Yes, I know… Galacto-what?! A galactogogue is a substance (usually, food or herb) that increases milk supply or promotes lactation. The following are some foods and food groups that boost milk production. Remember to keep in mind the other breastfeeding dietary tips as well!
- Whole grains and complex carbs. Carb-rich foods aid in the production of serotonin, a hormone that produces relaxation. Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, etc), whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, sweet potatoes, beans, and lentils are key, especially at night. Brown rice and oatmeal specifically lead to the production of oxytocin and prolactin, hormones involved in breast milk production.
- Foods that have phytoestrogens. Top sources are soybeans, flaxseeds and their derivatives (nuts, oils, seeds, and herbs). Remember to choose whole, unprocessed sources, especially when it comes to soy. Other rich sources are: hummus, garlic, mung bean sprouts, winter squash, dark leafy greens like collards, green beans, broccoli, asparagus, dried fruit (dates, apricots, prunes, figs), and tree nuts (pistachios, almonds, cashews).
- Emphasize L-Tryptophan rich foods. L-tryptophan stimulates the production of prolactin, a hormone involved with milk production. Choose foods such as turkey, chicken, soybeans, tuna, shrimp, salmon, milk, cheese, cow’s yogurt, beans and cashews.
- Essential fatty acids! The only sources of omega-3 fatty acids your baby will get are from what you provide either through supplement or breast milk. Best source of omega-3 fatty acids are fatty fish, flax, walnuts, and cod liver oil.
- Teas. The following teas have herbs that aid in milk production. It also helps with keeping you well hydrated!
- Mother’s milk tea containing milk thistle, fenugreek, and fennel, all natural galactogogues. Do not take fenugreek in large amounts since it may cause gastrointestinal distress or low blood sugar.
- Red raspberry leaf tea promotes general women’s wellness related with periods, pregnancy, easing labor and delivery, and lactation.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider (lactation consultant) before taking any dietary supplement, as some may not be healthy for you.
Try these “lactation cookies” from Eat Richly. An awesome (and tasty) way of getting a few galactogogues in one bite!
Happy Belated National Nut Day! Why am I so excited? Because nuts are something to celebrate! Nuts have shown to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation that is at the core of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Eat a handful of nuts (~1 oz) a day and keep the doctor away? That just might be the case!
Many health benefits can be found specifically in tree nuts i.e. nuts that grow on trees. Peanuts are technically legumes (because nutrition isn’t confusing enough) that grow underground and are more closely related to soybeans, peas and lentils. This explains why some people are allergic (even deathly allergic) to peanuts and not almonds. Don’t get me wrong, tree nut allergies can be just as severe as peanut allergies, but they are much less common.
Tree nuts include almonds, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts, cashews and walnuts.
Nuts are a good source of protein, healthy fats, vitamin E, folate, fiber and phytochemicals. They are also filled with minerals such as magnesium, zinc and copper. One handful (~1 oz) packs a protein punch of 2-6 grams! In that same handful, and what most people are concerned about, are 160-200 calories and 13-21 grams of healthy fat.
Cracking it Open
Nuts have been touted for their ability to improve heart health by reducing the “bad” LDL cholesterol and inching away belly fat. It has been proved that even though nuts have a significant amount of calories from fat, they are the healthy type of fat—specifically monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fat (PUFA)—that are heart-health protective.
Did you know that tree nuts can help manage and even prevent diabetes? The high content of healthy fats and low sugar content promotes better glucose control.
Nuts have shown a positive association with cognitive health, specifically walnuts, which contain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have shown to reduce inflammatory markers. Some other health benefits have been associated with increased fertility, increased bone health and cancer prevention. Now that is something to chew on.
How Much Is Enough
Nuts are caloric, true! But studies show that if you replace (not add) some of your calories with nuts, they can help with weight maintenance and weight loss. The high fat and fiber content help satiation. In addition, they are fun to eat. There is much variety and each flavor is unique.
As part of a healthy diet, 1-ounce has shown great health benefits. The USDA National Nutrient Database has an easy breakdown of 1-ounce equivalents such as 23 almonds, 7 Brazil nuts, or 48 pistachios to mention a few. As a vegetarian protein source—½ ounce of nuts or 1 tablespoon of almond butter would be considered one serving of protein.
Absolutely! Almonds, walnuts and pistachios are my favorite.They not only have the highest amount of protein and lowest calorie range but they all have a little something special. One serving of almonds has 37% of our daily value of vitamin E. Walnuts have a good source of essential omega-3 fatty acids (Alpha-Linolenic acid- ALA). And I love pistachios as a snack. The shell forces you to slow down and enjoy!
Nuts can be a great addition to any dish. Yogurt, cereal and French toast can be garnished with nuts. Nuts can add a nice crunch to salad or pasta. Some of my favorite side dishes include nuts, for example, green beans with toasted almonds and squash with pistachios.
A Few General Tips
- Opt for low sodium options.
- Store in an airtight container, like a mason jar. Putting them in the refrigerator will also extend their shelf life, because of their high fat content.
- If you are allergic to peanuts be careful with tree nuts. Even though they are technically not the same family, people with peanut allergies tend to have additional allergies.
- Whether you are using the stove or the oven, toast nuts BEFORE chopping them into smaller pieces. It keeps a nice fresh taste.
What’s your favorite nut dish?
Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD
Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr
Nuts for Nutrition. UNL Food: Food, Nutrition & Health.
Go Nuts for Health. Environmental Nutrition, November 2012.
Edited by TCabrarr
Picture from DeusXFlorida on Flickr
Flaxseeds have been part of the human diet since 4000BC. There are two varieties, brown and golden, and they share similar nutritional characteristics. Flaxseeds owe their high nutritional profile to three main components: lignans, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber.
- Flaxseeds have 800 times more phytochemicals – known as lignans - than other oil seeds. Lignans act as phytoestrogens and have proven to reduce hormone-dependent cancers (specifically prostate and breast cancers) and cardiovascular risk.
- A type of omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is found in flaxseeds. Two tablespoons have 3.5 grams of ALA, which is higher than the NIH recommendation! Omega-3 fatty acids decrease risk of inflammatory conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
- Flaxseeds contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, roughly 2 grams per tablespoon (0.5 grams soluble). Fiber is healthful for digestion (constipation), cardiovascular health (lowering total and LDL cholesterol) and diabetes (controlling blood glucose and lowering HgA1c).
So which incarnation is better: whole flaxseeds, flaxseed meal (ground/milled) or flaxseed oil? Like most things, it depends.
For the full benefit: I usually recommend ground flaxseeds because the nutrients are more bioavailable and easier for our bodies to digest.
To aid constipation: Whole flaxseeds tend to pass through our intestine undigested, which means that we don’t absorb all of the nutrients. They can have a laxative effect (if taken with enough fluid) and can relieve constipation.
For healthy fats: All forms of flax are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, however flaxseed oil does not have fiber or lignans, since both are found in the fibrous part of the plant.
Where to buy? Flaxseeds have gone mainstream and can be purchased in health food stores and most grocery stores.
How to store? Ground flaxseed and flaxseed oil have a shorter shelf-life than flaxseeds. I suggest refrigerating for higher retention of nutrients.
How to cook? Omega-3s found in whole and crushed flaxseeds remain stable and intact while cooking in high heat; on the other hand, the omega-3s in flaxseed oil do not.
How to use? Flaxseeds can be a part of every meal.
- Add to hot or cold cereals
- Combine in sauces/condiments like mustard or light mayo
- Sprinkle on yogurt, toasted bread or whole-grain waffles
- Blend into homemade smoothies
- Cook in casseroles
- Bake in cookies, muffins, or breads
- Add flaxseed oil to salads or smoothies
- Use crushed flaxseed as breading for chicken or fish
Best brand? The one that only has 1 ingredient! For products containing flaxseeds, Nature’s Path, Bob’s Red Mill, Kashi, KIND, and Simply Beyond are some companies that consistently use them.
Recommendation: Make flaxseeds a part of your daily diet. Start with 1 tablespoon and slowly (and as tolerated) add up to 2 tablespoons a day.
NOTE on ALA: We do not benefit equally from the omega-3s found in flaxseeds (ALA) as we do from those found in fatty fish – (EPA and DHA, or EicosaPentaenoic Acid and DocosaHexaenoic Acid). Our bodies have to convert ALA to EPA and DHA in order to use it, making the process relatively inefficient.
Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr
- What’s new in flax? We’re glad you asked. Today’s Dietitian.
- Flaxseed Oil. University of Maryland Medical Center.
- The World’s Healthiest Foods.
Edited and photographed by TCabrarr