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Originally published Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 7:07 PM

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On Nutrition: What's new for 2012

Even dietitians don't always eat a good diet.

The Monterey County Herald

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What's new for 2012? For nutrition professionals, our mother ship has changed its name. As of Jan. 1, the American Dietetic Association is now the "Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics." The new name better represents the largest food and nutrition science organization in the world. I like it.

I also like to start the New Year with bits and pieces of nutrition news and products I have learned about in the past year. Here are some examples:

A daily multivitamin supplement is still good nutrition insurance, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. It is true, experts say, that a good diet can provide most all the nutrients we need. But even dietitians don't always eat a good diet. For instance, most (90 percent) of Americans do not consume adequate amounts of vitamin D or vitamin E from food sources alone, the government reports.

No need for megavitamin therapy however. A daily supplement with a balance of recommended daily allowances (RDA) for vitamins and minerals is sufficient for most of us. And the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) seal of approval on the label is good insurance as well.

Speaking of vitamin D from food sources, one (3-ounce) serving of Monterey Mushrooms (from Watsonville, Calif.) provides as much vitamin D as most multivitamin supplements ... about 400 IU's. Raw or cooked, the vitamin D in these mushrooms is retained, say their producers. That's good news.

And here's a new way to enjoy garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas) — the high protein legumes used to make hummus. Fresh "green" garbanzo beans are lower in sodium than the canned variety. Since they are less mature (that's why they are green) they have less starch (carbohydrates) and more vitamin C than the canned variety.

Marketed by a company in California called Califresh, fresh green garbanzos are available at stores like Ralphs', Walmart and Mi Pueblo, according to their website.

News for pasta lovers. I admit I was skeptical when I first saw this product at a food and nutrition exhibition 2 years ago. But from what I have seen, the claims for Dreamfields brand pasta seem to be holding up. It's real pasta; made with semolina durum wheat. But unlike other pastas, Dreamfields contains a blend of protein and a fiber called inulin that gives it a lower "glycemic index." This means that some of the carbohydrates in this product are not digested fully which causes a lower rise blood sugars (glucose). Good news ... if you still pay attention to smaller portions.

Probiotic gummies. "Pro" means "good"; biotic refers to "bacteria." "Gummies" are yummy chewables that are often easier to take than pills. When probiotics flourish in the digestive tract, nutrients are better absorbed and bad bugs are held at bay, research suggests. This particular "gummy" form (brand name Sustenex) delivers a probiotic in a form that is claimed to better resist digestion through the stomach. When more probiotics arrive safely in the lower intestines, all is well with the world.

As one writer has said, the New Year lies ahead "like a spotless track of snow. Be careful how you tread it, for every mark will show." Happy 2012.

(Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. Email her at bquinn@chomp.org.)

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