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Whole Grain Benefits

Cultural Foods for PCOS



Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder in women assigned female at birth and the leading cause of infertility in premenopausal women (1, 2, 3, 4).

It is characterized by chronic inflammation, irregular menstruation, excessive body hair and hormonal imbalances such as excess testosterone (androgens) and insulin resistance (2, 3, 4).

Lifestyle factors, including diet, play an important role in PCOS management (5, 6).

Dietary recommendations for PCOS often focus on Eurocentric foods and eating habits, and are not nuanced about the diet and health benefits of cultural foods for people with PCOS.

This article explains the role of diet in PCOS management and offers ways you can incorporate cultural foods into your PCOS management.

Insulin resistance – a condition in which the body’s cells are less sensitive to the blood sugar-lowering effects of insulin – affects 75–95% of people with PCOS (1).

Along with inflammation, insulin resistance worsens the metabolic and reproductive disorders associated with PCOS and increases the risk of developing noncommunicable diseases like type 2 diabetes (1, 4, 6, 7).

Diet and nutrition can either improve or worsen inflammation and insulin resistance – and so can their symptoms and risks.

For example, excessive intake of simple sugars – especially sugar in sodas, juices, and packaged snacks – is linked to chronic inflammation and insulin resistance (5, 7, 8).

Studies suggest that women with mild inflammation tend to eat less of many foods and nutrients with anti-inflammatory potential that can help control blood sugar.

These include fiber, complex carbohydrates, unsaturated fats, seafood, nuts, and legumes like peas and beans (2, 5, 6, 7, 9).

Research also suggests that people with mild inflammation often consume excess saturated and trans fats (6).

Diet patterns that worsen inflammation and insulin resistance in PCOS patients have been linked to ovarian malfunction and an increased risk of infertility (1, 10).

Hence, you should treat diet as an integral part of a PCOS management plan (4).


People with PCOS may find that their inflammation and insulin resistance worsen when their diet is high in simple sugars, saturated fats, and trans fats. Inflammation and insulin resistance can increase the risk of infertility.

Adjusting your diet to match your calorie and nutritional needs has been linked to improved endocrine and reproductive function and a reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes (2, 5, 6, 10, 11).

Combining diet changes with exercise can produce even greater positive results (4, 5, 6, 7, 12).

Although PCOS has been linked to excessive belly fat and obesity, it is also common in people who are not overweight or obese (1).

However, studies suggest that a diet aimed at moderate weight loss – only 5-7% of body weight – can improve insulin resistance and PCOS symptoms in patients with PCOS (4, 6, 12).

Cultural foods can be a part of your PCOS diet. Here are some important nutrients and foods to consider.

Complex carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are a macronutrient and one of the body’s most important sources of energy.

Excessive consumption of simple carbohydrates and sugars has been linked to an increased risk of developing insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease (6, 13).

However, complex carbohydrates – which provide starch and fiber – can improve hormonal imbalances and inflammation in people with PCOS (1, 2, 6, 7, 11).

Choose more complex carbohydrates, such as:

  • Full grain: Oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, barley, sorghum, popcorn, stone-ground grits
  • Legumes: Black beans, pinto beans, lentils, black-eyed peas, chickpeas
  • Non-starchy vegetables: Taro leaf, pumpkin, tomato, watercress, red cabbage
  • Root tubers: Taro (Dasheen), sweet potato, yucca, yam
  • Starchy fruits: Breadfruit, plantain, green fig (banana)

Healthy fats

Dietary fat is another macronutrient. It is a concentrated source of energy for the body. However, not all fats are created equal.

A diet high in the less healthy fats found in some animal foods – trans fats and saturated fats – has been linked to increases in inflammation, insulin resistance, and the risk of developing diseases, including cancer (14).

Replacing these fats with healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats has been shown to be beneficial for people with PCOS, including a decrease in insulin resistance and the accumulation of fat in the liver (1, 7).

Here are some healthy fats to include on your PCOS diet:

  • Nuts: Walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, pistachios, almonds
  • Nut butter: Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter
  • Seed: Chia seeds, flax seeds and flaxseed flour, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
  • Oils: Olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, rapeseed oil, peanut oil
  • Oily fish: Salmon, sardines, herring (smoked herring), mackerel (king fish)
  • Fruit: Avocado, olives

High quality protein

Some studies have found that increased levels of testosterone – a trigger of inflammation in PCOS – decrease when the amount of protein in the diet is increased (2).

Additionally, a high-protein diet with a moderate reduction in carbohydrates can support improved insulin resistance and glucose metabolism if you have PCOS (1).

As with carbohydrates and fats, the quality of the protein ingested is important. Whole protein foods – those that provide all nine essential amino acids – are considered high quality (15).

Eating protein can also help with weight management (16).

Choose lean meats to reduce your saturated fat intake.

Good sources of good quality protein include:

  • Meat: Beef, lamb, pork
  • Fish: Salmon, cod, catfish
  • Poultry: Chicken, turkey, eggs
  • Legumes: Tofu, edamame, beans, peas, nuts, seeds
  • Dairy: Milk, yogurt, cheese

Dairy products and PCOS

Dairy products – cow’s milk and the products made from it, including cheese and yogurt – often have a bad rap. For some, dairy products are a controversial food group.

Cow’s milk can be linked to the increased incidence of acne. Therefore, people with PCOS – where acne can be a symptom – may be advised to avoid dairy products (17).

However, yogurt and cheese have not been shown to trigger acne, and it may not be necessary to avoid dairy products entirely. Dairy products provide protein and essential B vitamins (B12, B1, B2 and folic acid) (17, 18).

Some studies suggest that low-fat dairy products have a beneficial effect on insulin resistance and may reduce your risk of developing diabetes (19).

In addition, a recent study suggests that dairy products may have anti-inflammatory effects that may reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and even Alzheimer’s disease (18).

As a result, you probably won’t need to cut dairy products from your diet with PCOS unless you are lactose intolerant.

Here are some low-fat milk options for a PCOS-friendly diet:

  • low-fat or non-fat yogurt, especially Greek yogurt
  • low-fat or fat-free cheeses such as cheddar, cottage cheese, mozzarella, parmesan, and feta
  • low-fat (1% or 2%) or non-fat milk


A good quality diet supports improved insulin resistance and reduced inflammation in people with PCOS. Eat a balanced diet with complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, high-quality protein, and low-fat dairy products.

Gluten is a family of storage proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye that have been shown to trigger an inflammatory response in people with celiac disease or wheat allergy (20, 21, 22).

Given the inflammatory potential of gluten, people with PCOS are often advised not to eat it – much like dairy products.

However, unless you have gluten sensitivity or intolerance, you probably don’t need to avoid gluten entirely (23).

Studies suggest that the health benefits attributed to a gluten-free diet may appear in people with no medical need, as gluten-free diets often lead people to choose healthier foods and less processed foods like simple sugars (23).

The benefits don’t come from avoiding gluten itself (23).

Naturally gluten-free foods include:

  • Starches such as tubers, corn and corn products
  • Nut-based flours such as almond and coconut flour
  • Oatmeal – although it can be contaminated with gluten depending on processing practices
  • non-starchy vegetables and fruits


Gluten is a family of proteins that cause an inflammatory response in people with celiac disease or wheat allergy. You probably don’t need to avoid it with PCOS unless you have another condition.

Poor sleep and mental stress are linked to inflammation, weight gain, and poor heart health (24, 25, 26).

Aim for 7–9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. And try to manage your stress levels through mind-body exercises such as meditation and yoga, or with the help of a licensed therapist.

In addition, exercise can reduce inflammation and depression (27).

Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, including weight-bearing exercises for at least 2 days per week.


Poor sleep and high stress levels are linked to increased inflammation and an increased risk of heart disease. To fight inflammation, aim for 7–9 hours of sleep and exercise, and control your emotional health.

PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder and the leading cause of infertility in premenopausal women.

Diet and lifestyle play important roles in the management of PCOS and can either improve or worsen inflammation, insulin resistance, and the long-term risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.

Try to consume more complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, high quality protein, and low-fat dairy products – including your cultural foods! – and get enough uninterrupted sleep and exercise to properly manage your PCOS.

Whole Grain Benefits

For the 55-and-over crowd, March 27-April 3, 2022 | Local News



For information about services available to older adults, contact Pam Jacobsen, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and Helen Mary Stevick Senior Citizens Center, 2102 Windsor Place, C, at 217-359-6500.

RSVP and the Stevick Center are administered by Family Service of Champaign County.


  • Active Senior Republicans in Champaign County’s monthly meeting will be held at 9:30 am on April 4 in the Robeson Pavilion Room A & B at the Champaign Public Library. This month’s speakers will be Jesse Reising, Regan Deering and Matt Hausman, Republican primary candidates for the newly redrawn 13th Congressional District.
  • Parkland Theater House needs four ushers each night for “The SpongeBob Musical,” opening April 14. There will be nine shows in total — April 14-16, April 22-24 and April 29-May 1. For details, call or email Michael Atherton, Parkland Theater House Manager, or 217-373-3874.
  • Parkland College also needs four volunteers for commencement. The commencement ceremony will be in person at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at 8 pm May 12. Volunteers needed from 6:30 to 8 pm For details, contact Tracy Kleparski, Director of Student Life, at or 217- 351-2206.
  • The Milford High School National Honor Society and Student Council is hosting a Senior Citizens Banquet at 6 pm April 22. The event will be held in the MAPS #124 Gymnasium (park at south doors at Milford High School. To RSVP, call Sandy Potter at 815-471-4213.


Knit or crochet for those in need:

Meditative Movement with Yoga:

  • 9 to 10:15 am Tuesdays and Thursdays.


  • 11 am to noon, second and fourth Tuesdays. Call 217-359-6500.


  • Noon to 3 pm Thursdays.


Card game 13:

  • To sign up to play, call 217-359-6500 and ask for Debbie.

Men’s group:

  • 9 am Monday-Friday. Join us for a cup of coffee and great conversation.


The Peace Meal Nutrition Program provides daily hot lunches at 11:30 am for a small donation and a one-day advance reservation at sites in Champaign, Urbana, Rantoul, Sidney (home delivery only), Mahomet (home delivery only) and Homer.

For reservations, call 800-543-1770. Reservations for Monday need to be made by noon Friday.

NOTE: There is no change for home deliveries, but at congregate sites, you can get a carry-out meal.


  • BBQ pork sandwich, mini potato bakers, corn, creamy cole slaw, bun.


  • Turkey pot roast with carrots and celery, Italian green beans, pineapple, whole grain roll.


  • Savory sausage stew, broccoli, chunky apple sauce, biscuit, surprise dessert.


  • Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and brown gravy, tomatoes and zucchini, apricots, whole-grain roll.


  • Chef’s choice — regional favorites will be served.


If you are 55 and older and want to volunteer in your community, RSVP (funded by AmeriCorps Seniors and the Illinois Department on Aging) provides a unique link to local nonprofits needing help. We offer support, benefits and a safe connection to partner sites.

Contact Pam Jacobsen at or 217-359-6500.


Senior Volunteers.

  • RSVP of Champaign, Douglas and Piatt counties/AmeriCorps Senior Volunteers is your link to over 100 nonprofit organizations. Please contact Pam Jacobsen at or call 217-359-6500 for volunteer information.

Food for seniors. Handlers needed to unload boxes of food for repackaging at 7 am on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. We are looking for backup delivery drivers to deliver food to seniors. Contact Robbie Edwards at 217-359-6500 for info.

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Whole Grain Benefits

The future of nutrition advice



By Lisa Drayer, CNN

(CNN) — Most of us know we should eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

So why would the National Institutes of Health spend $150 million to answer questions such as “What and when should we eat?” and “How can we improve the use of food as medicine?”

The answer may be precision nutrition, which aims to understand the health effects of the complex interplay among genetics, our microbiome (the bacteria living in our gut), our diet and level of physical activity, and other social and behavioral characteristics.

That means that everyone could have their own unique set of nutritional requirements.

How is that possible? I asked three experts who conduct precision nutrition research: Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and Martha Field and Angela Poole, both assistant professors in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology.

Below is an edited version of our conversation.

CNN: How is precision nutrition different from current nutrition advice?

dr Frank Hu: The idea of ​​precision nutrition is to have the right food, at the right amount, for the right person. Instead of providing general dietary recommendations for everyone, this precision approach tailors nutrition recommendations to individual characteristics, including one’s genetic background, microbiome, social and environmental factors, and more. This can help achieve better health outcomes.

CNN: Why is there no one-size-fits-all prescription when it comes to what we should be eating?

Huh: Not everyone responds to the same diet in the same way. For example, given the same weight-loss diet, some people can lose a lot of weight; other people may gain weight. A recent study in JAMA randomized a few hundred overweight individuals to a healthy low-carb or low-fat diet. After a year, there was almost an identical amount of weight loss for the two groups, but there was a huge variation between individuals within each group — some lost 20 pounds. Others gained 10 pounds.

Martha Field: Individuals have unique responses to diet, and the “fine adjust” of precision nutrition is understanding those responses. This means understanding interactions among genetics, individual differences in metabolism, and responses to exercise.

CNN: How do we eat based on precision nutrition principles now?

Huh: There are some examples of personalized diets for disease management, like a gluten-free diet for the management of celiac disease, or a lactose-free diet if you are lactose intolerant. For individuals with a condition known as PKU (phenylketonuria), they should consume (a) phenylalanine-free diet. It’s a rare condition but a classic example of how your genes can influence what type of diets you should consume.

Angela Poole: If I had a family history of high cholesterol, diabetes or colon cancer, I would increase my dietary fiber intake, eating a lot of different sources, including a variety of vegetables.

fields: If you have high blood pressure, you should be more conscious of sodium intake. Anyone with a malabsorption issue might have a need for higher levels of micronutrients such as B vitamins and some minerals.

CNN: There is research showing that people metabolize coffee differently. What are the implications here?

Huh: Some people carry fast caffeine-metabolizing genes; others carry slow genes. If you carry fast (metabolizing) genotypes, you can drink a lot of caffeinated coffee because caffeine is broken down quickly. If you are a slow metabolizer, you get jittery and may not be able to sleep if you drink coffee in the afternoon. If that’s the case, you can drink decaf coffee and still get the benefits of coffee’s polyphenols, which are associated with decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes without the effects of caffeine.

CNN: How much of a role do our individual genes play in our risk of disease? And can our behavior mitigate our disease risk?

Huh: Our health is affected by both genes and diets, which constantly interact with each other because certain dietary factors can turn on or off some disease-related genes. We published research showing that reducing consumption of sugary beverages can offset the negative effects of obesity genes. That’s really good news. Our genes are not our destiny.

Another area of ​​precision nutrition is to measure blood or urine metabolites, small molecules produced during the breakdown and ingestion of food. For example, having a higher concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) strongly predicts one’s future risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The blood levels of BCAAs depend on individuals’ diet, genes and gut microbiome. We found that eating a healthy (Mediterranean-style) diet can mitigate harmful effects of BCAAs on cardiovascular disease. So measuring BCAAs in your blood may help to evaluate your risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease and encourage dietary changes that can lower the risk of chronic diseases down the road.

fields: The environmental effects can sometimes be on the same magnitude as the genetic effects with respect to risk for disease.

CNN: Our individual microbiomes may be able to dictate what type of diet we should be consuming. Can you tell us about this emerging research? And what do you think of microbiome tests?

Poole: Research has shown that in some people, their blood sugar will spike higher from eating bananas than from eating cookies, and this has been associated with microbiome composition. Scientists have used microbiome data to build algorithms that can predict an individual’s glucose response, and this is a major advance. But that’s not an excuse for me to shovel down cookies instead of bananas. Likewise, if the algorithm suggests eating white bread instead of whole-wheat bread due to blood glucose responses, I wouldn’t just eat white bread all the time.

At the moment, I’m not ready to spend a lot of money to see what’s in my gut microbiome… and the microbiome changes over time.

Huh: Microbiome tests are not cheap, and the promise that this test can help develop a personalized meal plan that can improve blood sugar and blood cholesterol … at this point, the data are not conclusive.

CNN: How will nutrition advice be different 10 years from now?

Poole: I think you will receive a custom-tailored grocery list on an app — foods that you want to buy and foods that you want to avoid, based on your blood sugar responses to foods, your level of physical activity and more.

Huh: We will have more and better biomarkers and more affordable and accurate nutrigenomics and microbiome tests as well as better computer algorithms that predict your response to food intakes.

But these technologies cannot substitute general nutrition principles such as limiting sodium and added sugar and eating more healthy plant foods. In a few years, you may be able to get a more useful response from Alexa if you ask her what you should eat — but like other answers from Alexa, you’ll have to take it with a grain of salt.

The CNN Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Whole Grain Benefits

Are Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches Healthy?



In order to assess its nutritional value, first we must discuss the breakdown of this sandwich.

Typically, there are three main ingredients — bread, peanut butter, and jelly — each with different nutritional values.

Nutritional value of bread

Bread can be a part of a balanced diet. The nutritional value of bread depends on the type chosen.

For starters, whole-grain bread is the best option because it provides a higher amount of nutrients. Whole grain kernels have three parts: the bran, endosperm, and germ (1).

Because whole grain bread retains all three parts, it’s higher in protein and fiber compared with other breads. These nutrients slow the absorption of sugar into your blood stream and keep you full longer (2, 3).

Whole grain bread is also richer in key nutrients, like B vitamins, iron, folate, and magnesium. Look for the word “whole” as part of the first ingredient in bread’s nutritional label (2).

Choosing sprouted grain bread, like Ezekiel bread, is also an excellent choice. The sprouting process increases digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients. Studies show sprouted bread has more fiber, vitamin E, and vitamin C, and beta-glucan (4).

Sourdough bread is fine, too. Although it’s not as high in fiber and protein, it has a lower glycemic index than white bread.

Glycemic index measures how quickly food increases blood sugars. In general, foods with a lower glycemic index better support your overall health.

But keep in mind that glycemic index doesn’t tell the whole story. We must look at the meal as a whole — for example, what we add to the bread. Nutrients, like protein and fats, can help lower the overall glycemic load of a meal, and serving sizes also play a role (5).

As a guideline, look for whole grain breads that offer at least 2 grams of fiber per slice. We also suggest using bread that contains 3 grams of protein or more per slice.

If that’s not available, sourdough bread may be your next best option.


Choose breads that are higher in fiber and protein, like whole grain bread or sprouted grain bread. These varieties help slow absorption of sugars and keep you full longer.

Nutritional value of peanut butter

Many people find peanut butter delicious.

Nutritionally, it also delivers. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and healthy fats, important for all stages of life, especially growing children. Plus, it’s a good source of fiber.

Two tablespoons (32 grams) of smooth peanut butter contain 7 grams of protein, 16 grams of fats, and 2 grams of fiber (6).

Importantly, the majority of fats in peanut butter are unsaturated fats. Research consistently indicates that replacing saturated fats found in animal products with more unsaturated fats (like those in peanut butter) may lower cholesterol and improve heart health (7, 8).

For growing kids, healthy fats are vital for healthy development. Plus, fats help absorb the vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which play a synergistic role in supporting immune and brain health (9, 10).

Contrary to popular belief, conventional peanut butter doesn’t usually have more sugar than 100% natural peanut butter. However, it may have more salt (6).

When shopping, check the nutrition labels to ensure it doesn’t contain additional ingredients other than peanuts.

When enjoying natural peanut butter, the oil will separate from the peanut butter. Not to fret — just give it a good stir! This helps mix the oils with the solids.

Pro tip: You can store peanut butter upside down in the fridge to keep it from separating again!


When available, choose 100% natural peanut butter, as it’s lower in salt. Remember to stir the peanut butter before eating to mix the oils with the solids.

Nutritional value of jelly

The PB&J sandwich isn’t complete without jelly or jam. What’s the difference, anyway?

Well, while jellies and jams have similar nutritional value and taste, there’s a slight difference: Jellies are made with fruit juice, while jam is made with the fruit juice and pulp (7).

Both jellies and jams contain pectin (artificially added to jelly), which has prebiotic effects that may improve gut health (8).

However, both are naturally high in sugar, so enjoy them in moderation. To have more say in the ingredients used, you can try making your jelly at home.

If you’re buying from a store, look for jellies with no added sugar in the ingredients list. Alternative names for added sugars include glucose, sucrose, dextrose, and fructose.


Jellies are high in natural sugars and contain pectins that may have a beneficial effect in promoting good health. Try to choose jellies with no added sugars.

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