Nutrition News - April 2019

Health Awareness

April is:

  • Walking Day-3rd Fresh Tomato-Day 6th Garlic Day-19th
  • Earth Day-22nd Public Health Week 1st-5th
  • Garden Week 8th-12th Stress Awareness Month Garden Month
  • Pecan Month Soy Foods Month Celery Month
  • Cancer Control Month

Chew on this: Re-Think Stress


We all are stressed at some point in our lives. Stress is how the brain and body respond to minor or major stressors. Some people cope with stress more effectively or recover from stressful events more quickly than others. But if the stress response becomes chronic, health problems such as depression, anxiety, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, eating disorders, gastrointestinal problems and many more can occur. Nutrition and stress are interlinked; and when our bodies are poorly fed, stress takes an even greater toll on our health. The brain needs glucose to work and eating regularly throughout the day helps to stabilize blood glucose levels. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals that work to neutralize harmful molecules that are produced when the body is in stress. Omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like walnuts, flax seed and fish oil are associated with brain function; and deficiency of these can result in depression and/or anxiety. High fiber foods increase alertness and helps to cope with stress. In addition, indulge in exercise when stressed. Aerobic exercise boosts oxygen circulation and bumps up the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. So next time you are stressed, use healthy nutritious foods and exercise to reduce your stress.

Get Moving: Go play, your way!

Do you know your target heart rate? Most individuals’ target heart rate should lie between 60-100 beats per minute (bpm). Many factors can affect this, such as stress, anxiety, hormones, medication, and physical fitness. Your maximum heart rate can be calculated by taking 220 minus your age. Your resting heart rate should be taken before you get out of bed and grab that coffee. When excising moderately, your heart rate should be between 50- 70% of your maximum. If you are exercising vigorously, your rate should fall between 70- 85%. To take your heart rate without a wearable device (Fitbit), take your pulse on the in- side of your wrist, on the thumb side. Use the tips of your first two fingers (not your thumb) and press lightly over the artery. Count your pulse for 30 seconds and multiply by 2 to find your beats per minute. See the box below for general target heart rate guidelines.

Exercise: Target Heart Rate Zone


Target HR Zone 50-85%

Average Maximum Heart Rate, 100%


100-170 bpm

200 bpm


95-162 bpm

190 bpm


93-157 bpm

185 bpm


90-153 bpm

180 bpm


88-149 bpm

175 bpm


85-145 bpm

170 bpm


83-140 bpm

165 bpm

Get Growing: Gardening

Working in a garden is a great way to be physically active, but did you know that it also helps to reduce stress? Whether you are planting produce for your family to enjoy or providing beautiful landscaping for your home, gardening can provide a sense of peacefulness. A Dutch research study found that gardening can lead to lower cortisol levels, a hormone produced in our bodies in response to stress. When we feel the dirt, smell the plants, and see the outdoors we are engaging multiple senses that encourage being present in the moment. This is a great distraction away from our fast-paced, action-filled lives. Other benefits include a sense of ownership and accomplishment for learning a new skill leading to a better sense of self-esteem. There are many types of gardens so choose one that fits your lifestyle. Gardening should not grow to be a chore, but a hobby that you can enjoy by yourself or with family members.

What to plant now:Days until harvest:
Summer squash50-90

Healthy Communities Showcase

To learn more about Healthy Communities in your parish, please contact your local extension office.

Stirring it up: Strawberry Planks


  • 2 graham cracker squares
  • 2 teaspoons tub-style light cream cheese
  • 2 medium strawberries, sliced


  • Break graham cracker squares along the perforation, making four rectangles.
  • Spread cream cheese evenly over rectangles. Arrange a few strawberry slices on each rectangle.
  • Optional: If desired, sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar. Prep Time 5 Minutes

Nutrition Information for Recipe

Serving size: 4 cracker rectangles with cream cheese and strawberries

Per serving: 90 calories; 3 g fat(1 g sat); 1 g fiber; 13 g carbohydrates; 2 g protein; 15 mcg folate; 7 mg cholesterol; 6 g sug- ars; 136 IU vitamin A; 14 mg vitamin C; 21 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 114 mg sodium; 56 mg potassium

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (23% daily value)

Source: Strawberry planks

SW Region Nutrition Agents: Robin Landry, FCS Regional Coordinator; Mandy Armentor, MS, RD, LDN; Shatonia McCarty, MS, RD, LDN; Becky Gautreaux, MA, RD, LDN; Tiffany Williams, MS, RD, LDN; Kylee Brown, Jessica Randazzo

Attention: It is the policy of the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, or disability.

4/25/2019 3:13:38 PM
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