ML. Are the current dietary guidelines regarding egg consumption appropriate? J Nutr. 2004;134:187-190. 
8. Schmier JK, Barraj LM, Tran NL. Single food focus dietary guidance: Lessons learned from an economic analysis of egg consumption. Cost Eff Resour Alloc. 2009;7:7.

Cholesterol is a Nutrient of Concern.

Setting the Record Straight on Cholesterol, Saturated Fat and Risk of Heart Disease
Previously, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended that cholesterol intake be limited to no more than 300mg/day; now, however, cholesterol is no longer a nutrient of concern. There is no appreciable evidence showing a relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol (which is what affects cardiovascular health). This is frustrating to many, as cholesterol has been a nutrient to “avoid” for so long! But, nutrition research is difficult because all nutrients in a particular food must be considered when making conclusions. For example, foods that contain cholesterol are typically high in saturated fat as well. When saturated fats are eaten in place of healthful fats, saturated fats raise levels of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind of cholesterol in your blood). High levels of LDL cholesterol are strongly linked to heart disease. Lowering your LDL cholesterol can reduce heart disease risk. One way to do this is to limit saturated fats and trans fats. Limit these foods to small portions and eat them less often.

Foods high in saturated fats include fatty meat, poultry skin, bacon, sausage, whole milk, cream, and butter.
Trans-fats are found in stick margarine, shortening, some fried foods, and packaged foods made with hydrogenated oils. Trans-fats are the number one nutrient I recommend consumers to avoid! When in doubt, read the ingredients list and avoid the ingredient hydrogenated oils.

Are All White Foods Bad?

No-  The belief that white foods are bad, such as bananas and potatoes, is false. Avoiding white foods became popular with the low-carb craze, but the reasoning behind it is not well supported. 
There are many nutritious foods which are white, including the potato. Any produce that is grown and eaten in its natural form is, in fact, a very healthful food. Potatoes are versatile, require little preparation and are inexpensive. White potatoes offer potassium, fiber (if the skin is eaten), vitamin C.

Bananas are another white food and often touted as being a “less healthy” fruit. There is no such thing as an unhealthy fruit or vegetable. Bananas are a good source of potassium, fiber, and antioxidants along with several other health benefits. When eaten with yogurt bananas are a good source of prebiotics which, along with the probiotics in yogurt, promote gut health. 

However, when it comes to bread, pasta, rice, and other grain products, avoiding the “white” is recommended (unless otherwise instructed). Choose 100% whole wheat bread, pasta, cereal and brown rice for the healthiest choice. 

Hannibal ProduceGrow your own:

Planting a garden does not have to be hard work. Invest in raised garden beds for easier maintenance. Potted plants work great too and can be conveniently located. Growing your own produce can be very rewarding, inexpensive and allows you more versatility and control with what you eat. You know exactly how your food was grown and where your food is coming from. It can be a great family activity, lot of fun and a great way to try new foods!


Buying on a budget:

Frozen fruit & vegetables are often just as nutritious as fresh, have a longer shelf life, and are less expensive. Stock up on your favorites when they're on sale, and enjoy them raw, incorporated into recipes, or in smoothies, sauces, and baked goods. “Fresh fruits and vegetables are too expensive” is often an excuse for not eating them, but the truth is, they are only expensive because they wind up getting thrown away! Don’t buy more than you can eat and have a plan as to when and how you will eat them.


Think before you toss:

If you have less than desirable produce that you know you won’t use, store them in a freezer Ziploc bag until ready to use. Use soft fruit that is starting to brown (bananas, pears, and apples) for baking breads, muffins, pancakes etc. Add frozen bananas and berries to smoothies or yogurt parfaits.  Add vegetables such as squash, zucchini and carrots to marinara sauce and puree for an added serving of vegetables. Use wilted vegetables for stir-fry’s, soups and stews or puree and add to sauces.

Katie Foster, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Hannibal Regional Hospital


Fruits and Vegetables HannibalFruit and Vegetable Challenge

The past several articles have been all about the benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption. Challenge yourself to eat more fruits and vegetables! Cut out the chart below and hang it on your fridge for 1 week. Choose more fruit and vegetables with meals, or as a snack, and check off the serving eaten as you go! Can you meet the recommended 5-9 servings a day?


1 piece fruit

1 piece fruit

½-1 cup veg.

½-1 cup veg.

½-1 cup veg.












































What counts as a serving?

1 medium piece of fruit= baseball size

½ cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit

¼ cup dried fruit

½ cup 100% fruit juice

1 cup leafy greens or raw veggies

½ cup fresh, frozen or canned vegetables

½ cup 100% vegetable juice

Certified Organic

Organic Food

The Statistics

• 8 out of 10 parents purchase organic products “at least sometimes,” according to a 2013 survey by the Organic Trade Association (OTA), and fresh produce is the leading category of organic purchases.
• Organic food sales make up about 4% of the $760 billion annual food sales in the U.S., according to an industry survey conducted for the OTA by Nutrition Business Journal.
• In 2014, 51% of parents surveyed by the OTA said that cost limited their organic purchases.

Why Shop Organic?

Organic shoppers are typically health conscious and convinced that organic foods and beverages “are healthier”. Also fueling the organic trend is the concern about the environment, interest in where food comes from, how the food was grown, and the desire for “clean eating”. There is a growing population of people who like to see environment-friendly companies/industries, and offering organic foods is one way that companies get that reputation.

The Truth about Organics

• The “USDA Organic” designation refers to a unique set of sourcing, growing, harvesting and processing methods, and does not mean that a product is healthful, more nutrient-dense or safer.
• The term “organic” is often misinterpreted. Many consumers assume that “organic” means “nutritious,” or “more nutritious” than conventional foods when this is not always the case. For every study that says organic food is nutritionally superior, there’s another study that says the differences are insignificant. There are several variables that can impact the nutritional composition of food crops, such as variations from field to field and growing season to growing season.
• In 2014, 51% of parents surveyed by the OTA said that cost limited their organic purchases. As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, affordability is a big factor when discussing appropriate food choices with patients/clients. Consuming the recommended amount of nutritious conventional foods such as fruits and vegetables is more beneficial and far more important than consuming a limited amount of organic fruits and vegetables. For example, 1 serving of organic fruit may be 2-3 times the cost of 1 serving of conventional fruit, thus a household with a limited food budget would likely consume less produce if recommended to buy organic.
• It is important to note that organic potato chips still contain calories, fat and sodium, and organic cookies still contains calories, fat and added sugar.
Just because it is organic, does not mean it is healthy, and just because it is non-organic does not mean it is not healthy.
• Pro Organic: Organic foods are often locally grown and support small families which is both healthful and environmentally friendly! Organic foods may offer many benefits to your health but do your homework first and know who you are buying your food from and where it was grown (preferably the USA)!
• Take home message: choose more whole foods and less processed foods, choose more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low fat dairy, regardless of whether they are organic or not.