health

UConn Extension Hand Sanitizer Distribution

Dept of Ag logoThe CT Department of Agriculture secured a limited amount of free hand sanitizer from FEMA through a donation from Exxon. The CT Department of Agriculture has been working to distribute to farmers markets via the Hartford Regional Market. They have given part of the donation to UConn Extension to disperse to on-farm markets/CSA’s and PYO operationsIt is on a first come first serve basis and will be available for pick up at designated Extension Centers in gallon jugs with a maximum of 3 gallons per farm operation. You may only sign up for one time slot at one location. Please contact MacKenzie White at Mackenzie.white@uconn.edu with any specific questions.

Please use this link to sign up for a time slot to pick up your free hand sanitizer.

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/904054caeaf2fa5f49-uconn

Cows’ Milk Alternatives – What you need to know about plant–based milk alternative options

glass of milk sitting outside with grass in backgroundPeople choosing plant-based drinks in place of cows’ milk has surged over the past eight to ten years. The popularity has fueled increases in sales and there are many options to choose from in grocery and health food stores. The biggest reason many people choose plant-based drinks is that they don’t tolerate dairy or want to avoid animal products. Many people think they are just healthier options than cows’ milk. But there is confusion about what nutritional benefits plant –based drinks really offer and the differences among these choices. Soymilk, almond milk, hemp milk – which of these are nutritionally the best?

First, let’s look at what cows’ milk offers nutritionally. It is naturally rich in protein, calcium, potassium and several B vitamins and is typically fortified with Vitamins A and D. Cows’ milk does provide a superior nutritional profile when it comes to protein and calcium, in particular, in comparison to most plant-based drinks. 

Let’s look at some plant–based alternatives to milk to compare:

Soymilks:

  • These milks have about the same amount of protein as cows’ milk and if fortified, have similar amounts of vitamins and minerals.
  • Soy does contain all the essential amino acids (these proteins cannot be made by the body), but it can be a common allergen – so people may be intolerant or sensitive.
  • They can have added sugar and higher sodium, so need to check labels. Go for the unflavored, organic soymilk for choices with the least additives.
  • Soymilk is the most nutritionally balanced of the plant-based milks and is closest to cows’ milk.
  • Soy is unique in that it contains a high concentration of isoflavones (a type of plant estrogen) that is similar in function to human estrogen, but with much weaker effects. There is not substantial evidence that soy definitively increases or decreases cancer risk.

Almond milk:

  • These milks have a lower protein content and poorer protein quality than cows’ milk or soymilk.
  • Some are higher in total fat, but it is primarily healthy fat.  
  • Many are fortified with calcium and Vitamins A and D. Check labels.
  • Almond milk is not recommended for those with nut allergy or sensitivities.

Cashew milk:

  • These milks have a lower protein content and poorer protein quality than cows’ milk or soymilk; is also low in other macronutrients.
  • A good alternative to almond milk if you don’t like the almond flavor and want lower calories.
  • Not recommended for those with nut allergies or sensitivities.

Hemp milk:

  • One of the few plant-based complete proteins containing all the essential amino acids.
  • Hemp milk is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that are good for health.
  • Hemp milk is made from the hemp seeds from the hemp plant, cannabis sativa. It does not contain the psychoactive component of the Cannabis Sativa plant (used to make marijuana and CBD). 

Oat milk:

  • Oat milk has slightly more protein than many almond milks, but less than soy or cows’ milk.
  • It is higher in carbohydrates and calories and has a somewhat creamy taste.

Rice milk:

  • Calories come primarily from carbohydrates. 
  • Rice milk has a poor protein content and is low in nutrient content unless vitamins and calcium are added to it.
  • Rice milk is the least likely to trigger allergies.

Coconut milk:

  • Coconut milk has little or no protein.
  • These milks are high in saturated fat, which can raise the risk of heart disease.
  • All are fortified with Vitamin D, but few with calcium.
  • Many people with tree nut allergies are able to drink coconut milk – but it is important to test for coconut allergy specifically.

The Environmental Footprint:

Many people are choosing plant-based beverages to reduce the environmental impact. They can be healthier choices for the planet; however; drawing firm conclusions from studies can be challenging. A 2018 study from the University of Oxford, found that dairy milk uses nine times more land to make a liter of dairy milk than a liter of soy, oat, or almond milk. Greenhouse gas emissions from cows’ milk production were also much higher than plant-based alternatives.  

However; plant–based options can also have environmental impacts. Almond milk, for example requires large quantities of water for irrigation to produce. Additionally, these products are transported long distances to retail stores, such as almond products produced in California. Rice emits large amounts of greenhouse gases from the methane that bacteria create in flooded rice paddies. Soy and oat production can lead to high land use and perhaps deforestation. No matter what type of plant-based milk you buy, choose organic to reduce the environmental impact of pesticides. Shifting to plant-based choices is a generally good environmentally sustainable idea to wean away from dependence on meat and dairy.

Conclusion:

All milk and plant-based milk alternatives offer various health advantages.  A good strategy may be to mix up the types of milk you drink. That way, you can get the best of each of them.  Remember to check the labels for ingredients like added sugar or unwanted additives to avoid those with undesirable add-ins. And choose milks with better protein and nutrient profiles. Knowing the difference in these milks will allow an informed decision regarding your nutrition and health. 

Article by Sharon Gray, UConn Extension

Updated May 19, 2020

References:

Almond, oat and soymilk. Consumer Reports  www.cr.org November 2019 p.33-35.

Going nuts about milk?  S. Ferreira January 25,2019  https://nutrition.org/going-nuts-about-milk-heres-what- you-need-to-know-about-plant-based-milk-alternatives

Reducing Food’s Environmental Impacts Through Producers and Consumers, J. Poore & T. Nemecek Science 01, Jun 2018: Vol 360, Issue 6392, DOI: 10.1126/Science.aaq0216

Caring for Electronics

phone and tabletKEEPING DEVICES CLEAN

 

Electronics may carry germs that pose risks to your health. Minimize your health risks by following these practices:

Before cleaning any device, wash your hands. Apply clean water and soap to your hands. Scrub the back and front of your hands, in between your fingers, and underneath your fingernails for 20 seconds. Rinse your hands and dry with a clean towel.

Make an effort to keep electronics clean and to use them on clean surfaces – desktops, tables, countertops, etc. Cell phones can become contaminated with germs, dirt, and oil. Avoid holding your cell phone against your face.

To learn more about CDC Recommendations and General Electronic Cleaning Guidelines access the full fact sheet at:

 

 

Highlights of Extension

Highlights of Extension spread of images and articlesUConn Extension has collaborated with our partners, communities and stakeholders for over 100 years. We are proud to serve all 169 cities and towns in Connecticut. The worldwide pandemic involving COVID-19 (coronavirus) has produced unprecedented challenges in the UConn community and around the world. Our services continue during this challenging time. All of our educators are working and serving their audiences.

Extension professionals and trained volunteers engage the state’s diverse population to make informed choices and better decisions. The partnerships enrich our lives and our environment. The Highlights of Extension annual report showcases program achievements from the past year.

Our Extension faculty and staff are effectively responding to the new challenges as well. They are utilizing technology and mobilizing resources to help families, communities, businesses, farmers, and other stakeholders. For example, our extension specialists and 4-H volunteers are helping distribute thousands of gallons of dairy products weekly to families in need throughout the state. There are many other examples of how the CAHNR family is responding to help our communities.

Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate

The Highlights of Extension annual report is available online at https://bit.ly/ExtensionHighlights and we invite you to learn more about CAHNR Extension at https://cahnr.uconn.edu/extension/.

Clean Your Kitchen, Fruits and Vegetables

Heather Peracchio, one of our Extension educators with the UConn Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, shares tips on how to clean your kitchen, fruits and vegetables.

Disinfectant Q & A on Facebook Live

two rolls of paper towels

The National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) is hosting a Disinfectant Q&A on Facebook with VA Poison Control, OR Poison Control, and the National Association of Poison Control Centers. Anyone is welcome to join the event.

They will address commonly asked safety questions about disinfectants, as well as new questions sent before the event. They are asking that questions be submitted as a direct message to AAPCC’s facebook page. Please distribute to interested staff.

Disinfectant Safety during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Facebook Q&A

https://piper.filecamp.com/uniq/VtBmCGPUyvM2kToc.pdf

Link to the Facebook Event (April 30 @11am PT / 2pm ET):

https://www.facebook.com/events/183325732698602/

Make Your Own Energy Trail Mix

trail mix

Check out this awesome recipe shared by our UConn Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program- EFNEP Educator Erica!

Energy Trail Mix
Many prepackaged trail mixes are very expensive, plus they might have extra added sugar or salt that you don’t need. You may never buy a bagged trail mix again after you try our recipe! We’ve also got Sweet and Salty Trail Mix you should try too!

Makes: 8 servings

Ingredients
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup walnuts, chopped
¾ cup pumpkin seeds
¾ cup sunflower seeds
1½ cups Chex cereal
1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions
Mix apricots, cranberries, walnuts, seeds, and cereal in a bowl.
Sprinkle some of the cinnamon and stir. Repeat until all is covered.
​Divide trail mix into 8 baggies.

Read more at https://www.snap4ct.org/energy-trail-mix.html

Extension in Our Communities

map of UConn Extension program in Connecticut communities using 2019 data

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities. UConn Extension has collaborated with our partners, communities and stakeholders for over 100 years. Find your community on our map of Extension programs (based on 2019 data) and see how active we are in your city or town. Learn more about our Extension programs.