Healthy Days and Nourishing Ways

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Is broccoli really good for us?
from Paul C. in New Jersey

Absolutely! Broccoli is just loaded with nutrients. With roots in Italy, broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable and a member of the Brassica family, along with cauliflower and cabbage. Broccoli is a source of vitamin C, B vitamins, beta carotene, vitamin K, calcium, and fiber. It contains phytochemicals and antioxidants that may protect us from cancer, diabetes, arthritis, oxidative stress, and the impact of allergens. Broccoli contains small amounts of both essential fatty acids, has anti-inflammatory properties, and boosts the immune system.

Cooking broccoli too long will kill some of its nutrients. The problem with raw broccoli is that it contains goitrogens that may block thyroid function. Try one of these cooking methods to get the most health benefits from broccoli. Prepare the broccoli by cutting it into desired sized pieces and then washing it. Arrange the broccoli in a steamer basket and carefully add to a pot containing a small amount of boiling water. Cover, reduce heat to low, and steam for 5 to 8 minutes. Or, place the steamer basket of broccoli in a pot containing a small amount of water. Cover, bring to a boil, then turn the heat off and let the broccoli sit for 5 to 8 minutes.

Whatever you decide, make sure you decide to have this versatile and nutritious vegetable as a regular part of your diet.

I drink less milk than I used to. Besides supplements, is there another way
to get vitamin D?
from Tom B. in New Jersey

Yes. Besides dairy products, fish are known for their vitamin D content, especially cod, tuna, wild salmon, and sardines eaten with the bones. Cod liver oil and eggs, especially eggs from chickens that have been foraging for their food outdoors, are also good sources. But the most common source of vitamin D is the sun.

Vitamin D is classified as a fat-soluble vitamin (which means it stays in the body longer than water-soluble vitamins) along with vitamins A, E, and K. However, because our bodies can manufacture vitamin D, it is not a vitamin in the true sense of the word, but a hormone. When our skin is exposed to the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun, our bodies are able to make vitamin D from cholesterol. Sunscreens that block UV rays prevent this from happening.

Vitamin D plays an important role in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, the two most abundant minerals in our bodies. Vitamin D is important for the health of our skeletal, cardiovascular, and immune systems.

Do you prefer ultrapasteurized milk to raw milk? Isn’t certified raw milk healthier?
from Keith K. in Texas

My preference is raw milk that comes from grass-fed animals that have been well cared for. There are laws governing the sale of raw milk, so find out what they are in your area. If it is not available for purchase in stores where you live, find out if it can be purchased directly from farmers. In some areas, consumers can get their milk by purchasing a share in an animal.

Raw milk from healthy, pastured animals is a super food that supplies lots of vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins, and enzymes. It is not pasteurized or homogenized. Pasteurized milk is typically heated to 161 degrees for 15 seconds. Ultrapasteurized milk (which is often done to organic milk since it gives it a longer shelf life) is heated to over 200 degrees for 1 or 2 seconds. Pasteurization kills many pathogens in milk, but it also kills many of the milk’s nutrients.

If you like the idea of raw milk but find that it is not available in your area, look for raw milk cheeses which are sold in many stores. Also check out for more information and to find out about availability in your area.