Flustered about food? We asked iMAG nutrition expert Shari Boockvar, MS, RD of Nutrifacts, Inc. to answer to some of your most common nutrition questions.

RE: ORGANIC FOODS

Q: Why should I purchase organic fruits and vegetables?

A: Organic foods are grown and processed in an ecologically friendly way. These foods are made without the use of pesticides, have not been genetically engineered or radiated, and are without artificial additives.

RE: FIBER IN YOUR DIET

Q: I know I am supposed to be eating more whole grains but I notice that the fiber content varies on cereal, bread and pasta. How much dietary fiber should these products have?

A: Ideally, look for products with at least three to five grams of dietary fiber per serving. Fiber can aid in weight loss and cholesterol management, and can increase energy levels.

RE: GO FISHING!

Q: I hear that fish is the healthiest protein for me to eat because of its omega-3 fats. What is omega-3 and why should I be eating it?

A: Omega-3 fatty acids which can help to lower triglyceride levels, decrease stickiness of platelets in the blood and keep your arteries clean. All types of fish contain omega-3. Richest sources include salmon, mackerel, and Chilean sea bass. If you are trying to manage your weight, choose leaner fish, such as flounder, cod, red snapper, sole, grouper, and halibut.

RE: CALCIUM DOES A BODY GOOD

Q: I have heard that most adults need approximately 1200-1500 milligrams of calcium per day. How much calcium does my five-year-old need?

A: Most children from four to eight years old need approximately 800 milligrams of calcium in a day – three cups of milk provides 900 milligrams of calcium (There are 300 milligrams in each eight-ounce cup).

RE: COOKING OILS

Q: I am trying to lose weight. What is the best oil for me to cook with?

A: Olive, canola, grapeseed, and flaxseed oil are great from a health perspective. However, keep in mind from a weight control standpoint that ALL oils are a concentrated source of fat. Regardless of type, they all contain 120 calories and 14 grams of fat per tablespoon. This adds up quickly when you are trying to lose weight.

RE: HYDRATION IS KEY

Q: Why do I need to drink water?

A: Drinking fluids helps our bodies in many ways. Not only is our body made up mostly of water, it helps us to digest foods, control body temperature and normalize blood pressure. Additionally, water helps to digest vitamins and minerals, helping us to obtain its optimal nutrition levels.

RE: SOY PRODUCTS

Q: What are the benefits of soy and soy products?

A: Soy products contain compounds that may help reduce the risk of heart disease, some types of cancer and decrease “hot-flashes” in menopausal women. However, if there is a history of breast cancer in your family, check with your doctor before consuming soy products, as it may increase your risk of breast cancer.

RE: SOY PRODUCTS

Q: When is the best time of day to take my multivitamin and mineral supplement?

A: It is best to take vitamins and minerals with your meals to maximize absorption. Additionally, some people find that taking them with meals helps to decrease stomachaches associated with supplements.

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