Vitamin D Foods Will Help Your Body This Winter. Here’s What to Eat to Get It. | Healthyish

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As a nutritionist, I’ve doled out the advice that a supplement can sometimes be a good health insurance policy. But, when it comes to vitamin D, I’m not in the “practice what you preach” camp, though, believe me, I’ve tried (I couldn’t even choke down a prenatal vitamin when I was pregnant, though I could manage a kids’ chewable Flintstone).

So you can imagine that I breathed a small sigh of relief when the recent study on vitamin D supplements hit. The review study (in this particular case, a review and meta-analysis of previous studies) looked at vitamin-D-supplement-taking habits in adults and how that impacted bone fractures, falls, and natural, age-related bone loss. (Remember, that combo of vitamin D and calcium is what’s supposed to keep your bones strong.) And the study findings were a bit unexpected: Adults who take vitamin D supplements don’t have fewer bone fractures or falls or better bone-mineral density. The researchers also looked at supplement doses and, turns out, how much vitamin D those adults took was irrelevant—their bones weren’t any stronger.

But with two degrees in nutrition under my belt, I know that D’s importance goes beyond bone health. We want to keep our vitamin D levels up because it can lower our risk for autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, IBD, and Crohn’s. There’s other research that shows that being low in vitamin D raises your risk for high blood pressure and heart attack and is associated with higher rates of depression, Schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s. And one of the most interesting findings I recently stumbled upon is that women who are vitamin D deficient up their risk of having to have a C-section by 400 percent!

So if you’re skeptical of supplements (or just bad at remembering to take them), how else can you up your vitamin D intake?

First of all, the amount of vitamin D we need is the source of some debate, but most experts agree on one thing: We’re not getting enough. So instead of splitting hairs on quantity, you should focus on quality. Always, getting vitamin D from the sun is the gold standard. Studies have found that the D you get from the sun lasts longer in your system than the D you get from food or supplements—plus your body can use 100 percent of it, whereas 40 percent of what you ingest is basically ferried right through your body. But that’s not always possible, especially in winter when the days are shorter and we’re getting less sun.

So my advice (and this I always practice!) is to eat your vitamin D. The best vitamin D food sources are oily fish and cod liver oil (a win-win because they’re also great sources of brain- and heart-healthy omega-3s). A tablespoon of cod liver oil delivers 1,360 IUs. A 3-ounce, fist-sized portion of swordfish or salmon will get you about 500 IUs. Another natural source of D is eggs: a large one has 41 IUs. And then there are mushrooms, which naturally contain vitamin D (maitakes are the richest with 943 IU in about a cup), and, if they’re exposed to UV light, make even more vitamin D. For example, expose creminis to sunlight or a sunlamp, and a cup of them delivers over 1000 IUs!

So-called fortified foods are how most of us probably get dietary D. A cup of milk or yogurt fortified with vitamin D adds 100 IUs, more or less. For foods like orange juice, cereal, soy and other plant-based milks, the amounts vary product to product so you’ll want to check the nutrition label.

So if you can’t book that warm weather getaway (hey, doc, can I get a Rx for that?), swing by the grocery store and stock up on vitamin D-rich foods. You’re basically giving your body a beach vacation without leaving the house.

Up your vitamin D:

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Stirring a raw egg yolk into each bowl at the end adds silkiness, heft, and protein. But this dish is satisfying without it, too. The secret to delicious-tasting beans is infusing the cooking liquid with aromatics like onions and garlic, then seasoning it liberally at the end until it’s just shy of salty.

SEE RECIPE

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Cafe Ohlone Serves Indigenous Foods Only, From Acorn Bread to Chia Cake | Healthyish

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Cafe Ohlone is hard to find. Named for the Ohlone tribe indigenous to Northern California’s East Bay, the cafe is in a small backyard behind a local bookstore in downtown Berkeley. But in this small backyard, the cafe’s founders, Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino are dreaming big. Representing, respectively, the Muwekma Ohlone tribe and the Costanoan Rumsen Ohlone community, Medina, 32, and Trevino, 27 have dedicated themselves to reviving native Ohlone foods through pop-ups, events, and now their first brick-and-mortar venture.

Medina and Trevino have crafted a menu brimming with ingredients like acorn flour and venison that are rooted in Ohlone tradition. Many of these ingredients are gathered locally, in the company of the tribe’s elders, while others are sourced from reliable locals. Without a formal culinary education, Medina and Trevino had to rummage through tribal notes and ask a lot of questions to arrive at the recipes they now serve at the cafe, which is open for lunch on Thursdays and dinner on Saturday, with additional hours to come. “We didn’t grow up eating our native foods; our parents didn’t have access to them,” says Medina. “There’s a way to fix it, through hard work and carrying on in our families’ footsteps.” He sees the cafe as part of a larger global trend: “It’s all part of the decolonization happening all over the world now,” Medina says, “We’re taking away the shackles and returning back to our ways.”

Treviso and Medina walked us through some of the staple ingredients on the menu at Cafe Ohlone, which is available in both English and Chochenyo, the language of the Ohlone,

Acorn flour: This is an Ohlone staple, and no meal is complete without it. To make acorn flour, acorns are gathered, often with the community, and peeled. The meaty central part is dried and ground into powder, which is then washed to clear the acorn of its tannic acids. Used in bread, soup, and porridge, the flour is a superfood, rich in proteins, monounsaturated fats, and carbohydrates.

Venison: While many associate bison with Native American cuisines, venison, elk, and duck are what’s native to the Ohloe. At the cafe, venison is wrapped in yerba buena and bay laurel and smoked in a smoker. For a recent tribal youth gathering, the two made venison and huckleberry sliders in chia flour buns, and the dish made it onto the cafe menu as well. “It’s still our food, in modern form,” Trevino says.

Bay Laurel: Present through the Bay Area and close to Ohlone villages locations, laurel has a lemony, sweet scent and medicinal and ceremonial properties. The leaves are used to infuse the cafe’s sauces and stews, and the nuts inside the fruits are featured too. “They have natural caffeine, and we’re big coffee people—it’s an adopted part of our culture,” says Medina. The antioxidants-rich nuts are crushed and incorporated into truffles and an Ohlone twist on coffee served with hazelnut milk.

Chia: Long before it became trendy, the Ohlone were roasting chia and incorporating it into breads and cakes. “It’s full of Omega 3, vitamin B and fiber,” says Medina. “It’s one of those ingredients that make life good.”

Yerba buena: This is a Californian type of mint, and, according to the Trevino, “a quintessential taste of home.” Widespread in areas where Ohlone villages were once located, yerba buena is thought to reduce stress, and it flavors the cafe’s stews and sweet sorbets.

California Huckleberries: Dotting the cafe’s sauces, salads, pancakes and meatballs, the tiny tart berries are native to East Bay’s hills and are a “great source of energy” according to Medina. They are often incorporated into the Ohlone’s spring and summer dishes.

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